How to Take the Best Photos of Sydney Harbour

Sydney Opera House from Cahill Walk

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Want to get that postcard photo of Sydney? Even for amateur photographers, it is really not all that hard, the harbour is so incredibly beautiful that all you need is a point and shoot camera (or your i-phone) and a sunny day to get yourself the best photos of Sydney Harbour around.

Granted sunny days have been in short supply so far this year but when the sun is shining it is pretty hard to get a bad photo.

Here are my favourite places for taking a perfect, classic tourist shot of Sydney.  All these photos were taken on either my Samsung phone or Canon EOS.

Cahill Walk

MCA and West Circular Quay
View of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA)

The Cahill Walk is the name for the footpath over on the Cahill Expressway. It is the only good thing about this otherwise ugly road. Sitting above Circular Quay Train Station the expressway takes traffic from the Harbour Bridge to the Eastern Suburbs.

It can also take you to photography heaven providing the perfect spot to take pictures of the harbour or zooming in any aspect of harbour life from above.  At New Year’s Eve, the expressway is closed off to traffic and a ballot held for tickets to watch the NYE fireworks from this dress circle location.

Get there:  You can reach the footpath via stairs on Macquarie Street, just past Albert Street or via a glass elevator near Wharf 1.   The exit stairs on the western side will take you to the backstreets of The Rocks near the Sydney Youth Hostel 

Top of Sydney Harbour Pylon

View from The top of the Sydney Harbour Pylon

The footpath over the Harbour Bridge is another great spot to get photos of harbour life – minus the Bridge of course.  You can take shots like this one from the footpath by sticking your lens through the wire fence.   For $15 and a little energy (200 steps), you can climb to the top of the eastern pylon and on the way explore the 3 levels of displays on the history and building of the bridge.  To walk the length of the bridge will take you about 20 minutes.

Get there: You can join the footpath at either end of the bridge.  The city side steps are in ‘Bridge Stairs’ in Cumberland Street, The Rocks and the Northern steps are near Milson’s Point Station.

Mrs Macquarie’s Point

Sydney Bucket list sunset

One of my favourites places to take visitors to is Mrs Macquarie’s Point.  It is on the very edge of the Royal Botanic Gardens and outside the official gates which means you can visit any time day or night.   The perfect place for a sunrise or sunset photo.

Get there:  You can walk or drive to the point via Art Gallery Road (there is limited metered parking here) or walk through the gardens along with harbour path. The 441 bus from York Street in the city will drop you on Art Gallery Road.  Mrs Macquarie’s point is also a spot on the Sydney Explorer bus.

Milson’s Point


Milson’s Point is worth a visit on a sunny Sydney afternoon.  With a couple of nice views, Wendy’s Secret Garden and, of course, Luna Park’s famous smiling face, a short visit offers lots of photo opportunity.  After exploring the area, you can jump on a ferry either back to Circular Quay or over to Darling Harbour or Balmain.   This photo was taken on a ferry heading over to Darling Harbour.  This is a great sunset spot too so why not pack a picnic and walk around to Blue’s Point Park to watch the sun go down over the harbour.

Get there: Take a train to Milson’s point, walk across the Harbour Bridge or catch at the ferry to Milson’s Point wharf.

Observatory Hill Park

Observatory Hill at golden hour

One of the highest natural points in the Centre of the city Observatory Hill will give you an alternative view of the Bridge and let you capture the character of the Rocks in the foreground.  There is a beautiful old rotunda, a huge tree and, of course, the Observatory.

Get there: A staircase from either the Cumberland Street or off Argyle Road opposite the Garrison Church. 

Want more?

Check out this professional photographers guide to Sydney Harbour

Do you have a favourite photo of Sydney Harbour?  Where did you take it from? There are several photographers in our Sydney Expert Facebook community who can help with any specific questions about photographing Sydney. 

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  1. These are excellent recommendations for anyone who wishes to have some great photographical memories of Sydney.

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