Loading

Sydney's art and culture in a day

The Musuem of Contemporary Art. CREDIT: Destination NSW

The Museum of Contemporary Art overlooks Circular Quay in the city’s Rocks precinct.

#ilovesydney

Sydney's art and
culture in a day

The Musuem of Contemporary Art. CREDIT: Destination NSW

The Museum of Contemporary Art overlooks Circular Quay in the city’s Rocks precinct.

#ilovesydney

Hashtags #ilovesydney

If a visit to a gallery or a museum is a holiday must for you, Sydney won’t disappoint. The city’s cultural institutions are housed in grand and architecturally significant buildings, and world-class exhibition rosters mean there’s always something exciting to see or do. Spend a day exploring the highlights, taking in historical sites and joining a tour to discover Aboriginal traditions, with a delicious meal or two in between. 

Morning explorations 

Start the day with a delicate double-baked almond croissant and coffee in at La Renaissance, a family-owned patisserie making cakes, pastries and macarons since 1974, an inner-city neighbourhood of historic laneways in the shadow of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Pull up a chair at one of the outdoor tables and you might even get a visit from a cheeky rainbow lorikeet looking for crumbs.  

It’s a short walk from here to the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), also in The Rocks. The museum’s extensive permanent collection covers photography, sculpture, painting and moving images from Australian artists at all stages of their careers, while the changing roster of exhibitions is dynamic and thought-provoking.  

Pop in to the MCA Store afterwards for a tightly curated survey of Australian design and books — the perfect memento. Alternatively, head to the MCA Café on level 4, which is as popular for its sweeping views over Circular Quay as its good coffee. If you’re visiting on a Friday, you might want to consider coming back in the evening, as the entire space stays open until 9pm, which means dazzling city lights.  

If you’d prefer to learn about the history and culture of Sydney’s Aboriginal people and their connection with Sydney Harbour, join Dreamtime SouthernX’s The Rocks Aboriginal Dreaming Tour (Illi Langi), departing daily. On this leisurely 90-minute stroll around the waterfront, you’ll hear Dreamtime creation stories, visit significant sites under the Sydney Harbour Bridge and learn about the Aboriginal fishing economy.  

Sydney Arts and Culture Highlight Selects CREDIT: Destination NSW

Highlights showcasing art and culture experiences in Sydney including Museum of Contemporary Art, Dreamtime SouthernX Tours, Art Gallery of New South Wales.

#ilovesydney

Sydney Arts and Culture Highlight Selects CREDIT: Destination NSW

Highlights showcasing art and culture experiences in Sydney including Museum of Contemporary Art, Dreamtime SouthernX Tours, Art Gallery of New South Wales.

#ilovesydney

Dreamtime Southern X Tours, Sydney CREDIT: Destination NSW

Learn about Aboriginal history with Dreamtime Southern X’s The Rocks Aboriginal Dreaming Tour.

#ilovesydney

Dreamtime Southern X Tours, Sydney CREDIT: Destination NSW

Learn about Aboriginal history with Dreamtime Southern X’s The Rocks Aboriginal Dreaming Tour.

#ilovesydney

Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney CREDIT: Destination NSW

Couples viewing artwork at The Art Gallery of NSW in The Domain, Sydney.

#ilovesydney

Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney CREDIT: Destination NSW

Couples viewing artwork at The Art Gallery of NSW in The Domain, Sydney.

#ilovesydney

Afternoon adventures 

Have lunch on the outdoor terrace at 6HEAD steakhouse, which sits you in a prime position to enjoy people-watching around The Rocks waterfront. It also offers unbroken views of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Sydney Opera House, which puts on 40-plus shows a week and also offers backstage tours. 6HEAD specialises in premium cuts of steak to share, but there’s also an extensive menu of seafood offerings including oysters, sashimi and caviar — save room for the roving cheese trolley.  

Next stop is the Art Gallery of New South Wales, a pleasant half-hour walk through the city and The Domain, 34 hectares of open parkland adjoining the Royal Botanic Garden, which you can also use as your leafy route. The Royal Botanic Garden has areas dedicated to native Australian plants, many of which have been used by Aboriginal communities as food and medicine for millennia.  

When you arrive at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, spend the afternoon perusing the latest exhibition, or check out the photography collection to admire works by hugely important Australian artists including Tracey Moffatt, Bill Henson and Fiona Hall.  

Stroll back west into the heart of the city, where design, fashion and architecture fanatics are drawn in equal measure to the 19th-century grandeur of the Queen Victoria Building and nearby Strand Arcade. Today, both are home to elegant boutiques, dressmakers, hatters, antiques stores and cafés, as well as beauty boutiques and high-street stores.  

Continue west to Darling Harbour, then wander north along the waterfront to the Barangaroo precinct, replete with cafés and restaurants where tables spill out onto the sidewalk. If you’re interested in uncovering more Aboriginal history, join an Aboriginal Cultural Tour through Barangaroo Reserve, which is home to 75,000 native trees and shrubs.  

Or simply peruse the arty curation of vinyl at Title Barangaroo, Australia's largest independent retailer of music, books and film. The staff are knowledgeable and you can easily lose yourself in here for an hour or two.  

Evening escapes 

Still in Barangaroo, seafood restaurant Cirrus Dining is an elegant option for dinner; the owners also run three other of Sydney’s most lauded restaurants: Monopole, Yellow and Bentley Restaurant and Bar. If you’re after something a little more casual, Ume Burger offers one-of-a-kind Japanese-inspired burgers and a Tokyo-style vending machine. Squeeze in gelato at the excellent Rivareno Gelato, where everything is made fresh daily, and end the evening with a whisky at NOLA Smokehouse and Bar, inspired by the hospitality of the American South.  

Shopping, Queen Victoria Building CREDIT: Destination NSW

Four levels of shopping in the Queen Victoria Building, Sydney CBD.

#ilovesydney

Shopping, Queen Victoria Building CREDIT: Destination NSW

Four levels of shopping in the Queen Victoria Building, Sydney CBD.

#ilovesydney

NOLA Smokehouse and Bar, Barangaroo CREDIT: Destination NSW

Couple enjoying a whiskey tasting at NOLA Smokehouse and Bar in Barangaroo, Sydney.

#ilovesydney

NOLA Smokehouse and Bar, Barangaroo CREDIT: Destination NSW

Couple enjoying a whiskey tasting at NOLA Smokehouse and Bar in Barangaroo, Sydney.

#ilovesydney

MORE INSPIRATIONAL STORIES

MORE INSPIRATIONAL STORIES

ALL ASSETS FROM THE DESTINATION NSW MEDIA CENTRE ARE FOR EDITORIAL USAGE ONLY AND MUST BE USED IN ACCORDANCE WITH OUR TERMS AND CONDITIONS.


For all non-editorial usage, please
visit the Destination NSW Content Library.

REGISTER
NOW

Access assets curated for media and content creators.

For all non-editorial usage, please
visit the Destination NSW Content Library.

Already have an account?

Permission Request


Destination NSW wants to access your Destination NSW Media Centre account.


This application will:

  • View your basic account information
  • View your email address
  • View your phone number, if provided
  • View your street address, if provided
  • View basic information about your organization, if provided
  • View your site usage
  • View your asset download activity

This access will help Destination NSW manage copyright owner rights, provide you with digital assets, keep you updated with new information and improve your user experience.


Do you agree to allow this access? If yes, click the REGISTER button.


You can unsubscribe at any time.

Permission Request

Destination NSW wants to review your registration for your Destination NSW Media Centre account.

This review will:

  • View your basic account information
  • View your email address
  • View your basic information about your organisation, if provided
  • View your site usage
  • View your asset download activity

This will assist Destination NSW manage copyright owner rights, provide you with digital assets, keep you updated with new information and improve your user experience.


By clicking REGISTER, you agree that you have read and agree to the TERMS & CONDITIONS and Destination NSW's PRIVACY POLICY


You can unsubscribe at any time.