To soften Sydney’s cosmopolitan city surrounds is an array of parks and gardens for the ultimate nature lover to retreat in and find some reprieve away from the concrete jungle. Sydney’s parks and gardens are unique and exciting in their offerings, dishing up an abundance of grassy knolls for whiling the day away, afternoon picnics and quiet contemplation time. Below are our top picks for Sydney’s best parks and gardens.
Mrs Maquarie Point
Come to Mrs Macquarie’s Park for the best views in Sydney. The Park offers unobstructed and breathtaking vistas of the iconic Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Another popular reason to visit the point is to sit in Mrs Macquarie’s Seat – this historical landmark is a sand stone rock cut into the shape of the bench. Local legend says that if you make a wish here, it will be granted!
The Eastern suburbs’ most loved and labyrinth-like park is the lovely Centennial Parklands. This nature wonderland is made up of three smaller parks: Centennial, Moore and Queens. With more than 360 hectares to explore, there are so many activities available here, like horseback riding, cycling, and running. Looking for a picnic location? With so much space, there’s no problem finding a little slice of heaven to sprawl out and laze around with friends; or even enjoy some quiet time with a book under a tree.
In the divine Vaucluse area, Nielsen Park is an idyllic spot for a nature walk or afternoon relax in the sun looking out to the beautiful harbour. From here, you can also access Shark Island, one of Sydney’s best-kept secrets and tiny little island. Known for its great outdoor picnic spots, the park includes three sheltered barbecue and food areas for the punters. Also located nearby are Steele Point Cottage, Nielsen Park Café, and Bottle and Glass Point.
Royal Botanic Gardens
Close to the Sydney Opera House lies the Royal Botanic Gardens. Founded in 1816, this special destination is the country’s oldest scientific institution. Besides having diverse and beautiful gardens, with more than 1 million specimens, the harbour views are spectacular. The gardens are popular with both locals and visitors, and the location is perfect for having a lazy picnic lunch or for a quick morning jog to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.
Chinese Garden of Friendship
This is one of Sydney’s most unique gardens and is a true sanctuary smack-bang in the middle of the city. Set between entertainment quarter Darling Harbour and nearby Chinatown, the walled Chinese Garden of Friendship was built to symbolise Sydney’s friendship with sister city Guangzhou in Guangdong, to mark Australia’s bicentennial in 1988. There’s a small entry fee to discover this romantic retreat, modelled after classical Ming Dynasty gardens. You will find water dragons, colourful koi fish and an array of exotic flora to swoon over.