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Best Day Trips in Sydney

Sydney, Australia is known for its many iconic landmarks and vibrant city lifestyle and as such, there are countless activities and locations readily available for you to discover. Whether you are doing a short stopover and are looking for things to do in your Sydney travel package or are planning to do a longer trip to Australia, read on for some suggestions to experience the most this dynamic city has to offer.

The City Highlights 

The Sydney Showcase tour is a great way to see this iconic destination.  The Sydney Opera House, the youngest cultural site to be included on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list is just one of the sites you will visit. Listed for its architectural masterpiece and considered to be one of the most recognisable buildings on Earth, The Sydney Opera House is the original home to the Australian Arts and hosts many events from opera and classical music to theatre and family events. It is also a key venue for the VIVID Light festival (usually held in early October). Check out our 7 Day Sydney, Daintree and the Great Barrier Reef tour that has this on Day 2.

Also included within your Sydney Showcase tour is a walking tour of The Rocks, known for the landing of the First Fleet in 1788 and becoming the birthplace of modern Australia. It is the oldest neighbourhood in Sydney and is recognisable by its namesake sandstone buildings and cobbled paths. The tour finishes off by travelling east through Sydney and visiting the iconic Bondi Beach. Known for its golden sand and blue waters, many surfers, walkers and joggers enjoy this popular location as it truly paints a picture of the Aussie way of life. 

Exploring by Water

Known as the Harbour City, Sydney is surrounded by hundreds of kilometres of shoreline; this makes one of the most popular ways of getting around travelling via water. Should you wish to explore Sydney a little further you are able to add on a harbour cruise with lunch, whilst enjoying the stunning views as well as expert commentary. Alternatively, there are many ferry services available to connect you with a few more of the icons of Sydney - Manly Beach, Watsons Bay (best seafood in Sydney) and the Taronga Zoo. Circular Quay, in the heart of the city, is the ferry terminal that will connect you with all of these wonderful locations! To learn more about Sydney’s beaches, read this article here! 

Sydney by Water

The Blue Mountains

If you want to make the most of your time in Sydney and are keen to branch out from the city itself, consider a day tour to The Blue Mountains. Even if you are only visiting Sydney for a day or two on a cruise ship, the Blue Mountains is a fantastic day trip. They are known for their dramatic scenery, steep cliffs, eucalyptus trees and beautiful waterfalls. Choose from a standard group tour; an exclusive small group tour which includes a special VIP Koala experience, hand feeding a Kangaroo and seeing other natives up close and personal; or by doing your own road trip. Regardless of which option you choose, you’d be hard pressed to find a greater Australian experience! 

After you’ve finished up at the wildlife park, you will continue on your journey to The Blue Mountains, located 100kms from the heart of Sydney city. Here you will have the opportunity to view the famous Three Sisters rock formation via the Scenic Skyway Cable ride (the steepest incline railway in the World). As you glide along on this 720 metre journey, you will encounter a mix of rugged landscapes from pristine bushland to dramatic cliff drops from 270 metre above; make sure your camera has ample memory!

The Blue Mountains are also home to the Wollemi Pine, the oldest and rarest plant species in the world, thought to date back to the era of the dinosaur! To finish your experience, your final stop is at the Blue Mountains Botanic Gardens at Mount Tomah where you will enjoy the great Aussie BBQ. Experience it in our 6 day New South Wales Countryside Tour!

Blue Mountains at Sunset

The Hunter Valley

For wine and food enthusiasts, utilise your time by heading about 2 hours north of Sydney to the Hunter Valley region, home to some of Australia’s best and oldest wine regions. The region boasts over 150 wineries from big-label brands to small family owned and operated boutique cellars. Also popular for local artisan produce including cheeses, olives and the many chocolatiers, the Hunter Valley is a must for you and your palate. If wine is your passion, why not centre your holiday in Australia around experiencing the country’s diverse wine landscape?

Immerse Yourself in Sydney’s History

Being the original landing location of Captain James Cook and the First Fleet back on 26th January 1788, Sydney is the birthplace of modern Australia, with many historical locations scattered throughout the city. It is home to four World Heritage Sites: the Hyde Park Barracks, Cockatoo Island, and Old Government House at Parramatta. Lastly, the Great North Road, which includes the oldest standing bridge in Australia, is another fascinating relic of the past. The Great North Road was built to connect Sydney with the Hunter Valley and took nearly 11 years with 720 convicts completing it. Its remarkable engineering earned it a World Heritage listing. 

The Hyde Park Barracks located on the south side of Hyde Park played an important role in early convict settlement; built originally to house convicts, it has evolved to stand as a Living Museum. Immerse yourself through the years from the Gadigal People, the original owners of the land, to the European landing in 1788. The stories from officials, convicts and immigrants are there to be heard. 

Cockatoo Island - another location used in early settlement and used as a place of punishment for reoffending convicts. Over 30 years, the convicts built 2 dry docks to assist with shipbuilding and a growing need for maritime contributions. There are many different ways to discover the dark past including special Ghost tours (18+) or self-guided audio tours. Speak to your travel specialist about adding this to your itinerary!  

Old Government House and Parramatta Park - Old Government House is listed as the oldest public building dating back to 1847 when it was used to house the Governor of New South Wales. From 1858 it was returned to the people and fondly became the “park for the people, which it remains today. The park is home to many historic sites which include the Park Gatehouse, the Crescent, the Observatory Transit Stones, the Bath House and the Boer War Memorial - one of only a few memorials from this war.  

Koala at Sydney Zoo

A Trip to The Zoo

Australia is well known for its wild, weird and wonderful creatures, from the cute and furry to the sinister and deadly. The country is home to a multitude of zoos, sanctuaries and reserves where you can get up close and personal with these guys and Sydney is no exception. They are a fantastic way to educate the public, reinvest in animal conservation and provide opportunities for unique encounters on your Australia vacation. 

One of the most famous zoos and popular attractions for all ages is Taronga Zoo. Located right on Sydney Harbour, you can venture there by bus, car or ferry. Make sure you leave ample time to visit as you will easily fill your day discovering the local residents. Taronga Zoo is heavily focused on the conservation of wildlife, diving deep into animal care, recovery, education and science. For a truly memorable experience we recommend the Roar and Snore - immerse yourself amongst the wild on this overnight experience!

The Australian Reptile Park, located on the Central Coast, is a little more than the name suggests; whilst they are home to the scary and deadly reptiles and spiders of Australia, there are also some cute and cuddly residents to get up close and personal with. This park also plays a vital role to Australian medical teams as it is one of the main sources of creating anti-venom from milking both snakes and spiders onsite. This is a wonderful addition to the day if you’re heading up to the Hunter Valley. 

Sea Life Sydney Aquarium - Boasting a large variety of Australia’s aquatic life with more than 700 species and 9 interactive zones, this is a must for all marine lovers, young and old. Located in Darling Harbour, we recommend at least a half day to visit and explore. From tropical fish to dugongs and sharks, the Sydney Aquarium is great for families and people of all ages. 

- City Experiences
- Articles of Interest
- National Parks & Wildlife

Published on: 24 Oct 2021, Written by: Liz Wilson