Top activities in Sydney

Top 10 exciting experiences in the Harbour City

Stay overnight at Taronga Zoo

For a unique wildlife experience, you can stay overnight inside Sydney Taronga Zoo in a safari-style tent and enjoy an up close and personal experience with the exotic and native animals in the zoo. The Roar and Snore itinerary includes a twilight walk through the zoo—once it's closed to general visitors—drinks and canapes, buffet dinner, then a night-time safari at 9pm.

Wake up at sunrise to the roar of a lion and the stunning backdrop of the iconic Opera House and Harbour Bridge. After breakfast, head off on an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour then feel free to explore the zoo for the rest of the day. Each tent has a double bed, a single pop-up trundle bed and there's an on-site amenity block with hot showers.

Taronga Zoo is a 12-minute ferry ride from Circular Quay, visit taronga.org.au

What to bring: Camera; toiletries; closed-toed shoes (no sandals, thongs or heels); wet-weather gear (Roar and Snore is an all-weather program).

Catch the ferry to Manly

Sydney's most famous ferry ride leads to Manly, the gateway to the Northern Beaches and a little town within a city, with a cosmopolitan buzz and lively nightlife. Manly's relaxed, fun-loving personality expresses itself in a rich mix of culture, sports, beach life and good food.

Stroll the esplanade then stop for champagne and oysters while taking in the water views at Hugos Manly right on the wharf; or pop into Manly Wine, a whimsical wine-lovers' haven with stuffed peacocks and retro beach art.

You can recline on a Balinese day bed and sip cocktails at the New Brighton Hotel's The Rooftop Garden Bar, a chilled-out oasis with private cabanas, pod chairs and delicious finger food, with views out to the sea and all the way to Shelly Beach.

For a hearty family meal, Criniti's Manly, Sydney's much-loved Italian, boasts a gelataria and in-house bakery all in a glass-fronted prime spot facing the harbour. And kids eat free on Sundays!

Discover a secret side of Sydney

Sydney might look like a bustling metropolis, but you'll be amazed at how much untouched wilderness there is within the city limits. Most of the foreshore around the iconic harbour is protected as part of the Sydney Harbour National Park and you'll find leafy green areas all along the coast, threaded with walking trails and hidden beaches.

Try the Taronga Zoo to Chowder Bay trail for great views back across the harbour. Along the coast, see Sydney's iconic eastern beaches on the Bondi to Bronte coastal walk or visit the city's northern tip on the Barrenjoey Lighthouse walk.

Take a road trip to the Blue Mountains

Its close proximity to Sydney and plethora of boutique guesthouses, galleries, gardens and fine dining, make The Greater Blue Mountains Drive ideal for a mini break.

Day 1: Sydney to Katoomba – 120km/2 hours

Leaving Sydney, the Great Western Highway climbs beyond Penrith and into the mountains past charming towns including Springwood, Faulconbridge, Wentworth Falls and Leura. Katoomba has elegant dining options and plenty of places to stay—use it as a base to explore the national park, Mount Victoria and the Megalong Valley.

Day 2: Katoomba to Jenolan Caves – 75km/75 minutes

Head towards to the charming village of Blackheath, just 15 minutes outside of Katoomba, with its historic cafes and interesting galleries. On the way you'll pass by the grand Hydro Majestic Hotel, opened in 1904 and recently restored. Continue on to Jenolan Caves, one of the oldest cave systems in the world, to see stunning limestone formations and underground rivers.

Sip a cocktail at Henry Deane

Perched atop the historic watering hole Palisade Hotel, is a beautiful, airy cocktail space. The Palisade was built in 1915 by engineer-in-chief to The Sydney Harbour Trust, Henry Deane—and the split-level cocktail bar bears his name. While the entire building lay empty for years, it was restored in 2015 with celebrated interior designer Sibella Court styling the character-filled pub and rooftop nooks. Indeed, Court's 'rough luxe' style is evident throughout the glamorous rooms and the marble bathroom with delicate wallpaper is a hidden gem. Settle upstairs on one of the millennial pink couches with a Sun-Kissed Spritz in hand (Plymouth gin, Regal Rogue White, Suze, honey, basil, soda) and take in the breathtaking bird's-eye view of Sydney.

Where: Henry Deane, The Palisade Hotel, 35 Bettington St, Millers Point, Sydney 2000

Have breakfast at The Grounds of Alexandria

This former pie factory nestled in Sydney's industrial centre has become something of a Sydney foodie icon with its kitchen-garden vibe and hearty, innovative eats. Built into the remnants of the heritage-listed factory, the brick walls, vegetable gardens, flower pots and old-fashioned stalls selling homemade soda, berries and donuts create a bustling modern village. Sydneysiders and travellers come from near and far to line up for the house-roasted coffee, signature polenta chips and The Grounds breakfast burger.

There are many awe-inspiring eating and drinking spaces to choose all with a greenhouse feel. Sip a Hillbilly Apple Cider at The Potting Shed; try a Hale The Kale salad bowl in The Garden, or settle in with a group of friends at The Café and tuck into a red velvet shake (just like the cake) and buttermilk pancakes with roasted peaches.

Where: The Grounds of Alexandria - 7a/2 Huntley St, Alexandria NSW 2015

Take a art gallery tour

Art After Hours at the Art Gallery of NSW has just celebrated its tenth birthday by extending its hours to 10pm and adding a new pop-up bar, making the gallery's late-opening Wednesday nights of tours, talks, workshops and entertainment an even more fun way to immerse yourself in extra art.
The Museum of Contemporary Art offers intriguing 'mystery tours' every Wednesday from 7pm, where they feature a surprise theme, artist or exhibition. Meet the guide at the Information Desk in the MCA Foyer on Level 1.

Sydney Theatre Company, the Australian Museum and Sydney Opera House all offer fascinating backstage tours, while the Sydney Opera House has a jam-packed and exciting Junior Adventure Tour for curious would-be performers. Children must be accompanied by an adult and standard tickets are $22 per child.

Go Whitewater Rafting

While Sydney is not known for its natural water rapids, you can head to Western Sydney to the Penrith Whitewater Stadium, which houses the only manmade river of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.
The sporting facility was the venue for the canoe/kayak slalom events during the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

The realistic wild river rapids are recreated by a 'river' made from natural and man-made materials with 14,000 litres of whitewater flowing over the moveable obstacle system every second. Anyone as young as 12 years can take on the challenge of Olympic-size rapids. The Whitewater rapids flow from June through to September.

Discover Darling Harbour

The bustling precinct of Darling Harbour has loads of family-friendly attractions, free entertainment and stylish dining options. You can easily spend half a day at Darling Harbour, as it's also home to the IMAX theatre, Wildlife Park and the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium.

A highlight of the aquarium is to walk through the large tank tunnel, while rays, sharks and interesting fish swim above and around you. Young children will also love playing and climbing in the Darling Quarter Playground, which has an impressive climbing net, a 21-metre flying fox and water play space.
After you've worn yourself out with all the action, grab a hearty Italian meal at the new and expansive Fratelli Fresh Darling Harbour—try one of their authentic pizzas or delicate pasta dishes.

Cycle Around Centennial Park

The Centennial Parklands is a 360-hectare swathe of undulating parkland and woods in Sydney's inner east and is the city's greatest green space. It encompasses Centennial Park, Queens Park and Moore Park, and contains heritage buildings, extensive native flora and fauna, a restaurant, cafe, kiosk, and visitor centre.

In these three interlinked parks you can enjoy multiple outdoor activities including horse riding at the Equestrian Centre, cycling, rollerblading, football, cricket—or just long, rambling strolls in spots where the city skyline vanishes and you feel as if you're in open country.

You can hire a two-seater Pedal Car for two adults and two small children, for $40 per hour, at Centennial Park Cycles, next to the Children's Learners Cycleway on Grand Drive inside the park. The loop around Centennial Park's Grand Drive is a flat 4km. Last hire is at 4pm.

NRL Players pick their top 5 activities

Josh Reynolds- West Tigers

  1. Catch the ferry to Manly
  2. Stay overnight at Taronga Zoo
  3. Sip a cocktail at Henry Deane
  4. Have breakfast at The Grounds of Alexandria
  5. Go Whitewater Rafting

Clint Gutherson – Parramatta Eels

  1. Discover Darling Harbour
  2. Sip a cocktail at Henry Deane
  3. Stay overnight at Taronga Zoo
  4. Have breakfast at The Grounds of Alexandria
  5. Bondi to Bronte walk

Nathan Cleary- Penrith Panthers

  1. Stay overnight at Taronga Zoo
  2. Catch the ferry to Manly
  3. Discover a secret side of Sydney
  4. Sip a cocktail at Henry Deane
  5. Discover Darling Harbour