8 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Sydney’s Darling Harbour

Darling Harbor is a 10-minute walk from the city center and is a family-friendly pedestrian area on Sydney’s waterfront, packed with a wealth of tourist attractions. In addition to the enticing lineup of shops and restaurants, the area is home to museums, theaters, a zoo and aquarium, exhibitions, and atmospheric entertainment venues.

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Sydney’s Darling Harbor Roderick Eime / photo modified

During the day, you can walk past bubbling fountains along the cobbled boulevard and gaze across the water at the sun glinting off the city’s skyscrapers. Scenic harbor cruises and exhilarating jet boat rides depart from the docks here for water-based fun, while younger kids love the old carousel, ten-pin bowling, and water park with interactive fountains and an imaginative playground.

In the evening, when the city lights come on, the area buzzes with action. Darling Harbor also includes Cockle Bay in King Street Wharf, which are packed with popular restaurants and cafes. Whether you want to entertain the kids, shop for souvenirs or dine on the waterfront, Darling Harbor is an ideal family destination with lots of fun things to do for young and old.

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1 Australian National Maritime Museum

HMB Endeavor, Darling Harbor Andy Mitchell / photo modified
HMB Endeavor, Darling Harbor Andy Mitchell / photo modified

You can learn all about Australia’s fascinating seafaring days at the Australian National Maritime Museum. Highlights include the chance to board a replica of Captain Cook’s ship, the HMB Endeavor, and a naval submarine and destroyer. The museum also traces the history of Indigenous maritime culture, European exploration, immigration, Aussie beach culture and Australia’s maritime connections to the United States.

Adres: 2 Murray Street, Darling Harbour

Official Site: https://www.anmm.gov.au/

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2 WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo

WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo Joe Brockmeier / photo modified
WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo Joe Brockmeier / photo modified

If you’re an animal lover and can’t squeeze wilderness adventure into your itinerary, this is a great place to get up close and personal with some charismatic Aussie creatures. You can pose for a photo with a koala and see quokkas, kangaroos, snakes and crocodiles as you roam in recreated Australian habitats. Other animals here include Tasmanian devils, snakes, bilbies, butterflies and bats.

Adres: 1-5 Wheat Road, Darling Harbour

Official Site: https://www.wildlifesydney.com.au/

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3 SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium

SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium Laura / photo modified
SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium Laura / photo modified

Right next to WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo, the SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium contains the the world’s largest collection of Australian marine animals, including sharks, dugongs, stingrays, turtles, platypus and penguins. Kids can take a glass bottom boat ride, explore a shipwreck, join a shark feeding tour and become a marine biologist for the day. If you’re a thrill-seeker, you can snorkel with the sharks in a glass enclosure built to resemble coral habitats on the Great Barrier Reef.

Adres: 1-5 Wheat Road, Darling Harbour, Sydney

Official site: https://www.sydneyaquarium.com.au/

4 Madame Tussauds

Madame Tussaud's Newtown graffiti / photo modified
Madame Tussaud’s Newtown graffiti / photo modified

At Madame Tussaud, you can pose for a photo next to surprisingly lifelike wax figures of your favorite celebrities and interact with mega-stars. Play Wii tennis with Lleyton Hewitt, climb with Spider-man and even drum a guitar with Taylor Swift. Chris Hemsworth and Hugh Jackman are among the Aussie stars here, but you’ll also see sports stars and politicians, including President Obama in the Oval Office.

Adres: Wheat Road, Darling Harbour, Sydney

Official site: https://www.madametussauds.com.au/en/

5 Flight Experience Flight Simulator

If you’ve ever dreamed of flying a commercial jet to an exotic locale, this is the experience for you. During Flight Experience Flight Simulator you can put on the captain’s hat and fly with a Boeing 737 to destinations all over the world, such as Hong Kong or your own hometown. Packages range from a 30-minute flight to city circuits and 90-minute multi-city travel. Special experiences designed for kids learn the basics of aviation, with fun games and a chance to see what it feels like to fly a plane.

Adres: Level 3, Shop 503 Harbourside Shopping Centre, Darling Harbour

Official Site: https://sydney.flightexperience.com/

6 Chinese Garden of Friendship

Chinese Garden of Friendship Salil S / photo modified
Chinese Garden of Friendship Salil S / photo modified

After all the excitement of a day in Darling Harbour, relax in the Chinese Garden of Friendship. Built to celebrate the friendship between Sydney and Guangzhou, in China’s Guangdong province, the walled green space includes waterfalls, lakes, pavilions, exotic plants and koi ponds. The design follows the Taoist principles of the yin-yang and includes the five elements of earth, fire, water, wood and metal. Hike the hidden paths or sip tea under the weeping willows and experience the serenity of this traditional Chinese garden. Tours are available.

Adres: Pier Street, Darling Harbour, Sydney

7 LG IMAX Theatre en 9D Action Cinema

LG IMAX Theater and 9D Action Cinema | Photo Copyright: Karen Hastings
LG IMAX Theater and 9D Action Cinema | Photo Copyright: Karen Hastings

Filmmakers can see stories come to life the world’s largest cinema screen at the LG IMAX theatre. Movies range from newly released action adventures and animated films to documentaries. A short walk from the hotel, the 9D Action Cinema combines a 3D movie and surround sound with luxurious “active motion” seats and special effects to make you feel as if you were living the adventures on the screen. The 9D movies are about eight minutes long.

LG Imax Theatre

  • Adres: 31 Wheat Road, Darling Harbour
  • https://www.imax.com.au/

9D Action Cinema

  • Adres: Level 2, (tegenover Hard Rock Cafe) Harbourside Shopping Center Darling Harbour
  • https://www.9dactioncinemas.com.au/

8 Shops and restaurants

Shops and restaurants | Photo Copyright: Karen Hastings
Shops and restaurants | Photo Copyright: Karen Hastings

Waterside dining is a quintessential Sydney experience and Darling Harbor offers plenty of options. You can choose from a range of international dishes, with everything from French, Greek, Brazilian and Spanish cuisine to Middle Eastern, Malaysian street food and modern European.

From fine dining to casual cafes, Darling Harbor caters for all budgets. You can slurp freshly shucked oysters by the water, sip coffee in the sun on alfresco terraces, or dine five-star style by the water’s edge. If you have a sweet tooth, you can complement your meal with danish ice cream and ice cream.

Inside the light-filled Harborside building, shoppers will find two floors of everything from fashionable clothes, shoes and jewelery to unique Australian souvenirs.

Tips and tours

  • For discounts on some of Darling Harbour’s top tourist attractions, such as SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium and IMAX Sydney, consider purchasing a Sydney Attraction Pass, which also offers deals on the Hop-on Hop-off Bus and other attractions in Sydney, such as Taronga Zoo.
  • If you plan on exploring the city all day, you can purchase a pass for the Sydney and Bondi Hop-on Hop-off Tour or the Sydney Harbor Hop-on Hop-off Cruise, which will take you to Darling Harbor as well as the city’s other top tourist attractions.
  • Wear good walking shoes. You might plan to make a short visit and spend a whole day wandering here.
  • Traveling with toddlers? Bring their swimsuit or at least a change of clothes in case the fountains prove irresistible.

Getting To Darling Harbour

  • By train: Take the train to City Hall station and exit south onto Bathurst Street towards Darling Harbour.
  • With the bus: Buses depart regularly from the CBD. Get off at Bathurst, Liverpool, Market, Park or Druitt Street.
  • By water taxi: Aussie water taxis depart from The Rocks, Circular Quay, the Opera House and Luna Park.
  • By private boat: Darling Harbor has a marina for private boats.
  • By Ferry: Take a ferry to Darling Harbor from Circular Quay and get off at King Street Wharf or Pyrmont Bay Wharf.
  • parking: A parking lot is located under the Novotel.

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