Looking for the best parks in Sydney? This year we have been visiting and revisiting our favourites. So we have pulled together this detailed guide of more than 25 parks across Sydney to help you decide where to go next.
The guide features parks from in the north, south, east and west of the city and includes all the essential details you need to help you decide which ones are right for you.
We answer the pressing questions you have when you are looking for a new park to visit, including:
- Which parks are dog friendly
- Which parks are easiest to get to by public transport
- Which parks have good accessibility for wheelchairs and prams
- Which parks offer free barbeques and pleasant picnic areas
- Which parks have great playgrounds for older and younger kids
- So where are Sydney’s most beautiful parks?
- Parks in Sydney City and CBD
- Parks in Sydney’s North
- Parks in Sydney’s South
- Parks in Sydney’s Inner West
- Parks in Sydney’s East
- Parks in Western Sydney
- Sydney Best Parks Map
So where are Sydney’s most beautiful parks?
Did you know there are over 400 parks in Sydney? Some are small pocket parks, others vast outdoor spaces like Centennial Park and Western Sydney Parklands. So while this list may seem long, it was tough work deciding which ones to include.
Whether you are heading out with your picnic basket, keen to cook a BBQ, looking for a new place to walk your dog or hunting down a playground to wear out the kids we have you covered.
Thankfully 2020 has given us plenty of time to explore, and we have visited every single one of these this year to make sure our memories and the facts we are sharing are correct. However, as always, we suggest you double-check any of the details that are essential for you before you head out.
Parks in Sydney City and CBD
After decades in the planning, Barangaroo Reserve on the western side of the Harbour Bridge has fast become one of the city’s most popular inner-city gathering spots. While the Royal Botanic Gardens are very much about our colonial past, this garden celebrates one of the Cadigal Nations’ important women.
Be sure to check out Barangaroo Ngangamay, an experience that will help you to learn more about Barangaroo the woman. There are five rock engravings and five short films that play as you explore the area. While you are there, you can also view Wellama, a 10 minute Welcome to Country.
Barangaroo was a Cammeragal woman, the wife of Bennelong, and a powerful presence in the Eora community.
They have planted the area with 75,000 natives chosen from the species described by Joseph Banks in his early journals.
2020 has seen another section of the waterfront walk, Waterman Cove open, so we are very close to completion of the full walkway from the Rocks to Darling Harbour.
Is Barangaroo the right park for you?
Where: Hickson Road Barangaroo
View map: Barangaroo Reserve
Royal Botanic Gardens
A playground for city workers, a place to enjoy a picnic lunch with friends, a popular jogging route for locals and visitors, the Royal Botanic Gardens is the lungs of the city.
If you are looking for a place where you can forget the pace and crowds of the city streets you have found it. Make your way here and spend some time soaking up some sunshine and walk barefoot on the grass.
There are sculptures to discover, free guided tours, a cafe and restaurant and in summer a lovely bar on the lawn near Mrs Macquarie’s Point.
Is this the right park for you?
Where: Mrs Macquaries Rd, Sydney
View map: Royal Botanic Garden
The largest park in the Sydney City region, roughly six times larger than the Botanic Gardens offering almost 190ha of wide-open space. Made up of Centennial Park, Moore Park and Queen’s Park, there is a lot of space to spread out here.
Just 3km from the centre of the city, it’s kind of like Sydney’s version of Central Park. It’s a popular spot for locals to walk their dog, cycle or go for a jog.
Things to do in Centennial Park
- Take the kids to the exceptional Ian Potter Wild Play Garden
- Find your way through the stone labyrinth
- History lovers can check out The Federation Pavilion
- Rent a bicycle or ride a horse around the park
Tip: If you are meeting friends here be sure to check the map and chose a place – it can be hard to find each other here.
Is this the right park for you?
Where: Oxford Street Paddington or Anzac Parade Kensington
View map: Centennial Park
With views of the Anzac Bridge, Barangaroo and Harbour Bridge Pirrama Park is a lovely spot on the western edge of the city.
Pirrama means rocking stone’ in the Gadigal language.
Tied To Tide sculpture by artists Jennifer Turpin and Michaelie Crawford who have created six other large scale pieces across the city including Halo at Chippendale’s Central Park complex.
The playground is on the western side and has a good cafe, right opposite, perfect for refuels when the kids wear you out. This playground is probably best suited to young kids with a sandpit, water fountains and mainly small kid-sized equipment.
The part of the park was previously known as Pyrmont Point Park until it was expanded after land that had housed the NSW Water Police Headquarters was added in 2005.
Is this the right park for you?
Tip: There is some parking, but it is metered – alternatively park at the Star Casino or take the light rail.
Where: Pirrama Rd, Pyrmont
View map: Pirrama Park
Glebe Foreshore Park
Four individual parks combine to make up the Glebe Foreshore Park. You can walk from the Fishmarkets to the Tramsheds taking in most of the parkland as you go. The waterfront aspect is lovely and the views back over the city are quite different to anything else along the harbour.
The area was never used for housing as much of the land was reclaimed and not suitable for building. Timber yards and shipping were the main activities here, along with a water police station.
The parks here seem to run into each other so it can be hard to know which one you are in. This doesn’t really matter unless you are meeting friends. They are the perfect place for a picnic with friends as there is plenty of green space to spread out and transport is so easy.
The four parks that make up Glebe Foreshore are:
- Federal Park
- Blackwattle Bay Park
- Jubilee Park
- Bicentennial Park
Johnson Creek splits the parkland with Federal Park sitting on the western side and the rest on the city side.
Federal Park – The first park in the area, dating back to 1899, Federal is a great choice for older kids with an adventure playground and a skate park. There is also a heritage picnic shelter, but you usually need to get in early to secure this spot. This park is closest to the Tramsheds.
Jubilee Park is the biggest of the parks here, with its Canary Island date palms and figs offer plenty of shade, it’s perfect for summer get-togethers. There are some picnic sheds, a children’s playground and an on-leash dog area.
The fenced oval, which sits at the southern end, is a hive of activity on weekends with various sporting sessions. The light rail stops in the park and the Tramsheds are directly behind it. Parking is fine during the week, but on weekends it can get near impossible.
Blackwattle Bay Park, a relatively new addition, opening in 1983, this land was once home to timber yards and shipping businesses. You can enter from several spots along the walkway, but we usually start our visit at Ferry Road near the Glebe Rowing Club after grabbing some seafood from the fish market.
Along the waterfront is the old crane that reminds us of the areas of a former life. You will also find Bellevue Cottage, a lovely old home that is now a cafe.
The view of the Anzac Bridge here are excellent; you can see the full span. Along with the great views from the waterside walking track, Blackwattle Park offers BBQs, a playground and an off-leash dog area. The old fig trees provide shade and even have their own Google map listing.
Bicentennial Park – facing onto Rozelle Bay this park offers plenty of shady grassed area perfect for picnicking. Dogs are welcome on a leash. The first section opened in 1988 and in 1995 the western section was added.
Features you will find at Glebe Foreshore Parks
Glebe Foreshore Parks Map
Where: Chapman Rd, Annandale
View map: Glebe Foreshore Park
Parks in Sydney’s North
Berry Island Reserve
We have written about Berry Island before; it was one of our favourite places to take our dog. This park sits on land that was once another harbour island. With its lovely views and shaded walking track, it’s a great spot for a picnic and a great short bushwalk for kids.
There is a 20-minute circular walk, the Gadyan Track, that tells of the history of the Cammeraigal people over a series of signboards.
Where: 10 Shirley Rd, Wollstonecraft
View map: Berry Island Reserve
Headland Park at Mosman is made up of three main areas. The Harbourfront Clifton Gardens, and Chowder Bay, Georges Heights with it’ stunning lookout and Middle Head. They are connected by one of the loveliest walking tracks on the lower north shore.
Formerly a defence base, you can explore the gun batteries and fortifications on a guided tour of Middle Head.
Did you know? In 1815 Governor Macquaire established Georges Heights as an experimental farm. Eighteen first nations families worked the land, and it became known as Bungaree’s Farm.
The parklands area offer three beaches, two of which Cobblers Beach and Obelisk Beach are clothing optional, Chinaman’s Beach at Chowder Bay is the best family-friendly option.
There is also an artists colony, six fabulous large scale sculptures, and a marine centre where you can learn more about Sydney Harbour. There is also a weekly market on Wednesdays. Check the latest events at Headlands Park here.
If picnics are not your style, there are at least half a dozen cafes and restaurants in or on the edge of the park including Gunners Barracks, Frenchy’s Cafe at Georges Head, Ripples and Drift at Chowder Bay and Burnt Orange at Middle Head. Don’t ask me to pick a favourite – they are great choices.
Are the parks here right for you?
Where: Best Ave, Mosman
View map: Headland Park
The Coal Loader
The Coal Loader ( Officially the Coal Loader Centre for Sustainability) offers a large rooftop garden space overlooking Sydney Harbour at Waverton. Along with being a fantastic place to learn more about sustainability, it’s a great place to head to relax.
The site was once exactly what it sounds like – a place where coal was loaded onto ships in the harbour. Remnants of its former life remain, and you can explore the history of the site on a free guided tour.
There are gorgeous harbour views, plenty of shade, a community garden and chickens. The Coal Loader also hosts several regular events including sunset sessions, markets and more.
Where: 2 Balls Head Dr, Waverton
View map: The Coal Loader
Parks in Sydney’s South
A local favourite since early last century Oatley Park offers it all, bushwalks, views, a sheltered beach, cycling, a small netted beach, BBQs, new children’s playground, and great bird watching opportunities.
The most popular features are the castellated tower known as the Castle, which is now a picnic shelter but was a kiosk when I was growing up. At this end of the park are several picnic tables and BBQs.
Down the track from the Castle is Sandy Bay with its swimming baths dating back to the 1920s. Follow the road around to Webster’s Lookout for great views over the Georges River.
Oatley Park is a great place to get some exercise with 4km of walking tracks, a cycling loop, of course, the new Adventure playground that will exhaust kids and the adults chasing them. The flying fox is particularly popular.
You could visit Oatley Park two or three times and see something different. There is plenty of birdlife, over 100 species have been spotted here, there are also possums and very occasionally an echidna if you come on a quiet day.
Where: 1 Dame Mary Gilmore Rd, Oatley
View map: Oatley Park
Carss Bush Park
Pretty much a secret outside southern Sydney, and hugging the waterfront at Kogarah Bay, Carrs Bush Park is the perfect spot for a family bbq or late afternoon picnic with someone you love.
The park has plenty of shade, and the small beach is the perfect place to build a sandcastle. A new footpath runs around to the left of the beach to a new grassy space and pretty waterfront views. Lovely for stretching your legs after lunch.
There is also an excellent playground which attracts lots of kids on weekends and after school.
If you are visiting on a Sunday, you can explore Carss Cottage for just $2 and learn more about the history of the area.
Note: Australia Day is a big deal here – the park was dedicated on Australia Day in 1924 making the annual celebration even more special to locals.
Where: 74 Carwar Ave, Carss Park
View map: Carrs Park
Gunnamatta Park – Cronulla
A great park for those without cars, Gunnamatta is just a couple of minutes from Cronulla train station. Situated on the Pork Hacking River, this is a lovely shady park with all the usual facilities.
There are plenty of large trees and several picnic shelters, so finding a spot out of the sun is pretty easy.
If you are looking for a large picnic shelter for a gathering there is a huge one here, check with the council about using it for an event.
You will also find a netted swimming enclosure and jetty perfect for jumping off.
Where: 39 Nicholson Parade, Cronulla
View map: Gunnamatta Park
Como Pleasure Grounds
This leafy park with its pretty water view over the Georges River is a great find.
A loop track is perfect for a short bushwalk or for future cycling champs to practice their skills. There is also a free 20m outdoor swimming pool, perfect for hot summer days. The pool is open afternoons from October to March. There are also netted tidal baths if you prefer to swim in the river.
The park can get pretty busy on weekend mornings with children’s birthday parties and family picnics filling the tables and uncover shelters. However, at other times you can almost have the place to yourself.
You could also head up to the knoll, and climb the rocks for a great view over the area. There are usually fewer people up here too, even on busy days.
Take a seat on one of the benches on the lower level of the park and watch the boaties enjoying the waterway.
Where: 2A Cremona Rd, Como
View map: Como Pleasure Grounds
Parks in Sydney’s Inner West
Sitting on the banks of the Parramatta River Cabarita Park is popular with weddings and family gatherings, for a good reason, it’s a picturesque spot with plenty to keep you busy.
With its river beach, plenty of BBQs this is a great summer park with lots of shade, on both the playground and pool area.
Where: 172 Cabarita Rd, Cabarita
View map: Cabarita Park
Steel Park Marrickville
Best known for its kid’s water play park and huge flying fox Steel Park is a great family park. There are BBQs and covered picnic tables and plenty of shade.
The park is along the Cooks River cycleway (also a walking track) making it easy to add some exercise to your park visit. You could decide to cycle or walk from Tempe or Hurlstone Park Train Stations along the route stopping for lunch in the park.
Where: 531-565 Illawarra Rd, Marrickville
View map: Steel Park
Sydney Park – St Peters
The third-largest park in inner-city Sydney, after just a few minutes at Sydney Park it’s easy to forget the din of the Princes Highway only a few hundred metres away. Best known by most locals for the three brick chimneys that mark the northwestern entry of the park, many who pass by daily have no idea of just how beautiful it is.
Originally a brickworks the area was transformed in the early 1990s and has since won numerous awards most recently one for is sustainable water plan.
This is a park where dogs significantly outnumber kids and the perfect place to get a pooch fix if you are wishing you had a pup of your own. Most of the park is off-leash bar the wetlands, which are fenced, the oval, and the children’s playground.
Things to do in Sydney Park
- Go birdwatching in the wetlands – dusky moorhens, black swans and even pelicans can be found – please don’t feed the bird.
- Visit the Spaids Memorial – a permanent memorial to people lost to AIDS.
- Join in on the Saturday morning St Peters Parkrun, a weekly free 5 km run
- See if you can read the time using the human sundial.
When you are finished exploring the park take some time on the way to check out some of the best street art in Sydney just 5 minutes away in Newtown.
Where: 416 Sydney Park Rd, Alexandria NSW 2015
View map: Sydney Park
Parks in Sydney’s East
Nielson Park – Vaucluse
Part of Sydney Harbour National Park Nielson Park is home to Shark Beach, one of the best harbour swimming beaches, despite its name!
With an abundance of fig trees to picnic under, there are also three large picnic shelters making this perfect for a summer’s day. It is also very popular, parking can be really hard in the summer but head here any other time of year and you will find plenty of space.
Walk off your lunch with a stroll around to Rose Bay on the Hermitage Foreshore Walk.
Tip: This is an epic place to watch the start of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race on Boxing Day.
Where: 6 Steele Point Rd, Vaucluse
View map: Neilson Park
Robertson Park – Watsons Bay
Harbour views and expansive green lawns combined with a famous fish and chip take away stand on the wharf makes this park a pretty popular place.
At the water’s edge, you will find Vaucluse Yacht Club and Watsons Bay Baths, a harbour tidal pool which offers deep water wheelchair access to the harbour.
While you are here take a walk out to Hornby Lighthouse.
Where: Robertson Road/ Marine Parade, Watsons Bay
View map: Robertson Park
Best known for its white picnic shelters Bronte Park looks out over one of the eastern suburbs prettiest beaches. Fringed by native bushland in the rear and the Pacific Ocean
This is the ultimate beach picnic spot, with over a dozen covered shelters and lots of bbq’s there is almost a snag cooking here.
There is also a great children’s playground over to the northern side of the park.
Bronte is a good midway stop on the Bondi to Coogee Walk.
Where: Bronte Rd, Bronte
View map: Bronte Park
Parks in Western Sydney
Kissing Point Park – Putney
With a name like Kissing Point, you may expect a story to its origin. There are a few versions of how the point got its name ranging from this being a place where Governor Hunter kissed his wife here, but the more likely one is a little less romantic.
“Kissing Point” was named such because the area of water around it was the furthest up Parramatta River that heavily laden vessels could reach before their keels “kissed” the bottom.
The location on the Parramatta River is lovely for a sunny afternoon, there is plenty of shade, and it’s fun to watch the boats sail up and down the river from Concord Sailing Club. Visit in the early morning and you will likely see (and hear) rowing teams practising on the river.
Things to see and do in Kissing Point Park
- Workout on the outdoor fitness equipment
- Take the Ryde River Walk – a 12km walk from the Ryde to Gladesville Bridge
- Learn more about the history of Kissing Point from the information panels around the park
Where: 87 Waterview Street, Putney
View map: Kissing Point Park
One of the cities most historic parks Parramatta Park can keep you busy for an entire day. Along with its UNESCO World Heritage listing as part of the “Australian Convict Sites,” this is a great place to get some fresh air and exercise.
Darug Peoples, the traditional owners of this land called Parramatta Burramatta translated as “the place where the eels lie down”
Things to do in Parramatta Park
This 85 hectares park has plenty of attractions along with all the grassy open spaces.
- Tour old Government House and check out other historic features around the park
- Check out one of the largest collections of heritage roses in Australia in the Rumsey Rose Garden.
- Have high tea in the Gatehouse Tearooms
- Take a guided tour of the Dairy Cottage, one of the oldest intact cottages still standing in Australia today
- Take the kids and visit one of the two playgrounds
Where: Pitt St &, Macquarie St, Parramatta
View map: Parramatta Park
Bicentennial Park – Sydney Olympic Park Homebush
There are so many Bicentennial Parks in Australia, 1988 must have been a bumper year for landscapers! Spanning 40 hectares of parkland on the shores of Homebush Buy, Bicentennial Park at Sydney Olympic Park is among the city’s biggest and also a natural heritage site.
There is a LOT to do here, and they have an impressive activity program.
Things to do at Sydney Olympic Park
- Learn more about the 65 hectare Badu Mangroves site
- Watch the sunset from the Hill Pavilion
- Check out the waterbirds at Lake Belvedere
- Admire the art installations including the Peace Monument and the Bicentennial Park Sundial
- Go birdwatching at the Bird Hide near Wentworth Common
- Climb Treillage Tower for views over the park
- Cycle over 8km of trails
Did you know you can spot over 25% of all Australia’s bird species from Bicentennial Park?
Where: Australia Ave, Sydney Olympic Park
View map: Bicentennial Park Homebush
Western Sydney Parklands
With the tagline ‘Sydney’s Biggest Backyard’ you could be forgiven for thinking it’s hyperbole, but in this case, it’s true. Western Sydney Parklands covers 5,280 hectares and has over 60km of tracks and trails to explore. The largest urban park in Sydney covering parts of Liverpool, Blacktown and Fairfield.
This enormous park is split into five precincts:
- Bungarribee Western Sydney Parklands
- Lizard Log
- Plough and Harrow
- Shale Hills
- The Dairy
This is a park you will head back to with walks ranging from 30-minute strolls to three-hour hikes. There is plenty to do here with or without kids; Lizard Log Playground and Chang Lai Yuan Chinese Gardens are two must-see sites.
Where: The Horsley Dr &, Cowpasture Rd, Abbotsbury
View map: Western Sydney Parkland
Sydney Best Parks Map
Want more parks?
Check out our guide to 21 great picnic spots in Sydney
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