If you’re looking for a way to spend your day during your visit to Sydney, we’ve got some suggestions! The city is full of amazing parks and gardens perfect for relaxing in the sunshine.
An abundance of birdlife, incredible artistic installations, beautifully manicured gardens, and canopies of plant life. Sydney’s exquisitely landscaped gardens and parks represent the community of our magnificent city home.
Sydney is a nature lover’s playground. And while it’s easy for glittering Sydney Harbour to steal the show, the gardens and parks that surround the city are equally awe-inspiring.
Discover green parklands perfect for horse riding, pretty parks and picnic spots within World Heritage-listed convict sites.
Despite Sydney’s strong population growth in recent times, Australia’s most beautiful city is still home to a significant number of beautiful parks.
Sydney has a wealth of beautiful parks and gardens that offer an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. So whether you are looking for somewhere to take your loved one or just want to get away from it all, Sydney’s parks have something for everyone. Find out about some of the most popular ones below!
The blog post is about how people visiting Sydney can find different places to visit if they are not interested in going on tours or seeing museums.
1. Centennial Park
Located moments from the CBD and easily accessible by car or public transport, Centennial Parklands is a must-see location in Sydney.
Made up of three major urban parks covering 360 hectares, the Parklands are aesthetically beautiful and historically significant, housing Australia’s Federation Monument, The Federation Pavilion.
Opened to the public in 1888, Centennial Park is Sydney’s playground in the inner east, consisting of 189 hectares of wide-open spaces for recreation and leisure.
It was designed as a people’s park for the enjoyment of all residents of New South Wales, characterised by gardens, ponds, statues and broad avenues.
A weekend trip to Centennial Park, especially in summer, reveals Aussies at their leisurely best. There’s an outdoor fitness station, and you can hire rollerblades and bikes or even go horse riding.
Cyclists used to be a bit of a menace, but these days most adhere to the 30km/hr (18.6mph) speed limit and will dodge a pedestrian if at all possible. But don’t be scared off by all this activity: the park is also teeming with those just looking for a shady spot to nap or read a good book.
Even in peak season, when it seems every Sydneysider wants a piece of the park, the vast lawns mean that there’s always a secluded spot to claim as your own. Statues, ponds and native Australian flowers make it one of the prettiest places to spend a day, and there’s a great restaurant and café.
Ranger-led walks include Tree Tours, Frog Pond workshops and the night-time Spotlight Prowl, and keep your eyes peeled for the Moonlight Cinema from December to March.
Another highlight perfect for families is the Ian Potter Children’s Wild Play Garden – a fenced-off landscape featuring a bamboo forest, dry creek beds, banksia tunnels, turtle mounds and a giant treehouse, with water play fountains to splash around in during summer.
Centennial Park was also used as the site to mark the federation of the Australian colonies and the inauguration of the Commonwealth of Australia on 1 January 1901.
The park is part of the Centennial Parklands, which also includes Moore Park and Queens Park. It is one of Australia’s most popular and historic public areas, with more than 30 million people visiting each year.
Free to visit, the Parklands are home to over 15,000 trees, Australian wildlife, ponds, flower beds, statues, as well as offering a selection of cafes and restaurants.
When visiting the Parklands do as the locals do – take a walk, hire a bike, enjoy a round of golf, go horse-riding, or enjoy a picnic in the vast and beautifully maintained open green spaces.
2. Barangaroo Reserve
Barangaroo Reserve is a modern Sydney Harbour foreshore park, part of a massive transformation project that changes an old and ugly industrial site into a thriving business, entertainment and leisure precinct.
Barangaroo is located on the western edge of Sydney’s Central Business District, on the world-famous harbour’s shores.
Barangaroo showcases how city populations can live sustainably with a new, 21st-century western face to the city.
It includes six hectares of busy public waterfront walks and parks, including the beautiful Barangaroo Reserve and commercial office towers and apartments, all serviced by new and extended transport systems.
Did you know Barangaroo was a kickass businesswoman? Named for the pioneering second wife of Bennelong (the Eora man who played a critical interlocutory role between original inhabitants and the British settlers).
After years of design and development, Barangaroo Reserve is now a beautiful 6-hectare waterfront park with a large artificial hill right in the middle. It is home to more than 75,000 planted trees, palms, ferns, shrubs and other plants.
According to Rhoda Roberts, director of Indigenous programming and ceremonies, Barangaroo was the first Aboriginal woman to profit from the newly arrived hungry white folks by selling them surplus fish.
The Reserve consists of several walking paths spread over multiple levels. There is no set start and endpoint, so you can wander around and enjoy the pretty surroundings and Harbour views.
Barangaroo Reserve is easily accessible from Cockle Bay and Barangaroo in the south and The Rocks and Circular Quay in the east. The closest train station would be Wynyard, which provides direct pedestrian access to the Barangaroo area.
Barangaroo Reserve was opened in September 2015 on a site that used to be a vacant wharf. It’s a park and entertainment space that runs over several levels with panoramic views of Sydney Harbour.
Barangaroo Central will be an exciting place with civic, educational and recreation spaces and a range of exciting things to do. It will be an area for the community with buildings and open-air spaces for festivals, entertainment, arts, culture, and educational activities.
It will be the place for new outdoor festivals and events, another opportunity to get close to the water of Sydney Harbour and a destination people will want to soak up night and day.
There’s a space called the Cutaway, which is used for indoor events and exhibitions, and there are often food trucks parked outside.
3. Hyde Park
Hyde Park was once a source of food and water for the Gadigal people and was part of a vast swampland that spread into Sydney’s first tank stream. It is now Australia’s oldest public park, gazetted in 1810 and formerly home to Sydney’s first racecourse.
Hyde Park is Australia’s oldest park. Divided by Park Street, the southern section of Hyde Park contains the ANZAC Memorial building and visitor centre, the pool of reflection and numerous monuments and statues.
It was virtually destroyed when dug up to make Sydney’s underground railway but was restored and beautified to its current state in 1927 and ever since has offered green grass, blue sky and tinkling fountains to harried CBD workers.
Hyde Park breathes history, with several historic buildings situated along the park’s boundaries, such as the Supreme Court of New South Wales, St. James Church, Hyde Park Barracks, and St Mary’s Cathedral.
The park hosts several cultural events throughout the year, including the Sydney Festival, Australia Day, ANZAC Day and the Food and Wine Fair.
The park is a popular attraction, workers and tourists congregating throughout the year to enjoy the varied sights and sounds of this green iconic and central public space.
The park is also home to the ANZAC War Memorial, a heritage-listed monument and museum near Liverpool Street.
4. Royal Botanic Garden and the Domain
Established in 1816, Royal Botanic Garden Sydney is a 30 hectares large oasis located in the city’s heart.
Thought to be one of the oldest public gardens in the Southern Hemisphere, Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens date back to 1810 when Governor Lachlan Macquarie and his wife had a vision for an “English parkland setting with a grand house”.
Over the years, this 30-hectare oasis has withstood fires, cattle grazing, invasions of flying foxes, a windmill, an aviary, and even a zoo. Today, save a few sulphur-crested cookies; it’s an oasis of calm in an urban jungle.
From the provocative rare and threatened plants of the world to the romantic rose garden, the themed garden areas show the diverse beauty of nature.
Special features include: Cadi Jam Ora – First Encounters is a garden display that remembers and acknowledges the Cadigal – the original inhabitants of Sydney’s city centre – and their relationship with this land.
If it’s not raining, rug-up and take a free guided walk through the gardens…which should help all you urbanites to separate your Begonias from your Camellias.
The park is Australia’s oldest botanic garden and scientific institution, home to a great collection of plants worldwide, focusing on Australia and the South Pacific.
Although, as this month heralds the peak flowering season for banksias, you might find yourself becoming familiar with some native species as part of the Bountiful Banksias tour.
Alternatively, if it’s a wet weekend, warm up over brunch at the Botanic Gardens Restaurant, where you can watch the rain pour down whilst cradling your steaming cup of coffee. Exquisite.
The best way to explore the unique beauty, heritage and plant diversity of the Royal National Park is by simply wandering around. The picture-perfect views of the Harbour and city skyline are a bonus.
The Royal Botanic Garden offers several tour experiences, including the Aboriginal Heritage Tour, a free guided walk and bespoke heritage tours. Bookings are essential online.
Free Wifi is available throughout the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney. Download the free app for self-guided audio walking tours, a Garden map, and the latest events.
With its location right next to the CBD, the Royal Botanic Garden is easily accessible by train, with St James, Martin Place, and Circular Quay train stations nearby.
5. Robertson Park
There are many splendid parks to explore throughout picturesque Sydney, and some capture that special moment for a very long time. In the charming Watsons Bay, Robertson Park is one of those parks that make you keep coming back, and it is undoubtedly a unique point of interest!
Robertson Park is a large harbourside park located in Watsons Bay, opposite Gap Park. The large grassed area with some shade trees is popular with local and international visitors for picnics, informal recreation and harbour and ocean viewing.
Right in the centre of Watsons Bay, Robertson Park is a great place to picnic with playground facilities and harbour and city views. It’s only a quick walk away from Watson Bay Baths and the Gap.
Robertson Park is situated in the centre of Watsons Bay, one of Sydney’s top tourist destinations. It’s a family-friendly place with public toilets, tables and playgrounds.
The park offers excellent views of Sydney Harbour on one side and the Tasman Sea on the other side. And with a couple of secluded beaches and several cafes nearby, it’s easy to spend a whole day in this scenic area.
Robertson Park provides a significant tourist destination for residents as well as visitors from Australia and worldwide. It is also a gateway to explore The Gap and its surroundings, Hornby Lighthouse and the spectacular walk to Macquarie Lighthouse and beyond.
Outdoor wedding ceremonies are popular in the park, with nearby Dunbar House offering excellent reception facilities or just a great spot for a good breakfast. In addition, there is a bandstand rotunda in the park dating back to the 1940s.
The fenced playground provides shade sails and natural shade. It includes a soft rubber fall and features an open climbing frame, slide, gyro spinner and animal rockers.
What makes Robertson Park so much more special is its association with the earliest colony days. Two years after Europeans first arrived at Sydney Cove, a Lookout Post was established in 1790 at South Head.
Although there are no physical remains of the houses and gardens built for the signalmen, it is believed that they were located in the grounds known as Robertson Park today.
Another exciting history about Robertson Park was that the Birrabiragal people lived around Watsons Park and South Head, and remains from their occupation can be seen in the form of the shell middens and rock art around the harbour’s edge in the Park.
Be mindful that Watsons Bay gets very busy during weekends, which makes parking your car quite a challenge.
Luckily though, Watsons Bay has its own ferry wharf with frequent ferry services travelling to and from Circular Quay.
The best way to experience the beauty of Watsons Bay is by following a 4.5 km circuit walk, from Robertson Park to South Head via Camp Cove and back via The Gap.
6. Wendy Whiteley’s Secret Garden
An actual creator sees what isn’t there, then makes it appear. And so it was with Wendy Whiteley, already an established Australian artist, when she looked over the mess of invasive weeds and tangled lantana filling the neglected escarpment near her door.
In her mind’s eye, she could see it. A sanctuary to escape the busy city, to breathe again, to sit in a beautiful natural refuge. It would be a garden. Wendy’s secret garden.
If you asked around, you would find that many people have heard of Wendy Whiteley’s Secret Garden, and some would have already been there and connected with it.
It is not a secret. However, it is one of the worst kept secrets in Sydney – it has been talked about on the radio, written about in the newspapers, viewed on countless web pages, featured on television, and gets numerous visitors from all over Australia and the World.
Wendy’s Secret Garden has been growing since the mid-1990s and is now one of Sydney’s most beautiful public gardens. It finally became official in 2015, along with the security of tenure from the local council’s new owners.
Everyone needs a secret garden in their life, and you’re invited to visit Wendy Whiteley’s Secret Garden, a public garden and much-loved oasis in the heart of Sydney.
Located a short walk over the Sydney Harbour Bridge or a closer stroll from Milsons Point and North Sydney train stations, the Secret Garden is a haven where you can explore meandering pathways discovering sculptures as you go.
Enjoy a picnic basket or read a book at one of the tables or benches beneath the garden’s canopy, or you can enjoy the nature and serenity of your beautiful surroundings. You may even stumble across a hidden fairy house.
Created over the past 20 years by artist Wendy Whiteley, wife and muse of Australian artist Brett Whiteley, the Secret Garden is nestled behind Luna Park in one of Sydney’s most spectacular and possibly smallest suburbs, Lavender Bay.
The garden is free and open to the public seven days a week; there are steep inclines and a range of steps. Whilst visitors with limited mobility may only be able to access the uppermost sections of the garden via Clark Park, you are sure to enjoy your visit.
7. Bicentennial Park
Bicentennial Park is a park in Homebush near the Sydney Olympic venues.
With 40 hectares worth of scenic parkland, Bicentennial Park is perhaps one the most popular and most significant parks in the greater Sydney area.
Located in the wetlands of Homebush Bay, this park offers 40 hectares of land teeming with activity. So fire up one of the free electric barbecues for a casual lunch with friends or family and hire a bike to burn off the big feed.
Bicentennial Park is an excellent family weekend destination and is one of the big drawcards of living in the growing suburb of Sydney Olympic Park.
There’s a water play area and plenty of secluded areas surrounded by bushland, plus trails for walking your dog on a leash, be mindful of the signposted ‘no dog’ areas aimed at protecting local wildlife.
One of the highlights in Bicentennial Park is the Treillage Tower, which provides panoramic views of the surrounding wetlands, the Olympic Park residential towers and sports stadiums, and even the Sydney CBD skyline.
With such an enormous size, there is plenty to see and do for the whole family. Enjoy a picnic at the lake, go cycling or walking on the various pathways, follow the boardwalk above the mangroves, or grab a bite at the Waterview cafe.
8. Sydney Park
Located in St. Peters, bordered by Alexandria and Erskineville, Sydney Park is a 40ha sizeable recreational area characterised by open recreation spaces, rolling hills, wetlands and historic chimneys.
Sydney Park comprises 40 hectares of lush grass, landscaped gardens, rolling hills, meandering pathways and picturesque wetlands. Creeks flow throughout the park and attract all different types of birds. There are plenty of spacious viewing decks that are ideally placed to ensure you can take it all in as long as you like.
Sydney Park is famous for weekend picnics, and it’s very dog friendly.
Kids, adults and dogs alike can enjoy Sydney Park and all it has to offer. Stretching over 40 hectares, including an award-winning network of wetlands and ponds (complete with ducks and the area’s most significant population of native birds), it gets pretty close to being the perfect picnic location.
You may not know that Sydney Park used to be a large landfill and an industrial brick making site, and as such, the park is declared a contaminated site. But don’t let that deter you because the park is considered safe.
With the vast kilns of the heritage-listed brickworks site towering above, this expansive park borders St Peters, Newtown, Alexandria and Erskineville. Add some neat children’s attractions like a giant playground and a miniature road network for little bikes, and hey, presto! A lovely day out for everyone.
Sydney Park is now home to a large children’s playground, various cycle and walking paths, picnic areas, cricket and AFL oval, and so much more.
A large children’s playground will probably have the grown-ups mesmerised just as much as the kids. The tactile, one-of-a-kind playground includes many different types of equipment that will keep children entertained for hours, as well as several elements that will stimulate their senses of touch, hearing and sight.
Cafés, barbecue facilities near the children’s bike track and the wetlands, and public toilets are also available.
What’s great is that Sydney Park is also very dog-friendly, so make sure you bring your four-legged member of the family along.
9. The Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan
The Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan is a 416-hectare (1,028-acre) botanic garden located in a hilly area of the south-western Sydney suburb of Mount Annan, between Campbelltown and Camden, New South Wales.
The Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan, is the Australian native plant garden of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney and covers 416 hectares.
The plantings are designed to take visitors to explore Australia’s unique plant life, with the Connections Garden being the premier Garden within the site. The four and a half hectare Connection Garden is a roofless museum demonstrating how people and the natural world interconnect.
It is the most extensive botanic garden in Australia, specialising in native plants, with a collection of 19979 plants and 3181 different taxa. The Garden consists of 30ha of cultivated displays in a native bushland setting.
It is the Australian plant garden of the Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust, part of the Botanic Gardens & Centennial Parklands.
The Garden is also one of the premier outdoor events venues in South West Sydney. It hosts AnnanROMA Food and Wine Festival and the largest Carols event in the region in December.
The Garden has a range of picnic areas and over 20 kilometres (12 mi) of walking tracks and is home to the Australian PlantBank – a centre of excellence in plant science.
Paid tours can be booked for groups and are guided by qualified staff, or free tours can be taken with their volunteers. Both can be booked through the visitor centre.
Facilities include picnic shelters, free barbecues, walking trails, Visitor Centre, venue hire options, wedding locations and Melaleuca House, the on-site restaurant.
10. Bronte Park
Peacefully tucked away behind Bronte Beach, halfway the famous Bondi to Coogee coastal walk, Bronte Park is an ample, family-friendly green space, offering the perfect mix of shaded seating, swimming, and surfing.
Combining surf and turf, family-friendly Bronte Park flanks famous Bronte Beach, offering an ideal choice of shaded relaxation, swimming, and surfing. Most of Sydney’s Eastern Beaches—including Bondi, Tamarama, Coogee, and Maroubra—are backed by verdant reserves or parks, providing a hint of green if you’ve had too much sun, sand, and sea.
Enjoy superb sea views from this grassy, tree-lined park, attracting sociable gatherings with free barbecues, shaded picnic tables, and a children’s playground. It has higher slopes at the sides with a deep gully at the back, handy for escaping the weekend crowds.
Adjacent, Bronte Road is lined with cafes if you fancy fish and chips, or pop to the kiosk at Bronte Surf Life Saving Club, near the north end, for drinks, snacks, and ice lollies to take away. There are changing rooms and toilets here, too, and a smaller facility at the beach’s south end.
Bronte Road next door is lined with a range of different cafes and restaurants, where you can either sit down and relax or order takeaway so you can eat your lunch in the park overlooking the ocean.
Team a picnic lunch or sunbathing session in the park with a swim at Bronte Beach or a cooling dip in its famous rock pools. One is man-made, and another is natural, offering shallow swimming sheltered by a ring of stones. Bronte Park makes a chilled pit stop halfway along the scenic six-kilometre (3.7 miles) Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk.
The trail passes by lofty lookout Marks Park, between Bondi and Tamarama beaches, and continues through Waverley Cemetery, just south of Bronte, where Victorian monuments and angel statues are backdropped by lush palm trees and endless blue sea.
Note that Bronte’s water conditions can be a bit rough at times, so it’s essential to follow the directions of surf lifesavers. At the south end of the beach, Bronte Baths have a saltwater rock pool for swimming & sunbathing.
If you’re not walking to Bronte Park via the coastal trail, there is a bus stop right next to the park, in addition to paid street parking options.