Normal can be boring. If variety is indeed the spice of life, then one should be encouraged to embrace different activities, right? Sydney is a grand city, well known for its famous landmarks and enviable climate. But, what about its lesser-known qualities? The ones that make this city truly great and in turn, ensure your holiday is one to remember. Here’s our top 10 list of unusual things to do in Sydney... for your perusal.

Cockatoo Island

  • Cockatoo Island

Credit: Destination, NSW

Once a prison for the penal colony community. Then a World War II military shipping yard. Cockatoo Island is a unique attraction indeed. It sits unassumingly in the middle of Sydney Harbour and can be reached via ferry. Or, if you’re keen you can kayak out and explore the historic sites yourself.

Crystal Doudoir Burlesque Cabaret Show

  • A Burlesque Cabaret Show

Credit: Crystal Boudoir

Fancy an eccentric yet elegant evening in the city. Seeking fine food and finer entertainment. Good, then go to the Crystal Boudoir.  Located in the CBD, this Parisian themed dance show and dinner combo is a fun night out. The dancers' costumes are captivating and the meals are salivating. Win-win.

Mary's Burgers Newtown

  • Mary’s Burgers, Newtown

Credit: Mary's Burgers

You might wonder why this epic burger place makes the list of unusual Sydney icons. Well, that’s because Mary’s is a bar and burger restaurant built on a former STD clinic. With a red light hanging out front, it’s easily spotted. Thankfully the burgers and drinks have a clean bill of health nowadays. In fact, this kitsch establishment is known to have the best Bloody Marys in the city. Tip: check the street art scene while you’re here.

Paddington Reservoir Gardens

  • Paddington Reservoir Gardens

Credit: Destination, NSW

A quirky, beautiful place, right amid the city that many people accidentally stroll by without noticing. Why? Because the gardens are below street level. Sneaky, sneaky. This secret sunken garden is super pretty and bonus, has free entry.

Sydney Fish Market

Credit: Destination, NSW

This isn’t on most Sydney visitors list of things to see but it should be. It's the largest seafood in the Southern Hemisphere after all. Pick your favourite fish and have it cooked fresh for lunch or get it wrapped fresh to take back home. A bustling market filled with quality seafood and character traders.

Luna Park Sydney

Credit: Destination, NSW

While not totally outlandish, this theme park is definitely a trip to explore. Luna Park rocks! It exudes a certain 1930s charm by way of the park layout, rides and decorative signs. Jump on the Wild Mouse, visit Coney Island or attack the many slides. A hot dog and some fairy floss are essential. To do: take a photo inside the giant mouth on entry.

Palm Beach Sydney

  • Palm Beach

Credit: Destination, NSW

The glamorous and seaside enclave of Palm Beach on Sydney’s northern beaches is domestically well known for its sky-high property prices and celebrity inhabitants. So, why does it make it to our unusual list? Well, it’s also where Australia’s famous soap ‘Home & Away’ is filmed. Many scenes are regularly shot here and tourists like to pop by and watch their favourite actors deliver lines.

Sydney Heli Tour over sydney

Credit: Destination, NSW

Rise above it. Book a helicopter tour of the Harbour city and peacefully observe how pretty she is from above. The helicopter cabins are mostly glass, hence the wonderful, uninterrupted aerial view. James Bond style - alright.

Sydney Opera House Backstage Tour

Credit: Destination, NSW

Guests meet at the stage door and are escorted through the backstage area of the world-famous Sydney Opera House. This space is usually only reserved for entertainment royalty. It’s a real ‘if these walls could talk’ moment. The expert tour guide will show you the dressing and props rooms and allow you to tread the centre stage floorboards. Expect to be regaled with stories and tales from behind the scenes.  

Wendy's Secret Garden

Credit: Destination, NSW

Wendy is renowned Australian artist Brett Whiteley’s widow, whom upon his passing 1992 set about creating a sacred garden space in a bid to channel her grief into something beautiful for all to see. This private oasis in Lavender Bay offers prime harbour views amid an enchanting set of native and exotic plants.

Further Reading

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