New Year’s Eve in Sydney for Beginners

Planning to spend New Year’s Eve in Sydney for the first time and maybe only time this year? Not sure where to begin, but feel you need to get your plans sorted so you don’t miss out? Well, consider this a beginner’s guide to New Year’s Eve in Sydney.

I have celebrated NYE on Sydney harbour over a dozen times, well more to be honest 😉 This has given me the chance to see it from all angles, the water, the Opera House, a harbour island, Barangaroo and North Sydney. So today am going to share my tips so if this is your one and only chance to experience NYE in Sydney that you make the best decision on how to do that.

So let’s start with some decisions you are going to need to make for everything to go smoothly.

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Step by Step to planning NYE in Sydney

Work through these questions.

  • Decide how long you will be in Sydney
  • Work out where to stay
  • Do you want to attend a ticketed event or a free viewing location?
  • Do you want a meal, is food an important part of your night?
  • Do you have a good tolerance for crowds and busy places
  • Do you need mobility assistance?
  • Will you have kids in your group?
  • How will you get home?

Ready, let’s go.

Where and how long will you stay in Sydney?

Deciding how long to stay in Sydney

Most hotels and hostels have a minimum stay over the new year period. This usually ranges from 3-7 days. If you are planning a shorter visit, you might have more luck in the suburbs than the city centre.

Choosing where to stay for NYE

NYE is the busiest time of the year for booking accommodation in Sydney. If you are travelling on a budget, now is the time to hunt down any long-lost relatives.

The Park Hyatt Hotel Sydney is unlikely to be on your shortlist
The Park Hyatt Hotel Sydney has THE best New Year’s Eve view.

If you are not staying with family or friends, you will find that Sydney’s hotel and accommodation prices become pretty ridiculous between Christmas and New Year. My best advice is to try to book as early as you can.

If you are not entirely sure of your plans, it can be worth securing something you can cancel if things change rather than miss out.

Do not take this warning lightly! If you are not sure which part of the city to stay, read through my extensive pros and cons of the different areas in Inner Sydney or check out my list of budget hotels in Sydney – which, to be honest, are ridiculously expensive between Christmas and New Year.

If you want to book a hotel with a view of the harbour, you should book as soon as they become available. If you choose the Park Hyatt (pictured below) or one of the other harbour view hotels, you may find you have access to their in-house events, and you won’t need to find anywhere to go on NYE.

Sydney Harbour YHA Rooftop view
Sydney Harbour YHA Rooftop view

If you are travelling on a budget, then my top pick is the Sydney Harbour YHA. Its guests-only NYE party will also solve the problem of a nye party venue! There is a minimum 7 night stay for NYE, and bookings are open now.

If staying in the city is beyond your budget, consider some of the city’s inner suburbs. Places like Mascot, Coogee, Maroubra, and anywhere on the suburban rail network will still allow you a relatively easy trip to and from town for the fireworks show.

There are a bunch of “airport” hotels at Mascot that fit the bill perfectly, considering it’s a quick 15 min train ride to the city. There are quite a few new serviced apartments and hotels here, and it’s a straightforward 15-20 minute trip to the city.

Need more help? Head over to the Facebook group where we have discussed NYE in Sydney extensively.

Alternatively, look for Airbnb and holiday homes. We have written a guide to choosing the best neighbourhoods to stay in Sydney that you might find helpful narrowing down options. Just be warned we have had people come to our group a month or less before their stay to say their Airbnb host cancelled and they were left with no affordable options. I would not recommend Airbnb for this time of you for this reason.

What type of event do you want to attend?

New Year’s Eve in Sydney offers something for everyone with party cruise boats, tall ships, harbour picnics, opera performances, garden picnics and dance parties.

Portside Sydney Opera House
NYE from the Sydney Opera House

Check out our NYE Mega list for all the best events running in Sydney this NYE

Watching the show from the Sydney Harbour foreshore.

Sydney City Council hosts the Sydney fireworks on NYE, and they have a brilliant website and free app that includes maps of the vantage points and the rules for each place. Over recent years, there has been a significant increase in alcohol-free areas, so make sure you check the maps on the city of Sydney website for any restrictions before you head to your favourite spot.

Almost all of the Sydney Harbour Foreshore was free in 2023 and you will not need a ticket to access most of these sites. What you will need is patience and stamina with gates opening from as early as 7am and the most popular sites likely to be full by midday.

An important thing to know is that the city is very crowded on NYE and roads are closed from mid city to Cicular Quat and the Rocks. Everyone travels by public transport. Buses and trains will be full and access to some train stations, especially Circular Quay will be different. Circular Quay usually closes at 5pm and trams also stop running at that time. Moving about the city after 7pm can be tricky.

Once the show is over getting home is also a bit of a feat – if you are not in a hurry I suggest relaxing in your spot for another hour and letting the madness pass you by. Walking to Martin Place station or St James stations is usually the best option if you want to make a quick exit.

Postcard view Sydney from Mrs Macquarie's Point by Paula Morgan
The view from Mrs Macquaries Point

If you are travelling on a budget, there are free areas along the foreshore that offer incredible views and a chance to be right in the thick of the action surrounded by your new friends when midnight strikes.

If you want a guarantee of a great location to watch the show without having to wait hours waiting for it to begin, then a ticketed area is the best way to go. Choose from Barangaroo or try to get the National Parks and Wildlife Harbour Island tickets.

Do you want a restaurant dinner with a view of Sydney Harbour?

If you like the idea of a slap-up meal with your fireworks, there is plenty on offer, but you will pay a pretty penny for it. Most waterfront restaurants around the city offer special menus for NYE, and you need to make reservations well in advance, although not as early as many ticketed areas.

I would suggest if you have your heart set on a particular place, and you have a small party of 2 or 4 book early as smaller tables seem to go first. Many restaurants require a deposit or sometimes full payment at the time of booking.

Some places to consider if money is no object:

  • Aria
  • Sydney Cove Oyster Bar
  • Bennelong at the Opera House
  • O Bar and Dining
  • Cafe Sydney
  • Quay
  • Park Hyatt

See our full list of NYE Dining packages for more restaurants

Would you prefer an event with music or a party atmosphere?

Concerts and dance parties in Sydney on New Year’s Eve are a popular choice. From a dance party at Luna Park to at picnic at Taronga Zoo, there is plenty of choice for those who want some entertainment along with their fireworks.

Tickets for these events begin at about $90. Not all parties include views of the harbour, so make sure you confirm this if it’s important to you.

New Year’s Eve in the Royal Botanic Gardens

This is my preferred vantage point to watch the fireworks. I have viewed from this location half a dozen times and I still this it is the very best choice if you can’t afford or don’t want to be on a cruise.

NYE From Royal Botanic Garden
The View from Midnight at the Oasis in the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney

This year almost all of the Botanic Gardens vantage points are free with the entry queues opening at 7am. Get more details on our main NYE Page.

New Year’s Eve on a cruise

Being out on Sydney Harbour is special any time of year, but on New Year’s Eve its next level. The atmosphere is amazing and there view for boats inside the exclusion zone is particularly special. It’s hard to say exactly which boats are given a position in this zone between the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House but Sydney Harbour Tall Ships, Captain Cook, The Jackson, and Starship Sydney are all on the list.

  • The Jackson – Seven course Dinner including a Five-course Degustation menu along with a 6.5-Hour All-Inclusive Platinum Beverage Package featuring free flowing Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label NV, signature cocktails and top shelf spirits, craft beer and a selection of premium wines $1499.
  • New Year on Starship Sydney! Enjoy all-inclusive food, drinks, and entertainment with a view of the 9pm and midnight fireworks. Dance to the tunes of a well-known Sydney Party Band and DJ. (less than 30 seats left!)
  • NYE on the Bella Vista – a Glass Boat – A DJ to entertain, five-hour beverage package, roaming canapes a standing buffet and dessert. The vessel has 3m high glass wraparound windows and an open top deck with 360-degree views of magnificent Sydney Harbour. $899.
  • Ocean Dreaming 9pm Family Cruise – Departing from Darling Harbour at 7.15pm this 2.5 hour tour is perfect for families and anyone wanting to avoid the midnight chaos home. $350.
  • Ocean Dreaming Manly Cruise – Another 9pm option for those staying on the northern side of the harbour $350
  • Sydney Harbour Tall Ships – With two stunning tall ships, usually inside the inclusion zone, this is a fun night out. Tickets include dinner, drinks and live music for $949.
  • MV Jerry Bailey- Includes cruise, buffet dinner, and beer, wine, and soft drinks for $849
  • Glass Boat Cruise – This 5-hour Sydney Harbour cruise includes an open bar, canapes and buffet dinner and a DJ.
  • The Sydney Heritage Fleet Waratah – a fundraiser for the Sydney Heritage Fleet, a great choice for sailing buffs. Tickets are just for your spot on the boat, it’s BYO dinner, snacks and beverage from $499

Read our guide on things to consider when choosing a New Year’s Eve cruise

Planning a family-friendly NYE in Sydney

If you are bringing kids to the city for NYE, you need to plan. Big crowds and small children do not always make a good fit. I would not brave one of the free spots with children under ten years. The crowds and the long wait make it too hard to keep the kids entertained.

Barangaroo NYE Picnic event
NYE at Barangaroo is a fun, budget-friendly option

Among the best spots for families are:

  • Barangaroo
  • Taronga Zoo
  • Ocean Dreaming or Manly Fast Ferries or Sydney Harbour Ferries family cruises

Alternatively, book some accommodation with a view and party from your balcony.

Accessible Areas to Spend NYE in Sydney

Sydney City Council offers a service to help make the celebrations available for everyone. Their official NYE website lists a range of resources to help you plan your big night out.

Six areas are listed as fully accessible and feature accessible bathrooms. You need to complete a booking form to secure your spot at these locations.

  • Mary Booth Reserve at Kirribilli on the northern side of the harbour
  • Mrs Macquarie’s Point in the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney
  • Pirrama Park at Pyrmont
  • Sydney Opera House
  • Cahill Expressway (Balloted)
  • Barangaroo (ticketed)

The Botanic Gardens and Opera House areas are also suitable.

There is also a Facebook group called Accessible Sydney that might be useful if you need further advice.

Public Transport in Sydney on New Year’s Eve

How to get to the NYE Fireworks

Firstly the good news is that extra bus, train, and ferry services are fun from midday on NYE to help get everyone into the city. If you are planning to drive (i.e. if you are mad) or take a cab, note that all roads north of Goulburn Street will be closed from 7pm. If you park inside the shutdown area, you will not be able to leave until the roads reopen the next day.

I recommend you wear comfortable shoes as trains will not stop at Circular Quay from 5pm and midnight and will not stop at Milson’s Point from 6pm until after midnight, so you will need to walk down to the harbour foreshore from up to 1km away.

Ferries will not stop at Circular Quay after 5pm. Other wharves on the harbour will close at 8 pm.

How to get home from the NYE Fireworks

Public transport will be running through the night to get you home, and I am not sure if Google will be updated with the latest info, so make sure you read the signs around the city when you arrive and confirm the best place for your return trip.

Roads: The Harbour Bridge will be closed in both directions from 11pm until 1:30am. All roads north of Bridge Street will close from 2pm, and roads north of Goulburn Street will be closed from 7pm until approximately 4am on New Year’s Day.

Buses: On NYE, bus stops will not be where they usually are. There will be temporary bus stops in place from 3pm in North Sydney and 4pm in the city. If crowds are bigger than expected, this may begin a few hours earlier. These bus stops will operate until about 2am; these regular stops may resume for some services; for example, buses from the east and south will terminate at Hyde Park.

Note: Sydney currently has a major shortage of bus drivers (hundreds of vacancies) so things may not be a smooth as previous years.

Coming home bus services will operate from the following stops:

  • Eastern Suburbs: College St near the Cathedral for buses to Bondi Junction, Bondi Beach, Rose Bay and Elizabeth Bay.
  • Eastern Suburbs: Elizabeth St for buses along Anzac Parade, Bunnerong Road, Crown Street and to Botany Road Mascot.
  • Eastern Suburbs: Park St for buses to Randwick Junction, Coogee, Clovelly and Kingsford
  • Inner West: Castlereagh Street near Town Hall for buses to Newtown, Marrickville and other inner west and south-west areas.
  • Pyrmont & Balmain: York Street Queen Victoria Building – for buses to Pyrmont, Balmain and along Victoria Rd.
  • Chatswood: York Street behind Wynyard station – for buses to Chatswood, and stops along the Pacific Highway and Epping Rd.
  • North Shore: Carrington St near Wynyard – for buses to suburbs on the lower north shore and northern beaches.
  • North Western Suburbs: Clarence St between Town Hall and Wynyard – for buses to the Hills, including Kellyville, Castle Hill, Dural and West Pennant Hills

Ferries: There will be no ferries running on the harbour until after 12.45am

Light rail: The last light rail service from the city to Lilyfield will leave Central at 3am on New Year’s Day.

Trains: Trains will not resume at Circular Quay at midnight and will not start running across the bridge until a little after midnight. Some other stations, such as Wynyard or Town Hall, may be closed if they become overcrowded, and you will need to walk to Martin Place, St James, or Museum stations.

Taxis: Taxis stands inside the area of street closures will not operate until after 1am.

Getting home from NYE celebrations in Sydney is never easy. Still, it’s part of the experience, so my best advice is to expect it to be challenging, pack your best manners and an extra dose of patience and keep smiling. Who wants to spend the first hour of their new year in a bad mood?

Transport details will be available in the week before New Year. 

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

27 thoughts on “New Year’s Eve in Sydney for Beginners”

  1. Hi Christina, it really depends where you are planning to go, people line up from dawn. It will be a very hot long day this year so it’s hard to say if that will deter the crowd or not. Also, several previously free areas are not ticketed so it is hard to compare to last year.

  2. Hi.
    Thanks for the really helpful site.
    We are visiting Australia from the UK in December and have booked tickets at Taronga Zoo for NYE. I’m struggling to find any details on how to get away after the celebrations, however. We are staying in Darling Harbour. Do you have any insights?
    Any help would be hugely appreciated!

  3. The zoo run a shuttle bus up to the main bus stops in Mosman. Buses will run to the city all night. It is also best to take a bus to the zoo as the ferry wharf will close early.
    Did you know you can enter the zoo for free during the day with most of the NYE tickets.

  4. trying to decide about the Lawn with a View tickets. We are staying in Shangri-La. After the fireworks, is it walkable to get back? Or should we just plan to stay at the hotel and watch the fireworks? Will have 2 elderly people with us.

  5. You can walk back but the crowds will be heavy for at least the first 45 minutes after it ends and while most will all be heading out of the Quay you will be walking back across town from the Gardens (usually they send you via Bridge Street). My daughter did this walk last year and said it was very challenging walking against the tide. Do you have a view from your room or access to a function space at the hotel? This might be preferable with elderly people in the group?

  6. Hi,
    we are a family of 5: a three year old active little girl, her parents and her grandparents. We come all the way from Germany for NYE in Sydney. Thus, we would love to have a great experience with a good view. We read all your reviews and currently think about three options: Silver tickets at the Zoo, Harbour Hoopla or Hickson Rd Reserve as this seems to have a fantastic location. Which one would you recommend?

    Things that make it more complicated: the grandparents need a seat at some point, and grandma would love to see the Opera house from the venue. And our accomodation is in Chiswick, so we will have a long trip home from all venues, I guess?

    It is complicated 🙂
    I would love to hear your advice on this challenging question.
    Thank you very much!

  7. Hi Anne, It really is a hard one. Getting home from the Chiswick will not be the quickest trip but its doable. There will be no proper seating at any of those venues as far as I know. You can bring a picnic blanket and a small low seat like a camping seat but that will be all I imagine. I think perhaps Harbour Hoopla will be easiest. Hickson Road might not be as easy with the little one but it is much cheaper.

  8. Hi there,

    We are travelling from the UK to visit family in Adelaide before flying down to Sydney on 30th December. We have booked tickets for Midnight at the Oasis. We are staying at Capitol Square Hotel in Campbell Street. Is this a walkable distance from Royal Botanic Gardens or is there public transport we should use. It is our first time ever in Australia.

  9. Hello, I am travelling alone staying with friends in Canley Heights over Christmas and will probably go and see the new year’s eve fireworks alone and cheaply. Will it be easy to get back to Canley Heights? When will the tickets go on sale and what will be approx costs? I would love views of the harbour, opera house and bridge and would be prepared to arrive very early in order to secure the best spot to do this – being alone, I prefer to bring my own seat, food and drink – can you please recommend best place to achieve all of these? Can you also please recommend cheapest mode of transport for my entire trip, I would like to visit Watsons Bay, Bondi and Manly as a minimuml. I also want to climb the bridge, is this still possible? and visit the Blue Mountains – are 1 day coach trips possible? Thanks for all your help – much appreciated.

  10. Hi Emma – it’s a bit early to make too many suggestions for next year as things change year to year however Mrs Macquaries Point is very popular if you are prepared to get there super early. We suggest you use public transport for your visit. Travelling between Canley Vale and this city will be about a 45-minute train ride. You can use contactless payment (credit card, Apple/Google pay) or you can buy an Opal card. You can read more about this here

  11. Thank you that was most helpful. Any idea when tickets for Mrs Macquaries Point will go on sale please?

  12. We are booked at Novotel Sydney Central and it’s about a 30-minute walk to Harbour Bridge. It is completely fine with us to walk going back to the hotel after the NYE celebration, but what concerns me is the SAFETY. Is it safe for us to walk on the wee hours of the morning? Looking forward to your feedback. Thanks.

  13. Hi Angie,

    I would feel totally safe walking back. There will be plenty of people and friendly police around on the night. It will likely be busier in those wee hours than at 8am the next day!

    Have a fabulous NYE in Sydney

  14. Paula

    My wife and I are doing the NYE dinner, gala and after party at the Opera house this year. Staying at CP Darling harbour. Don’t mind the walk back but bit concerned about getting there in all our finery at 5pm when its likely to be hot Any thoughts? Will we be able to get a taxi?
    Any tips on how to get a great view outside of the open house of the fireworks? Read all sorts but are the open areas around opera house open to all or restricted to those with a ticket? I know from past experience of attending events at the opera house, that there is a small outdoor balcony but I’d imagine it’s packed.
    Finally arriving on the 28th and leaving on the night of the 1st. Often the period between Christmas and New Year’s Eve is quite dull in any city, what would you recommend other that eating and drinking?

  15. Hi Paul, sorry for the late reply. I would get the hotel to book you a taxi for about 40 minutes earlier than you want it just to be safe. I am not sure how close you will be able to get but certainly as far as Hyde Park and perhaps Martin Place. I think unless your tickets are for seats near the exit to the back of the Opera House you will find it hard to get out on the balcony. You may be bet viewing it through the glass sails. I imagine it will still look amazing. As far as things to do between Christmas and NYE not much is closed and while the city will be missing its office workers the attractions and shops will be open. Do some of the walks we have covered on this site, espcecially the Taronga to Balmoral walk. Dine at Midden or Me-Gal for some delicous local flavours. Have a great time!

  16. I am visiting Sydney for the first time and want to celebrate NYE. My question: is there public transport after the NYE from Sydney city to the airport? Because I am flying to Auckland around 07:00 AM on January 1, 2024.

  17. Hi Paula, great information! We are from The Netherlands with 3 persons.
    I have this question: we are planning to celebrate NYE in Sydney. On January 1 early morning 07:25 AM we are flying to Auckland.
    So, we would like to go to airport Sydney in time. What do you recommend to start travelling to airport Sydney after the celebrations? How and when are the trains running after midnight to the airport, what is/are the best train station(s) to get on to the airport. And a final question: how long will the NYE-fireworks last?
    Thank you very much in advance.

  18. Hi,

    Hope this finds you well. I’ve done a lot of research and pretty stuck at the minute.
    We are visiting for 3 nights over new year staying at the QT on market place. There is 7 of us including my parents and our Kids, 8, 7 and 4. Our plan all along was a cruise or Barangaroo reserve. Now I’ve found out Barangaroo wasn’t ticketed this year and read bad reviews from people who done the 9pm cruises.
    I am will to splash a bit more if required but do you have any advice? As per your advice we do want to plan and have an enjoyable night as possible. Willing to upgrade hotel to a certain degree or a restaurant (Child Friendly) or do we wait for the cruises or hope the ticket Barangaroo this year. Cheers Marc.

  19. I would look at the Botanic Gardens “Friends of the Gardens” picnic if i was you. YOu pay to become a member of the gardens and then have access to buy up to 10 fairly priced tickets. They have removed last year’s price so I am not sure from memory what it was in 2023 but its a lot cheaper than most places I would sign up for that newsletter and have that on your short list (

    If your budget allows perhaps the captain cook rocket – their entry level boat would be the best cruise option – this is one that sells out quickly as its usually their cheapest option.

  20. Paula,

    Thankyou so much for your informative response, we will definitely do one of these as looks the best options to have a great evening with the kids in tow, and a once in a life time occasion for my parents visiting from the UK for Christmas/NYE.

    Do you know when the tickets usually go on sale for these events as they don’t say online?
    Thanks again

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