Things to Do in Sydney
If New York City is “The City That Never Sleeps”, then Sydney is most definitely “The City That Sleeps”.
Don’t get me wrong though, we’re not boring or anything, we just have to be extra creative in finding new and exciting things to do and places to explore (and we probably do really like our sleep too).
Here are 20 things you may not have known you could do in this fair city.
1. Me, Tarzan. You, Jane.
Adventure is out there! Make like Tarzan but with more harnesses in an adventure among the treetops. Swing from vines and OH&S-approved ropes and rigging. Soar on wings of eagles and flying foxes.
Ok I’m being overdramatic it’s actually very safe with varying levels of difficulty and a specific course especially designed for little ones. Go on, conquer those fear of heights. Find out more at Tree Park Adventure Park.
Getting there: Take a walk on the wild side at Plough & Harrow, Western Sydney Parklands, 749 Elizabeth Drive, Abbotsbury 2176. Contact them at +61 (02) 8605 4300.
2. Explore Wrecked Shipwrecks
Unleash your inner explorer and check out the various shipwrecks dotting Homebush Bay. Shipwrecks; who would’ve thought, right? In 1966, a section of Homebush Bay was approved by the Maritime Services Board to be used as a shipwreck yard.
Take a history lesson and learn about these rust buckets’ former glory and how they served Australia in WWI and WWII, and get some amazing scenic shots while you’re at it.
Getting there: Start your exploring at Wentworth Point, NSW 2127.
3. Go Stand Up Paddling
Stand up paddle boarding is not only an excellent core workout, it also makes you feel like Pocahontas. There are numerous spots around town where you might act out being a Disney princess – Rose Bay for paddling with a scenic view of Sydney Harbour, or Palm Beach if you’re looking for a little escape (and to see where they film Home & Away eeep!) just to name a couple.
Don’t fret if you’re not a strong swimmer as it’s always done in relatively shallow waters and you’re offered a life vest if you’re really antsy. There are a few weeks of warm sunny days left before the autumn breezes settle in so go on, grab your swimmers and get out on the water for some vitamin D!
4. Go On A Ghost Tour
If you’re more into phantoms and poltergeists, a ghost tour at the Quarantine Station on North Head might be up your alley. Sydney was originally founded on the backs of British convicts sent here in shackles when it was a penal colony, and the station was Sydney’s first line of defence against infectious diseases for over 150 years.
The years of unhappy feels have not left. Tales of people going on this tour and feeling something tapping your shoulder or witnessing red eyes peering at you through the darkness are all over the Internet. Perhaps give this one a miss if you suffer from a heart condition or are susceptible to years of nightmares due to watching The Ring at 13.
Getting there: Try the Adult Ghost Tour at Quarantine Station, North Head Scenic Drive, Manly 2095. Contact them at +61 (02) 9466 1500.
5. Vist Japan in Sydney
It’s cherry blossom season in Japan soon but if you’re a peasant like me and can’t afford the exorbitant high season airfares over to the Land of the Rising Sun, then the Japanese Gardens in Auburn is a pretty alright alternative. There you’ll find quaint red bridges and gateways, a traditional teahouse, waterfalls, a zen garden, and probably a bride or two.
Auburn Japanese Gardens also has its own Cherry Blossom Festival held from mid-August to early September as that’s our Sakura season down in the Southern Hemisphere. Grab some loved ones, a picnic blanket and some food, and bask in the glory of pink flowers falling down on your face.
Getting there: Spring is in the air at the Auburn Botanic Gardens, Chiswick Road (corner of Chisolm Road), Auburn 2144. Contact them at +61 (02) 9735 1222.
6. Shoot ’em Up!
If you’ve ever wondered what it’d be like to go shooting deer like an American redneck, well I’m sorry you might never actually know. A close(-ish) alternative, however, is visiting the St Marys Indoor Shooting Centre for some shooting of the Olympic sport kind.
There are options to learn to shoot with pistols or rifles, with all eye and hearing protection, ammunition, targets and personal instructors provided. It’s suitable for the whole family and super fun if you’re into competition.
Getting there: Discover your inner sharp shooter at St Mary’s Indoor Shooting Centre, 30 Power Street, St Mary’s 2760. Contact them at +61 (02) 8889 0406.
7. Become A Coffee Master
Cupping is the basic method of tasting coffee and it’s standard across the globe. 5oz of water at 92 degrees is added to 10g of coarsely ground coffee, steeped for 5 mins and strained. You’re now ready to analyse and figure out if your sampling blend has dark chocolate tones and peachy notes, or if it’s more floral, or whatever.
Sydney is obsessed with coffee and there are cuppings held at cafes across the city at various times of the week (a lot of them are free or are donation-based) so pick a time most convenient and prepare to become a coffee aficionado. Hipster beard and tattoos not included.
Here are a few places to get you started:
John Smith Cafe
1 John Street, Waterloo 2017
Thursdays, 5pm (Free)
61 Albion Street, Surry Hills 2010
Paramount Coffee Project
80 Commonwealth Street, Surry Hills 2010
8. Go For A 5 Course Tea
Tea drinkers, we haven’t forgotten about you. Run by husband and wife duo Amber and Paul, T Totaler in Newtown was birthed out of a love of tea and desire to create the perfectly balanced cup.
Everything is 100% locally grown and environmentally packaged, and not only do they offer delicious blends for you to buy and enjoy at home, but they also hold a five course tea & cake degustation, with each course containing a cake made especially to compliment the tea. Be sure to book in advance as these events are popular among Sydney’s elite tea snobs and cake monsters.
Getting there: Have your cake and eat it at T Totaler, 555A King Street, Newtown 2042. Contact them at +61 466 436 302.
9. Explore Food At Ethic Enclaves
Sydney is filled with a mix of people from literally EVERYWHERE in the world who have built enclaves across the city’s suburbs and filled it with all the delicious eats from home.
For anyone who’s never tasted Vietnamese street food, or has not ever savoured an authentic baklava (I love baklava), food tours are available in many ethnic communities to take your tastebuds on a magic carpet ride and sing “I can show you the woooorld”. Go on girl, taste the rainbow!
Getting there: Check out the various food safaris available at Gourmet Safaris.
10. Salute the Sun
Yes I know you can do yoga in any studio around the country and even around the world, but did you know you could practice your warrior pose outdoors at Bondi Icebergs overlooking the ocean and one of the world’s most famous beaches? Sydney just shows off sometimes, hey? Such zen, much wow.
Wind levels and weather permitting, bring water, a towel, a yoga mat if you have one and your best stretchy limbs. Namaste.
Getting there: Get your yoga on at Bondi Icebergs, 1 Notts Avenue, Bondi Beach 2026. Contact them at +61 (02) 9130 3120.
11. Visit A Flower Market
Ever wanted to fill your house with beautiful fresh blooms before realising that florists charge a bomb for a single bouquet? If you can’t beat them, join them in an early morning visit to the Sydney Flower Markets and discover the mecca of wholesale flowers. Take your pick of a number of vendors vying for your business with bunches of roses, ferns and greens, baby breath, hydrangeas and whatever is in season at the time. And because this is where florists buy their goods wholesale, you know everything is fresh and cheap.
When I say “early morning”, though, I really do mean early. The flower markets open from 5am Monday-Saturday, with the majority of its trading done by around 8.30am.
Getting there: The early bird catches the prettiest flowers at Sydney Markets, 250-318 Parramatta Road, Homebush 2140. Contact them at +61 (02) 9325 6228.
12. Try Retro Roller-Skating
Channel your inner Ellen Page; lace up your skates and join the Sydney Roller Derby League. More rough-and-tumble and badass than its on-ice equivalent, roller derby has experienced a rise in popularity since it was revived and reinvented in the early 2000s.
SRDL offers skating programs for all levels of competency, from Level 1 which is 100% non-contact, to Level 4 which allows skaters to master skills and prepares them for battle, I mean, playing derby. So what are you waiting for, Babe Ruthless?
Getting there: Be part of the cool kids with the Sydney Roller Derby League.
13. Visit One Of The Best Restaurants In The World
Ranked in the top 100 of the planet’s best restaurants in 2014, Quay is a standout in the Sydney culinary scene. Located at the Overseas Passenger Terminal with a stunning view of Sydney Harbour (unless there’s a cruise ship at the dock, in which case you can wave at the ship’s passengers smugly while they watch you eat your world class meal hah), the crisp clean white tablecloths and smartly dressed waiters will transport you to another world of elegance and class.
The recipient of the 3 Hat rating in Sydney’s Good Food Guide for the 13th consecutive year, Quay’s food celebrates the produce and the sense of balance and purity that it can achieve. Book way way in advance for that super special occasion dinner, or that celebratory corporate lunch that’s billed on the company card.
Getting there: Have a feast for both your tummy AND your eyes at the Quay Restaurant, Upper Level, Overseas Passenger Terminal, The Rocks, Sydney 2000. Contact them at +61 (02) 9241 4901.
14. Pose At Instagram’s Favourite Rock
If you’ve ever fantasised about being real life cake toppers, it’s time for you to live out your dream.
A 90 minute hike down Bundeena National Park’s Coast Track will get you to Wedding Cake Rock and lemme tell you what it is an Instagrammer’s dream; whether you stand on top in triumph or sit by the edge of the shimmery white limestone with legs dangling and overlooking the Pacific Ocean, there is literally no shot that wouldn’t be impressive and like-worthy. Charge up the phone and camera, and make sure to bring lots of water for the walk.
Getting there: Yes it’s really called the Wedding Cake Rock, National Park Bundeena 2230.
15. See Celebrities While Jogging
Breathe in the glorious salty sea air as you take the 4.2km Bondi to Bronte coastal walk. Set off while it’s still dark and be rewarded with a gorgeous sunrise upon arrival at Bondi and coffee by the water. You might even pass a celebrity or two while you walk off the stresses of the week and enlighten the soul.
Yes I realise this might not be something you didn’t know about, it’s more a reminder for me to do it because I’ve lived here my entire life and still haven’t done it.
Getting there: You can also choose to start off from Coogee Beach, Coogee 2034. Follow the pathway to the left hand side of the beach and continue walking!
16. Discover The Universe From Sydney
Head to the Sydney Observatory after nightfall and learn something new about the universe. Discover what the closest star to the Sun is and why we can’t see it with the naked eye, and try to find as many constellations as possible. Bonus points if you find the TARDIS.
Hint: Gentlemen, book a private telescope viewing session for yourself and that special lady friend as this would make an excellent date idea.
Getting there: Make a date with the stars at the Sydney Observatory, Watson Road, Millers Point 2000. Contact them at +61 (02) 9921 3485.
17. Join The Supper Club
Long heralded as a haven of post-service eats for the Sydney hospitality crowd, Henrietta Supper Club gives the rest of us the option of a decent feed at an ungodly hour.
No longer will we be forcibly subjected to greasy kebabs that taste of regret after the clock strikes midnight, but instead have a delicious array of supper club menu picks such as oxtail croquettes and chicken liver paté! I love chicken liver paté!
Getting there: Satisfy your midnight cravings at Henrietta Supper Club, Level 1, 292-294 Victoria Street, Darlinghurst 2010. Contact them at +61 (02) 9356 3429.
18. Prove White Men Can Jump
You know those days when you have so much energy that you feel like you can bounce off the walls? Well at Skyzone Trampoline Park the entire floor and walls are installed with trampolines so you can literally, actually bounce off the walls.
Slip on a pair of their funky orange grip socks and prove once and for all that #whitemencanjump. You can also join the dodgeball league that meet up there and pretend you’re fighting to keep your gym open.
Getting there: #whitemencanjump at Skyzone Trampoline Park, 75 O’Riordan Street, Alexandria 2015. To book, call 13 75 99.
19. Discover A Secret Beach
Everyone’s heard of Bondi and Coogee and probably even Manly beaches, but if you’re not in the mood for being ballz deep in selfie stick-armed tourists and just other humans in general, there are a number of more secluded beaches around the Rose Bay and Vaucluse areas that you can explore.
There’s the Murray Rose Pool at Red Leaf Beach where you can sit on a pontoon all day in the middle of the water, Queens Beach where you can pretend to be a mermaid against a backdrop of the city skyline, and others around there that you’ll have to discover for yourselves as I am sworn to secrecy. That’s why we call them our “Secret Beaches”.
Getting there: Hint: explore the areas around Queens Beach.
20. Camp With An Amazing View
For a camping getaway with all the hard work done for you and for which you don’t even need to travel far into wilderness for, hop on a ferry and set up camp with a view at Cockatoo Island. Known as “glamping”, or camping for high maintenance city folk, you’re already provided with a tent, bedding, barbeques and kitchen facilities, and running hot water.
All that’s asked of you to bring is your sense of adventure, possibly insect repellant and probably clothes to change into since you’re staying overnight. If your tastes are more “glam” than “ping” there is also the option of upgrading to a cabin but really, half the fun is in roughing it.
Bonus points : Cockatoo Island doubles as a super cool fashion blog shoot location, and triples its value with its highly Instagrammable Island Bar. Them sun umbrellas though.
Things To Do In Sydney
What else is there to do but to explore these activities yourself? Let us know how it went in the comments section below!