Much has been written and said about Sydney’s harbor, and with good reason. The harbor boasts one of the world’s most recognizable views, dominated by two icons in the Sydney Opera House and Harbor Bridge. The area also provides no end of activities and neighborhoods to explore. If you’re time poor, however, it is easy to accomplish a lot in a short time frame or select a few activities that appeal to your own sense of adventure. The following is a short list of things to see and do should you find yourself in the harbor city, spoilt for choice but lacking time.
Sydney Harbor Bridge itself looms over the water like a giant coat hanger, a term used affectionately by the locals. A climbing tour is offered if you’re willing to fork out around $170.00 for the hike. If not however you can still walk across at road level for free. The added bonus is that you can take your camera with you for some shots of the Opera House and surrounding area.
Once across the bridge, on the opposite side of the city centre, is Milsons Point. Home to the heritage listed Luna Park Sydney, an old fashioned fun park where roller coasters, ferris wheels and other rides of old bring a little nostalgia to the waterfront. Entry to the grounds is free, so you only pay for the rides and amusements you use. If fun parks aren’t your thing, tucked under the bridge is a waterfront park providing a perfect place to spend a lazy few hours stretched out on the grass with a picnic taking in the spectacular views of Sydney’s central business district.
Heading back across the bridge, you come to Sydney’s historic The Rocks. This is one of the most historic parts of Australia and the area where the first British settlers landed and from which the bustling city, and indeed country, grew. Once occupied by convicts and prostitutes, today The Rocks’ cobblestone laneways are full of designer shops, art galleries and eateries. The area lends itself perfectly to the aimless wander and is dotted with historic watering holes in which to rest weary feet and replenish
A short stroll from The Rocks is Circular Quay, a transport hub with ferries departing for suburbs across the bay. From here you can catch one of the ferries to Manly or Toronga Zoo, or maybe purchase a Daytripper ticket, which lets you ride as many ferries on the same day as you like and explore some of the lesser known suburbs of the city. The Daytripper is also valid on Metro trains and buses for those who are looking to explore a little further.
Apart from the ferry terminals, Circular Quay boasts many fine restaurants, with superb views of the quay (and prices to match). Stroll further onward and you will come to the Sydney Opera House. The once controversial structure stands proudly above the water, defying convention as it overlooks proceedings on the waterways and the street.
A show at the Opera House is a must. If opera is not your thing, there are also orchestral performances, plays, concerts and comedy shows to provide something for everyone. Tours of the building are also available and include a walk onto one of the stages.
Turning away from the harbor and the Opera House, you come to the Royal Botanical Gardens, a huge sprawling space dedicated to various varieties of trees, plants and shrubs. It is easy to get lost in the gardens wandering the many paths and admiring whichever flowers are in season at the time. Near the center is a shop and café should you wish to eat on your visit, or you can bring your own and eat on one of the many lawns.
If you are visiting late in the day, beware of the resident flying foxes, which generally sleep during the day, but can raise an almighty racket when the sun goes down.
Whatever your interest, Sydney’s harbor has something for you, and to top it off, some of the most spectacular views you are likely to find anywhere in the world.