Australia’s largest city sure has a lot going for it: modern architecture, top-notch cuisine, a thriving performance arts scene — the list goes on and on. But one of the city’s best traits is its emphasis on green spaces.This enthusiasm for public land has led to the creation of world-class reserves, gardens, and parks — sites that enable locals and visitors alike to enjoy some fresh air without leaving city limits. With so many green spaces available throughout the city, it’s hard to choose which ones to explore. So, to save you time, we’ve compiled this list to help you see Sydney’s best!
Barangaroo Reserve is perfectly situated amid the bustle of downtown Sydney. Once an industrial site, the headland has been re-purposed, allowing visitors and locals to enjoy harbor-front views from a new and unique vantage point. The park offers walking and cycling trails, native trees, shrubs, and flowers, as well as cultural events celebrating the area’s Aboriginal history. The reserve — just a 25-minute walk from the Sydney Opera House — is also known as an unbeatable spot for sunsets.
In the midst of Sydney’s Entertainment Quarter (which encompasses Fox Studios Australia, cricket stadiums, and Moonlight Cinema Sydney) lies Centennial Park — a pristine space for afternoon picnics and evening strolls. Made up of manicured gardens, shaded walkways, and duck ponds, the park is an ideal place to escape the concrete jungle we all can grow weary of . To get to the park, which is located in the city’s south eastern pocket, hop on bus 394 (from platform B) at Museum Station before disembarking at the intersection of Anzac Parade and Abbotford Street. Bonus: There’s a produce market on Wednesdays and Saturdays in nearby Moore Park!
Chinese Garden of Friendship
A symbol of unity between China and Australia, the Chinese Garden of Friendship is the city’s most exotic green space. Its waterfalls, tea houses, and secret walkways evoke a feeling of serenity unlike any other park in Sydney. Located just outside the the city’s Central Business District (CBD), the garden can be accessed by foot, bus, or train, but note that its hours are seasonal (9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. between April to September; 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. between October and March) and that there’s a entrance fee of six dollars ($4.50 USD).
Across the Sydney Harbour Bridge to the north lies Clark Park. This quaint and quiet area has everything you’d want in an urban green space: lush gardens, diverse vegetation, and stunning views of the city. And what makes it even more appealing is Wendy’s Secret Garden, which overlooks Lavender Bay. Once an old landfill, the grounds have been brought back to life and now provide a picturesque setting in which you can escape the fast-paced nature of Australia’s largest city.
Foundedin 1810, Hyde Park is the oldest park on this list, though its age is well disguised. Located in the city’s CBD and stretching over 40 acres, Hyde Park is a popular meeting place during lunch hours. But, with its proximity to Town Hall Station, plenty of travelers wander through the area as well, taking in the city’s atmosphere and stunning urban design. Other enticing attractions are the Anzac Memorial, Archibald Fountain, and countless benches to curl up on with a good book!
Royal Botanical Garden Sydney
With nearly six million visitors each year, Sydney’s botanical gardens continue to reaffirm their spot on the city’s lists of top green spaces. Here you will find a colorful, ever-changing array of flora and fauna, as well as astonishing views of the opera house and skyline, making this garden a must-visit while in Sydney. Due to its centralized location, the gardens also host a number of events and community gatherings, which take place between 9:00 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. (unless otherwise specified).
Across the street from the University of Sydney you’ll find Victoria Park, a large, rambling green space that dates back to the 19th century. Within the grounds you’ll find basketball courts and a swimming pool, as well as some shaded areas around Lake Northam that serve as the ultimate relaxation spots. Depending on when you visit, you’ll also notice events such as the Yabun Festival — a celebration of the country’s Aboriginal culture.
Header image by Jessica Sysengrath