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. Guide to 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.


Sydney Harbour is regarded as one of the most beautiful natural harbours in the world. With more than 240 kilometres of shoreline and meandering waterways, there’s plenty to explore and discover. Sydney Harbour is one big aquatic playground for Sydneysiders, and on a warm sunny day, the harbour is a vibrant blue and dotted with hundreds of sailing boats, cruise boats and ferries. Around Sydney Harbour’s fringe you’ll also find national parks, World Heritage sites, rich Aboriginal heritage and early colonial history. On the water, above the water or below it, there’s a million ways to enjoy Sydney Harbour.

Circular Quay

The vibrant hub of Sydney Harbour is Circular Quay, a ferry terminal located on the edge of the Sydney city centre. Ferries leave 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 also located at Circular Quay on the way to the historic Rocks. Meander around to the Sydney Opera House and the Royal Botanic Gardens past vibrant restaurants and souvenir shops. You’ll find many perfect vantage points to photograph the Sydney Harbour Bridge. You’ll find some of Sydney’s finest restaurants here, Aria, Quay and Café Sydney.

Sydney Harbour highlights

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Sydney Harbour attractions

On the southern side of Circular Quay a walkway leads to the Sydney Opera House and Royal Botanical Gardens. On the northern side, a short walk takes you to the Sydney Harbour Bridge and The Rocks. Climb to the summit of the Sydney Harbour Bridge for views as far as the eye can see. Experience a performance at the world-famous Sydney Opera House, or take a guided behind-the-scenes tour. Explore the rare plants in the Royal Botanic Gardens then walk to the top of Mrs Macquarie’s Chair for the best views of the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Sydney Harbour islands

The best way to experience Sydney Harbour is from the water. Explore the uninhabited Sydney Harbour islands by ferry or kayak, including Fort Denison, Shark Island, Rodd and Goat Island. Camp overnight in the middle of Sydney Harbour on World Heritage-listed Cockatoo Island. Spend some time exploring the secret inlets and bays of Sydney Harbour on a charter cruise or 1850s style sailing ship. Take a thrilling jet boat ride; paddle boarding lesson or catch a water taxi to a harbour-side restaurant. Take the helm of an America's Cup yacht; or spend the night on board a luxury cruiser.

Sydney Harbour beaches and parks

Catch a ferry from Circular Quay and explore beachside suburbs such as McMahons Point, Manly, Mosman and Balmain. Sydney Harbour National Park hugs the coastline at North and South Heads at the entrance to Port Jackson. Stay overnight at the historic Quarantine Station at North Head. See Australia’s unique wildlife at Taronga Zoo. Catch a ferry to Darling Harbour and visit Sydney Aquarium, Wildlife Sydney Zoo, Cockle Bay and King Street Wharf. Disembark at Pyrmont Bay Wharf and you'll be close to the Australian National Maritime Museum and Harbourside Shopping Centre. Head to Watson’s Bay and have fish and chips by the beach. Soar over Sydney Harbour in a seaplane from Rose Bay. Cruise to Parramatta along the river and stroll the Riverside Walk in Parramatta Park. The Sydney Harbour Circle Walk winds along the foreshore west of the Sydney Harbour Bridge to Hunters Hill.

Sydney Harbour events

Many special events are based on or around Sydney Harbour throughout the year. Some of the major events when the harbour comes alive are the Vivid Festival when the city’s buildings are illuminated each night; Sydney’s New Year's Eve Fireworks; Australia Day and the start of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race on Boxing Day. Harbourside suburbs and beaches becomes vibrant vantage points for these major events as crowds swarm to get the best views. Make sure you plan your day and get in early for a prime spot at a Sydney Harbour event.

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