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Sydney Attractions - Free Things to do in Sydney

Top Sydney Attractions

Top rated Free Sydney Attractions and Paid Attractions list

1. Sydney Harbour Bridge (Free)

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Spanning one of the world’s largest harbours, the Sydney Harbour Bridge is a masterpiece of construction. Upon its completion in 1932, the steel arch was the second longest in the world, with a span of more than 500 metres; soaring to a height of 134 metres above sea level, it remains the tallest of its kind. Nicknamed “The Coathanger” for its distinctive shape, the bridge has become the centrepiece of the harbour city, and a focal point for national celebrations. Its New Year’s Fireworks displays are world-renowned. Among the painters employedto keep the bridge steel grey was once Paul Hogan – later to achieve fame as Crocodile Dundee.

Visitors are free to stroll across the bridge on the eastern footpath, with spectacular views of the harbour and the skyline; cyclists may cross the harbour in the western lane. But for the most breathtaking views of Sydney, visitors may pay to take the Bridge Climb, ascending to the summit of the enormous arch.

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2. Sydney Opera House (Paid)

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The Sydney Opera House stands as one of Australia’s most iconic pieces of architecture. Set on the harbourfront, in the shadows of Sydney Harbour Bridge, it has become a symbol not only of Sydney, but of Australia. Its distinct structure, including the white “shells” that form the roof of the building, was designed by Danish architectJornUtzon, whose vision was selected from a list of international candidates in the 1950’s.Utzon, however, abandoned the project long before its completion in 1973.

Inside and out, the Opera House is much more than its name suggests. Not only opera, but ballet, theatre, and symphonic orchestras often perform on its hallowed stages to exclusive audiences of a few thousand. Rock and pop bands, performing on the steps outside, have been known to draw in audiences of 100,000. Its famous white shells have also made an ideal canvas for cultural displays and messages of political protest. The Sydney Opera House is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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3. Royal Botanic Gardens (Free)

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The Royal Botanic Gardens of Sydney is among the finest public showcases of flora in the world. In 1816, the colonial governor of NSW, Lachlan Macquarie set aside some 75 acres of shorefront as a preserve for the rich array of local and foreign botany. Intended as an exclusive garden for scientific study, the gardens were opened to the public 15 years later. Today, the gardens welcome around 3 million visitors every year.

Visitors can stroll among red gums and swamp oaks that predate the European settlement of Australia, or rest against the twisting trunks of sprawling Moreton Bay Figs. The garden paths are punctuated by ornate fountains and statues, while the large herbarium and glassy greenhouse pyramid are reminders of the botanical research still conducted within the grounds. Exiting the gardens via the northeast gates, visitors can continue a few hundred metres to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair – where the governor’s wife once sat gazing out over the harbour of the growing colony.

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4. Bondi Beach (Free)

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In the land of 10,000 beaches, no beach is more famous than Bondi Beach. Each year, more than 5 million visitors are riding its waves. And all year round, tourists from around the world flock to lay their towels in the drawn to this one kilometre arc of golden sand. The closest beach to the Sydney CBD, it acts as a magnet for many locals during the hottest days of summer; even in the coldest days of winter, surfers can be seen sand and bronze their skin in Speedos or bikinis.

More than just a beach, Bondi is a social and cultural phenomenon. The beachfront and surrounding community is packed with hundreds of restaurants, cafes, bars, and hotels. The setting for countless television programs, Bondi Beach was the focal point for David Hasselhoff’s failed attempt to create “Baywatch Down Under.” Every August, close to 100,000 runners wend their way from downtown Sydney to Bondi Beach as part of Australia’s most celebrated fun run – the City to Surf.

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5. Sydney Tower (Paid)

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Soaring to a height of 309 metres, Sydney Tower crowns the city’s majestic skyline. Upon its completion in 1975, it was not only the tallest building in Australia, but the tallest in the entire Southern Hemisphere. A needle-like structure located in the city centre, it was initially called Centrepoint Tower. Despite a series of name changes in recent decades, many locals still know it only as Centrepoint.

With an indoor observation deck at 260 metres, Sydney Tower offers an unrivalled view of the nation’s largest city. A 360 degree panorama reveals an enormous city sprawling in every direction, east to the blue of the Pacific Ocean and west to the haze of the Blue Mountains. A night-time viewing reveals a glittering array of lights reaching the farthest horizons. The revolving restaurant allows patrons to dine and drink whilst soaking up the city below. The Skywalk allows visitors tostep outsideonto a glass-bottomed platform for a truly breathtaking panorama!

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6. Shelly Beach (Free)

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Just a few minutes from the better-known Manly Beach, Shelly Beach is a unique location on the east coast of Australia, since it actually faces west. With a large reef also sheltering the beach from the heavy ocean swells, Shelly Beach is a small and secluded haven – perfect for a quiet picnic on the sands or a gentle swim in the ocean. These calm coastal conditionsmake ShellyBeach an ideal spot for scuba divers and snorkelers to explore an underwater world. Among the colourful array of fish regularly seen in its waters are blue gropers, flounders, flatheads, and sometimes small sharks. Observant snorkelers may also spot the submerged motorbike covered in seaweed. As the name suggests, the seabed and sands arealso strewn with a wide variety of shells. But as in most Sydney beaches, visitors are advised to take nothing but photos and leave nothing but footprints…

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7. Art Gallery of NSW (Free)

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Housing a comprehensive selection of art from the Renaissance to the 20th century, the Art Gallery of NSW is a must for art-lovers. Established in the late 19th century, it acquired works from European masters from Rubens and Canaletto through Monet and Cezanne to Picasso and Braque. Those seeking works of a more local flavour will find Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, and works from colonial Australianmasters like Tom Roberts and Frederick McCubbin. In total,the gallery houses some 30,000 pieces: paintings, sculptures, photographs, representing every corner of the globe.

With free admission, more than a million visitors enter through the gallery’s neoclassical portico each year. While many come to admire its masterpieces, others come to attend lectures on art or view special film screenings. For many visitors, no trip to the gallery would be complete without a meal in the gallery restaurant or a coffee in the outdoor terrace.

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8. Palm Beach (Free)

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The most northerly of Sydney beaches, Palm Beach is far from the bustling crowd, yet only an hour’s drivefrom the CBD. Three kilometres in length, Palm Beach is among the most spacious of Sydney beaches, offering ample room to shake the sand off a beach towel without blinding other bathers. The natural beauty of the beach is offset at its northern tip by the historic Barrenjoey Head Lighthouse.

For many locals and tourists alike, Palm Beach’s greatest claim to fame is as the real “Summer Bay,” a fictional coastal town in the long-running Australian soap-opera, Home and Away. Now televised in dozens of countries, the drama series is followed by a devoted audience of 50 million people. Fans of the show may be able to catch the filming of episodes on weekdays, both on the beach and in the neighbouring community.

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9. Chinese Garden of Friendship (Paid)

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Located just outside of Chinatown, the Chinese Garden of Friendship is one of Sydney’s hidden gems. Opened in 1988 – on the 200th anniversary of European settlement in Australia – the garden was designed as a gift to Sydney from its sister city in China, Guangzhou.

Although a pinprick on the map, the Chinese Garden of Friendship is densely packed with exotic plants, fish-stocked ponds, rocky waterfalls, hidden paths, wooden bridges, and traditional pavilions. The decorative Dragon Wall is the most prominent reminder of the garden’sChinese origins. Strolling through this walled sanctuary, visitors find the surrounding city falling silent. Spreading trees provide ample shade on a hot summer’s day in Sydney, with the sound of running water a welcome relief. To experience the full flavour of the garden, visitors should stop in at Chinese Teahouse for a calming tea or a simple dim sum

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10. National Maritime Museum (Paid)

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Located on the waterfront of Sydney Harbour, the Australian National Maritime Museum charts the island-continent’s tumultuous relationship with the sea. The museum spans the course of millennia, from ancient Aboriginal artefacts, through relics of the early European navigators, to the modern warships of the Australian Navy. Visitors can explore a full-scale replica of the HMS Endeavour, the 18th century bark in which Captain Cook first sighted the land he called New South Wales; climb aboard the destroyer HMAS Vampire, commissioned during the darkest days of the Cold War; and descend into the HMAS Onslow, one of the stealthiest submarines to ever patrol the oceans. Temporary exhibitions also follow in the wake of more global mariners, from Viking longboats crossing the Atlantic, to Polynesian outriggers exploring the Pacific. With interactive displays, guided tours, and even sailing excursions, the National Maritime Museum will please young landlubbers and old seafarers alike

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11. Taronga Zoo (Paid)

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Lions, elephants, giraffes, hippos, and gorillas inhabit the shores of Sydney Harbour, all within the safe confines of Taronga Zoo. Visitors to the zoo can also find cute local favourites, like the koala, the wallaby, and the platypus. Fans of deadly reptiles can get close to Komodo dragons, saltwater crocodiles, and the world’s most venomous snake – the Inland taipan. In total, Taronga Zoo is home to hundreds of species and thousands of animals from across the globe.

Conceived in the early 20th century to be a modern bar-free zoo, Taronga has a proud heritage of humane treatment towards animals and is dedicated to animal conservation worldwide. Set on 52 acres of green harbourside, Taronga Zoo is one of the most spacious city zoos in the world. Visitors can stroll among the animal kingdoms with gorgeous views of Sydney Harbour in the background. Indeed, the name Taronga is derived from an old Aboriginal term meaning either water view orbeautiful view.

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12. Lane Cove National Park (Free)

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Just 11 kilometres from the heart of Sydney, Lane Cove National Park comprises more than a thousand acres of bushland. The park was created between the two World Wars to offer respite from the encroaching western suburbs of Sydney. By constructing a weir on the lower Lane Cover River, park developers drowned the valley upriver – making its waters safe for recreational use.

The park offers a wide array of facilities and activities. Picnickers will find grassy clearings and barbecue areas; bushwalkers can explore the forestlands on many varied tracks; cyclists are free to ride along the park’s roads, or along the old fire trail running through the woods; those seeking to paddle out onto the river can hire canoes, kayaks, rowboats, or peddle boats inside the park. Visitors wishing to stay overnight should check in at the Lane Cover River Tourist Park, where campsites and cabins are available. But be warned: you may be woken by the laughing call of Kookaburras!

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13. Sydney Aquarium (Paid)

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For those who are curious about what lurks beneath the waters that bathe Australia, the Sydney Sea Life Aquarium is a must. With plexiglass tunnels penetrating one of the world’s largest aquariums, visitors may stroll underwater while schools of fish swim about them and sharks above them. The aquarium is divided into several sections, each recreating the unique habitats of Australia’s marine life, like “Dugong Island” and “Bay of Rays.” The “Great Barrier Reef” has the most dazzling array of colourful fish. Fans of the cute and cuddly will find Platypus in the “Streams and Billabongs,” and little penguins in the “South Coast Shipwreck.” Those seeking a bigger pinch will enjoy “Saws and Claws,” home to the Japanese Spider Crab, whose enormous claws extend from legs three metres long! With more than 650 species of fish, and some 12,000 creatures in all, the Sydney Aquarium has something for everyone. Many visitors, however, will think twice before they go back into the water.

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14. WildLife Sydney Zoo (Paid)

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Wild Life Sydney Zoo is a haven for Australian mammals, reptiles, and insects – a perfect complement to the marine life in the neighbouring Sydney Aquarium. A modern and interactive zoo, opened in 2006, it was designed to bridge the gap between humans and animals. The zoo is divided into several sections, each with its own unique experience of the native fauna. In the “Butterfly Tropics,” colourful insects flutter by, sometimes stopping to perch on the arms of friendly visitors. In “Kangaroo Walkabout,” visitors can stroll through an outback landscape with boomers bounding about them. In “Koala Encounters,”lucky visitors can have their photos taken patting the furry marsupials. But in travelling through “Kakadu Gorge,” visitors must keep a safe distance from Rex – the resident saltwater crocodile, who is five metres long and still growing! Fully enclosed and air-conditioned, Wild Life Sydney Zoo has the perfect conditions in which to encounter Australia’s wildlife, 365 days a year.

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15. Sydney Olympic Park (Paid)

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The home of the 2000 Summer Olympics, Sydney Olympic Park is one of the world’s largest sporting complexes. The centrepiece of the park is Stadium Australia, also known as ANZ Stadium. Here, in the summer of 2000, Maurice Greene, Michael Johnson, and Marion Jones picked up a swag of medals on the track. For most Australians, however, the stadium’s crowning moment came when local favourite Cathy Freeman won gold in the 400 metres.

Despite fears that the complex would fall into disuse after the Olympics, it has been transformed into a veritable mecca for Australia’s most importing sporting codes: Rugby League, Rugby Union, Australian Rules, Soccer, and scores more. More than a sporting complex, the park also plays host to important festivals and exhibitions like the Big Day Out and the Royal Easter Show. In any given week, the park is thronged by sports fanatics, concert-goers, or festive families. Visitors are advised to select their dates according to their tastes.

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16. Parramatta Park (Free)

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Located in the heart of western Sydney, Parramatta Park is an idyllic sanctuary in the midst of urban sprawl. Straddling the Parramatta River, the site had been home to Aborigines for 20,000 years; indeed, Parramatta is a prehistoric aboriginal name for the river, probably signifying water of eels. After the arrival of European settlers and convicts in 1788, colonial governors took up residence on the site; the governor’s country estate and bathhouse may still be seen on the grounds. By 1858, the old governor’s domain had been converted into a public park, one of the oldest in the world.

Every year almost 2 million visitors come to Parramatta Park. With more than 200 acres of land, the park is a perfect retreat for picnicking families, swooning couples, or those simply needing a green retreat from the urban jungle. There are tracks for walkers and cyclists, cricket ovals, football fields, a golf course, and a swimming pool – anopen focal point for the sport-loving citizens of western Sydney.

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Sydney Opera House Guided Walking Tour

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Duration: 1 hour

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5 (701 Reviews)

Sydney Opera House Guided Walking Tour

Sydney & Bondi Hop-on Hop-off Tour

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4.5 (1370 Reviews)

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Sydney Tower Restaurant Buffet

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Duration: 1:30 hours

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4 (1191 Reviews)

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Sydney Skywalk at Sydney Tower Eye

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Duration: 1:30 hours

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4.5 (122 Reviews)

Sydney Skywalk at Sydney Tower Eye

Sydney Harbour Sunset Dinner Cruise

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Duration: 1:30 hour

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4.5 (325 Reviews)

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Sydney Combo: 2-Day Hop-on Hop-off Harbour Cruise and City Bus Tour

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4.5 (199 Reviews)

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Opera Performance at the Sydney Opera

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4.5 (178 Reviews)

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Sydney Day Tour

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Sydney Taronga Zoo and Wild Australia Experience

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5 (415 Reviews)

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Blue Mountains Nature and Wildlife Day Tour

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4.5 (1024 Reviews)

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Hunter Valley Wine Tasting Day Tour

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4.5 (223 Reviews)

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Sydney Bridge Climb

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5 (953 Reviews)

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Jenolan Caves and Blue Mountains Day Tour

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4.5 (183 Reviews)

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Port Stephens Day Trip with Dolphin Watching, Sandboarding and Australian Wildlife

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Duration: 11 hours

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4.5 (138 Reviews)

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Sydney Harbour Tour by Helicopter

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5 (166 Reviews)

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