What is it really like to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Does your bucket list include “climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge”? Whether you are a local or a visitor, views that will literally take your breath away and the personal satisfaction of making it up all the stairs or beating your fear of heights make it a worthy addition. We climbed it in April 2024 so we could answer all your questions.

What is the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb like?

So there are lots of stairs, it’s really high up, and it is not a small investment, before you hand over the big bucks, how will you know if you are going to enjoy this once in a lifetime experience?

Well, I have put together a list of the questions I had before I embarked on this ultimate Sydney experience. Read on and see if the Sydney Harbour Bridge climb is right for you.

What types of BridgeClimb Sydney experiences are on offer?

Many people are surprised that there is more than one way to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Bridgeclimb offers several difference experiences to suit your ability, time or budget.

Things have changed a bit in the last few years, so let’s explore at what is on offer in 2024.

Twilight Bridge Climb
Credit: BridgeClimb Sydney

The Summit Climb

The Summit Climb is the most common choice and was the original Bridge Climb route. You climb ladders up onto the arch and then walk halfway across the bridge to the highest point known as the summit.

You are now 134 metres above sea level. The 360 degree harbour views and the sight of the Sydney Opera House from this vantage point are impossible to beat.

The stairs on the summit climb of the Sydney Harbour Bridge
The stairs on the summit climb Credit: Bridgeclimb Sydney

Once at the summit, you will have some time to take it all in and your guide will take individual and a group photo. This climb experience is offered at all times of day, the Twilight Climb is the most popular, so book this one well in advance.

The Summit Insider

The Summit Insider Climb is the perfect choice for the engineer or anyone interested in the bridge’s construction. You don’t actually climb the very top but are on a mid-level arch, this might feel less scary for those with a fear of heights.

People walking up stairs on the insider climb on the Sydney Harbour Bridge
A level lower but the same epic view Credit: Bridgeclimb Sydney

This was previously known as the Summit Express Climb and has only 1002 steps.

The Ultimate Bridgeclimb

The Ultimate Bridge Climb is the newest BridgeClimb route on offer. When you choose the Ultimate, you traverse the bridge from South to North and climb 1621 steps! This is a great experience for anyone who has already done a Bridge Climb and is looking for an option for a return visit.

The Burrawa Bridge Climb

The Burrawa Climb is a special experience that brings the harbour to life with the stories of the First Nations People of Australia. This climb has 1332 steps. If you are short of time and want to learn more about the First Nations people of Sydney Harbour, this climb is an excellent choice. There is limited availability with the experience only being offered twice a month.

Indigenous guide on the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb
Learn about indigenous Sydney on a Burrawa Climb Credit: Bridgeclimb Sydney

Frequently asked questions about the Sydney Bridge Climb

Do they climb the bridge in all weather?

Yes, the climbs go ahead rain or shine. They are only cancelled if there are very strong winds.

Do they really breath test your blood alcohol level?

Yep, they sure do, they even test younger climbers occasionally. You must have a blood alcohol level of 0.05 to climb the bridge, so leave those harbourside cocktails till after you finish!

Can anyone climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge?

While there is no age limit, if you’re 75 years of age or over, you can climb with a Certificate of Fitness signed by your GP. If you are more than 24 weeks pregnant, you will also need a certificate of fitness.

View of the stairs on the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb
If you can climb stairs, you can do the Bridge Climb Credit: Bridgeclimb Sydney

The oldest person to climb the bridge was 100 years old.

Can children do the Bridge climb?

The minimum age for a climb on the bridge is 8 years (and 1.2 metres tall).

Can you take your camera when climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge?

No, you cannot take your own equipment like cameras or phones, you can’t take anything at all with you. You are provided with a locker to store your belongings. Anything that could fall is not allowed, including a Fitbit or jewellery. This is not just to they can squeeze extra dollars from you for the photo opportunity at the summit.

The danger of dropping things from the top of the bridge onto the roadway below is the motivation for the total ban on BYO cameras. If you are part of a larger group, you can take a USB and buy all the photos from your climb for under $100.

How many steps on the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb?

This differs depending on which climb you book. The express climb is 1002 steps compared to 1332 for the regular climb and over 1600 on the ultimate climb.

Don’t let the fewer number of steps sway your decision if you are unfit. The Bridgeclimb express is one hour shorter, so at a faster pace with fewer stops (rests) along the way. As long as you have no mobility problems and basic fitness, you should be able to complete this express style climb of the bridge.

What is the best time of day to climb?

This is different for everyone, but I think most people agree the twilight climbs are magic, you get to see the city in the late afternoon sun, enjoy the sunset and then watch as the city lights up for the night.

Dawn Sydney Harbour Bridge climb
A dawn climb is pretty special Credit: BridgeClimb Sydney

Dawn climbs are also fantastic, but depending on the time of year, you might need to be at Bridgeclimb office at 4 o’clock in the morning. There is a lot less traffic on the bridge at this time of day, so it can be a little more peaceful.

Friends enjoying a twilight BridgeClimb Sydney experience overlooking Sydney Harbour.
Twilight Climb Credit: BridgeClimb Sydney

How long does a bridge climb take?

Expect the whole experience to take at least 3.5 hours on the regular climb. You will spend 43 minutes to 1 hour on the ground getting ready for your climb adventure before you even begin.

During this time, the staff will talk you through what to expect and you will get dressed in to your climb suit. You can leave your clothing on under your suit.

You will be given a free locker to store your belongings, including things like your watch, any jewellery, and basically to stop anything from falling from your body. If you wear glasses or sunglasses, these will be attached to your suit.

How far in advance should you book your Bridge climb?

Bookings usually open about 3 months before – an exception to this is the Christmas/New Year period when bookings are able to be made much earlier.

If you want a sunrise or twilight climb, I would book as soon as you have your flights booked. If you are looking at a Vivid Sydney climb or a Christmas climb where you can get a very cool santa photo book well in advance.

Why is the Bridge climb so expensive?

One of the main reasons is insurance compliance and safety measures. Australia has high occupational health and safety standards. Maintaining and detailing these can be time-consuming and costly. At least you know that while you are with them, you will be safe!

Are there any discounts for Bridge climb Sydney tickets?

Unfortunately, demand for climbs means that discount tickets are not available. There are sometimes special offers in quiet periods, but these are not common.  They have introduced different price points for different times of the day according to demand, kind of like airline tickets. If money is tight, you can do a summit insider climb for a lower ticket price.

I want to propose on a Bridgeclimb, can I take a ring?

You will need to tell the Bridgeclimb team and your tour guide will give you the ring you when you get to the top. It can all be done discreetly, with staff making sure you get a private moment if you want it, so don’t let this put you off.

Propose on the Bridgeclimb
Pop the question on the Bridgeclimb Credit: BridgeClimb Sydney

I am scared of heights – will I be able to do it?

If you fear heights, this review – Conquering Heights by Gadling writer Melanie Nayer might help you decide if you are up to it.

Hopefully, these answers will help you make the right decision for you. If you have decided not to climb, take a read of my article on the Sydney Harbour Bridge Pylon Lookout. While it’s not the actual bridge arch, you are about halfway up and it’s the perfect vantage point for watching your braver (or richer) friends make the climb.

Special Events Climbs are offered for a limited time during these popular periods:

  • Chinese new year
  • Mardi Gras
  • Vivid Sydney
  • Santa

Check out our guide to Where to eat in the Rocks after your Bridge climb

How to walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge if you feel the Bridge climb is not right for you.

Have questions about things to see and do in Sydney?
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3 thoughts on “WHat is it really like to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge”

  1. Unfortunately you are not allowed to wear a go pro while climbing. Bridgeclimb need to make sure that nothing can come free and fall to the deck of the bridge as this could cause accidents. While it is unlikely this would happen it is a risk they cannot take.

  2. I really want to go on the bridge climb but I’m scared I’m gonna fall or faint are the people who direct the bridge climb good like will they help if nessasary or if someone thinks they need help

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