Top Photo Spots in Sydney
Are you planning a trip to Sydney, Australia? Are you looking for some great spots to take photos while you are there? Then read on - you came to the right place!
Sydney is a beautiful city, centered around two major attractions (for photographers, at least): the Opera House and the Harbor Bridge. And while they are at the top of the list, there is a whole lot more there to shoot as well!
Do you like architecture and churches? How about graffiti (I love that stuff!)? What about lovely gardens? How about a shopping arcade or two (I know, but they ARE awesome!)? And don’t forget train stations - they’ve got that too!
And most of these locations are in or near their Central Business District, or CBD. I stayed in a hotel in the CBD, and it was super convenient. There are plenty of restaurants to go to, and it’s a short walk down to Circular Quay (#4 below) where you will also find the Opera House (#1) and the Harbor Bridge (#2). From my hotel, it was about 5-7 minutes on foot, and I was standing on Circular Quay, so that’s pretty close in my book.
So, in no particular order, here are the best places to take photos in Sydney, Australia:
1) The Sydney Opera House
The Sydney Opera House is pretty spectacular - I won’t deny that. It’s an iconic building, recognized worldwide. It was at the top of my list when I was planning my trip. And I shot it - a lot. It’s hard not to do so, when you are staying near it, and it’s so awesome to look at. I definitely recommend shooting here, but mix up the angles as much as you can. You can shoot it from a lot of spots, so get creative and have fun with it. It’s a very photogenic building, and especially beautiful during sunset light.
2) The Harbor Bridge
I just love to shoot bridges, and am always looking for great ones when I travel. I knew that Sydney has their big, famous Harbor Bridge, and I shot it like crazy. It’s really close to the Opera House, so it’s easy to knock both of these off around the same time. They are separated by part of the harbor, so to get close to one from the other involves some walking, but I mostly shot the Opera House from a spot right by the bridge. Anyways, be sure and get over here, because it’s well worth it.
3) The view of the Opera House from the Harbor Bridge
You pretty much HAVE to walk up on the bridge when you are in Sydney. It would be a shame if you did not do so. Now, there is also the BridgeClimb which is where you get harnessed in and literally climb up the structure. I did not do this, as it was something like $200 and I heard you are not allowed to take photos on that tour. I’m not interested in doing something like that and not getting photos. However there is a pedestrian walkway across the bridge which is open and free to everyone, and I did that a couple of times. It provide a great view, and you can set up to shoot through the fence and get some wonderful views of the Opera House and the skyline behind Circular Quay.
4) Circular Quay - great for skyline shots
This is the main harbor port area, where a bunch of ferries come and go, and it’s generally pretty busy all around. There are lots of people wandering here, either heading to the Opera House on one side, or the Harbor Bridge on the other. I really liked the views of the skyline from here, and shot it quite a bit too.
5) Royal Botanic Gardens
This is one huge garden! I wandered here for a while, and still never saw it all. It’s very close and convenient - I entered it right next to the Opera House. There are statues, flowers, birds, ponds and more! I wandered and shot quite a bit here, and enjoyed this nature sanctuary in the heart of the city! Also a great view of the skyline from here!
6) The Strand Arcade on George Street
This is one of two shopping centers that I shot, and I’m glad I did! I am a typical male, meaning that I pretty much hate shopping (unless it’s for camera gear, of course!), but I do love architecture, so both The Strand and the Queen Victoria Building (#7 below) are on the list! This place was rather old and really not too large, but I just loved all the tile on the floor and the general look of the place. Perfect for HDR too!
7) Queen Victoria Building
Here’s the other shopping center you need to visit while in Sydney - so awesome! I was just totally taken by this place, it’s really incredible and beautiful. Stop in for at least a few shots!
8) St. Mary’s Cathedral
St. Mary’s is the big one here, so to speak, and is quite a sight to see. It’s beautiful, but then again, I’m a fan of churches as a photographer. I particularly liked shooting it from the front as in the photo below, but I have also seen some nice shots from other angles. Note that photography of the interior is strictly forbidden. That’s a shame, because it’s fabulous. Guess you’ll have to visit to see it!
9) Hyde Park
Hyde Park sits right next to St. Mary’s Cathedral and is also adjacent to the Central Business District. It’s a nice little oasis in a busy part of town. There is the large Archibald Fountain towards one end of the park, and the ANZAC Memorial at the other end (shown below). In between are beautiful tree-lined pathways.
10) Central Station
Central Station is cool, but it’s not some grand European train station. I liked it, but I just have a thing for places like this. I found some nice angles and some interesting architecture, but if you are not into train stations already, this one may be skippable for you. It's toward the far end of the CBD (away from the harbor) and I walked to it, which took 25+ minutes. So keep that in mind too.
11) Graffiti in Newtown
I just love graffiti. I think it’s awesome, and I support awesome. Before heading over, I Googled this a few times, and I kept getting back that the best graffiti is in Newtown. While I didn’t go to other sites in town, I can say that I struck gold in Newtown. There is a lot there, and I enjoyed wandering around and finding it. The main street is King Street, and there are a couple of cools spots along there to shoot. But mostly I wandered off of the main thoroughfare, and in particular there’s a lot near St. Stephen's Anglican Church (#12 below). Take your time and enjoy this stuff - it’s art!
12) Camperdown Cemetery in Newtown (St. Stephen's Anglican Church)
This place is kind of weird to be on my list, because it’s a cemetery. But it’s really awesome (although a bit spooky). This sits behind St. Stephen’s Anglican Church in Newtown, and I only happened upon it while I was looking for graffiti (#11 above). It’s right near a bunch of great graffiti. Anyways, I saw the church steeple and had to investigate. The church was closed when I was there, but I wandered the grounds of the cemetery and shot a bit. It was eery, and quiet, and empty, except for me. But it was cool and very interesting.
13) George Street at The Rocks
George Street crosses a large part of the CBD in Sydney, and in particular I really liked the section near the area known as The Rocks. The Rocks is basically the name for the area right next to and under the Sydney Harbor Bridge. I liked this area because it has a lot of restaurants, shops, and hotels and I guess I just like to shoot that stuff. I stuck around until blue hour so I could get some nice light.
14) St. Patrick’s Cathedral
St. Patrick’s is not a large cathedral like St. Mary’s, but I still found it to be rather beautiful. I just happened upon it as I was actually looking for a different place, but curiosity won out and I had to go in and see what it was like. Well, it’s rather nice! I grabbed a few shots, and no one seemed to mind.
15) The State Theater
I walked past this on my last night there, and just couldn’t believe how cool this lobby looked. While I was there, another photographer came by and shot it too, so maybe the word is getting out! :-)
Well that’s it for now. I hope you find everything you are looking for in Sydney. It is a beautiful city, and the people are very nice. Of course, as an American I dig the accent too. It’s not my favorite accent in the world (that honor belongs to the Scottish), but it’s great to listen to. But regardless of how they sound, they are really nice and welcoming. Have fun out there!