Posted: 3/10/2023 | March 10th, 2023
Sydney is the most popular and largest city in Australia. If you visit the country, you’re going to visit here. Home to five million inhabitants (about 20% of the entire population), it has a ton of things to see and do, from the iconic Opera House and Harbour Bridge to its stunning beaches and plentiful museums (many of which are free).
As the country’s biggest city and most popular destination for tourists, there is a lot to do here. Beyond the typical sites, museums, and activities, there are also a lot of incredible walking tours that give you a sense of the people and culture of the city.
I love walking tours for this reason. Led by a local, they give you information you wouldn’t find by just wandering around on your own. You get someone who can answer your questions and share their insider tips.
There are a lot of walking tours in Sydney to choose from. To help you avoid some of the less than great ones, here’s my list of the best walking tours in Sydney:
BEST OVERALL TOUR
Bonza Bike Tours
Bonza Bike Tours takes pedalers on a four-hour, two-wheeled adventure, hitting all the sites — the Opera House, Harbour Bridge, Observatory Hill, the Rocks, Barangaroo Park, and much more — all while being regaled with quirky historical tales and facts about the city. Halfway through the ride, the group stops for a rest and a quick beer.
Tours start at 149 AUD.
Best Free Tour
Free Walking Tour Sydney
Meet your guide at Archibald Fountain in Hyde Park at 10:30am and get ready for an info-packed 2.5 hours. Free Walking Tour Sydney offers an excellent primer on Sydney — which means, if you’re a first-time visitor, consider doing this walking tour at the beginning of your stay. The tour delves into everything from Aboriginal history to the Opera House to the country’s infamous sharks and snakes. (Note: While the tour is free, tips are strongly encouraged.)
While those may be the best free and paid tours in town, Sydney has a lot more to offer, no matter your interests. Here are nine other fun, insightful, and educational tours!
1. Sydney True Crime Tour
If you’re looking for a tour that explores the grittier side of the city beyond the standard tourist sites, this is the one for you. Over 90 minutes, you’ll wander historic areas around The Rocks neighborhood and learn about nefarious criminals and infamous crimes (after the country was colonized by criminals). The tour takes you down narrow alleys and into secret nooks as you discover Sydney’s underbelly. It’s pretty cool.
Tours start at 34 AUD.
2. Sydney Incognita
Sydney Incognita is a fun walking tour company offering three-hour casual strolls where you’ll learn everything you’ve always wanted to know about Sydney (they really stuff in a ton of info; writer Calvin Trillin called it “sneaking in the facts.”). On this tour, you’ll hit all the major sites and enjoy stories about the area’s earliest-known history right through to the 21st century.
Tours start at 49 AUD.
3. Fit City
If you’d like a more nature-based tour, this is a good one. This company runs a 4.5-hour guided hiking tour around Manly Heads. During the 11-kilometer (7-mile) trek, you’ll get some stunning views and learn a lot about the surroundings from the local guide. The hike culminates in Manly (one of my favorite neighborhoods in the city) where you can stroll the streets of the charming area, replenishing yourself with well-earned food and drink. Fit City also offers walking tours and a harbor running tour.
Tours start at 97 AUD.
4. Sydney Architecture Walks
You don’t have to love buildings and their various styles to have a great time on a tour with Sydney Architecture Walks. Led by actual architects, these tours are jargon-free adventures that give visitors a deeper knowledge beyond why certain buildings are pretty. The 2-3-hour, small-group tour focuses on the patterns and forces that have shaped the appearance of contemporary Sydney, making it appropriate for anyone looking to learn more about the city’s history and design.
Tours start at 49 AUD.
5. Lantern Ghost Tours
For a spooky tour around town, check out Lantern Ghost Tours, Australia’s largest ghost tour company. Their tours run on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights and take curious travelers around ghoulish sites where hair-raising crimes occurred and spirits haunt residents still. The tours last 90 minutes.
Tours start at 36 AUD.
6. Journey Walks
This tour company offers a few themed walks, but the one you shouldn’t miss is the 2.5-hour stroll around convict-era Sydney, on which guides lead a maximum of 14 guests around the city’s notorious colonial beginnings (mostly focusing on the Rocks area), when Sydney was a playground for British convicts. You’ll hear a lot of fascinating tales and stories that may inspire you to explore more on your own. The tour is a must for history buffs!
Tours start at 36 AUD.
7. Secret Food Tours
Secret Food Tours takes visitors on a delicious jaunt through the Surry Hills section of Sydney, stopping to sample some great Vietnamese fare and learning about how Gold Rush–era immigration by Italians, Portuguese, and Greeks helped shape cuisine here. You’ll dive into the craft beer scene, visit a butcher, eat some sweets, and even sample a “secret dish.” It all makes for a fun three hours on a tour that never exceeds more than 10 people.
Inquire about tour prices as prices vary.
8. Aboriginal Harbour Heritage Tour
On this tour, you get to wander the harbor area with an Aboriginal guide who shares the history and culture of the area from the Aboriginal perspective. The one-hour walk focuses not only on the past but also on the regional flora. You’ll learn what specific flowers, plants, herbs, and trees mean to the Gadigal people and how they traditionally used them for various purposes. I highly recommend it. It adds a lot of perspective to the city.
Tours start at 30 AUD.
Sydney has a ton of walking tours available that can help you save money, see the sights, and introduce you to everything this incredible metropolis has to offer. Whether it’s a food-related stroll or an Aboriginal-led outing or a history-laden bicycle tour, you’ll leave Sydney with a much deeper appreciation for the place than when you arrived.