Fun things to do in Sydney
Sydney is as an intense city hiding many marvels. Fun things to do in Sydney range from sightseeing to enjoying one of its splendid beaches to fine dining. A number of world’s best restaurants is located exactly here — in the city surrounding the world's largest natural harbour. Before starting your adventure, however, finding a place to stay in Sydney is essential.
Check also our other Sydney articles and restaurant guides:
- Sydney activities
- Restaurants Sydney CBD
- Restaurants in The Rocks
- Romantic restaurants Sydney
- Bars Sydney
- Restaurants with a view in Sydney
Fun activities in Sydney
Once satisfactorily settled, it’s time you started exploring the city. But, where to start? Fun activities in Sydney are numerous and cater to all tastes. One might be a quiet introverted soul, a sports fan or a gastronome, yet they will all find many an activity to their liking.
Contrary to popular belief, one doesn’t need to be travelling on a generous budget to get to experience the best of Sydney. Free and affordable activities are abundant; cocktail tastings and gourmet ventures included. Hotel deals also get generous, but make sure to book your stay well in advance, especially if you are planning to visit Sydney during popular holidays.
Here are some of our top picks of fun activities in Sydney that don’t cost an arm and a leg.
Saturday nights at Darling Harbour
Darling Harbour is located on the CBD’s western edge. It becomes the most vibrant place on the weekends, with numerous live shows taking place. The area is swarming with bars and restaurants; catching a show while conveniently sipping a drink with your friends is an alternative to mingling with the masses.
Every Saturday evening (usually at 8.30 or 9pm), tourists may enjoy curious fireworks at Darling Harbour.
If you’re after fine dining while at it, head to the Blue Fish Seafood Restaurant (Harbourside Shopping Centre, 287 Darling Dr.) for some seafood, Momofuku Seiobo (80 Pyrmont St.) for international cuisine, or Osteria Balla (The Star, 80 Pyrmont St.) for Italian cuisine.
Picnic at Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens
Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens (Mrs Macquaries Rd., Sydney) is a wonderful place for unwinding. Simply enjoying the views and taking a walk will prove a pleasant experience. Enjoy the tranquillity of the landscape before settling for a picnic.
The best place to have a snack is Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, located in between Circular Quay and Woolloomooloo (a short walk from the Opera House). Mrs Macquarie’s Chair is a hand-carved rock shaped into a bench that was made in 1816 for Governor Macquarie’s wife, Elizabeth. It commands stunning views of the Sydney Harbour.
Sydneysiders love coffee! It is, therefore, no wonder that cupping is held across the city and at numerous places. There is a good number of cafés that host free or donation-based cupping, at various times of the week. If you are a coffee lover, simply check their schedule. Some of tourists’ favourites include:
- John Smith Café (1 John St., Waterloo) strives to promote cupping to a weekly event on Thursdays at 4pm. Still, make sure to double-check their schedule before heading there.
Served are Blackboard Roasters (Gold Coast) Kenyan Yara washed process, Rebel Roasters (Sydney) Ethiopian Hunkute and Panama Auromar, Coffee Supreme (Melbourne) Kenyan Kangunu, The Single Guys (Brisbane) House Blend, Proud Mary (Melbourne) Ethiopian Yirgacheffe washed process, and Small Batch (Melbourne) Ethiopian Chele’lektu and Hunkute. If this is all Greek to you, even better! Taste each blend and discover your new favourite!
- Reuben Hills (61 Albion St., Surry Hills) hosts free public cupping sessions on Saturdays at 10am. If interested in attending, sign up online and be there 10 minutes before the cupping starts. The session lasts for ca. an hour. Reuben Hills changes coffees from week to week, so look forward to learning more about coffee and its origins during multiple visits.
- Campos Coffee 193 (Missenden Rd., Newtown) hosts cupping sessions Tuesday to Thursday at 7:30am, 9am, 1pm, and 2pm and Saturdays at 8:30am, 1pm, 3pm. Expect only the finest coffee from all around the world (examples: Costa Rica’s Sangre De Toro, Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Selassie, and Nicaragua Fila Alta. The cost: $8.80 per person.
There’s always more to coffee than meets the eye. If you agree, you couldn’t have found yourself in a more convenient city than Sydney. Namely, on top of coffee tasting, here you may also enrol in a coffee cupping class!
The abovementioned Reuben Hills and Campos Coffee are only some of the venues offering it; other loved ones include Single Origin Roasters (60-64 Reservoir St., Surry Hills), Toby's Estate (32-36 City Rd., Chippendale) and Mecca Espresso (67 King St.).
Visit a flower market
Sydney Flower Markets (250-318 Parramatta Rd., Homebush) are the perfect spots for buying lots of flowers at cheap prices. This is the actual place where florists buy their goods and charge people a fortune later on. Simply skip this step by buying the flowers from the original source yourself.
Note that this activity is for early birds only, as the markets open from 5am Monday to Saturday! By 8.30am, all trading is over.
See the Portrait of Jenny Munro
The portrait of Jenny Munro (Novotel Darling Harbour, “The Block”) was painted by street artist Matt Adnate in 2016 as a tribute to its namesake, Wiradjuri elder and Aboriginal rights activist. The portrait is located in the heart of Sydney CBD, a 30-minute walk from Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Trivia: the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Redfern was founded by Munro in 2014, when the commercial redevelopment of the Block was threatening Indigenous families. Eventually, the Embassy secured an affordable housing deal for them.
Fun things to do in Sydney Australia
Sydney has many choices for couples and high-end travellers, too. Fun things to do in Sydney Australia include various tours, wine tastings, dining at some of world’s finest restaurants, numerous concerts and shows, just to name a few.
If you are not worried overmuch about the expenses, here are some recommended fun things to do in Sydney.
Visit the Hunter Valley wine region
The Hunter Valley is Australia’s most famous wine region, a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Sydney. Tours depart Sydney on a regular basis. The Valley is home to numerous wineries and eateries, where one may taste the finest Semillon and Shiraz wine varieties. Tyrells, Brokenwood, McGuigan, Briar Ridge and De luliis are among the most popular vineries.
Visit the Hunter Valley Wine School to learn more about the place’s history and enjoy a round of golf or the Château Élan day spa. If you are travelling with children, make sure to visit the storybook garden. The Hunter Valley fits all budgets — choose your picks as you see fit.
Take a Ghost Tour
Sydney ghost tours have a sound historical background. Namely, the city was originally a penal colony and was founded by British convicts. The Quarantine Station (1 N Head Scenic Dr., Manly) was the city’s first line of defence against infectious diseases for over a century. Today, tourists go to the Adult Ghost Tour at Quarantine Station for thrills. If you aren’t faint-hearted, you’ll love the activity.
Catch a ferry ride to Manly Wharf Bar
Catch the Manly Ferry from Circular Quay to enjoy the views of the Sydney Harbour. And what a view it is! You’ll get to see the Kirribilli House, the Harbour Bridge, the Manly esplanade, the Sydney Opera House and North Head.
The ferry ride is considered a must-attend by a great many tourists. It is a 30-minute trip ending right at the foot of Manly Wharf Bar, where you may join the locals in sampling some of Australia’s best beers.
Dine at the Quay Restaurant
The Quay Restaurant (Overseas Passenger Terminal, Hickson Rd., the Rocks) was voted one of the world’s top 100 restaurants in 2014 and has received the 3 Hat rating in Sydney’s Good Food Guide for the 13th consecutive year. Not only does the Quay command a breathtaking view of the Sydney Harbour, but it also serves outstanding food.
Note that this is an exclusive restaurant. You will need to make an early booking.
Relaxed fine dining at Jpb Restaurant
If you are into more casual fine dining, visit Accor hotel Sydney Swissôtel’s (68 Market St.) Jpb Restaurant. It serves a delicious range of locally sourced and seasonally inspired dishes. The chef has “developed a passion and aptitude for mixing and matching Australia’s native produce with more traditional flavours”, as the hotel staff niftily put it.
Dining here is delight to all senses. Their dishes are both appetizing and eye-pleasing.
There are more fun things to do in Sydney than you can even imagine
There are so many fun things to do in Sydney that it is impossible to list them all. We don’t attempt to, as it were. These are only some of our first-hand suggestions to get you started. Feel free to explore the offers, high and low, and never lose sight of the most important thing: Sydneysiders are welcoming people.
Ask your hotel staff and locals for recommendations. You just might find yourself overwhelmed with the suggestions!
See our recommended activities, dining venues, places to visit and must-see attractions in Sydney in separate articles.