Darling Harbour is another hangout after Circular Quay which is extremely famous among Sydneysiders. We love the vibes at this beautiful waterfront area and it is a favourite place to spend evenings over the weekend.
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Where is Darling Harbour?
Darling Harbour, as the name suggests is a harbour in Sydney city. It is a place where one can drink and dine, enjoy the local events and attractions and spend a great quality time amidst the gardens. Famous for its recreational and pedestrian precinct, Darling Harbour is truly one of its kind. It is a place named after New South Wales’s governor Lieutenant General Ralph Darling.
Did you know that Darling Harbour was once known as Long Cove?
How to reach Darling Harbour?
There are plenty of ways to reach Darling Harbour.
- Bus – The nearest bus stop to Darling Harbour is the Market street. The harbour is just few metres from the Market Street.
- Trains – The closest train stations are Town Hall, Wynyard and Central train stations. It mainly depends on which side of Sydney you are traveling from. The best way is to get down at Town Hall and just walk down to Darling Harbour.
- Ferry – One can take a ferry from Circular Quay to Darling Harbour.
- Light rail – There are frequent light rails that run between the Central train station and Darling Harbour. The best stops to get down are at Powerhouse museum, Chinese Garden of friendship, and Pyrmont.
- Up-to-date and recent information on public transportation can be found on the Transport for New South Wales (NSW) website.
One can also, drive to Darling Harbour. There are plenty of car parks available that are just few hundreds of metres from the harbour. The best car park is the Wilson Parking.
10 things to do in Darling Harbour
Visit Australian National Maritime museum
The Australian National Maritime museum (ANMM) is one of its kind and is a federally governed museum in Sydney. Opened in the year 1991, ANMM was designed by Philip Cox. The museum is structured around seven main galleries with three museum ships. It focuses on the discovery of Australia and relationships between Aborigines and the water. This definitely makes it to the top of my list as I loved visiting this museum that much.
- Cost: AUD 25/27 per adult (online ticket).
Watch out for the different events and exhibits. They have really awesome and cool events.
Explore the submarine
Part of ANMM, the HMAS Onslow is a real-life submarine that one can visit. Even though the submarine is in operational condition, the submarine was decommissioned in the year 1999. Onslow was commissioned during the Cold War and was used for tracking Soviet submarines. This experience is definitely on of its kind and is really amazing.
- Cost: Part of the ANMM ticket.
Spend an evening at Cockle Bay Wharf
Buzzing with people at the restaurants and cafes, Cockle Bay Wharf is a lovely place to spend an evening. There are restaurants that cater for all the taste buds ranging from Italian to Australian. It also has the famous Lindt Cafe where one can sip in an iced coffee or have a bite of the delicious chocolates.
Ride the ferris wheel
Soak in the views of the Darling Harbour, especially at nights, on the Ferris wheel. The wheel is 35 metres high which provides breathtaking 360 degrees view of the harbour.
- Cost: AUD 10 per adult.
Visit Chinese Garden of Friendship
Chinese Garden of friendship is a pretty place to see the wildlife and gardens in the busy Sydney city. It is a heritage listed and is modeled based on classic private gardens of the Ming Dynasty. One could easily spend an hour or so looking at the beautiful plants and ponds.
- Cost: AUD 8 per adult.
- The entry fare can be paid by cash or credit/debit cards.
- Tip: Definitely try out the tea! It is absolutely refreshing.
The garden was officially opened on 17 January 1988.
Grove at night
Darling Harbour has many pubs and bars. So definitely dance around the night at one of these lively bars. My favourite ones along the harbour are Bungalow 8 and the Watershed Hotel. To know more about Sydney’s night life, refer my post Night life in Sydney.
Be a tourist
There are some of the touristy things to do in Darling Harbour. These are the things that definitely have to be covered off while at Darling Harbour.
- SEA Life Sydney Aquarium is a public aquarium with variety of aquatic life. It is said to be home to around 700 species of sea creatures. Once conducted in the Manly aquarium the Shark Dive Xtreme has been shifted to the SEA Life Sydney aquarium and is an awesome experience for adventure junkies.
- Cost: AUD 38.40 per adult (online ticket).
- Madame Tussauds is part of Merlin Entertainments and is a wax museum. It is the 13th Madam Tussauds to open in the World.
- Cost: AUD 38.80 per adult (online ticket).
- Wildlife Zoo is a wildlife park exhibiting Australia’s unique wildlife such as kangaroos and koalas. It has 10 exhibits showing a wide range of wildlife.
- Cost: AUD 36.80 per adult (online ticket).
I would suggest buying a combination ticket as it costs around AUD 67 per adult (online ticket) for all the above touristy attractions.
Shop at Harbour side shopping centre
Harbour side shopping centre is the large-scale shopping centre in Darling Harbour. The shopping centre is home to many shops and restaurants. It also hosts Sydney’s only Hard Rock Cafe. Spending a few hours looking at the shops and splurging on clothes or souvenirs is definitely something to do while at Darling Harbour. The shopping centre also has 9D motion cinema and Kingpin bowling alley.
You can also purchase gifts online from Gifts Australia website.
Watch a movie
Mov’in boat provides a floating movie experience at Darling Harbour. It is an excellent way to spend a night watching a movie with an outdoor experience.
- Cost: Depends on the boat type and movie.
Do not forget to carry your blanket as Sydney nights can get a bit chilly.
Dine at Darling Square
Darling Square has an array of restaurants. They offer all cuisines and is an awesome place to dine. It caters for vegetarians and meat eaters. I would definitely dine at this lively place and chill out with my friends sipping some cocktails.
Are you in Sydney during the winter season? Then read my post things to do in Sydney winters to find all the cool things you can do in this beautiful city.
Safety for Solo female travelers
Sydney is extremely safe for solo female travelers and as is Darling harbour. I have never had any issues or problems while visiting Darling Harbour. But like any other city, I would suggest being cautious especially at nights.
There are many more things to do in Darling Harbour. Apart from the above listed things, I also suggest visiting the International Convention Centre (ICC) Sydney. The harbour is one of my favourite things to do in Sydney and I recommend everyone to spend at least a day or two at this waterfront area.