15 Best Things to Do in Sydney CBD

15 Best Things to Do in Sydney CBD

See also: Best Things to Do in Sydney and Where to Stay in Sydney

Central Business District, Sydney, with classical structures and fascinating places, is gradually gaining popularity amongst globetrotters, with each passing year, which is understandable, given the uniqueness of the land. CBD will let you travel back to the bygone days and explore the culture of the Chinese and the Australian aborigines. You don't have to barter them for modern amenities, for CBD makes it possible for you to enjoy the finest of both the past and the present, in the same frame. You can enjoy fine dining and elegant tea sessions while on the lap of the wilderness.  It is truly a land of paradox, where yesterday and today walk hand in hand. Some attractions that will leave you speechless are-

Explore cinematic settings at Hyde Park

Hyde Park Sydney
chinasong / shutterstock.com

Hyde Park is the oldest park in Australia. Though it started off as a marshy swamp during the days of the European Settlement, it is today an astonishing urbane park, spread over an area of 40 acres and is listed as one of the Historical sites. The park is chiefly divided into Hyde Park North and Hyde Park South. For a cinematic experience, you can head off for the northern part of the park, where sits the Archibald Fountain, which is the cynosure of all eyes and the spot that has made appearances in several Hollywood movies such as the “Howling III: The Marsupials”. Apart from the fountain, the park also shelters monuments and sculptures that sing the indelible history of the land. You can spend a fine evening strolling through the magnificent gardens and avenues, lined with rare trees. The place has hosted some of the most celebrated events like the Sydney Food and Wine Fair.

Take iconic selfies with your favourite celebs at Madame Tussauds Sydney

Madame Tussauds Sydney
TK Kurikawa / Shutterstock.com

Have you ever wished to see your favourite celebrities up close? In Madame Tussauds, you can not only get close to them, but you are most welcome to take snapshots with them. Madame Tussauds is a chain of museums, tenanted by life-size wax replicas of eminent personalities. The figures are too realistic that you will feel so out of place amidst them. To make your experience even more sensational, let your photograph be taken and put up in the picture book. Wind up your visit by making a mould of your own hands in exchange for a few Australian dollars.

Take royal walks through the Royal Botanical Gardens

 Royal Botanical Gardens Sydney
Leonid Andronov / Shutterstock.com

Established in 1816, this is one of the most historical botanical gardens of the world, spread over an area of 74 acres. It is dotted with pleasing sights of trees, flowers, ponds, gazebos, etc. and has different themed areas to cater to all types of ages and personalities such as The Rose Garden, The Palm House, The Jurassic Jungle, etc. You can take strolls along the never-ending garden while enjoying some of the most phenomenal views of the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. The ambience of the place clearly justifies its name. Indeed, the place gives off a royal air. It is a paradise in the middle of Sydney and is a stark contrast to the city, which bustles with people and activities. The place is a favourite among picnickers and nature lovers. More than twenty 1 meter high koalas are scattered throughout, honouring the garden with their presence. Entry costs nothing, so why let the opportunity to behold marvellous sights slip through your fingers?

Visit Martin Place and find out why it earned the pet name “Silicon Place”

Martin Place Sydney
Victor Wong / Shutterstock.com

Martin Place or “the Civic Heart of Sydney” is a pedestrian mall that stretches from George Street to Macquarie Street. It is one of the most happening areas in the Central Business District with several arrays of brand shops, boutiques, restaurants, cafes, etc. The area holds some very unique buildings that date back to the colonial times, many of which have been listed, as heritage buildings. If you prefer to have a quiet evening with the architectural structures of the past, you can drop in during the weekend. However, if you prefer to have a look of Martin Place in its best attire, you better visit during Christmas season. By and by, the place is turning into a hotspot for start-up businesses and has been nicknamed “Silicon Place”.

Listen to the chirpings of extinct birds at Forgotten Songs

Forgotten Songs Sydney
Daniela Constantinescu / Shutterstock.com

Forgotten Songs is an artwork by the artist Michael Thomas Hill and is a poignant reminder of the birds that were driven out of Central Sydney on the emergence of the European Settlement. The lane of Angel Place adopts a magical sight with 120 birdcages dangled in the air with incessant chirping and singing of birds in the backdrop. The chirpings are sound recordings of actual birds that have been pushed into extinction. The installation of the cages began as a part of the Sydney Laneway Temporary art scheme 2009. It became so popular and touched the hearts of many that in 2011, it was turned into a permanent project, costing the government millions of dollars. The motif behind the artwork is saddening and will grieve you, especially if you are a lover of nature and its affiliate creatures. It is an attempt on the part of the artist to restore the sounds that the birds made, if not the birds themselves, to the place that they once called home.

Be Mrs Macquarie for an hour or so at Mrs Macquarie’s Chair

Mrs Macquarie’s Chair
Victor Wong / Shutterstock.com

If the weather favours, do make it a point to drop by Mrs Macquarie’s Chair or Lady Macquarie’s Chair, which crowns a peninsula in the Sydney Harbour. The so-called chair was carved out of a sandstone rock by convict workers in 1811, on the behest of the then Governor of New South Wales, Lachlan Macquarie, for his wife, Elizabeth Macquarie. According to historical records, Elizabeth spent a greater part of her days sitting on the chair and watched ships from Great Britain sail into the harbour. It is indeed a heavenly vantage point, from which you can have some panoramic views of the sea and the harbour.

Enjoy bird’s eye-views of Sydney from the Sydney Tower

Sydney Tower
anek.soowannaphoom / shutterstock.com

Sydney Tower is one of the most distinguished tourist destinations in Sydney. Not only is the 309 metres tall figure Sydney's tallest structure but is also the second tallest observation tower in the whole of the Southern Hemisphere. It is also a member of the World Federation of Great Towers. Often referred to as the Flower Tower, Glower Tower, Centrepoint Tower, etc., it presents to its callers a 360-degree view of the City Centre. Climb up to the zenith and see for yourselves the beauty of Sydney in all its entirety. Invest a few dollars in a souvenir or two, to keep your moments at the tower alive, at all times. There are two gift shops- one at the base and the other at the top, both filled with gifts and souvenirs, worth every penny.

Dine with Koala bears at Wildlife Sydney Zoo

Wildlife Sydney Zoo
Anna Levan / shutterstock.com

With 10 different zones such as Wallaby Cliffs, Kangaroo Walk-About, Gumtree Valley, Night Fall, Butterfly Tropics, Devil’s Den, Koala Rooftop Cafe, etc., you will hardly find time enough to enjoy each zone fully, in a single day. Like the zoos in the rest of the world, the Wildlife Sydney Zoo houses different animal and bird species. However, an air-conditioned wildlife park is not one that we often come across, though not unheard of. That is how the inner complex of the Wildlife Sydney Zoo is set up, with the public areas all enclosed and air-conditioned. Koala bear, Australia’s iconic marsupial is the star attraction. You will find them in every direction and every corner. You can have a capital time dining, with the cute mammals, hanging about the trees and also have photos taken with them.

Queen Victoria Building

Queen Victoria Building Sydney
Richie Chan / Shutterstock.com

As its name implies, QVB is dedicated to Queen Victoria, the matriarch of the English. The building magnificently blends the Romanesque Revival and the Victorian style of architecture. It was constructed in the 19th century on the scale of a Cathedral, with the initial plan of creating a marketplace within the building. QVB occupies an entire block on George’s Street and houses hundreds of the finest fashion boutiques along with classy restaurants and cafes. Christmas season is the ideal time to visit the building as a giant Christmas tree is installed in the centre dome, brightening up the entire building and lifting the already cheerful mood of visitors. Two important structures, with intricate details, are housed inside -The Royal Clock and The Great Australian Clock. While the former displays 6 royal scenes of the English, the latter that weighs 4 tonnes and is 10 metres high, exhibits 33 scenes from the past events of Australia. You can even take photographs with the bronze figure of Queen Victoria, along with her favourite pet, Islay, near the wishing well. But none of these experiences and structures can rouse one’s curiosity as the letter shielded at the peak of the building, which was written by the very hands of Queen Elizabeth II in 1986. This letter will stay where it is today until 2085. It is to be opened by the Mayor of Sydney and read out to the people. You can sprinkle toppings over your historical QVB experience by sipping traditional tea at the cafe, on the 3rd floor.

Enjoy world-class operas at Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House
f11photo / shutterstock.com

While you are in the city, take a tour of the Sydney Opera House for $40 per person. A guide will accompany you, explaining to you all the details behind each piece of architecture and setting. The structure, which costs $102 million, is of course, beautiful beyond words. It is a gem not only of Australia but of the world. You do not need to be an opera enthusiast to visit the place. The beauty of the place alone is worth spending dollars. Gleaming sail-shaped shells form the roof of the structure, twinkling up the whole area over it. But, if you happen to be an opera person, then, you couldn’t be luckier. The operas performed here are world-class and indefatigable. Its stage has held world-famous personalities and has also enacted scenes from classic pieces like Saint Joan.

Learn a thing or two about friendship from the Chinese Garden of Friendship

Chinese Garden of Friendship
kingkongimagery / shutterstock.com

The Chinese Garden of Friendship spread over an area of 3 acres is nestled at 1 Harbour Street. The Heritage-listed garden offers valuable insight into the rich tradition and heritage of the Chinese. It was inspired by the classic gardens that were in vogue during the Ming dynasty. The garden, inaugurated in 1988 as a part of Sydney’s Bicentennial celebrations and is a symbol of the strong and affectionate bond between Sydney and its sister city, Guangzhou. It also symbolises the warm welcome extended to the Australian-Chinese communities to the land of New South Wales. The walled garden of friendship is antithetical to the nearby chaotic streets of Sydney. If you are in desperate need of an escapade from the boisterous city life, you don’t have to look very far. Just step into the garden complex and breathe in the fresh and soothing culture-rich ambience. It is quite different from western-style gardens with perfectly laid out flower beds, pathways and manicured lawns. Instead, the pristine aspects of nature are recreated in beautiful landscapes that feature forests, mountains, waterfalls, lakes, streams, exotic plants, etc. You can take a break and have a cup of tea at the elegant tea house, within the walled premises. By the end of your garden tour, crash in one of the Asian restaurants that are within walking distances from the garden, for a most satisfying wind-up.

Breath in genuine Aussie ambience at the Rocks

the Rocks Sydney
FiledIMAGE / shutterstock.com

Premium goods and fine dining are everyone’s cup of tea. But there are also those rare moments in life when we seek not the flashy appearance but the inner simplicity. CBD has a couple of pricey places that will take you on a whirlwind. But for a genuine Aussie experience, you can go to the Rocks. The unenclosed, waterfront market, with stalls selling local fashion items, accessories and food carts will show you the real Australia, uncensored. The setting is not one of the best, but you should not make the mistake of brushing them away, at first glance, just for the unkempt appearance. Spend an evening surveying authentic Australian souvenirs and fill your tummy at the BBQ station or some other. Apart from the marketplace, a row of 1844 cottages, Australia’s earliest, stretch along the street. Decades and centuries have passed since they came into form, but they have not for once seen any sort of re-touch.

See our complete list of the best things to do in Sydney.