22 Things to do in Sydney, Australia: for free, at night, on the wild side and more

Written by on 16th July 2019
Category: City guides

Easily identifiable due to its distinctive Opera House and Harbour Bridge, Sydney is Australia’s most iconic city. Home to the Australian Stock Exchange Headquarters and the Reserve Bank of Australia, Sydney is a leading financial centre in the Asia-Pacific region. Indeed, Sydney has grown in both size and financial authority to become the largest economy in Australia. With business booming in the Sydney area, corporate travel to the city is increasingly common. We at SilverDoor Apartments have assembled a guide of things to do in Sydney so that you and your colleagues can make the most of the region during your stay.

Free things to do in Sydney

SilverDoor Apartments offers a selection of serviced apartments in Sydney within walking distance of some of the city’s most distinguished landmarks. Many of these sights are completely free to visit and explore. We have compiled some of the best examples of these priceless attractions.

1. The Royal Botanic Garden

Fountain and greenery in Royal Botanic Garden Sydney Australia

Offering stunning views of Sydney Harbour, the Royal Botanic Garden is a perfect place to unwind between appointments. Filled with extravagant fauna, and featuring pop up bars providing excellent cuisine and drink, the garden is a popular spot for locals and visitors alike.

2. St Mary’s Cathedral

St Mary's Cathedral against blue sky in Sydney Australia

Located on the site of the first Catholic Chapel in Australia, St Mary’s Cathedral is an impressive historical landmark. Built to emulate the Gothic style, the cathedral boasts many impressive features – such as elaborate and intricate stained glass windows.

3. Circular Quay

Circular Quay from above in Sydney Australia

Not only does Circular Quay offer a fresh sea breeze and spectacular views of the harbour, it also provides some of the best live music in the city. A host of local busking musicians frequent the Quay, making it an ideal spot to congregate with colleagues or simply take some time to reflect.

4. Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House roof in sunshine and blue skies

A visit to Sydney would not be complete without taking a closer look at the remarkable Opera House. Take in the revolutionary angular design first hand as you walk around this impressive structure. Tours are also available for those who wish to explore the Opera House in more depth.

5. Museum of Contemporary Art Australia

MCA art gallery in Sydney Australia

Continuing the theme of revolutionary architecture, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney is itself a piece of modern art. The museum is ideal for meeting colleagues and clients thanks to its restaurant and cafe with a rooftop terrace.

Things to do in Sydney at night

After a day of meetings and making connections with business partners, it is only natural to want to explore the nightlife Sydney has to offer. Here we rundown the best night-time attractions and venues in the city.

6. Luna Park

Luna Park in Sydney at night

For a light show like no other, a visit to Luna Park is highly recommended. Visitors flock to the fairground at night to enjoy the fantastic views from the park’s illuminated Ferris wheel. Finish the night at the waterfront Deck Bar with a delicious meal of fresh seafood delights.

7. Chinatown Night Market

Chinatown in Sydney illuminated at night.

Nowhere is more alive at night than the bustling Chinatown Night Market in Sydney. Sample the most exotic and delicious Asian foods as you savour the sights, aromas and atmosphere of this vibrant market experience.

8. Darling Harbour

Sydney Darling Harbour Ferris Wheel and fountains illuminated at night.

Darling Harbour is a prime night time destination. Thronging crowds descend on the harbour to enjoy its spectacular light and firework shows, as well as the multitude of bars and eateries. For something retro, try the 8bit diner/gaming arcade and release your inner child.

9. The Comedy Store

An empty stage with microphone ready for a stand up comic.

Head to the Comedy Store for a guaranteed evening of entertainment. Order drinks from the comfort of your own table as you enjoy some of the finest comedy from around the world. Furthermore, as the Comedy Store is located in the Entertainment Quarter, you will be ideally located for finding a restaurant or bar after the show.

10. Pitt Street Mall

The Sydney Pitt Street Mall is illuminated at night.

With late opening times every day, Pitt Street Mall serves all your shopping needs with an impressive host of leading brand stores. Although a more relaxed mood than during the day, there is still a buzzing atmosphere in Sydney’s number one mall when lit up for nighttime browsing.

Things to do in Sydney on the wild side

Australia is famed for its notoriously wild and exotic species, and so a trip to Sydney should encompass some of the country’s wilder side. With a range of habitats and wildlife attractions on the city’s doorstep, Sydney has plenty of natural wonders on offer.

11. Garigal National Park

Trees in the sunlight at a national park near Sydney Australia.

A paradise nestled within the North Shore region of the city, Garigal National Park is teeming with things to see. Featuring many sites of aboriginal art and incredible vistas, Garigal National Park offers an escape into the wild to reflect and re-energise.

12. Taronga Zoo

A giraffe extends its neck across the Sydney city skyline at the zoo.

12 short minutes from the city by ferry, Taronga zoo is a tropical oasis set against an urban skyline. From enormous indigenous saltwater crocodiles to reclusive red pandas, the zoo houses incredible creatures to view and appreciate. Finally, Taronga zoo also boasts a cafe and restaurant so you can make your visit last all day.

13. Bondi Beach

Two men carry surf boards and leave footprints in the sand on Bondi beach Sydney.

Another of Sydney’s iconic natural features, Bondi Beach is a stunning stretch of shoreline. With a Bondi to Coogee coastal trail, bars and restaurants as well as plenty of opportunities to swim and surf, the beach caters to everyone wanting to enjoy the seaside.

14. Snorkelling and Diving in Manly

A woman snorkelling in clear blue Sydney waters.

The Manly area is best known for its beaches and coves which provide sensational snorkelling opportunities. There are an array of snorkelling companies ready to take you to the beautiful depths, as well as other adventure providers – such as whale watching and kayaking companies.

15. Harbour Cruise

Ferries and cruise ships circling Sydney harbour.

To truly appreciate the majesty of Sydney Harbour, a cruise is an absolute must. There are many styles of day cruise to consider: from tall ship cruises to beach-hopping cruises which offer swimming opportunities and accompanying meals and drinks.

Things to do in Sydney when you’re hungry

Sydney is a cosmopolitan hub in the Australasian continent and as such offers a suitably broad and impressive range of cuisines and delicacies. We have listed the unmissable eateries the city has to offer so you know exactly where to head – whether for a business lunch or a relaxed meal.

16. 360 Bar and Dining

Sydney tower and skyline in the sun.

For a meal to remember, very few experiences compare with eating atop the Sydney tower at 360 Bar and Dining. The restaurant offers contemporary, fresh cuisine in a stylish and unique setting – 305 meters above the city.

17. Bentley Restaurant and Bar

Wine bottle pouring wine restaurant.

Regarded as one of the best restaurants in Sydney to drink wine thanks to its excellent boutique wine list, Bentley restaurant lives up to its regal name. With an internationally infused contemporary menu and an industrial-chic decor, Bentley offers an extravagant dining experience which is sure to impress.

18. Da Capo Courtyard Cafe

Coffee and laptop in sunshine.

When seeking a light bite to eat or a flavoursome coffee in the Sydney sunshine, we recommend Da Capo Courtyard Cafe. Set in a peaceful courtyard and offering an Italian inspired menu, this quiet cafe offers a welcome reprieve from the busy high streets of the city and is an ideal place to meet colleagues for a catch-up.

19. Bottom of the Harbour Fish and Chips

Balmoral beach Sydney Australia.

The unassuming Bottom of the Harbour fish and chip shop is something of a secret – frequented by locals who enjoy the fresh fish, oysters and shrimps on offer. Combine the fresh, delicious produce with the opportunity to take a short stroll with your meal to Balmoral beach, which offers sublime views and a peaceful atmosphere.

20. Aria Restaurant

Circular Bay, Sydney, at night.

Favoured as the go-to restaurant by those visiting the Opera House, the Aria sits on the Circular Quay and offers spectacular views of the harbour. This restaurant is known for high-end fine dining, with a modern menu featuring exquisitely crafted dishes. For hosting an important client meal, look no further than the Aria.

Adventurous things to do in Sydney

Finally, we leave you with our top recommendations of adventurous things to do in Sydney. If you are the intrepid type, these activities are for you.

21. Climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney Harbour Bridge in sun.

To make your visit to Sydney truly unforgettable, climb one of its most famous landmarks. There are a variety of climbs available to suit every ability level – you can even climb the bridge at night and see Sydney in full illuminated glory.

22. Ride the Fastest Zipline in the World

Woman zip line through forest.

Located in Western Sydney, Tree Tops Xpress zip line offers a roller-coaster ride like no other. With twists, turns and heart-pounding speeds, this ride is only for the most fearless adrenaline junkies.

For more advice about your trip to Sydney, read our Sydney City Guide article. If you are ready to arrange your stay, click here to view our selection of serviced apartments in Sydney, or read about the very best apartments in Sydney here.

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