12 Amazing Small Tour Experiences in Sydney

Our favourite way to explore a city is to find the unique local tours. These small group tours, activities or workshops hosted by locals are a great way to learn more about the place you are visiting and also to support the local economy.

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In Sydney, there are dozens of experiences offered by small independent operators covering everything from water activities like snorkelling, kayaking and boat rides, to photography classes, walking tours, street art tours, bike tours, food tours, and secret bar crawls.

There are also plenty of full-day trips and experiences in the Hunter Valley, the Blue Mountains, the South Coast and beyond. 

What makes these tours and activities unique compared to other tours is that group sizes are smaller and that your host or tour guide is often the owner of the experience. No more anonymous tour guides or tours without a personal connection! And because of the smaller group sizes, hosts can offer a more personalised experience that highlights their insider access and knowledge. 

Discover your guide’s favourite parts of Sydney

Discover Sydney’s Urban Art in a Kombi with Frank

Frank’s experience, Discover Sydney’s Urban Art, will take you all over Sydney in one of his restored Kombis to check out the best urban art around town. Frank was formerly an illustrator, so he provides an excellent commentary on the variety of art styles and points out works by world-renowned street artists.

The iconic bin chicken

This experience visits over 15 sites in Glebe, Chippendale, Darlington, St Peters, Newtown, and Redfern over 3 hours.

Frank can offer a 20% discount if you mention Sydney Expert email him at [email protected]

Learn Photography Secrets in The Rocks with Alfonso

Professional photographer Alfonso is the host of several tours, including Smartphone Travel Photography and DSLR Night Photography. I took this tour a while back and had a fantastic experience. Alfonso is a natural teacher and had lots of patience with my beginners skills.

He will take you on a customised route along back streets of The Rocks to point out the best spots from which to shoot, including great angles of the Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House.

Photography tour of the Rocks Sydney
Take your photography skills up a level

You’ll get to explore your phone or camera’s technical capabilities to master lighting and composition. Alfonso will offer a set of photographic challenges which are open to creative interpretation. He’ll also use his passion for history to help you caption your photos.

Book directly on Alfonso’s website and get $10 off using the promo code “sydneyexpert”.

Related: Check out the best pubs in the rocks for after your tour

Discover Hidden Nature Reserves and Aboriginal Carvings with Matt

Has this lockdown got you craving an escape into nature? You’re not alone! Avoid the more well-known locations with Matt’s Sydney Secrets – Nature, wildlife & more experience.

Meet the locals with Matt

His experience combines the coast with the bush, visiting pristine uncrowded beaches and going on bush walks above untouched picturesque valleys.

As a volunteer Aboriginal site monitor, Matt is trained to locate, monitor and report on the condition of sites, and will point out some ancient Aboriginal carvings, unknown to locals.

Contact him directly at [email protected] and mention Sydney Expert or visit his website.

Eat Your Way Through Newtown and Check Out Street Art with Justin

One of the best things about Sydney is all the different multicultural cuisines on offer! And what is one of the best places to check them all out? Newtown! Join Justin on his Newtown Chewtown – Food & Street Art experience to combine great food with insightful stories about the local street art scene.

Newtown offers great street art and fantastic food

This food and street art tour includes a minimum of 4 food stops, with cuisine options including Egyptian, Indian, Pakistani, Turkish, Thai, Japanese, “Australian” (whatever that is) and more. Vegetarian and vegans are sorted too – Newtown is famous for its many vego-friendly restaurants.

Along the way, Justin will point out some of the neighbourhood’s best street art and introduce you to some of the biggest names in Sydney’s street art scene. Your tour also starts or finishes with a visit to Newtown’s most popular craft brewery. 

Justin is also the host of two other experiences, including a “Local Sydney, food and culture” walking tour through Pyrmont, Ultimo and Glebe, a Secret Bar Crawl in Darlinghurst and Surry Hills and their latest tour Chinatown – Street food and stories.

Explore Marrickville with Caite

Even if you’ve lived in Sydney your entire life, there are bound to be neighbourhoods you’ve never explored in depth. Is Marrickville on that list for you? If so, Caite’s experience, The Mixed Bag tour of Marrickville, will set you straight. 

Walking with Caite in Marrickville

Tag along with Caite and her doggie co-host Gea on a 3-hour walking tour exploring all the best bets of this inner-west enclave. Caite’s afternoon tour weaves in the history and development of Marrickville while stopping at independent boutique stores, restaurants, Vietnamese bakeries (banh mi included!), distilleries, breweries and more.

I recently joined Caite as her guest and had a fantastic afternoon. I only live a few kilometres from here but discovered new places to go back to on this walk.

Get $10 off if you mention Sydney Expert, email Caite through her website, Walk This Way Tours.

Race Around Sydney Harbour on a Speedboat with Dirk

Want something faster? Join Dirk for a Self-drive Speed Boat Adventure on Sydney Harbour. German-born Dirk has custom-built your ride, a 2-seater speed boat that sits just half a metre above the water.

If you’ve never driven a boat before – don’t panic. These speed boats are safe and easy to operate, and Dirk will be right there to help you! No experience or licence is required. 

Checking out the view from Lavender Bay

Dirk’s 2-hour experience will take you on a whip-around of the harbour, starting in Rose Bay, crossing over towards Taronga Zoo, heading under the Harbour Bridge to Luna Park, before passing right beside the Opera House on your way back.

If you want to spend more time out on the harbour, Dirk also offers a 3-hour experience.

Discover Sydney by E-Bike with Grant and Linda

Seen all those delivery riders zipping around Sydney on electric bikes while you’re stuck in traffic and got jealous? Then jump on an electric bike with Linda and Grant’s Discover Sydney Harbour by e-Bike experience.

Linda and Grant’s e-bike tour takes you on a 20-kilometre ride around Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, The Domain, the Sydney Opera House, over the Sydney Harbour Bridge and around hidden gems of the harbour.

You’ll stop for some of the best coffee in Sydney then riding back through Surry Hills and colourful Darlinghurst providing the perfect loop!

Related: Find more “active” things to do in Sydney

Snorkel at Shelly Beach with Tamila

The water might be getting cooler, but that won’t stop Tamila from warmly welcoming you on her snorkelling experience, Snorkel in Sydney with a Mermaid. Tamila is a Brazilian-Australian who has been living in Sydney for over 10 years.

A swimming teacher, sports manager and certified scuba diver, Tamila is an experienced and passionate snorkel guide. Even if you’re not a strong swimmer, you’ll be in safe hands! 

Discover Sydney’s underwater life

You’ll spend up to 1.5 hours in the water with Tamila as she takes you on a guided tour of Shelly Beach, pointing out all the fishes and other sea creatures that call this marine sanctuary home. Snorkels, masks and floatation devices are included with wetsuits available for hire, plus you’ll get underwater photos of your experience.

There are multiple times throughout the day, and private tours are also available.

Related: Check out our guide for the best things to do in Manly

Gorge on Wine and Cheese in the Hunter Valley with Sean

How does your own custom, highly personalised wine and cheese Hunter Valley tour sound? Then hop aboard Hunter Valley Wine, Cheese & Kangaroos with Sean. Starting and finishing in Manly, Sean takes groups of up to 7 people out to his favourite Hunter Valley wineries for an epic day adventure. Sean’s experience is rated 4.99 out of 5 from over 400 reviews on Airbnb, making this one of the top Airbnb Experiences in all of Australia.

Let Sean show you the Hunter Valley

Expect to visit 4 or 5 different smaller wineries, ones that the larger tour groups can’t visit. At your final winery, Sean will pair cheese with your wines for the ultimate tasting experience.

Contact Sean directly on 1800 CHEESE or at [email protected] prior to booking, mention “Sydney Expert” to get $20 per person (minimum 2 people). 

Hike to Hidden Viewpoints in the Blue Mountains with Peter

Avoid the crowds by going on Peter’s Blue Mountains Hike, Art and Coffee experience.

Peter’s experience only takes up to four people at a time, and he prides himself on going beyond the usual spots. The itinerary is always flexible but includes a 2-hour hike, a cool cafe stop, a quality art gallery and several other unique secret places. In Peter’s own words, “when people say they’ve seen the Blue Mountains, they haven’t really until they come with me.”

Book directly on Peter’s website and get 15% off if you mention Sydney Expert.

Related: Check out our list of 50 things to do in the Blue Mountains.

Discover Hidden Harbour Beaches with Jenny

“Let’s live like a local together – We go where the buses don’t go”

Meet your host, Jenny, at the Rose Bay ferry wharf after a spectacular 10-minute ferry ride from the city of Sydney’s main wharf, Circular Quay. With a small group of up to 3 passengers, it’s an enjoyable and relaxed 3-hour tour. This can be booked for a couple or solo.

Sydney Harbour secret beach
One of the secret harbour beaches on Jennifer’s tour.

You’ll get to walk part of this tour and then drive through affluent real estate towards hidden beaches, gaining a taste of Sydney’s East. Take in the area’s beauty and hear stories and history about Indigenous people and their sacred land, on which we will walk together.

Visit geographical and historical sights in the area with gorgeous views of the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, and the local beauty.

During the winter months, the possibility of seeing whales migrating to warmer northern waters is very high.

Bring a bag with bathers for a swim en route and have a coffee at a local sandy beach cafe. We have towels onboard for you if needed. This Top Ten Harbour Beaches Tour will show you over 10 beautiful spots. We offer restaurant recommendations and will advise on more local ideas for you to do after you leave us.

You can read reviews of this tour here and book by contacting emailing Jenny directly or for more info, visit her website. Mention Sydney Expert for a 5% discount.

These experiences and tours are perfect for both locals and visitors, so why not support one of these small businesses and get to know another side of Sydney?

Have questions about things to see and do in Sydney?
Head over and join our Facebook Group and we will be happy to help

20 thoughts on “12 Amazing Small Tour Experiences in Sydney”

  1. I never knew such great experiences existed. I could easily eat my way through Newtown then snorkel it off at Shelly Beach.

  2. I’ve always wanted to try Airbnb experiences. I might have to give it a look on my next trip, I’ve seen some really good ones out there recently. What a great way to see a new city with a local

  3. I had a great time with the experiences I did in the states! I’m definitely going to check a couple of these out!

  4. What an excellent post. I love Marrickville and Newtown…as my daughter lives in Dulich Hill. So we would walk from the city to her home many times and before Dulich Hill she lived in Marrickville near the pool and we walked from her work at Broadway through the University. Memories…I think once borders are open I need to visit and perhaps stay at one of these air bnb’s thank you again.

  5. Would love to help you with the eating your way through Newtown part Sharyn! And I know Tamila can help with the second part 🙂

  6. I absolutely love this I so want to hit the beach and learn to play the Ukelele. These are some seriously unique experiences and I can’t wait to get back to Sydney some day soon,

  7. I started my walking tour of Marrickville because I have done so many great Airbnb Experiences in other countries. The small group numbers, personal touches and local knowledge make such a difference… I don’t feel like a person in a crowd trying to hear over the heads of a big tour group. I wanted to offer the same hospitality that I’ve enjoyed when I’ve been a visitor.

    I know all these guides and they are warm, knowledgeable and keen to show you the best of Sydney. A “behind the scenes” Sydney. I’ve done most of the tours too, and loved them all!

  8. Marrickville is the perfect place to explore with a local, her gems can be hidden from view but when you know where to look there are some fantastic finds.

  9. Loved the ebike tour experience around Sydney, will definitely book the tour when I have a chance. Could you please let us know where the second photo is? The one that looks like a cafe/restaurant with all the plants hanging from the ceiling. Looks beautiful!

  10. Love these experience ideas. Makes me want to check out what’s available in my local area.

  11. What a fantastic idea! I had never heard of or thought about Airbnb hosts being tour guides but it makes perfect sense. I love the variety of tours that you covered and how they are all so different but fun. Now I’m going to check into my own area here. I’m sure there are some since I live in a major city. Thanks so much for this perfect idea to help get small businesses up and running as we reopen the world.

  12. So happy to read this article here 🙂 as Caite mentioned in her comment, all these guides are amazing people passionate about Sydney and they show you a different perspective with small groups! Feel free to reach out for snorkel peps would love to take you to see my fish friends 😉 Xx

  13. Awesome! Thanks, Faith 🙂 Please get in touch when you’re back in Sydney… I can’t wait until we’re allowed back on our beaches too 🙂 cheers, Dan

  14. Too bad I’m in Canada! I’d love to do all of these. I had no idea such a thing as Airbnb Experiences even existed. Although I’m an Aussie, and return fairly frequently, I never spend any time in Sydney. Next trip!

  15. I love taking part in Airbnb Experiences, though I have only done them in the UK. I would love to explore the hidden nature reserves and do a photography tour.

  16. this is a great list of things to do as the restrictions are lifting soon! Thanks for putting this together Paula 🙂

  17. Great to see a collaborative post showcasing some of Sydney’s highlights offered with a
    local or two. Great intuitive. From one Aussie to others. Enjoy 🙂

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