Sydney, Australia, has long been known for its beautiful beaches. But there’s more to this city than just sand and surf. In fact, Sydney is home to a large number of beautiful parks and gardens. From the lush Royal Botanic Garden to the sprawling Centennial Park, there’s no shortage of picturesque green spaces in Sydney. So, after you’ve visited Bondi Beach and crossed Australia’s coast off your bucket list, do yourself a favor and carve out time to explore some of the city’s other scenic attractions. These are the Sydney parks and gardens to see.
Sydney’s oldest public park, Hyde Park is named after London’s famous green space. It covers approximately 40 acres and offers a range of attractions and activities, including walking paths, picnic areas, playgrounds, and fountains. One of the most notable features of Hyde Park is the ANZAC War Memorial, which honors the Australian and New Zealand soldiers who fought in World War I. Hyde Park also backdrops a number of events throughout the year, from music concerts and food festivals to other cultural celebrations.
At 467 acres, Centennial Park is Sydney’s largest park, housing everything from walking and cycling paths, horse riding trails, and sports fields to ponds, playgrounds, and picnic areas. The park is also home to a number of attractions, including the Sydney Cricket Ground and the Centennial Parklands Equestrian Centre. Because of its size and wetlands, Centennial Park is able to accommodate a diverse range of flora and fauna, notably various bird species and more than 15,000 trees — some of which are over 100 years old.
Royal Botanic Gardens
Sydney’s Royal Botanic Garden is one of the oldest scientific institutions in Australia, showcasing both native and global flora and fauna. It houses thousands of plant species, many of which are rare or endangered. The garden also contains themed gardens such as the Palm Grove, Rose Garden, and Herb Garden, as well as points of interest such as the Calyx, a large glasshouse featuring seasonal horticultural displays. Visitors can take guided tours, join a yoga class, attend a concert, or enjoy a picnic on the lawns. The garden also hosts several events throughout the year, including the annual New Year’s Eve fireworks display.
The Barangaroo Reserve is located on the western edge of Sydney’s CBD. It was created as a part of the Barangaroo redevelopment project, which aimed to transform the area into a vibrant waterfront precinct. The park occupies the site of a former container terminal and has been designed to preserve the area’s native vegetation, maritime heritage, and Aboriginal culture. A notable feature of the reserve is the Headland Park, which offers panoramic views of the harbor and the skyline. The park also has several walking trails, art installations, and picnic areas. An underground space called the Cutaway is used for events and exhibitions.
Bicentennial Park was created in 1988 to commemorate the bicentennial of European settlement in Australia. Spanning about 40 hectares, the park offers facilities and activities such as walking and cycling paths, picnic areas, playgrounds, sports fields, and wetlands, which provide a habitat for various bird species and are a popular spot for birdwatching. The park is also home to important landmarks such as the Waterview Convention Centre, the Sydney Olympic Park Archery Centre, and the ANZ Stadium. A range of events are hosted in Bicentennial Park throughout the year, including music festivals, food fairs, and sporting events.
Bronte Park is a public park located in the eponymous Sydney suburb of Bronte, next to Bronte Beach. It features picnic areas, barbeque facilities, playgrounds, and a large grassy area for recreation. The park also has a number of walking paths that provide access to the waterfront and coastal views. A highlight of Bronte Park is its ocean pool, a natural rock formation that’s been modified to create a safe swimming spot. The park also has a small beach that’s popular for surfing and sunbathing.
Chinese Garden of Friendship
The Chinese Garden of Friendship is a tranquil oasis covering roughly one hectare in the heart of Sydney. It was built as a symbol of friendship between China and Australia, featuring a range of traditional Chinese architecture and landscaping including pavilions, lakes, waterfalls, and bridges. It also showcases a variety of native Chinese plant species such as bamboo, orchids, and lotus flowers. On site, there’s a serene teahouse that serves traditional Chinese tea and snacks. The garden is also a popular location for weddings and other special events.
Sydney Harbour National Park
Sydney Harbour National Park is a roughly 3,500-hectare protected area in central Sydney that eoncompasses multiple natural and cultural attractions, notably views of the Sydney Harbour and its iconic Opera House and Harbour Bridge. The park has a range of walking trails, picnic areas, beaches, and historic sites to explore, such as the former military fortifications at Middle Head and the Quarantine Station. While there, you can see as many as 1,000 plant species and animals ranging from wallabies and echidnas to various birds. Keep an eye out for what’s on in the park, as many important festivals, events, and exhibitions are hosted year-round.
Observatory Hill Park
Observatory Hill Park is a public park on top of Observatory Hill in Sydney’s CBD. Its main draw is the panoramic views it offers of the city skyline and Sydney Harbour. Additionally, there are walking paths, picnic areas, and sites such as the Sydney Observatory. The observatory was built in 1858 and served as the city’s primary observatory until the 1980s. Today, it is open to the public and offers a range of astronomy exhibits and telescope viewings.
Prince Alfred Park
A nice spot for a picnic or relaxing stroll, Prince Alfred Park is located in the inner-city suburb of Surry Hills in Sydney. It was originally established in 1858 and later redeveloped and reopened to the public in 2013 with facilities such as walking and cycling paths, a playground, basketball and tennis courts, a fitness station, and a swimming pool. The pool is housed in a unique architectural structure that blends seamlessly into the surrounding parkland. Part of what makes Prince Alfred Park so special is that it’s sustainable, featuring environmentally friendly elements such as solar panels, water harvesting systems, and recycled materials.
Wendy’s Secret Garden
Located in Lavender Bay, Sydney, Wendy’s Secret Garden houses a range of native and exotic plant species and boasts stunning views of Sydney Harbour. It also has several walking paths, decks, and seating areas, which provide a tranquil escape from the busy city. The garden was created in 1992 by Wendy Whiteley following the death of her husband, famous Australian artist Brett Whiteley, as a tribute to him. Over the years, Wendy worked tirelessly to transform the previously neglected site into the lush and vibrant public garden that it is today.
Where to stay near the best Sydney parks
Parks and gardens abound in Sydney, meaning you’ll likely be near at least one green space no matter where in the city you stay. This goes for coveted areas like the waterfront CBD that also put you in close proximity to landmarks the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. Sydney Airbnbs are always a good option, but there are plenty of luxurious Sydney hotels near the best Sydney parks and attractions, too. Here are a few to get you started on your search.
We hope you love these hotels by the best Sydney parks and gardens! Just so you know, Matador may collect a small commission from the links on this page if you decide to book a stay. Listed prices are accurate as of the time of publication.
Pullman Quay Grand Sydney Harbour
The Pullman Quay Grand Sydney Harbour touts its Circular Quay location near the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge as one of its most bookable features, but it’s also a stone’s throw from the Royal Botanic Gardens. Amenities at the luxury hotel include one- and two-bedroom suites with balconies and kitchens, a trendy restaurant and bar with nightly entertainment, and a private recreation deck with floor-to-ceiling windows, complete with a heated lap pool, serene spa, and fully outfitted fitness center and sauna.
Where: 61 Macquarie St, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
Price per night: From $204
The Porter House Hotel Sydney
A tribute to the original 1876 Porter House, this 122-room property from the MGalley Collection brings together history and contemporary sophistication. The interior decor pays homage to its past as a tobacco and leather merchant while modern comforts like fitness and wellness facilities are incorporated into the experience. When you’re not at The Porter House Hotel Sydney, enjoy a stroll in Hyde Park just steps away.
Where: 203 Castlereagh St, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
Price per night: From $155
Pier One Sydney Harbour, Autograph Collection
Classy and scenic, the Pier One Sydney Harbour hotel delights guests with modern art, natural lights, and Federation-style decor. Many of these rooms offer breathtaking views of Sydney Harbour or Walsh Bay, and the Barangaroo Reserve is just 10 minutes away on foot. For guests traveling with pets, dog-friendly rooms are available, with direct pier access for added convenience.
Where: Walsh Bay, 11 Hickson Rd, Dawes Point NSW 2000, Australia
Price per night: From $161