10 totally touristy things to do in Sydney

Sydney is Australia’s corporate and tourism hub, with a bustling, vibrant CBD nestled on arguably the most beautiful harbour in the world.

Many of us Aussies travel regularly to Sydney for work or to catch up with family or friends, yet we often don’t take advantage of the stunning sights, tours and activities that make Sydney so appealing for visitors.

There are plenty of reasons to jump on the tourist trail in Sydney and appreciate this great city from a fresh perspective. Here are 10 ideas to get you started.

1. Climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Get your tourist on in a big way and book in a Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb. Enjoy the city from a fresh perspective with 360 degree views of the CBD, iconic Circular Key and Sydney Harbour while your knowledgeable Climb Leader regales you with stories of the Bridge’s history.  Bridge Climb Sydney offers all day experiences and twilight, night and dawn climbs, as well as a ‘sampler’ climb which gets you half-way up the Bridge.

2.  Kayak through Sydney Harbour

Book a private Sunrisers Tour with Sydney Harbour Kayaks and paddle under the Bridge or cruise past the official residence of the Governor General. Or, you might want to explore  parts of the  Harbour not seen by most; take a tour of Middle Harbour or head with your guide to Sirius Cover for a unique adventure.

3. Experience the Blue Mountains

If you’re looking for an Aussie bush experience, make the 90-minute drive out to the Blue Mountains. Named for the blue haze usually settled over this vast expanse of bushland, adventurers can experience Australia’s famed dramatic and rugged scenery first hand on foot with many trails crossing one million hectares of eucalypt forest, streams, canyons and caves. If hiking isn’t your thing, head to the small town of Katoomba which boarders the Blue Mountains National Park and is home to Scenic World. Here, you can ride the Scenic Skyway gondola for unbeatable views of the Three Sisters and Katoomba Falls. For something a little more daring, head down the on the Scenic Railway, the world’s steepest incline railway line.

4. Lose a day in the Royal Botanic Gardens

Perfectly perched on the Sydney Harbour and a short walk from the CBD, the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens are an often over-looked treasure waiting to be explored. Pass the day away by strolling through spectacular themed gardens like the HSCB Oriental Garden, the Australian Native Rockery and the Fernery.  For more enchanting flower displays and an array of food and  shopping options, head to the Caylx in the heart of the Gardens.

5. Get spooky with a ghost tour of the Rocks

Glimpse the darker side of Sydney’s history with a Ghost Rocks Tour. This two-hour walking tour winds through the historic Rocks precinct, the location of Australia’s first European settlement and home to some of Sydney’s oldest buildings. The precinct’s dark history as a convict settlement provides the perfect backdrop for the ghostly stories of murders, hangings and eerie sightings which are a feature of the tour.

6. Walk the Bondi to Coogee trail

Loved by locals and tourists alike, the Bondi-Coogee walk stretches across 6km of stunning coastline scenery comprising of steep sandstone cliffs, beautiful beaches ripe for swimming and the drama of crashing waves directly below.  Allow 3 hours for a comfortable walk between Sydney’s two most iconic beaches, bring your swimmers and see firsthand why this is arguably Sydney’s most popular coastal trail.

7. Take a dip the Bondi Icebergs Pool

With its origins in the Bondi Baths which were established almost 100 years ago, the Bondi Icebergs Pool has become an icon of Sydney’s most celebrated costal locale. Perched on the edge of the sea and regularly doused in waves crashing across the breaks, visitors can relax in the pool’s salty waters while snapping up some of the best seaside views in the world.

8. Get airbourne with a helicopter tour over the city

Experience unrivalled views of Sydney’s most famous sites with a helicopter tour of the city. Tour companies offer a range of flights centred on famous attractions such as the Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge and surrounding iconic coastline, or further afield to the Blue Mountains and beyond.

9. Hike, swim and surf in the Royal National Park

Located an easy 45-minute drive south of Sydney, the Royal National Park is one of the oldest national parks in the world. Established in 1879, the heritage listed ‘Royal’ is ideally situated along the southern coast, which means you can combine hiking and trail riding with ocean swims, surfing and whale watching at the park’s stunning beaches.

10. Dive into a snorkel tour at Manly

No need to venture to the Great Barrier Reef for a great snorkelling experience – there’s plenty to see under the sea in Manly.  Nestled in the protected marine reserve of Cabbage Tree Bay is Shelley’s Beach, arguably Sydney’s most popular inner-city snorkelling spot. Shelley’s shallow waters and wide variety of marine life make it a wonderfully accessible spot for new and experienced snorkelers. If you’re a first timer, guided snorkelling tours of the Cabbage Tree Bay are also available.

Keen to get your tourist on? Experience this  iconic city when you book flights to Sydney with Virgin Australia.

Words by Rebecca Walker - Published 28 February 2019
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