The Ultimate Sydney Bucket List Outdoors edition

Sydney is the perfect city for active travellers.  With over 300 days of sunshine per year and pretty mild winters, there is no need to hibernate. In part 2 of my Ultimate Sydney Bucket List series, I am going to highlight some fantastic experiences that lovers of the great outdoors will enjoy no matter when you visit.

1. Walk the Spit Bridge to Manly

Everyone does the Bondi to Coogee walk, and you should too but add this one for something different.  It’s 10km of pristine beaches, less travelled paths and 180-degree views of the harbour and the heads. Get the details here

Spit Bridge to Manly walk

2. Visit Bundeena and the indigenous engravings on Jibbon Headland.

An easy day trip by public transport that gives you a great view of one of Sydney secret spots. Take the train to Cronulla and then you board the very cute little Tom Thumb ferry for the trip across Burraneer Bay to Bundeena. If you want a challenge, then continue on the Bundeena to Otford walk for a full day of strenuous fun.

Bundeena Rock art site Sydney Bucket list

3. Take a swim in the harbour at Murry Rose Pool in Double Bay.

Murry Rose was one of Australia’s greatest swimmers winning 6 six Olympic medals. As a young boy, he trained at this pool and in 2012 it was renamed in his honour.   It’s a lovely protected spot with plenty of shade and a  good cafe so you can easily spend a couple of hours here. 
Murray Rose Pool Double Bay

4. Catch the train to Katoomba and walk out to the Three Sisters

On an extended visit to Sydney, a day walk in the Blue Mountains is a great addition to your itinerary.  There are lots of trails to choose from and while a car might make it easier there are plenty, you can reach by public transport.  The Wildwalks website has a list of over 60 walks all graded so you can choose the best one for your needs. I have a few favourites including the Prince Henry Cliff walk and the Valley of the Waters walk but if you really want to punish yourself with some stairs try the Grand Canyon.

How to visit the Blue Mountains West of Sydney


5. Swim at Icebergs (and grab something to eat when you’re done).

These days Icebergs is perhaps best known as a dining destination. However, it began life in 1929 as a winter swimming club started so local lifesavers to maintain their fitness through the colder months of the year. The pool is open from 6.30am-6.30pm seven days and also has a gym and sauna.  Entry to the pool and sauna is $6.50

Icebergs Bondi Beach Pool Sydney

6. Walk up the headland at Palm Beach to the Barrenjoey Lighthouse

It’s great to explore this area by car but if you don’t have that luxury you can take the L90 bus from the City all the way up to Palm Beach.  The full trip takes over an hour, but it’s pretty scenic, and you are rewarded with this great beach, home of Neighbour’s Summer Bay when you get there.  The walk takes about 1 and a half hours is detailed on the Best Sydney Walks website

Palm beach from the headland

7. Try to stand up paddleboarding at Rose Bay

You don’t have to experience Sydney Harbour from afar.  There are lots of ways for you to get out on the water and have some fun. One of the most popular new ones and one you might want to wait until spring to try is Stand Up Paddleboarding.  You can also try Stand up paddle boarding on a tour at the gorgeous Ku-ring-gai National Park

8. Explore North Head and the Quarantine Station

Q Station Sydney on North Head

I have not visited in a while, but the views and the history on offer at the Q Station at North Head are brilliant.  My friends Paula and Gordon over at the contented traveller had a short break there recently and shared it on their blog

9. Knock out a few laps at North Sydney Olympic Pool

Swimming here is a pretty unique experience – where else can you get a glimpse of the harbour bridge every time you take a breath.  Along with the view is a whole lot of history with  86 world records having been set in these lanes.

North Sydney Olpymic Pool

10. Learn to surf at Bondi

Imagine your first surfing lesson at one of the world’s most iconic beaches and a bonus if it does not go well… you could end up featuring on Bondi Rescue and score immediate fame.


Bondi Beach Bucket List Sydney

11. Explore Sydney By Bicycle with Bonza Bike Tours in the Rocks

Cycling around the Harbour foreshore can be an excellent way to burn off a few holiday calories and with such a great view you hardly notice the work you are doing. You can either hire a bike at The Rocks and follow one of the suggested routes or join a tour and learn more about Sydney at the same time.  My friends  Elaina and Victoria over at Freedom Travellers tried it out recently and posted their thoughts here 

 Bonza Bike tours

12. Play game of Beach Volleyball on Coogee beach

Nothing screams fun like a game of beach volleyball.  Nets are available at several Sydney beaches

Coogee Beach Volleyball

13. Go snorkelling at Cabbage Tree Bay Manly

Cabbage Tree Bay in Manly is a protected aquatic reserve.  Fishing has been banned for many years now and as a result, there is plenty of marine life calling the water here home. Its a great spot for snorkelling, scuba diving and underwater photography. There are often volunteers around on weekends to answer any questions you might have on the marine life you might see.

Cabbage Tree Bay Manly

14. Pitch a tent or rent one at Cockatoo Island and spend the night sleeping in the middle of Sydney Harbour

Just a very short ferry ride from Circular Quay and boasting fantastic views a stay here will allow you to boast with all honesty that you slept waterfront on your visit to Sydney.  The campground has excellent facilities including clean bathrooms and a large covered kitchen area.

Cockatoo Island tents

15. Learn to sail on Sydney Harbour

There are several places on the Harbour offering sailing lessons.  You can even pretend you are sailing in an America Cup race

Learn to Sail on Sydney Harbour

16. Try GeoCaching in The Rocks

Have you heard of Geocaching? Well, I guess you could compare it to a modern-day treasure hunt. Using the GPS on your smartphone, you trace the location of the “treasure” and once found add your name to the log book before returning it to it’s hiding space and moving on to the next clue.  You can download the free Geocaching tour here

The Rocks signage

17. Have a game of Barefoot Bowls

Lawn bowls used to be the domain of retirees in white outfits and ugly shoes but these days it’s cool and hip, and you play it barefoot with a beer in your hand.  Check out the greens with the best view at Clovelly Bowling Club. It’s only $15 to play, and there are free BBQs you can use to cook up a few snags when you are done.  They also have a great value bar.

18. Rent a Kayak at Manly Wharf

manly kayak rental

What could be better than kayaking on Sydney Harbour?  How about heading over to the almost private Collins Beach for a romantic picnic 🙂  Single and double kayaks are available and if you have never tried it before and are a little worried about your skills they also offer guided tours.  You can also take a guided kayak tour from Rose Bay 

19. Visit Milk Beach

Visit Milk Beach on a weekday mid-morning and there is every chance you will have it all to yourself.  A short walk from either Rose Bay or Neilson Park along the  Hermitage Foreshore Walk will get you to this delightful beach with its perfect view of Sydney.

Milk Beach Heritage Foreshore Walk

20. Tackle the Wild Ropes at Taronga Zoo

Wild Ropes - Image from Taronga Zoo

Combine a trip to see some cute Aussie creatures with an adrenaline-fueled rope challenge.  Swing, climb, crawl and jump through the ropes course while the animals cheer you on from below.  Suitable for anyone under 120kg and over 10 years. If you are scared of heights but want to challenge your fear you can begin on the 5-metre high course before graduating to the higher course. I have not actually tried this yet but it looks like a whole lot of fun.

Know Sydney well? Share your favourite outdoor activity below? 

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  1. While you’re at North Sydney pool, I’d recommend taking a wander through Wendy Whitelys garden then crossing the harbour bridge and climbing to the top of the south pylon for great views of the bridge, city and harbour

  2. David and I have done many of the things on this list. I’m going to make it my mission now to do the rest. David doesn’t do tents but there are a few cottages on Cockatoo Island. We rented one for two nights a few years ago. It was magical after all the day visitors had left.

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