I started this list because my husband bet me that I couldn’t come up with 101 things to do in Sydney as a new expat.
Guess who won?
You got it and the truth is I had to cross a lot things off the list!
This list is in no order whatsoever. In fact it’s kind of all over the place as far as time of year and location in Sydney so take a look then bookmark this page for a weekend or maybe another day (see #52) when you don’t have any plans.
101 Things to Do in Sydney Your First Year Living in Australia as an Expat
1. Go bushwalking. It’s a great way to explore and see more of Sydney. Check out my article about walks and walking tours in Sydney.
2. Play ping pong at Darling Quarter.
3. Take a jet boat tour of the Sydney Harbour. You probably saw this one coming from the photo above.
4. Get a drink at Opera Bar. I would actually plan on doing this as a celebration of your arriving in Sydney. Take a load off and pat yourself on the back. If not then try to check out the free music on Sunday.
5. Go Snorkeling: Shelly Beach Manly and Gordon’s Bay are two of the best snorkel spots in Sydney.
6. Hike up the stairs of the Sydney Harbour Bridge 2nd Pylon for one of the best views of the city.
7. Search for seahorses living in the harbour at Chowder Bay and Parsley Bay.
8. Pack a picnic and head to one of the many wonderful parks in Sydney. My top picks are: Royal Botanic Gardens, Wendy’s Secret Garden, Centennial Park, Nielsen Park and Sydney Park.
9. Feed the cockatoos at Royal Botanic Gardens. (If you’re going there for a picnic anyway, pack extra for the cockatoos. Want to feed the lorikeets too? Then pack an apple and offer them a slice. You might get lucky.)
10. See the NYE fireworks. If you’re there of NYE you have to see the fireworks. It’s a must.
11. Eat at the Noodle Markets in Hyde Park.
12. Go to Sydney Festival Free Entertainment. Don’t miss the Symphony in the Domain.
13. Sydney Harbour Catamaran Cruise is a great way to spend time with new friends. Afterwards you’ll be mates for life.
14. Take the ferry to a wharf in a suburb you haven’t been to yet or think you’ll ever have a reason to go to. I know that sounds weird but trust me, it’ll be fun. Not so sure? Then read about taking the ferry to Mosman Bay and walking around the bay to Cremorne Point or even on the Neutral Bay or Kurraba Point.
15. Go to Sydney Open. Sydney Open is when the city opens the doors of Sydney’s most loved buildings allowing Sydneysiders the opportunity to explore. This is a yearly event that is worth waiting in line for and signing up for the newsletter so you don’t miss when tickets go on sale.
16. Get a meat pie at Harry’s Cafe de Wheels at the Woolloomooloo location, not the one in Haymarket.
17. Go to the 2 for 1 Happy Hour at The Lord Roberts Hotel in East Sydney (Tuesday-Saturday 5pm-late) or Different Drummer in Glebe (from 6pm to 7:30pm) or on Tuesdays only at Daniel San in Manly (this is for food not drinks though, still a good deal).
18. Get schnitzel with either jaeger sauce or zigeuner (gypsy) sauce for dinner at at Maggie’s Potts Point. It’s huge and so good.
19. Go to Taronga Zoo. Be sure to see the Flight Bird Show.
20. Pick a weekend and go explore Manly. Start with brunch at Jellyfish, then walk to Shelly Beach and go snorkelling. Afterwards explore a small bit of Sydney Harbour National Park. Then get a drink at Hemingway’s followed by tacos at Chica Bonita (try the carne asada fries). While waiting for the ferry back to the city stop at Max Brenner for a hot chocolate or coffee and dessert.
21. Get your fill of dumplings at Yum Cha. Try the Sydney Fish Market Yum Cha or Marigold.
22. Go shopping at one of the many weekend markets happening in the city. Pyrmont Growers Market happens the first Saturday of the month in front of Star Casino. Any other Saturday, go to the Carriageworks Farmers Market. The Carriageworks Farmers Market is a great place for celebrity chef spotting. I’ve see Matt Moran there and Matt Preston from Masterchef. Paddington Market is also a must. Live in North Sydney? Then try the North Sydney Weekend Market, a smaller version of the Pyrmont Market or the Kirribilli Market instead of the Paddington Market.
23. Australian Beer Festival at the Australian Hotel.
24. Sculptures by the Sea is a no brainer. It’s best not to put it off until the last weekend. Instead go in the evening after work then get a drink at Icebergs and dinner in Bondi.
25. Vivid Festival is an amazing light festival with installations all over the city with the main attraction being the Sydney Opera House.
26. Get a drink at the Shangri-La Bar and take in the view. Try and get there early as it fill up quick. The bar usually opens at 5pm.
27. Walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge. This use to be part of my daily commute when we lived on the North side. I would always get a flat white at Ricky’s Cafe then walk into the city via the bridge. Highly recommend it.
28. Sydney Shakespeare Festival at the Bicentennial Park.
29. See a movie at one of the many outdoor cinemas. The St George OpenAir Cinema is a must followed by the Moonlight Cinema, the Bondi OpenAir Cinema and the North Sydney Sunset Outdoor Cinema.
30. Missed the noodle markets in Hyde Park? Don’t worry. North Sydney has Noodle Markets that happen all summer long every friday night.
31. TropFest at Parramatta Park. It’s free and a great place to meet friends for a late night picnic.
32. Spend a Wednesday evening at the NSW Art Gallery.
33. Go swimming at one of many public pool in Sydney. Top picks: North Sydney Olympic Pool, Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre, College and Phillip Pool, and Victoria Park Pool. Not a fan of chlorine? Then go swimming at one of the many outdoor rock pools: Wylie’s Baths in Coogee, Maccallum Pool in Cremorne Point, Andrew (Boy) Charlton Pool is in a fabulous location and is heated, and one of my favourites is McIver’s Baths also in Coogee because it’s women only. There are many, many other outdoor pools in almost every suburb is not two. Here’s a link to a map of Sydney Swimming Spots.
34. Fitzroy Theatre is the perfect cheap date night for dinner and theatre. The productions are well done and the food is reasonable priced and decent for pub fool.
35. Festival of the Winds at Bondi Beach is a huge kite festival.
36. Participate in City2surf.
37. Watch the Mardi Gras Parade along Oxford Street.
38. Try dumplings from one of the street vendors at the Friday Night Markets at Haymarket.
39. Watch professional tennis at Sydney International Tennis Match. This match happens before the Australian Open and often has a few tennis superstars or soon to be superstars that are in the country getting ready for the Australian Open.
40. Go to a cricket match.
41. Rent a car and explore Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Be sure to hike up to the Barrenjoey lighthouse.
42. On your way back from exploring the Northern Beaches stop at the Newport Hotel for a cold beer and a bite to eat. Sit along the water if you can.
43. Play Roulette at Star Casino. Please don’t lose your shirt though. If your funds start getting low then head to Adriano Zumbo’s dessert train for a macaroon that will take the hurt away. Trust me. Adriano Zumbo’s dessert train is a very happy place and will put you in a good mood.
44. See an Opera at the Opera House.
45. Find out why there is a three drink limit at the Absinthe Salon.
46. Get cream puffs at Emperor’s Garden Cake and Bakery in Haymarket. It’s the best $1 you’ll spend in Sydney.
47. Take the ferry and explore Cockatoo Island finishing with a cocktail a the Island Bar.
48. Take advantage of the June Stocktake Sales. Think Black Friday.
49. Go to Art & About First Night.
50. Bake some Christmas cookies to share with complete strangers at Carols in the Domain.
51. Go ice skating on Bondi Beach.
52. Chuck a sickie.
53. Watch the Super Bowl early on a Monday morning. The Sydney American Expat Meetup usually has Super Bowl party.
54. Waste an entire afternoon at Balmoral Beach. Be sure to include a cocktail at the Bathers Pavilion Bar.
55. See the Saturday fireworks at Darling Harbour.
56. Go have breakfast with the koalas at the Wildlife Park in Darling Harbour.
57. Have Pimms at the Glenmore rooftop bar in The Rocks.
58. Get a group of friends together and go to Bronte for an evening BBQ.
59. Go to Glebe Street Fair.
60. Explore Balmain and get a drink at the London Hotel.
61. Celebrate a special occasion at one of the best restaurants in Sydney: Quay, Tetsuya’s, or Cafe Sydney.
62. Go to the Admiralty House Open Day in Kirribilli. Keep an eye on this one, usually happens once a year in May but not every year.
63. Go island hopping in the harbour.
64. Explore Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.
65. Have a paranormal experiences during The Rocks Ghost Tour.
66. Get a pie and a pint at Lord Nelson Brewery.
67. Go lawn bowling at Clovelly Bowls or Paddo Bowls.
68. Tour the State Theatre or, even, better go see a concert there.
69. See Cate Blanchett or Hugo Weaving or Geoffrey Rush or _____ (fill in the blank with another famous Aussie actor) in a play at Sydney Theatre Company.
70. Try a Balmain Bug. Also known as Moreton Bay Bugs.
71. Go to High Tea. My all time favourite place for high tea is The Winery in Surry Hills. They call their high tea girl’s picnic.
72. Count the faux hawks at The Ivy Pool Bar.
73. Get frocked up and go to the races at the Royal Randwick Racecourse.
74. Escape the city for a weekend and head to Scotland…Island. Scotland Island is a paradise where everything slows down. It is mostly residential, so not for those looking for action or even a local pub that is open late. It is perfect for unplugging and re-centering.
75. Go for an evening ride on the ferris wheel at Luna Park.
76. Join in the celebrations of Sydney’s Chinese New Year. The Dragon Boat Races are fun to watch.
77. Go star gazing at the Sydney Observatory.
78. See the free snake show at La Perouse.
79. Legally gamble in the street on Anzac Day playing Two Up.
80. Celebrate Australia Day properly with a BBQ and make sure you’re barbecuing lamb.
81. Visit the MCA and take in the view from the rooftop of the new wing.
82. Sing Karaoke at Ding Dong Deng.
83. Go horseback riding in Centennial Park.
84. Go to a NRL State of Origin Game – Go The Blues!
85. Cheers on the Sydney Swans at your first AFL Game.
86. Invite over friends and celebrate Thanksgiving or a holiday you and your family celebrate back home.
87. Do the 7 Bridges Walk.
88. Go whale watching.
89. Open a high interest savings account. Ok, so the Australia interest rate has been lowered recently by the Reserve Bank, but it’s still way better than what you can get in the States. Right now you can open a savings account with 4.35% interest.
90. See a Surf Rescue Competition and learn why you should always swimming between the flags.
91. Participate in a meat raffle at a pub. Yeah, that’s a thing and it’s exactly what it sounds like.
92. Cook your own steak at The Oaks Hotel then reserve a room and play pool.
93. Enjoy bring your own bottle of wine to a BYO restaurant.
94. Go to May Lane Street Art Project and see if you can find one of Banksy’s stencils.
95. Search for Little Blue Fairy Penguins in Manly.
96. Learn how to surf.
97. Feed a kangaroo or cuddle a koala at Featherdale Wildlife Park.
98. Go Kayaking at Pittwater.
99. Go paddle boarding in the harbour at Rose Bay, Manly Cove, or Balmoral Beach.
100. Eat pancakes for dessert instead of breakfast.
101. Do the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb to celebrate your moving to Sydney anniversary.