The Best of Sydney Beyond the Opera House

Words & Photography: Ilona Chin, travel 3Sixty° travelsmith

Are you looking for more of Sydney’s charming attractions other than Sydney Opera House, the Harbour Bridge and Bondi Beach? Let me share my tips and tricks with you on how to explore Sydney off the beaten track like a local!

Few cities in the world can offer the mix of a vibrant arts scene, cultural diversity, laid-back beaches, public gardens, the sparkling harbour and buzzing markets that Sydney has. Little wonder it has been named Australia’s number one holiday destination and the world’s number two global destination by the U.S. News & World Report. These are my recommended things to do in Sydney.

Wander around Sydney’s oldest historical quarter and authentic foodie market

Heritage buildings at The Rocks

Culture vultures can step off the harbour foreshore to explore the sandstone terraces, charming cottages and unique aboriginal cultures located in Sydney’s oldest historical quarter known as The Rocks. Delve into Sydney’s authentic world of gastronomy at The Rocks open-air Friday Foodie Market.

Shop for unique finds at The Rocks and its markets

Stroll along cobbled laneways through stalls where homemade preserves, seasoned cured meats, mouth-watering burgers and traditional gözleme oozing with feta will absolutely tantalise your taste buds. During the weekend, the market can be found at the northern end of George Street, right under the Harbour Bridge, where you can take in the water views and picnic right by the harbour foreshore.

Go on a classic ferry ride with spectacular views

Manly Ferry jetty at Circular Quay

For 155 years, the Manly Ferry has been the classic Sydney adventure in the city. This 30-minute Manly Ferry voyage is a unique thrill, from the soothing chug of the motors humming beneath the sapphire blue offering the stunning harbour view to whale spotting opportunities for just AUD15 per return trip from Circular Quay.

Scenes from Sydney Harbour to Manly

Located north of the harbour, Manly is famous for its palm tree-lined boulevards, surf shops and seafront restaurants. Everyone can shop, play, eat and relax at this strip so close to the city yet so far from city stress!

Savour tasty seafood cooked to perfection

Fresh catch prepared on the spot at Sydney Fish Market

Sydney Fish Market is Australia’s seafood haven, the largest working fishing port in the southern hemisphere. Just 2km from the city centre, it’s easy to get there by train.

Indoor and outdoor dining options

A feast for the eyes from the fishing fleet outside to the most extraordinary seafood on display in the market halls, it delights seafood fans with the vibrant colours and freshness of the seafood cooked on the spot. Combine a visit to the Fish Market with a stroll along the beautifully restored harbour.

Reminisce your childhood at Luna Park

The iconic Luna Park entrance

Heading to Sydney’s Luna Park on a Yellow Water Taxi from Sydney Harbour, take in the sights from the top on the Ferris wheel, capture a funny moment with friends in the mirror maze or arouse your adventurous side inside the wonderful Coney Island.

Coney Island’s themed attractions and rides

Entrance to this nostalgic fun park is free and features spectacular harbour views of the city. For AUD10, you can have fun on classic rides while recalling your childhood past in this old-school amusement park.

Discover a hidden gem of Asian street food

Asian flavours at Spice Alley

Spice Alley is an Asian-inspired foodie alley, and chances are you might have walked straight past it. This secret courtyard hidden behind the Kensington Street laneway in Chippendale offers a vibrant fusion of Asian hawker-stall food scenes. The diverse cultural tastes truly showcase the cuisines of the Asian continent.

Exotic and familiar cuisine

Among the must-try food stalls are Alex Lee Kitchen, helmed by a master of Singaporean cuisine who is well known for his authentic Asian delights; Bang Luck for Thai and Vietnamese food; Old Jim Kee for Malaysian Nyonya cuisine; and Hong Kong Diner for Cantonese street food.

Take a break in the oasis in the city

Benches at Royal Botanical Garden

Sydney’s Royal Botanical Garden is one of the oldest public gardens in the Southern Hemisphere, dating back to 1810. The garden is a lush sanctuary in the heart of the city, a place of natural beauty where people come for peace, relaxation, and to learn more about plants and horticulture. Overlooking Farm Cove on the edge of Sydney Harbour, it is home to an outstanding collection of plants from Australia and overseas.

Greenery and tranquil scenery

The themed gardens feature spectacular parklands and picturesque fountains. Spend an afternoon wandering around the garden or unwinding over a cuppa at the café in this hidden oasis.

Want the comfort and convenience of a guided tour? Check out offers on-ground tours and activities in Sydney and other cities in Asia-Pacific at

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