Cruise Guide to Sydney, Australia

Australia’s most famous and populous city, Sydney is a popular cruise destination among travellers all over the world. There are many world-famous tourist attractions in Sydney, including the Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge and the city’s many beaches. Getting around here is quite easy. You can cover the CBD by foot, and beachside suburbs are easy to get to by train or bus. If you’re after a drink or bite while you’re here then head to one of the city’s many waterfront restaurants and bars. Overall, Sydney is a great cruise destination, particularly during the warmer months, when you will be able to experience the Australian sun.

Facts about Sydney

Sydney is a coastal city and is home to one of the world’s most-famous beaches, Bondi Beach. In 1788 the first European colony landed in Port Jackson and established the colony of New South Wales. Running right through the city centre, George Street is the oldest street in the entire country. Speaking of old, according to radio carbon dating, Sydney has been inhabited by humans for at least 30,000 years. It is home to the largest fish market in the Southern Hemisphere and the third-largest in the world. Finally, if you’re into sport then make sure attend a game of cricket. It’s the most-popular summer sport in Sydney, followed by Rugby League.

Sydney Cruises

All major cruise operators include Sydney as part of their itinerary, meaning there are plenty of options to visit the Harbour City. P&O Cruises offers domestic as well as international tours that take you to the Pacific Islands, as does Carnival, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Azamara Club Cruises, Cunard Cruises. Cruise lengths can be as little as three nights (offered by P&O cruises) or as many as 106 night (offered by Princess Cruises) meaning there is literally something for everyone. Cruises from Sydney are numereous and run year-round.

Cruise ships depart from either one of the two cruise terminals in Sydney. Smaller cruise ships that are able to sail under the Harbour Bridge will generally port at White Bay Cruise Terminal in Rozelle. All other larger cruise ships will dock at the Overses Passenger Terminal at Circular Quay, right in the heart of the city.

Tourist Attractions in Sydney

There’s plenty of sites to see and things to experience while you’re in Australia’s Harbour City. Below, we’ve detailed some of our favourite sites and activities for your cruise holiday.

Sydney Opera House

Just about every cruise holiday in Sydney should start with a trip to the Sydney Opera House. Built in the 20th century, the Opera House is the city’s most famous tourist attraction. Danish architect John Utzon designed the building which is now known the world over for its instantly recognisable sails. Inside, the Sydney Opera House hosts a wide variety of shows across six dedicated spaces. There are over 1,500 shows here annually and more than 8 million people visit the Sydney Opera House per year. The Sydney Opera House is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was also a finalist for the New7Wonders of the World campaign.

Royal Botanic Gardens

If you’re a lover of plants and flowers then head to the Royal Botanic Gardens during your Sydney Cruise Holiday. Located in a stunning prime position right next to the Opera House, the Royal Botanic Gardens overlook Sydney Harbour from Farm Cove. Opened in 1816, the Garden is spread across 30 hectares. It’s the oldest scientific institute in Australia, and is also considered one of the world’s most important botanical institutions due to its rich collection of plants and flowers. While you’re here, you may visit Australia’s Government House, the Bennelong Lawn and the Queen Elizabeth II Gate. There’s also a café and restaurant on site, so this is a great place for a bite if you’re feeling peckish.

Sydney Bridge Climb

If the Sydney Opera House is the most famous tourist attraction in Sydney then the Harbour Bridge is a firm second. Known by some locals as “The Coat Hanger” due to its shape, Sydney Harbour Bridge is the world’s tallest steel arch bridge and is also the widest long-span bridge in the world as well. Locals drive across the beach every day, and when you’re in Sydney you will have the opportunity to climb it. You can climb atop the Sydney Harbour Bridge via one of four climbs offered by Sydney Bridge Climb. From the summit, you will experience panoramic views of the famous Sydney Harbour, city skyline, and you will also be able to see as far out as Sydney Heads.

Luna Park

If you’ve taken your children on your cruise holiday then make sure you head to Luna Park. Divided into six main areas, Luna Park is a family-friendly tourist attraction that overlooks the harbour and one of the better places from which you see the Sydney Harbour Bridge. With 15 different rides on offer, here you can keep your children occupied with rollercoaster rides and other adrenaline-pumping rides. Some of the most popular rides at Luna Park include the Moon Ranger, Ferris Wheel and the Rotor. You can buy fast food while you’re here and there’s even a concert hall located on site as well.

Restaurants in Sydney


If you’re looking to add world-class views to your dining experience then head to Matt Moran’s restaurant Aria. The premier harbourside restaurant sits right across from Sydney Opera House, and the head chef here has combined Australia’s finest ingredients produce and wine to deliver flavours that are just as good as the world-class views. Here you may choose from a weekday or weekend lunch menu, or a tasting menu with wine pairing. As the restaurant is located in Circular Quay, other famous attractions such as the Museum of Contemporary Arts, The Rocks neighbourhood, and of course all of the attractions we mentioned above.

Bennelong Restaurant & Bar

Located inside the Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Restaurant and Bar has been described as the Holy Grail of Australian Restaurants. Housed inside the first pavilion of Sydney’s most iconic landmark, the restaurant is headed by one of the country’s most acclaimed chefs, Peter Gilmore. If you’re after Australia on a plate, then Peter Gilmore is the chef that will deliver that experience to you. Head to the restaurant’s lower level for a fine dining experience or if you’re after something more casual then the bar on the upper level has you sorted.


If you’re looking to spoil yourself during your Sydney cruise holiday then head to Tetsuya’s. The fine dining restaurant has been the forefront of Sydney’s culinary scene since 1989, and is also known for constantly being booked out. So, make sure you make your reservation well in advance. Tetsuya’s serves a degustation menu that is said to take up to 5 hours to completely go through. So, make sure you set aside enough time to indulge. While you’re here, you’ll be able to appreciate the Japanese-themed interior, eclectic paintings, and immaculate garden which the restaurant is centred around.

Casual Food in Sydney

Harry’s Cafe de Wheels

A staple brand all across Sydney, Harry’s Café de Wheels is a must-visit iconic pie shop that you should include as part of your Sydney cruise holiday itinerary. Located near Woolloomooloo’s Finger Wharf, the takeaway pie shop has operated since 1938 when it was a movable pie cart. Today, Harry’s Cafe de Wheels is fixated on a masonry base. When you visit, make sure you try the staple dish the “Tiger Pie”. Other popular menu items include, seafood pies, hot dog with veggies, hot dog de wheels and the chilli dog.     While you’re here, you may also visit one of the many restaurants located along Finger Wharf.

Bars and Pubs in Sydney

Woolloomooloo Bay Hotel

The Woolloomooloo Bay Hotel is a popular after-work drink location among locals, so make sure you visit if you’re after an authentic local experience during your Sydney cruise holiday. Offering stunning views stretching out toward Sydney Harbour, the hotel is located right across from Finger Wharf, where you may also find an abundance of restaurants. When you visit the Woolloomooloo Bay Hotel, you will have the opportunity to experience local seafood, premium steaks, as well as pub grub classics such as pizzas, burgers and chicken schnitzels. The food here is fairly priced, and there are also weekly specials that can help you keep within budget during your holiday as well.

The Lord Nelson

If you’re a beer lover then head to the Lord Nelson Hotel. One of Sydney’s oldest continually licensed pubs, the Lord Nelson brews its on beer and offers you eight mainstay brews, including a seasonal brew to keep thing interesting year-round. During the week, Sydney’s corporate crowd regularly frequent the Lord Nelson, so make sure you add the historic pub to your cruise holiday itinerary if you’re after an authentic Sydney experience. If you’re feeling peckish then don’t look past the beef pie, which is served with mashed-potato, gravy and mushy peas. Try to make it here during the mid-afternoon to really experience the bustling Sydney atmosphere.

The Australian Heritage Hotel

Australians are the only people to eat their national coat of arms and at the Australian Heritage Hotel you can do just that. Located in Sydney’s historic The Rocks neighbourhood, the Australian Heritage Hotel proudly holds the longest running hotel license in Sydney. It sports a unique Australian menu, including emu and kangaroo pizza, which are an absolute must while you’re here. The Australian Heritage Hotel provides an authentic feel thanks to its old-fashion décor, and if you pick the right seat then you can see the Sydney Harbour Bridge is the distance as well.

The Glenmore Hotel

With majestic views of the Harbour Bridge and the sails of Sydney Opera House, the Glenmore Hotel is hard to pass up on. The three-storey Stalwart pub serves gourmet food, sports a cocktail pub, and as the cherry on top, has a busy roof top with stunning Sydney Harbour views. The heritage listed hotel is among Sydney’s oldest, having been around since 1921, and despite renovations the traditional charm of the Glenmore Hotel has remained. Some must-try meals include the Popcorn Chicken, Glenmore Burger and BBQ-style Lamb and Chorizo Skewers.

Shopping in Sydney

Queen Victoria Building

If you’re looking to do some shopping when your cruise ship stops in Sydney then head to the Queen Victoria Building. Once dominating the Sydney Skyline, the Late-nineteenth century Romanesque Revival shopping mall takes up an entire block and houses over 200 outlets. Originally the home of Sydney’s street markets, the QVB was set to be demolished until those threats were finally quashed in 1980. The building was restored to its former glory and now you can enjoy seeing its recognisable cast-iron circular staircase, lead-light wheel windows and the original lift and floor tiles dating back to the late 1800s.

Pitt Street Mall

Pitt Street Mall is considered the premier shopping precinct of Sydney’s CBD. Taking up an entire city block, Pitt Street Mall stretches for 200 metres and houses five shopping centres and arcades. Here you may find the Westfield Sydney, The Strand Arcade, MidCity Centre, Sydney Arcade and Stockland Glasshouse. Rent prices for shop owners here are some of the most expensive in the world. Nevertheless, there are more than 400 specialty stores here, as well as a large number of flagship chain stores. Pitt Street Mall is also one of the flagship venues for Sydney Fashion Week. All in all, if you’re looking to add some shopping to your cruise holiday, don’t skip on Pitt Street Mall.

The Rocks Markets

If you’re cruise ship stops at Sydney over the weekend then don’t miss out on The Rocks Markets. Set on the cobblestone streets of The Rocks neighbourhood, the market comes to live each weekend with over 200 stalls offering everything from artisanal wares and gourmet street food to beauty products and fashion accessories produced by emerging designers. Here you will have the opportunity to meet local artisans, artists and photographers as you browse through the open-air market. The Rocks Markets are open on Fridays from 9am to 3pm and from 10am to 5pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

Paddington Markets

A traditional Sydney event organised by the Paddington Uniting Church; the Paddington Markets have been held every Saturday since 1973. With over 100 stalls, the art-and-design market is a place where you can find accessories, clothing and homewares that have been created by local craftspeople. You may catch some famous locals who have had a stall here for years as well. Keep your eye out for the elderly Japanese couple that sells Bonsai trees, as well as the Spanish shoemakers that sell espadrilles. The Padding Markets are located just outside of the Sydney CBD and are a great pit stop on your way to Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs beaches.

Beaches in Sydney

Bondi Beach

Speaking of Eastern Suburbs beaches, Bondi Beach should be of your list of places to visit during your Sydney cruise holiday. One of the world’s most famous stretch of golden sand, the beach is popular with both locals, visitors, and of course, surfers. If you’re not quite a fan of the waves then rock pools located either end of the beach have you covered. If you’re not to fussed about paying for entry then we definitely recommend heading to the Icebergs ocean pool. Along the promenade, you can stop at one of the bars and restaurants located in the historic Bondi Pavilion.

Manly Beach

Another of Sydney’s most popular beaches, Manly Beach is a little less famous than Bondi, but just as good a spot to go swimming and surfing. To get here, you need to take a short ferry ride from Circular Quay, which in itself is a great experience that takes you through Sydney Harbour. The beach boasts soft golden sand, a tree-lined promenade and you’ll also find plenty of beachside bars, pubs and cafes nearby as well. Manly Beach is a popular surf spot and even held the first ever surfing world championships in 1964. While you’re here, you can grab surf lessons at the Manly Surf School, explore the coastline by renting a bike from Manly Bike tours or simply grab some takeaway fish and chips and soak in some sun from the beach itself.

Author: Sophie Anderson

Post Date: 19th January 2020

Categories: Ports

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