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15 awesome things to do in on a quick trip to Sydney

Discover the best things to see and do in Sydney. Perfect if you’re planning a short visit or stopover.

Sydney is Australia’s most populated city – and one of the most exciting to visit.

It’s located on the east coast of Australia, in New South Wales (NSW) and features fantastic beaches, shopping, sports matches, concerts, nightlife and family-friendly activities.

This is a city that offers something of interest to everyone!

The public transport system makes Sydney an easy city to navigate without the need for a hire vehicle.

We love the inner-city areas of Sydney. They’re jam-packed with easily accessible goodness, including a range of free activities, paid attractions and some amazing tours.

Plus, there are a number of worthwhile day trips and short breaks available if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. 

Our favourite things to do on a short break to Sydney

In no particular order, these are the top activities and attractions that we enjoy on a quick trip to Sydney.

1. Visit the Royal Botanic Gardens

We recommend visiting the Royal Botanic Gardens for an amazing view of the harbour with the city at your back.

While there, we recommend you walk down to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. This is a fantastic vantage point of the harbour, offering a a unique view of the city, Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House – all iconic Sydney spots.

2. See the Sydney Opera House

While you’re in the area, head over to the Sydney Opera House to see it up-close.

You’re able to wander around the outside of the Sydney Opera House, taking in the famous arches in all of their glory.

The steps at the front are a great place to relax and soak in the scenery, or you can head inside for fully-guided tour or to catch a show or performance. 

Or, head over the harbour and watch the numerous ferries and boats pass in front of this iconic building.

However you see it, the Sydney Opera house is a must-visit on your Sydney getaway.

3. Explore a memorable inner-city suburb – Circular Quay, The Rocks, Darling Harbour and Pyrmont

Sydney is one of the coolest cities in Australia, and it’s home to a number of awesome little inner-city suburbs.

Grab a bite at Circular Quay, The Rocks or Darling Harbour – all located on the water’s edge. These harbour-side districts have a range of restaurant options where you can sit back and watch the ferries come in to dock, take in the Sydney Harbour Bridge and enjoy local seafood. 

Pyrmont is another popular spot to visit. It’s home to the Sydney Fish Markets, The Star casino, the Australian National Maritime Museum and beautiful waterfront area. We also recommend checking out Pirrama Park while visiting – a great picnic location, with stunning views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and a fun playground for the kids.

And if you want to go for a wander, while checking out some stunning buildings and fancy shops, we highly recommend a visit to George Street.

4. Ride the Big Bus

Explore the city from a moving vantage point – on the iconic Big Bus!

Enjoy local sites and informative commentary from comfort of these double decker buses.

Choose to sit down the bottom, in the comfort of air conditioning (which was our preference on a hot Sydney day), or ride on the top open-air deck, where you’ll be able to snap unobstructed photos.

24 and 48 hour passes are available, allowing you to hop off and explore on foot when you arrive at a points of interest along the route.

Did you know? There are two routes on the Big Bus – a city route and one that goes out to Bondi… the next spot on our list.

5. Visit the iconic Bondi Beach

Few beaches around the world compare with the natural beauty of Bondi.

An easy bus ride or Uber from the city, this is a worthwhile half-day trip.

Whether you explore the local shops, take a dip, try a surf lesson [save money with the coupon code ‘ATT’], or walk the coastal trail (from Bondi to Coogee, passing the famous Bondi Icebergs swimming club), we think a visit to Bondi is a must.

Don’t forget, you can use your Big Bus pass to get to/from Bondi Beach without paying a cent more. Use the coupon code ‘ATT’ to save money when purchasing your pass.

6. Shop up a storm

If shopping is your idea of a good time, Sydney’s got you covered!

From high-end fashion houses in the Queen Victoria Building, and extensive malls (we particularly like the central Westfield), to quirky boutiques in Newtown, there’s something for everyone.

And, if you’re in Sydney over the weekend, we recommend heading along to The Rocks Market for unique crafts and gourmet treats.

7. Go skydiving!

Thrill-seekers, this one’s for you…

Skydiving in Sydney is an adrenaline-enducing experience to remember.

If you decide to take the plunge, you’ll enjoy free-falling over the stunning Sydney coastline, with breathtaking views of the cityscape, beaches, and the sparkling Pacific Ocean.

It’s not just about the rush, it’s about seeing Sydney from a whole new perspective.

8. Explore the harbour by jet boat

If skydiving is a step too far, but you’d still like an adventure in Sydney, why not jump on a jet boat and see Sydney’s most famous landmarks from the water?

This exciting family-friendly ride allows you to see the record-breaking Sydney Harbour from a different perspective.

9. Enjoy city views from the Sydney Tower Eye

The Sydney Tower Eye is a prominent landmark in Sydney’s skyline, sitting 250 metres above the streets below.

Offering panoramic views of the city, it’s a great way for new visitors to enjoy the sites from above, while also getting a sense of how the city below unfolds.

The Tower Eye is also home to a 4D cinema, providing an immersive introduction to Sydney’s history and culture.

10. Walk the harbour bridge

The Sydney Harbour Bridge is an absolute icon – and it’s one that we recommend you see up close!

The bridge has a pedestrian lane, allowing you to walk across it free of charge.

The walk itself is easy (and suitable for wheelchair users and families with prams) and the views over the Sydney Harbour Bridge and city are incredible!

Though most people only walked half way before returning back to the city, we suggest you head all the way over.

When you make it to the other side, you’ll find some cute harbour-side suburbs that you can explore, before catching the train back over.

Pro tip: In the middle of your walk, you can choose to venture of an additional 200 steps to the Sydney Harbour Bridge Pylon Lookout & Museum. From there, you’ll enjoy even more impressive views over the harbour and city.

11. Climb the harbour bridge

If you like the sound of the Sydney Harbour Bridge walk but you want to take it up a notch, why not consider the harbour bridge climb?

BridgeClimb Sydney offers a number of different ways to enjoy the bridge from high above, our favourite of which is the Burrawa Climb.

For this experience, a First Nations guide will lead your climb, sharing native Aboriginal stories along the way.

12. Check out one of Sydney’s many ocean pools

Sydney has several sea pools that are perfect for a refreshing swim.

They’re a great way to enjoy the ocean safely and comfortably – and they’re especially wonderful on a warm summer’s day.

Some of the best ocean pools include Bronte Baths, Maccallum Seawater Pool (for awesome city views), and Marrinawi Cove at Barangaroo Surf Reserve – all of which are easily accessible from the city centre.

13. Catch a ferry and explore Manly

Manly is a vibrant beachside suburb, found to the north of central Sydney.

We recommend getting there by ferry and then spending a few hours enjoying the beautiful local beaches, cafes and resaurants.

This is one of the coolest suburbs in the one of Australia’s coolest cities, so don’t miss it.

14. Go whale watching

From May to November, whale watching is one of our top picks for things to do in Sydney!

You’ll enjoy a unique view of the world-famous harbour on your way out, before settling into some serious whale-watching.

Keep your eyes peeled for a variety of whales (including humpbacks, southern right whales and orcas) and have your camera at the ready for the ever-important whale tail snap.

15. Join a sailing tour to join a yacht team on the harbour

Though we’ve covered a few ways to see Sydney from the water, we had to sneak one final one in.

Sydney is the largest natural harbour in the world, so we think it’s important that you see it properly while you’re there.

This sailing trip lets you get hand’s on, actively sailing a 24-foot keelboat across this incredible body of water.

It’s an experience that will let you imagine what it might be like to live as a local by this iconic harbour-side city.

And there you have it – some awesome activities and attractions to help you build the perfect short-break itinerary to Sydney!

This post was a collaboration by Lucy and Sarah Chant.

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