What to see and what to do. Sydney's essentials sights and activities.

Whether it be the sun and surf, peaceful parks and national parks or the thrill of climbing the Harbour Bridge, Sydney has it all. With all of the things to do and see in beautiful Sydney, deciding how to spend your time exploring the city can mean wasting valuable sight-seeing time. 10best has narrowed down all of the available attractions in Sydney to a list of some of the don't activities available. Scale the heights of Centrepoint Tower, climb the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge, surf at Bondi beach or go shopping Sydney-style.

Get set to experience Sydney's signature attractions. This narrowed down list is only the beginning to your amazing exploration of this stunning city. With countless galleries and museums, parks and gardens and zoos and aquariums to visit, Sydney will have you out of breath trying to experience them all. Luckily, 10Best will help you make the most of your visit by giving you the local view of this sparkling city. With activities for young and old, Sydney's energetic and diverse atmosphere will have you racing to each corner of the city to take it all in. So grab a pen and a backpack and get started ticking off our 10 must see and do activities Sydney has to offer.


Sydney Tower Centrepoint
Photo courtesy of Renate Ruge

Sydney Tower's observation deck offers the highest vantage point from a building in the southern hemisphere and measuring in at over 1000 feet, the tower is easily Sydney's tallest building. Sydney Tower's view extends from the Blue Mountains to the Central Coast offering unmatched panorama views of the city. Included in your entry ticket is a multimedia sensory experience, offering a virtual tour of Sydney from above. Two revolving restaurants can be found on the observation deck for one of Sydney's most beautiful and unique dining experiences, each with a bar to knock back a few beers towering over beautiful Sydney.

Local Expert tip: Pick a time mid week to avoid extra long queues.

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After a relaxing ferry ride across Sydney Harbour, you will arrive at Sydney's most popular zoo. There is no urban zoo with quite as spectacular a setting as Taronga, located on a headland that juts out into the harbour. This stunningly positioned zoological garden contains over 4000 animals ranging from all the Australian natives such as Koalas and Kangaroos to the more exotic tigers and giraffes. A rainforest aviary provides glimpses of tropical birds from Northern Australia and Papua New Guinea. Check the daily schedule as the zoo offers a number of shows and educational talks throughout the day including the popular bird show and seal show which will have the kids squealing as they are drenched from the seals energetic splashes.

Local Expert tip: Stay overnight in the zoo and wake up to feed the elephants, check out the 'Roar & Snore' experience.

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Why not soak up some of Sydney's rich history while doing a little shopping. The Queen Victorias Building was built in 1898 to celebrate the Queen's Golden Jubilee. The heritage building features 21 domes, each of which is 65 feet in diameter. Before its makeover in the 1980s, the building was home to a fresh produce market and then government offices. It now houses over 200 stores perfect for everyone, with a designer labels, fashion, art, antiques, gifts, souvenirs, jewellery and cafes, the QVB makes for an unforgettable shopping expirience. Designed to resemble a Byzantine palace, took a look up at the central copper dome and the glass roof, look back down at the original floor tiles and cast iron circular staircase and then maybe you can get on with your shopping if your not too busy soaking up the history.

Local Expert tip: Sit down for a cup of tea in the QVB tea rooms. Surrounded by starched linen, bone china and silver trays you will be able to thoroughly enjoy some delicious scones and afternoon tea.

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Whether it be for the stunning sunset, a romantic picnic or simply enjoying the best view in the city, a small hike to Mrs. Macquarie's Chair is a must when visiting Sydney. After a short stroll around the Sydney Opera House and up through the Botanical Gardens you will find yourself staring in awe over the superb Sydney Harbour. The wife of Governor Macquarie used to walk to this spot and sit in a chair that had been carved specifically for her. Locals know the spot as one of the best views of the New Year's fire works or a romantic nights picnic

Local Expert tip: Finding a free moment with the chair can be difficult so if you are looking to score a prime picnic position, try getting in early.

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Sydney Harbour Bridge and Pylon Lookout
Photo courtesy of Renate Ruge

Sydney's most iconic landmark, the Sydney Harbour Bridge (known to locals as "The Coat Hanger") spans 1605 feet and allows for eight lanes of traffic and two train tracks. Sydney Harbour bridge steals the spot light when strolling through Circular Quay, while soaking in the Sydney sun, and if you turn 180 degrees, you will be facing the Sydney Opera House. It isn't every day you find yourself wedged between two city landmarks. If you are easily entranced by amazing feats of engineering, The Pylon Lookout Museum (in the southeast pylon) screens a great black and white film about the bridge's construction, as well as a number of other historical artifacts. A must experience activity when visiting Sydney is the Bridge climb. After climbing the 1337 steps to the top, you are rewarded with a stunning panoramic view of the harbour.

Local Expert tip: The sunset bridge-climb offers the best city skyline and harbour view money can buy.

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Museum of Contemporary Art
Photo courtesy of Renate Ruge

The Museum of Contemporary Art is the home to Sydney's artistic community. Drawing in as many locals as tourists every year, the 7000 piece collection continues to encourage and inspire the community. The sandstone building was built in 1952 and opening as gallery in 1991. The building has been newly redesigned attaching a ultra modern second wing to the historic sandstone original. Located in a prime spot next to Circular Quay, on the harbour The MCA is the main hub for local artists featuring frequent local and international exhibitions in video, sculpture, post-modern art, and contemporary Aboriginal art. In support of the artistic community, the gallery offers daily classes and free tours. The permanent collection includes works by Warhol, Hockney and Christo.

Local Expert tip: Seek out the cafe in the new part of the building, with a roof terrace and view over Circular Quay.

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Sydney's largest and most recognised art galleries, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, houses the countries largest collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, a strong collection 19th and 20th Century Australian art and a number of yearly contemporary exhibitions. Locals and tourists flock to this gallery every day to visit one of the country's largest collections. The Art Gallery of NSW offers a number of free and paid shows yearly featuring some of the best local, national and international artists. The gallery strongly supports the local artistic community by offering classes for adults and children as well as the showing of local emerging artists. After a long day exploring the many exhibition spaces, grab a coffee and cake at the gallery cafe, one of Sydney's favourite local cafes

Local Expert tip: If you book ahead, the gallery offers a range of art classes and events for all ages.

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For those as interested in Sydney's past and present, take a visit to Australia's oldest museum. This unique and diverse institution devotes itself to the natural history and anthropology of Sydney and Australia. The museum opened in 1827 during early settlement and is one of the cities oldest standing buildings. It is housed in a beautiful neoclassical sandstone building and features numerous displays on Australian Aboriginal society and a number of exhibits featuring ancient and modern Aboriginal artefacts. You will be exposed to a range of skeletal remains, animals and aboriginal art. With exhibits for all ages, the Australian Museum is a excellent day out for the whole family, with discovery and interactive areas for the kids and a coffee shop or two for the parents.

Local Expert tip: Take note of the original sandstone building, one of the cities oldest structures.

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Built in 1858, Sydney's heritage listed Observatory is located in the heart of the historic Rocks district. While the Sydney Harbour and skyline might be stunning, the night sky is what really shines. Featuring an educational virtual reality 3D space theatre, an historic 29cm lens telescope, a 42cm computer controlled telescope and a hydrogen-alpha solar telescope. Theres plenty here to keep any space enthusiast giggling with joy for hours. Both daytime and nighttime viewing opportunities are available, offering stunning views of the sun, moon, planets and stars. Nighttime opening hours vary throughout the year and can get rather busy in the warmer months. Whether you are interested yourself in space, Sydney history or simply want to enjoy a night of something a little different, the Sydney observatory offers a memorable experience.

Local Expert tip: The summer months can become quite busy so booking ahead is advised.

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Harness your inner geek, child or science enthusiast and let loose in the Sydney Powerhouse's twenty five unique and educational exhibits. Whether it be science, technology, decorative arts or Australian history the exhibits cover a broad range. Many exhibits are aimed towards the children with interactive learning and special events and seminars being held throughout the year, but there is always something to interest and fascinate any age group. Exhibits range from the first train in New South Wales and the oldest surviving wheel-turning steam engine in the world to women's roles in Australian history and the development of pharmacies in the nation. For the kids, there are a number of interactive exhibits as well as Zoe's House, a safe and fun construction zone for 3-6 year old's.

Local Expert tip: Check the yearly schedule as the Powerhouse often holds a variety of entertaining and educational events such as the wiggles or the Harry Potter Exhibition.

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Meet Trent Van der Jagt

Trent van der Jagt was born and bred just outside Sydney. With a camera in one hand and a pen in the other, Trent has made it his mission to explore as much of the world as possible. At the...  More About Trent