As travelers, there are certain landmarks in particular cities which make it into a lot of our photos so we can say we were there. You research and map all of these places so you don’t miss out on finding all the spots – because all you want is that one beautiful image that highlights your trip. When visiting Sydney, this has never been more true.
When I traveled there in September 2017 and January 2018, I wanted to capture all of the typical shots to encapsulate being in Sydney and share on Instagram. Not every shot you try and find is centered on the Sydney Harbour Bridge or the Sydney Opera House; because let’s face it…Sydney is about so much more than these icons. But, they are a large part of any trip here of course…and there are many vantage points to take in these views.
So, which places will highlight to everyone that you made it to Sydney? These are my favourite spots to photograph.
Sydney’s Best Views – Sydney Harbour Bridge
The Sydney Harbour Bridge is the true icon of Sydney. It is a stunning structure, but when you stand in the harbour at Circular Quay, it really does take your breath away – even from the train station. As an Australian, I have never been a big fan of Sydney (I am from Melbourne, so there is always that rivalry); but after standing in front of this baby for the first time in 10 years, I began to appreciate it far more.
So what are the best vantage points to actually photograph the Sydney Harbour Bridge?
Circular Quay is the pinnacle for views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Circular Quay has a lot of eateries and bars right here which helps diners take in a meal with a view. Some of the best are at Opera Bar (below) and City Extra Restaurant (below that). The prices aren’t too bad either considering the tourist location.
Hickson Road Reserve
For a view from below the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Hickson Road Reserve area gives you just that.
It is a really lovely walk below the bridge and continues on through the Dawes Point and Millers Point areas which are also really nice. I think it’s really important to see the bridge from ground level, because you do see just how big it is and realise how small you actually are in comparison.
Cahill Expressway At George Street
Thanks to Instagram, I have enjoyed seeing the many beautiful views of Sydney. But this one was by far my favourite, so i had to track it down. I think what I love about it is that you get to capture part of Sydney and its buildings within the frame which gives it a more considered view of the city as a whole, rather than just of the bridge.
To get up to the Cahill Expressway walkway, you can take the lift at the bottom of Circular Quay (in front of the station but where the restaurants start to appear along the water). Once you are up there, it is a small walk across to the George Street intersection, but very easy to get to once you can see the bridge. You can also access this lookout from the walkway to the Sydney Harbour Bridge, as the Cahill Expressway is the road that goes across the bridge itself to North Sydney.
I wasn’t the only one taking this vantage point, I saw many people standing in this area on different days. So whilst it is a hidden gem of sorts; it won’t be one that stays hidden as more people know about it. Apparently, for New Years Eve Fireworks, the city offer a competition for tickets to stand here, and once you see the views – you can surely understand why this is the place to be.
Taking a ferry on Sydney Harbour is a rite of passage for all visitors. When I traveled to Manly, the ferry of course offered some amazing views, both day and night of both the Bridge and Opera House. You can use an OPAL card to travel on the ferry, which is helpful.
Manly is a great place to visit too, because there is far more to Sydney than just the CBD and the harbour – and leads to some amazing beachside towns including Palm Beach, where the iconic ‘Home & Away’ soap films.
Mrs Macquarie’s Chair
Mrs Macquarie’s chair is the ultimate view of the entire harbour and on New Years especially, this is the place to watch it all from.
Mrs Macquarie’s chair is accessible if you walk through the Royal Botanic Gardens, it isn’t hard to find the pathway to walk along – a lot of people walk from Circular Quay to get here. The views from here are completely breathtaking and well worth the detour out to have this. Do not miss it.
Sydney’s Best Views – Sydney Opera House
The Sydney Opera House is more of an icon than the harbour bridge, which is why so many people want to capture it. So what are the best vantage points?
Opera Bar gives views of both the Bridge and Opera House. But, given its view of the Opera House from a slight distance, it does allow for some really beautiful photos.
The bar itself is well worth a visit, with good food and ambiance on a warm night. The place is huge, but if an event is on at the Opera House, it will be harder to get a table. (Seat yourself and order at the bar.)
Sydney Harbour Bridge Walk
Walking across the Sydney Harbour Bridge doesn’t have to cost hundreds of dollars. You can do it for free, and score some amazing views of the front of the Sydney Opera House in the process.
Given, I did have a larger lens on my camera which made the photos pretty incredible; the front on view of the Opera House is the photo which all travelers aim to capture when they’re here. Standing right on the bridge is the easiest place to get it – and is a real must do in Sydney even if you’re not looking to take iconic photos.
The Rocks is one of the city’s most well known areas. It also offers some stunning views of the Opera House, across the water which again makes for some beautiful shots – especially if you want to capture the Opera House with a boat or ferry in front of it.
Like with the Sydney Harbour Bridge, The Opera House views are very much on offer here too, as the Ferry does go straight past the Opera House. Just be sure you are sitting on the right side of the boat to take up this view, which is the right hand side of the boat when you get on at Circular Quay.
Royal Botanic Gardens
The Royal Botanic Gardens are a popular attraction for all visitors, but the views it offers Sydney Harbour are also pretty incredible. It does offer more of an Opera House view than the Bridge, but if you can capture a photo with some flowers in it, it does make your photos look even more amazing.
A lot of people get married here with the right here, I saw a wedding taking place when I was taking this photo. What an amazing day it would have been for it.
Sydney’s Best Views – Bondi Beach Icebergs
Bondi Beach is another of the icons of Sydney that will highlight any trip. Whether it is the beach itself, or the city’s famed Bondi Icebergs Swimming Pools, this is one view that will make anyone wish they’d been on the trip with you.
This spot here is one of the most Instagrammed places in Sydney, and it’s not hard to see why. The icebergs are only $6 to swim in if you are interested in doing that.
Sydney’s Best Views – Bondi Beach
Of course, a visit to Sydney is not complete without a stop at Bondi Beach. In Summer, it is very busy, but it is a great beach to spend the day at. Alternatively, Coogee is also a great beach – and one I actually prefer over Bondi.
Sydney’s Best Views – Bondi To Coogee Beach Walk
Whilst you’re in Bondi, be sure to photograph the Bondi to Coogee walk, which takes you along some of Sydney’s most stunning coastal areas. It is an 8km trek, so it will take more than a few hours to do, but it is so worth it, with a number of beautiful stops along the way.
When you plan on visiting Sydney, these are just the tip of what to see here. But, if you want people to know you’re there, then definitely share some snaps from these places…it will definitely have people knowing exactly where you are!
(And quite jealous of you too!)
If you’re travelling with kids – and looking for some free activities in Sydney, check out this post from 5 Lost Together on traveling with kids on a budget! Some awesome tips to be found there too!
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