sydney

All Of The Best Touristy Things To Do In Sydney For Locals

17 November 2020
Read Time: 4.5 mins

From stunning coastal walks, to some of the best weekend markets in the country, and cool public art shows popping up around the city; Sydney locals are used to doing things their own way. But now, it’s time to put on your tourist goggles and see the city through a new lens. 

Sydney’s got the best of the best, from harbourside hotel suites, world-renowned eateries and bars, signature spa treatments and shopping thoroughfares that are uniquely Australian. Not to forget the eclectic mix of neighbourhoods nestled amongst iconic attractions that make Sydney such a sought after city for visitors.

Things to do in Sydney that you won’t find anywhere else

BridgeClimb’s new Sydney Harbour Bridge experience

For years, visitors have scaled the south side of the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge, leading to the summit, but with BridgeClimb's new Ultimate climb, you can now conquer its entire length. Walk from south to north, and back again whilst taking in the sparkling Sydney Harbour views or take a twilight climb and see the harbour light up at night.

Take the ferry to Manly Beach 

Take the ferry and enjoy the view as you move between the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House before arriving in Manly feeling like you’ve left the city behind. Head to the beach, grab some lunch or take the Cabbage Tree Bay Eco-Sculpture Walk, which takes about 15 minutes from the surf club near the south end of Manly, and follows the jagged coastline all the way to a popular snorkelling spot called Shelly Beach.

Discover a slice of Sydney history at Q Station

A hidden gem located at North Head on the shores of Sydney Harbour in Manly, Australia. This destination (Sydney's former Quarantine Station) provides a unique look into a slice of Sydney's history and at the same time delivers a destination that cannot be replicated anywhere. Q Station is a unique – and a little eerie – historical experience.

Open air movies at the Royal Botanic Gardens

The St. George Open Air Cinema at Mrs Macquarie’s Point in the Royal Botanic Gardens boasts a view of the Harbour as the backdrop. The atmosphere is family-friendly so you can chill out and enjoy a movie under the stars.

Learn about Sydney's Aboriginal Culture

The Rocks Aboriginal Dreaming Tour is a quintessential Sydney experience and an excellent introduction to the culture and history of the Gadigal people of the Eora nation. The 90-minute walking tour is hosted by experienced Aboriginal guides familiar with educating youth and school groups.

Tour the city on a Big Bus

Not something you would usually do in your own town but you’ll be surprised at how much there is that even the born and bred Sydney-siders don’t know about the history of this city. Plus it’s fun to see Sydney from the perspective of a visitor. Learn about the history, culture and architecture of the city, and for kids travel is just $5. You can hop on and off and explore at your leisure. 

Big Bus Sydney

Out of the ordinary things to do in Sydney 

Try the slightly random but cathartic sport of archery

The Sydney Olympic Centre runs a variety of programs and activities aimed at school students, corporate groups, beginners and, of course, casual archers -we see you Katnis! They even do gender reveal parties.

Have a sleepover at the Taronga Zoo 

Immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of Taronga Zoo Sydney with the new Family Escape Package. Stay overnight at the zoo and enjoy an afternoon tour and a night walk around the grounds with an expert guide, plus breakfast in the morning. Visit the two male lions Lwazi and Ato in their new home overlooking the Sydney Harbour, and keep an eye out for giraffes, zebras and meerkats too.

The Madame Tussauds TikTok Challenge 

Madame Tussauds has come up with a cool interactive exhibition for tweens to teens this school holidays. They've collaborated with some of Sydney's TikTok influencers who have set six TikTok challenges throughout various zones in Madame Tussauds. Visit @TussaudsSydney then head into Madame Tussauds' TikTok playground to recreate or duet the challenges. 

Get arty farty at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA)

Australia’s home of contemporary art, the MCA has some of the best exhibits in the world with so much inspiration to soak up, you won’t want to leave. Now you (ahem, and the kids) can take a piece of the museum home with the brand new Kids Art Parcel. It's inspired by artworks in the museum and is packed with colourful, age-specific activities and materials. There's a parcel for mini art lovers (ages 4–7) or for art-loving tweens (ages 8–12 years).

 

Things to do in Sydney around nature

Coastal walks

While you most likely have made your way along the well-trodden Bondi to Coogee path or the equally fine Hermitage Foreshore, may we suggest taking  one of the seaside trails less followed? 

For seclusion and to see Sydney with fresh eyes, try out the Jibbon Loop Track, The Gap Bluff and Green Loop Walking Track, Bare Island to Little Bay, Cape Baily Walking Track or the Malabar Headland Walks. 

Sleep near koalas at the Port Stephens Koala Sanctuary 

The recently opened Port Stephens Koala Sanctuary tends to sick, injured and orphaned koalas. The three-hour drive north is certainly worth it to stay overnight on the sanctuary grounds in a glamping tent and wake up with the koalas.

See inBLOOM at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney

The new botanical exhibition on show at the Royal Botanic Garden boasts more than 20,000 blooms, putting on a show of colour. inBLOOM is the perfect opportunity to have a picnic and enjoy the gorgeous gardens overlooking the harbour.

Say hello to Skippy and his kangaroo friends at WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo

Did you know you can get up close with kangaroos right in Darling Harbour? Bring the family to WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo to see all kinds of animals. 

The highlight of course will be the four new sister kangaroos in the Kangaroo Walkabout precinct. The little kangaroos are ready to welcome guests for pats and might even jump in a TikTok with you, if you ask nicely of course.

Take a weekend trip to Dubbo

While not strictly in Sydney, a visit to Dubbo is a great weekend outdoor activity the whole family will enjoy. A visit to Old Dubbo Gaol, Dubbo Observatory and the Western Plains Cultural Centre is a must. Experience the hardship of prison life, including a moment in solitary confinement at Old Dubbo Gaol. At the observatory, take a 90 minute tour of the Milky Way Galaxy. Explore the moon, planets and deep sky objects in this fun and educational presentation. 

There are lots of reasons to holiday in Dubbo - 700, in fact! That's the population of Taronga Western Plains Zoo. When making a weekend of it head to Discovery Parks - Dubbo, just two minutes down the road from the zoo.


For more things to see and do and our latest deals head to our latest NSW holidays page.


 

Sam Aldenton

Sam Aldenton is a Flight Centre writer, producer and social media specialist. When she's not off discovering the world’s best pizza (an obsession picked up from her 4-years in New York), she is based in Brisbane, Australia. Follow her adventures on Instagram at @samaaldenton.