Sydney is a magnet for holidaymakers from all over the world, and after you’ve spent some time in the harbourside city, it’s easy to see why – it’s one of those places where the locals seem to be having just as much fun as the tourists, if not more. While the Opera House and its majestic Bridge are appreciably its most recognisable icons, you don’t have to do much digging to uncover the many hidden gems that make the hub of Australia’s east coast an exciting place all year round. Here are ten of the best.
The Bridge Climb at Sunset
If you’re wanting to take in as much of Sydney as you can in the shortest time, one way is from 130-odd metres above its famous glittering harbour while the sun sets behind the Blue Mountains. After suiting up, your group of intrepid adventurers start the guided trek to the top of Sydney’s most impressive feat of engineering. With adult twilight packages starting at $278 it ain’t the cheapest thrill, but the 360 degree view of the city at dusk is unforgettable.
The Rocks Market on Weekends
On the northern doorstep of the CBD and a short hop from the Opera House, the Rocks Market is a trove of handcrafted jewellery, original artworks, and bags and dresses designed by some very talented stallholders. Open 10am to 5pm Saturday and Sunday, all year round. Catch a bus, train or ferry to Circular Quay.
Day Trip to the Blue Mountains
Many tours head daily to the World Heritage-listed wonderland of mountains, gorges and bushland that starts on the banks of the Nepean River, 50km west of the Sydney CBD. Highlights include the Flat Rock Lookout at Wentworth Falls, the famous Three Sisters at Katoomba, and fine dining and local produce at Leura. Oztrek’s tours start at $59 per person.
Star Casino at Night
For the card shark who likes fine food and entertainment with their high stakes gambling, the Star Casino in Pyrmont, located opposite the CBD across Darling Harbour, has it all. New additions include the Marquee Nightclub with a dance floor accommodating over 700 people, and the 5-Star Darling hotel, with impressive views of the city skyline.
Shows at the Domain
If there’s a show on at the Domain, you owe yourself to make the short trip to Sydney’s ultimate outdoor venue on the eastern fringe of the CBD. The Sydney Festival in January is when the place really comes alive, but there’s still plenty happening year round, including, of course, Carols in the Domain.
Water Taxi to Fort Denison
For history buffs, the former penal colony of Fort Denison features Australia’s only Martello tower and the very last built in the British Empire. If that means anything to you, you’ll definitely want to hop on a water taxi from Circular Quay to the island, which also boasts a well-reviewed restaurant/cafe. H2O Water Taxis start at $80 per person.
Kayaking on the Harbour
Suitable for both beginners and advanced paddlers, the half-day and morning kayak tours offered by Life’s An Adventure are, along with the Bridge climb, the best way to appreciate the Harbour’s natural beauty and landmarks. The day tour breaks for a picnic lunch of smoked salmon, fresh salad and other delectables.
Sculpture by the Sea at Bondi Beach
It’s just wrapped up, but don’t despair – it’ll be back in 2014. This year, Sydney’s premier outdoor art show featured around 70 works by artists from around the world, against the beautiful backdrop of the Pacific Ocean. Definitely one you can bring the kids to.
The Zoo, in Mosman on Sydney’s lower north shore, is a family favourite. Twelve minutes from the city by ferry, it features around 340 species, free shows and grand views of the Harbour. Children under 4 get in free.
Dinner in Centre Point’s 360 Restaurant
Fine Australian cuisine and cocktails are served up with unmatched views of the city skyline from 360 Bar and Dining at the top of Sydney Tower. The revolving restaurant offers red carpet service in gently lit mahogany surrounds. The $30 Mon-Fri lunch special is a favourite with local high fliers.