by Lydia Schrandt for USA TODAY 10Best

Escape down under to Sydney with this virtual tour

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There’s a lot to love about Sydney, from its iconic harbor to its beautiful beaches. Come along with us as we take a closer look at some of the city’s top attractions and hidden gems.

No building in Sydney is quite so immediately recognizable as the Sydney Opera House, a UNESCO World Heritage site with its sail-like wings rising above the harbor waterfront.

Sydney enjoys some of the world’s best urban beaches, none quite as stunning (or as famous) as Bondi Beach.

Few swimming pools on our planet are as iconic as the one at Bondi Icebergs Club at the southern end of Bondi Beach — a saltwater pool with views over the beach and water.

In 1964, Manly Beach hosted the first-ever World Surfing Championship, forever marking its spot on the Sydney tourist map.

Just offshore from Manly Beach, the Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve protects an underwater world rich in marine life. It’s one of Sydney’s top spots for snorkeling and scuba diving.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge, one of the largest steel arch bridges in the world, opened in 1932 across the natural harbor. Visitors can walk or cycle across the bridge, which locals call the Coathanger.

For the best view in Sydney, head to the top of the Sydney Tower, where you'll find the 820-foot observation level.

One of Sydney’s top shopping destinations, the Queen Victoria Building, is also one of its architectural gems: an 1890s structure with a central dome and stained glass windows.

Sydney’s street art subculture got its start in Newtown, a neighborhood that has art adorning just about every wall along King Street and its side streets.

The UNESCO-listed Cockatoo Island, located in the heart of Sydney Harbour, was a convict penal establishment and dockyard before its transformation into an art venue.

From late October into November, Sydney’s jacaranda trees bloom in brilliant purple. While the trees are indigenous to Brazil, they’ve found a home in Australia and can be seen all over the city.

In May and June, Sydney usually hosts its most colorful festival, Vivid Sydney. This weeks-long event features large-scale light installations and projections, live music and workshops.

The fireworks exploding in the sky above Sydney Harbour typically mark the start of the New Year festivities each year, as Australia is one of the first places where the clock strikes midnight.

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