Circular Quay is one of the most bustling places in all of Sydney. It’s filled with top attractions, plenty of water activities and excursions, and people from all across Australia and around the world.
There is so much to see and do in the Circular Quay neighborhood and the adjacent Central Business District that it can be hard to know what to do first. To help you out, we’ve put together a list of our favorite things to do in these neighborhoods.
Things to do in Circular Quay and in the nearby Central Business District for tourists include:
- Sydney Jet – Thrill Ride
- The Sydney Opera House
- Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
- Eco Hopper 24-Hour Hop-On Hop-Off Pass
- Royal Botanic Gardens
- Magistic Cruisemart Harbour Sightseeing Cruise
- Magistic Cruising Café Mezze & Sparkling Wine for 2
- BlueBananas Electric Bike Tours: The Mini Banana – Bike the Bridge Tour
- BlueBananas Bike Hire
- The Sydney Tower Eye
- And more!
Save on Circular Quay Attraction Admission
Pick up The Sydney Pass and save off combined admission to many of these top Sydney attractions vs paying at the gate.
Remember, this 3 days in Sydney itinerary is just one of many ways to experience the area.
The Sydney Pass gives you the flexibility to create your own itinerary, so you can choose from dozens of top attractions and create a vacation tailored to your interests.
Attractions in Circular Quay:
Sydney Jet – Thrill Ride
The Sydney Jet is one thrilling way to get around the Sydney waterfront. This exhilarating ride reaches speeds of up to 45 knots (50 miles per hour!) and performs plenty of tricks, spins, and more.
It’s also a handy sightseeing excursion. For a half hour, you’ll be treated to entertaining narration on all the amazing landmarks and sights you’ll be zipping past. This attraction is fun for the whole family!
Getting In: Sydney Jet tickets are available on The Sydney Pass.
Sydney Opera House
If you only visit one thing in Circular Quay, it has to be the Sydney Opera House. With its iconic exterior and striking profile, the Sydney Opera House is among the most famous pieces of architecture in the entire world.
Should you have the budget, you might want to consider picking up a ticket to a performance. Or, if you want to see the inside in greater depth, a behind-the-scenes tour is a great option. You’ll learn all about the history of this famous venue and see where operatic legends have performed inspiring concerts.
Getting In: Sydney Opera House tour tickets are available on The Sydney Pass; opera tickets are separately priced and are not included on the pass.
Royal Botanic Gardens
This expansive greenspace just east of Circular Quay offers some of the most beautiful plant life in the entire city. A visit here is a great opportunity to learn all about the fascinating and exotic plant species that call Australia home. And that’s no small feat, either! Australian biodiversity is among the most unique in the entire world, with plenty of plant species that don’t grow anywhere else.
Visitors can also enjoy free volunteer-led tours to learn more about the collections at this phenomenal garden. It’s quite a treat, and it’s free! Please note that some special exhibits or tours may require a small fee.
Getting In: The Royal Botanic Gardens are free to explore.
Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
Art lovers rejoice! The Museum of Contemporary Art is handily located right in Circular Quay and is the perfect place to soak up some inspiring modern and contemporary art.
Exhibits primarily focus on Australian artists, with over 4,000 recently acquired works. Strengths of the collection include painting, sculpture, photography, film, prints, and more. They’ve also dedicated their efforts to collecting works by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists.
The MCA also offers frequent events and special exhibitions, so be sure to consult the website before your visit to see what’s on.
Getting In: The Museum of Contemporary Art is free.
Eco Hopper 24-Hour Hop-On Hop-Off Pass
A good way to get around Circular Quay and the city at large is with the Eco Hopper. Your 24-hour pass gives you unlimited hop-on hop-off access at ten different stops around Sydney, one of which is Circular Quay.
Other popular stops include Darling Harbour, Manly, Watson’s Bay, Taronga Zoo, and more. This boat ride is basically part water taxi, part sightseeing cruise!
Getting In: Eco Hopper tickets are available on The Sydney Pass.
Magistic Cruisemart Harbour Sightseeing Cruise
Of course, if you’re looking for a classic cruise experience, this offering from Magistic Cruisemart is a great option. A two-hour excursion that glides around the Sydney waterfront, this harbour sightseeing cruise offers the best photo opportunities alongside entertaining GPS-based narration.
Your luxury catamaran cruise also comes with a complimentary beverage of your choice (alcoholic and non-alcoholic options available) and a full bar with snacks should you want more.
Getting In: Magistic Cruisemart Harbour Sightseeing Cruise tickets are available on The Sydney Pass.
Magistic Cruising Café Mezze & Sparkling Wine for 2
The extra special version of the harbour sightseeing cruise from Magistic is this charming evening cruise, complete with snacks and sparkling wine. It’s the perfect date night idea, and is a fun way to celebrate your time in Sydney with a bit of romance.
Aboard your luxury catamaran – accompanied by an upscale mezze dining experience – you’ll enjoy informative narration about the beautiful sites you’re sailing past, including the Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Luna Park, and more.
Getting In: Magistic Cruising Café Mezze Cruise tickets are available on The Sydney Pass.
Nearby in the Central Business District:
BlueBananas Electric Bike Tours: The Mini Banana – Bike the Bridge Tour
Nearby in the CBD, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to get out and about. If you’re the type to enjoy a good bike ride, then this tour from BlueBananas is a smart choice. It’s a guided ride across the Sydney Harbour Bridge and into local neighborhoods, focusing on hidden gems as well as big landmarks.
The ride is about 8 miles of easy terrain and is suitable for visitors of all ages.
Getting In: Sydney Bike Tour tickets are available on The Sydney Pass.
BlueBananas Bike Hire
On the other hand, if you’re a real cycling pro and don’t need or want any guidance to explore Sydney on two wheels, you can rent a bike for the entire day from BlueBananas.
They’ll get you started with a map and some ideas, but what you do and where you go is totally up to you! Use the bike to get around the various attractions in Circular Quay and avoid the hassle of car traffic and the expense of parking.
Another good thing is that cycling is a big part of Sydney culture so you’ll find plenty of places to secure your bike at various attractions.
Getting In: Sydney Bike Rentals are available on The Sydney Pass.
The Sydney Tower Eye
There is nothing quite like seeing a city from above. That’s why the Sydney Tower Eye is another must-visit attraction in the Central Business District. This glittering observation deck is located 269 meters above ground and provides stunning, unbeatable views of the city and beyond.
The Sydney Opera House looks so tiny from above, and the Sydney Harbour Bridge is even cooler from an aerial view. Take some amazing photos and really get a sense of the layout of the land. The introductory film is really useful, too.
Getting In: Sydney Tower Eye tickets are available on The Sydney Pass.
St. Mary’s Cathedral
This Gothic-style sandstone cathedral was built in the late nineteenth century and today stands as one of the loveliest churches in all of Sydney. Snap some neat photos of the striking exterior against the modern structures nearby.
It’s located between Hyde Park and the Domain Pitches and is easily accessible within the CBD. One of the highlights (in addition to the beautiful exterior architecture) is the historical exhibit inside that details the history of Catholicism in Sydney. It’s an active cathedral so do be aware of the mass schedule.
Getting In: Exhibits at St. Mary’s Cathedral are free to explore.
This is one of the most popular museums in all of Sydney and is actually the oldest museum in all of Australia. It’s a great place to explore for those with an interest in science and culture, with particular strengths in natural history and anthropology.
Exhibits include a wide variety of natural objects like zoological specimens, fossils of Australian critters, gemstones and minerals, and entomological specimens. They also have significant cultural offerings, with Aboriginal artwork, artifacts and objects from Torres Strait Islander cultures, and much more.
Don’t forget to check their schedule before your visit to see if any special programming or children’s events are going to be on.
Getting In: The Australian Museum is separately ticketed and is not included with The Sydney Pass.
Remember to Save on Attraction Admission
There you have it – the top things to do in Circular Quay Sydney. From cruises to tours and beyond, there’s something to appeal to every traveling style. These are just a few of our favorite things to do in and around Circular Quay. We hope some make it onto your vacation must-see list!
And remember, the Sydney Pass can save you up to 45% on combined admission to these and other top Sydney attractions. Pick one up for your next vacation!
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