Unique Things to Do in Sydney & Its Surrounds For the Ultimate Holiday

6 Unique Experiences in Sydney & Its Surrounds to Tick Off Your Bucket List

New South Wales: home to serene nature and an exciting city. 

When thinking of where your next holiday destination should be, one question that always comes to mind is this: “Should I immerse myself in what Singapore is lacking in, like a countryside of sweeping fields and mountains, or should I stick to the familiar cityscape where getting around will be a lot easier?”

things to do sydney

Image credit: Destination NSW

Luckily, we’ve got you covered with a solution: a destination that offers you both — where the excitement of the city and the tranquillity of nature meet in one place: Sydney and its surrounds across the rest of New South Wales (NSW).

A favourite holiday destination for many of us, NSW is yours to uncover even further; on your next holiday down under, it’s time to traverse places that you might’ve never thought about before. 

1. Snap a collection of photos with adorable wildlife

Iris Lodge Alpacas

Among the animal farms dotting the NSW’s countryside, did you know that you can meet some alpacas up close, too? 

The experiences offered at Iris Lodge Alpacas will make for the perfect rest stop on your drive to Central Coast. These include the ‘Afternoon Alpaca experience,’ a 1.5-hour session where you’ll get to meet and feed the adorable animals. 

Or, why not start your morning at ‘Breakfast with alpacas’? This session lets you feed the animals their morning grub first, before sitting down to eat a meal as you watch the animals roam around. 

Regardless of which session you choose, just make sure you have your cameras at the ready to snap that animal selfie! 

Fun fact: Despite its name, Iris Lodge Alpacas isn’t home to just 70 alpacas; you’ll also find four llamas, including a herd of sheep, cows, and horses! 

Also read: Best Farm Stays in New South Wales to Help You Escape Reality

Dolphin watching

Where can you find some of the whitest sand in the world, with clear waters that are home to adorable marine wildlife, too? None other than the oceanic towns and beaches lining Jervis Bay, of course. 

When you’re here, set out into the open waters with Dolphin Watch Cruises, Jervis Bay’s most-awarded cruise company. The 1.5-hour dolphin watching experience will bring you right up to the over 100 dolphins that live in these waters, promising you an experience that you’ll never forget. 

Pro tip: Didn’t manage to see any dolphins on your cruise? Not to worry — Dolphin Watch Cruises will offer you a free return ticket to see the dolphins on your second cruise! (Note: This ticket is free as long as it’s claimed within 12 months of the date of issue.) 

things to do sydney dolphin watching

Port Stephens | Image credit: Moonshadow-TQC Official Website

If you’re further up north in Port Stephens, then book a dolphin-watching experience with Moonshadow-TQC

The unique selling point of this experience is that it offers you the most intimate dolphin watching session possible — by literally letting you safely land in a boom net cast out in open waters! The ‘Dolphin Discovery Cruise’ is perfect for a truly immersive afternoon. 

You can even take things up a notch with the ‘Splash and Slide Dolphin Cruise,’ which lets you slide right into open waters when the vessel is stationary. 

Pro tip: Be sure to pack your swimming attire and a fresh change of clothes before embarking on the Moonshadow-TQC dolphin cruise experience! 

2. Immerse in the panoramas of Sydney’s surrounds

Blue Mountains National Park

travel to sydney blue mountains national park

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The are many vantage points at the famous Blue Mountains National Park, so here are the best spots to check out: Echo Point, Elysian Rock, Olympian Rock, Honeymoon Bridge, Pulpit Rock, and Lincoln Rock. The mountainous landscape of the Blue Mountains never looked better than when you’re standing at one of these scenic lookouts! 

things to do sydney blue mountains national park

(Clockwise): Echo Point, Lincoln Rock, Elysian Rock, Pulpit Rock | Image credit (clockwise): Lovleah, ChristianB, espiegle | Canva Pro

Why is it called “Blue Mountains,” you might ask? Well, the distinctive haze emitting from the sea of clouds is a vibrant blue, and can be seen when you’re standing at one of the many lookout points. When the sun begins to set, the rich orange hues make for an even more awe-inspiring sight. 

If you’re not in a rush, why not stay overnight at one of Blue Mountains’ many accommodation options? 

Before you call it a night, watch the night sky transforming into a blanket of shimmering stars with Blue Mountains Stargazing. This session of guided stargazing will let you learn the basics of astronomy, as well as how to identify constellations. Surely, this is hardly seen back in Singapore where city lights make stargazing an almost impossible feat. 

Pro tip: Stop by Bygone Beautys for an afternoon Traditional High Tea session. While you’re at it, don’t forget to visit the Treasured Teapot Museum to look at the world’s largest collection of teaware.

Witness the Blue Mountains region in its round-the-clock beauty with this 4D3N Sydney Experience, which will bring you through the city’s best attractions, too!

Let EU Holidays take you to the Blue Mountains

Grand Pacific Drive

new south wales road trip

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As you make your way down the spectacular 140-kilometre length of Grand Pacific Drive, you’ll find yourself at the iconic Sea Cliff Bridge. Park your car here, and marvel at one of the most magnificent lookouts in NSW: towering sea cliffs on one side, and the vast expanse of the ocean on the other. 

The sounds of crashing waves and the ocean breeze will be just the break you need to continue on your drive. 

Fun fact: There are plenty of coastal dining options along Grand Pacific Drive. For instance, The Imperial at Clifton is open from breakfast to dinner, and lies just five minutes away from Sea Cliff Bridge. Surely, all-day dining with a panoramic vista of the ocean will be just the fuel you need to continue on your journey. 

Skydive Wollongong

Skydiving is on almost everyone’s bucket list. When you’re in NSW, there’s no better place to do that than at Skydive Sydney Wollongong, where coastal views and a bird’s-eye view of the impressive city beneath you sound like an afternoon to remember. 

Hot air balloon ride in Hunter Valley

hunter valley

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But, what if you want that panoramic vista of the lush region — and would prefer a more relaxing time? That is where hot air balloon rides in Hunter Valley would come in! 

Hot air balloon rides with Balloon Aloft are the perfect way to marvel at the impressive vineyards of the wine region; if you are lucky, you might even spot a kangaroo!

The experience is definitely worth waking up earlier for. From watching the sunrise over the horizon at 3,000 feet to capping the morning off with a champagne breakfast at a winery, you’re in for one of the best mornings you’ll have in NSW. 

Ride on the Central Railway from Sydney, and wake up to idyllic bliss at Hunter Valley where sweeping vineyards dot the magnificent landscape.

Explore Australia’s oldest wine region with EU Holidays

Also read: Top 8 Wineries in New South Wales: Hunter Valley, Sydney and Beyond

3. Hike down Sydney’s surrounds’ nature trails

Blue Mountains National Park

Blue Mountains National Park

Image credit: Jacub Specjalski via Canva Pro

Besides the spectacular lookout points of the Blue Mountains, you can also find a myriad of walking trails with distances and levels of difficulty catering to everyone. These range from beginner-friendly trails to ones that are only for the most experienced hikers. 

Before you set off, check for the weather conditions here

And, for all you night owls out there, we’ve got you covered! Katoomba Falls Reserve Night-lit Walk is the newest trail to open in Blue Mountains. Start at sundown and relish this part of the park illuminated by flood lights at nightfall. 

For a full rundown on the hiking trails in this UNESCO World Heritage Site, click here

Tomaree Head Summit Walk

tomaree head

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While you’re in the seaside town of P0rt Stephens, take the Tomaree Head Summit Walk: a short hiking trail of just under two kilometres leading you up to the peak at Tomaree Head

Up here, you can expect a panorama of the C-shaped bay and Karuah River on one side, and the sparkling emerald waters of the South Pacific Ocean on the other. 

Pro tip: While you’re here, make a pit stop at Cookabarra Restaurant for some of the freshest barramundi and vegetables you can get in the area.

Bookmark that picturesque 3D2N holiday in Port Stephens today, and enjoy a daily breakfast buffet amid breathtaking ocean views.

Discover Port Stephens’ white sand beaches, adorable wildlife, and fresh seafood with EU Holidays

Royal National Park

royal national park

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On your drive from Sydney to Wollongong, you’ll come across one of the world’s oldest national parks, the Royal National Park

If you’re feeling up to it, choose the 43-kilometre hike down The Coast Track. This will be a two-day camping adventure, which will navigate you through hidden beaches, historical landmarks, and oceanside cliff walks. 

Image credit: Joe Caltiere

Another option is to take a shorter two-kilometre walk down Winifred Falls Trail (which ends at the serene Winifred Falls). 

Pro tip: Is it a particularly hot day in NSW? Then, make a stop at one of the many falls in Royal National Park to freshen up in nature! Favourites include Wattamolla Falls and the aforementioned Winifred Falls. 

4. Whet your appetite with fresh produce

Oysters at Holberts Oyster Farm and Jim Wild’s Oysters

Holberts Oyster Farm is an off-the-beaten-track supplier of oysters and prawns in Port Stephens. You can even choose from a selection of beer and wine to complete your meal! 

Fun fact: The oysters here are what’s known as Sydney rock oysters (Saccostrea glomerata), and have been providing to the aquaculture industry in NSW for over 100 years.

The produce at Jim Wild’s Oysters is arguably one of the freshest in the region. This family-owned oyster farm has called Crookhaven River its home since 1979. Visitors might even get to watch oysters (and fresh prawns) being caught when they come here! 

Note: Jim Wild’s Oysters is temporarily closed until further notice, so keep your eyes peeled on their Facebook page for any updates on their opening days before heading down. 

Glenbernie Orchard and Murray’s Brewery

Hopping on a tractor ride through the orchards of Glenbernie Orchard will bring you straight to the freshest fruit available on the farm. 

Also, depending on what’s in season, you’ll get the chance to pick different fruits; apples are in season from late Jan to the end of Apr, while the prime time for picking nectarines and peaches is from late Nov onwards. 

To sample a taste of everything in one spot — locally brewed beer, a vineyard with regional wine options, a restaurant, a spacious lawn, as well as live performances — head to Murray’s Brewery

This Port Stephens’ brewery has been producing naturally-crafted beers since 2006, with flavours ranging from spicy orange to caramel and bittersweet chocolate. 

The best part? The open lawn at Murray’s Brewery is perfect for families with little ones, and also makes for an ideal place to unwind after all those long drives; everyone is guaranteed to have a fun time here! 

5. Unwind with a stay in nature

Taronga Zoo

While NSW features hotels from the accessible city options to the outlying retreats, we’re here to introduce the hidden-gem stays of the region. 

For one, the eco-sanctuary of Wildlife Retreat is a unique accommodation where wildlife and people come together in one space: koalas in their natural habitat on your balcony with sparkling harbour views in the distance.  

The stay also includes a sanctuary tour, dinner at the award-winning Me-Gal restaurant which focuses on seasonal and locally-sourced produce, and complimentary access to Taronga Zoo

Next, think of Roar and Snore as the glamping experience with intimate animal encounters. Roar and Snore features night safari tours, feeding sessions with the zoo animals, and a free-for-all campsite viewing deck with a spectacular view of the city skyline.

Paperbark Camp

Paperbark Camp in Jervis Bay is an idyllic retreat away from the rush of the city, where you’ll be surrounded by abundant eucalyptus trees. 

Explore Jervis Bay nearby, famous for white sand beaches and whale watching from May to Nov. 

Bannisters Port Stephens

Head to Bannisters Port Stephens at Soldiers Point for a secluded oceanside getaway. 

These beach house-inspired rooms will be the perfect complement; just grab your sunscreen and bathing suit, and hang out at the infinity pool and waterfront restaurant for a holiday you won’t forget. 

The Anchorage Port Stephens Hotel & Spa

Another exquisite option in Port Stephens is The Anchorage. This luxury waterfront accommodation is set on the pristine shores of a marina, where you’ll be waking up to spectacular views of the sunrise over the harbour.

Lake Crackenback Resort & Spa

Image credit (L-R): Lake Crackenback Resort & Spa Official Website; Elle Hughes via Canva Pro

Don’t these colourful oceanfront houses look straight out of a postcard — what with the snow-capped mountains in the foreground, too? 

Lake Crackenback Resort & Spa places you at the forefront of the Snowy Mountains of NSW, acting as the perfect base to explore the country’s stunning winter playground. With skiing, snowboarding, and many other snowy activities available in the Snowy Mountains, you won’t have to travel too far to relish the snow and cold weather. In other words, whether you love the warmth of summer or the tranquillity of the snowy landscape, NSW is the place to be. 

6. Explore Sydney from a different perspective

Sydney HeliTours, Sydney Seaplanes, and Oz Jet Boating

Sydney HeliTours and Sydney Seaplanes offer you that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the city’s best landmarks from 1,500 feet in the sky! The former would be your answer if you’ve only got one or two hours to spare, while the latter is perfect for that longer, full experience: a panoramic ride up in the sky, followed by a brunch or dining session at the Empire Lounge restaurant in Rose Bay

For a different yet equally exciting time, book with Oz Jet Boating. Guests will get to ride around the harbour at thrilling speeds while admiring the impressive attractions that grace the waterfront! 

Discover the best that Sydney and NSW have to offer, take the OZ Jet Boat ride, and see the iconic landmarks in Sydney from a different perspective. Then, explore the stunning natural landscapes of Blue Mountains and Hunter Valley.

Explore Sydney and New South Wales with EU Holidays

Barrenjoey Lighthouse and Palm Beach

On the other hand, if you’d like to explore Sydney beyond its famous spots, head out to the undiscovered ones — all of which remain easily accessible from the city. 

At the northern tip of Sydney lies Palm Beach suburb; here, you’ll find parks, a beach lining the eastern perimeter, and a lighthouse sitting at the northernmost point. 

Image credit: Veni via Canva Pro

The lattermost attraction is Barrenjoey Lighthouse, a sandstone structure that you can reach with a 30-minute climb to the top. 

On your way up and at the base of the lighthouse, you’ll be treated to an unobstructed vista of the South Pacific Ocean and the Central Coast region of NSW just beyond. 

Pro tip: Head up the 800-metre track and descend the 400-metre track to relish different views of the surrounding area. Also, set aside at least two hours here to ensure sufficient time for the climb and a rest at the peak. 

From Barrenjoey Lighthouse, you’ll get to see the lush sands of the suburb’s next attraction, Palm Beach. While Bondi Beach remains a popular choice, Palm Beach is a lesser-known, yet equally spectacular gem.

Image credit: jamenpercy via Canva Pro

The waves here make it perfect for surfing, and are ideal for a summer splash around to beat the heat! If you’d prefer to stay dry, simply walk along the beach and savour the clear skies and coast. 

Pro tip: The parking at Palm Beach fills up quickly on Sundays and school holidays, so be sure to head here earlier if you’re planning to visit on the weekend. That being said, most have suggested coming here on an off-peak day to enjoy the peace and quiet. 


things to do sydney manly

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If you’d prefer to stay closer to the city, the medley of beaches in Manly are a wonderful option, too. Popular with locals and away from tourist hotspots, Manly offers a collection of surfing spots, oceanfront walks, and a pedestrian strip lined with restaurants and bars: an excellent weekend getaway, wouldn’t you say? 

things to do sydney manly

Image credit: Christopher Eden

Pro tip: When in Manly, be sure to add Manly Wormhole to your itinerary. This hidden landmark lies just a few steps away from Manly Beach, and offers a lookout of ocean views! 

Local markets

When in Sydney, shop as the locals do by heading to one of the many local markets here! The Rocks Market is situated by the waterfront, and is open every weekend with stalls selling local crafts and street food. 

Pro tip: Even though it’s a must-visit all-year-round, The Rocks is especially beautiful during celebratory seasons like Christmas and the Lunar New Year; think festive decorations and overhanging lanterns, mixed with the effervescent buzz of the market! 

One can’t talk about markets in Sydney without mentioning the iconic Paddy’s Market. Boasting a history of over 150 years, the market offers a wide variety of fresh produce, street food, clothing, and even massage outlets! Don’t be surprised if you end up spending more than a few hours here. 

Instagrammable cafes

It’s easy to see why Sydney has been hailed as the brunch capital of the world. After all, with cafes lining nearly every corner, you’ll certainly be spoiled for choice! 

Moreover, food that tastes good isn’t enough nowadays — it has to be Instagrammable as well. And, most of the time, that picturesque quality extends to how the cafe looks, too! 

things to do sydney cafes

Image credit (L-R): The Grounds of Alexandria; Lil Miss Collins | Instagram

Luckily, aside from the famous Grounds of Alexandria, Lil Miss Collins, Café Bella Dee, Social Society, and Lode Pies and Pastries feature that picture-perfect scene from the moment you enter the door. 

Pro tip: Keep your eyes peeled for updates on The Grounds of Alexandria, as its theme changes a few times a year! Some of its previous themes include a Moroccan oasis, ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ and seasonal transformations in the autumn and spring. 

Vivid Sydney

things to do sydney vivid sydney

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Last but not least, whether it’s your first or tenth time in Sydney, there’s one event you can’t miss: the Vivid Sydney spectacular! This immersive and iridescent display paints the harbour in a light and music festival for 23 days every year. 

Aside from illuminating iconic city structures like the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Customs House, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, this year’s festival will also feature a Light Walk spanning from the Opera House to Central Station.

This year, the event will take place from 27 May to 18 Jun; now, you know when to book your holiday to Sydney! 

Experience the best that Sydney and NSW have to offer, from the iconic harbourfront attractions in the city and the exciting Manly suburb, to the idyllic landscapes of Blue Mountains.

Book that bucket-list adventure with EU Holidays today!

Take me to Sydney and New South Wales

How to travel around Australia

travel to sydney opal card

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Besides road-tripping (or for those who don’t wish to drive), purchasing an Opal Card our equivalent of an EZ-Link card is the next best option. Think of this as your ticket to getting around the breathtaking region, with access to bus, train, and local ferry rides! 

You can purchase an Opal Card from convenience stores (e.g. WHSmith, NewsLink, 7-11, Woolworths), train stations, or apply online by clicking here

Pro tip: Enjoy travelling on the weekends and public holidays with the Opal Card’s weekend travel cap. This benefit entitles you to unlimited travelling on all modes of transport within the day at just AUD$8.15 for adults, AUD$4.05 for children and youth, and AUD$2.50 for seniors. 

Travel to Sydney and New South Wales with EU Holidays

Travelling to Australia from Singapore: what to expect

Here’s a quick rundown of what travelling to Australia is like now.

sydney travel requirements

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All fully vaccinated travellers to Australia must have hard copies of the following:

Click here to stay up to date on travel restrictions in New South Wales. 

You’re now fully equipped with the ultimate travel guide to Sydney and NSW, as well as all the travel restrictions in place right now.

Which travel experience are you most excited for so that you can finally rediscover your love for the region?  

Brought to you by Destination NSW. 


About Author

Cassandra Nerva
Cassandra Nerva

Cassandra seeks comfort in warm blankets, period dramas, and all things hazelnut. If she's not getting carried away with a wartime novel or decorating her house with plants & fairy lights, she's uncovering hidden gems around her as she continues to embrace her keen sense of adventure.