From Sydney’s pearly-white Opera House, which gleams like a jewel in the city’s famous harbor, to the golden swathe of Bondi Beach, Sydney landmarks are among the most iconic in the world. Australia’s largest city by population also offers a jaw-dropping coastline, a world-beating restaurant scene, and historic neighborhoods to explore.
Many Sydney landmarks are clustered close together, in or near the harbor, making it easy to get around and take in several attractions in one visit.
Don’t miss these 11 famous Sydney landmarks on your next vacation to Australia.
Sydney Opera House
This famous landmark in Sydney, located on the city’s Bennelong Point waterfront, is recognized as one of the world’s greatest examples of modern 20th century architecture for its iconic wave design.
Sydney Opera House was the mastermind of Danish architect Jørn Utzon, who, in 1957, at just 38 years old, won an international competition to design the building. Sydney Opera House has long since cemented its landmark status, with other buildings around the world taking inspiration from its elegant, sculptural form.
Start your visit by climbing The Monumental Steps, which lead up to the performance venues, including the Concert Hall, home to the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and the Australian Chamber Orchestra.
The different venues within the Opera House host year-round festivals, musicals, cultural performances, and exhibitions. It’s even possible to pre-book an energizing fitness class led by sports instructors on the steps of the building at certain times of the year.
Explore the inner workings of the Sydney Opera House on a guided one-hour tour. Take in a daytime performance, and stop for some of Sydney’s best eats at chef Peter Gilmore’s Bennelong Restaurant located in the pavilion. Bennelong focuses on Australian produce and wine, exquisitely crafted by some of the country’s top culinary talent. You’ll need a reservation at this landmark restaurant.
Head for the honey-hued sand of Sydney’s famous Bondi Beach. The curved bay draws surfers from far and wide while health-conscious locals pack the promenade on daily runs. Sydney-siders are known for their love of coffee, and the various venues around Bondi offer an outstanding taste of cafe culture. Try Harry’s Bondi for a delicious bean-to-cup, single-roast brew before relaxing on the beach.
The exhilarating 3 ½ mile coastal walk from Bondi to Coogee Beach is one of Sydney’s best things to do. The ocean views are out of this world, and you’ll pass some of the city’s prettiest coves, gorgeous sandy nooks, and most prized oceanfront real estate on the way. Remember the SPF, wear a sun hat and carry plenty of water for the hike; the sun is strong here. Alternatively, if you prefer a shorter stroll, opt for the 1 ½ mile Bondi to Bronte walk.
Check out Bondi Icebergs Club, famed for its Bondi Baths, featuring a public pool and sauna right on the beach. Take a seat on the terrace for a taste of flavorsome Tasmania mussels and juicy shrimps. The broiled barramundi is also a standout dish.
Royal Botanic Garden Sydney
Located next to Sydney Opera House, meaning you can tick these two famous Sydney landmarks off one after the other, the Royal Botanic Garden is a verdant oasis featuring a Rainforest Walk, Herb Garden, Succulent Garden, Fernery, and Palm House located within the Lower Gardens, Middle Gardens, and Palace Gardens.
The Royal Botanic Garden carries more than 1,000 types of plants, nurtured within the grounds for over 200 years. Lose yourself in the bucolic bliss of the Rose Garden & Pavilion, follow the pathway beneath the canopy of the Rainforest Walk, and wander among the plants from the subtropical areas of China, Japan, and Vietnam in the Oriental Garden.
Take a guided walk with one of the volunteers to learn about seasonal flora, indigenous plant life, and rare species. Tours typically run Thursday through Sunday. Check ahead for the schedule and to pre-book a slot. There’s also a Visitor Centre, Garden Shop, and café.
Queen Victoria Building
Opened in 1898, initially as the Sydney Produce Market, Queen Victoria Building, or QVB, as locals know it, is a shopping and dining destination located three blocks west of Hyde Park, taking up an entire block in Sydney’s CBD, or Central Business District.
One of the most famous landmarks in Sydney, QVB is home to around 190 retail outlets. Browse iconic Australian brands, including Lorna Jane for activewear, R.M. Williams for men’s, women’s, and children’s apparel, and Hunter’s for gorgeous cashmere.
Pick up some confectionery from Australia’s oldest family-owned chocolate makers, Haigh’s Chocolates, and invest in artwork at Aboriginal Art Galleries, which offers fully-insured, free worldwide shipping.
While you’re indulging in a spot of retail therapy, don’t neglect to admire the central dome and exquisite stained glass windows. Afterward, stop by the QVB’s Reign Champagne Parlour & Bar for a glass of Australian champagne.
Sydney Harbour Bridge
Another of the most famous landmarks in Sydney, the Harbour Bridge was completed in 1932, linking the harbor with the city’s north side. Walk or cycle across the 1,650-ft span of Sydney Harbour Bridge, once the longest steel arch bridge in the world.
Alternatively, embark on a bucket list-worthy climb to the summit, a hair-raising 439 ft above the water. From the CBD side of the bridge, you’ll first ascend to the Pylon Lookout before climbing ladders and catwalks to reach the upper arch, the harbor stretching away below you. Bridge climbs take three hours and usually take place Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, plus daily during school holidays. Book ahead to secure a coveted spot.
If you prefer a more leisurely means of marveling at the grace of Sydney Harbour Bridge, take a ferry ride from Circular Quay to Taronga Zoo, Manly, Watsons Bay, Barangaroo, Darling Harbour, Cockatoo Island, and Parramatta.
Pack your camera to capture the bridge, Sydney Opera House, and other Sydney sights as you sail the harbor.
The Rocks, the oldest known neighborhood in Australia, is sandwiched between Circular Quay and Sydney Harbour Bridge. Of Sydney’s famous landmarks, The Rocks is one of the best for an all-in-one-place shopping, sightseeing, and dining destination. Join one of the daily walking tours to learn about The Rocks’ heritage as the spot where European settlers landed when arriving in Australia from 1788.
Soak up the views of Sydney Harbour Bridge and browse the many shops found in The Rocks. Once you’ve finished exploring the atmospheric cobbled streets, enjoy a platter of fresh Sydney rock oysters at The Glenmore or a plate of lip-smackingly good Balmain bugs at Harbourfront Seafood Restaurant. Balmain bugs are not a type of creepy-crawly, but a clawless lobster, prized for their flavor.
Leave time in your schedule to tour the Museum of Contemporary Art, Argyle Gallery, and the fascinating Rocks Discovery Museum. Another highlight is The Rocks Market for artisan souvenirs and gourmet gifts, taking place every weekend between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Opened in 1916, Taronga Zoo is set in 28 idyllic hectares on the north side of Sydney Harbour. Explore this gargantuan Sydney landmark, which is home to over 5,000 animals from over 350 species, including native koalas, kangaroos, emus, Tasmanian devils, and freshwater and saltwater crocodiles. You’ll also see monkeys, tigers, lions, meerkats, and giraffes. This is a great day out if you’re traveling with kids.
One of the best family activities to try at Taronga Zoo is to become a zookeeper for the day to get an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at what goes into caring for the animals, from feeding to clearing out pens. The zoo also has a packed schedule of events and programming for all ages, including animal encounters, including cuddling cute koalas, and feeding giraffes.
Refuel at Taronga’s food markets. There’s a picnic area, free Wi-Fi, and several cafes to choose from. If you’re staying in Sydney overnight, you could consider a wild night at the zoo’s safari-style lodges.
Sydney Tower Eye
An icon of the city’s skyline, the pin-like Sydney Tower Eye is one of the most famous Sydney landmarks and the city’s tallest building at 1,014 ft high.
Take in a remarkable bird’s eye view from 880 feet up on a 60-minute Skywalk tour, one floor above the indoor Observation Deck. Views are said to stretch as far as the Blue Mountains range, 50 miles northwest of the city. Take binoculars to spot other Sydney landmarks, including Botany Bay to the south and Sydney Harbour to the north.
Book a ticket that includes a dining experience at SkyFeast, Sydney Tower Eye’s 82nd story revolving restaurant. Designer stores, the Westfield Shopping Mall, and plenty of restaurants and bars can be found dotted around Sydney Tower Eye’s Market Street location.
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Just behind the Royal Botanic Garden stands the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Known as the National Art Gallery of New South Wales between 1883 and 1958, this is arguably Australia’s greatest gallery and one of the most famous landmarks in Sydney. The gallery celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2021, having occupied its present location since 1897.
The gallery is now undergoing a major transformation that includes connecting two buildings via a public art garden that will have a focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and culture.
Though some areas are closed off while the program of extension works takes shape, the gallery remains open and is free to enter. Explore the permanent collections of Australian, Aboriginal, Asian, and European classic and contemporary works of art.
Pieces are spread out over five levels in various picture galleries and the Grand Court. Look out for pieces by the 19th and 20th-century Australian artists John Glover, John Russell, William Piguenit, Grace Cossington Smith, and Margaret Preston.
This waterfront Sydney landmark is home to neat rows of shiny yachts, immaculate skyscrapers, entertainment complexes, and an attractive promenade that lines the water’s edge. Here, you’ll find bars, restaurants, a Ferris wheel, and other attractions, such as SEA LIFE, one of the best aquariums in the world, all within walking distance or a short taxi ride from Sydney’s CBD.
Stop by the Australian National Maritime Museum to climb aboard a replica of James Cook’s HMS Endeavour. Take a glass-bottomed boat ride or even join a traditional Australian paddle wheeler for a dinner and show cruise from the King Street Wharf promenade.
From fast food outlets to high-end restaurants, offering everything from fried chicken and pizza to ramen, noodles, and bao buns, Darling Harbour is a gourmand’s mecca. Take a seat in one of the diners, soak up the relaxed ambiance of the promenade, and pick up a creamy gelato as you browse the attractions and shops. You’ll also find a small outlet of Coles, Australia’s version of Walmart, in Darling Harbour, where you can stock up on essentials.
Sydney Fish Market
A famous landmark in Sydney since 1872, Sydney Fish Market is a must-visit attraction and a working fish market near Darling Harbour, in Pyrmont. Considered one of the largest seafood markets in the Southern Hemisphere, it’s packed with seafood vendors, restaurants and cafés, plus a bakery, gourmet deli, and gift shop.
Take a behind-the-scenes tour to witness the eye-popping range of oysters, rock lobsters, barramundi, sea urchin, marron (crayfish), and spanner crab, with some 50-55 tons of fresh seafood auctioned here each day.
Watch oyster shucking, tour the auction floor, ask the vendors questions, and learn more about Australia, New Zealand, and the Asia-Pacific region’s fishing industry. Purchase some fresh sushi or battered fish, and soak up the views of Blackwattle Bay and the cable-style Anzac Bridge outside the market.
A luxury cruise is one of the best ways to soak up all that the region has to offer. Explore Celebrity Cruises’ cruises from Sydney to Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific and start planning your next getaway.