Photographing Sydney Opera House is likely high on your list if you love travel photography. While it’s not particularly hard to get good pictures of the Opera House, it can be harder to get interesting ones. So let’s go hunt down some perfect Instagram shots for your visit to Sydney.
- The Opera House from The Royal Botanic Gardens
- The Opera House from Mrs Macquarie’s Point
- From the deck of a Sydney Harbour ferry
- The Opera House view from a west bound ferry
- From an Inner Harbour Ferry
- From an Eastern Suburbs or Manly Ferry
- Walk around Circular Quay via the Cahill Expressway to the Rocks
- Photos of the Opera House from The Rocks and Dawes Point
- Climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge Pylon.
- Walk, train or ferry across to Milson’s Point.
- Getting up close – Walk around and inside
Let’s start with the classic shots. These are my own, and I am very much an amateur, so I am sure you can do better!
The Opera House from The Royal Botanic Gardens
Wander the footpath that runs around Farm Cove, turning back often to take in the changing view. Start at the Opera House and stroll through the Royal Botanic Gardens, shooting different angles as you walk.
About halfway around the path between Mrs Macquarie’s Point and the Opera House, these vibrant red calla lilies make a great foreground. This is a top spot for photographing Sydney Opera House.
The Opera House from Mrs Macquarie’s Point
Two icons in one frame! Arrive here in the late afternoon for the best light.
The sunset is spectacular from this spot. If you arrive early enough you can walk via the gardens; they close at sunset. However, you can access the point 24 hours a day via Art Gallery Road.
From the deck of a Sydney Harbour ferry
A ride on a ferry should be on the top of your to-do list, and if you can, more than one! Depending on the route you take, you will capture different aspects.
This is best from Wharf 2 or Wharf 3.
The Opera House view from a west bound ferry
Heading west under the Sydney Harbour Bridge on a Darling Harbour, Balmain, or Parramatta ferry will allow you to take a shot of both the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge.
This is a good spot to alight for a walk either around Lavender Bay or under the bridge to Mary Booth Reserve (see below).
From an Inner Harbour Ferry
These ferries head to North Sydney, Mosman, Cremorne and Neutral Bay. They allow you to shoot the front of the Opera House almost directly on with the skyline behind. It is hard to get this exact angle from any other Sydney Ferry.
If you do jump on one of these ferries, I highly recommend you do a short harbour walk while you are there. The Cremorne Point to Mosman walk is a relatively easy one. For a longer walk, get off at Taronga Zoo and follow the track to Balmoral.
From an Eastern Suburbs or Manly Ferry
Both the Manly or Watson’s Bay ferries glide past the Opera House.
These two ferry routes are great for getting an afternoon shot with the Opera House silhouetted against the sunset. Go late afternoon or early morning for the best light. The harsh midday sun is not optimal, but if that is the only time you have, you can still get some great shots.
Check out our detailed post on using Sydney Harbour ferries to explore the harbour.
Walk around Circular Quay via the Cahill Expressway to the Rocks
There is a walkway that runs the length of the Cahill Expressway and allows a different perspective of the Opera House.
To get the full view, you need to walk two-thirds of the way across. From here, you can capture the building and the harbour in action. If the wind is kind, you might even get an Australian flag in the frame.
Photos of the Opera House from The Rocks and Dawes Point
There are a couple of key vantage points in The Rocks, the first being the Overseas Passenger Terminal.
Overseas Passenger Terminal
Head to the Campbells Cove end of the Overseas Passenger Terminal; a viewing platform is directly opposite the Opera House. You can access the platform via the escalators at the front of the cruise terminal – you will find it just past the Museum of Contemporary Art.
At the southern end of the terminal is Cruise Bar, make your way to the top floor for this view.
The VIVID Festival usually runs each year during May/June for just over three weeks. In 2021 it will be held in August. It is now one of the most popular festivals in Sydney. Check my tips for enjoying Vivid Sydney.
Campbell’s Cove is a great place to shoot the Opera House and a tall ship. When you have finished, continue around the path to the harbour bridge.
The grassy area under the Harbour Bridge is known as Dawes Point or Tar-Ra in the Gadigal language.
This is best in the early morning just after sunrise when the streets are almost deserted. You can also frame beautiful shots with the iron fence.
Climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge Pylon.
You don’t need to book a Bridgeclimb to get a birds-eye view. The pylon museum will only set you back $19, and you can bring your camera – a big no-no on Bridgeclimb.
Read our review of the Pylon Museum
Walk, train or ferry across to Milson’s Point.
Walk across the Harbour Bridge or get a ferry to Milson’s Point.
Wander east towards the Opera House to the other side of the bridge. Here you will find a couple of sandstone shelters that allow for some fun framing.
After you have captured all the regular postcard views, why not try a few more unusual shots.
Follow the foreshore to Mary Booth Reserve for this angle
You can also continue walking around to Blues Point for more shot looking east that takes in both the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.
Getting up close – Walk around and inside
Head to the eastern side of the sails at sunset for some lovely silhouettes
I like getting up close and looking at the tiles’ texture; try framing shots that do not include the whole building.
And don’t forget to get yourself inside – the northern foyer is only available on a guided tour or during a performance interval.
You might also like to read our post on the best spots to photograph on Sydney Harbour.
Take a photography tour or class
Join a professional photography for a class in the Rocks and Circular Quay.
- Sunset Sydney Harbour and Night Photography Tour
- Sydney Instagram Tour
- Sydney Travel Morning Photography Tour
If you are an amateur like me, you might want to hire a pro to join you – they are not as expensive as you think and perfect for a lifetime memory to take home.
First published 3 July 2013, updated 31/12/2021