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Travel bucket list idea:

Last updated: 24 June, 2023
Expert travel writer: Mark Chipperfield

The historic Royal Botanic Garden is the oldest scientific institution in Australia, stretching back to the First Fleet, and featuring 30 hectares packed with exotic and native plants.

But what makes this a stand-out amongst botanical gardens is its location, in the most scenic part of the city, right on the harbour. A footpath starting at Sydney Opera House will take you alongside the harbour and through the garden, for a fantastic one- or two-hour walk.

Look out for giant eels in the pond, loud, squawking cockatoos, and huge roosts of giant (and harmless) fruit bats, which hang from many of the trees; they’re a compelling sight.


Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 4+
When: All year around
Duration: 1-2 hours

Getting there & doing it

Start at the Sydney Opera House, walk around it and away from Circular Quay. After about half a kilometre, divert inland to go through the gardens. For a longer walk, continue around Farm Cove to Mrs Macquarie’s chair – a hand-carved, sandstone rock in the shape of a bench – and then follow the coastal footpath around and back toward Woolloomooloo wharf.

Aim to finish your walk at the Finger Wharf, Woolloomooloo, which has a number of excellent restaurants and cafés all serving al fresco, harbourside breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Entry to the gardens is free, from dawn to dusk.

When to do it

The Botanical Garden is open from dawn to dusk. The walk is best starting at sunrise, when crowds are fewest, the light is stunning, and the air fresh with the smell of the sea.

Destination guides


Destination guides including or relevant to this experience


New South Wales, Australia

Sydney opera house at night

One of the world’s most dynamic and glamorous cities, with golden beaches, world-class eating and dining and effervescent, friendly people. Home to the eye-popping Opera House and the indescribable Sydney Bridge Climb.



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