Skip to Content

5 Fun Ways to Explore Sydney

Sydney Opera House
Sydney Opera House as seen from the harbor (photo by xiquinho)

When compared to some of the more naturally spectacular and scenic locations in Australia, Sydney has a tough fight for keeping the attention of the time-strapped traveler.

To many, it's just another big city.

Even though I might be a bit biased – I do call Sydney home – I can attest to the random and interesting nature of Sydney.

You just have to know where to look.

And when you find those quirky and fun bits, you'll be swept away and wondering why you'd ever want to leave. H

ere are some of the more fun ways to explore Sydney.

Gourmet safari
Presentation at a South American deli on our Gourmet Safari

1. Take a Gourmet Safari

Locals in Sydney know the SBS TV show, Food Safari, hosted by Maeve O'Meara.

Maeve started showing family and friends around to some of her favorite authentic restaurants across many Sydney suburbs.

This evolved into a food tour company called Gourmet Safari, and boy are they fun!

My boyfriend and I were given a voucher for a Gourmet Safari for Christmas and booked in for a long Saturday of foods from around the world.

The best part? We were introduced to a number of small shops from lesser-visited suburbs doing some spectacular cuisine inspired by their home country cultures.

These were places I would never have known without the tour!

It's also just a great way to see Sydney and learn more about the different cultures that populate the suburbs.

Go on a local's tour of Newtown
Go on a local's tour of Newtown (photo by LWY)

2. Arribaa Local Tours

Arribaa is a new online venture that was introduced to me through Sydney Travel Massive.

The premise for the site is to allow locals to provide special tours – whatever they might specialize in.

So, if a local girl in Newtown knows a lot about the best coffee shops and cafes, and also likes to knit, you could pay a fee to go on her “tour”, creating a scarf along the way.

One thing Arribaa is good for – getting a true local's perspective on their neighborhoods.

Harley trike
Looking cool on the back of a Harley trike.

3. Harley Trike Tours

If you have a need for speed, a love of leather, and an affinity for feeling the breeze in your hair (or in your helmet?), then I would suggest signing up for a Harley Trike tour.

I know, it sounds silly, and it is, but I had fun on mine.

You rock up to the tour booth, the guide – covered in leather – will help you get into your bad-to-the-bone jacket and top you off with a protective helmet.

Two people can fit on the back of the trike, so bring a friend and prepare for the watching eyes of everyone around you. They're completely jealous.

There are different tour lengths, so an hour-long tour might take you around Sydney's Rocks district and across the bridge to North Sydney parklands.

A several hour ride might buy you a trip to the Sea Cliff Bridge just south of the Royal National Park, and a lunch.

Sydney ferry
A Sydney ferry (photo by dicktay2000)

4. Take the Ferry

Being a harbor city, Sydney's ferries are a viable form of public transportation to get you from place to place amongst its sprawling suburbs.

Instead of forking out for a true Sydney Harbour cruise, why not just enjoy the ferry?

You can take a 30-minute ferry ride to Manly in the Northern Beaches – great on a sunny summer day, or you can take a short ferry across the harbor to Mosman and the home of the Taronga Zoo (also home to some of the best city views).

And, please, whenever you are on the beach or exposed to the sun, be mindful of the harsh Australian sun.

Always put plenty of sunscreen. Sunsuit is a good alternative to sunscreen for children.

Cockatoo Island, right in the middle of Sydney Harbour and host to the Island Bar, is just asking for a ferry ride.

There, you can kick back a Fat Yak or two with perfect city views.

Explore sydney at night
Sydney at night (photo by kyletaylor)

5. Explore Sydney at Night

Sydney loves its nightlife, and you can easily head out for a night on the town at Oxford Street or if you're brave, Kings Cross.

What once looks mild in daylight comes alive at dusk.

Other ways to get into exploring Sydney outside of hitting up a pub crawl at night include:

  • Climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge at dusk
  • Going on a Rocks Ghost Tour
  • Taking a Twilight Discovery tour with Understand Down Under
  • Taking a Manly 2.5 Hour Q-Station Ghost Tour

As you can see, Sydney may not have the mountains or the rainforest, but it sure does know how to show itself off, and you can find great hotels in Sydney that are right in the center of all the activities you would like to take part in.


This post was brought to you in partnership with

Planning a trip? Go Backpacking recommends:


Thursday 18th of October 2012

Thanks Brooke, Sydney is such a wonderful city with so many beautiful sights and fun things to do. One of my other favourites is to take a walk along the lower north shore from Cremorne point to Mosman. So peaceful with amazing views of the harbour. Thanks for including Arribaa on your list!

Sarah James

Thursday 20th of September 2012

Taking the ferry is a much cheaper way of touring around the harbour, we were going to take a tour boat but then a friend told us that it is much cheaper to just buy a public transport ticket which includes ferries. It also got us out to Manly which we thought was such a nice place, a beautiful big beach


Monday 17th of September 2012

Hi Brooke. Sydney is a breathtaking and beautiful place, as you mentioned taking the ferry cruise is a must, Gourmet safari sounds like an awesome idea! Am a big foodie and need to find time to do that on my next visit and find out if London has anything similar to that!


Wednesday 12th of September 2012

Great post, I actually didnt imagine Sydney that way, thank you for "widening: my vision of the city, I wish I could travel there soon :)

Comments are closed.