The iconic Sydney Harbour is one spot visitors to the city Down Under will not miss. Did you know, it is actually part of a bigger area called Port Jackson, which is the largest natural harbour in the world?
The best way to explore the area is to just walk around and enjoy the views. Here’s the best walking route I’ve devised for exploring Sydney Harbour. It is customisable – you can start or end at any given point in the route. As such it can be a couple-hours walk to a full day of exploration. So decide on a clear lovely day, pick a portion of the route you want to explore, and get walking 😀
Sydney Harbour Best Walking Route
- Start at Milsons Point in North Sydney
- Make a pit stop at Luna Park
- Walk across the Harbour Bridge
- Explore The Rocks
- Walk around Circular Quay towards Sydney Opera House
- Walk across the Royal Botanic Gardens towards Mrs Macquarie’s Chair
Scroll for more details of each point in the route!
Milsons Point is a neighbourhood in North Sydney. It is across the Harbour Bridge from Circular Quay (where the Sydney Opera House is located at), and it also serves as a starting point if you want to walk across the Harbour Bridge from its northern end.
More than that the grassy area just by the water is super lovely, and gives you a view of the Sydney CBD and the Opera House. I’d imagine the area would be super crowded during New Years’ Eve with people who want to watch the city’s famous fireworks display.
To get there, take the train to Milsons Point station, on the T1 North Shore, Northern & Western Line (yellow line). The stairs to get to the pedestrian lane on the Harbour Bridge is just a short walk from the train station, and there are clear directions for it too.
Luna Park is a theme park located just by the water’s edge at Milsons Point. It is free for the public to enter; you just have to pay if you want to get on the rides. It didn’t cost me anything, so I decided to take a look around. The theme park is reminiscent of a bizarre gypsy carnival, with queer decorations bordering on scary. At night, the park always looked so pretty from the other side of the Harbour, all lighted up, but during the day honestly it was nothing much.
Sydney Harbour Bridge
The Sydney Harbour Bridge has a pedestrian lane on one side for people to walk across it. The view you get from up there is simply breathtaking. I went on a clear winter day, but it was still windy and quite chilly, so remember to dress appropriately. You can also pay around AUD 3000 to climb up the bridge to the very top, which I didn’t get to do this time round. For more information on the bridge climb, click here>>
If you don’t want to fork out several hundred dollars to do the bridge climb, one of the lookout towers, Pylon Lookout, is open for public. There are exhibitions detailing the history of the bridge, and you can go up top for a lovely view of the harbour. The experience costs AUD 13 per adult. For more information, visit their website here>>
The Rocks is one of the oldest areas in Sydney, full of quaint sandstone buildings and winding cobblestone alleys. It also serves as the end point (or starting point – depending on which direction you are walking 😉 for your walk across the Harbour Bridge.
Take time to explore the neighbourhood before you continue on to Circular Quay. On weekends an open-air market operates in full swing and you can browse the stalls for souvenir or a bite of pastry. If museums are your thing, you can also visit the Museum of Contemporary Art – the fourth-level cafe has a terrace that gives you a nice view over the Sydney Harbour. Alternatively, make a stop at Pancakes on the Rocks – a Sydney establishment serving devilishly good pancakes.
Circular Quay and Sydney Opera House
Circular Quay is arguably one of the most popular spots in Sydney, with bustling ferry wharfs and lots of shops and cafes. But most importantly, it’s where the Opera House is located. Stroll along the water’s edge, enjoy the view and soak in the atmosphere. There are several fish and chips stalls around too, so get a takeaway and enjoy a picnic lunch!
Royal Botanic Gardens and Mrs Macquarie’s Chair
The Botanic Gardens is located just by the Opera House. The trail leads you across the garden by the water’s edge all the way to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, a famous spot from where you can see the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge in one frame.
You can choose to stick to the path, or stray off and explore the botanic gardens too! Along the way you get really good views of the Sydney CBD as well.
Mrs Macquarie’s Chair is a good spot to enjoy the sunset, since the point faces westward and you’ll get a lovely view of the sun setting behind the iconic landmarks of the Harbour. The downside to this, however, is that you can’t take good photos if you arrive later in the day, since you’ll be directly facing the sun. So if you want to take lovely photos of the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, come in the morning 😉
So that’s it! Let us know your favourite way to explore the iconic Sydney Harbour in the comments section below 🙂