Top 5 things to do in Sydney

Sydney is one of those magical places in the world for any traveler. This vibrant city has many wonderful places to see and awesome things to do. Many of these are absolutely free too.

Sydney - Top things to do
Sydney Skyline

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Short stay?

Have only a day or two in this city? Don’t worry. I have listed here some of the must-visit and my most favorite places in this beautiful city, which are the top things to do and see. And many people won’t tell you about a few of these.

Guaranteed that some of these spots are off the beaten track and will not fail to thrill you. So, read on to learn more.

Popular haunts

There are many absolutely lovely and exciting places like the Opera House, Manly Beach, Watson’s Bay, Taronga Zoo, Sea Life Aquarium and Darling Harbour. Watching a movie at the world’s largest IMAX is another crowd favorite. Update(Sep,2016): IMAX is closed for renovation from late September 2016 and would be open again in 2019.

Bondi to Coogee beach walk, Blue mountains and Katoomba are other interesting spots. If you have time to do all these, it is highly recommended. But if you are planning a short trip, you simply cannot afford to miss the below 5 attractions.

1) Royal National Park

A walk to remember sydney royal national park
A walk to remember

Royal National Park coastal walk is one of the best walks you will ever do. You will see the pure Tasmanian waters pulling you along. The mesmerizing beauty all around is a guaranteed recharge to your soul.

You have to take a train from Sydney to Cronulla and take a ferry to Bundeena. The journey starts here, and you can choose from a variety of signposted bush walks for your trip.

The park is very large and has lots of picnic spots. Grab a free tourist map along the way and stick to it. Else you might get lost like me 😀

It can get a little lonely on the walk if you are traveling by yourself, but you will be thrilled with the magnetic pull of the waves, the majestic view of the Tasmanian sea, the deep blue sky…and the list goes on. Do not forget to visit Marley beach on the way.

And check out the safety alerts before you start on this truly amazing walk.

2) Ferry to Manly

sydney ferry to Manly
Freshwater Sydney

A trip to Sydney is not complete without taking a ferry to visit Manly beach. The Manly ferry is complete with on-board WiFi, pantry and other facilities and traveling on this ferry is a wonderful experience in itself, not to mention the journey end point, the gorgeous Manly beach. Plan your trip carefully by checking online for the ferry schedule and have a great time.

3) Kiama Beach to Minnamura river walk

fingers in the kiama ocean
Fingers in the ocean

Kiama Beach is about 120 kilometers south of Sydney and takes about 3 hours by train. The train journey itself is worth visiting Kiama. You will see a lot of beautiful creeks, beaches and scenery along the way.

Do not forget to check out the Blowhole at the Kiama beach before you start your walk.

If you are a nature lover, you will immensely enjoy this walk from Kiama Beach to Minnamura river. It takes about 8 hours to complete this walk, if you walk leisurely, enjoying the scenery along the way. There are lots of picnic spots along the way. Have a break at Bombo beach and let go of yourself.

Also read: Kiama Beach to Minnamura River walk

4) The Opera House

Opera House sydney
Opera House

Globally recognized as the icon of Sydney, The Opera House is an architectural marvel which definitely needs a visit.

It is a magnificent building which hosts over 1500 performances every year. Even if you do not enjoy opera, you will surely love the beauty of the structure itself.

Do not forget to visit the soothing Royal Botanical Gardens located right next to the Opera House and relax your weary soul. There are a variety of plants and herbs, rose garden, tropical center pyramid, oriental garden and many more attractions.

Also read: Top 15 FREE things to do in Sydney

5) Taronga Zoo

taronga zoo sydney
Taronga zoo

As I am not a big fan of zoos, I tagged along a friend who said that this zoo is different. I am glad I checked it out as it was one of the hits of my trip.

Right in the heart of the city, the Taronga Zoo is a must-visit for animal lovers. The thing I loved about this zoo is that the animals are not in any way “enclosed”. It would feel more like we are in an enclosure, watching the majestic animals in their habitats.

Taronga zoo elephant play
Elephants enjoying a splash in the rain

Book your tickets online to visit Taronga Zoo and avoid waiting in queue at the Zoo. There are a few live events happening all through the day, so check out their schedule to make most of your day.

My Sydney experience

I loved traveling solo in this wonderful city and rate my Sydney days as some of the top most happy periods of my life.

I have written a cool book on budget travel to Sydney. It is available on Amazon as Sydney on a low budget. I am super proud that this book is consistently in the Top 100 Australia Travel books 🙂

It is loaded with tons of practical tips and hacks to optimize a shoestring budget when you backpack in this city. Grab your copy now!

For more Sydney pictures, check out My Flickr Albums.

If you have more time in your Sydney trip, do not miss visiting Kiama beach and The Blue Mountains.

Also read: Blue Mountains and Katoomba – Sydney Getaways!

Have a wonderful time in Sydney! Do share your experiences too.

Check out more amazing zoos around Australia here.

Top things to do in Sydney
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About Priyadarshini Rajendran 210 Articles
Priyadarshini Rajendran is a travel enthusiast, avid reader and a passionate writer. She has a few of her books published and is writing more books. Before becoming a full-time writer, she worked as a software consultant taking breaks for her travels. Her blog is her passion and she writes about travel, books and food on the blog. She offers customized itineraries for South Indian destinations.

37 Comments Posted

  1. Great read. That ferry looks AWESOME! I’ve never been to an Opera show so guess I can’t say I don’t like it. Would be interesting to see something. I’ve never been to Australia but am always on the lookout for cheap flights.

  2. Love that! Never been to Sydney before but I totally wanna go one day and I’ll keep your Tipps in mind. I love especially the Royal NP – I HAVE to do this!!

  3. My company has a branch in Sydney and I’m thinking of spending a few days there this year! 😀 and this is a fun list of things to do, great post! Looking forward to reading your book too, I’ll be dowloading it on the flight there. Cheers!

  4. Woa, this looks great! And people ask why I’m always wandering to visit Australia! So much things to do and see ☀️

  5. One of my fave cities in the world… I wish it’s not that expensive to lived there:) Thanks for sharing… you got it on point;) Haven’t been to Manly beach but heard so much about it.

  6. I have been seeing so much of Sydney all over social media lately! Perhaps it’s a sign that I need to plan a trip? Thank you for all of these amazing suggestions!

  7. I was just in Sydney and I 100% agree with you on these! Next time I go, I would love to do the Figure 8 pools in the Royal National park!

  8. Australia is for quite a long time on my wish list. So, good to know what to do when I’ll be planning my trip.

  9. Great read! Also enjoyed Sydney when I was there, still hoping to swim in the Rock pool at Bronte Beach – didn’t seem too expensive but it was winter when we were there – too cold to swim 🙂

  10. Australia itself is a magic place, but Sydney specially is amazing,I have heard that it is one of the best cities to live in the world and one of the best to travel to! Also, I didnt know there were those national places so close to Sydney!

  11. amazing. reminded of great days I spent there with my family last year. such a wonderful city. amazing places to see. amazing people. amazing food.

  12. Been to Sydney a bunch of times as it’s about 5-7 hours drive/ 2 hours flight from home. But I haven’t really considered any of these, even the opera house! Maybe I like to stay central…
    Viviane xo

  13. Nice post and suggestions! I grew up going to Sydney almost every “summer” (winter period) as a kid. The Manly ferry to Manly beach is one that I remember fondly as well as Taronga Zoo. I revisited Sydney earlier this year and we went back to Taronga zoo. It was certainly exciting and I loved seeing the giraffes with the city as a backdrop as well as the different types of kangaroos in the free run enclosure.

  14. Thanks for these amazing suggestions! It was refreshing to read a list containing slightly different things to do! I’m not normally a fan of zoo’s either but reading your description definitely makes me want to check Taronga out…. All I need now is to get over to the other side of the world haha

  15. I would love to visit the Royal National Park! I’m a huge fan of natural scenery. I was about the ask you how you managed to travel around Australia as I’ve heard it’s quite expensive, then I saw you wrote a budget travel book. I will check it out!

  16. The walk from Kiama Beach to Minnamura river would be perfect for us! I didn’t know and it was a nice discovery, thank you very much!

  17. I’m going to have to disagree with you on Torronga zoo: the elephants enclosure was TINY and the elephants were visably depressed. I used to work in ZSL London zoo and we sent our elephants to a larger zoo in the country where they have space to walk around. Australia is huge, so it’s a real shame they aren’t giving the elephants what they need. Good post apart from that 🙂

  18. The ferry to Manly was one of my favorite things. We didn’t get a chance to explore much outside the city so definitely want to do that and go on the hikes and walks you mentioned. Thanks for all the info!

  19. I’m glad you said that about the Zoo I’ve stopped going to Zoo’s but you’re right – Taronga Zoo is so big you can’t do the whole place in just one day!

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