10 Exciting Things to Do in Sydney
Visit a zoo, check out an art gallery, or even go on a blind-date with a book!
(SPOT.ph) As a tourist in Sydney, Australia, you might be overwhelmed by all the attractions and activities vying for your attention. The lively arts and sports scene offers something for everyone, but what if you only have a few days in the city? Then it’s best to base your itinerary on your accommodations and available transportation options. Chances are, you’ll be staying in or near Sydney's central business district, so start with the activities in the area. If you have access to a car, you can go farther and do day trips, but even without one, you can easily explore thanks to their efficient public transportation system.
Have close encounters of the wild kind at Taronga Zoo
Feed giraffes, get in the splash zone of seals, and have your photo taken with koalas—fingers crossed they’re awake when it’s your turn. These are just some of the cool things you can experience at Taronga Zoo, which prides itself on being an animal-first sanctuary. It’s home to over 4,000 animals from over 350 species, so take note of the daily timetable to prioritize what you want to see and experience. We recommend the seal show and free-flight bird show, both free with your zoo entrance fee. Up for a next-level adventure? The Wild Ropes high-ropes courses let you walk among trees and navigate the suspension bridges, climbing walls, and flying foxes. Make sure to look around and enjoy the unbeatable view of the entire zoo and the Sydney Harbor.
Taronga Zoo is at Bradleys Head Road, Mosman.
Climb the Sydney Harbor Bridge
Want an even more adrenaline-pumping adventure than Taronga Zoo’s high-ropes courses? Climb the Sydney Harbor Bridge, the steel-arch, heritage-listed landmark built 95 years ago. Choose from the BridgeClimb (3.5 hours along the outer arch) the BridgeClimb Express (2.25 hours along the inner arch), and the BridgeClimb Sampler (1.5 hours along the inner arch). No two climbs are the same even within each category as the views change depending on the time of your climb: dawn, day, twilight, or night. Book your tickets well ahead of your trip as the Sydney Harbor Bridge is one of the busiest tourist attractions in town.
Go on a blind date with a book
You might have seen this concept on Instagram or Pinterest, in which you judge a book by a few lines on its cover. The idea originated in the bookstore chain Elizabeth’s Bookshop, and you can find a branch in the suburb of Newtown. The books are covered in the same brown paper, so there are no other clues as to what’s inside—and that’s exactly what's fun about it. It’s a chance for you to pick up a title you otherwise never would have. If you happen to choose something you’ve already read, you can exchange it for another title by returning the wrapper and receipt along with the book.
Elizabeth’s Bookshop is located at 257 King Street, Newtown.
Get all dressed up for the theater
For Broadway fans, there's West Side Story at the Handa Opera floating stage, which runs until April 21. Hit two attractions with one stone by catching a show at the famous Sydney Opera House, like La Bohème, a bohemian love story set in the 1930s. Check the schedules as soon as you have your visa and flight details to take advantage of the online booking discount offered by most establishments.
Shop at The Strand Arcade
Come for the 1800s architecture, stay for the shopping. The beautifully preserved shopping center located in the Sydney CBD is a great place to stock up on pasalubong and treats for yourself. Here you’ll find chocolate shops Haigh’s Chocolates and Koko Black, both certified Aussie favorites. Australia is famous for its coffee and nuts, among other food products, and you can have your fill of these goodies at The Nut Shop and Gumption by Coffee Alchemy. At Gewurzhaus, herbs and spices from all over the world are displayed in clear bulk containers, with pretty paper packaging perfect for gifting. Take your pick and weigh it yourself while sipping on the complimentary tea of the day.
The Strand Arcade is at 412-414 George Street.
Mix your own rich hot chocolate
Indulge your sweet tooth at Lindt Chocolate Café, which has a dizzying array of their famous chocolates, desserts, and drinks. If you only order one thing from the dine-in menu, make it the Signature Hot Chocolate. Choose from dark, milk, salted caramel, or hazelnut chocolate, and mix it with freshly frothed milk to your exact preference. One order can easily serve two, though no one will bat an eye if you finish every drop.
Lindt Chocolate Café has branches at Martin Place and Cockle Bay, among other locations in Sydney.
Hit up the groceries and markets
Your vacation wouldn't be complete without at least one trip to one of Sydney’s food hubs. Go to a nearby Woolworths, Coles, Aldi, or IGA grocery in the central business district, or check the schedules of The Rocks, Bondi, or Paddy’s Markets. Best if you're staying somewhere with have a kitchen so you can cook using Australia’s world-famous meats and the freshest catch from the sea, with supersized vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and bell peppers that are much cheaper than our local produce. If you don’t have access to a kitchen, it’s still well worth a visit to stock up on berries, nuts, and bread, as well as sandwiches and other snacks.
Spend the day at a seaside amusement park
Book your tickets to Luna Park online to get a discount, and go early to make the most of your daily pass. Beating the crowd also means you can have your photo taken at the IG-worthy entrance while no one’s around. Inside the park, enjoy the rides and allot time for events such as this season’s Santa Experience, the after-hours Twilight Saver, and the Harbour Party New Year’s celebration.
Luna Park is located at 1 Olympic Drive, Milsons Point.
Explore Surry Hills
The eastern suburb is famous for its hip artsy scene. If you only have a few hours to spare, have an early dinner at Madame Nhu, a Vietnamese restaurant frequented by locals, then walk to Golden Age Cinema & Bar for an experience that will transport you back in time. Golden Age is located in the basement of the former home of Paramount Pictures in Sydney, a well-preserved Art Deco building. The underground screening room is now a 60-seat cinema with an adjoining David Lynch-inspired bar. Here you can catch classic films, curated new releases, and special events.
Madame Nhu is at 82 Campbell Street and Golden Age Cinema & Bar at 80 Commonwealth Street in Surry Hills.
Catch art after hours
Working hours in Sydney are generally until 5 p.m. only, so events at night are extra special. Visit the Art Gallery of New South Wales on a Wednesday so you can stay for Art After Hours from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Enjoy talks, performances, live music, and films as you sip on wine or cocktails at the entrance court, and explore the galleries in between sets (no food and drinks allowed outside the entrance court though).
The Art Gallery of New South Wales is on Art Gallery Road.