20 Great Sydney Tours For Every Budget and Adrenalin Level

Having lived there most of my life I may be the teensiest bit biased, but I do believe Sydney is one of the greatest places in the world.

There’s sooooo much to see and do that I still haven’t come close to doing everything I want to, and I know I’m not the only one.

So when I decided to take a bit of a look at great tours and things to do in and around the fair harbour city I chose ones that Sydney friends could enjoy as much as international visitors.

Knowing what it’s like to have a fluctuating budget I also wanted to break them into different price points so you can find your own sweet spot.

As the prices for some tours change depending on the day and time, I won’t list individual prices, but at the time of writing these guys all fit into the price categories below. Just click on the links to see how much they are today.

So whether you’re a tourist or a local here are some ideas to get you out and about.

Sydney Tours and Things To Do Under $50

Sydney Opera House Guided Walking Tour

I’ve been to the Opera House more times than I can remember, and have seen everything from opera to ballet to rock bands and stars like Liza Minelli or Dionne Warwick under those sails.

But when I did one of the Sydney Opera House’s guided walking tours I discovered things I’d never known before. The tours take you from the controversy when it was being built to the present day, pointing out fascinating quirks and sharing all sorts of tales from those corridors.

Don’t just take photos of the Opera House, get inside and hear some of those tales.

Queen Victoria Building Guided Tour

The Queen Victoria Building may be a beautiful shopping centre in the heart of Sydney’s CBD but she has some stories to tell. And a ghost or two.

Window in Sydney's QVB

The QVB puts on guided tours every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 11.30am. The tours cost $15 and you can usually just turn up to the concierge’s desk on the ground floor on the day but to check if there’s room or if you want to make a group booking you can call the QVB Concierge on 02 9264 9209.

Free Sydney Walking Tour

If you’re a fan of walking tours, the team at Free Tours Sydney have an easy two and a half hour tour that takes you from Hyde Park in the city down to the Rocks.

The tour shares history and hidden gems as you make your way down to the iconic Sydney Opera House.

The tours leave from the Archibald Fountain in Hyde Park at 10.30am every day, except Christmas Day, Australia Day (26th January) and ANZAC Day (25th of April) and are free to join, although if you want to pay your guide something at the end it will be happily received.

SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium

One of the largest aquariums in the world, with over 13-thousand marine animals from 700 different species, the Sydney Aquarium is well worth a look, and is a pretty good spot to stay dry, even if you are surrounded by water, on a rainy day.

You can visit the dugongs and see platypus, meet cute penguins, check out the largest crab in the world, “Crabzilla”, the Japanese Spider Crab, and get a taste of what it’s like to be in the Great Barrier Reef.

Fun at Sydney Aquarium

An individual ticket to the Sydney Aquarium falls into this budget bracket, but coming up in the Under $100 section you can get a pass for five Sydney attractions including the aquarium for more bang for your buck.

Hop-On Hop-Off Explorer Cruise

One of the best ways to see Sydney is from the water and this 24-hour hop on hop off ticket with Captain Cook Cruises lets you explore at your own pace.

There’s commentary along the way sharing some of Australia’s history and information about the harbour and the city around it.

Stops include Circular Quay, Darling Harbour, Taronga Zoo, Watsons Bay, Luna Park, Fort Denison, and one of my favourite spots in Sydney, Shark Island.

Hop on Hop Off Bus with Sydney Explorer

And of course Sydney also has a hop on hop off bus, which has two routes, one to take you around some of the most popular city spots and another to take you down to Bondi Beach and around the bays.

And don’t forget there are lots of free things you can do including lying on some of the world’s best beaches and doing beautiful walks like the Cremorne Point Walk.

Sydney Tours and Things To Do Under $100

Speed Boat Ride from the City to Bondi Beach

It may start off calmly enough going under the Sydney Harbour Bridge and past the Opera House but when this sightseeing tour gets going it really gets the adrenalin pumping.

This high-speed ride on a 900-horsepower Special Forces boat takes passengers out past the cliffs of North Head and into the open ocean, hitting speeds of around 110km/h and jumping waves before it reaches Bondi and more photo opportunities at the famous beach.

Ocean Extreme Speed Boat to Bondi Beach

Stand-Up Paddleboard Tour

Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park is a beautiful piece of protected wilderness where you can see wildlife, marine life and perhaps even the local white bellied sea eagle.

A guided paddleboard tour takes you out into calm waters with a guide who can both help you get the hang of paddleboarding and teach you about the things you’re paddling past.

Sea Life, Wild Life, Sydney Tower and Madam Tussauds Combo Pass

Remember earlier when I mentioned the SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium and how there’d be a combo pass? This is the one.

For $20 more than the entry to the Aquarium you can get entry to five attractions: SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo, Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary, Maddam Tussauds and Sydney Tower Eye which is the highest vantage point in Sydney with 360 degree views from 250m in the sky.

Sydney's Madame Tussauds invites visitors to interact

And no need to rush around and try to do everything at once. This combo pass gives you 30 days to use them up after entry to the first one, so you can save them for those rainy days (literally, they’re mostly inside and good rainy day options).

Sydney Tours and Things to Do Under $200

Tall Ship Champagne Brunch Cruise

Step on board a beautiful timber built tall ship in The Rocks and start your day by sailing past some of Sydney’s famous landmarks with a glass of bubbles in your hand.

Now while this is called a tall ship champagne brunch cruise I am a bit of a stickler about the use of the word champagne, so I should point out that it’s really sparkling Aussie wine.

Which is how you can be out on a tall ship, eating oysters and enjoying a smoked salmon buffet while having your glass repeatedly refilled with bubbles all for just over $100.

If you’d like to get involved you can help hoist the sails, or just sit back, eat, drink and watch Sydney go by.

Harley Davidson Bondi Beach Tour

Get your motor running and the adrenalin pumping as you ride from the city to Bondi on the back of a Harley Davidson.

After being picked up at your hotel you’re kitted out with leather jacket, gloves and helmet, and then you hop on the back of the Harley as your driver and guide revs the engine.

Cruise through Sydney down to Bondi, take advantage of the photo stops along the way before being dropped back at your hotel an hour later.

Harley Davidson Lower Blue Mountains Tour

Want to go further on that Harley and see some of the Blue Mountains? Then the Lower Blue Mountains Harley Davidson tour may be for you.

This hour and a half ride starts and ends at your hotel but rather than going down the beach it heads west, cruising along the weaving and winding Great Western Highway up to Springwood, and then down past the Hawkesbury Heights lookout and along the Castlereagh Road.

Blue Mountains, Wildlife Park and River Cruise Combo

If you’d like to see the Blue Mountains but aren’t too sure about hopping on the back of a Harley, here’s a full day option for you.

This Blue Mountains day out tour includes a visit to Scenic World where you can see the Three Sisters rock formation and ride on the Cableway, Skyway and Railway. There’s also a visit to Featherdale Wildlife Park where you can handfeed kangaroos and see other Aussie animals, and skip Sydney’s peak hour traffic with a river cruise back to the city.

Jenolan Caves, Blue Mountains and River Cruise

This one is more focused on what’s under the Blue Mountains than on top, as this one takes you into the largest limestone cave system in Australia and the oldest open caves in the world.

This Jenolan Caves tour takes you through a labyrinth of stalactites and stalagmites and includes a 1.5 hour tour of Lucas Cave where the highest chamber, ‘The Cathedral’ rises 54 metres high.

Hunter Valley Harvest Wine Experience

Another day trip out of Sydney, and this one is for the wine lovers. After being picked up from your hotel you head up to one of Australia’s great wine regions, the Hunter Valley where you spend the day tasting Aussie vintages.

Hunter Valley Winery AAT Kings Tour

Get tips on tasting techniques and learn about the art of wine making as you explore some of the award winning wines at Hope Estate and McGuigans and enjoy lunch at the Hunter Valley Resort. This is one day trip where you’ll be glad there’s no debate over who’ll be the designated driver.

Home and Away Tour to Summer Bay

This one goes out to the Aussie soap fans who’ve always dreamed of running away to Summer Bay. The official Home and Away Tour to Summer Bay takes you from central Sydney to Palm Beach where the show is filmed with photo stops at the outdoor locations you’ve seen in so many episodes over the years.

Expert Home and Away tour guides (yes, apparently there is such a thing!) will share stories about the actors, the history and story lines. The tour ends at Manly Beach where you can enjoy another great Sydney beach before catching the ferry back to the city.

Sydney Tours and Things To Do $200 and Above

Climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge is a bit of a tourist cliché, but take it from someone who’s done it twice, it’s also pretty awesome.

There are different ways you can climb it, and personally I preferred doing the BridgeClimb Express which takes two and a half hours and takes you over the lower arch before climbing up a ladder to the top of the bridge.

The original BridgeClimb Experience takes three and a half hours and goes over the top arch, but also goes at a slower pace.

I explain the differences in more detail in my review of the BridgeClimb Express but regardless of which one you go for they both give you the chance to do something pretty special.

Don’t forget if you’re watching your budget you can also walk across the harbour bridge for free. That’s something I’d highly recommend as you get to look out onto the harbour and up into the bridge, and there are some fun spots to explore over on the Kirribilli side.

Inside the Sydney Harbour Bridge on an Express Climb photo courtesy BridgeClimb Sydney

Overnight Cruise on a Tall Ship

Earlier we talked about having a bubbly brunch on a tall ship, but if you’d like to spend more time on one of these special vessels then this is the way to go.

Your tall ship, the Soren Larsen has been around the world twice and your two-day one night cruise includes sailing around the harbour, dinner under the stars, and the chance to explore Goat Island, which has some of Australia’s most important convict-built buildings, before another relaxing afternoon of sailing.

Red Baron Aerobatics

While I have yet to fly with the Red Baron guys here in Australia, one of the most memorable experiences of my life is doing aerial acrobatics outside of New York in a Pitts Special.

There’s nothing quite like doing loops and rolls and spinning up there in the air with the wind in your face. And I can feel my heart rate increase just when I remember what it was like to casually fly along upside down in an open cockpit.

While my Pitts Special experience was with a friend in his plane, I so want to do it again and love the fact that anyone can do it in Sydney. Definitely one you won’t forget in a hurry.

Red Baron Sydney Takes People on Pitts Special Aerobatics rides, image courtesy Red Baron

Helicopter Flights Over Sydney

Get the bird’s eye view of Sydney from your helicopter, well, your helicopter for a few hours anyway, as you fly along the cliffs and beaches, over famous landmarks and past a different angle on the city skyline.

There are a range of options on offer in Sydney, including private helicopter tours where the price is for the whole helicopter and can take up to three passengers, and others where the price is per passenger.

You can also watch the sun go down from that special vantage point on a sunset helicopter tour.

So there we have it. Twenty tours and things to do in Sydney to help get you out and about.

Of course there’s a lot more where that came from so if you’ve done a tour in Sydney you love, do let me know so I can add it to my To Do list for next time.

Happy Sydney travels!

This post contains some affiliate links, so if you click on a link and book something I will get a little something to help pay those blogging bills. You can find out how and why I use travel affiliate programs here. 

About the Author

As a journalist who loves to travel and is fond of a chat I'm oh so happy when I'm sharing travel tales and tips. When I'm not travelling or writing about it I can be found out and about with friends, curled up at home with a good book or watching an addictive tv show promising I'll stop after one more episode. Amanda on Google +

Leave a Comment

  1. It’s a great post and all the places mentioned here look really interesting. However, with the little time that I am going to spend in Sydney, I don’t think that I can visit all the places that are listed but I will make sure that I explore Sydney Aquarium and take a speed boat ride as it looks amazing. Thanks for the Fabulous post.

    • Hi Alice, I’m so glad I was able to help with a few ideas. If you only have a little bit of time you’re right to just do a couple you love the look of and then just wander Sydney and seeing where the day takes you. Enjoy!

Leave a Comment