Sydney’s Most Iconic Landmarks

25 January 2018

As both Australia’s oldest and largest city, Sydney has more than its fair share of famous landmarks. Read on to learn more about some of the city’s most recognisable icons.

Sydney Opera House

Sunrise at Sydney Opera House

Sunrise at Sydney Opera House. Image credit: Mitch Green Photos

Completed in 1973, the Sydney Opera House is one of the most distinctive architectural works of the 20th century. Although its construction was plagued by setbacks, taking an additional 10 years to complete and costing more than 14 times its original budget, the Opera House exists today as a priceless hub of art and culture. The Sydney Opera House contains a number of performance spaces, including several theatres, a concert hall and an outdoor forecourt, which together host around 3000 shows per year. The venue is also home to several prestigious performing arts companies, including The Australian Ballet, Sydney Theatre Company, Opera Australia and Sydney Symphony Orchestra. Visited by over 8 million people every year, the Sydney Opera House is one of Australia’s most popular attractions.

Nearest station: Circular Quay (train, ferry)

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Before the advent of Sydney’s iconic bridge, anyone needing to cross the harbour would either have to negotiate a ferry ride or endure a 20-kilometre journey with five separate bridge crossings. Thankfully, nine years and 53,000 tonnes of steel was it took to create the tallest steel arch bridge in the world—a title still held to this day. Sailing directly beneath the Sydney Harbour Bridge can give visitors a sense of the magnitude – and importance – of Sydney’s iconic bridge. Serving more than 150,000 vehicles each day, and taking just 15 minutes to cross on foot, the Sydney Harbour Bridge has connected and transformed Sydney in ways its creators couldn’t have possibly imagined.

Nearest station: Circular Quay (train, ferry); Milsons Point (train)

Bondi Beach

Bondi Beach (Sydney East)

Bondi Beach, Sydney East.

Situated 7 kilometres east of the CBD, Bondi Beach ranks among the most famous beaches in the world. A crescent of white sand cupped by rocky headlands and multimillion-dollar homes, Bondi is often described as Sydney’s “must-see” beach for first-time visitors. In addition to its beauty, Bondi Beach is also considered the home of winter swimming in Australia, and the birthplace of surf lifesaving around the world. The Bondi Icebergs ocean pool is also the starting point of the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk, a scenic trail which follows 6 kilometres of stunning coastline. Bondi Beach has featured in a number of films and TV episodes, with two TV series (Bondi Rescue and Bondi Vet) documenting real-life events for viewers around the world.

Nearest station: Campbell Parade (bus)

Royal Botanic Garden

The Royal Botanic Garden occupies 30 hectares of waterfront parkland in the heart of the Sydney CBD. Established in 1816, it is both the oldest scientific institution in the country and one of the most important historic botanical institutions in the world. The garden is also home to the Daniel Solander Library – the oldest botanical research library in Australia – and has played a vital role in the acclimatisation of non-native plants to the Australian environment. This spectacular garden sprawls from Circular Quay to Potts Point, forming a large natural amphitheatre around Farm Cove. Providing free access to an extensive collection of native, exotic, and threatened plant species, the Royal Botanic Garden attracts more than 3.5 million visitors every year.

Nearest station: Circular Quay (train, ferry)

Luna Park

Luna Park, Sydney.

Luna Park, Sydney.

Looking across the water of Sydney Harbour, the huge grinning face of Luna Park has been a symbol of fun for generations of Australians. Opening to immediate success in 1935, this classic amusement park brought a new haven of family-friendly entertainment to the city of Sydney. After years of deterioration and several closures, however, Luna Park was in desperate need of change. Fortunately, a major renovation restored and upgraded many classic rides, and also announced the addition of a restaurant, new function facilities, and a 2000-seat Big Top auditorium. Luna Park reopened in 2014 to an enthusiastic reception, welcoming 200,000 people through its gates within the first two months. In 2010, Luna Park earned a place on the NSW State Heritage Register.

Nearest station: Milsons Point (train)

Queen Victoria Building

Known to locals as the QVB, the Queen Victoria Building is Australia’s largest and grandest Victorian arcade. Completed in 1898, the building features stained glass windows, intricate carvings, and stunning domed ceilings. Designed by architect George McRae, these elaborate Romanesque stylings are considered one of the finest examples of the style in Australia. After being saved from demolition in the 1980s and restored to its former glory, the QVB now houses over 180 leading boutiques and stores. One of the city’s architectural highlights, the QVB occupies an entire block in the Sydney CBD.

Nearest station: Town Hall (train)

Darling Harbour

Australian National Maritime Museum, Darling Harbour

Australian National Maritime Museum, Darling Harbour.

Darling Harbour is the name of both a marine harbour as well as the pedestrian precinct located just to the left of the CBD. Historically used for transport and trade, this small harbour has transformed into a lively area filled with shops, restaurants, hotels and bars. Darling Harbour is also home to several of Sydney’s most popular attractions, including Sydney Aquarium, the Powerhouse Museum, Paddy’s Markets, and the Chinese Garden of Friendship. With plenty to see and do both during the day and well into the night, Darling Harbour is one of the most dynamic areas in the CBD.

Nearest station: Town Hall (train)

Taronga Zoo

Taronga Zoo, Sydney.

Taronga Zoo, Sydney.

Taronga Zoo overlooks Sydney Harbour from its location on the Mosman waterfront, just a short ferry ride from the city. Opened in 1916, this award-winning zoo now houses over 4,000 animals belonging to 350 different species – many of which are threatened or endangered. Taronga Zoo is involved in a range of research, conservation and breeding programs which all help to conserve vulnerable animal species and their habitats. The zoo also hosts more than 20 shows and keeper talks per day, as well as animal encounters, jungle walks, and a range of kids’ activities. With guided tours and eight zoogeographic regions to explore, Taronga Zoo can teach, enthrall and inspire visitors of all ages.

Nearest station: Taronga Zoo Wharf (ferry); Bradleys Head Road near Whiting Beach Road (bus)

Find more amazing Sydney locations to explore this Australia Day!