Sydney is Australia’s largest metropolitan city and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country, for reasons that include its pleasant climate, multicultural heritage, and iconic landmarks. Three million tourists visit Sydney each year to surf its legendary beaches and visit famous attractions like the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Tower, and the Queen Victoria Building.
Sydney Opera House
The iconic Sydney Opera House is arguably the city’s most recognizable landmark. Its shell-like architecture is one of the first things that come to most people’s minds when they think of Sydney. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most famous performing arts centers in the world. Sydney Opera House is made up of six smaller venues: Opera Theatre, Concert Hall, Drama Theatre, Playhouse, Studio, and the award-winning Guillaume Bennelong restaurant. A seventh space, The Forecourt, hosts free community events and large scale outdoor performances. People visit Sydney Opera House to enjoy the modern expressionist design of this unique architectural masterpiece, and to attend a performance by one of various companies, including the four key residential companies, Opera Australia, The Australian Ballet, Sydney Theatre Company, and Sydney Symphony.
Sydney Harbour Bridge
Close to Sydney Opera House is the likewise monumental Sydney Harbour Bridge, which allows people to cross Sydney Harbour by train, car, or on foot. The bridge, nicknamed “The Coathanger” for its shape, is important to Australian national pride, as well as tourism. The bridge’s southeast pylon serves as a lookout point, and there are organized climbs that allow adventure-seeking tourists to scale the southern half of the bridge. There are both day and night tours available, and climbers are supplied with all necessary equipment and briefed before setting off on this three-and-a-half-hour journey. There is also an alternative climb that takes climbers up the lower chord of the bridge, allowing them to observe the internal structure.
At 1,001 feet tall, Sydney Tower is the tallest structure in Sydney and the second tallest freestanding structure in all of Australia. There are three main sections that are open to public access: the 820-foot high, fully-enclosed observation deck and gift shop; the 879-foot, open-air Sydney Tower Skywalk; and two revolving restaurants.
Queen Victoria Building
History buffs and shopaholics should include the late-nineteenth-century Queen Victoria Building in their trip to Sydney. This elaborate Romanesque Revival building was initially meant to be a grand government building, but was instead opened as a business environment for tradesmen, comprised of coffee shops, showrooms, and a concert hall. It was later used as offices and threatened with demolition before returning to its original incarnation as a shopping center. Today it houses mainly upscale boutiques and brand-name shops. The building’s ornate Victorian details include a central dome, stained glass windows, intricate colonnades, arches, balustrades, and cupolas. There are four main shopping floors and multiple historical displays, including two mechanical clocks that feature dioramas and moving figures from various historical moments.