A day in Sydney’s art and culture scene
Exciting, striking and often intriguing, Sydney’s art and culture institutions are worth a day of exploration.
Sydney’s art scene is undeniable. The city houses countless art galleries, captivating architecture and grand theatres, and a rotating roster of world-class exhibitions means there’s always something new to see.
Spend a day meandering Sydney’s best museums and cultural attractions, with a few delicious meals along the way.
Sydney’s art and culture highlights
8:30 am: Get your caffeine fix
Start the day with a flaky almond croissant and coffee at La Renaissance café in The Rocks, located just steps from the harbour. This family-owned patisserie has been making cakes and macarons since 1974. Grab one of the outdoor tables and you might even get a visit from a colourful (and cheeky) bird looking for crumbs.
10 am: Wander the Museum of Contemporary Art
After your fill of pastries, walk just a few minutes to the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA). Here, you’ll find an extensive permanent collection of photography, sculptures, paintings and moving images, as well as a changing roster of exciting exhibitions. Before you leave, pop into the MCA Store for a curated selection of Australian design and books —the perfect memento to take home.
10:30 am: Or, book an Aboriginal tour
If you’d prefer to learn about the history and culture of Sydney’s Aboriginal people first-hand, join The Rocks Aboriginal Dreaming Tour (Illi Langi), which departs daily at 10:30 am. On this leisurely walkabout tour, you’ll follow an Aboriginal guide to significant cultural sites under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, hear Dreamtime creation stories and explore the deep connection that Sydney’s First Peoples have with the sparkling harbour.
1 pm: Enjoy a harbourside lunch
Have lunch on the outdoor terrace at 6Head, which has one of the best views of the Sydney Opera House and bustling harbour. The restaurant specialises in premium cuts of steak to share, as well as fresh seafood like oysters, sashimi and caviar. Be sure to save room for some cheese from the roving trolley.
2 pm: Stroll through the Art Gallery of New South Wales
After lunch, head to the Art Gallery of New South Wales, a pleasant 30-minute walk through the city. Find yourself hypnotised by the large-scale paintings and fascinated by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artworks on display.
4 pm: Go shopping
Walk just over 15 minutes to the centre of Sydney, where fashion-lovers will be spoilt for choice. Stroll through the 19th-century grandeur of the Queen Victoria Building and Strand Arcade, home to elegant boutiques, dressmakers, hatters, antique stores and cafés.
5 pm: Head to Barangaroo
Another 15-minute walk will bring you to Barangaroo, one of Sydney’s newest precincts. Pick up a classic book or vinyl record at TITLE Barangaroo, Australia's largest independent retailer of music, books and film. The staff are knowledgeable and you can easily lose yourself among the cultural treasures.
6 pm: Sit down for dinner
Barangaroo is full of delicious restaurants, so you can play to your tastes. Seafood restaurant Cirrus Dining is an elegant option offering both indoor and outdoor seating. If you’re after something a little more casual, Ume Burger offers Japanese-inspired burgers and a Tokyo-style vending machine.
8 pm: End the day with drinks and dessert
Satisfy your sweet tooth at the excellent Rivareno Gelato, where the authentic Italian gelato is made daily. Next, end the night with a whiskey at Nola Smokehouse and Bar, which is inspired by the hospitality of the American South.