Growing up, a two-hour train ride from Sydney meant I got to experience weekends with friends in the city. We had our favorite things to do—some of which have since disappeared, but change is inevitable. However, there is so much more to do, whether you’re after something relaxing or more adrenaline-pumping—there’s something for any adventure you have in mind with friends. These are some of my favorite things to do with friends in Sydney.
1. Harbor Bridge Climb
Take on an adventure by climbing the iconic Harbor Bridge. Enjoy breathtaking views of Sydney and the harbor from the summit. It’s an exhilarating experience that your friends won’t forget. Bridge Climb organizes these for starting at $294. If the price puts you off, you can walk the bridge for free or climb to the Pylon Lookout and Museum for $25.
2. Gelato at Circular Quay
This is one of my favorite things to do with friends in Sydney. It’s incredibly serene to pick your favorite gelato from one of the shops lining Circular Quay and stroll around the harbor. With the stunning Opera House and Harbor Bridge backdrop, it’s a sweet treat in a picturesque setting.
3. Sydney Opera House
No visit to Sydney is complete without exploring the world-famous Sydney Opera House. Whether you take a guided tour or admire its unique architecture, it’s a must-see cultural landmark. You can take in a performance or book a tour for a behind-the-scenes look at the interior.
4. Take a Ferry
The green and cream-colored ferries at Circular Quay are part of the public transport network. They’re an inexpensive way to take a boat trip with your friends on the harbor while you enjoy the lap of the waves and take in the sites. There’s also a private network, Captain Cook Cruises, which is around $18 for a return trip.
5. Explore the Rocks
Wander through the historic cobbled streets of The Rocks, where you’ll find a mix of vibrant markets, pubs, and unique shops. Dive into Sydney’s history and enjoy the lively atmosphere. There are also exciting and informative walking tours. Despite being a local, I’ve taken this tour several times and have always managed to find something I didn’t know before. If you’re a fan of NCIS: Sydney, you’ll find filming locations here.
5. Royal Botanic Garden
Begin your day with a stroll through the Royal Botanic Garden. It’s a serene oasis in the city’s heart, offering stunning views and cafes, making it a perfect morning coffee or picnic spot. This is Australia’s oldest Botanic Garden and has an area of over 74 acres.
6. Art Gallery of New South Wales
If you and your friends appreciate art, visit the New South Wales Art Gallery. Explore the diverse collection featuring both local and international artists. Savor treats from the Gallery Café or Kiosk, offering a diverse takeaway menu crafted by Indigenous Elder Aunty Beryl Van-Oploo, showcasing the richness of native Australian ingredients. Be sure to catch one of the complimentary daily guided tours.
7. Manly Beach Day
Spend a relaxing day at Manly Beach. Whether surfing, swimming, or enjoying the sun, Manly offers a laid-back atmosphere with plenty of shops and eateries to explore. Located on Sydney’s North Shore, you can take a ferry or train—though I think the ferry is more fun.
8. Chinatown Culinary Adventure
Originating in the 1920s, Chinatown stands proudly in the city’s heart, adjacent to Haymarket and Darling Harbour, welcoming visitors every day of the year. Recognized as Australia’s largest Chinatown, it’s a bustling hub featuring numerous stalls, a vibrant crowd, and many culinary delights. A visit to Sydney with friends would only be complete by immersing yourself in the lively atmosphere of this cultural hotspot.
9. Sydney Tower Eye
At over 1000 ft high, it’s the second tallest observation tower in the Southern Hemisphere. For $23 per adult, you and your friends can take panoramic city views from the Sydney Tower Eye. It’s a great way to get a bird’s-eye perspective of the stunning Sydney skyline.
10. Live Events at the Enmore Theatre
Check the schedule for live performances at The Enmore Theatre. It’s a fantastic venue for enjoying music in an intimate setting. They have a regular comedy club, bands, and performers like Australia’s favorite Tim Minchin.
11. Blue Mountains Day Trip
Discover the tranquility of the Blue Mountains on a day trip from Sydney. Immerse yourself in forested valleys, explore storybook villages, and hike mountain trails to witness waterfalls and iconic sandstone formations. Indulge in countryside bakeries, dine with a view of nature’s beauty, and explore heritage-rich towns with local attractions like galleries and chocolate shops. Remember to marvel at The Three Sisters, a captivating sandstone formation within the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains National Park. Guided tours are also available through sites like Viator or Get Your Guide.
12. Sydney Fish Market
While the idea of a trip to a fish market may seem like a smelly option, the Sydney Fish Market is the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s located on Sydney Harbour in Blackwattle Bay, Pyrmont. This authentic working fish market offers a variety of things to do with friends in Sydney, including seafood retailers, cafes, restaurants, a bakery, a butcher, a gourmet deli, a greengrocer, and a bottle shop. Engage in the market’s wholesale auction with a Behind the Scenes tour and witness the activity on the working wharf.
13. Cooking Classes
Enhance your visit to the fish market by taking a cooking class at Sydney Seafood School. Cooking classes are fast becoming one of my favorite activities to do with friends and meet new friends. Australia is such a multicultural country that you’ll find cooking classes in just about any cuisine you wish to know more about. Class Bento is an excellent site for finding available courses.
14. Paddington Markets
If you love shopping days with friends, Paddington Markets is a great place to go on Saturdays. Since 1973, it originally started as a support for local fashion designers. It now hosts craftspeople, jewelry makers, artists, and much more. The market currently features over 150 distinctive stalls offering creative fashion and accessories, fragrant soaps and candles, and inspiring artwork.
15. Moonlight Cinema in Centennial Park
Wrap up your Sydney adventure with an outdoor movie night at the Moonlight Cinema at the Belvedere Amphitheater in Centennial Park. Enter via the Woollahra Gates on Oxford Street. This event is only open during the Summer months—for obvious reasons! Relax under the stars and enjoy a film in a beautiful outdoor setting.
16. Luna Park
This heritage-listed amusement park is on the northern shore of Sydney Harbour. The park features a variety of rides, including roller coasters, thrill rides, and family-friendly attractions. In addition to the exciting rides, Luna Park offers sideshow games and a selection of eateries for a complete amusement experience.
18. Taronga Zoo
Visit Taronga Zoo for a unique wildlife experience, including many Australian animals like koalas and kangaroos. You’ll also find more exotic species here as well. It’s a great day out with friends in Sydney. Enjoy stunning harbor views while getting up close and personal with various animals.
19. Darling Harbour
Darling Harbour in Sydney is a must-visit destination offering diverse experiences with friends. This lively waterside precinct, moments from the city center, has attractions like the Sea Life Aquarium, Chinese Garden of Friendship, and Madame Tussauds, alongside waterfront shops and diverse dining options. Darling Harbour is a melting pot of entertainment and cultural richness, from fireworks to tropical fish and tranquil gardens to theater.
20. Surry Hills Street Art Walking Tour
If you and your friends are fans of stunning street art, take this self-guided tour through the Sydney suburb of Surry Hills. Once a working-class suburb and a hang-out for gangs in the ’20s and ’30s, the area is now full of amazing artwork, shops, and cafes.
21. Manly To Spit Bridge Scenic Walk
Embark on the picturesque harbourside trail leading to the beloved beach suburb of Manly in Sydney—a perfect activity to enjoy with friends. The 10km Manly Scenic Walkway commences at the Spit Bridge, guiding you past sandy beaches, ancient Aboriginal sites, and breathtaking lookouts. The shared experience becomes a bonding opportunity as you travel this scenic route. The journey concludes in the vibrant hub of Manly, where cosmopolitan restaurants, cafes, and bars await.
22. White Water Rafting
Penrith Whitewater, located just an hour from Sydney at the base of the Blue Mountains, is a purpose-built facility designed for canoe/kayak events during the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. The channel mimics the characteristics of a wild river, offering opportunities for whitewater rafting and kayaking. Guided and self-guided 90-minute trips are available, with guided rafting providing an action-packed introduction to whitewater adventures.
23. Cables Wake Park
Cables Wake Park, a premier water sports facility in Penrith, offers cable skiing, wakeboarding, and knee-boarding for all skill levels. With two cable lakes, an Aqua Park with inflatable attractions, and free entry for spectators, it’s perfect for a fun day out with friends. Overnight dorm-style accommodations cater to travelers, and group bookings are welcome, making it a versatile destination for water sports enthusiasts.
24. Checkout Newtown
Newtown, an inner Sydney neighborhood, is known for its bohemian spirit. It offers eclectic vintage shopping, iconic arts and theatre spaces, and a vibrant dining scene. The diverse and bustling enclave, adorned with beautifully restored 19th-century terrace houses and vibrant street art, attracts artists and food enthusiasts alike. Day and night, King Street’s indie bookshops and thrift stores cater to shoppers, while multicultural eateries and hip bars serve locals and university students. This multifaceted neighborhood captures the essence of creativity and diversity with its unique blend of cultural attractions.
25. Jetpack Adventures
Take your friends on the latest and most exhilarating activity—jetpacking! This thrilling experience in Penrith, Sydney, allows you to soar up to 10 meters above the water as the jet pack unit propels you with hundreds of liters of water through specially designed thrust nozzles. Your flight session includes a comprehensive lesson where an instructor guides you through the basics and explains each move, ensuring a safe and enjoyable adventure in aerial water sports.