Tours

Sightseeing Tours

City Sightseeing Sydney. This fleet of brightly colored double-decker buses (with open tops) follows two routes: the Sydney route has 25 stops, and the Bondi and Bays has 10 stops. Both trips take 90 minutes. Sydney trips depart Circular Quay at 8:30 am daily (last bus departs at 7:30 pm); the Bondi bus departs Eddy Avenue, Central Station at 9 am daily (last bus at 7:30 pm). These days the operators are adding the Bondi and Bays trip at no extra charge—meaning the two trips will cost A$40 if taken in a 24-hour period, which is good value, and A$60 if taken over a 48-hour period. Sydney, New South Wales. 02/9567–8400; www.theaustralianexplorer.com.au. From A$40.

Mount 'n Beach Safaris. This operator runs tours to the Blue Mountains and minicoaches around Sydney and the Hunter Valley, from A$118. The company's most popular tour, The Blue Mountains 4WD Canyon and Wildlife Discovery (A$251), provides the opportunity to see koalas and kangaroos, have morning tea in the bush, and explore the highlights of the Blue Mountains. Sydney, New South Wales, 2099. 02/9972--0899; www.mountnbeachsafaris.com.au. From A$118.

Oz Jet Boating. These bright red boats are the most distinctive of the jet boats operating on Sydney Harbour. The bow is painted with huge white teeth to resemble a shark. The 30-minute rides, at 75 kph (47 mph), zip past the Opera House, Harbour Bridge, and Clark and Shark islands, and perform 270-degree spins. Despite passengers being issued hooded raincoats, they always get wet. At least two trips run every day (at noon and 3) and more on the weekends and in summertime. Rides are A$79, and occasional discounts (for Internet bookings) are offered in the winter and spring. Sydney Harbour, Circular Quay, Eastern Pontoon , Sydney Harbour, Sydney, New South Wales, 2000. 02/9808–3700; www.ozjetboating.com.au. From A$79.

Special-Interest Tours

Aboriginal Heritage Tour. The Aboriginal Heritage Tour (A$38) is a tour of the Royal Botanic Gardens' display of plants that were growing before Europeans arrived on Sydney's shores in 1788. The tour, which operates Friday at 10 am (1½ hours duration), is led by an Aboriginal guide who explains the plants and their uses and bush foods. Royal Botanic Gardens, Mrs. Macquaries Rd., Circular Quay, Sydney, New South Wales, 2000. 02/9231–8134; www.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/What-s-On/Aboriginal-heritage-tours. From A$38.

Bass and Flinders Cruises. You can go whale-watching from Sydney Harbour with Bass and Flinders Cruises. Boats leave from mid-May to early December, venturing a few miles outside Sydney Heads. Two-, three-, and four-hour cruises are available, and tours start from A$65, although online discounts are often available. Cockle Bay Marina, Darling Harbour, Sydney, New South Wales, 2000. 02/9583–1199; www.whalewatchingsydney.net. From A$65 (A$58.50 online).

Bonza Bikes. Bonza Bikes lets you see the best Sydney sights without having to worry about heavy traffic. The half-day Classic Sydney Tour cruises past the Opera House, winds around the harbor, and cycles through the Royal Botanic Gardens. A bike and helmet are included on all tours. 30 Harrington St., The Rocks, Sydney, New South Wales, 2000. 02/9247–8800; www.bonzabiketours.com. From A$119.

BridgeClimb. This unique tour affords the ultimate view of the harbor and city center from Sydney Harbour Bridge. The hugely popular tours take 3½ hours and start at A$218, with sunrise, day, sunset, and nighttime tours available. They are all worth doing, but for sheer romance, the night tour is hard to beat—and the cheapest full-climb experience. An option for those on a budget or with a fear of heights is the 90-minute BridgeClimb Sampler, which takes climbers within the bridge's inner arch to a point around halfway to the top. Prices are higher during the peak season December 25–January 14 inclusive. 5 Cumberland St., The Rocks, Sydney, New South Wales, 2000. 02/8274–7777; www.bridgeclimb.com. From A$148.

Easyrider Motorbike Tours. Ride as a passenger on a Harley-Davidson on an exciting chauffeur-driven Harley-Davidson tour to the city's landmarks, the beaches, and rural areas. A 15-minute ride is A$35, and a two-hour tour is A$190 per person; a six-hour trip taking in the Blue Mountains' best views is A$350, while an eight-hour trip to the South Coast and the lovely town of Berry starts at A$410. The Rocks Market, George St., at Hickson Rd., The Rocks, Sydney, New South Wales, 2000. 1300/882065; www.easyrider.com.au. From A$35.

Sydney Pub Tours. This tour lets visitors drink in Sydney's history at five historic—and unique—pubs in The Rocks, and dine on some unusual pizzas during a 3½-hour jaunt. Operated by history-lover Gary West—a man who relishes handcrafted beers—the walking tour sets off from the Mercantile Hotel at 6 pm. It is designed for those who want to learn more about The Rocks' fascinating history (rather than party-types). Gary regales folks with tales of 19th-century rum smuggling and the quirky characteristics of each watering hole. There's a visit to one of the cellars, which is normally off-limits to the public. Adventurous diners might like to order the kangaroo or even crocodile pizza at the Australian Heritage Hotel. Nonbeer drinkers are offered wine or a soft drink at each pub. Mercantile Hotel, 25 George St., The Rocks, Sydney, New South Wales, 2000. 0419/669–832; www.sydneypubtours.com. A$125. Tours depart weekdays 6 pm.

Sydney Seaplanes. A flight on Sydney Seaplanes is a wonderful way to see Sydney's sights and soar over beaches. Short flights taking in the harbor, Bondi Beach, and Manly cost from A$200 per person. The seaplanes take off from Rose Bay. 1 Vickery Ave., Rose Bay, Sydney, New South Wales, 2029. 02/9388–1978; 1300/732752; www.seaplanes.com.au. From A$200.

Sydney By Boat

Aboriginal Culture Cruise. Former Sydney tugboat the Mari Nawi is owned by the Tribal Warrior Association, an organization committed to empowering disadvantaged Aboriginal people. They operate cultural cruises year-round, showing passengers the sights and telling stories associated with tribes including the Eora, Cadigal, and Wangal, who inhabited areas around Sydney Harbour. After departing from Circular Quay, the cruises head to Clark Island for a traditional welcoming ceremony and dance performance. Back on board, passengers are shown cultural landmarks, fishing spots, and ancient rock carvings. The two-hour cruises cost A$60 per person and depart Saturdays April–September at 1 pm and October–March at 3 pm. The cruise departs from Eastern Pontoon, Circular Quay. Eastern Pontoon, Circular Quay, Sydney Harbour, Sydney, New South Wales, 2000. 02/9699–3491; www.tribalwarrior.org. From $A60.

Aussie Water Taxis. A fun, fast, but somewhat expensive way to get around is by water taxi. (Circular Quay to Manly, for example, costs A$180 for four people, and A$10 for each extra person.) One company, Aussie Water Taxis, runs a taxi shuttle between Darling Harbour and the Opera House for A$15 one-way, A$25 return. Minitours of the harbor in these little yellow taxi boats begin at A$35 per person for 45 minutes. Cockle Bay Wharf, Darling Harbour, Sydney, New South Wales, 2000. 02/9211–7730; www.aussiewatertaxis.com. From $15.

Captain Cook Cruises. The best introduction to Sydney Harbour is Captain Cook's two-hour Harbour Story Cruise (A$39), which follows the southern shore to Watsons Bay, crosses to the north shore to explore Middle Harbour, and returns to Circular Quay. Other options include breakfast, lunch, and dinner cruises; and the popular 24-hour Hop-on-Hop-Off ferry service (A$40) to nine stops around the harbor. 02/9206–1111; www.captaincook.com.au. From A$30.

Manly Ferry. There is no finer introduction to the city than a trip aboard one of the commuter ferries that ply Sydney Harbour. The hub of the ferry system is Circular Quay, and ferries dock at the almost 30 wharves around the harbor between about 6 am and 11:30 pm. One of the most popular sightseeing trips is the Manly Ferry, a 30-minute journey from Circular Quay that provides glimpses of harborside mansions and the sandstone cliffs and bushland along the north shore. The one-way Manly Ferry fare is A$7.60, and the Manly Fast Ferry, operated by a private company (www.manlyfastferry.com.au), costs A$17 return, although cheaper if a SmartCard is purchased. Wharf 2, Circular Quay, Sydney, New South Wales, 2000. 13–1500; www.transportnsw.info. From A$7.60.

Walking Tours

Ghost Tours. The Rocks' dark alleyways can be scary, and The Rocks Ghost Tours make sure people are suitably spooked, as the guides, dressed in long black cloaks and carrying lanterns, regale them with stories of the murders and other nasty goings-on in the early days of the colony. Tours depart nightly at 6:45 (April–September) and 7:45 (October–March) from Cadmans Cottage. Cadmans Cottage, George and Argyle Sts., Circular Quay, Sydney, New South Wales, 2000. 02/9241--1283; www.ghosttours.com.au. A$45.

Rocks Walking Tours. Discover Sydney's first European settlement, with an emphasis on the buildings and personalities of the convict period on tours with this operator. The 1½-hour tours leave daily at 10:30 and 1:30. Clocktower Sq., Argyle and Harrington Sts., Shop 4a, The Rocks, Sydney, New South Wales, 2000. 02/9247–6678; www.rockswalkingtours.com.au. $A25.

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