Sydney is the perfect place to spend your holiday. This city has everything you need for a great vacation, from beautiful beaches, harbour tours, and the Opera House.
If after all that exploring you want some downtime, just head over to Bondi Beach and relax in the sand. With so much to see and do in Sydney, it will be hard not to have an incredible time!
Few cities in the world can rival its natural beauty; its rich heritage and history date back thousands of years, and its creative, culinary and cultural offerings can’t be beaten. There’s so much to see, do, sip and chew here; you could be forgiven for feeling overwhelmed.
But worry not, dear reader – we’re here to help.
Sydney is jam-packed with things to do and things to see. It’s a beautiful city to live and play in, and it’s not just beaches and cafes, there’s a whole lot of unique and exciting new things to try like horse riding, escape rooms, art galleries, surfing and the food of course.
If you’re visiting Sydney, Australia, for the first time and are looking to do some sightseeing or exploring, this blog post is a great resource. You’ll find all of the best tourist attractions in Sydney.
We’re sure you’ll have something to add to your bucket list.
1. Explore the inner workings of the Sydney Opera House
The Sydney Opera House Backstage Tour allows you access to areas usually reserved for big stars and their entourage.
For the chance to see behind closed doors at Sydney Opera House, join the tour allowing access to the things nobody gets to see. Please take a peek at dressing rooms where the stars spend their time backstage and hear the stories from behind the curtain.
It’s a rare chance that you’ll have the opportunity to explore an empty Opera House theatre. On this tour, you’ll be able to visit all of the main theatres (depending on if there are shows on) – from the majestic Concert Hall to the quaint Drama Theatre and, if you’re lucky, get a sneak peek of a rehearsal.
You’ll walk along the outside of the Opera House, past roped off areas and learn all there is to know about Sydney’s famous House of art and culture.
Discover what inspired the Danish architect Jorn Utzon to enter the international competition to design the Opera House, where his idea to create a sail-like building came from, and how and why the building was declared ‘unbuildable’ by engineers.
Find out where the materials to build the Opera House came from and run your hands along a few of the million white ceramic tiles that make up the glistening exterior.
The tour goes for approximately one hour, and there is plenty of time to take photos and revel in the beauty of this phenomenal building.
The tour guides are incredibly knowledgeable and, more importantly, come bearing a microphone and individual headsets, so you don’t have to worry about being out of earshot for any vital info.
2. Cosy up with cats at Catmosphere
Catmosphere is Sydney’s original cat cafe and is 100% dedicated to supporting rescue cats and kittens. They partner with rescue groups to provide a safe space for displaced cats, giving everything for them while they stay with them and helping many adoptable find their loving new homes.
If you are a lover of our feline friends, then Catmosphere is the perfect spot when you’re wondering what to do in Sydney. You’ll also be helping support rescue cats and kittens. So de-stress and watch a movie while spending some quality time with the cats of Catmosphere.
There are two fluffy cat towers, one called the Death Star, the other the Jedi temple. One has a grey cat nosing around like a feline PI. The cat’s named Deckard (the hero from Bladerunner), and he is one of 15 cats living upstairs at Catmosphere, Sydney’s first cat cafe.
They offer many unique experiences across different areas of their cafe, including time with over thirteen adult cats in the Cat Lounge, a group of youngsters in the tiki-themed Treehouse, a boutique cinema experience at Catflix Cat Cinema, and maybe the most calming of them all… Cat Yoga.
At Catmosphere Sydney, the cafe is separate from the cat experience. People can spend an hour with the cats upstairs and then descend to have coffee and a meal.
The cat room is $20; with that, you get a coffee (lidded to prevent rogue cat sips), a biscuit and an hour’s access to one of two cat rooms. The downstairs room has just five cats and serves as an introductory experience for humans and cats before they climb the stairs to meet the cafe’s 15 main attractions.
To ensure maximum cat comfort and human-to-cat bonding, each room never exceeds a 1:1 cat-to-human ratio.
Those who cat-loving friends have dragged can still enjoy roast pork and sesame mayonnaise sandwiches on Luxe brioche; homemade Moroccan lamb, vegetable and barley soup; and free wi-fi in the cafe’s courtyard.
Be sure to read up on each experience and make a booking ahead of time as space is limited to ensure the health, safety, and happiness of their feline (and human) friends.
3. Take a swim at the Bondi Icebergs Pool
If you’re heading to Sydney and fancy a swim, then Bondi Icebergs should be on your must-swim list.
Sydney has many beautiful open-air rock pools, but this is the most famous. Icebergs also boast the title of the most photographed swimming pool in the world.
Possibly the most Instagram-able pool in Australia, the Bondi Iceberg Pools are a great option when wondering what to do in Sydney. This vast pool offers all the luxury of a modern pool while still feeling like you’re one with the ocean as it sits right above the water’s surface.
It’s the most photographed ocean pool in Australia – at Sydney’s most famous beach – making the 50-metre saltwater pool a popular spot for sunbathers and a bottleneck spot on the Bondi to Coogee walk.
But if you swim in the winter, that’s when you see the best of Bondi. Bondi Icebergs Club was founded by winter swimmers, lifeguards who wanted to keep fit.
The baths have been a landmark of Bondi for 90 years, and if you want to become a member of the oldest winter swimming club in Australia, you must swim three Sundays a month for five years.
Luckily, for those who want a slice of the active lifestyle synonymous with the suburb, it’s only $8 for casual entry – giving you access to the pool, the sauna and the gym. For the ultimate experience, book into a Yoga by the Sea class ($25, Tue-Sat during summer months).
4. Virtual Room – Virtual Reality Sydney
If you are looking for kids party ideas in Sydney, this is just the place to be!
The best thing about memories is making them, and this is one of the few experiences the whole family from kids, parents to grandparents can enjoy together.. and it’s perfect for a group of mates as well!
This is an excellent option for people who also love escape rooms. At Virtual Reality, Sydney, the concept of escape rooms and virtual reality are blended with a whole 3d cinematic experience to deliver a mind-blowing adventure that’s truly unique and immersive.
Intermission adventures combine elements of escape rooms with the immersion and excitement of virtual reality for mind-blowingly different experiences – unlike anything you have ever done before.
As Sydney’s ONLY VR Escape Room using hand tracking rather than controllers and utilising special effects…this is multisensory VR with wind and heat on your face.
The smell of gunpowder and smoke lingering in the air making the action FEEL-REAL; it’s a fun, unique activity for everyone! They have also rated the best kids party venue Sydney.
You’ll get projected into amazing virtual multiplayer games with family and friends as Avatars. Be thrilled as you see, hear and interact as a team to find clues, solve puzzles, fly through outer space and perform impossible feats to complete your mission in an action-packed 60 minutes, all while comfortably seated.
5. Fly above Sydney with Sydney HeliTours
If you’re wanting to go all out when finding what to do in Sydney, then see Sydney from the sky with Sydney’s premier helicopter tourism company, Sydney Helitours. Then, make a day of it with one of their day tours that showcase all of Sydney’s iconic attractions.
For absolutely unbeatable views of Sydney’s most famous icons, look no further than Sydney Helitours! Hop aboard one of their helicopters to enjoy amazing views of the Harbour Bridge, the Opera House, the spectacular city skyline and some of Sydney’s most beautiful beaches.
In addition to the range of scenic flights, they offer a fabulous selection of luncheon tours. Arrive in unmistakable style for lunch in one of the many destinations they fly to, such as the Hunter Valley, the Blue Mountains and Terrigal Beach.
For the thrill-seekers, they are the only helicopter tour company offering flights with doors off and performing aerial manoeuvres along Sydney’s magnificent coastline.
For special occasions, why not privately charter a helicopter to create a flight all of your own? Then, the sky’s the limit!
For passenger convenience, complimentary city-hotel shuttle buses are included with all tours.
6. View Contemporary Chinese Art at White Rabbit
Showcasing the world’s most extensive collection of 21st-century Chinese contemporary art, the White Rabbit Gallery offers over 2500 works by over 700 artists; the gallery opens up modern Chinese art to the people of Sydney.
White Rabbit is a state-of-the-art, four-floor temple to 21st-century Chinese art hidden on a backstreet in Chippendale. Founder Judith Neilson created the self-funded non-profit gallery to house her epic collection of post-millennial Chinese art, and it opened to the public in 2009.
The gallery also houses a gift shop full of cheap, cheerful and colourful gifts and a ground-floor tea house that serves dumplings.
Contemporary Chinese art is a hot commodity right now and among the most fascinating globally, says Paris Neilson, Judith’s daughter and the collection’s manager. “When you go to China and visit the artists’ studios, they’re the size of aeroplane hangers. They have access to materials like bronze and fibreglass, and they can get workers to help. They have so much freedom to create whatever comes to mind.”
White Rabbit opened in August 2009, the culmination of an idea that sparked ten years ago. Judith Neilson discovered Wang Zhiyuan at a 1999 exhibition at Ray Hughes Gallery in Surry Hills and began a friendship with the Beijing-based artist.
“Mum went and visited him in Beijing and was just amazed by the work she saw,” Paris explains. “She bought a couple of works and came back raving.”
Judith’s husband, Platinum Asset Management founder Kerr Neilson, urged her to buy more, and the issue of where to keep and display a collection arose.
The Neilsons found an old knitting factory in Chippendale and set about a three-year, $10 million refurb. As a result, white Rabbit is now one of the largest collections of contemporary Chinese art globally.
“What we’d like to be is an additional cultural space in Sydney, in addition to the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the MCA,” says Paris. “It’s another activity that people can do in Sydney, and it’s free.”
7. Learn to Surf on Bondi Beach with Let’s Go Surfing
Voted one of Sydney’s top 3 tourist activities, Let’s Go Surfing at Bondi Beach are passionate about sharing their surf knowledge and helping others achieve their surfing dreams. You’ll be up on that board and chasing waves in no time.
The school prides itself on the popular two-hour beginners’ course, which goes through the essentials of water safety (including Bondi’s dangerous rips), paddling and how to catch a wave. Each lesson starts on the sand so that you can ask embarrassing questions without fear.
Surfing a wave at Bondi Beach should be on everyone’s bucket list. This reputable school prides itself on the popular two-hour beginner’s course that goes through the essentials of safety, paddling and how to catch a wave – ideal for nervous first-timers.
Groups are a maximum of five people, or you can go private, with knowledgeable instructors experienced with teaching all levels. In winter, they offer their two-hour beginners course for just $95.
8. Be a Kid Again at Archie Brothers Arcade for adults
Trying to find what to do in Sydney that’s a little bit different? Try the Archie Brothers Cirque Electriq, aka an arcade for adults. They’ve got laser tag, dodgems, bowling and arcade games galore, plus you can win some pretty neat collectibles.
This little pocket of Alexandria is the perfect place to hide out on a rainy day. You’ve got indoor warehouses for climbing, boozing and bouldering, like Sky Zone, Rocks Brewery and 9 Degrees – plus an arcade of retro games, bowling and laser tag inside Archie Brothers Cirque Electriq.
The funhouse is designed by the same people behind the indoor mini-golf bar Holey Moley, and the concept is much the same – drink and play games that make you nostalgic. Like Holey Moley, the space is family-friendly in the day and boozy in the nighttime (from 8 pm).
Inside, there are bowling lanes, an interactive 3D theatre ride (our pick of the whole venue), a scary laser tag zone that’s built for kids, and the tightest dodgem track you’ll ever come across.
Older players will enjoy shooting hoops at the basketball rings, playing on old-school games like Pac-Man and Space Invaders, and trying out the thrilling VR platforms that freak you out on roller coaster rides, ski slopes and mountainous fantasy worlds.
Younger kids (aged 8-10) might enjoy the overhead rope course, the dodgems (they’ll have more legroom) and the whac-a-mole arcade games.
In the middle, there’s Dazzler’s Diner, where you’ll get your sugar fix from any one of the cocktails. They’ve got spiked shakes like the Let’s Get Ready to Crumble or the Candy Stand, plus many non-alcoholic options.
Prices vary, depending on what interests you – dodgem cars are $4 a go, laser tag is $8, and bowling starts at $12 a game. The arcade games are played through a card system so that you can top up with $20, and you’ll get $25 value to spend on the shoot-’em-ups.
For the best value, go from 5 pm Monday to Thursday to get two hours access to every attraction for $25pp. Then, make a party of it and check out the packages for kids and adults from $34pp.
9. Become a Virtual Pilot at Flight Experience Sydney
Flight Experience is the world’s #1 flight simulation experience.
Buckle up and hold onto your seats. It’s your turn to fly a Boeing 737 from take-off to landing. Flight Experience offers group events, special kids sessions and member deals, making this the ultimate thing to do in Sydney. So, where will the next adventure take you?
Flight Experience Sydney offers a peek inside the cockpit. It’s a fun way to experience flying or even to practice for training pilots. So get behind the wheel of a Boeing 737 and experience the virtual reality of flying your own plane!
At Flight Experience, you are guided through the operation of a real Boeing 737 flight training simulator or a F/A-18 based virtual reality simulator.
Guided by real pilots, learn to use professional flying systems and controls, then enjoy a life-like flight simulation experience from any airport or city in the world, any time of day and any weather scenario you could imagine.
Their Boeing 737 Experiences are what Flight Experience is known for. With the aid of a commercial pilot, you’ll get to experience what it’s like to command a commercial jet airliner.
Their 737 simulators are used for real commercial pilot training – the simulator is one of the best available to the public anywhere in the world. The experiences are a must-try!
There are four durations of the experience to choose from.
Their simulators aren’t just for fun; Flight Experience simulators are CASA certified for actual flight training. They are the most realistic and authentic simulators openly available to the public anywhere in Australia.
Flight Experience Sydney entertainment experiences are designed to be fun, educational and inspirational. The team pride themselves on their instructors’ abilities to juggle this line, to leave you feeling like you have massively enjoyed your time in the simulator while also walking away knowing more about what it’s like to be a commercial pilot.
Flight Experience Sydney experiences are second to none.
No prior experience is needed; all sessions are completely tailored to you and your experience level.
Suitable for ages 10 to 110. All of the instructors are qualified pilots.
Spectators fly for free; up to three spectators can be inside the simulator during a session.
10. Escape Room – The Cipher Room
If a little bit of mystery, murder and espionage is on the table, well, look no further than The Cipher Room. Designed and Built by a couple of puzzle fanatics, Marise and David have created a fun, immersive escape room experience and the perfect answer to what to do in Sydney.
Down the St Peters Station end of King Street, there’s a portal back in time to 1945. Venture inside, and you’ll find yourself in somebody’s elegantly furnished study with tasteful wallpaper.
Big band music plays quietly on the radio. An unfinished Scrabble game has been hastily abandoned in the corner. And there’s an old-school typewriter on the desk.
Welcome to Espionage, the debut escape puzzle at The Cipher Room. You and your co-players have just one hour to locate the secrets that Agent ‘M’ has hidden somewhere in the room. To find them, you’re going to have to look for clues, follow a bunch of hints and crack a bunch of codes. Unfortunately, there’s no time to waste – enemy agents will arrive when the clock strikes 12.
The Cipher Room is a labour of love for its co-creators, Newtown locals Marise Watson and David Vella. Game designer Marise spent a year researching escape rooms around Australia and in New York before creating Espionage.
Husband David is the builder who put together the room’s clever bits and pieces by hand. The two sourced furniture and props from the vintage furniture shops that lower King Street is famous for, which gives the game plenty of period atmosphere.
A trio of players can solve the room’s mysteries, but up to six people can play at once (and there’s plenty for all of them to do). They are provided with mini-torches, a pen and a notepad, which all come in very handy. T
hey also get a walkie-talkie which buzzes to life a few times during the hour, asking us if we would like a hint. Naturally, they’re happy for the extra help: while some clues they’re able to pick up on immediately, others are more challenging, and the hints help keep the game moving along.
Several times during the hour, they gasp with the pleasure of the discovery of something hidden. This game has been cleverly conceived to provide a variety of tactile, visual and aural experiences.
Also, unlike many escape rooms, the backstory informs the various puzzles you encounter and your ultimate goal – a lot of thought has gone into this.
The Cipher Room’s second game room is The Cabin, which has a serial killer theme, and the third is the film-noir challenge The Marlowe Hotel.
Down the road, in St Peters, you can find their second venue and test your nerves in the terrifying Mr Pepper’s Toy Shop.