The Best Way to See the Harbour in Sydney

Discussion in 'Australia/New Zealand/South Pacific' started by NileGuide, Feb 4, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. There are so many vantage points to see the world-renowned Sydney Harbour from, and you should explore as many as possible while you’re here.
    One of the more impressive views (and one with the highest altitude) can be found at the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The climb to the top of this architectural marvel takes a couple of hours, but is quite safe and worth the effort for the view. Guides take groups of visitors up the many stairways to the top, stopping at advantageous spots to talk about the bridge and the city. You’re not allowed to carry anything with, including cameras, so they can charge an arm and a leg for the pictures they take. As a result, the overall experience isn’t cheap, but can be quite rewarding and a highlight of any Sydney visit.
    For a cheaper view of the bridge, you can just take a walk across rather than splurging on the Bridge climb. There is a smaller lookout that doesn’t have an equivalent view to the top of the bridge but still gives a good vantage point, and you can even use your own camera!
    Of course, there are an abundance of different harbour cruise options if you want to get out on the water. From super-yachts to ships resembling various historic vessels, you can find just about any kind of boat. Some include drinks and/or food, which can be hit or miss. If a dinner cruise is the only type available to go out around sunset, though, opt for that – it’s a particularly lovely time of day to enjoy the sights and sounds of the harbour.
    For a more active way to see the harbour from water level, there are outfits that do kayak rentals and lessons. Early morning sightseeing trips around the harbour edge mean ideal views of the Opera House, Bridge, and more – with a workout included! Different length options mean these work for beginners and experts alike.
    To enjoy the harbour’s natural areas from the safety of solid land, visit one of the many parks, reserves, or green spaces along the water’s edge. One of the most beautiful is the Royal Botanical Gardens, located just a stones throw from the Rocks and the Opera House. It’s a fun spot to learn about much of Australia’s flora and fauna, from trees to bats to birds. It’s also the perfect spot to unwind after a busy visit, and enjoy a picnic along the water under the palms.
    [photo courtesy of Altered Lens]


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  2. wingspan
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    wingspan Silver Member

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    Further, if you're already at the Harbour and as such have seen the Opera House - it's very own World Heritage site - pop down to Hyde Park to see the Hyde Park Barracks Museum - yet another World Heritage site only a short 10 minute walk away. Very interesting and puts the history of the harbour into perspective.
     
  3. diver90
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    diver90 Gold Member

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    We were in Sydney in July 2010. First off, a nice walk is to start from near the Park Hyatt and walk all the way around Circular Quay to the Opera House ("The Dish Rack"). Usually lots of good people watching and a panorama of views of the Harbor as well. The money they want for climbing the Harbour Bridge ("The Coat Hanger")

    just doesn't seem worth it. The walk across is beautiful (and free) and the views are pretty wonderful. There is a ferry stop on the other side of the bridge where you can get some great pictures as well. At the Taronga Zoo you can look back at the city and take some pretty cool photos of giraffes with the harbor and the downtown skyline in the background. Also consider taking the ferry to Manly for a great view of the Sydney waterfront and a little side excursion to the beach in Manly.

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  4. BAppelt
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    BAppelt Gold Member

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    We were in Sydney last year in Jan. I wanted to climb the bridge but the timing just didn't work out. The view, however, from the one of the harbor cruises was spectacular. The harbor cruises do cover quite a bit of the harbor itself, so overall, I'd recommend a cruise to really get to see the harbor.
     
  5. joanek
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    joanek Silver Member

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    I had no interest in doing the bridge climb, but got a great view of the city by walking out of downtown and across the bridge. Transport is right near the end---or you can continue wandering into the neighborhoods, as I did. And you can see loads by just taking a couple of the different ferry runs---no need for a more expensive cruise. And I agree that the zoo has several wonderful vantage points for photos!
     
  6. Coathanger
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    Coathanger Silver Member

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    An inexpensive alternative to taking a dedicated harbour cruise would be the Darling Harbour ferry from Circular Quay. The route takes you up close and under the bridge and as a bonus you conveniently alight at Darling Harbour (which is popular with visitors too).

    Alternately, a nice and quiet spot to enjoy the view back towards the Opera House would be a trip out to Cremorne Point on the Mosman ferry.

    Please see the attached PDF for the route map.
     

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  7. Grace
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    Grace Silver Member

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    I stayed out in Manly and the ferry to Circular Quay was definitely nice.

    The bridge climb was OK, but definitely one of those things you just need to do once. I didn't like how you constantly had to stop because the group ahead hadn't moved yet.
     
  8. infoworks
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    infoworks Silver Member

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    I can recommend the bridge climb. Expensive but worthwhile. The ferries, especially the Circular Quay to Pyrmont run provides breathtaking views of the icons (opera house and bridge - you pass under it) and the city looking east.
     

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