Gateway to Australia, romantic Sydney’s unique energy infuses all aspects of the city with an optimistic, forward thinking, can-do vibe balanced by a laid-back, friendly, open atmosphere. Adult pleasures abound in the areas of fine dining, arts and culture, and world-class shopping.
As this is a city that celebrates its outdoors, romantic couples can find a multitude of things to do that puts the "active" in activities. The only real dilemma visitors face is choosing what to tackle first. These are some of the best that Sydney offers romantics.
01 of 10
Behold the Sydney Opera House
A romantic image known the world over, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is not only one of the 20th century’s most distinctive buildings, it’s an internationally recognized symbol for both Sydney and Australia. Situated on Bennelong Point in Sydney Harbour, the majesty of the Sydney Opera House is breathtaking in person. Its expressionist design, conceived by Danish architect Jørn Utzon, presented enormous challenges in bringing it to fruition, all of which are detailed in the don’t-miss tour. The political soap opera behind construction of this world-renowned marvel is also revealed. Contrary to its name, live performances of other forms of art are showcased in a variety of venues.
02 of 10
Climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge
Listed as the widest long-span bridge in the world by The Guinness Book of Records, the Sydney Harbour Bridge is impressive in its grandeur. Romantic couples who dare can experience its full impact at the summit, 440 feet above the harbor, courtesy of BridgeClimb. This attraction operates in all weather conditions, except electrical storms and extremely high wind, so some climbs are more adventurous than others. Climbers don special BridgeSuits and equipment and are tethered to a static line on the bridge. The Express Climb is a two hour and fifteen minute accelerated experience while the three-hour Discovery and Bridge Climbs take groups through the inner arch of the bridge and catwalks and ladders. There’s even a Wedding Climb, where edgy couples can exchange vows on the edge. All climbs are available from dawn till nighttime and allow for 360-degree views of Sydney, and a Sunset BridgeClimb will surely lead romantics to new heights.
03 of 10
Take the Helm of an America's Cup Yacht
Sailing Sydney takes romantics along Sydney Harbour on one of two America's Cup yachts, Spirit (AUS21) or Kookaburra (AUS40). Guests can be part of the crew for a day or simply sit back and enjoy the ride — but standing at the helm and turning the wheel ever-so-slightly, creating a distinct change of course, is thrilling. By offering the opportunity to experience these racing machines, Sailing Sydney provides entrance to a domain usually reserved for elite professional yachtsmen.
04 of 10
Explore the Royal Botanic Gardens SydneyEstablished in 1816 at the edge of Sydney Harbour, this is the oldest botanic garden and scientific institution in Australia. The nearly 75 acres feature plants from around the world, but the focus is on native plants of Australia and the South Pacific. Visitors can amble through the many trails, have a romantic picnic under a majestic eucalyptus tree or simply relax in this sanctuary of natural beauty. The Royal Botanic Gardens is surrounded by The Domain, unfenced botanical parkland that once served as the buffer between the Governor’s residence and the New South Wales penal colony. Today its open green spaces and playing fields, with stunning harbor views, serve as venues for some of Sydney’s biggest festivals and cultural events.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10
See The Rocks and Shop its MarketThe Rocks, named for its sandstone cliff terrain, was inhabited by indigenous people for millennia until the first European settlers — British convicts and their overseers — stepped ashore in 1788. Today it’s a trip back in time with narrow cobblestone streets. Instead of shanghaied sailors and dens of iniquity, visitors to The Rocks now find renovated former warehouses that hold galleries, cafés and pubs. A chat with a barman at The Hero of Waterloo may result in a trip to the cellar, where manacles once used to lock up convicts still hang alongside ancient bellows. On weekends, more than 200 stalls of The Rocks Market line the meandering streets, offering items including foods, housewares, and jewelry. The Bandigan Art gallery displays an eclectic collection of paintings, textiles, and more from remote parts of the country.
06 of 10
Ride the Ferry from Circular Quay to Manley BeachCircular Quay is the hub of Sydney Harbour and a central stepping-off point for most attractions near and around it. Its vibrant, bustling atmosphere provides a backdrop for people-watching from one of many outdoor cafés. Ferries depart every few minutes for different parts of the Harbour, and a thirty-minute ride to the seaside suburb of Manley, a locals’ haven, is a recommended day trip. Manley has beaches, walking trails, and restaurants as well as surfing, kayaking, scuba diving and shark diving for the more adventurous. Shoppers will find more than 200 retail stores from funky boutiques like Lulu Loves Paris to surf shops like Rip Curl.
07 of 10
Check into Luxury at The DarlingThe Star complex at Darling Harbour sits on the western edge of Sydney’s business district and encompasses The Darling Hotel . This property envelops romantic couples in luxurious details such as 400 threadcount Egyptian cotton sheets and a pillow menu. Textured wallpapers in calming, natural tones and bespoke wood furniture provide a romantic venue to take in glorious views of Sydney. Dinner at Balla, one of many eateries in the complex, offers a modern interpretation of traditional Milanese fare. Seafood, meats and vegetables are cooked over a wood-fired grill using 100-year-old seasoned Ironbar. For hedonists, no stay at the hotel is complete without a visit to its spa. Asian and European treatments are available, and the couples spa date gives new meaning to the concept of romance. Duos are pampered in tandem from head to toe with scalp massages, hair treatments, body exfoliation, massages, facials, and manicures.
08 of 10
Hang Out at Bondi Beach
Bondi Beach is popular with backpackers, board riders and bodies beautiful. Stroll along its carefree, sun-drenched beachfront promenade to take it all in. An excursion off the beach through Campbell Parade, the main drag, brings visitors to surf shops, cafés and cool bars. Camilla Beach House Flagship Store on Warners Avenue is the place to find the colorful, playful and luxurious creations of Camilla Franks, whose celebrity fans include Oprah Winfrey, Kim Cattrall, Fergie, Beyonce and Gwen Stefani. Nearby Curlewis Street is the place to browse art galleries. For spectacular views and a bit of exercise, take the 2.5-mile Bondi to Bronte Coast Walk. Each November brings the annual Sculpture by the Sea exhibition, transforming the coastal walk into a seaside art gallery. At lunchtime, pause at Icebergs Dining Room and Bar for mouth-melting oysters, tuna tartare and the orecchiette with broccoli, garlic, anchovy, and hint of chile.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10
Take a Water Taxi to Chowder BayCatch a Yellow Water Taxi from The Commissioners Steps on the western side of Circular Quay to the alfresco Ripples Café at Chowder Bay, a Sydney suburb. Diners can sample Australian and Italian inspired dishes as well as Ripples’ popular fish and chips while taking in romantic views of the secluded bay. Handmade focaccia is a house specialty, with dips including rosemary & garlic, olive oil & balsamic, rocket pesto and roast capsicum & tomato. Yamba prawns followed by banana and rum cake with peanut butter mousse and chocolate gelato is divinely satisfying. Afterwards, swim or laze on the beach.
10 of 10
Indulge at Sydney’s Premier Luxury Shopping Center
Serious shoppers as well as casual browsers will find a playground for grownups at Westfield Sydney, located beneath the Sydney Tower in the city's business district. With six floors of specialty retailers, it's difficult to leave sans at least one shopping bag. Visitors should stop by the concierge desk to request a card good for discounts and special offers. Australian designers, including Hussy, Leona Edmiston and One Teaspoon, are found here alongside international luxury retailers like Prada and Gucci. At Harrolds, men can find clothing by Brioni and Kilton, Tom Ford and Yves Saint Laurent. Couples will also find Georg Jensen, Guess, and Stuart Weitzman shops. Refuel with a mid-shopping coffee and pastry break at Bécasse Bakery on Level 5, and savor an end-of-shopping High Tea at The Victoria Room Tea Salon.