There is so much to love about the harbourside city, from world-class dining to inner-city villages to cultural hubs that shine a spotlight on local talent – Sydney delights, on and off the land.
With its glistening harbour, ever-changing skyline, and inner-city hubs that have a vibrancy that stays with you long after you've left, Sydney is one glorious city that's just begging to be explored.
Equal parts pleasure and business, there is so much more to Sydney CBD then the nine-to-five gig. Living life on a global scale, Sydney's charming blend of sophistication and laid-back feels is unlike any other - it's a treasure trove of dining, arts and entertainment, from historic neighbourhoods and sprawling parkland to leisure and shopping districts.
So, strap in and take a deep breath because the list of things to do in Sydney CBD is long.
A Glamorous Harbour
Sydney's crown jewel, Sydney Harbour, is nothing shy of spectacular. The iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge (our pick is the sunset Bridge Climb) and the sails of Sydney Opera House are the backdrops to many a selfie. Yet, there is no better way to take it all in then on the harbour itself. From Circular Quay to Barangaroo to Darling Harbour, jump aboard a cruise, catch a ferry or get your heart racing with a jetboat ride. And if you prefer to stay on land, the harbour walks have jaw-dropping views every which way you turn.
Year-round, Sydney's events calendar and cultural centres offer a wealth of things to do Sydney CBD. Live theatre and performing arts, and museums that talk to Australia's natural history, and the country's Indigenous and colonial heritage. Art galleries with permanent collections and changing exhibitions, plus an annual festival and events scene that impresses year-round, with Sydney Festival and Vivid Sydney showcasing local and international talent.
A Foodie's Delight
A culinary wonderland, Sydney has an enviable line-up of cafés that kick things off from daybreak with a barista-made coffee and wholesome brunch offering. Take it from us. You will want to leave room for what's to come. Sydney has world-class dining with incredible views to match (Bennelong and Quay Restaurant) to gastro pubs that are as much a standout for their food as they are for their interiors. Sky-high restaurants and waterfront dining to indulgent restaurants and BYO eateries, plus Barangaroo, Woolloomooloo, Surry Hills and Potts Point are a veritable playground for foodies.
Bars and Nightlife
Character-filled watering-holes to intimate wine bars to speakeasies, bar hopping, should be high on every edit of things to do in Sydney CBD. Boozy weekend brunch at Hyde Hacienda to sundowners at the Opera Bar to cocktails at Bar 83 Sydney Tower. Or, work your way around the many historic pubs, rooftop oases and underground nightclubs – you're all but guaranteed, the bars and nightlife of Sydney will be pulsing.
Shop 'till You Drop
Sydney's trendsetting shopping precincts will have fashionistas in a flutter. The exquisite QVB and Galleries is where heritage meets designer brands. Pitt Street Mall and Westfield Sydney house big name brands and boutiques, while The Rocks shine a spotlight on art and handcrafted homeware and fashion. Yet still, wander into Sydney's inner-city neighbourhoods to discover fashion, art and furnishing in Surry Hills, high-end designer labels in Paddington, and second-hand vintage finds in Newtown and Glebe.
Gardens and Parklands
Adding to the allure of Sydney Harbour are the spectacular parks and gardens. Sydney's newest greenspace, Barangaroo Reserve, is a nod to Australia's indigenous culture and heritage significance. The Royal Botanic Gardens is an expansive parkland of manicured gardens and picnic spaces that take in stunning harbour views as well as native and exotic gardens. The Botanic Gardens flows into the Domain, an open events space, and links round to the iconic (and oh, so beautifully charming), Hyde Park.
Sydney's Colonial History
No trip to the harbour city is complete without taking a deep dive into the city's heritage. One of the best things to do in Sydney is The Rocks. In the shadow of Sydney Harbour Bridge, explore the cobblestone laneways, the pop-up markets, and the many art galleries and boutique stores. The historic piers of Walsh Bay have transformed into a cultural precinct, and further in town, Hyde Park Barracks tells the stories of convicts.
Revered on a global scale for its glistening harbour, yet still, Sydney is so much more. With new restaurant and bar openings every month, neighbourhoods to explore, and an indigenous and colonial heritage to discover, the list of things to do in Sydney is endless.