Best Things To Do In Darling Harbour

Time and time again our guests ask us: what are the top things to do in Darling Harbour? We’ve drawn on our local knowledge and interactions with thousands of guests who have explored Darling Harbour to bring you the ultimate list of things to do.

Darling Harbour is a vibrant district of Sydney with water views and offers lots to see, do and eat. You can wander around the pedestrian boulevards, water taxis and whale-watching boats, bowling alleys, shops, bars and restaurants or just sit in one of the many public areas to enjoy the sun. 

The site has a wonderful history. For thousands of years, it was where the Gadigal people fished and hunted, in the area called Cockle Bay. In the 20th century, the site, known as Darling Harbour, became a trade nexus where Sydney received goods and passengers from afar and quickly becoming a lifestyle destination for eating, shopping and entertainment.

Tip: see the city from the water with a cruise on Sydney Harbour from King Street Wharf. Choose between a sightseeing cruise, lunch cruise or dinner cruise!

Ready? Here are our nine top tips for helping you make the best of your trip to Darling Harbour.

1. Take a Stroll Along King Street Wharf and Cockle Bay Wharf

Situated along Darling Harbour's waterfront, King Street Wharf and Cockle Bay Wharf have numerous bars and restaurants to grab a quick bite or enjoy a fancy meal. You’ll find absolutely masses of choice! Just wander in and pull up a chair for a catch-up brunch, long lunch, beer in the sunshine, littlies’ feeding frenzy, super-chic dinner or fancy pants cocktail in one of the city’s coolest clubs.

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2. NEW! Discover the building THE EXCHANGE, an architectural marvel & a place where community connects.

Located in Darling Square, this unique, spiral-shaped form is purposefully designed to bring people together openly, and without the separation of barriers and corners — promoting seamless connectivity and exchange between each floor. 

Explore the six levels of The Exchange, including the building’s City of Sydney Library that hosts the Ideas Lab, a place where collaborators can innovate, learn new skills or take their first steps to setting-up a business. The building also includes a ground floor food and beverage destination, to be known as Maker’s Dozen.

Inspired by the world’s best international food halls, but with a contemporary twist, the vision for the ground floor is a curated space where 12 of the very best local providores and producers will have the opportunity to showcase their goods.

The Darling Square Precinct is located between Darling Harbour and Haymarket - MORE INFO HERE.

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3. Visit the National Maritime Museum / Sea Museum

Over Pyrmont Bridge is the National Maritime Museum or 'Sea Museum", Australia’s centre for maritime collections, exhibitions, research and archaeology. The museum has one of the largest floating historical vessel collections in the world, featuring the renowned replica of Captain Cook’s HMB Endeavour, and former Navy submarine.

See Australian wildlife at the Sydney Aquarium and Sydney Wildlife World and pose with the wax figures at Madame Tussauds, all located at Aquarium Wharf. Over Pyrmont Bridge is the National Maritime Museum, the Star Casino and the Harbourside shopping centre. From Darling Harbour you can also explore the newly developed Barangaroo waterfront precinct and visit the International Convention Centre Sydney (ICC Sydney).

The permanent and temporary exhibitions explore and represent Australia’s close links to the sea covering Indigenous Australian’s deep connection to ocean, early exploration, defence and adventure. The museum gives local and international visitors a chance to connect to Australia’s maritime past and present in surprising ways.

2 Murray Street - MORE INFO HERE.

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4. Discover Australia's incredible marine life at the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium

Come on a journey of amazing discovery through SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium’s unique freshwater and marine aquatic environments, and discover an incredible 13,000 animals from 700 different species. 

Explore beautifully themed habitats including, Dugong Island where the aquarium’s cheekiest character Pig the Dugong lives, Discovery Kids Rockpool, Sydney Harbour and Shark Alley home to awesome three-metre sharks and huge smooth rays. Enjoy the new Turtle Beach, an interactive show that allows you to follow a nesting turtle on an indoor beach and help to guide baby hatchlings safely into the sea.

Don’t forget to hop-aboard the world-first ride-through experience that transports explorers through the sub-Antarctic to meet spectacular King and adorable Gentoo penguins in Penguin Expedition.

Experience the iconic wonders of the Great Barrier Reef at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium’s brand new exhibit – Day and Night on the Reef. Set entirely on the reef as it transitions through night and day, life on the reef is recreated for guests to encounter & experience, across 24 hours of the day.

1-5 Wheat Road, Aquarium Wharf - MORE INFO HERE

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5. Have fun at Madame Tussauds Sydney

Step into the world of celebrity, with more than 70 of the world's best-known personalities, our very own Aussie stars, and a range of fun interactive experiences—all at Madame Tussauds Sydney. Get on stage with popstars, rub shoulders with the most powerful politicians, and even test your sporting skills against the greats. 

1-5 Wheat Road, Aquarium Wharf - MORE INFO HERE.

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6. Relax at the Chinese Garden of Friendship

Escape the beaten-path and find instant tranquility within these walls. Refresh and unwind as you meander through an inner-city oasis, where the willows sway, the waterfalls babble, and time moves nice and slow. Wander serene pathways and take in exotic plants, blooming flowers and a lake of shimmering Koi.

Designed in 1988 by landscape architects and gardeners from Sydney’s sister city, Guangzhou, the Chinese Garden of Friendship follows the Taoist principles of 'Yin-Yang' – the balance of opposing yet complementary forces – and ‘Wu-Xing’ – the harmonious five elements of wood, fire, earth, metal and water. 

9.30am – 5pm (5.30pm for Oct–Mar) Admission : Adult $8 a- Child under 12 $4 - Concession/Student: $4

Pier Street, Cnr Harbour St - MORE INFO HERE

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7. Eat at Steam Mill Lane & Little Hay Street, Sydney's largest little laneways

Always-on and larger-than-life, Steam Mill Lane punches above its weight with a mix of emerging fashion and lifestyle retailers, and is also the new home of some of Sydney’s best-known and loved food concepts. MORE INFO HERE.

If you are a social night owl or a sweet hunter head to Little Hay Street, in an immersive, neon-lit laneway that captures the vibrant history of Chinatown and alludes to its thriving future. Bridging the energy of Haymarket with Darling Square, it is the Electric Treat Street you’ve been twitching for. Gelato alchemist Messina have swung open its doors! Suspended over Little Hay Street, the work City Lights has been created by contemporary Australian artist Brendan Van Hek.

The Darling Square Precinct is located between Darling Harbour and Haymarket - MORE INFO HERE.

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8. Learn at the PowerHouse Museum /  Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences

The Powerhouse Museum boasts a collection of more than 380,000 objects. See an extraordinary array of treasures from the fields of science, technology, industry, design, decorative arts and history.

Exhibitions and programs are based on the ideas and technologies that have changed our world, and the stories of the people who have created and inspired them.

500 Harris Street, Ultimo - MORE INFO HERE.

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9. Take the children to Monkey Baa Theatre Company

Monkey Baa Theatre is the home of theatre for young people in Sydney, programming professional productions for young people.

1-25 Harbour St - MORE INFO HERE.

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Hotels Near Darling Harbour

Did you know our properties are close to Darling Harbour? Located in Potts Point (one of Sydney’s trendiest suburbs), they are the perfect place to base your stay in Sydney and easily explore the best it has to offer.

Our best located Potts Point properties for your Darling Harbour stay include The Bayswater Sydney, Springfield Lodge, Hotel Challis, and The Maisonette.

Transport Options from our hotels in Potts Point Sydney:

  • 15-minute train ride (Kings Cross Station) and walk
  • 30-minute walk from The Bayswater Sydney (Potts Point)
  • 10-minute car trip

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