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Must-See Iconic Sights on Sydney Harbour

Must-See Iconic Sights on Sydney Harbour.

When planning a trip to the stunning Sydney Harbour, there are many iconic sights to visit in the surrounding area. From the harbour, there are breathtaking views across the water to famous buildings such as the Opera House. If you jump on a boat you can enjoy picture-perfect views across the water. There are many different islands to stop off at and explore. Whether travelling by foot or by boat, there is so much to see and do around Sydney Harbour. To help you plan your next trip we’ve got the top tips for the best sights around the harbour.

Let’s start by exploring 3 must-see iconic sights on Sydney Harbour, which you can see by walking (and by boat!).

Sydney Harbour Bridge

A trip to Sydney Harbour is not complete without walking on the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge. She is by far the most Iconic Sights on Sydney Harbour. The world’s largest steel arch bridge is an essential transport route in the city of Sydney and is almost 100 years old! It spans 503 meters across Sydney Harbour from Dawes Point to Milsons Point.

For thrill-seekers a must-do experience is to tackle the climb of this impressive landmark. You can join over 3 million other visitors to Sydney who have conquered the ascent to the top. The journey can take between 2-4 hours depending on the climb you choose. There is a lot of prolonged stair climbing on ladders involved, so it’s definitely not for the faint of heart. Your reward for making it to the top? Unforgettable views across the water of Sydney Harbour and a professional photo to remember the day.

Sydney Opera House

Considered to be a masterpiece of 20th Century architecture, another of the city’s iconic sights on Sydney Harbour, Sydney Opera House is another absolute must-see sight. It’s really hard to miss this famous building, with its clearly unique and distinct design. There are always things happening inside this impressive multi-venue performing arts centre.

Inside you will find five theatres, rehearsal rooms, two main halls, four restaurants, six bars and a souvenir shop. Check out ballet performances, musicals, concerts, symphonies, exhibitions, talks and even circus shows. No matter the time of year, there is always something to see inside the Sydney Opera House. For magical views at night of both the bridge and Opera House, a meal and drinks at Opera Bar is the place to be. 

Royal Botanic Gardens

A short walk from the Sydney Opera House are the beautifully designed Royal Botanic Gardens. These gardens are definitely worth visiting on a trip to Sydney Harbour. Located about a 15 – 30 minute walk from the Sydney Opera House, the Royal Botanic Gardens is an oasis within a busy city. It is a heritage-listed 30-hectare botanic garden, home to over 28,000 individual plants found in over 75 different countries. These plants come from nearly 9,000 different species. Walking through the gardens and exploring at your own leisure is a wonderful way to spend an hour or two. There are many green grass areas to enjoy a picnic with gorgeous views across the harbour and also the CBD.

The top 3 iconic sights on Sydney Harbour to experience by boat.

Cockatoo Island

Cockatoo Island is a magnificent UNESCO World Heritage Site and should be included in your itinerary when visiting Sydney Harbour. The best way to visit is by private boat or the cheaper option is to take the ferry. There are two services, the F3 and F8, which both operate from Circular Quay, Darling Harbour and Barangaroo. Cockatoo Island is free to enter and open 7 days a week. It has a fascinating history, as originally, it was a formal penal convict establishment.

When on the island, you can check out the heritage buildings, admire the distinctive terrain and soak in beautiful panoramic views of the harbour. You can also go on a guided tour, camp overnight, or simply enjoy a picnic lunch. For those who don’t scare too easily, their paranormal tour might be something to consider too. There’s even a campground movie theatre and a harbour-side basketball court!

Shark Island

Shark Island is the next island to explore on a trip to Sydney Harbour. Located just 1km from the mouth of Rose Bay on the harbour, this island is a stand-out location for the ultimate picnic. The views across the water are like no other from Shark Island. You can enjoy the island’s foreshore and enjoy a refreshing swim on a hot day. The island is open 7 days but bookings in advance are essential as it is a popular location.

To visit Shark Island, visitors have to pay a $7 per person landing fee. Bring all your favourite picnic foods with a rug and set up in a lush grassy area to relax for the day. There’s even picnic shelters and gazebos for public use too. The views are 360 degrees around the harbour, so no matter where you sit you won’t be disappointed. To get to and from the island, private boat transport is needed. During the school holidays, visitors can also access Shark Island via Captain Cook Cruises.

Rodd Island

Of Sydney Harbour’s 13 different islands, we also recommend you check out Rodd Island. It is located in the sheltered waters of Iron Cove, off Birkenhead Point. This gorgeous island has some of the best views west of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Rodd Island also has a fascinating history and is another excellent place to picnic. Back in 1879, it became the first public recreation reserve in Sydney Harbour. During WWII, it was also used for the US army as a training ground, as well as acting as a biological laboratory.

Similar to Shark Island, you will need to pay $7 per person to visit for the day. It is also best to book in advance and organise a private boat to drop you off and pick you up from Sydney Harbour. Whilst there, you can enjoy a walk through the expansive gardens and explore the historic buildings. Then sit back, relax, eat good food and enjoy truly memorable views across the harbour.

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