Top ‘local’ things to do in Sydney

What are the best free and paid events and attractions in Sydney? We at I’m Free Tours have written this guide so you can make the most of your time in Sydney!

Whether you are here for a short stay or something a little longer, your local guides have suggestions for the indoors and outdoors, things for summer, winter, spring, and autumn! Take a read and make sure you tick it off on your next trip to Sydney.

Coastal walk

Bradley’s Head to Chowder Bay
This extremely underrated walk offers postcard worthy views of Sydney’s most famous icons, including the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House. The walk hugs the coastline, beginning at Taronga Zoo and finishing up at Chowder Bay. Along the way, you will see the Bradley’s Head amphitheater, which offers breathtaking views of Sydney Harbour.


Highlights: Bradley’s Head Amphitheatre, Clifton Gardens reserve, and hidden beaches.
I’m Free Tips: Check out Ripples at Chowder Bay for spectacular views, or Gunners Barracks for High Tea. To avoid the crowds, walk a bit further to Balmoral Beach for the Boathouse.
Distance: 4km (one-way)
Duration: 2-3hrs
Difficulty: Easy/Medium

Catch the ferry

Catching a ferry in Sydney offers unrivalled view of the Harbour, Opera House, and the Harbour Bridge, among many other things. The question is, where should you go?


Watson’s Bay
Often overlooked for Manly, the trip to Watson’s Bay is arguable as good if not better! The ferry takes you across Sydney Harbour from Circular Quay to the coastal suburb of Watson’s Bay. From there, you can visit Horny Lighthouse and walk around Diamond Bay, Vacluse, or Rose Bay.


Highlights: Hornby Lighthouse, South Head Heritage Track, Federation Cliff Walk, and Kutti Beach.
I’m Free Tips: Go on a weekend as the most you will pay using an Opal card is $8.
Wharf Number: 3 and 6.

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Manly Fast Ferry in foreground of Sydney Harbour Bridge


If you want a bit of history and a more edge to your brunch area, we at I’m Free Tours recommend heading to the former Rozelle Tram Depot. The beautifully restored dining precinct includes eleven restaurants from Sydney’s finest chefs. It also houses community-based vendors. Immerse into the local culture and pick up some artisan produce before heading into the outside area where you can get a glimpse of the ANZAC bridge.


Highlights: Butcher and The Farmer, Messina, and  Flour Eggs Water
I’m Free Tips: If going on the weekend, head to Glebe first to visit the flea markets. After your brunch at the Tramsheds go do the Glebe Foreshore Walk.

Picnic with a view

Observatory Hill
Observatory Hill is home to a beautiful rotunda which overlooks Sydney Harbour from the western side. It is only a short walk from Circular Quay train station via the rustic looking Rocks District. You can relax under the shadows of the Moreton Bay figs. While you are at Observatory Hill, check out the observatory itself, which is a free museum.


Highlights: Views of Barangaroo, Luna Park, and the northern suburbs, and possibly a wedding proposal.
I’m Free Tips: Spend some time exploring the Rocks District, gathering food for your picnic along the way prior to watching the sunset at one of Sydney’s most beautiful and underrated vantage points.


Hyde Park Barracks Museum
This is one of Australia’s most significant convict sites. Hyde Park Barracks Museum offers a flashback to the past so you can see what it was like to live like a convict in Sydney’s early colonial days. Stunning visual displays of artifacts, such as convict carpentry tools, are mixed with audio installations and interactive experiences. You can even lie in a convict hammock in a cramped dormitory, try on leg irons and convict clothes, as well as track your ancestry to see if you can find stories from your past.


Highlights: Many of the relics on display were preserved by rats! They carried away scraps of clothing and other artifacts for their nests beneath the floorboards.
I’m Free Tips: Due to COVID-19, you are encouraged to bring and use your own headset. Entry is free for anyone with a Sydney Living Museums Membership.
Cost: Adult $24, Concession $20, and Child $16 (5- to 16-years). Children under 5 are free. Family $64. Currently, 20% discount for NSW residents.

Sydney guide, Jake, standing outside Hyde Park Barracks

Art galleries

Art Gallery of NSW
The Art Gallery of NSW is a must for anyone who loves arts. Across its five sprawling floors, the gallery houses a wide range of both international and Australian art, including works by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists. It also regularly hosts contemporary exhibitions, and on Wednesday evenings there are workshops, talks, and screenings until 10pm. Please note, due to COVID-19, there are presently no late-night Wednesday openings for Art After Hours.


Highlights: The gallery’s collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art.
I’m Free Tips: The Art Gallery of NSW is the home to the Archibald Prize, an annual award to the best portrait according to the criteria: ‘preferentially of some man or woman distinguished in art, letters, science or politics, painted by any artist resident in Australasia’.
Cost: Almost everything is free, including: entry to the Gallery’s permanent galleries, videos available online, and most events. Admission fees apply to some major temporary exhibitions, such as the Archibald Prize.


Picture of Adrian


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