25 free things to do in Sydney – Central Business District
One of the best free things to do in Sydney is to do the Sydney Harbour Bridge walk
Sydney is an amazing city to visit and it’s blessed to be situated on the worlds best harbour. There’s so much to see and do for FREE in and around Sydney’s central business district.
Here’s our big list of the best free things to do in Sydney’s CBD.
1. Walk the Harbour Bridge, which must surely be the best free thing to do in Sydney
Walking across the Harbour Bridge is such an amazing and free thing to do. Admiring it’s architecture, ogling at the views and really appreciating this truly fantastic bridge. Awesomely you can access the harbour bridge via lifts. This means that everyone has the opportunity to enjoy this amazing Sydney icon. You might also want to check out the Pylon Lookout for some pretty special views of Sydney while you are here (entry is $15.00 per adult).
Find it: There are various ways to access the harbour bridge deck. To find out the best spots to head to, read our article on the Harbour Bridge Access Points.
2. Take in the boats and views at Circular Quay
Everyone should spend some time at Circular Quay. There is nothing like relaxing at First Fleet Park watching the ferries come and go. Enjoying the amazing views and the buzz and hum of this bustling passenger port.
Find it: First Fleet Park, George Street, The Rock NSW 2000
3. Take a stroll around the Sydney Opera House
The Sydney Opera House is pretty unmissable. And of course it is a Sydney must-do. One of the best ways to really appreciate the beauty of the Sydney Opera House is to walk around it. Not only will you get some great views of the Opera House, you will also be rewarded with some stunning views of Sydney Harbour. Some other things you may wish to do when visiting the Sydney Opera House is walk up the famous Monumental Steps, explore the inside foyer and enjoy the daily sails lighting. For more information read our full review on the Sydney Opera House.
Find it: Circular Quay NSW 2000
4. Enjoy a picnic lunch at The Royal Botanic Gardens
The Royal Botanic Gardens are a true Sydney icon. There is so much to see and do here. Walk along the foreshore to Mrs Macqaurie’s Chair, explore the themed gardens and visit The Calyx. Enjoy a free guided walk of the gardens every day at 10:30am – 12.00pm and 1.00pm – 2.00pm (March to November) only.
Find it: Mrs Macquaries Road, Sydney NSW 2000
5. Get snap happy at Mrs Macquarie’s Chair
Mrs Macquarie’s Chair and Macquarie Point are Sydney must see’s. Mrs Macquarie’s Chair is a sandstone ‘chair’ that was carved out for Govenor Lachlan Macquarie’s wife, Elizabeth. It is situated on Macquarie Point, which is an excellent spot to take a breather after a day of sight seeing.
Find it: Mrs Macquaries Point, Sydney NSW 2000
6. Spend a day in The Rocks soaking up its history and all it’s free things to do
The Rocks are one of Sydney’s most fascinating areas. There’s a tonne of free things to do here including exploring the hidden lane ways, discovering The Rocks Discovery Museum, visiting The Big Dig (which is one of Sydney’s most important archaeological sites) and visiting Dawes Point (the site of Sydney’s first observatory). For more details of free things to do in The Rocks, read our full article on free things to do in The Rocks.
Find it: George Street, The Rocks NSW 2000
7. Enjoy Darling Harbour including the National Maritime Museum
Photo credit: Adam.J.W.C.
Darling Harbour is a full day of fun, free things to do! Wander the foreshore, visit Darling Quarter, stop in at The National Maritime Museum (which has free entry to the main exhibits) and visit The Chinese Garden of Friendship.
Find it: Darling Harbour, Sydney NSW 2000
8. Wander through Barangaroo
Photo credit: Wpcpey
Barangaroo is one of Sydney’s newest precincts and definitely worth a stop through. Have a picnic, enjoy the harbour views or why not go for a walk or cycle.
Find it: Barangaroo Reserve, Hickson Road, Barangaroo NSW 2000
9. Take in the sights and sounds of China Town
Chinatown is a bustling area of Sydney where visitors can enjoy Chinese culture including food and chinese wares.
Find it: Dixon Street, Sydney NSW 2000
10. Take a free tour of Government House
Free Tours of Government House run every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Tours depart on the half hour from 10.00am to 4.00pm. The house Gardens are open daily from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.
Find it: Government House Sydney, Macquarie Street, Sydney NSW 2000
11. Enjoy the art and the views at the Museum of Contemporary Art
The Museum of Contemporary Art is Sydney’s premier art gallery and museum. Enjoy free guided tours every day and free entry.
Find it: 140 George Street, The Rocks, Sydney NSW 2000
12. Visit the beautiful and historical St James Church
St James Church is the oldest church building in the City of Sydney.
Find it: 173 King Street, Sydney NSW 2000
13. Stop by The Reserve Bank of Australia Museum
Learn about the history of Australian bank notes at The Reserve Bank of Australia museum.
Find it: 65 Martin Place, Sydney NSW 2000
14. Visit The Mint Sydney
The Mint Sydney is one of the oldest public building in the Sydney CBD. Take a visit here and find out about the history of coining in Australia.
Find it: 10 Macquarie Street, Sydney NSW 2000
15. Spend some time at the Parliament of NSW
The Parliament of NSW is open to the public weekdays from 9:00am to 5:00pm throughout the year. If you wish to see Parliament in action then you need to visit when Parliament is sitting. Visitors can also enjoy free guided tours on Mondays and Friday at 1.30pm.
Find it: 6 Macquarie Street, Sydney NSW 2000
16. Admire the architecture of the Queen Victoria Building
Explore The beautiful 1890’s Queen Victoria Building and be amazed at its clock tower and beautiful lead light windows.
Find it: 455 George Street. Sydney NSW 2000
17. Take in an exhibition at The State Library of NSW
The State Library of NSW dates back to 1826 and today contains more than 6 million items. A trip to the library offers so much more than books with ongoing exhibitions, workshops, free tours and free wifi and computers.
Find it: Corner of Macquarie Street and Shakespeare Place, Sydney NSW 2000
18. Have a wander through Hyde Park and pay your respects at the ANZAC Memorial
Hyde Park is actually Australia’s oldest park! Visit here to enjoy the large grassed areas, leafy trees and the famous Archibald Fountain. Visit the beautiful ANZAC Memorial to pay your respects to our fallen soldiers.
Find it: Hyde Park, Elizabeth Street, Sydney NSW 2000
19. Take a free guided tour at St Mary’s Cathedral
Free tours of St Mary’s Cathedral take place each Sunday after the 10.30am mass. You can also pay a small fee of $5.00 to visit the Cathedral Crypt (between 10.00am and 4.00pm, Monday to Friday).
Find it: 2 St Mary’s Road, Sydney NSW 2000
20. Get a birds eye view of Sydney at the underfloor model of Sydney City at Customs House
Customs House is a historic building located at Circular Quay. It’s main draw card is the amazing under floor model of the city of Sydney. Visitors can also enjoy a library, free wifi, newspapers and exhibitions. You can find out more about Customs House by reading our full review.
Find it: 31 Alfred Street, Circular Quay NSW 2000
21. Get a culture hit at the Art Gallery of NSW
The Art Gallery of NSW is an amazing art museum. Enjoy tours, workshops, exhibitions and even a herb garden!
Find it: Art Gallery Road, The Domain Sydney NSW 2000
22. Enjoy a free concert at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music
Visit the Sydney Conservatorium of music to see its amazing architecture and to listen to one of the many FREE concerts that take place throughout the year. Make sure you check out their events listing before visiting to view the current event schedule.
Find it: Conservatorium Road, Sydney NSW 2000
23. Visit The Sydney Observatory and Observatory Hill
The Sydney Observatory is an excellent spot to explore. Entry is FREE and visitors are able to wander through the Observatory and it’s grounds. Enjoy the spectacular views from Observatory Hill. For more details of The Sydney Observatory read our full review.
Find it: 1003 Upper Fort Street, Millers Point NSW 2000
24. Visit Paddington and the Brett Whitely Studio
Paddington is a neat spot to spend a morning or afternoon. Explore the eccentric streetscape, wander through Brett Whiteley’s Studio, The White Rabbit Gallery and Paddington Reservoir Gardens. Head a little further up and you can rest your weary legs at Centennial Park.
Find it: Oxford Street, Paddington NSW
25. Enjoy one of Sydney’s many walks using the City of Sydney Council walking app
The City of Sydney has produced an excellent walking app which details a whole host of interesting walks to do in Sydney. There’s also some great info on walks around the central Sydney area.
What are your favourite free things to do in Sydney?