The Rocks

This is where European settlers chose to step ashore in 1788, making The Rocks the birthplace of modern Sydney. Discover the colonial history of this area which has been transformed from a British colony of convicts, soldiers and sailors into a thriving 21st century entertainment precinct right by spectacular Sydney Harbour.

Group enjoying a historical tour of The Rocks with The Rocks Walking Tour company in Sydney

Things to do

Amble along on cobbled laneways, enjoy a cool drink in Australia’s oldest pubs, and marvel at iconic attractions – the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. For breathtaking views of beautiful Sydney Harbour, ascend the bridge with BridgeClimb Sydney or go to the Pylon Lookout.

A wonderful way to discover the magic of The Rocks is on foot. There are markets, museums and galleries tucked into little laneways. Take a self-guided tour or join The Rocks Walking Tours. The I’m Free Tour starts at 6pm outside Cadmans Cottage, built in 1816. You can also hire bicycles and pedal around the harbour foreshore.

Family boarding the Big Red Bus Tours near The Rocks, Sydney

The Rocks Dreaming Aboriginal Heritage Tour provides insights into the area’s indigenous history, one of the world’s oldest living cultures. The Rocks Discovery Museum, housed in a restored colonial sandstone warehouse, has interactive exhibits that range from pre-European settlement to modern times.

The Rocks is a creative hub, home to the Museum of Contemporary Art and its extensive exhibitions. The Rocks Markets is another creative centre, the weekend market has more than 200 stalls featuring the work of local artisans. Check out the events calendar for more exhibitions and celebrations around this historic quarter.

Couple enjoying food and drink at Quay Restaurant, The Rocks

Food and drink

Being the first settled area in Sydney means that The Rocks is also where you’ll find the oldest pubs in town – The Fortune of War opened in 1828. Dave’s Pub Walks will take you on a tour of the area’s colonial-era pubs and let you in on their colourful history from the rum rebellion to the six o’clock swill.

The Rocks has many more delicious food and wine experiences, from the pinnacle of fine dining at Quay to birds-eye views of the harbour at Altitude on level 36 of the Shangri-La Hotel to Sake Restaurant in the sandstone surrounds of The Argyle. Find underground whisky bar The Doss House for a nightcap.

Getting and staying there

The Rocks is a short walk north along George Street from the city centre or you can take a train, bus or ferry to Circular Quay. Thinking of staying a weekend or longer? 

Accommodation options suit various budgets, from the Sydney Harbour YHA to mid-range options to five-star luxury.