The Best Self-Guided Walking Tours of Sydney, Australia

There's far more to the Emerald City than Sydney Opera House and the Harbour bridge – so why not get to know its nooks and crannies under your own steam?
There's far more to the Emerald City than Sydney Opera House and the Harbour bridge – so why not get to know its nooks and crannies under your own steam? | © Norman Pogson / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Susanna Smith
14 September 2020

Sydney’s pleasant year-round climate, stunning harbour location and abundance of green space make it an ideal city to explore on foot. Our self-guided walking tour lets you see the different districts your own pace.

Explore Sydney’s Heritage in the Central Business District

Architectural Landmark
Map View
Queen Victoria Building, a heritage site in sydney
© Jui-Chi Chan / Alamy Stock Photo
Explore the Gothic majesty that is the Queen Victoria Building on George Street, and ensure you get to see the Royal Clock strike the hour on the upper level of the building. Take the elevator up to Sydney Tower Eye Westfield Sydney for the 360-degree views of the city from above. Wander around Hyde Park and contemplate history at the Anzac Memorial and the Archibald Memorial Fountain, then spend some time at the Australian Museum, Cook and Phillip Park and St Mary’s Cathedral, before strolling along Macquarie Street to historical sites such as Hyde Park Barracks, the Mint, Sydney Hospital, Parliament House and the State Library of New South Wales. Visit the Museum of Sydney before heading to Circular Quay for a well-deserved drink at historic Customs House.

Enjoy the great outdoors at The Royal Botanic Gardens, Mrs Macquarie’s Chair and the Sydney Opera House

Botanical Garden
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Sydney city skyline and CBD and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
© Paul Brown / Alamy Stock Photo
A walk around the Sydney Harbour foreshore is the ideal way to experience the waterside splendour of the city. Start at Circular Quay and walk along Circular Quay East, stopping for a meal with a view at Opera Bar before taking a tour of the Sydney Opera House at Bennelong Point. Continue east into the gates of the Royal Botanic Gardens and take some time to wander around the seasonal displays, before walking along the waterside path toward Mrs Macquarie’s Chair at Mrs Macquarie’s Point for unbeatable views of Sydney Harbour. Continue along Woolloomooloo Bay toward the Andrew (Boy) Charlton Pool where you can make a splash alongside the beautiful people of Sydney. Visit the historic Art Gallery of New South Wales to explore its galleries of Australian and international art.

Walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge to Kirribilli and Milsons Point

Bridge
Map View
quynh-tran-_y5ysqm3UIw-unsplash
© Quynh Tran / Unsplash
Take the Harbour Bridge Stairs or elevator on Cumberland Street to the pedestrian walkway of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, stopping at the Pylon Lookout to explore the history of the iconic bridge and uninterrupted views of the city below. Enjoy views of the Sydney Opera House and watch yachts gliding across the Harbour as you complete the crossing before making a photo stop at the Kirribilli lookout. Take the stairs down on the right-hand side of the bridge and enjoy the village atmosphere of Kirribilli before walking along the harbour shore to Bradfield Park. Then continue along Olympic Drive under the Sydney Harbour Bridge toward Milsons Point, where you can visit Sydney’s magical amusement park, Luna Park, or take a dip at historic North Sydney Olympic Pool.

Stroll through history in The Rocks

Building, Market, Shopping Mall
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The Rocks, Sydney, George Street, Sydney Harbour Bridge and buildings with blue sky. Famous Historic Downtown street. Sunny Morning.
© Paul Tama / Alamy Stock Photo
Any walk around the Rocks should start outside Sydney’s oldest house, Cadman’s Cottage on Circular Quay West, before heading toward Campbell’s Cove and the Campbell’s Cove Storehouses. Follow Hickson Road under the Sydney Harbour Bridge and around to Walsh Bay to explore the Edwardian wharves that are home to the Sydney Theatre Company, then climb the stairs up to Windmill Street to cut across the village green at Argyle Place towards the Garrison Church. Walk through the Argyle Cut, a rocky section of road that was excavated by convict labourers – giving the Rocks its name – and experience the area’s history at Susannah Place Museum before getting lost in narrow laneways like Suez Canal and Nurses Walk. Walk back to Circular Quay and check out the latest exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Experience multicultural Sydney in Chinatown and Darling Harbour

Market, Shop
Map View
Dixon Street in Sydney's Chinatown
© Rob Walls / Alamy Stock Photo
Dixon Street is the heart of Chinatown and a good place to start a walk through this historic, cultural area established by Sydney’s Chinese community in the 19th century. Enter through the Dragon Gates and sample the famous Emperor’s Custard Puffs from a hole in the wall. Explore the myriad food choices and find out why favourites like Golden Century and Mamak regularly have long queues outside their doors. Walk along Goulburn Street to the walled Chinese Garden of Friendship, a gift from Sydney’s Chinese sister city, Guangzhou, and an oasis of peace and tranquillity in the bustling city. Continue north through Tumbalong Park to unashamedly touristy Darling Harbour and spend some time walking along the shoreline, dining at one of the many restaurants and exploring Australia’s maritime history at the Australian National Maritime Museum.

Lose yourself at Barangaroo

Architectural Landmark
Map View
Barangaroo skyline, Sydney, NSW, Australia
© galit seligmann / Alamy Stock Photo
Barangarooo is an urban-renewal project that turned a former container terminal on the shores of Sydney Harbour into a recreational space. It was named after a Cammeraygal woman who was an important figure in the Aboriginal community at the time of European settlement. Start your walk at the Towns Place entrance to Barangaroo Reserve in Walsh Bay, then follow the Wulugul Walk along the harbour foreshore for views of Goat Island, Balls Head and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Barangaroo Reserve was designed to allow visitors to stop at many points within the site, so explore the pathways, chill out on Stargazer Lawn or check out the latest cultural offering at the Cut before continuing the Wulugul Walk toward the Barangaroo dining precinct for a sunset drink or hearty meal.
These recommendations were updated on September 14, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.