Seeking out the most brilliantly alluring urban and natural landscapes to photograph? Head “down under” to Australia’s most populated and diverse city; Sydney lies on a coastal basin in between the Pacific Ocean and the Blue Mountains, making it a photographer’s dream. Surrounded by so much culture and variety makes choosing the perfect photo locations a difficult task. Below is a list of the best places in Sydney that a photographer won’t want to miss!
1. Sydney Harbour
The famous Sydney Harbour is known to most everyone in the world through photographs. Take in the panoramic views of the Sydney Opera House and majestic Sydney Harbour Bridge.. The view from Kirribilli or right off the water looking into Sydney is one of the most breathtakingly modern, urban landscapes in the world. Here contemporary, dynamic architecture meets the tranquility of the bay, and the possibilities are endless.
2. Bondi Beach
One of the most popular surf spots in the world, Bondi beach is a great place to capture some action shots. Here, crowds of Aussies and tourists hit the beach looking for some fun and sun. Take the Tamarama Walk and experience miles of pure, white sand beaches and crystal blue water. Surrounded by nature, the walk is host to the famous ‘Sculpture by the Sea’ annual exhibition; for those fortunate enough to see it, the man-made sculpture in the natural environment makes for interesting subject matter and composition. Try your hand at long exposure photography to smooth out the ocean waves.
3. Blue Mountains
Found in the higher altitude of the Blue Mountain range, several panoramic landscape opportunities are available to photographers. “The Three Sisters” is a famous landmark, rising over 900 meters tall at Echo Point Katoomba; this three tiered rock formation represents the Aboriginal legend of three sisters, who were turned to stone by a witch doctor to protect them from battling tribes. After experience the fresh air, take the chance to photograph the inside of the oldest caverns in the world at Jenolan Caves; with amazing rock striations since the beginning of time, these caves are truly a unique photographing experience.
You will find the Blue Mountains National Park less than an hour’s drive from Sydney.
4. The Gap at Watsons Bay
Adjacent to Watsons Bay is a flat, wave cut, cliffy ledge, otherwise known as “The Gap”. Home to spectacular ocean views, vibrant sunrises and sunsets are a photographer’s dream in this location. The Gap is notoriously seen as the “suicide” cliff, due to the high number of people jumping or falling to their death; a place so beautiful and, yet, so sad is sure to evoke some emotional pictures.
5. Circular Quay
As the main ferry terminal in Sydney, Circular Quay offers breathtaking views of the harbor and the city skyline. From here, you can capture stunning photos of the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge, and the bustling cityscape. Be sure to visit at sunrise or sunset to capture the golden hour light and the city’s vibrant colors. Because of its location and visibility of other attractions, Circular Quay is one of the best photography spots for tourists.
6. Royal Botanic Gardens
The Royal Botanic Gardens is a 30-hectare garden oasis located in the heart of Sydney. This tranquil location provides a much-needed escape from the hustle and bustle of the city and is a perfect place to capture some incredible nature and wildlife shots. With its stunning array of flora and fauna, the gardens offer a wealth of opportunities for macro photography, landscape photography, and even bird photography. For more distant animals, make sure to have a telephoto lens in your kit
Be sure to visit the Calyx, a striking glasshouse that hosts a range of horticultural exhibitions and displays. Its intricate and colorful floral displays make it great spot for some close-up shots. The Royal Botanic Gardens is also located adjacent to the Opera House and the Harbor Bridge, making it an ideal spot for capturing some panoramic views of those locations at the same time.
Mrs Macquarie’s Chair is a popular viewing spot located in the Royal Botanic Garden, offering a unique perspective of the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The chair itself is a sandstone rock cut into the shape of a bench, named after Elizabeth Macquarie, wife of Major General Lachlan Macquarie, who was Governor of New South Wales from 1810 to 1821.
7. Hyde Park
Hyde Park is one of Sydney’s oldest and most iconic public parks. Located in the heart of the city, this large green space is home to an array of historical monuments, fountains, and lush gardens.
For photographers, the park offers plenty of opportunities for capturing unique shots of Sydney’s urban landscape. The Archibald Fountain, located in the center of the park, is a popular spot for taking photographs, particularly at night when the fountain is lit up. The towering fig trees that line the park’s pathways provide a beautiful natural frame for capturing candid shots of people enjoying the park. If you are interested in architecture, the Anzac Memorial is an impressive example of Art Deco style and is a great subject for some dramatic shots.
8. George Street
George Street is one of the oldest and busiest streets in Sydney, lined with historic buildings and modern skyscrapers. This bustling thoroughfare is a popular location for street photography, offering a diverse range of subjects and scenes. From the iconic architecture of the Queen Victoria Building and St. Andrew’s Cathedral to the colorful characters and street performers, George Street is full of opportunities for capturing the energy and diversity of the city.
The street is also a hub for public transportation, making it easy to access and explore other areas of Sydney. Photographers can experiment with different angles and perspectives, such as shooting from above on a pedestrian overpass or getting down low for a unique perspective of the street scene.
The Queen Victoria Building, or QVB for short, is a heritage-listed building located in the heart of Sydney’s central business district. This elegant 19th-century building is known for its stunning architecture, with features such as the grand central dome and intricate stained-glass windows.
The QVB is home to a range of boutique shops, cafes, and restaurants, making it a great location for capturing both architectural and street photography. The building is particularly photogenic during the festive season when it is adorned with Christmas decorations and lights.
9. Darling Harbour
Darling Harbour is a vibrant waterfront precinct that offers a plethora of photographic opportunities. Whether you’re looking to capture stunning architecture, colorful street art, or breathtaking views of the harbor, Darling Harbour has it all. The area is particularly lively at night when the lights of the city come alive, reflecting off the water and creating a magical atmosphere.
10. Pylon Lookout
Located on the south-eastern end of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Pylon Lookout offers panoramic views of the Sydney Harbour, Opera House, and the city skyline. For a small fee, visitors can climb the 200 stairs to the top of the Pylon Lookout and take in the stunning views while learning about the history and construction of the bridge through the exhibition inside. The Pylon Lookout is a great location for capturing aerial shots of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, as well as for photographing the harbor and cityscape from a unique perspective.
11. Hickson Road Reserve
Hickson Road Reserve by Dawes Point Battery is a hidden gem for photographers seeking stunning waterfront views and unique urban landscapes. Located in The Rocks, this small park offers panoramic views of Sydney Harbour Bridge and the city skyline, as well as interesting architectural details and street art.
The reserve is a popular spot for picnics and relaxation, but photographers can also capture stunning shots of the bridge and Opera House from a unique perspective. The park also features a series of steps that lead down to the water’s edge, providing an opportunity to capture the beauty of the harbour and passing boats. At sunset, the reserve is bathed in golden light, making it an ideal location for capturing the magic of the city at twilight.
12. Luna Park
Last on the list is Luna Park. Sydney’s amusement park since 1935, Luna Park welcomes you with huge smiling faces to be entertained with carnival rides, games, music and shows; the circus, full of interesting characters, inspires a sense of nostalgia for all. Particularly at night, Luna Park’s colored, moving lights against the black, night sky will create interesting shapes and compositions for photographers.
If you want to capture amazing photos, Sydney won’t disappoint. For landscapes, bring a wide-angle lens. Often, the best time for photographs is the “blue hour” just before sunrise, when you’ll also find the crowds to be less overwhelming. But any time is suitable for photographers in Sydney, as you’ll want to capture the bustling life of the people just as much as the fixtures. Plan ahead, pack your equipment, and have a great excursion with your camera to this amazing city!