Exploring Australia’s biggest city is easy with options for visitors of all abilities. We have the inside scoop on the most accessible attractions in Sydney.
By Ashlea Wheeler
From the iconic promenade of the Sydney Opera House to the sand at Manly Beach, there are plenty of accessible options when it comes to sightseeing in Sydney. If you or a travel companion are travelling with a disability, here are the best accessible attractions for you to check out.
Visit Sydney’s popular attractions
Sydney boasts an extensive list of attractions, and many city centre highlights are accessible. The Sydney Tower Eye, a prominent member of the city skyline with spectacular views of the harbour, has extensive wheelchair facilities throughout the attraction. The historic Queen Victoria Building is another favourite, with multiple levels of boutique shops in an architecturally stunning building. There are three sets of lifts that will take visitors between levels and accessible bathrooms on the lower ground floor.
Visiting the Sydney Opera House is a must. This iconic building is beautifully unique with its architecturally designed sails standing proud at the forefront of the harbour. There is a large, flat open area around the Opera House, and the interior of the building features lifts, escalators, and ramps throughout with accessible bathrooms on the lower ground level. While you’re in the area, dine at the Opera Bar. Located on the waterfront beneath the Opera House, this bar has panoramic sunset views of the harbour and is the perfect spot to enjoy a drink at the end of a busy day.
Darling Harbour is another popular spot for visitors to Sydney. This picturesque waterfront destination has a huge selection of places to eat, with many restaurants and attractions offering ramp access and accessible bathrooms. Some of the mobility-friendly attractions in this area include SEA LIFE Aquarium and WILD LIFE Sydney, where you can experience marine life and other native animals. For a relaxing break, head into the Chinese Garden of Friendship which is a peaceful refuge in the middle of Darling Harbour. Most of the paved pathways through the landscaped garden are accessible.
Seek out some museums
Most of Sydney’s museums and galleries offer mobility access plus some accessible tours and programs. The Art Gallery of New South Wales has exhibitions featuring everything from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art to historic European pieces, and the gallery offers an all-inclusive art experience with tactile and sensory tours and audio-described tours bookable through their community access program. At the Museum of Contemporary Art, which is situated right on the bustling waterfront near Circular Quay, you’ll find that all public areas are accessible and free guided tours of the galleries are conducted twice daily.
Some good places to learn about Australia are Customs House (a historically significant building on Circular Quay), the Museum of Sydney (a great place to discover the city’s people and their history), the National Maritime Museum (which holds rare vessels such as a navy submarine and destroyer), and the Powerhouse Museum (with exhibitions focused on design, science, and technology). All of these museums offer ramp access, lifts within the building, and accessible bathrooms.
Sports fans may be keen to experience the hallowed grounds of Australian sport with a barrier-free tour of the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG). Guided tours can be tailored to suit visitors with various disabilities.
Enjoy the outdoors
The Royal Botanic Gardens is one of the best places to get outdoors in Sydney. These gardens have a spacious flat path following the shoreline along the harbour, and gently sloping paths weaving throughout the grounds. This is a great place to see some of Australia’s native plants, and you may even spot some local birdlife such as cockatoos and kookaburras.
Taronga Zoo Sydney, located on Sydney’s north shore, is accessible via a short ferry ride from Circular Quay with roll-on/off access. On arrival, you’ll find plenty of mobility-friendly paths as well as the sky rail cable car, which can carry manual wheelchairs up to the top of the park. Taronga Zoo has amazing views of the city and harbour, and you can learn all about foreign species and native animals that call Australia home.
A trip to Sydney wouldn’t be complete without spending some time at the beach. Manly Beach, on Sydney’s north shore, is accessible via a public ferry departing from Circular Quay. The ferry takes between 30 and 40 minutes to reach Manly and passes right by the iconic Harbour Bridge and Opera House along the way. From the ferry terminal, a pedestrian mall leading to the beach is lined with beachwear stores, hip cafes, and fish and chip shops. The beach itself is a treat, with a wide boardwalk to wander along and beach wheelchairs available for loan from Manly Surf Lifesaving Club. Contact the club to pre-book.
Take a day trip out of the city
Blueish hues at the spectacular Blue Mountains provide a scenic landscape for day trips out of Sydney. By travelling with Australia In Style, you can visit the Blue Mountains on a 'No Steps' tour - designed specifically for those with varying levels of mobility. Wheelchairs, walkers, and sticks are welcome on this private day trip as you visit the UNESCO World Heritage-listed region, admiring unique natural rock formations, experiencing Aboriginal culture, and getting up close to native Australian animals.