stone memorial building in a green park with city skyline behind it

Anzac Memorial

Indagare member Molly V.W. recommends checking out the Anzac Memorial in Hyde Park. It's an art deco monument that used for commemoration ceremonies on Anzac Day, Remembrance Day and other special occasions.

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Art Gallery of New South Wales

Australia’s most high-profile—and invariably controversial—art prize, the Archibald (awarded annually for best portrait painting), is on view here, and the contemporary-art section on the lower level is brilliant. Chairman of Sothebys Australia, Justin Miller, says he brings out-of-town friends to the gallery to give them “an artistic overview of Australia’s colorful colonial past.” Free admission.

Street Theatre at Belvoir Street Theatre  , Sydney, Australia ,courtesy Helen Coetzee

Belvoir Street Theatre

This legendary theater – tucked away in a humble Surry Hills back street – boasts alums with some serious chops, including Geoffrey Rush, Judy Davis and husband-and-wife team Cate Blanchett and Andrew Upton. There’s a 330-seater main theater upstairs, where you can catch more mainstream dramatic productions (often reworked classics like Death of a Salesman and Hamlet), while the 88-seat theater downstairs dishes up independent and experimental fare. Book tickets well in advance and witness Australia’s next generation of rising talents treading the boards.

gray wall and wooden door with sign saying bill whitely studio and oversized wooden sculptures of an unburnt match and a burnt match hanging on wall to right of door

Brett Whiteley Studio

To get a fascinating insight into one of Australia’s most famous artists, drop by the Brett Whiteley Studio, a former T-shirt factory in Surry Hills that the painter—who died in 1992 after a passionate and troubled life—had converted to his workplace and home. His sensibility is uniquely Australian (some of his best works depict the stunning light and vibrancy of Sydney), and his works fetch record prices at auction. Open Saturday and Sunday only.

Aerial Veiw - BridgeClimb Sydney  ,Sydney, Australia

BridgeClimb Sydney

One of the city’s most popular tourist attractions for Aussies and “internationals” alike is a climb on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the largest single arch steel bridge in the world. Locals affectionately refer to it as the coathanger because of its shape, and many consider scaling it a rite of passage for Sydney lovers. While daring teenagers used to climb the bridge for fun, security was beefed up after 9/11, and the only way to ascend the arches now is on an official BridgeClimb. Paul Cave, a Harbour Bridge lover, organized the first official climb for a YPO World Congress in 1989; it was such a thrilling success that he was determined to open the experience to others; and after nine years of persuading civic officials, he launched BridgeClimb. More than two and half million climbers have made the trek, and it has been ranked by Lonely Planet as one of the world’s top ten most thrilling experiences along with running with the bulls in Pamplona.

Dozens of climbs are made each day, but it’s best to reserve one in advance. All climbers are given a special bridge suit and safety instruction and are clipped on to a wire. Among the climb options are the BridgeClimb Express, which consists of fourteen people in a group, takes two hours and fifteen minutes and covers the inner arch of the bridge, not the top one, though it does include some time on the summit. The Discovery Climb takes three and a half hours and allows those in a group of fourteen to climb a staircase between the two arches and hear an in-depth history of the bridge. The BridgeClimb, also three and a half hours, is for the most adventurous climbers as it travels along the top arch of the Sydney Harbour Bridge with 360-degree views all the way up to the summit 134 meters above the harbor. In addition, there are special twilight and sunrise climbs on the first Saturday of every month. Daytime, twilight and night climbs run daily with opening hours adjusting by season.

Note: Climbers must pass an alcohol breath test before the BridgeClimb, so be sure not to have any alcoholic beverage before your climb.

Who Should Go: Those looking for stunning views and a memorable urban adventure.

Who Should Not Go: Children under the age of 8 are not permitted to make the BridgeClimb; nor women who are more than 24 weeks pregnant, people with broken bones, those who are prone to seizures or who have had surgery within the past six months. People who are afraid of heights or have a hard time with stairs should not consider the BridgeClimb.

Editors' Picks

Bronte to Bondi Walk

Bush walks are a favorite Australian pastime and even in the city, there are some great coastal hikes, including the famous coastal walk that now runs from Ben Bruckler Point and runs all the way to Coogee. The most dramatic stretch of this is North Bronte to South Bondi, which covers 1.5 kilometers and takes about forty minutes to walk. You pass some of the city’s great sweeping beaches, stunning views and pretty parkland, which is what makes this such a lovely walk. While it is possible to walk in either direction, it is most fun to end up at Bondi with a reservation for lunch at Iceberg’s or Sean’s Panorama.

Editors' Picks

Day Trips: Beach and Bush

Indagare can arrange for a variety of day trips from Sydney, including jaunts to the northern beaches by seaplane or yacht, food and wine treks to the Hunter Valley or eco wildlife tours in the Blue Mountains to see kangaroos in the wild, even a day spent helping out in a wildlife recovery center. Contact our Bookings Team for details.

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Hit the Markets

Many of Australia’s best-known designers, like Sass & Bide, got a start selling their wares at the local weekend markets, and these ad hoc retail institutions are still worth scouring for both up-and-coming labels and vintage pieces.
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Indagare Tours: Behind-the-Scenes at Paspaley Pearls

Upon special request, travelers can head behind the scenes at Australia’s largest and oldest pearling company, Paspaley Pearls. Exploring Paspaley’s esteemed workshop allows visitors to learn about the patience and meticulousness required to harvest pearls and the pristine environmental conditions necessary for their production. With a pearl expert, guests will have the opportunity to study the pearl grading process and see some of the most coveted South Sea pearl strands first hand. Contact Indagare’s Bookings Team to learn more. Reservations are subject to availability.

Indagare Tours: Mosman Underground War Tunnels

History buffs will love exploring the underground war tunnels that make up Sydney’s Middle Head Fortifications in the suburbs of Mosman. With a WWII veteran as guide, this tour allows visitors to discover Sydney’s network of military barracks and batteries that were built on the shoreline in the 1870s. Originally used to defend the harbor against enemy invasion, these underground fortresses were later modified for use during the Second World War. (Australia was a part of the Allied Forces and lost nearly 30,000 soldiers during the war.) Experiencing them with an Aussie veteran is an exciting way to gain an understanding of the military history of the region.

Indagare Tours: The Rocks Historical Walking Tour

Sydney is fabulous for boating, swimming, shopping and dining but those interested in history should consider layering another dimension into their visit with a walking tour of the historic Rocks district. It was here that acted as the capital of Sydney, when it was established as a British penal colony in 1788. With a private guide, visitors can explore the convict settlements (or more accurately, slums) whose foundations were uncovered in the dig and learn about the gangs, strumpets and government officials who inhabited the area and formed its economic and cultural base. The complex evolution of the Rocks area, the detrimental effect of its settlement on the aboriginals and its significance as a global trading port in the 20th century are integral and fascinating elements of Sydney’s history. As you wind through narrow alleyways and cobblestone streets and explore archeological dig sites that have been preserved and repurposed, your Indagare guide will paint a picture of the social forces and colorful personalities that contributed to the character of the city. Contact Indagare’s Bookings Team to learn more.

Editors' Picks

Let’s Go Surfing

Since most Australians live near or on the coast, it is no surprise that surfing is a national obsession, and there is no better place to give it a try than on one of Sydney’s most famous beaches, Bondi. Let’s Go Surfing is the only officially licensed surf school operating at Bondi. Founded by two Bondi natives and avid surfers (one of the founders competed in the Women’s Surf Titles), the company offers group and private lessons daily. Classes range from Girls Only and Boogie Board to private lessons for families and advance surf coaching with internationally recognized coaches. They will also supply private surf guides for those who want to explore beyond Bondi or just rent out wet suits and boards.

Tip: Make a reservation for lunch at one of Bondi’s legendary watering holes, Iceberg’s or Sean’s Panorama, for before or after your surf lesson.

Editors' Picks

Luna Park

This 1930s amusement park on the edge of the harbor was totally refurbished in 2004 but still feels like an old-fashioned carnival with vintage rides and quaint thrills. The setting in the shadow of the Harbour Bridge and with views of sailboats and the Opera House makes it a memorable trip down memory lane and fun for kids of all ages. You can take a ferry to and from the park from Circular Quay.

Tip: Make a reservation at adjacent Aqua for lunch or dinner before or after a visit for a delicious, grown-up dining experience or its more casual outpost Ripples.

beach scene with person standing with surf board in background

Manly Surf School

One of Australia’s top surfing schools was founded at Manly Beach and still bases its operation here even though it now has outposts in Palm Beach, Collaroy Beach and Long Reef Beach. Founded by Matt Grainger and professional surfer Damien Warr, the school offers classes every day as well as trains current Australian champions such as Laura Enever. There are group classes for all levels as well as private lessons and stand-up paddle options. Group lessons from $50 for children and $70 for adults and private lessons from $70 for children for one hour and $85 for adults for an hour. Boards and wetsuits are included.



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Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA)

The museum, which sits majestically along the western promenade of Circular Quay (the landing place for the First Fleet) occupies some of Sydney’s prime real estate. In 2012, the landmark underwent a $52 million head-to-toe revamp: now doubled in size, there are three additional galleries showcasing artworks from Australian and international artists, as well as a new rooftop sculpture terrace with views over Circular Quay. Known for provocative and well-curated exhibits, the museum draws upon its impressive permanent collection, which includes a comprehensive selection of Aboriginal paintings. Free admission (excluding some special exhibits).

Editors' Picks
Jet Boat at Oz Jet Boat  , Sydney, Australia

Oz Jet Boat

A great way to get a quick intro to the city and its layout as well as a sense of the Aussie’s sense of fun is to hop on one of the tourist speedboats that run regularly from Circular Quay. You can sign up in advance online for a half-hour ride or show up on the wharf. Each boat takes about a dozen people for a spirited joy ride around the harbor. The captains will point out a few of the major sites but mostly they focus on tricks like spins and fishtails, which are guaranteed to get you wet and to get kids whooped up. The outfitters hand out full-length ponchos before you board the boats, but you will still get splashed in the face. Rides generally operate every hour on the hour between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Editors' Picks
looking into clean residential garage like space with stairs at back and a sign at entrance saying roslyn oxley9 gallery

Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery

This is the place to discover Australia’s up-and-coming art stars. Directors Tony and Roslyn Oxley have an eye for the next big thing, and represent some of the hottest names around, including Patricia Piccinini, Bill Henson, Tracey Moffatt and Jenny Watson. Closed Sunday.


grass lawn with tall bridge seen from behind trees in back on sunny day

Royal Botanic Gardens

Though there are lots of patches of green space in Sydney, the stunning Royal Botanic Gardens, which overlook the harbor serve as the city’s most central parkland. It is home to many native plants and trees and is the site of summer concerts and frequent fireworks.

Sydney Aquarium

A visit to Sydney’s Aquarium makes for a great intro to the diversity of Australia’s marine life. It is especially fun if you are soon headed to the Great Barrier Reef or another spot with wonderful diving or snorkeling like Lord Howe Island since many of the creatures that you will meet there are also on view here. Go online before your visit to get a sense of all of the daily activities and interactions on offer such as shark feedings, marine talks and a glass bottom boat behind-the-scenes tour. Open daily until 8 p.m.

Tip: There are many restaurants just outside in Darling Harbour, including Nick’s and Eat Love Pizza, which serves excellent brick-oven pizzas.


Sydney Festival

This three week-long summer festival is one of the country’s most popular, galvanizing the city around an array of dance, opera, theater and musical performances set in venues both iconic (composer Philip Glass at the Opera House) and quirky (the giant five story-high rubber duck, conceived by artist Florentijn Hofman, that floated in Darling Harbor during the 2013 festival. The festival takes place each January: some events are free, and many are family-oriented. Indagare Tip: tickets to the most popular performances tend to sell out fast, so book well in advance. The program for the following year’s festival is usually available online in October.

Opera House  at Sydney Opera House  , Sydney, Australia

Sydney Opera House

For serious bragging rights, be sure to catch a performance here. The program is eclectic—anything from a modern update on Shakespeare from Australia’s most revered troupe, Bell Shakespeare, to Brazilian rock and controversial modern theater. The daily guided tours range from an hour each, and are available in many languages. The anecdotes behind the iconic building and its construction make the time pass quickly. Among the options are back stage ones that include a private opera recital with one of Australia’s leading opera singers, a kids’ tour and another that combines with a visit to the zoo. All are available to book online.

Tip: There are a number of excellent restaurants within the complex, including the Opera Kitchen, situated on the lower concourse, where you can sample inventive Vietnamese dumplings from cult Bondi restaurant Misschu and sushi and sustainably caught seafood from purveyors like Cloudy Bay Fish Company.

Editors' Picks
Sea Plane at Sydney Seaplanes  ,Sydney, Australia

Sydney Seaplanes

One of the best ways to get a sense of the sprawling beauty and coastal layout of Sydney is to see it from the sky. Sydney Seaplanes offers flights daily in DHC-2 Beavers and C-208 Caravan seaplanes from the charming airport in Rose Bay (one of the eastern suburbs). The tours, which range from fifteen minutes to four hours, (those also include a behind-the-scenes visit to the Opera House) will whisk you over such legendary landmarks as Bondi Beach, the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. The company also offers flights to popular seaside restaurants such as Jonah’s on Whale Beach and to resorts such as Bells in Killcare. Prices range depending on the tour.

Editors' Picks

Take a Cooking Class

The city’s favorite gourmet food store, Fratelli Fresh, and its sister restaurant Sopra offers popular cooking classes. It’s best to book way in advance, but last-minute openings do happen.

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Taronga Zoo

Sydney’s zoo is a great place to see some of Australia’s famous wildlife as well as to get one of the prettiest views of the city. You can hop on the ferry at Circular Quay and buy a zoo pass that includes round trip ferry ride. When you disembark at Taronga, either hop on the bus to the main entrance or ride the gondola, known as the Sky Safari, which also whisks visitors up to the zoo entrance.

Among the Australian animal highlights are kangaroos, emus, koalas and platypus. If you sign up for one of the animal encounters, such as the Koala encounter, a zookeeper will bring you up close to koalas in their habitats.

Note: Special opportunities for real animal fanatics are spending an overnight at the zoo at the Roar & Snore Sleepover or playing zookeeper for a day. On overnights, visitors sleep in African safari style tents and get to spend time exploring before the zoo opens and go behind the scenes with zoo rangers.

Exterior Veiw - Vivid Festival  ,Sydney, Australia

Vivid Festival

A festival of light, music and ideas, VIVID is one of Sydney’s best annual happenings, thanks to performances from local and international musicians (cult electronica outfit Kraftwerk were the headliners of the 2013 festival), workshops featuring global leaders and spectacular light displays that illuminate landmark buildings around town like the Customs House, the Museum of Contemporary Art and of course the Sydney Opera House. The 18-day event is the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.

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White Rabbit Gallery

While on the edge of Surry Hills in the up-and-coming Chippendale neighborhood, the must-visit White Rabbit Gallery is known for its incredible contemporary Chinese art.
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