The Royal Botanic Gardens, a veritable oasis of greenery, boast breathtaking views of Sydney Harbour and the city skyline. The gardens were the first area of land cultivated by Europeans on the Australian continent, though the gardens themselves were not opened to the public until 1816. Visitors can explore the Herb Garden, the Fernery, the Rose Garden, a walled Succulent Garden and the HSBC Oriental Garden. The harbour-side of the main pond offers a splendid view of the harbour. Keep your eyes out for the ibis or cockatoos that call this place home.
The controversial but decidedly beautiful sail-like roofs of Sydney's most recognizable icon glisten against the backdrop of Sydney Harbour. The Sydney Opera House was constructed over a fourteen-year period and caused an opera’s worth of drama that involved differences between the architect Jørn Utzon and the Australian government. The now world-renowned architectural wonder stands as an unmissable icon of Sydney's cultural landscape. It houses among other small venues, the Joan Sutherland Theatre, the Utzon Room and a grand Concert Hall. It also has an impressive yearly program of up to 3000 contemporary and classical performances, and is a striking cultural sanctuary to take in theater, opera and ballet. Riveting guided tours take visitors behind the scenes and into the establishment’s many interesting rooms.
Stretching over the sparkling waters of Sydney Harbour, the Sydney Harbour Bridge is certainly a wonder to behold. The steel through arch bridge was designed and constructed by Dorman Long and Co Ltd back in 1932 and has since become one of Sydney's most iconic tourist attractions. Thanks to its arched shape, many Sydney residents call the bridge "The Coat Hanger", and while this might sound a bit mean-spirited, the bridge is well loved. Standing at 134 meters (440 feet), the Sydney Harbour Bridge is one of the tallest steel arch bridges in the world. Its height and notoriety inspired many daredevils to climb across the bridge illegally, which in turn inspired BridgeClimb, a tour that takes visitors up and across the bridge. For visitors who prefer the safety of the ground, the bridge can also be viewed from the south-east pylon, and walkers can traverse it on the bridge's footpath.
Dating from 1871 and located at its present site overlooking Woolloomooloo Bay since 1885, this is one of Australia's premier art institutions. Located on the Domain. The buzz on entering the building is truly palpable; the visitors come, enjoy and do not want to leave. The permanent collection includes Australian, European, Asian and contemporary art. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander works on display in the Yiribana Gallery are totally unsurpassed. There are also an exciting and diverse temporary exhibition programs. Admission is usually free except for the charges applying for some temporary exhibitions.
A masterpiece of Gothic architecture, the foundation stones for St Mary's Cathedral were laid by Governor Lachlan Macquarie in 1821. After a series of architects and religious figures suggested their own versions of the cathedral, the building finally opened in 1900, although work continued until 1928. Wardell's original design had two spires that were never built. After ten years' debate and political fund-raising, the twin spires were finally completed in 2000. Today, St. Mary's Cathedral is heralded as one of the most beautiful buildings in Sydney. Visitors to the cathedral can wander around the beautiful interior, which is lit by ornate stained glass windows. Treasures located in the cathedral include the moving and beautifully sculpted Grave of the Unknown Soldier, a marble replica of Michelangelo's Pieta and many gorgeous religious paintings from the late 19th-Century.
Built in 1858, the Observatory operated until the 1980s and gained an international reputation for its work. This elegant, sandstone complex is now part of the Powerhouse Museum. The permanent exhibition, by the light of the southern stars', is highly informative while there is also a temporary exhibition programme and associated events. On a clear night, the stars and planets are visible through a telescope and can be accessed via guided tours every evening throughout the year. Bookings are essential for this family-oriented activity. Admission price varies depending on time of day.
Governor Lachlan Macquarie wanted, a grand church for Sydney, and architect Francis Greenway, began work on a Gothic inspired metropolitan church. Building was abandoned many times due to funding, drought and Government objections. The sandstone Cathedral was completed in 1868, consecrated and opened as St Andrew's Cathedral on St. Andrew's Day. Features include the William Hill organ and 42 stained glass windows, which were removed during World War II and stored in the Blue Mountains for safekeeping.
The I'm Free Walking Tours is an initiative that was established by a group of passionate locals who are happy to share their love for Sydney with visitors from all over the world through free walking tours around the city. Discover the sights and sounds of Sydney as your guide take you through the history and stories behind some of the city's most popular sites. The Sydney Sights Free Tour departs daily from George Street, near the Town Hall, while the Rocks at 6pm Tour leaves from Cadmans Cottage. Registrations are not required. Just show up and look for the friendly and knowledgeable guide dressed in a bright green "I’m Free" tee shirt and walk up to them. The tours are free of cost but usually people end up paying a handsome amount to the local guides in appreciation for their efforts.
Sydney Town Hall symbolically reflects the city's origins as Australia's oldest settlement. While the building was constructed in two stages between 1866-1875 and 1883-1888, the latter, with its Second Empire architecture and ornate clock tower, is more elaborate. The building was crafted out of local Sydney sandstone and features several sections of note, including the Centennial Hall, the Vestibule, and the Council Chambers. The Centennial Hall houses the Sydney Town Hall Grand Organ, which is heralded as the largest pipe organ with tubular pneumatic action in the world. Visitors can explore the building on guided tours that depart from the Town Hall steps. Highlights include the Vestibule, the Centennial Hall, the North and South Staircases, the Council Chambers and the Lady Mayoress' Room, together with the Town Hall's extensive collection of paintings and silverware.
At the western end of the magnificent Queen Victoria Building in downtown Sydney, next to an imposing statue of the lady herself, is a rather unusual wishing well. It features a bronze statue of the Queen's favourite dog, Islay, a Skye Terrier. He is raised on his hind paws, cast in bronze with realistic fur and panting mouth. And he has been given the power of speech. Or rather, he has been given a recorded message by radio personality John Laws which broadcasts every few minutes asking passers-by to throw a coin into the well and make a wish. Islay raises thousands of dollars for the NSW Institute for Deaf and Blind children every year. Not bad for a statue.
With several offers and bargain prices to tout, Big Echo Karaoke Box is one of the most pocket-friendly karaoke places in all of Sydney. There is a wide variety of songs to choose from, ranging from 80s to modern English tracks, some of which even have music videos. Apart from happy hour specials, there is also an 8-hour all-you-can-sing karaoke deal for no less than 5 people. Book a room and sing to your heart's content with a group of friends while sipping on drinks from the bar.