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Sydney Opera House

One of the most iconic buildings of the modern era, designed by Jorn Utzon and opened in 1973.

TravelCurious Tip

Regardless of whether or not you see a performance, or at what time, it is well worth seeing the opera house at night – the view of the building illuminated above the river is stunning.

Australia’s most recognisable and popular landmark, it is easy to see how Sydney Opera House has earned a reputation as one of the wonders of the modern world. Standing beneath the enormous shells on Bennelong Point, the sheer size and majesty of the structure is simply awe-inspiring.


Sixteen Years in the Making

Plans to create a new opera house in Sydney were kick-started with an architectural design competition. Supposedly, Jørn Utzon’s entry had already been rejected by the panel when it was saved at the last minute and eventually went on to win. Variously described as featuring “shells” or “sails”, Utzon’s modern expressionist design was so radical at the time that there were many who thought that it simply could not be built. The significant technical challenges posed by the design took four years to resolve, and an increasingly tense relationship between Utzon and the government team responsible construction ultimately resulted in the building being completed 10 years behind schedule, and a staggering fifteen times over budget. While these figures were the cause of considerable public controversy during the construction process, the sheer visual impact of the end result was remarkably effective in silencing the critics.

These days, the opera house receives around four million visitors annually, and there are a variety of different ways of doing so. You can go to a performance, take a guided tour, or simply wander around areas which are freely accessible to the public, admiring the architecture and the gorgeous setting on the riverside. If opera isn’t your thing, don’t worry – the building hosts acts of all different kinds, and with up to 2500 performances a year, you will certainly be able to find something to your taste.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Sydney
Port Jackson
This natural inlet was the first site of European colonisation in Australia.
The Rocks
Established shortly after Sydney's formation and now in the shadow of the harbour bridge, this neighbourhood has character in spades - and the city's oldest pubs.
Circular Quay
The main departure point for most of Sydney's ferries; see if you can spot the man with the didgeridoo.
Harbour Cruise
Getting out on the water is the best way to see Sydney in all its glory.
The Rocks Discovery Museum
A museum charting the history of The Rocks from pre-European times to the modern day.
Cadmans Cottage
Sydney's oldest surviving residential building, one of the last remaining of the original colony.

Related Tours

Private Half Day Highlights of Sydney with local guide
You will start your tour at Circular Quay, famed as the main departure point for the city’s many ferries and also for the didgeridoo players close-by.  

Sydney Opera House

Your guide will lead you on a short walk to what is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the city: the iconic Sydney Opera House.  Set on a spit of land jutting out into Sydney Harbour, and opened in 1973 by Queen Elizabeth II, this centre for performing arts has won international acclaim for its style and beauty.  You will visit the outside the Sydney Opera House and take a look out at the magnificent panoramic view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Downtown Sydney

Now heading inland, your guide will take you up Macquarie Street, stopping briefly to admire the State Library of New South Wales - the oldest public library in Australia.  At the end of Macquarie you’ll be faced by the lush greenery of Hyde Park, Sydney’s equivalent to Central Park in New York or the original Hyde Park in London.  Flanking one side of park is the imposing St. Mary’s Cathedral that is the current seat of the Archbishop of Sydney.

After a quick stop in the park, you’ll move across town through one of Sydney’s oldest shopping arcades, The Strand, before heading back to circular quay down high-rise George St.  This will be the perfect opportunity for your guide tell you the story of modern Sydney and how it has grown into the metropolis you see today.

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