Culture + Style

7 Unexpected Ways to Experience Sydney’s Chilled Side

Regardless of season, Sydney’s stunning outdoor hot spots offer a breath of fresh air—right in the heart of town. Check out our picks for Sydney’s top places to unwind.

Swim Star

With a dazzling front-row view of the Harbour Bridge, the North Sydney Olympic Pool must be one of the most picturesque places to take a dip anywhere in the world.

The 50-meter outdoor heated pool features eye-catching Art Deco surrounds and a retro sundeck that adds to the charm of this heritage landmark. Pack your swimsuit.

Bathing Beauty

what to do in Sydney
Watch the sunset from the peaceful shores of Balmoral Beach. (Photo: Getty Images)

Balmoral Beach occupies a quiet curve of Sydney Harbour’s Lower North Shore. The sheltered cove with its sliver of white sand makes an ideal spot to unwind as you sprawl on the grass under the shade of ancient fig trees.

Or, visit the famous Bathers’ Pavilion—a white-painted historic building that now houses a top restaurant and café.

Island Time

Jump aboard a ferry to Cockatoo Island for an instant escape from the city center, right in the middle of Sydney Harbour.

This UNESCO world heritage-listed site boasts a checkered past, both as a convict prison and major dockyard. After extensive restoration, it is now open to the public and serves as a show-stopping venue for festivals and events.

Show Boat

what to do in Sydney
Catch some of Sydney’s best skyline views from the Manly Ferry. (Photo: Getty Images)

Trade the traditional tourist cruises for a ticket on the iconic Manly Ferry. The 30-minute trip has been transporting passengers from Circular Quay to this northern beach since 1855.

Spend the afternoon at Manly (we recommend a stroll to picturesque Shelley Beach) before stepping back on board for your return trip past the city’s famous sights.

Hot Seat

Situated at the crest of the Royal Botanic Garden, Mrs Macquarie’s Chair is one of Sydney’s best vantage points.

A 20-minute walk from the Opera House around a beautiful bay, the historic seat was carved into the Sydney sandstone for Governor Macquarie’s wife more than 150 years ago. Take a picnic and stay for the scenery.

Up and Away

what to do in Sydney
Ignore your fear of heights on a Bridge Climb. (Photo: Getty Images)

Clear your head as you set your pulse racing with a trip to the top of one of Australia’s most famous landmarks.

Bridge Climb takes you to the summit of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, far above the noise and traffic below. Go at dawn and see the sun rise over the city panorama for a very special experience.

Park Life

Exercise with the locals at Centennial Parklands in the city’s exclusive Eastern suburbs. Enjoy 890 ares of green space just 3 miles from the CBD—a favorite with joggers, cyclists, rollerbladers and equestrians.

If you’re not feeling active, simply lounge on the grass with a good book or visit the central cafe.