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Free Tourist Must-See Attractions - Sydney

Home > Sydney > Places of Interest | Lists | Fun Things To Do | Free | Family
by Gypsy Rose (subscribe)
I am a travel writer and photographer with a passion for the great outdoors and food! I love travelling and discovering hidden gems... experience the journey on Instragram! @gypsy_compass
Published June 9th 2020
Visiting Sydney? Check out this List of free attractions
Whether you are visiting Sydney or want to explore your city, the list below will not cost you a cent to experience and explore the attractions and glamour of Sydney's icons. The list includes art, museums, history, gardens, spectacular views, nature, amusements, and much more.

* Please note with the COVID-19 pandemic some attractions below might be closed (at time of writing).

1. Sydney Opera House

This multi-venue performing arts centre is one of the 20th century most famous and distinctive buildings. It surrounds the whole of Bennelong Point, Sydney Harbour between Sydney Cove and Farm Cove, Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney CBD. A stroll around this world-famous iconic building will cost nothing, and why not climb the stairs and check out the view?
Click here for the website.

2. Sydney Harbour Bridge

Walking across the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge is free and the views of Sydney Harbour, city and beyond are breathtaking! If you do want to splurge slightly and experience Sydney Harbour Bridge from a different perspective, on Sundays you can catch the Sydney Ferries for $2.80pp unlimited. Click here for the website.

3. Royal Botanic Gardens

This heritage-list 30-hectare garden is home to spectacular themed gardens including Place Rose Garden, Herb Garden, Succulent Garden, Native Rockery, Australian Rainforest, Tropical Garden and more. It is also home to the captivating world of carnivorous plants at The Calyx. There is plenty to see and do from enjoying tranquil walks, feasting under the towering trees with a picnic, learning about Aboriginal culture and more. Click here for the website.

Image Courtesy from The Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney Facebook

4. Government House & Gardens

This place of interest is where the colony's early rulers worked. Government House is Heritage-listed vice-regal residence of the Governor of New South Wales and was built in 1837. The building was constructed in the Gothic revival style and includes a 19th- century character garden, official plantings, The Lodge, The Gatehouse, The Chalet, and moveable collection which is of high and exceptional significance. Click here for the website.

5. Art Gallery of New South Wales

The gallery is free to visit and is the most important public gallery in Sydney as well as being one of the largest in Australia. It first opened in 1874, and house displays of Australian art (from settlement to contemporary), European and Asian art. Click here for the website.

Image Courtesy from Art Gallery of New South Wales Facebook

6. Museum of Contemporary Art

The museum is solely dedicated to exhibition, interpreting and collecting contemporary art from across Australia and around the world. It opened in 1991 and features a collection of over 4,000 works by Australian artists, including painting, photography, sculpture, works on paper, and moving image. Click here for the website.

Image Courtesy from Museum of Contemporary Art Australia Facebook

7. Mrs. Macquarie's Chair

Sitting between the Garden Island peninsula and Bennelong Point, the chair itself faces north-east towards Fort Denison and the Tasman Sea. The chair was carved by convicts in 1810, for Elizabeth Macquarie, the wife of Major-General Lachlan Macquarie, Governor of New South Wales. From here, you can enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the harbour and beyond.

8. National Maritime Museum

The museum is home to maritime collections, exhibitions, research and archaeology. The free entry includes the gallery and selected exhibitions. However, if you want a complete museum experience, The Big Ticket includes full access to the museum, vessel experiences, special exhibitions, and kids programs. Click here for the website.

9. Spit Bridge to Manly Walk

This 10km coastal walk, boasts with secluded inner harbour beaches, native bushland, scenic bays, panoramic ocean views, and spectacular cliffs. The walk forms part of the famous 20km Manly Scenic Walkway. Click here for the website.

10. Free Shows at Circular Quay

Listen to didgeridoo playing from buskers, enjoy a magic show or roving performance from buskers at Circular Quay.

11. St Mary's Cathedral

The cathedral is not just the spiritual home of Sydney's Catholic community. It is a historic building with 19th century Gothic Revival architecture. It also features a chancel window depicting a vision of Christ, and the Blessed Virgin Mary enthroned in heaven, carvings around the transept portal include Australian flora, and about 40 pictorial windows representing several themes. Click here for the website.

12. Paddington Markets

The markets is a weekly fundraising event of Paddington Uniting Church and has been operating on the same day since 1973. It showcases more than 100 stalls selling fashion, shows, Bonsai trees, plants, art, designs, antique, vinyl, vintage, bric-a-brac, Australiana products, and many more goods. Click here for the website.

Image Courtesy from Paddington Markets Facebook

13. Sydney Fish Markets

Stroll around the third largest fish market in the world and watch the working fishing port come to life with seafood galore. There are a delicatessen, sushi bar, bakery, gift shop, fruit & vegetable market, florist, meat deli, beverage outlet, cooking school workshops, indoor & outdoor seating, and views of the Harbour. Click here for the website.

Image Courtesy from Sydney Fish Market Facebook

14. Bondi to Coogee Walk

This famous coastal walk offers breathtaking views, natural beauty, passes nine bays and beaches and can be divided into shorter walks.
Click here for the website.

15. St James' Church

St James Church is the oldest in Sydney and is an Australian Heritage-Listed Anglican Parish Church. consecrated in February 1824 and named in honour of St James the Great, it became a parish church in 1835. The Church is part of the historical precinct of Macquarie Street. Click here for the website.

Image Courtesy from St James' Church, King Street, Sydney Facebook

16. Sydney Observatory & Observatory Hill Park

The Sydney Observatory is a heritage-listed meteorological station, astronomical observatory, science museum, education facility and a function venue. It is free to walk around the observatory, however, tours are ticketed. The Observatory Hill Park offers million-dollar views, sweeping, panoramic views of Sydney Harbour and Harbour Bridge for free. There are plenty of green open spaces for picnics and seat benches. The park is an off-leash dog-friendly park. Click here for the website.

Image Courtesy from Sydney Observatory Facebook

17. Queen Victoria Building

This Heritage-listed late 19th-century upper market shopping district makes for a great stroll around one of the most beautiful shopping centres in the world. Explore all the levels, and of course, window shopping is free!

Click here for the website.

Image Courtesy from Queen Victoria Building Facebook

18. Customs House
The Customs House opened in 1845 and is home to exhibitions, a multi-storey library, events, and places to eat and drink. Click here for the website.

19. Free Walking City Tours

Sydney free walking tours include exploring the city's sights with a friendly and knowledgeable local I'm Free Tours Sydney Tour Guide. Experience the culture, lifestyle and history. Hear the stories and secrets. Click here for the website.

Image Courtesy from I'm Free Tours Sydney Facebook

20. St Stephen's Church & Cemetery

St Stephen's Anglican Church is a Heritage-listed Anglican Church and Cemetery. It was built from 1871-1874, and the cemetery was built in 1848 and was the first privately owned in the cemetery in Sydney. St Stephen's Church is one of Australia's best Gothic Revival churches on this scale, and its unique and historic surroundings render it a building of the highest importance. Click here for the website.

21. Darling Harbour

This waterside attraction has got it all; spectacular scenery, great entertainment, fascinating museums, wildlife, waterfront dining options, brand-new food precinct, and is also home to the tranquil Chinese Garden of Friendship. There are many attractions including SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, Madame Tussauds Museum, WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo, Australian National Maritime Museum, Darling Quarter Kids Playground, International Convention Centre, Tumbalong Park, Darling Square, hotels, 9D Action Cinema, and much more. Click here for the website.

Enjoying a piece of nature at Tumbalong Park

22. State Library of NSW

The State Library of New South Wales and the Mitchell Library (a part which is known as that), is an extensive heritage-listed exclusive collection, reference and research library. It is the oldest library in Australia in 1826. It is also home to a wide range of exhibitions and galleries. Click here for the website.

Image Courtesy from The State Library of New South Wales Facebook

23. The Cumberland Street Archaeology Site

The Cumberland Street Archaeological Site is a heritage-listed archaeological site and is home to remains of early convict-era housing dating as far back as 1790s. A modern youth hostel has been built elevated over the remnants. Click here for the website.

24. Bondi Beach

This world-famous beach is a tourist must-see! Learn to surf, spot whales during their migration (from May to November), do the famous Bondi to Coogee Walk, as well as discovering many attractions and activities. Click here for the website.

25. Brett Whiteley Studio

This best-kept secret is where one of Australia's most celebrated artists of the 20th century lived and worked from 1988 to 1922. The Brett Whiteley Studio exhibits a selection of Whiteley's work as well as glimpses of his private world including his sketchbooks, photographs, music collection, and personal memorabilia. Click here for the website.

Image Courtesy from Brett Whiteley Studio Facebook

26. Centennial Parklands

The 'green lungs' of Sydney comprises of three urban parks- Centennial Park, Moore Park and Queens Park. It also Australia's most historic and best known and loved parklands.
Centennial Parklands was reconstructed as a public park and opened in 1888. Today it is not just home to three parks, it also houses heritage buildings, structures, statues, sculptures, memorials, and historic gates. Many activities can be enjoyed here, including horse riding, picnics, nature & historical walks, and more. Click here for the website.

Image Courtesy from Centennial Parklands Facebook

27. Anzac Memorial & Hyde Park

The heritage-listed war memorial, museum and monument located in Hyde Park and was built from 1932 to 1934. The memorial focuses on commemoration ceremonies on Anzac Day, Remembrance Day and other important occasions. Click here for the website.

Hyde Park is Australia's oldest park and is home to over 16 hectares of wide-open space in the heart of the CBD. You will find plenty of picnic spots, sunbathing spots, benches, hundreds of towering, leafy trees, and walking paths. Click here for the website.

Image Courtesy from City of Sydney Facebook

28. Lady Bay Nudist Beach
This beach offers spectacular scenic harbour views, swimming & picnic opportunities, and nude bathing. It is the perfect nature escape that is close to the city and is located south of the harbour, between South Head and Camp Cove. Lady Bay Nudist Beach is also the gateway to the South Head Heritage Trail, and nearby historic Hornby Lighthouse. Click here for the website.

29. Luna Park

There is no entry fee to the historic fun park, Luna Park. You can stroll around exploring the amusements rides or splurge a little and enjoy the rides. Luna Park is also home to killer harbour views! Click here for the website.

30. The Rocks

The Rocks are home to historic laneways in the shadow of Sydney Harbour Bridge. You will also find open-air markets, upscale cafes & restaurants, boutique shopping, some of Sydney's oldest pubs, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and breathtaking views. Click here for the website.

31. Sydney Mint

The Sydney Mint is the oldest public building in Sydney CBD. It was built between 1811 and 1816 as the southern wing of the Sydney Hospital (known as the Rum Hospital). In 1854, a mint was established on the site with the hospital building used to house mint staff as well as a residence for the Deputy Mint Master. The coining factory was built at the rear.

Sydney Mint was the first branch of the Royal Mint outside England. Today, The Mint is a living museum and is certainly worth checking out both its history and heritage. Click here for the website.

32. Snorkelling at Sydney Beaches

Sydney is not just home to incredible surfing and swimming beaches. You will also find several fantastic snorkel beaches, including Shelly Beach, Clovelly Beach, The Basin Campground, Bare Island, Chowder Bay, and more. Discover the underwater world filled with blue gropers, Port Jacksons & Wobbegong sharks, sea dragons, numerous species of fish, and much more.

33. Finger Wharf (Woolloomooloo Wharf)

This heritage-listed former wharf and passenger terminal, now a marina is the longest timbered-piled wharf in the world and was completed in 1915. Today it is home to residential apartments, a hotel and restaurants. It also contains the largest and most distinguished timber wharf building in Sydney Harbour.

It has cultural significance for its rarity, scale, construction methods, artefacts of industrial archaeology, and diverse history of uses and events. It is also an excellent and important example of a timber engineering structure on a scale unparalleled in Australia and exceptional world terms.Click here for the website.

34. Cadman's Cottage

Built-in 1816, Cadmans Cottage is one of only a handful of Sydney buildings that remain from the first 30 years of the colony. The sandstone cottage was once used for a water transport headquarters, a sailor's home and a water police station, among other things. There are free guided tours of the grounds and bottom level of the cottage. Click here for the website.

Image Courtesy from Cadmans Cottage Facebook

35. Macquarie Street Heritage Walk

Stroll down historic Macquarie Street and admire the Georgian and Victorian architecture as well as its rich heritage. Macquarie Street extends from Hyde Park (southern end) to Sydney Opera House (northern end). Apart from connecting these two landmarks, Macquarie Street is home to many Government and public buildings including Parliament House, Government House, Law Courts Building (houses the Supreme Court of New South Wales, Federal Court of Australia and High Court of Australia), Sydney Hospital, and the Hyde Park Barracks. Other landmarks and buildings include St James Church, Sydney Mint, State Library of New South Wales, the historic Chief Secretary's Building, the Old New South Wales Treasury (now part of the InterContinental Hotel), and more.

Click here for the website.

36. Dobroyd Head

Dobroyd Head is a point of the headland which is located in the Northern Beaches, in Balgowlah Heights. It is part of the Sydney Harbour National Park. It is home to spectacular examples of ecosystems at risk such as coastal health, ancient Aboriginal art, Arabanoo Lookout (the first Aboriginal man to live among European settlers who was captured in Manly Cove in 1788), and Tania Park which contains the 2MWM 90.3 transmitters. Click here for the website.

Image Courtesy from Dobroyd Head Facebook

37. Soho Gallery

This commercial art gallery was established in Sydney in 1995, and it provides Australian artists with space and exposure to place their artworks in contemporary corporate and domestic environments. The gallery is home a wealth of Australia's new and emerging artists. Click here for the website.

38. Manly Art Gallery & Museum

Located in the heart of Manly Cove, the Manly Art Gallery & Museum is home to innovative, distinctive and creative cultural programs as well as an extensive collection of Australian visual art and beach ephemera.

It was established in 1930 and is the oldest metropolitan, regional Gallery in New South Wales. The exquisite collections include early modern paintings, studio collections, and the Museum features a range of exhibits focusing on local history and culture. Click here for the website.

49. Museum of Australian Currency Notes

The Museum of Australian Currency Notes is a showcase of the history of Australian currency since the first settlement was established in 1788 through to the current day. The displays include notes and coins through to archival film and photographs and more. You can also discover how technology and artwork evolved to prevent counterfeit notes being printed and distributed. Click here for the website.

50. Sydney Tramway Museum

The Sydney Tramway Museum is Australia's oldest tramway museum as well as being the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. It is located at Loftus (an approx. 35-minute drive or train ride from Sydney CBD).

The museum is home to an operating demonstration tramway with over 4kms of track from the southern skirt of Sutherland CBD through Loftus across the Princess Hwy and into the Royal National Park. It also features a Display Hall, which houses Australia's oldest electric tram, the only prison tram in the Southern Hemisphere and unique counterweight dummy from Balmain. There are also historical photographs, displays, picnic area & electric barbecues, souvenir shop and kiosk. Click here for the website.

Image Courtesy from Sydney Tramway Museum Facebook

51. Nicholson Museum

Located in the University of Sydney, the museum is home to the most extensive collection of ancient artefacts in Australia and the Southern Hemisphere.

There are more than 30,000 artefacts of artistic and archaeological significance from Egypt, Greece, Italy, Cyprus and the Middle East which span the early Stone Age to late medieval times. The displays contain objects that showcase intimate stories about people's everyday lives and their beliefs from the ancient world. Click here for the website.

52. Sydney Town Hall

Sydney Town Hall was built within the former Old Sydney Burial Ground. The cemetery was Sydney's first permanent cemetery and was estimated that at least 2,000 burials were made between 1792 and 1820.

It is the most ornate late 19th-century civic building in Australia. This well-known landmark on George Street features ornate rooms which can be hired to the public to host events, parties, balls, concerts, launches, and board meetings.

It also consists of a focal tower and fanciful roofs, Centennial Hall, The Ornate Vestibule, Victorian designs and luxurious decorations, the famous 9,000 pipe Grand Organ installed in 1890, and the 21 stained glass windows. Click here for the website.

Image Courtesy from City of Sydney Facebook

53. Oxford Street

Discover the roots of alternative Oxford Street on the "Parade" historical walking tour. Oxford Street has an intense cultural and creative scene and is the area's longstanding status as the heart of gay and lesbian culture in Sydney. It is also one of Sydney's most famous shopping strips.

The 'Strip' is also home to significant buildings and landmarks including St Vincent's Hospital, Australian Museum, National Art School, and Victoria Barracks.

Click here for the website.

54. Mary MacKillop Place Museum

Opening in 1995, the museum is home to the remarkable story of Mary MacKillop (1842-1909), Australia's first saint. The museum showcases Mary's extraordinary work with innovative technology displays, the beautiful Memorial Chapel (built-in 1913 and is the resting place of Mary MacKillop), and displays. There is also a gift shop and cafe providing a wide selection of books, mementoes and light refreshments. Click here for the website.

55. The Rocks Discovery Museum

This family-friendly Museum tells a story of The Rocks from pre-European days to the present. It showcases thousands of years of history with displays and both permanent and temporary exhibits, archaeological artefacts, interactive displays, audio and visual elements, and more. Click here for the website.

56. Glebe Markets

Glebe Markets is one of Sydney's best-known markets, and it showcases a wide range of 200 stalls selling amazing objects, gifts, homewares, fashion, international food stalls, cakes & coffee, and more. There is also live music performances and the best selection of vintage in Sydney. Click here for the website.

Image Courtesy from Glebe Markets Facebook

57. Macquarie Lighthouse

This heritage-listed Lighthouse was the first, and the longest-serving lighthouse in Australia. It was built from 1881 to 1883 and is still fully operational. It has a rich history, including Indigenous heritage, European Settlement, and being the first lighthouse. Tours inside the lighthouse and lightstation can be booked online or can be booked on the day at on-site. Click here for the website.

58. The Gap, Watsons Bay

This ocean cliff located on the South Head peninsula is a popular visitor destination. It has a rich history including before European settlement history it was inhabited by the Birrabirragal Aboriginal clan who were part of the coastal Darug people, the 1857 shipwreck of Dunbar, and infamy spot for suicides.

The Gap is also a gateway to many attractions nearby, spectacular coastal walks including the Watsons Bay Coastal Cliff Walk and home to fauna and flora including skinks and eastern water dragons which can often be seen moving among the rocks. Seabirds also can be spotted here as well as whales during their migration.

If f are experiencing mental health issues or suicidal feelings, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or BeyondBlue 1300 224 636. If it is an emergency, please call 000. Click here for the website.

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Why? Explore Sydney sites for free
When: All year round
Where: Sydney
Cost: Free
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by Gypsy Rose on 17/04/2015
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