Circular Quay, Sydney Overview

Circular Quay is home to some of the most iconic landmarks of Sydney and it is located at Sydney Dove in New South Wales. The Quay is flanked by the famous Sydney Opera House on one side, the Sydney Harbour Bridge on another. The Circular Quay is home to some incredible attractions, fantastic selection of restaurants, cafes and waterfront eateries, monuments, cultural hubs and a variety of entertainment.

Referred as a gateway to the wonderful experiences one can revel in at Sydney Harbour, Circular Quay inevitably becomes a must visit tourist spot in the whole of Australia. Bordered by the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House in Sydney Cove, Circular Quay is located in the historic side of Sydney, at the foot of Central Business district.

It is a convenient access point that allows tourists to discover the many natural harbours the city is blessed with. And acts as the main junction for ferry and cruise departures with a ship leaving almost every minute. From here, tourists can also board buses and trains that run in regular frequencies to iconic tourist destinations; such as bus 333 that goes to Bondi beach.

Walking along the shores of Circular Quay, visitors can witness spectacular views that lead up to several attractions. Walsh Bay, the world’s largest steel arch bridge, Barangaroo Reserve and the Barangaroo precinct are a few to name. Being a centre point, Circular Quay also becomes the starting point of many tours - guided walks, special food cruise tours, tall ship tours, and several others.

The area is surrounded by some of the most renowned restaurants like Aria Sydney, Quay, and Bennelong and also by rooftop cafes which offer beautiful harbour views. It also houses the Gateway food court which comprises 25 varieties of fast dining options. Therefore, leaving no scope for disappointment amongst foodies. Moreover, for tourists who would like to go the local way - Opera Bar and Bulletin Place are the top picks!

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• Circular Quay is the central hub for most of Sydney's major attractions such as the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, The Rocks and many others.
• Circular Quay has a wide selection of dining options that ranges from fine dining to casual cafes. Some of the most famous fine dining restaurants here are Aria, Bennelong, Quay to name a few.
• The plaques on the pavements pay tribute to famous and legendary artists of Australia such as Mark Twain, Charles Darwin, Barry Humphreys and many others. 
• The Tank Stream Fountain sculpted by Stephen Walker depicts the very first water source that the Colony had here in Australia. 
• The Police and Justice Museum showcases some of the darkest times of Sydney.
• A leisurely stroll on Cahill Walk offers a spectacular view of the Sydney Cove and nearby attractions. 
• Many talented street performers can be seen on the lanes and streets of Circular Quay entertaining pedestrians as they pass by.

How To Reach

1. Private Cab - From Sydney Airport - International or domestic exit, one can hire private taxis till Circular Quay as the distance between the two points is just 15 kilometers.

2. Train - For a cheaper option, visitors can board trains that run at regular frequency. Platform number 1 at Sydney airport is where visitors can board these direct trains from; which function with a run time of 18 minutes.

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Best Time To Visit

There is no best time to visit Circular Quay as the harbour is open for public visits all the time, without restricted timings. However, as ferry services run between 8 AM to 9 PM, it is advisable for tourists to visit Circular Quay during these hours for the convenience of getting around.

For tourists who would like to avoid the peak of summer heat and the school holiday tourist crowd, October, November and February March is a good time to visit. However, late October to mid April has the best weather time in Sydney, so these months also make for a good time to visit.

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Other Essential Information

Things to do near Circular Quay 

  1. Take a ferry to the Sydney Harbour Bridge- The locals of Sydney love ‘coat hanger’ and so do the tourists. To experience the best of this giant manmade structure, it is best to climb up the stairs or use the lifts that are on both ends and walk to the other side. One can take the train that goes to Milson Point and then keep walking backward, towards the city; the route has views worthy of a long walk.
  2. Attending a world class show at the Sydney Opera House- A World Unesco Heritage Site, the Opera house undoubtedly represents Australia as a landmark on the world map. Tourists can take the hourly guided tours or best, attend a show to fully experience the charm of this place. A special ‘All access’ tour here also allows tourists to experience the best of Opera house and enjoy breakfast in the green rooms.
  3. Explore at Royal Botanical Garden- Located Southwest of the Sydney Opera house is a botanical garden that houses plants from across the world. It is definitely worth a visit for nature lovers.
  4. Discover Sydney’s ancient history- Pay a visit to Water Police Station and courts to learn about the ancient part of the city. What is now an elegant piece of sandstone complex was once the busiest legal and policing precincts. The museum is sure to draw visitors to a world of crime, police, punishments and much more. The forensic photography display area showcases crime scenes and weapons that were confiscated from serial killers, murderers, and other guilty men.

Facts of Circular Quay:

1. Circular Quay is Sydney’s main transport hub.\

2. Circular Quay works as the ferry, rail, and bus interchange point.

3. The railway station here was established on 20th January 1956.

4. Circular Quay houses 5 commuter ferry wharves.

5. Circular Quay is situated on the north of Sydney’s CBD on Sydney Cove.

6. It lies between Bennelong Point and The Rocks.

7. Circular Quay is the main spot for all celebrations and fireworks displays in Sydney.

8. Circular Quay features the Customs House, which is Heritage Listed and was built between 1844-1845, City of Sydney Library in Customs House and the Museum of Contemporary Art.

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Tips to visit Circular Quay 

  • Get a proper list of attractions that you would like to visit around Circular Quay so that you do not miss out on any of them.
  • Circular Quay is a major hub for all kinds of cruises and tours. Make sure you get the details and timings of those you wish to explore. 
  • This wondrous place has lots to offer so plan to reach here early so that you can enjoy its many attractions 
  • Do not miss out on the spectacular views while at Circular Quay. You can take a walk along the foreshore or visit the Royal Botanical Gardens for this purpose. 
  • Indulge your taste buds with the wide selection of regional and international cuisines at the many dining facilities around Circular Quay.  

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Point of Interest for Circular Quay, Sydney
Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

This magnificent architectural marvel is a major attraction in the Circular Quay area. It attracts millions of visitors from around the world for its world class shows and performances, musical programs, Opera, theatre and its architectural brilliance. On special occasions the sails of the Opera House are lit up with marvellous visual presentations that are simply breathtaking.

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Museum of Contemporary Art

Museum of Contemporary Art

On the Western side of Circular Quay lies the iconic structure of the Museum of Contemporary Art. The Museum showcases an excellent collection of modern artworks, several masterpieces by Aboriginal artists and others. You can enjoy visiting the regularly held exhibitions or head to the rooftop Cafe and indulge in a cup of coffee while enjoying the view. 

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Sydney Harbour Tall Ships

Sydney Harbour Tall Ships

The Sydney Harbour Tall Ships offers a one of a kind experience tour on board the old style Tall Ships with canvas sails. These tours depart on a daily basis and you can choose from a variety of rides including a lunch or dinner Cruise, a mesmerising night cruise, wine and canapés at sunset or a fantastic night cruise under starlit skies. Circular Quay is also the major departure point for whale sighting trips.

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Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney Harbour Bridge

The Sydney Harbour Bridge is a phenomenal structure and the best way to experience it is by joining a Bridge climbing tour and getting to the top of this iconic landmark. This is one of the most adventurous things you can do here and the view from the top is totally worth the effort. 

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Royal Botanical Gardens

Royal Botanical Gardens

The Royal Botanical Gardens is a beautiful oasis of lush green lawns, exotic tropical and native plants. This is the perfect place to take in the waterfront views or to enjoy a leisurely picnic lunch. You can also get a fantastic view of Mrs Macquarie's Chair which is a sandstone rock cut in the shape of a bench.

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Sydney Festival of Lights

Sydney Festival of Lights

Circular Quay is the hub of the world's largest Festival of Lights. This Festival features an impressive extravaganza of fireworks, vivid visual projections on the sails of the Sydney Opera House, musical performances and many other celebratory events.

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Custom House

Custom House

This elegant 5-storey building initially served as a government office but it is now converted into a happening events space, a museum and a library. The Custom House was one of the very first buildings that was constructed in Australia back in 1845. Here, you will also get to see a model of downtown Sydney which can be seen from the glass floor.

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