10 Unexpected Things To Do In Sydney

By Lisa Arcella

You’ve seen the Opera House, climbed the Harbour Bridge, and taken a trip up to the top of the Tower Eye. Now what? Sydney is an amazing city with so much to see and do. Here are a few unexpected treasures that are a fantastic way to get to know Oz’s own Emerald City.


Up in the Air

Sydney by Seaplane

Sydney is a beautiful city, and it’s even more amazing from a bird’s eye view. A company called Sydney by Seaplane not only will give you an aerial outlook of the Opera House and all that lays beyond, but also will also whisk you away for a fantastic meal at one of the city’s secluded waterfront restaurants or to a beach where you can have a private picnic. They also offer a number of scenic flights and charter options that are definitely worth the trip.


Be Fashion Forward

The place to get your shop on in Sydney is in the Oxford and Dowling Street areas of the Paddington neighborhood. One of our must-see shops would have to be Jonathan Howard’s millinery shop. Howard is Sydney’s premier hat maker and designs fashionable head gear for famous names around the world. The Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton has been seen in several of his designs, as has American royalty Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid, and even Courtney Love. A visit to his charming shop gives a sneak peek at how his designs are created.


Bowl Like a Local

Barefoot Bowls

Not only is a game at Concord Barefoot Bowls a lot of fun, it’s also a bargain! It only costs $10, and you can kick off your shoes and even order a cocktail or two while you play a game and take in a lesson. For the uninitiated, bowls is a lawn bowling game played in many countries around the world where the objective is to roll biased balls, so that they stop close to a smaller ball called a “jack” or a “kitty.” Australians love the game, and there are various clubs all over the city.

Related: 72 Hours in…Sydney!


Have a Spot of Afternoon Tea

Tea Time

Australia was once an English colony, and some traditions from that era still remain. Take a break from all that trekking and stop in at the historic Queen Victoria Building (QVB as its known to the locals). Even if you hate tea, visiting the spectacular Tea Room is a must. Custom designed Baccarat crystal chandeliers line the 30-foot ceiling and clotted cream; finger sandwiches and scones are all on the menu. There’s also champagne available for the non-tea totaling crowd.


It’s All Happening at the Zoo

No trip to Australia would be complete without getting up close and personal with kangaroos and koalas, but at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo, you can also sleep there! Just a short ferry ride from downtown, the zoo offers all kinds of interesting programs for kids and adults and of course, exotic animals. When was the last time you saw a southern hairy-nosed wombat? There are luxury safari tents on the property where you can even spend the night.

Related: Getting the Royal Treatment in Queensland


Backstage at the Opera House

Sydney Opera House

The Sydney Opera House is one of the most iconic landmarks in the world, but instead of just taking in a performance, it is possible to get an insider’s look at the huge operation that goes on behind the scenes. A guide takes a small group (a maximum of 12 people) starting at 7 a.m. for a 2.5-hour tour that is a perfect fit for lovers of music, dance, and theater.


Surf’s Up

Bondi Beach

Sydney’s Bondi Beach is synonymous with swimming, sunbathing, and surfing. What better place in the world is there to learn how to hang ten? Let’s Go Surfing is an operation that will allow you to take a two-hour lesson for just under $100 (private lessons are also available) and kids have to be over the age of 12 to get on a board. While you are in the neighborhood, take the long walk along the beautiful Bondi to Bronte path that takes about an hour and is well worth the trip.


All that Jazz

Throughout the country, Australians are music lovers, and Sydney is no exception. A great night out would be taking in a blues or jazz show at The Basement, a popular club on Reiby Street that has been drawing crowds for over thirty years. Vince Jones, Herbie Hancock, and Dizzy Gillespie are just a few of the famous names who have played there. There’s also a fine restaurant to grab dinner while you are there.

Related: Top 5 Things to Do in Sydney


Enjoy the Great Outdoors

Wattamolla Beach at Royal National Park

Wattamolla Beach at Royal National Park

Sydney is a city with incredible parks and open spaces. One of the best places to see its magnificent coastline is The Royal National Parks which has over 60 miles of trails to bushwalk, bike, bird, or whale watch. There are also three fantastic beaches, Wattamolla, Garie, and Burning Palms that are very popular with local surfers. The best place to get to the park is to take a short ferry ride from the neighborhood of Cronulla, which is south of Sydney’s central business district and a lovely little beach town on its own to check out.


Get Your Snorkel On

Shelly Beach

Who would think you could snorkel and see tons of marine life within the proximity of a huge metropolitan city? But that’s exactly what you can do at Shelly Beach in Manley. It is a protected reserve that attracts both scuba divers and snorkelers, and best of all, it’s free and just a 15-minute ferry ride from the central business district. There is a great restaurant right on the beach, but there are also grills available if you plan for an authentic beach barbie. Don’t forget the shrimp!


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