Looking for non touristy things to do in Sydney? Look no further! Here are some fun activities in Australia’s most famous city that you can enjoy without the crowds.
As the capital city of New South Wales, and Australia’s most populated city, Sydney is very popular among tourists.
With famous landmarks like the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, and Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney Harbour is an iconic spot to visit.
As you head towards the coast, stunning beaches like Bondi and Manly are usually packed with tourists. And with good reason! Sydney has so much to offer travelers, and there’s a reason why all these beautiful spots are so touristy.
But if you’re looking for non touristy things to do in Sydney, there are plenty of options to choose from.
To escape the crowds and mingle with more locals, try some of these non touristy things to do in Sydney!
Also be sure to check out my complete list of the 25 best things to do in Sydney, with free, cheap, and expensive options!
21 Non Touristy Things To Do In Sydney, Australia
Even though I’ve lived in Sydney for a couple of years now, I rarely spend time in the touristy areas like Sydney Harbour and Bondi Beach. Why? The city has so much fun, entertainment, and natural beauty to offer in other areas!
Honestly, as a whole, Sydney is not even a super touristy city. Tourists congregate around the Sydney Opera House and Bondi Beach, but outside those spots it can be very calm.
So here are some of my favorite non touristy things to do in Sydney that showcase the local culture and magical nature of the area.
1. Go To The Markets
Sydney has lots of incredible markets scattered all over the city. They are popular among locals, but not so much tourists.
Head here to browse through locally made handicrafts, score some cheap, fresh produce and meats, and pick up some vintage or secondhand clothes, books, and more.
Here is a quick summary of some of the best Sydney markets!
- The Rocks Market – Find food and crafts at this historic market (Sat & Sun 10am – 5pm)
- Marrickville Market – Sells food, clothes, books, & everything under the sun (Sundays 9am – 3pm)
- Sutherland Shire Farmers Market – Foodie paradise (Saturdays 8am – 1pm)
- Sydney Flower Market – Overflowing with colorful and unique flowers (Mon – Sat 5am – 11am)
- Paddington Markets – Known for clothes, jewelry, and accessories (Saturdays from 10am)
- Glebe Markets – One of Sydney’s best vintage markets (Saturdays 10am – 4pm)
2. Find A Hidden Garden or Park
If you’re looking for more hidden gems in Sydney, consider scoping out a beautiful garden or park.
Landscaped flower gardens and spacious green parks are hidden all over the city.
Wendy’s Secret Garden in Lavender Bay is one of the most popular, so I’m not sure how “secret” it is anymore. But this magical green space is still worth a visit!
Swain Gardens in northern Sydney is another gorgeous spot. With lush green grass, a charming gazebo, and flowering trees, this is the perfect place for a picnic away from the crowds.
Lisgar Gardens are also in Sydney’s north near Hornsby. Here you can find ponds, walking trails, and an abundance of unique plants and flowers.
Fred Hollows Reserve is a large green space with boardwalks, bridges, and walkways. Shelly Park, Oak Park, and Gunnamatta Park are three beautiful parks in Cronulla with water views.
3. Try A Coastal Walk (Other Than Bondi to Coogee)
The Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk is one of the best things to do in Sydney. But that means it’s often super crowded!
Luckily, Sydney has a lengthy coastline that is full of quieter, less touristy trails.
Head anywhere north or south of Bondi and Coogee and you’ll find coastal walks that are only populated by surfers checking the waves and locals strolling with their flat white in keep cups.
Manly to Spit Bridge is one of the more popular walks, but not nearly as much as Bondi to Coogee.
Venture further north and walk Dee Why to Manly, or Curl Curl to Freshwater.
Venturing south, you can walk Coogee to Maroubra and find that all the tourists left the trail at Coogee! Or head even further south and take on the scenic Cronulla Esplanade Walk, or the greater Botany Bay Coastal Walk.
4. Visit The Sydney Opera House At Sunrise
Another one of the best non touristy things to do in Sydney is visit the touristy places at odd times.
Throughout the day, the Sydney Harbour and Sydney Opera House is always swarming with tourists.
But if you wake up early enough, and head to the Sydney Opera House at sunrise, you’re in for a treat!
There will be no one else there, except maybe a few photographers. You’ll also get to witness the magic of the sunrise over one of the world’s most famous landmarks.
Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, Milson’s Point in Kirribilli, and on the Sydney Harbour Bridge itself give some of the best vantage points of the Sydney Opera House.
5. Take A Day Trip
If you’re looking for cool experiences in Sydney, consider venturing outside the city’s borders!
Some of the most beautiful scenery and fun activities lie just beyond the city. However, few tourists actually spend much time in these incredible national parks and small towns.
But Sydney has many epic day trips that are super accessible for travelers.
Whether you want to take the train, rent a car, or book a guided tour, here are some of the best day trips from Sydney!
- Drive along the stunning Grand Pacific Drive and visit the charming beach towns
- Spend a day in Wollongong
- Take on more epic coastal walks in the Royal National Park
- Go wine tasting in the Hunter Valley
- Try a day hike in the Blue Mountains
- Find waterfalls in Ku Ring Gai Chase National Park
6. Attend A Concert
As one of the biggest cities in the world, Sydney constantly has cool musical acts passing through.
Because most tourists are only in Sydney for a few days, it’s rare that they’ll attend local concerts.
If you’re looking for the big names, check Ticketek to see who’s playing. But if you’re looking for non touristy things to do in Sydney, you may be wanting to escape the crowds, not book tickets to a crowded music venue!
There are some smaller, more intimate concert options in Sydney if you want fewer crowds.
- Sydney’s Candlelight Concerts are incredible! These classical music concerts generally play in small churches or cozy venues by candlelight.
- Enmore Theatre is a smaller music venue just outside the CBD that hosts amazing concerts.
- Mary’s Underground and Tiva are underground bars and restaurants that have small stages with frequent live music as well.
Check Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights to Sydney!
7. Go To A Brewery
If you like beer, live music, and good vibes, check out a brewery in Sydney!
Surprisingly, Sydney isn’t really known for breweries. So when you visit one, you’ll mostly be surrounded by locals.
Here are some of the coolest breweries in Sydney:
- Shark Island Brewing Company, Kirrawee: craft beers and food trucks
- Freshwater Brewing, Brookvale: bright, colorful, trendy brewery
- Wildflower, Marrickvale: earthy, fermented beers
- Sunday Road Brewery, Kirrawee: unique, craft beers inspired by local places
- Yulli’s Brews, Alexandria: pub, live music, ciders
- One Drop Brewing Company, Botany: art, reggae music, plants, djs on weekends
8. Swim In The Remote Ocean Pools
Another one of the best non touristy things to do in Sydney is swim in a less-popular ocean pool.
All of Australia’s ocean pools are popular among locals – Australians love to float around and swim laps in these manmade, saltwater ocean pool.
But tourists tend to stick to the famous ones in touristy areas, such as Bondi Icebergs in Bondi, Bronte Baths in Bronte, or Fairy Bower Pool in Manly. Head to the ocean pools further away from these areas and you might have the place to yourself.
Check out Avalon Rock Pool, Dee Why Rock Pool, and Mona Vale Rock Pool in the north.
Mahon Pool in Maroubra is amazing, as is Shelly Beach Rock Pool and Oak Park Rock Pool in Cronulla.
9. Explore Newtown
Anyone looking for cool places to go in Sydney should head over to Newtown.
There are so many words locals use to describe Newtown: trendy, quirky, bohemian, artsy, and more.
Full of vintage shops, art galleries, tattoo parlors, live music venues, trendy eateries, cocktail bars, breweries, bookshops, theatres, and more, there is so much to see and do here.
If you like to shop, eat, drink, and just dive deep into the arts and the local culture, Newtown is the place to hang out!
10. Go For A Bushwalk
Despite being a massive city, Sydney has so much greenery. There are lots of little forests, parks, and protected areas of natural beauty all over the city and along its outskirts.
If you want to escape the crowds and spend some time in nature, go on a relaxing bushwalk!
In northern Sydney, the Barrenjoey Head Lighthouse walk is a short but steep hike up through the forest on a rocky headland. The views from the top are stunning.
Narrabeen Lagoon Trail is also stunning. here you’ll pass waterfalls, lakes, and green canopies.
The Blue Gum Forest Walk in Hornsby feels so wild, it’s hard to believe you’re still in Sydney!
An easy bushwalk is the Banks-Solander Track in Kurnell in southern Sydney. Stroll through the forest and pass lots of native plants and trees.
11. Attend A Comedy Show
If you love to laugh (who doesn’t), go to a comedy show in Sydney.
You can find tickets to famous comedians that pass through, or go to a smaller venue and watch some more unknown local comedians.
This is a super fun and usually affordable way to spend a night in Sydney.
I’ve been to a few comedy shows in Sydney, like Tom Segura at the Aware Super Theatre which drew a massive crowd.
But I had just as much fun at the Comedy Store, which shows less popular local artists in an intimate venue.
12. See Vivid Sydney On A Weekday
Every winter, Vivid Sydney takes over the city and fills the CBD and Sydney Harbour with colorful light displays. It’s one of the city’s biggest events, and it is definitely touristy.
However, weekends see most of the crowds, particularly the first and last weekends.
So for a non touristy Sydney activity, go see Vivid on a weekday! You can capture the magic with far fewer people around.
Check the Vivid Sydney website for dates and more information.
13. Play Tennis
I recently started playing tennis in Sydney, and it’s so much fun! It’s also a non touristy thing to do in Sydney. The courts are pretty much all locals!
If you have an hour or two to spare and you want to try something active, grab a friend and go play tennis.
There are places all over the city where you can rent a court for an hour and have some fun. You can usually rent rackets and balls as well.
14. Visit An Island
Many tourists don’t know this (I certainly didn’t when I first visited Australia!), but Sydney Harbour has 8 islands.
Cockatoo Island is the largest and easiest to visit. Just catch a ferry from Circular Quay and spend a few hours check out the sites of this former convict prison area.
Cockatoo Island is one of Australia’s convict sites on the UNESCO World Heritage list, and you can even camp on the island.
Goat Island is home to some incredible Aboriginal sites, including an ancient rock shelter. In modern times the island served as a sandstone mining site and storage facility.
Fort Denison is another island that served as a military site, as is Shark Island. All of these are accessible by ferry.
15. Go Camping
Another one of my favorite things to do in Sydney is camping. There are so many incredible national parks and camping areas around Sydney.
The campgrounds are usually frequented by Australians, so you won’t find too many international tourists around.
Also, many campgrounds nowadays require bookings. That means the spaces will never be too crowded as only a limited amount of guests are allowed on the campsites.
If you’re looking for cool experiences in Sydney, waking up under the stars to the sound of kookaburras and cockatoos is definitely one of them.
Some of the best campgrounds around Sydney include:
- Coledale Camping Reserve on the Grand Pacific Drive
- North Era Campground in the Royal National Park
- Putty Beach Campground in Bouddi National Park
- The Basin Campground in Ku Ring Gai Chase National Park
- Cockatoo Island Campground on Cockatoo Island in Sydney Harbour
- And there are tons of epic camping spots in the Blue Mountains – make sure you stay up late enough to see the famous glow worms!
16. Attend A Sports Game
A fun thing to do in any new country or city is attend a sports game.
Sometimes tourists attend sports games, but you’ll most likely find yourself watching the game alongside a bunch of passionate locals.
Especially in Australia, where people aren’t nearly as obsessed with sports as they are in other countries (at least in my experience), sports games are mainly attended by locals.
Rugby is the most popular sport to watch in Sydney! The NRL has 8 clubs based in Sydney so there are often games playing.
If you can make it to State of Origin, the intense New South Wales vs Queensland rugby game held every winter, this is an awesome experience.
Cricket and soccer are the next biggest, sports, and Sailing and surfing are popular water sports to watch.
Book a tour of the Sydney Cricket Ground to learn about the beloved sport’s history and culture.
17. Venture Up To Palm Beach
Tourists in Sydney tend to hang out near the CBD, Sydney Harbour, and Bondi Beach. Sometimes they will venture up to Manly, but rarely do you find big crowds up in the far north of the city.
Sydney’s northern tip is home to Palm Beach, a quiet little beach neighborhood that is set on a peninsula and has water on both sides.
Spending a day in the quaint town of Palm Beach is one of the best non touristy things to do in Sydney.
Embark on a short hike up to the Barrenjoey Head Lighthouse for epic views, or grab a bacon and egg roll at a nearby cafe.
It surprises me that more tourists don’t come up here because it’s a stunning spot.
18. Venture Down To Cronulla
Instead of venturing north to escape the Bondi crowds, you can also head south.
Sydney’s southernmost coastal suburb is Cronulla, another beach town that doesn’t see too many tourists.
It does get crowded on the weekends when locals from the western suburbs take the train in for a beach day.
But if you visit on a weekday, you can have a lovely visit without any tourists.
Stroll along the Cronulla Esplanade Walk and stop off for a swim at one of the many rock pools. Or wander through the quaint town center and find some food or go shopping.
19. Go Rock Climbing
One of the best rainy day activities in Sydney is indoor rock climbing!
Sydney Indoor Climbing Gym has two locations in the city where you can have a blast and get a good workout in while climbing the rock walls!
You can also go outdoor rock climbing in the Blue Mountains, but I would recommend only doing that with a tour guide or with a local who has equipment and knows what they’re doing.
Indoor rock climbing is a much safer and more casual activity.
20. Explore Chinatown
As the largest Chinatown in Australia, Sydney’s Chinatown dates back to the 1920s. Though it’s located pretty close to the CBD, it doesn’t feel too touristy around here.
Wander through the narrow streets adorned with Chinese gates and lanterns and grab a delicious, cheap meal in one of the eateries.
The Chinatown Friday Night Street Market is great for street food, though it does get kind of crowded.
After filling your stomach, relax by the Chinese Garden of Friendship and admire the tranquil gardens and ponds.
21. Try A Work Exchange
Last on my list of non touristy things to do in Sydney is a work exchange.
This is my favorite way to travel because you can save money on accommodation and have an in-depth cultural experience where you get to know the locals and gain valuable skills.
Between both of these websites, you can find locals in and around Sydney and New South Wales that are accepting travelers to work for them in exchange for free accommodation.
This is the best way to gain insight into the real Australian culture and lifestyle.
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Thanks for reading my list of 21 non touristy things to do in Sydney, Australia!
Sydney has grown to be one of my favorite cities in the world, mainly due to the incredible nature and places where you can escape the crowds.
For more inspiration around New South Wales, check out these articles:
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