If you're a cruise lover in Australia, chances are you've spent a decent amount of time in Australia's biggest city, whether calling in during an itinerary or joining a cruise from Sydney. You'll be familiar with the stunning vistas of bridge and opera house as you sail into Sydney Harbour, and will probably know your way around Darling Harbour and Circular Quay. It might be time to look a little further afield and find the best of Sydney's lesser-known attractions to keep you busy in this big and beautiful city.
These are our top picks for the Sydney cruising expert!
This place is a little indescribable. Not quite a venue, not quite a gallery, not quite a theatre, it is all those things and more. Essentially it is a space which has been set up to allow for creativity - officially a contemporary multi-arts precinct.
This is a fantastic destination for art lovers, and you never quite know what you might find there. A look at the program for 2016 suggests it could be an art installation, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, a Korean pop band, the Sydney Writer's Festival or one of myriad other exciting events. There is also a Farmer's Market every Saturday from 8am to 1pm, featuring produce from artisan producers across New South Wales.
More info: Take a look at the Carriageworks website if you like the sound of this dynamic place - there you'll find the program for 2016 and more.
Get there: Carriageworks is located at 245 Wilson Street in Everleigh, near the University of Sydney. That's a 20-minute drive from Circular Quay, and alternatively you can walk less than a kilometre to Wynyard Station and take the T2 train service towards Glenfield Station. Get off at Redfern Station and walk the short distance along Wilson Street to Carriageworks. From White Bay Cruise Terminal, a taxi would be your best bet - it's also a 20-minute drive.
Sydney Rowing Club
This is something for the cruise visitor who thinks they've seen it all and just wants to chill and enjoy the city! While rowing is of course the main focus and history of the Sydney Rowing Club, it is quickly becoming one of the city's premier drinking and dining destinations. Tucked away in the upper harbour, this place is often overlooked but a favourite amongst those who frequent it.
At the Lounge, you can enjoy views of the harbour with an extensive drinks menu. The Watergrill restaurant offers top-notch casual dining, with a choice of inside or al fresco seating so you can take advantage of the Sydney weather. Special occasion? Try Dedes, a true fine dining experience - you won't forget a meal there in a hurry!
More info: For more details about the venues and the club itself or to make a booking, visit the Sydney Rowing Club website.
Get there: It's a 30-minute taxi ride from Circular Quay to the Sydney Rowing Club in Abbotsford, or you can take a Parramatta River ferry from No. 5 wharf to Abbotsford Wharf which will take around 40 minutes, providing a great view of many parts of the Sydney Harbour along the way. If you're docked at White Bay Cruise Terminal, it's 15-20 minutes by taxi.
SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium
Sydney's Aquarium is the perfect day out for cruising families, or anyone who is interested in what goes on underneath the waves. It is located conveniently downtown on Darling Harbour, and features a range of wonderful sea creatures in carefully constructed habitats. These include - among other things - Jurassic Seas which features deep-sea animals and brings a Plesiosaurus to life with state-of-the-art technology, the colourful Great Barrier Reef exhibit, a Streams and Billabongs habitat and a Shark Walk.
The Aquarium also offers unique experiences and encounters. A favourite is the Shark Reef Snorkel, during which visitors can get in the water with these magnificent fish - from inside a safe enclosure! For those who'd rather not get wet, there is a glass-bottomed boat ride.
More info: Find out all you need to know about times and prices on the SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium website.
Get there: From Circular Quay, it's a short walk of 1.5 kilometres to the Aquarium on the Darling Harbour waterfront. If you are docked at White Bay Cruise Terminal, you can take a ten-minute taxi ride to the Aquarium or a shorter one to the Balmain East wharf from where the ferries to Darling Harbour depart.
Billed as the ultimate live escape game, Escape Hunt has a location in central Sydney where you can test your spy skills and enjoy a bit of fun competition with your cruising partners. These "escape room" games are becoming popular around the globe right now, and this one is themed to its surroundings, with unique rooms based on Sydney's "The Rocks" precinct.
Upon arrival at Escape Hunt, you'll be briefed and then locked in one of the themed rooms with your team. The room contains a variety of clues and puzzles to help you get out - and you'll have 60 minutes to do so. It's quite the challenge, and an excellent bonding exercise as it will definitely require teamwork. Book in with a team of 2-5 players for the 1.5 hour experience which includes complimentary hot drinks and photos afterwards.
More info: You can find out more about the game and the costs at the Sydney Escape Hunt website.
Get there: Escape Hunt is located at 393 George Street in the CBD, around 15 minutes' walk from Circular Quay. From White's Bay Cruise Terminal, a ten-minute taxi ride is the best option.
Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary
Already visited the Sydney Aquarium and still want more? Make the pleasant ferry trip across to Manly and visit the SEA LIFE Sanctuary which is not far from the wharf, just a short stroll along the Esplanade. There you can see conservation in action and visit a range of creatures, from sharks to turtles to penguins. There is also a daily schedule of activities such as feedings, tours and informative talks.
This attraction is the ideal day out for cruising families. If you want something a little more adult-focused, you can take your visit to the next level with a Shark Dive Xtreme experience - bookings are required for this! No cages, nothing but water between you and the Grey Nurse Sharks (don't worry, they aren't man-eaters).
More info: To learn more about what you can see and do, find out about ticket prices and perhaps book a shark rendezvous, visit the Manly Sea Life Sanctuary website.
Get there: It's easy to get to the sanctuary from Circular Quay - just get the 20-minute Manly Fast Ferry from the No. 6 Wharf to Manly, turn left once you get off the wharf and wander along the promenade for less than 500 metres. From White Bay Cruise Terminal, you can make a 30-minute taxi trip, or take a shorter 10-minute drive to the Pyrmont Bay ferry port and get the Manly Fast Ferry from there.
Sydney Heritage Fleet
Continue the nautical theme of your holiday with a visit to the Sydney Heritage Fleet! Also known as the Sydney Maritime Museum, this establishment is not your usual museum. It has ten primary vessels being restored or operated, and 55 small heritage boats as well as a collection of marine engines restored or being worked on. It is a non-profit organisation supported by donations, volunteers and income from vessel charters and tours.
If you want to visit the amazing ships of the Sydney Heritage Fleet, there are many different ways to do so. At Wharf 7 in Darling Harbour you can take a behind-the-scenes tour of the Maritime Heritage Centre, or see the small boat collection in the foyer which includes skiffs, rowing and motor boats of local design and manufacture. You can also tour the tall ship James Craig while she is alongside at Wharf 7. However, the best way to get a feel for Sydney's maritime past is to get onboard. There are a variety of tours on offer which involve getting out on the water on one of the fleet - an amazing new way to experience Sydney.
More info: For more details and prices, take a look at the Sydney Heritage Fleet website.
Get there: Wharf 7 is on Darling Harbour, in Pyrmont. That's a 15-minute taxi ride from Circular Quay or White Bay Cruise Terminal, and also reachable on the Pyrmont Bay Light Rail from Central train station.
Sydney Tower Eye
You might have seen it all - but you can see it all at once from the Sydney Tower Eye! This golden turret above Westfield Sydney, formerly Centrepoint Arcade, has two levels of restaurants, a viewing deck and a coffee lounge. The very top of the spire is at 309 metres above the ground, the observation turret a little below it - and you can rest assured you'll get amazing 360-degree views of the city and harbour.
Add to your Sydney Tower Eye experience with SKYWALK, which takes you outside the windows of the observation deck to walk around the very edge of the turret and step onto the two glass viewing platforms for a slightly vertigo-inducing perspective on the city! Bookings are recommended for this and can easily be done online.
More info: If you have more questions about the tower or want to find ticket prices for the observation deck or SKYWALK, have a look on the Sydney Tower Eye website.
Get there: The tower is a 15-minute walk from Circular Quay (straight down Pitt Street), or a very brief taxi ride. From White Bay Cruise Terminal, it's 10-20 minutes in a taxi, or a shorter drive to Balmain East wharf and a ferry trip across to Darling Harbour from where you can easily walk to the tower.
WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo
You may have visited the famous Taronga Zoo, but did you know there's another zoo in Sydney and it's very close by the cruise terminals? Formerly Sydney Wildlife World, the WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo is right on Darling Harbour and home to a whole host of iconic Australian creatures such as koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, birds, butterflies and a saltwater crocodile called Rex who is one of the biggest of his kind in the world.
Walk the adventure trail through the Butterfly Tropics, Gumtree Valley, Daintree Rainforest, Wallaby Cliffs and a range of other great habitats, and don't forget to check the schedule of feedings and keeper talks to see if you can catch one of these fun events. From cute and cuddly to dangerous and deadly, there's something for everyone at this inner-city zoo.
More info: On the WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo website, you will find answers to any questions you might have about ticket prices and attractions.
Get there: From Circular Quay it's just 1.5 kilometres to the zoo, an easy 20-minute walk or short drive. Take a taxi for the 10-minute trip from White Bay Cruise Terminal, or get a ferry from the Balmain East wharf.
Madame Tussauds Sydney
Also in the big complex on the Darling Harbour waterfront is Madame Tussaud's Sydney, a fun museum where you can get up close and personal with your favourite celebrities - or their likenesses, at least. The Sydney edition focuses on the biggest and brightest of famous Australians (although not exclusively), across a range of categories such as Film and TV, Sport, A-List, Music, and History and World Leaders.
Highlights for visitors to the wax museum include posing with superstars like Steve Irwin, Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, Cathy Freeman, Nicole Kidman, John Farnam, Taylor Swift, Barack Obama and many more.
More info: Find out more on the Madame Tussaud's Sydney website.
Get there: It's a 20 minute walk from Circular Quay to Madame Tussaud's on Darling Harbour, near the Aquarium. From the White Bay Cruise Terminal, you could take a ten-minute taxi trip to the museum or get to the Balmain East wharf and hop on a scenic ferry ride to Darling Harbour.
Looking to escape the city for the day and get a taste of the New South Wales wilderness? Illawarra Fly Treetop Adventures is the place to be. It is 1.5 hours' drive from Sydney, a great activity for before or after a cruise. The facility offers a number of ways to get amongst the native rainforest, from the low-key to the adrenaline-inducing, and it is an award-winning attraction which is worth the journey.
Zipping through the treetops is a fantastic way to enjoy Australia's great outdoors! The zipline is the highlight for thrillseekers, officially the highest in the country at up to 35 metres above the ground. For something a little more sedate but still high up, you can opt for the Treetop Walk which stretches for 1500 metres, one third of which is 20-30 metres above ground level in the rainforest canopy. At the end of the walkway is Knights Tower which spirals even higher for a fantastic view over the area. SImple bushwalks and guided tours are also available.
More info: Find out more about this award-winning attraction at the Illawarra Fly website.
Get there: The address is 182 Knights Hill Road, and it's a 90-minute drive south out of Sydney and past Wollongong - the perfect place to stop if you are travelling to or from Sydney for a cruise.
Sydney Jewish Museum
This fascinating museum is one you might not have heard about, but it is well worth a visit. Australian Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors along with John Saunders AO founded the museum in 1992 to commemorate the lives of the millions murdered, educate about the atrocious crime against humanity to ensure it is never repeated, and explore the Jewish culture with a focus on the Australian community. This is a thought-provoking attraction for any lover of history!
Free guided tours take place at the museum at noon on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Otherwise you can explore the permanent exhibitions which explore topics such as Jewish involvement in Australian military history, Hitler's rise to power, the camps, and stories of survival. There are also changing temporary exhibitions and galleries.
More info: You can find out more about what's on and admission prices on the Sydney Jewish Museum website.
Get there: The museum is located at 148 Darlinghurst Road in Darlinghurst. If you choose to take a taxi from Circular Quay, it'll be a trip of 15 minutes or so. Another option is the 333 or 380 bus from Stand B in Alfred Street, Circular Quay, which will drop you off on Oxford Street near Darlinghurst Road (outside Darlinghurst Court) from where it is a short walk. A taxi is the easiest option of you are coming from White Bay Cruise Terminal, and it is a 20-minute ride.
Now you have all you need for the ideal holiday - pick your Sydney pastime, find a cruise and you'll be on your way. P&O cruises from Sydney, deals with Princess Cruises and other cheap cruises from Australia, you'll be sure to find something that suits at Cruise Sale Finder.