What to do in Darling Harbour: 10 Ideas for a Great Day Out

The city of Sydney is an amazing travel destination and one of it’s most defining and famous features is Darling Harbour. Darling Harbour’s reputation as the waterside jewel of Sydney began in 1988, the year the first of its famous attractions (such as Sydney Aquarium) first opened. Nowadays, there are so many things going on that you might be asking yourself what to do at Darling Harbour.

No stress, our handy guide will showcase the best that Darling Harbour has to offer – from the thrilling to the relaxing and everything in between!

#1 – Darling Quarter

Darling Quarter is arguably the heart of Darling Harbour Sydney. This modern precinct encapsulates everything Sydney is about – waterfront views, amazing restaurants and bars, and family-friendly outdoor activities.

Darling Quarter features one of Sydney’s most dynamic children’s playgrounds, complete with climbing ropes, water fountains and flying foxes. The quarter also has ping pong tables and charge bikes free for all to use.

Another side of the Quarter comes alive when the sun sets. Luminous, the world’s largest interactive LED light display, turns on every night where it’s dazzling array of lights illuminates the entire Quarter. Wondering what to do at Darling Harbour? Darling Quarter should be on the top of your list.

#2 – Harbourside Shopping Centre

Everything you need to know about Harbourside Shopping Centre is in its name. This large shopping centre features over 100 unique stores, all overlooking the water of Sydney harbour.

Harbourside is also a great foodie hotspot with famous restaurants such as Hurricane’s Grill, Hard Rock Cafe and Pancakes on the Rocks. It also features a dedicated food court for easy, fast food options such as Maccas, KFC and Mad Mex.

#3 – The Star

If you’re leaving the kids at home, The Star should be your go to destination. The Star is one of Sydney’s top attractions and one of its biggest entertainment centres, featuring acclaimed restaurants and bars, a 5 star hotel and a luxury spa and sauna.

The Star Casino, however, is The Star’s main draw. Bet on yourself and try your luck at one of the Casino’s exhaustive list of games such as roulette to blackjack.

Then when you’re done, take a seat at one of the Star’s fine dining restaurants including Momofuku Seibo and Flying Fish, before spending the rest of the night partying at The Star’s club Marquee.

#4 – Chinese Garden of Friendship

On the more calming and more natural side of things, take a trip to the Chinese Garden of Friendship. The garden was designed by architects and gardeners from Guangzhou and it’s design epitomises the balanced concept of Yin-Yang.

Take a walking tour through The Garden which features a host of exotic flowers and blossoms, a tranquil lake filled with koi fish and serene, natural pathways. The Garden is also home to ‘The Gardens by Lotus’ – a restaurant/teahouse which serves authentic Chinese cuisine.

#5 – Australian National Maritime Museum

Pique your curiosity at the National Maritime Museum, a museum dedicated to the maritime history of Australia. The museum features an exclusive collection of real, floating historical water vessels, which visitors are free to board and explore. What kind of vessels you ask? Try a replica of Captain Cook’s famou ship, the HMB Endeavour or a Soviet tracking submarine used during the cold war.

#6 – Darling Square

The harbour’s newest attraction is Darling Square, a diverse, quirky and vibrant food district. The district is split into 4 equally unique precincts:

  • Steam Mill Lane is choc-a-block full of restaurants and bars, from Japanese izakayas to American hot wings.
  • Little Hay Street brings Darling Square and Chinatown together, featuring pastry cafes, gelato makers, Chinese dumplings and even a tattoo parlour!
  • The Exchange Building is the architectural centre of Darling Square – a six-foot building designed like a bird’s nest. It features a library and it’s very own marketplace.
  • Maker’s Dozen is the marketplace within the Exchange building and is a bustling zone where you can grab everything from bubble tea to egg toast!

#7 – Sydney Aquarium & Wild Life Zoo

The answer to what to do in Darling Harbour isn’t limited to food. In fact, try getting close and personal with some of Australia’s cutest (and scariest) animals at Sydney Aquarium and Wild Life Sydney Zoo.

Dive into Sea Life Sydney Aquarium and meet some of Sydney’s most famous sea animals like Nemo and Dory. For the brave of heart you can also literally dive in and swim alongside dolphins and sharks.

If you prefer staying dry, head on to Sydney Wild Life Zoo and get to know some of Australia’s most iconic animals – kangaroos and koalas included!

#8 – Bowling, Laser Tag & Arcades

If you’re wondering what to do in Darling Harbour at night, the harbour has plenty of options (apart from a great dinner). Try heading to Kingpin Bowling at Harbourside, which features three fun late-night activities: bowling, laser tag and karaoke! The best thing about doing them at Kingpin is that you can have a drink while you do them for a bit of added fun (or chaos).

#9 – Darling Harbour Ferris Wheel

Take a ride on Darling Harbour’s iconic ferris wheel to see Sydney at a height you probably haven’t seen before! The Ferris Wheel is located right in front of Harbourside Shopping Centre and operates until the evening, meaning you can enjoy both day and night views of Sydney.

#10 – Boating on the harbour

Darling Harbour is famous for its water so why not take advantage and spend some time on it? There are many ways to enjoy the harbour water but the best way to do so is on a boat.

You can opt for a thrill seeking ride on one of Sydney’s jet boat services, or take one of Sydney’s famous boat tours or you can hire out a boat for you to enjoy the way you want. Either way, it’s the best way to experience Darling Harbour!

Discover Darling Harbour your own way

Darling harbour has something for everyone, it’s up to you to experience it for yourself!

Hopefully this list has given you some ideas and has made the question of ‘what to do in darling harbour’ a thing of the past. If you’re looking for a boat for you and your crew to spend a day on Darling Harbour with, look no further than Charter Boat Sydney, where our staff will help you find the right boat for your needs. Contact us today to get your party on the water!

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