Sydney is the most populous city in Australia and all of Oceania with a population of well over 5.3 million inhabitants. It’s the capital of the state of New South Wales on the east coast of the country.
The city was established as a British exile colony on January 26, 1788, and it became the first European settlement in Australia that day.
The city was incorporated in 1842 and has continuously expanded ever since, resulting in a metropolis that is made up of a total of 658 suburbs in 33 local government areas.
One of the most remarkable facts about Sydney is that it’s one of the most expensive cities to live in.
The huge benefit of this is that it’s one of the most livable in the world, ranking frequently in the top 3 along with another major city in Australia, Melbourne.
The city features some of the most iconic structures in the world, and in this post, we have compiled a list of some of the best things to do in Sydney.
All of these should be on your bucket list when you visit this amazing place!
1. Sydney Opera House
The Sydney Opera House is not just one of the most famous landmarks in Sydney but is an icon of all of Australia.
This remarkable structure was built between 1959 and 1973 and has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in Australia with an estimated 8 million yearly visitors.
The building features multiple venues with an overall capacity of 5,738 spectators and is the host of over 1,500 yearly performances that are visited by over 1.2 million people.
The building is located at Bennelong Point in the Sydney Harbour and the structure was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2007.
Official website: Sydney Opera House
2. Sydney Harbour Bridge
The Sydney Harbour Bridge is another iconic landmark in the city and one of the most iconic bridges in the world.
It’s a steel through arch bridge across Sydney Harbour that was constructed between 1923 and 1932 and connects the Sydney central business district and the North Shore.
The bride is often referred to as the “Coathanger” due to its design and is considered to be another icon of all of Australia instead of just Sydney.
Even though it isn’t the longest steel arch bridge, it’s the tallest with a total height of 134 meters (440 feet).
It was also the world’s widest long-span bridge until the year 2012 with a total width of 48.8 meters (160 feet).
Are you looking for adventure in Sydney?
Then you can actually climb this bridge in an attraction called the “Bridge Climb.” This allows you to go all the way to the top of this amazing structure.” An amazing experience in the city, that’s for sure.
Official website: Bridge Climb
3. Sydney Tower Eye
The Sydney Tower Eye is without question the best attraction in Sydney to get amazing views of this fascinating city.
This magnificent tower stands 305 meters (1,001 feet) tall and its observation deck is situated at a maximum elevation of 279 meters (915 feet).
This makes it the tallest structure in Sydney and the second-tallest observation tower in the Southern Hemisphere after the Sky Tower in Auckland in New Zealand.
Its remarkable golden turret can be seen from just about anywhere in the city as well.
Just like the Sydney Harbour Bridge, this tower offers an adventurous attraction as well known as the “Skywalk,” offering an even more astounding view of the city.
Official website: Sydney Tower Eye
4. Queen Victoria Building
The Queen Victoria Building is one of the most remarkable structures in Sydney’s central business district.
It was built between 1893 and 1898 in the Romanesque Revival architectural style, something that really makes it stand out among the modern skyscrapers in this area.
It’s also a huge building as it has a width of 30 meters (98 feet) and a total length of 190 meters (620 feet).
It was originally constructed as a marketplace but has been used for a wide variety of purposes in the 20th century until it was completely restored in the 1980s.
There are tours available inside the building so you can learn everything about its history that spans well over a century, a very interesting experience in Sydney.
Official website: Queen Victoria Building
5. St Mary’s Cathedral
St Mary’s Cathedral is officially known as the “Cathedral Church and Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Mother of God, Help of Christians.”
This huge church is the main Roman Catholic Cathedral in the city and the seat of the Archbishop of Sydney.
This amazing church was built between 1868 and 1928 and was officially declared a minor basilica by Pope Pius XI just 4 years later on August 4, 1932.
The church can be found on College Street on the eastern edge of the central business district and is well worth a visit if you’re in the area.
Official website: St Mary’s Cathedral
6. Crown Sydney
Crown Sydney is an amazing skyscraper located in the Barangaroo neighborhood in central Sydney.
This modern skyscraper was completed in December 2020 and stands 271.3 meters (890 feet) tall. This makes it the tallest skyscraper in Sydney.
The tower was developed by Crown Resorts and cost a whopping 2.2 billion AUD to build.
It features a wide variety of entertainment facilities, including a hotel and a casino, as well as a large number of residences.
Official website: Crown Sydney
7. The Rocks
The Rocks is a historic neighborhood on the southern shore of Sydney Harbour and just to the northwest of the central business district of the city.
It’s one of the first neighborhoods in Sydney following the establishment of the penal colony in 1788.
The area had a rough history as it was dominated by a gang in the 19th century and the area became completely dilapidated by the early 20th century.
Many houses were demolished in this period but today, The Rocks is an interesting commercial area and tourist spot in Sydney in case you want to enjoy a stroll in a historic neighborhood.
Official website: The Rocks
8. Sydney Town Hall
Sydney Town Hall is a historic government building and landmark in the central business district and situated just across the Queen Victoria Building.
It was constructed between 1886 and 1889 in a combination of the Victorian and Napoleon III architectural styles.
It was constructed on the area of the Old Sydney Burial Ground which was in use between 1792 and 1820 and just about everybody who lived in Sydney at this time was buried here.
Guided tours are available inside this richly ornamented building as well, a structure that dominated the Sydney skyline for over a century.
Official website: Sydney Town Hall
9. Royal Botanic Garden
The Royal Botanic Garden is an enormous Botanical garden in an area referred to as “Farm Cover, right on the eastern edge of the central business district.
The garden covers a total area of 30 hectares (74 acres) and is located in a pretty amazing location in the city.
The garden opened in the year 1816 which means that it’s the oldest scientific institution in Australia.
Today, it’s one of the most popular tourist areas in all of Sydney as well. Access is free and some areas provide stunning views of the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour.
Official website: Royal Botanic Garden
10. Hyde Park Barracks
The Hyde Park Barracks are former barracks that were built between 1811 and 1819 and have been used for a wide variety of purposes.
Apart from being used to house prisoners, they have also been used as a courthouse, mint, and hospital.
These barracks are one of the 11 Australian Convict Sites that were built within the British Empire, and that was also its original purpose.
Today, the purpose of the structure has changed quite a bit as it houses a museum and cafe that you can visit to learn about Sydney’s history.
Official website: Hyde Park Barracks
11. Central Station
The Central Station of Sydney is also referred to as the “Sydney Terminal” and is the busiest railway station in New South Wales with over 85 million yearly passengers.
It’s the third railway station in Sydney since the first railways were constructed in the 1830s.
The main terminal building of the current station was completed in 1906 using sandstone.
It features an enormous clock tower built in the Free Classical style and completed in 1921. This tower stands 85.6 meters (281) tall which makes it one of the most prominent landmarks in the area.
Official website: Central Train Station Sydney
12. Sydney Observatory
The Sydney Observatory is located on Observatory Hill in the Sydney suburb of Millers Point.
It features a meteorological station, an astronomical observatory, a science museum, and an education facility.
The building was constructed between 1857 and 1859 and was built on the location of an early defense fort.
This early 19th-century fortification was transformed into an observatory and today, visitors can gaze at the stars at night through powerful telescopes.
Official website: Sydney Observatory
13. The Mint
The Mint is one of the most amazing landmarks in Sydney because it’s the oldest public building in the central business district.
This structure was built between 1811 and 1816 and originally served its purpose as the southern wing of the Sydney Hospital.
The mint was only established in the year 1854 and a coin factory was built at the rear side of the original building.
Today, the building is used as the head office of the Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales and as a popular tourist attraction in the city that is part of “Sydney Living Museums.”
Official website: The Mint
14. General Post Office
The General Post Office is located on Martin Square, a large pedestrian area in the central business district.
This remarkable building was constructed between 1866 and 1891 using local Sydney sandstone, giving it a very distinctive appearance in the heart of the city.
It’s considered to be the epitome building of the Victorian Italian Renaissance Style and is much bigger than it appears to be with a length of 114 meters (374 feet).
The building served as the headquarters of the Australia Post until 1996 when it was privatized, and has been a heritage-listed landmark building since 1999.
15. St Andrew’s Cathedral
The St Andrew’s Cathedral is the main church of the Anglican Church of Australia and the cathedral of the Anglican Diocese of Sydney.
one of the most remarkable Gothic Cathedrals in Australia and a prominent landmark building in the city.
The cathedral was constructed between 1837 and 1868 and even though it’s far from being the largest structure in this style, its Gothic elements are considered top-notch
This results in the structure appear grand, regardless of its small size, and well worth paying a visit if you want to admire distinctive European Gothic architecture in Australia.
Official website: Sydney Cathedral
16. 1 Bligh Street
1 Bligh Street is one of the most remarkable skyscrapers in the central business district of Sydney and a prime example of unique modern architecture.
It’s a modern-style office building that stands 139 meters (456 feet) tall and overlooks the Sydney Harbour, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and Circular Quay.
The building is one of the most ecologically sustainable structures on the planet and has multiple features to preserve energy.
Some of these include reusing 90% of its wastewater and a full double-skin façade with external blinds to preserve energy.
Official website: 1 Bligh Street
17. Kings Cross
Kings Cross is an inner-city area located about 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) to the east of the central business district.
The area is locally known as simply “The Cross” and used to be one of the most popular nightlife areas in the city, full of theaters and music halls.
After World War II, the area was transformed into a red-light district full of bars and nightclubs, not exactly a welcoming place for tourists to visit.
Similar to how Times Square In New York was transformed into a family-friendly area, Kings Cross in Sydney has been transformed into a safer area as well due to the Sydney lockout laws in the 2010s.
Official website: Kings Cross Sydney
18. State Library of New South Wales
The State Library of New South Wales is the oldest public library in Australia and is housed in one of the most fascinating buildings in the city.
It was established in the year 1826 and serves as a reference and research library featuring special collections.
This distinctive structure is located right across from the Royal Botanic Garden near the central business district.
The current library building with its Greek-Revival-style portico was built between 1905 and 1910 and further expanded in the years 1939, 1959, and 1964.
Official website: State Library of NSW
19. Darling Harbour
Darling Harbour is a harbor featuring a pedestrian area and a large number of entertainment facilities.
It’s situated on the western edge of the central business district and has become one of the most popular areas in the city for both locals and tourists.
The harbor was named after the Governor of New South Wales between 1825 and 1831, Lieutenant-General Ralph Darling (1772-1858)
What’s remarkable is it was originally known as Long Cove until Darling named it after himself in 1826, a name the area still goes by today (even though it looks quite a bit different than 2 centuries ago).
Official website: Darling Harbour
20. Art Gallery of New South Wales
The Art Gallery of New South Wales is located on the Domain, an area on the eastern edge of the central business district.
It was originally founded in 1872 as the New South Wales Academy of Art and renamed the National Art Gallery of New South Wales between 1883 and 1958.
The first art exhibition of the Gallery dates back to 1874 and today, the main exhibition area which featured Australian, European, and Asian art is free to the public.
With over 1.3 million visitors a year it’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in Sydney and a must-visit place if you enjoy admiring fine art.
Official website: Art Gallery of NSW
21. Building 8
Building 8 is officially known as the “Dr. Chau Chak Wing Building” as it was named after the Chinese businessman who donated $20 million for its construction.
It’s one of the buildings of the University of Technology of Sydney and without a doubt one of the most fascinating ones.
The structure was completed between 2012 and 2015 and was designed by Canadian American architect Frank Gehry.
The façade of the building features an astounding 320,000 custom-designed bricks, resulting in one of the most amazing buildings in Australia!
Official website: Dr. Chau Chak Wing Building
22. Customs House
The Customs House is a historic building located in the Circular Quay area of the central business district of Sydney.
It served as the city’s customs house before the formation of the Federation of Australia and is currently used as a museum, tourist attraction, commercial building, and performance space.
The building was constructed between 1844 and 1845 in the Victorian Georgian architectural style a remarkable sight in the center of Sydney.
The building was completely renovated in 2003 and is now being used as the City of Sydney Library as well. The building is open for visits too in case you want to take a peek inside.
Official website: Sydney Customs House
23. ANZAC War Memorial
The Anzac Memorial is a fascinating monument located in Hyde Park South, the southern end of one of the city’s most popular public parks.
It was built between 1932 and 1934 in the Art-Deco style and was decorated with sculptural reliefs to commemorate the Australian Imperial Force of World War I.
The monument is the focal point during Anzac Day, the national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand, as well as for other important occasions.
The memorial was completely renovated and expanded in the year 2018 and reopened shortly after. Guided tours of the memorial are available as well.
Official website: ANZAC War Memorial
24. Rose Seidler House
The Rose Seidler House is a former residence that now serves its purpose as a house museum as part of the Sydney Living Museums.
It’s located at 69-71 Clissold Road in the suburb of Wahroonga and was built between 1948 and 1950. It’s described as the “Most talked about house in Sydney in 1950,” and we can surely understand why.
This remarkable house was designed by Harry Seidler (1923-2006), one of the most renowned Australian modernist architects in history.
He designed it for his parents, Rose and Max Seidler, but it was mostly Rose who was involved in the project which is why it was named after her.
Official website: Rose Seidler House
25. Grace Building
The Grace Building is a fascinating example of the Federation Skyscraper Gothic architectural style and is located at 77-79 York Street in the central business district of Sydney.
It was built between 1928 and 1930 and commissioned by the Grace Brothers to serve as the headquarters of their chain of department stores.
The building was heavily influenced by the neo-Gothic Tribune Tower in the city of Chicago and has been used for a wide variety of purposes in its history.
It was fully renovated in the 1990s and today, it houses a luxury hotel that is named “The Grace Sydney,” definitely one of the most fantastic places to stay during your stay in Sydney.
Official website: The Grace Sydney