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Unique Things to Do in Sydney, Australia

The hometown series is designed to encourage you to appreciate what can be found in your own background while giving you exciting destinations around the world that might be perfect for your next getaway. We recently headed to Inverness in the Scottish Highlands, Bali in Indonesia, West Linn in Oregon, Yreka, California, and Seattle, Washington. Next, we will go to the land down under to discover the many unique things to do in Sydney with Shandos from Travelnuity.

The city of Sydney on the east coast of Australia is one of the country’s most popular destinations, thanks to its beautiful natural scenery, excellent beaches and many cultural and sporting events. No matter what time of year you visit, there’s no shortage of things to do in Sydney. Add some of these unique things to do in Sydney to your bucket list for Australia.

Unique Things to Do in Sydney

Walk Across the Harbour Bridge

For some of the best views in Sydney, walk across the Harbour Bridge, on the northern edge of the city center. The famous coat hanger bridge forms a vital road and rail link across the harbor, but it’s also home to a spectacular footpath on its eastern side (as well as a cycle path on its west).

The footpath on the Sydney Harbour Bridge is accessed through stairs just above Circular Quay, in between Cumberland Street and Observatory Hill. The footpath on the bridge runs for nearly 2km to the north, before ending with a set of stairs near Milsons Point train station. You can then retrace your footsteps or return by train or ferry.

As the footpath is on the eastern side of the bridge, it offers glorious views of the Sydney Opera House and the city skyline along its entire length. Just be aware it can get quite windy up on it – it’s best to walk it during calmer weather.

While you can spend a small fortune on “climbing the bridge”, a cheaper alternative is to head up the Pylon Lookout on the southern end of the bridge. There’s even better views of the city from the top of the tower, plus historical displays on the building of the bridge in the 1920s and 1930s.

people crossing the coat hanger Harbor Bridge in Sydney
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A section of the Sydney Harbor Bridge. Photo Credit: Travelnuity.

Head to the Beach

A visit to Sydney isn’t complete without hitting one or more of its many beaches. There’s no shortage of beautiful, sandy beaches to choose from both south and north of the city!

One of the most famous beaches in Sydney is Bondi Beach, which is also one of the closest beaches to the center of Sydney. Head to Bondi by taking the train to Bondi Junction train station, then catching the very frequent buses the rest of the way. Another popular beach a few suburbs south is Coogee Beach, which can be accessed by bus from the center of the city.

While the surf beaches around Sydney get much of the attention, there’s also some calm harbor beaches to swim at. Neilsen Park on the southern edge of the harbor is home to the popular Shark Beach, which despite its name has a shark net enclosed swimming area. While this beach is currently undergoing major works, perhaps instead head to Camp Cove, just inside South Head.

Walk the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk

One of the best ways to experience the beaches of Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs and one of the most unique things to do in Sydney is to walk along the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk. This paved walking path is 6km long, meandering along the coastline between Bondi Beach and Coogee Beach, also passing by Tamarama Beach, Bronte Beach and Clovelly Beach.

The coastal walk is most popular during the summer months, when you can stop off and swim at as many beaches as you like. There’s also plenty of casual cafes along the route, plus at either end, where you can enjoy brunch or lunch, or just a coffee stop. However, it’s also a scenic walk during winter months, when there’s a chance of spotting whales off the coast.

One of the most charming spots that the walk passes by is Gordons Bay. This sheltered bay north of Coogee is a popular spot for snorkeling – there’s even an underwater trail to follow. Or just laze on the rocks in the sunshine.

people in bathing suits walking the shore of Bondi Beach
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Bondi Beach. Photo Credit: Travelnuity

Unique Things to Do in Sydney: Take the Ferry to Manly

There’s plenty of harbor cruises that you can choose from on Sydney harbor, whether you want a hop-on, hop-off cruise or a lunch or sunset cruise with a glass of beer or wine. However, you can also enjoy a half an hour trip on the harbor by hopping aboard the popular Manly ferry.

The Manly ferry regular departs from Circular Quay ferry wharf, along with the Manly Fast Ferry. Make sure you grab an outside seat to enjoy the view. The northern side of the boat is most popular for the views of Middle Head and Sydney Harbour National Park, plus to enjoy the sunshine on winter days.

The Manly ferry is also the easiest way to get from the city to the seaside suburb of Manly and its beaches without a car. You’ll land on the harbor side of Manly, but then follow the Corso shopping mall to the northern side and Manly Beach. This beach is popular for surfing, plus swimming in waves.

There’s a flat walking path along Manly Beach heading south, that will eventually lead you to Shelly Beach. This sheltered small beach is home to an aquatic reserve and is a popular spot for snorkeling – try to spot the resident Blue Gropers.

See a Show at the Opera House

One of the most iconic buildings in Sydney is the Sydney Opera House. This icon of modern architecture was completed 50 years ago and is one of the most recently built World Heritage Sites in the world.

The Opera House perches at the end of Bennelong Point on the harbor. Some of the best views of it are from the Harbour Bridge and the Manly ferry, but it’s also worthwhile visiting close up for a different perspective – the tiles look a lot less white close up!

While visiting Sydney, try and book tickets to one of the many shows held in the Opera House. It’s not just opera – there’s multiple theatres inside, including a concert call, opera theatre, drama theatre and modern performance spaces. Different shows are held every night of the week.

Or for something different during the day, book a guided tour of the Opera House, where you’ll have a chance to go backstage and experience once of the most unique things to do in Sydney.

the unique architecture of the Sydney opera house with water in the foreground
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The Sydney Opera House. Photo Credit: Travelnuity.

Visit the Art Gallery of NSW

For a cultural experience of a different kind, head to the Art Gallery of NSW. First established in the late 19th-century, the sandstone column facade of the original gallery is now complemented by a modern building next door, that only opened in late 2022.

Dubbed the Sydney Modern project, this modern and airy new space has greatly increased the size of the gallery. And pride of place in the new building belongs to the gallery’s collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, situated on the top floor where you enter.

It’s a wonderful space to explore the culture of the original Aboriginal inhabitants of Australia, the oldest living culture in the world. The artworks on display range from traditional to contemporary. As well as free entry to the gallery, free guided tours run daily.

After a visit to the gallery, walk back to the Circular Quay area through the adjacent Royal Botanic Garden, established during the early days of Sydney on the shores of the harbor.

colorfully painted flower sculpture outside the art gallery
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Art Gallery of NSW. Photo Credit: Travelnuity.

Unique Things to Do in Sydney: Spend the Day in the Blue Mountains

Sydney is surrounded by bushland and national parks on all sides. There’s plenty of options for day trips, particularly if you enjoy hiking, but one destination you can’t miss are the Blue Mountains, situated to the west of Sydney.

There’s a wide range of day tours that you can join to the Blue Mountains. Alternatively, hop onboard a train at Central Station, then buy a ticket for a hop-on, hop-off bus near Katoomba.

One of the top attractions in the Blue Mountains are the spectacular Three Sisters, a rock formation in Katoomba next to Echo Point. Also enjoy the views of the massive Jamison Valley below. You can descend down into the valley down the Giant Stairway, then follow a walking track across to the bottom of the Scenic Railway, where you can ride back up to the top of the cliffs.

Other popular destinations in the Blue Mountains include Wentworth Falls, Govetts Leap and Sublime Point Lookout. While many destinations in the Blue Mountains are within the national park, you can even visit the Blue Mountains with a dog.

tree covered mountains with fog, Blue Mountains, one of the most unique things to do in Sydney
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Blue Mountains. Photo Credit: Travelnuity.

Where to Eat in Sydney

Sydney has a wide variety of places to dine at, from casual brunch cafes to traditional pubs and world-class restaurants. Make the most of your time in Sydney by dining somewhere with a beautiful view.

Opera Bar: This bar is situated on the promenade in front of the Opera House and is particularly popular during summer evenings. It also serves up a wide range of meals, with seafood and pizza two focuses. Claim a seat first before ordering.

The Boathouse Shelly Beach: There are multiple Boathouse restaurant outposts around Sydney, all in beautiful locations. The Boathouse Shelly Beach is located next to the gorgeous Shelly Beach in Manly, open daily for breakfast and lunch. There are no reservations required, with walk-ins welcome.

Where to Stay

One of the best places to stay in the center of Sydney no matter what your age is the YHA Sydney Harbour – The Rocks. Centrally located close to Circular Quay, there’s fabulous views from the shared rooftop area. As well as traditional dorm rooms, there’s plenty of private rooms with ensuites that are some of the best value hotel-style rooms in the city center.

About the Author

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Shandos Cleaver is the founder of Travelnuity, a travel blog focused on dog-friendly travel around the world. She lives in Sydney, Australia along with her husband and Miniature Dachshund, Schnitzel. Together they’ve travelled extensively throughout Australia, the USA and Europe. She’s passionate about providing inspiration and information to others wanting to travel with their dogs.

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Go to the land down under to experience the best and most unique things to do in Sydney, from culture and history to scenic views and fun! #australia #sydney #hometownseries
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