A Sydney Bucket List for Exploring the Great Outdoors

Sydney is the perfect city for active travellers. This list of 20 things to do in Sydney focuses on getting active and exploring the outdoors. This list highlights our favourite things to do in Sydney for anyone who prefers beaches and bushwalks to museums and galleries.

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Twenty fun activities for discovering the beauty of Sydney’s great outdoors

Following the success of our Budget Buckelist, we bring you part two of our Ultimate Sydney Bucket List series, the Outdoor Bucketlist. With over 300 days of sunshine per year and pretty mild winters, you can explore the great outdoors year-round. 

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.

Spit Bridge to Manly walk
Manly to Spit Bridge Walk

It’s 10km of pristine beaches, less travelled paths and 180-degree views of the harbour. You can even spot some Aboriginal rock art. Get the details here

Want more walks? We have dozens of trails you can choose from exploring beach and harbour tracks.

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.

Bundeena Rock art site Sydney Bucket list
Aboriginal rock engraving site at Bundeena

If you want a challenge, then continue on the Bundeena to Otford walk for a full day of strenuous fun.

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

Murray Rose was one of Australia’s greatest swimmers winning six Olympic medals. As a young boy, he learned to swim at this pool and in 2012 it was renamed in his honour.

Murray Rose Pool Double Bay
Murray Rose Pool at Double Bay

This is a lovely protected harbour pool with shark nets and a couple of pontoons for sunbathing. There is plenty of shade provided some lovely mature trees

There is a cafe where you can grab a coffee and snacks so you can easily spend a couple of hours here. 

Murray Rose Pool is one of the stops on our self-guided 325 bus tour

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

On an extended visit to Sydney, a 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.

How to visit the Blue Mountains West of Sydney
The Three Sisters and the Jamison Valley

We have written about some of our favourites at Leura but if you really want to punish yourself with some stairs try the Grand Canyon.

Check out our guide to 50 Things to do in the Blue Mountains for more ideas.

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

These days Bondi’s 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.

Icebergs Bondi Beach Pool Sydney
Icebergs at Bondi

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. You can also do a sunrise yoga class here.

Check out our Insiders Guide to Bondi here for more things to do nearby while you are there.

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

While a car or tour makes it a little quicker to get to Palm Beach if you don’t have that luxury you can take the bus from the city all the way up to Palm Beach.

The trip takes well over an hour, but it’s very scenic, and you are rewarded with this great beach, home of Neighbour’s Summer Bay when you get there. 

Palm Beach Pittwater NSW
Palm Beach is a great day trip.

The walk up to the lighthouse, is a great challenge when Exploring Palm Beach

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 paddleboarding on a tour at the gorgeous Ku-ring-gai National Park

8. Explore North Head and the Q Station

Q-Station was the first stop for many of Australia’s first arrivals. Ships were quarantined here on arrival into Sydney Harbour if any of the passengers were will showing signs of illness.

Q Station Sydney on North Head
Q Station Beach

Best known for their ghost tours, the history tours here are also excellent.

Neighbouring Q Station is the North Head Sanctuary which offers stunning views across the harbour.

We have written up a guide to visiting North Head that gives more details.

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

The pool is current closed for renovations (2021)

Swimming here is a pretty unique experience – where else can you get a glimpse of the harbour bridge every time you take a breath.

North Sydney Olpymic Pool
The pool with a view

Along with the view is a whole lot of history with 86 world records having been set in these lanes. The pool was built for the swimming and diving events for the 1938 Empire Games. The pool offers 2 pools, a gym, and a sauna and spa.

When you are done take the walk around to Lavender Bay

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
Learn to surf on Sydney’s iconic Bondi Beach

Let’s Go Surfing, the most professional surf school in the area offers 2 hr surf lessons.

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.

Bonza Bike Tours
Rent a bike or take a guided cycling tour

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. 

We also have a self-guided walk of The Rocks that you might enjoy if you want to learn more about this historic part of Sydney when you return your bike.

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
Volleyball at Coogee Beach

There are courts set up at Tamarama, Coogee and Brighton le Sands.

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. It’s a great spot for snorkelling, scuba diving and underwater photography.

Cabbage Tree Bay Manly
A guide to what you will spot today at Shelly Beach

There are often volunteers around on weekends to answer any questions you might have on the marine life you might see.

If you get hungry when you are done the Bower Cafe does great coffee and excellent salads.

14. Pitch a tent or rent one at Cockatoo Island

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
Camping at Cockatoo Island

The island also offers lots to keep you busy including a self-guided history tour, a tennis and basketball court, life-size chess set bar and exhibitions spaces. You can read a review of camping on Cockatoo Island and find out all about the experience.

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
Take the seas on Sydney Harbour

Check out our review of spending an afternoon sailing with Sydney by Sail. We even stayed onboard overnight.

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 logbook before returning it to its hiding space and moving on to the next clue. 

The Rocks signage

You can download the free Geocaching tour here

17. Play 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

What could be better than kayaking on Sydney Harbour? How about heading over to the almost private Collins Beach for a romantic picnic 🙂 

Kayaks at Manly Wharf
Kayak rental by the hour or the day at Manly Wharf

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
Milk Beach views

20. Tackle the Wild Ropes at 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.

Wild Ropes - Image from Taronga Zoo
Wild Ropes at Taronga

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.

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7 thoughts on “A Sydney Bucket List for Exploring the Great Outdoors”

  1. 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.

  2. 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

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