Things to do in Sydney | Local Area | Rydges World Square
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Things To Do

With Chinatown, Cockle Bay Wharf and Opera House all nearby, hotel guests will find plenty of things to do in Sydney

Rydges World Square puts guests in the heart of Sydney’s CBD on the corner of Pitt and Liverpool streets. With plenty of things to do in sydney, visitors will stay completely entertained while feeling a part of the vibrant city. Premier dining and shopping are all within a short distance from this Sydney CBD hotel, also close to Darling Harbour.

Catching public transportation to the many things to do in Sydney is easy because our CBD hotel is surrounded by taxi ranks and numerous bus stops that will take you to Fox Studios, Sydney Harbour and several local beaches. The Town Hall and Museum train stations are just a few minutes away via foot.

Things to do in Sydney CBD

Rydges World Square is perfectly located for shopping, dining out and exploring the sights of Sydney’s CBD.

For shopping, the World Square precinct is right on the doorstep with more than 90 specialty retailers offering a unique selection of fashion, homewares, gifts and lifestyle items. It’s not far to Pitt Street Mall for one of the busiest shopping strips in the world. There’s Sydney City Plaza and Westfield Sydney with four floors of designer brand fashion as well as the department stores, Myer and David Jones. While here you can take the lift up to the Sydney Tower Eye for an amazing view of the city from the Observation Deck.

To combine architecture and old world charm with terrific contemporary shopping options, head to The Strand Arcade and the beautiful QVB (Queen Victoria Building). The Strand opened in 1892 and was named after London’s famous shopping street. The QVB takes up a whole block, is wonderfully grand and full of atmosphere – it is home to more than 200 specialty shops and it worth the window shop stroll just to soak in the ambience.

For a relaxing walk or somewhere just to sit away from the city hustle, Hyde Park is always rewarding. This delightful, green heart of the city covers 16 hectares. It is Australia’s oldest public parkland and there are grassy expanses and hundreds of huge leafy trees. The park is divided by the appropriately named Park Street. The north side of the Park (to Macquarie Street) is home to the Archibald Fountain. The south (Rydges World Square side) is home to the Anzac Memorial and the Pool of Reflection. At various times the park hosts concerts, festivals and food & wine fairs.

Darling Harbour is a jewel in Sydney’s crown and it is an enjoyable stroll from Rydges World Square. There are many attractions like the Chinese Garden of Friendship, Madame Tussauds, the Sea LifeSydney Aquarium, the Powerhouse Museum, the Wildlife Sydney Zoo, IMAX Theatre and the Australian NationalMaritime Museum.

The Australian Museum (across Hyde Park on the corner of College and Park Streets) is architecturally stunning and home to many treasures, especially in the areas of natural history and anthropology. It opens every day except Christmas Day and is a really interesting sojourn. It is a short walk from here (down College Street with Hyde Park on your left) to St Mary’s Cathedral, the Art Gallery of New South Wales and The Domain and Royal Botanic Gardens. Nearby Macquarie Street is also rewarding and is home to The Mint, the NSW Parliament, the State Library and the SydneyConservatorium of Music.

The bottom of Macquarie Street leads to Sydney Harbour with the Sydney Opera House, Circular Quay, Museum of Contemporary Art, The Rocks and one of the city’s best attractions, Bridgeclimb.

For dining out close to Rydges World Square there are plenty of cafés, bars and restaurants a short walk away. Dixon Street and Chinatown are just across George Street on the way to Darling Habour where there are also many options (head to Cockle Bay).

Sea Life Sydney Aquarium

Sydney Sea Life Aquarium in Darling Harbour is one of the city’s top attractions, and for good reason – it is simply one of the world’s best aquariums and, as well as the wonderful marine life, there are lots of attractions within the aquarium. It is a rewarding outing for the whole family and you should allow plenty of time to explore at leisure and enjoy some of the tours, presentations and activities. You can swim and snorkel, take the Glass Bottom Boat tour and go behind the scenes.

The Behind the Scenes Tour lets visitors check out the inner workings of the aquarium.  The tours lasts about 45 minutes and highlights include being one of the first to feed the fish standing above Shark Valley… a visit to the research laboratory to test the pH and oxygen levels (it is most important that the marine life stays alive and healthy!)… and a trip to prepare the feasts for the dugongs, Pig and Wuru, the only pair of on-display dugongs in the world.

On Dugong Island there is an interactive game so you can experience what it is like to see, hear, smell and speak like Pig (named after his eating habits) and Wuru (who weighs in at over 400 kilos!). Did you know that dugongs are closely related to elephants? Other areas within the aquarium include Rocky Shores, Bay of Rays, Shark Valley, Mangrove Swamps and South Coast Shipwreck.

Another popular activity is the Reef Shark Snorkel. On this one visitors can be face-to-fin with some of the ocean's most amazing creatures, including reef sharks, sawfish and an array of tropical fish that call the Great Barrier Reef home.  Snorkellers are submerged in a safe and see-through enclosure as fascinating marine critters like the Maori Wrasse and White-Tip Reef Sharks swim just metres away. With no diving experience required this ultimate reef adventure can be enjoyed individually or with the entire family – and what a great way to learn to snorkel! The whole experience lasts about an hour and a half and you get around 20 minutes of quality snorkel time. The aquarium provides the wet suit and snorkel gear but you need to take swimmers and a towel.

There are entertaining and informative talks about the rays, the little penguins, the orphaned and rescued dugongs and, of course, the sharks. You can take the Glass Bottom Boat Tour (10 to 15 minutes) and feed the fish and the sharks as well as get an incredible view of hundreds of tropical fish, the reef’s famous predators and other animals found on the reef.

The Sea Life Sydney Aquarium is an all-weather attraction, located on the city side of Darling Harbour. It is open 365 days a year from 9:30am to 7:00pm with last entries strictly at 6:00pm. The aquarium has extensive wheelchair access facilities throughout the attraction and wheelchairs are available for (free) hire from guest services on arrival. For admission, tour prices and other details, visit the official Sydney SEA LIFE Aquarium website.

Wild Life Sydney Zoo

Some visitors to Sydney don’t realise that the city is home to two terrific zoos – there is Taronga Zoo on the north side of Sydney Harbour and the award-winning Wild Life Sydney Zoo right in the heart of the city.Wild Life Sydney Zoo is a walk from Rydges World Square, located on the city side of Darling Harbour, next to the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium and Madame Tussauds.

It’s quite an amazing experience to be effortlessly taken to a number of iconic Australian habitats to encounter, up close, some of our most loved and feared animals. There are interactive displays, informative and entertaining daily shows, feeding sessions, guided tours and walk-through habitats including Koala Encounters, Kangaroo Walk-About and Butterfly Tropics. You can’t walk through the Kakadu Gorge habitat – best to leave that to Rex, the huge five-metre saltwater crocodile – but you can view Rex both above and below the waterline.

Everyone loves a koala and there are plenty of koalas to love. You can gran a coffee or lunch at the Koala Rooftop Café and, on weekends, get there early for a Koala Breakfast (from 7:30am) – you can beat the morning crowds, enjoy a hot breakfast in a bush setting and experience an informative talk plus a photo opportunity.

Visitors can also hand-feed Princess, the beautiful Southern Cassowary. The cassowary is the third tallest bird in the world and is known as the world’s deadliest bird – and there are only 1000 left in the wild. The Butterfly Tropics habitat has, of course, tropical butterflies as well as a diverse range of animals living in the carefully created area including birds, fish, frogs, turtles and vividly coloured pythons. You might also get the chance to pat a python and take home a photo.

Devil’s Den is home to Topsy, the Tasmanian Devil and Wallaby Cliffs is home to Ringo, the celebrity baby wombat. Ringo shares the habitat with other critters including Bluey, the yellow-footed rock wallaby, a couple of kookaburras, a family of blotched blue-tongued lizards and Stewie the quokka.

Some of the weirdest and most wonderful creatures like bats and bilbies venture out at night when all the other animals have gone to bed and the Wild Life Sydney Zoo has created a Nightfall Habitat so you can check them out. Many nocturnal animals feed on bugs and visitors can visit Bugs Garden to explore the amazing world of creepy crawlies like spiders, beetles and bees.  Did you know that bugs have been around five thousand times as long as humans?

And you may want to hop aboard the zoo’s Wild Flight. This is a self-propelled ride where kids and parents can take a flight through the attraction’s aviary.  Riders will see kangaroos from the sky, glide past princess parrots, other feathered friends, the endangered Gre-headed Flying Foxes and even take a daring journey over Rex the crocodile.

Wild Life Sydney Zoo is open from 9:00am to 5:00pm daily and here is a link to the official website for more information.

Madame Tussauds Sydney

Madame Tussauds Sydney is a walk from Rydges World Square, located on the city side of Darling Harbour next to the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium. Firstly, to answer one frequently asked question – yes, take your camera/phone – you are more than welcome to take photos with the wax figures and don’t be shy – you can throw an arm around them or strike pretty much any pose you like. You won’t damage the figures and you will get a great keepsake!

Madame Tussauds first opened in London in 1836 and the secret to the museum’s enduring success is good, old-fashioned curiosity. We all like getting up close with the rich, the powerful and the famous. There are nine ‘zones’ in Madame Tussauds Sydney and they are:

In the History Zone you can don a sailor’s hat with Captain Cook, get into some aviation clobber to pose with Sir Charles Kingsford Smith and become Ned Kelly’s partner in crime… In the Leaders Zone you will find spiritual and political leaders like the Dalai Lama and you can interact with Julia Gillard, take a seat with the Queen or pose with Barack Obama in the Oval office (throw your feet up on the desk – he has someone to clean it for him)…

The Sport Zone is home to a varied lot of achievers like Don Bradman, Shane Warne, Layne Beachley and Cathy Freeman. Here you can stand on the Olympic podium with Dawn Fraser, sit in a replica F1 car with Mark Webber, challenge Lleyton Hewitt in a game of Wii tennis or take a putt to attempt a hole in one with Greg Norman…

The Music Zone has plenty of iconic stars like Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Kylie Minogue and Ricky Martin. Pose with your very own guitar and hat beside legendary Slim Dusty, rock on an electric guitar with Jimmy Barnes, moonwalk with Michael Jackson or shake it off with Taylor Swift…

In the Culture Zone you can meet Eddie Mabo, pose with Henry Lawson and Banjo Patterson or test your science knowledge with a touch screen quiz at Albert Einstein… In the TV Zoneyou might like to be interviewed by Rove McManus or Oprah or star with Home and Away’s Alf Stewart, Neighbour’s Harold Bishop or Edna Everage…

It’s lights, camera and action in the Film Zone– you can act up with iconic film stars in a movie themed studio - dress up as Marilyn Monroe in her iconic white dress, sit with Audrey Hepburn for breakfast at Tiffanys, jump on the BMX with E.T. or pose with Crocodile Dundee…

Join the A-List Zonewith your besties – Miranda Kerr, Ryan Gosling, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Rhianna, Johnny Depp and P!nk (in her own heart-shaped funhouse)… And, in the Marvel Super-Hero Zone come face-to-face with Spiderman, Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Iron Man and Wolverine’s amazing foot-long Adamantium claws!

Madam Tussauds Sydney is open from 9:30am to 8:00pm daily with the last admission at 7.00pm. Here is a link to the official Madame Tussauds Sydney website for more information.

Sydney Tower Eye

The Sydney Tower Eye is in the heart of the CBD (corner of Market Street and the Pitt Street Mall) and is a fabulous way to get your bearings with the ultimate view of the city and beyond.

The first thing that will amaze is the speed the lift travels to get you soaring close to 300 metres above the city – it is the tallest building in the city and twice the height of the harbour bridge. The spire above the Tower is used for telecommunications and navigation purposes. The golden turret can hold 960 people and has two levels of restaurants, a coffee lounge and the popular Observation Deck (the ‘Eye’).

You can stroll around the Observation Deck and take in the sights from every point on the compass – to the west you will see the Blue Mountains with the spread of the western suburbs in the foreground. To the south you can see busy Sydney Airport and Botany Bay. Look to the east to see the beaches, some of the city’s richest real estate and the Pacific Ocean through the harbour heads. From here you can move to the view to the north, over the magnificent harbour to the leafy northern suburbs.

Not only is the building extremely tall, it is also one of the world’s safest structures, being capable of withstanding extreme wind conditions and earthquakes.

The SKYWALK experience is a special attraction that extends the viewing experience with a shot of adrenalin and its own unique reward. SKYWALK was constructed in 2005 at a cost of around $4 million it and allows visitors to feel like they are walking on air, 268 metres above the city with the streets directly below their feet. The tour around the outside of the golden turret takes around 45 minutes and as well as the views that go for some 80km, two glass viewing platforms give a birds-eye view of the city streets that might make you feel a bit like Spiderman.

There’s the opportunity to have a photo on the glass floor platform with the stunning harbour as the backdrop. For safety reasons (for those below) you can’t take your own camera/phone on the walk (lockers are provided for your personal items). While you think it may be just for extreme thrillseekers, for many visitors it has been described as serene, uplifting and informative. But you will feel like a thrillseeker!

SKYWALK is for ages 8 years and over and participants need to take a breath test to have a blood alcohol reading under 0.05%. Participants are provided with an all-in-one jump suit, attachments are on-hand for prescription glasses/sunglasses and you should wear flat, enclosed, non-slip shoes. The walk operates from 10:00am to 8:00pm (October to April) and 10:00am to 7:00pm (May to September). SKYWALKS run in all weather conditions except electrical storms or extremely high winds. If you are in a wheelchair, you can also do the ‘walk’ but they do need advance notice. You can visit the official Sydney Tower Eye website here for more information.

St Mary's Cathedral

For non-Catholics, Sydney’s St Mary’s Cathedral makes a stunning architectural statement and for practising Catholics it also makes a huge spiritual statement. The cathedral is gothic and grand, adding a mix of grace and beauty to the CBD. It is a walk from Rydges World Square – just head up to Hyde Park and it is across College Street from the north side of the park – it’s impossible to miss! The Cathedral represents the spiritual origins of the Catholic Church in Australia and is very much still a ‘working’ church with Mass happening daily as well as choral services, baptisms and weddings. It is also a fine place for individual meditation, reflection and prayer.

St Mary’s is one of Sydney's most historic buildings and one of the finest examples of English-style gothic churches in the world. The architect, William Wilkinson Wardell, dreamed of an impressive structure shaped from the local yellow-block sandstone on which Sydney is built. The building was finally completed 100 years after the architect's death (he died in 1899). Wardell was a civil engineer and an architect and he migrated to Australia in 1858. He designed a number of Australia’s notable public buildings including St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne, Government House in Melbourne and St John’s College at the University of Sydney.

St Mary’s Cathedral is dedicated to Mary Help of Christians and the building is home to many treasures. In 2010 Mary MacKillop was canonised in Rome and given the title of St Mary of the Cross and there is a statue of St Mary of the Cross at the Hyde Park entrance. The stained glass windows are sensational and there are around 40 pictorial windows. Around the walls of the aisles are oil paintings of the Stations of the Cross, there is a marble replica of Michelangelo’s Pieta, an ornate baptismal font, the grave of the Unknown Soldier, sculpted by G.W. Lambert and the crypt with its extensive terrazzo mosaic floor depicting the story of creation.

The crypt is the last resting place of the Archbishops of Sydney and is home to an exhibition that details the history of early Sydney Church, titled The First Australian Catholics - from convict ships to the great fire. Included in the exhibition are display cases that contain artefacts from those early days including an oaken tabernacle, convict vestments, candlesticks and a crucifix believed to have been used in the first official Mass in 1803 and the ‘marriage dollar’ said to have been loaned to financially embarrassed bridegrooms. The Crypt may be closed for Mass and Special Events and you can contact the Cathedral on (02) 9220 0400 for opening times.

The bells are also an important part of the cathedral’s grandeur. They are rung before Solemn Mass on Sundays and on major feast days. They are also rung as part of the finale to Sydney’s in the Domain concert in January as part of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. For more information on the cathedral including Mass times, visit the St Mary’s Cathedral official website.

Sydney Opera House

The Sydney Opera House is more than an iconic Sydney landmark. When it became a UNESCO World Heritage-listed site in 2007, it was was hailed as “one of the indisputable masterpieces of human creativity, not only in the 20th century but in the history of humankind”.

The Sydney Opera House is about much more than opera with live performances from all areas of creative performance.  The theatres present opera, drama, comedy, rock & pop concerts, ballet, contemporary dance and shows for children. With over 1600 performances each year, there’s something for everyone. It is also a great place to begin exploring the harbour city with the nearby Royal Botanic Gardens, The Rocks a stroll away at the other side of Circular Quay and, of course, the sparkling harbour out front with the Harbour Bridge to the left. It is easy to explore yourself and there are tour options (in a number of languages).

With the behind the scenes Sydney Opera House Tour you discover the stories behind Danish architect Jørn Utzon’s remarkable achievement – like what inspired him to base his revolutionary design on ships’ sails and how he solved an engineering challenge considered one of the most difficult attempted anywhere in the world. These one-hour guided tours run daily from 9:00am to 5:00pm and give a great insight into the intricate workings of a living, breathing Opera House. You explore the theatres and foyers with an experienced guide who leads you through every aspect of the building’s 14-year creation and 58-year history. Run your hands over the world-famous shell tiles, take a seat in the elegant custom-made white birch timber chairs and marvel at the vaulted ceilings of one of the biggest pillar-free chambers in the world. You explore rare vantage points that are off limits to the general public.

The Backstage Tour uncovers the mysteries of the backstage world with lots of insider secrets and includes a full-cooked breakfast in the Green Room – the exclusive domain of the staff and performers who call this remarkable building home. For lovers of dance, opera, theatre and performing arts of all kinds, a Backstage Tour at the Sydney Opera House is an experience you won’t forget. The two-hour tour runs daily at 7am only, in order to provide the best behind-the-scenes access for guests. Group sizes are intimate, with a maximum of 12 guests, so booking ahead is essential. There’s also the Tour and Tasting Plate.

There are a number of dining options to suit all tastes and budgets – for fine dining there’s Bennelong Restaurant with dining alternatives that include The Restaurant (a la carte), the more casual Cured & Cultured and Pre & Post Theatre… there’s also The Opera Bar for a leisurely bite to eat, the Opera Kitchen for snacks like burgers and sushi, Bistro Mozart for high-quality meals at bistro prices and the pop-up restaurant, The House Eatery by George, under the Colonnade on the Western Boardwalk.

For more information on this fabulous building including what’s on, visit The Sydney Opera House official website.

Museum of Sydney

The Museum of Sydney is just back from Circular Quay, on the corner of Phillip and Bridge Streets. It is a modern museum, located on the historic site of the first Government House which was built for Governor Phillip in 1788. The Museum of Sydney takes you on a journey to explore Sydney's people, places and cultures from dreamtime to modern times.

It is a place of many layers: from the archaeological remains of the colony's first Government House to the award-winning sculpture Edge of the Trees to a dynamic changing exhibition and event program to supplement the permanent exhibits.

One of the fabulous permanent exhibits is Edge of the Trees. This site-specific piece was commissioned for the museum forecourt at its opening in 1995. The installation was created by artists Fiona Foley and Janet Laurence. Their award-winning public art installation evokes the cultural and physical history of the site, before and after 1788 - a pivotal turning point in our history, when contact/invasion/colonisation took place.

The installation is a 'forest' of 29 massive pillars made from sandstone, wood and steel and they cluster near the museum entrance. Wooden pillars from trees once grown in the area have been recycled from lost industrial buildings of Sydney. The names of 29 Aboriginal clans from around Sydney correspond to the 29 vertical poles. Walking between the pillars you hear a soundscape of Koori voices reciting the names of places in the Sydney region that have today been swallowed up by the metropolis.

Take your time here so you see things like the organic materials (human hair, shell, bone, feathers, ash and honey) embedded in windows within the elements, representing prior ways of life. Natural and cultural histories are evoked by the names of botanical species carved or burnt into wooden columns in Latin and Aboriginal languages, along with the signatures of First Fleeters. Place names are engraved on the sandstone pillars in English and Aboriginal languages.

Once inside you can check out the amazing scale models of the ships of the First Fleet and see the foundations of the first Government House, once the social and administrative centre of the colony. There’s also the opportunity to watch rare historic films from the National Film and Sound Archive and there are always rewarding temporary exhibitions.

For all-day contemporary dining The Governors Table Bar & Dining is located above the foundations of the first Government House, fusing modern Australian cuisine with colonial era cooking techniques. It opens Monday 7.30am to 5:00pm; Tuesday to Friday, 7.30am till late; Saturday, 8.30am till late; Sunday 9.30am to 5:00pm. For bookings, contact (02) 9241 1788.

The Museum of Sydney opens from 10:00am to 5:00pm (closed Good Friday and Christmas Day). Admission costs $10 for adults, $5 for children and concessions and $20 for families (two adults and two children). Members are free. There is level entry to the museum and forecourt and lift access to all floors. For what’s currently on at The Museum of Sydney, here is a link to that section of the Museum of Sydney website.

Bondi Beach

For some people Bondi Beach is more than a beach – it is a lifestyle… it could be a lifestyle based on surfing or just on living in a relaxed, vibrant, trendy suburb by the sea. Locals can seem a bit blasé to the scenic wonder of Bondi Beach – it is their ‘backyard’ - but for many visitors the golden sands, blue ocean and well-formed waves make it one of Sydney’s top attractions.

The surf will entice, especially in summer but there’s more to the beach than surf, swimming and sunbaking. There’s great shopping, dining and people-watching just the other side of Campbell Parade, there are delightful coastal walks and at night the place has a welcoming buzz. And, just up Military Road, is a wonderful little golf course (eight Par 3 holes and one Par 4) – enjoy the sky, the cliffs, the sea, the Aboriginal rock carvings (5th hole) and the course/clubhouse. It’s also a great spot for whale watching between May and November.

Back to the sand and surf… Bondi Beach is fabulous for a wander or a swim (make sure you swim between the flags!) and is a good surfing beach for novices and experienced surfers. If you are visiting and want to have a crack at getting out on a wave and up on a board, there are excellent surf schools that offer lessons all year round. There are protected areas for learners (the more experienced head to the southern end of the beach). Here is a link to Let’s Go Surfing.

There are many fabulous restaurants, bars, cafés and coffee shops for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Campbell Parade is also, naturally, home to a number of swimwear shops. On Saturdays you can enjoy the Bondi Farmers’ Market and on Sunday mornings there are the Bondi Markets. Any day is a good day to enjoy the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk and it is especially rewarding in spring when ‘Sculpture by the Sea happens. The walk is 6km (allow an hour or two) and it starts next to the Bondi Icebergs (just above the swimming baths). It is very scenic with more beaches at Tamarama, Bronte and Coogee.

Getting to Bondi Beach is easy – it is only about 20 minutes (7km) from the CBD by car. The downside to driving is getting a good parking spot. Parking inspectors patrol the streets (there are parking meters and time limits for non-residents) and privately owned car parks can cost as much as a taxi for a five hour stay. A taxi from the city will cost around $30 to $40 or you could hop a train to Bondi Junction, then take a taxi or bus to the beach.

The easiest bus to hop all the way is the 380 or 333 - destinations may show as Bondi Beach, Dover Heights, Watsons Bay or North Bondi but they all go to the beach. The route starts at Circular Quay and goes along Elizabeth Street next to Hyde Park, then left into Liverpool Street, up Oxford Street and on through Paddington and Bondi Junction.