The Art Gallery of New South Wales. Photo: courtesy of Destination New South Wales

Sydney's culture

Sydney boasts a rich mix of culture and food courtesy of its history and the many people that make up the nation. Explore the many galleries, museums, theatres and playhouses dotted throughout the city where you’ll uncover Sydney’s eclectic, cultural and artistic spirit. Just some of the great museums and galleries to visit include:

  • Sydney Opera House is uniquely Australian with its dramatic white sails located by the Harbour. Without a doubt it is one of the most photographed buildings in the world. But it is far from being just a beautiful photo. By day you can take a tour back stage and by night it has a smorgasbord of restaurants and cafes plus opera, theatre, concert performances.
  • The Rocks is the birthplace of Sydney. Experience convict Sydney as you wander through the original cobblestone lanes and beautifully restored buildings. This old town quarter combines heritage buildings with modern restaurants, shops, art galleries and museums. Book a Rocks walking tour where you’ll learn all about this historic village.
  • Take a guided tour of Government House that was built between 1837 and 1845 and is located beside the Botanic Gardens. It ​has a remarkable collection of 19th century furniture to reflect the changing tastes of the governors.
  • Museum of Sydney is built on the site of the first Government House, and explores stories about Sydney’s people, places and culture from its indigenous origins to its development into the metropolis it is today.
  • Justice and Police Museum is in three police courthouses dating back to 1856. This museum focuses on Sydney’s most notorious residents, their crimes and the laws that were established to deal with them.
  • Susanna Place Museum in The Rocks is a row of four houses that capture life in early Sydney. Tours capture the real life stories of working class families who lived here from 1844 to the late 20th century.
  • The Art Gallery of NSW has five levels of art including colonial to modern Australian art and Aboriginal art. Other collections include China, Japan and Southeast Asia, plus European art from the Renaissance to Victorian Times.
  • Consider buying an Australia Multi-City Attractions Pass that ​includes ree tours and entry for a range of attractions including the National Maritime Museum, Museum of Sydney, Sydney Opera House tour, and The Rocks Walking Tour.


Great value recommendations

Sydney living museums passes

Sydney Living Museums has 12 historic houses and museums in its collection, including Government House, Hyde Park Barracks Museum, Justice & Police Museum, Elizabeth Bay House, The Mint, Museum of Sydney, Susannah Place and Vaucluse House. Rather than paying entrance fees to each museum, I’d recommend buying a Sydney Museums Pass so you can visit all 12 for much less. A family pass costs $50, and an adult pass costs $24.

National Trust membership

The National Trusts of Australia has more than 180 properties ranging from old gaols, schools, homesteads, and government buildings. Become a National Trust member and get free or discounted entry to all the properties, and as often as you like.