Sydney Harbour

It's easy to see why Sydney Harbour is regarded as one of the most beautiful natural harbours in the world. Sydney Harbour
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Guide to Sydney Harbour

It's easy to see why Sydney Harbour is regarded as one of the most beautiful natural harbours in the world.


By Ellie Schneider

Sydney Harbour is an aquatic playground for locals and tourists alike, with more than 240 kilometres (150 miles) of shoreline punctuated by unspoiled beaches, picturesque gardens and pockets of natural bush. It is also home to some of Australia's big-name attractions, including the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. Read on and explore.

HOW TO GET THERE

International flights fly directly into Sydney Airport from many global hubs. From the airport it’s an easy 30-minute taxi or train ride to Circular Quay, the main ferry terminal in Sydney.

 

DON’T MISS

  • See the landmarks from the ground and above
  • Take a dip or try water sports at glistening beaches
  • Picnic on a historic harbour island

Sydney Harbour Highlights

TOP THINGS TO DO AROUND SYDNEY HARBOUR

Start your day at Circular Quay
Circular Quay is a great base for exploring Sydney Harbour. Ferries depart from Circular Quay throughout the day to different parts of the harbour, connecting the city with Sydney's waterside suburbs. Circular Quay is also the major transport hub for water taxis, harbour cruises, buses, trains and taxis. Sydney's Museum of Contemporary Art and historic Customs House are located on one side of Circular Quay. The Sydney Opera House and Royal Botanic Gardens are on the other. Expect postcard views at every turn.

Take in the harbour from above
Climb to the summit of the Sydney Harbour Bridge on a BridgeClimb for unforgettable panoramic views. You'll be guided high into the bridge's arches, ascending 134 metres (440 feet) above sea level. If you'd prefer to keep your feet on the ground, it’s free for visitors to cross the bridge along the pedestrian walkway. Enjoy a bird's-eye view of Sydney Harbour on a scenic flight in a seaplane over the beaches and city skyline. Flights depart from Rose Bay and can be combined with lunch at exquisite waterfront restaurants or a prepared picnic hamper to be enjoyed on a secluded beach.

Swim at pristine beaches
Sydney's idyllic harbour beaches are some of the most beautiful in the city. Harbour beaches are generally calmer than the ocean beaches, with gentle, bobbing waves, making them popular with families. Take a dip in the turquoise waters of Camp Cove, and then walk around to Watsons Bay, where you can tuck into fish and chips on the grass. Find a secluded patch of sand on the 1.8 kilometre (1.1 mile) Hermitage Foreshore track, which twists along the eastern coastline, through Milk Beach and Nielsen Park. Or try out some of the harbour's water sports, such as stand-up paddleboarding at Balmoral Beach. Hire kayaks at the Spit Bridge to explore Middle Harbour.

Go island hopping
Discover the colourful history of Sydney Harbour's islands: Fort Denison, Shark, Clark, Rodd, Goat and Cockatoo. You can reach the islands on a short ferry ride from Circular Quay, and once you arrive, you'll be rewarded with 360-degree views. Pack a picnic and head for Shark Island, a little slice of paradise with palm trees, picnic tables and a sandy beach. The World Heritage-listed Cockatoo Island was off-limits to the public for more than 100 years, but today offers guided tours, a cutting-edge arts programme and the option to camp overnight in one of its luxury tents.

See the harbour lit up at night
Festivals and events are based on or around Sydney Harbour throughout the year. In May, Sydney's historic landmarks become a canvas for brilliant light installations and projections during the Vivid festival of light, music and ideas. The spectacle stretches from Circular Quay to Darling Harbour and Taronga Zoo. On New Year's Eve join the party as more than one million people gather around the foreshore to take in the spectacular fireworks display that takes place on Sydney Harbour Bridge. During major events, make sure you plan your day ahead and arrive early.

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