5 ways to explore Sydney Harbour

Exploring Sydney Harbour is a must while you’re in Sydney. But there’s much more to Sydney Harbour than just the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. To get the most out of this amazing place, you need to get up close and personal. Here are our top 5 ways to explore Sydney Harbour.

Mr and Mrs Romance - 5 ways to explore Sydney Harbour

There are so many ways to explore Sydney Harbour. We live in Sydney and we’re amazed at how often we discover a new part to the harbour – a new view, a new walk, a new beach.

Sydney Harbour is the biggest natural harbour in the world, so the potential for finding untouched or non-touristy parts to it is very high.

The Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House aren’t the only things to see on Sydney Harbour. Both are stunning icons of Australia, but there’s a lot more to find either out on the water or from the shoreline of this amazing natural harbour.

Here are our top 5 ways to explore Sydney Harbour like a local:

Sydney Ferries

The ferry system in and around Sydney Harbour is fantastic. Topping up your Opal Card, picking a wharf at Circular Quay and seeing where the next ferry takes you is a great way to get a unique view of the harbour.

Otherwise choose a destination like Watsons Bay or Cremorne and walk around the shoreline… but more about that in a minute.

Mr & Mrs Romance - explore Sydney Harbour - ferries

Our favourite ferry trip is to Manly. You’re on the biggest of the Sydney ferries and you end up in a place that doesn’t feel like Sydney anymore.

And there are some great places to find a drink or a bite to eat – Hemingway’s for example or Manly Wine are great venues right on the beach.

Hire a boat

LEKKER Boats is a Dutch owned and inspired company that sells and leases boats (and also Dutch style bicycles) that you can hire for the day.

Mr and Mrs Romance - 5 ways to explore Sydney Harbour

Mr and Mrs Romance - 5 ways to explore Sydney Harbour

The speedboats LEKKER rents out are amazingly fast and very nimble so pretty much anywhere you ask your skipper to take you, they’ll go.

Fill up the cooler with beers and snacks and head out into the harbour. Splitting this between a group of you will make this an affordable yet very fun way to see the harbour at its best. And the guys at LEKKER love a crowd to play to!


We’ve only been introduced to SUP or Stand Up Paddle-boarding recently when we were Noosa but absolutely loved it.

It’s so much fun and surprisingly easy when you’ve got smooth waters like the harbour provides.

It’s a pretty good workout for your core too and you get to see some intimate parts of Sydney Harbour most don’t get to explore.


Mrs Romance loves kayaking – even though the times we’ve done it together, we’ve always ended up in trouble… but that’s a story for another time.

Mr and Mrs Romance - 5 ways to explore Sydney Harbour

Kayaking is very popular on Sydney Harbour. Especially from Manly, exploring the bays and beaches only accessible from the water around the middle and outer harbour is great fun and so interesting.

You could even double up with a ride on the Manly Ferry to get there!

Manly Kayak Centre is a great company and will sort you out with a kayak and a map of where you can go. One of our wedding presents was a voucher to use their boats and it was unforgettable.

Our top tip for kayaking though: go mid week. The weekends are always busy here.

Walk the Harbour foreshore

There are countless walks you can do along the shoreline of Sydney Harbour. They all give a unique perspective of the harbour and what she has to offer. And best of all, they’re free to do!

The walk from Watsons Bay around to the southern headland is one of our favourites. Or visit one of the other beautiful harbour beaches like Balmoral or around Double Bay.

Mr & Mrs Romane - explore Sydney Harbour - Balmoral

Alternatively check out places like Cockatoo Island or Fort Denison for a really different view of Sydney Harbour and a bit of Aussie history to boot. You can get to these little harbour islands by ferry – or water taxi if you’re in a rush!

The Destination NSW tourism board website has a great resource for of Sydney Harbour walks here.

Mr and Mrs Romance - 5 ways to explore Sydney Harbour

Sydney Harbour really is an amazing, unique place. If you’re a Sydneysider, make the most of it for we are the lucky few. If you’re visiting, put this part of Sydney on the top of your list!

What’s your favourite part of Sydney Harbour? Do you have a favourite spot in your hometown you always recommend visitors go to? Tell us in the comments!

Images by Mrs Romance.
Image credits: image 5 & image 7.


  • I need to build up my upper body strength before I try to go kayaking again anytime soon, but I would definitely love to see harbour by boat! Will keep these options in mind for my trip 😀

    • Reply April 22, 2015

      Mr Romance

      Ha ha! I know what you mean, Chanel! Part of what I was alluding to about there always being a drama when Mrs R and I go kayaking together. We usually get a double kayak which means me doing most of the work to get back to shore! Definitely give it some thought though. It’s a fantastic way to see Sydney.

  • I have a coupla kayaks at my house, we should take them out for some trouble when it warms up again.
    I also have a surf board. Have you tried surfing yet?

    • Reply April 23, 2015

      Mr Romance

      That sounds like a plan, Steph. I warn you though, we really do get into strife every time we get in one! Yes, we’ve both tried surfing – me quite a few times. It’s great fun… to watch. My problem is every time I get on the board, I fall off. It’s quite the hindrance!

  • Reply April 23, 2015


    Never considered SUP on the harbour before but I’ve been kayaking under the bridge and through all the small bays on the north shore with Patrick from Kayak Sydney Harbour – such a great experience and he could seriously name every.single.boat and tell you once piece of history (who owned it now, in the past, and if it won/raced in a Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race!)

    My absolute favourite way to explore Sydney Harbour has to be by ferry. Every time I visit Sydney – rain, hail or shine – I will take the Circular Quay ferry around once or twice, maybe stopping at Balmain for the long uphill walk to Zumbo’s original store for a passionfruit tart – YUM! 🙂

    • Reply April 23, 2015

      Mr Romance

      Yes, the harbour’s not a bad place to do it, though the boat traffic can make things a bit wobbly if you’re not used to doing it. Will have to check out Kayak Sydney Harbour next time Mrs R and I feel like getting into trouble!
      That mini itinerary of yours to Balmain is superb. Might be borrowing that at some point soon!

  • I have also lived in Sydney for most of my life. The harbour is stunning. Harbour walks and harbour ferries are a fabulous way to see it. However by far the best thing I have ever done is take a helicopter flightseeing tour over the harbour. Looking down on the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge from above is one of those ‘once in a lifetime’ things – and it isn’t nearly as expensive as you might think.

    • Reply June 9, 2016

      Mr Romance

      Hey Lyn! That’s a great idea – and one thing we’d love to do too! We’ve flown over Sydney heaps of times as we’re leaving or landing at the airport, but I get the impression we’d get to see so much more from a helicopter. I’d also really like to get a sea plane from Elizabeth Bay and fly to dinner in the Northern Beaches. I reckon that’d be amazing!

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