Looking for some fun things to do in Sydney? We’ve planned out some awesome road trips for you to take this weekend!
Sydney is a unique city, with a location that is pretty hard to beat. With a wealth of famous beaches like Bondi Beach a stones throw from the CBD, historical sites, fantastic shows, tasty treats and cafes, there is a wide range of things to do in Sydney at any given time.
Situated on some truly stunning NSW coastline, Sydney is arguably one of the most beautiful city centers of any major city in the world.
The drawback of that (if you could call it that) is it can be overwhelming to decide what to do in Sydney on a weekend. There are literally dozens of amazing beaches within easy driving distance of a city, not to mention the coastline walks, beautiful inland NSW National Parks and awesome picnic spots with great skyline views.
With so many options for cool things to do in Sydney, how do I choose!?
Don’t worry because Car Next Door has got you covered. We went looking for some people to help us with our search for the best spots in Sydney through a task on Airtasker.
Meet Marine and Elodie - they’re Car Next Door borrowers who spent the weekend checking out the sights to give you the best suggestions for things to do in Sydney.
Whether you live in the city and want to explore your hometown or you're just here for a visit, here are two easy, fully planned out Sydney day trips and activities. Both trips are filled with the best free activities in Sydney, and are a mix of outdoor activities, cultural experiences and historical Sydney sites (but no shopping, sorry - save those dollars for a meal at one of Sydney’s many great restaurants!)
- Start your day off in The Rocks, Sydney
- Visit the iconic Sydney Opera House
- Get some thrills at Luna Park
- Househunt at Neutral Bay
- Get some Instagrammable shots at North Head, Manly
- Go for a body surf at Manly Beach
- Swim or surf at Warriewood Beach
- Bonus Thing to Do
- Go wildlife watching at Lane Cove National Park
- Watch the Sydney sunset at Observatory Hill
- Start your day with a walk at Cremorne Point
- Visit the historic ground of Government House
- Meander around the Royal Botanic Gardens and have a picnic
- Embrace your inner art critic at the Art Gallery of NSW
- Can’t get enough walking? One of the best activities in Sydney is the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk
- Explore the vibrant Surry Hills neighbourhood
- Take in the sunset like a politician at Kirribilli
Sydney City and the Northside activities
Our first trip takes you up onto the Northside of Sydney with some pretty cool free activities and things to do. In total you’ll cover about 75 kilometres. It’s approximately 2 ½ hours driving in total, not including the time you spend at each destination! We’d recommend budgeting about three hours for the driving in case you hit some of that famous Sydney traffic.
If you’re tight for time or run out because you’re too busy enjoying all the great things you can do, skipping Warriewood Beach will cut 20 kilometres and around 40 minutes from your travel time.
Here are a few items we suggest packing for these Sydney activities: *
- Swimmers and a towel
- Workout/walking gear
- Change of clothes
- Picnic blanket
- Food and drinks for a picnic
- A big smile!
Start your day off in The Rocks, Sydney
Start your day off with a harbour view in The Rocks district. With its cobblestone streets, colonial buildings and tons of spots to get that perfect Sydney Harbour bridge backdrop for the ‘gram, it’s the perfect starting point. Every Saturday and Sunday The Rocks Weekend Market is on, with over 200 stalls, vendors and buskers. It’s free to have a wander through and soak in the atmosphere. If you’re on a budget, pack something for breakfast and enjoy a cheap harbour view brunch.
If you’ve got a little more cash to spend and brunch is your favourite meal of the day, try one of the many nice cafes and restaurants nearby. For those who enjoy people watching, this is a particularly great place in Sydney.
Visit the iconic Sydney Opera House
The big perk here is you don’t have to drive to get to the Sydney Opera House from The Rocks. It’s about a ten minute walk along Circular Quay (the major ferry terminal in Sydney). If you’re a local you’ve probably visited this iconic Sydney location before, but for any visitors it’s one of those things you have to do in Sydney.
Get some thrills at Luna Park
Luna Park is a Sydney classic. The heritage listed amusement park that has been in operation in Australia since the 1930s! Best of all entrance is free, so you can check out the history and the park without having to spend a cent. Make sure to get a picture standing inside the enormous mouth at the entrance.
You'll need to pay for any rides or other activities inside the park
Photo by Annie Spratt
Househunt at Neutral Bay
After Luna Park, make the drive across the Sydney Harbour Bridge to Neutral Bay, a harbourside suburb on the Lower North Shore of Sydney. From this vantage point you can get some great shots of the Sydney skyline. Neutral Bay also has some nice historic homes to see. Wander around, play tourist or pretend you’ve got a trust fund and scout out your next property purchase.
Marine and Elodie picked up Melissa's car from Neutral Bay for their Sydney adventures!
Get some Instagrammable shots at North Head, Manly
One of the best things to do in Sydney is the magnificent urban coastal loop walk from Manly to the North Head. Start at the Queenscliff end of Manly Beach, follow the path to Shelley Beach, and keep walking until you cut through the bushland of the Sydney Harbour National Park. From there it’s a gentle climb up to the spectacular views of North Head.
Marine and Elodie decided they’d prefer to skip the hike and save their energy for a photography shoot. If you’re like them, you can drive to North Head and park there for some sweet city shots (and a nap if you're inclined).
Go for a body surf at Manly Beach
After you’ve worked up a sweat at North Head, either from actually exercising or some very intensive posing, head back down to Manly Beach for a swim and some fish and chips by the beach.
If you're on a budget, pack your own lunch to save some $$$. Or, bring some snacks and then share a single serving of fish and chips with your mates.
Swim or surf at Warriewood Beach
It isn’t a proper Aussie day out if you haven’t tried at least a couple of beaches, right? Warriewood Beach is a little further north of Manly, and is a great surf spot. It tends to have a more of a local vibe, and is a nice chilled out spot for a swim. Warriewood Beach is also home to a rather notorious blowhole, which you can see from the beach. It does attract some cliff divers, but we wouldn’t recommend it – it’s risky, and is actively discouraged by the surf lifesavers. But keep an eye out for the spray from the blowhole as you relax.
Bonus place to visit: Do your best Home and Away impressions at Palm Beach
If you’ve decided to skip one of our earlier suggestions, or are happy to travel a bit further, head 15 kilometres (or about a 20-minute drive) north of Warriewood Beach to Palm Beach. You may also recognise it as the beach from Home and Away! You can visit the set - aka the beach, and who knows, you may even spot some filming and a TV star or two while you’re at it. If you're itching to take a trip up, signup for a free Car Next Door membership in under five minutes.
While you're at Palm Beach, make sure to do the loop walk up to the heritage listed Barrenjoey Lighthouse. The lighthouse is at the tip of the Barrenjoey Headland, which you can access from the northernmost part of Palm Beach. The hike is considered a easy/moderate grade and should take about 1 1/2 hours.
Go wildlife watching at Lane Cove National Park
Australia has some pretty incredible wildlife, and you can spot a lot of great wildlife and flora at Lane Cove National Park. Common sightings include kookaburras, colourful lorikeets, swamp wallabies and eastern water dragons. Approximately 10 kilometres from the Sydney CBD, there are heaps of things to do at the park. Aside from animal spotting, there are many bushwalking trails, cycling tracks, free playgrounds for the kids, picnic areas and the Lane Cove Boat Shed.
Watch the Sydney sunset at Observatory Hill
If you’ve followed the list of all the activities and suggested things to do here, you must be feeling pretty wiped! So, for your final stop of the day, head over to Observatory Hill where you can relax and watch the sunset after an awesome day out in Sydney.
Stick around for a while to get some great views of the Sydney skyline at night, and see the Harbour Bridge light up.
Still want more suggestions on the top things to do in Sydney this weekend?
Marine and Elodie still have some more places up their sleeves for you, with a second road trip around Sydney and Bondi Beach, with a bunch of cool activities.
If you’d like to reduce your driving time, but are still keen to see some of Sydney’s best locations, our second trip might be the one for you. At just under 25 kilometres and only 1 ½ hours driving total, there are a lot of great things packed into this day!
Start your day with a walk at Cremorne Point
Elodie and Marine started the day by heading over to Cremorne Point for that classic Sydney skyline view. They chose this first stop because the Cremorne Point Walk starts at the wharf. It is an easy 3 kilometre circuit trail that takes you through the picturesque Mosman Bar and Shell Cove, and also features some absolutely gorgeous houses.
You can rent Melissa's Suzuki Swift for the day (pictured above), and spend the day visiting all of the locations for $45.00. This car hire price includes all fuel, rental fees (time and distance) and insurance.
Assuming you use the suggested 25 kilometre route for Marine and Elodies second day of their road trip so that your total driving distance is 30 kilometres or less.
Visit the historic ground of Government House
Government House Sydney is one of Australia’s oldest buildings and it’s about as close to an Aussie Downton Abbey mansion that you’ll get. Admission to Government House Sydney is free, but you do need to get your ticket at the Gatehouse. Make sure you have some ID on you and enjoy!
Meander around the Royal Botanic Gardens and have a picnic
Government House is located inside the Royal Botanic Gardens. After you’ve taken a tour of the house, don’t leave before thoroughly exploring the Gardens themselves. Opened in 1816, the Royal Botanic Gardens is the oldest scientific institution in Australia! There are over 28,000 plants and ample harbour views. Pack a picnic and have a leisurely lunch by the water.
Embrace your inner art critic at the Art Gallery of NSW
Like everything else on this list, visiting the Art Gallery of NSW is another free thing to do in Sydney! General admission, and most exhibitions and events are free.
Can’t get enough walking? One of the best activities in Sydney is the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk
This coastal walk is pretty famous and with good reason! It’s a unique urban coastal track that is around 6 kilometres long, and typically takes around two hours to complete. If you decide to do this walk, make sure to pack water, sunscreen and a hat - slip, slop, slap!
The walk runs along the coastline, so spectacular views are basically the whole thing. You’ll find yourself constantly amazed at how beautiful it is. If you’re looking for the best physical activity in Sydney, we can’t think of much that will compete with a visit to the famous Bondi Beach and a stunning walk topped off with a swim at the chilled out Coogee Beach.
On the way, make sure to have a rest stop at Bronte Beach.
Explore the vibrant Surry Hills neighbourhood
Surry Hills has a ton of gorgeous old terrace homes to admire. The suburb itself is known as being a vibrant, artistic community. The area has a fantastic variety of restaurants, cafes, wine bars and pubs so whatever food you’re in the mood for you can find. Make sure to wander down Crown Street, Bourke Street and Cleveland for the best local hot spots.
Take in the sunset like the Prime Minister at Kirribilli
You may be aware that Kirribilli is where the Prime Minister calls home, with Kirribilli House the official residence of the PM. Occasionally they have tours, so check out the site for details. Alternatively you can head down to the harbour for some sweet sunset views of the Opera House and Sydney Harbour.