The Best Local Neighbourhoods and Walks Near Pier One Sydney Harbour

There’s definitely no shortage of beautiful parks, walks and gardens in Sydney, that’s for sure. Whether you’re exploring our western suburbs, relaxing by the beach or set smack-bang in the middle of the city, escaping the concrete and finding a slice of nature is never a problem. To help you find your perfect fit we’ve pulled together a list of our favourites, organised by vibe of course! 

If you’re after something a little enchanting: 

Wendy Whiteley Gardens: The most magical garden in Sydney is arguably Wendy Whiteley’s. Jump on a train at Circular Quay, hop off at Milsons Point Station, take a few left and right turns and you’re there. Wendy created the garden while she was grieving the loss of her late husband, famous Australian painter Brett Whiteley. The garden is heavenly. Pack a picnic basket and explore the curving pathways and hidden sculptures. If you’ve got a book, settle in at one of the benches under a leafy canopy and forget you’re in the city at all. 

Chinese Garden of Friendship: You’ll find the Chinese Garden of Friendship nestled near Darling Harbour. After a quick bus ride or a leisurely 35-minute stroll from Pier One Sydney Harbour you’ll find yourself surrounded by huge leafy trees, lagoons, lotus plants, water features, pavilions and ponds with gorgeous koi fish. This is the perfect place to escape the chaos to meditate under a swaying willow … then duck to Chinatown for an excellent feast – don’t forget to order a bag of hot cream puffs from Emperor’s Garden Bakery. They’re a must try!

If you’re after a taste of colonial heritage Sydney: 

Customs House to Millers Point: Honestly, the best way to have a taste of colonial Sydney is to walk among our neighbours! Duck out of Pier One Sydney Harbour, head left, right or over the hill and you’re bound to run into a colonial treasure. Some highlights of the area include: Customs House, Susanah Place, Cumberland Place, Garrison Church and the Walsh Bay Wharves, obviously!

Balmain: Hints of colonial Australia can be found all throughout Balmain – the sandstone cottages and stucco terraces of the 1840s are a sight to be seen! Meander down Darling, Waterview and Ewenton Streets before heading back up to Darling via Ewenton Park. When you’re finished your walk pull up a stump at the East Village Hotel for a beer or two at this cosy, waterside pub. We’d recommend starting your day in Balmain with a ferry trip from Circular Quay. 

If it’s a classic Sydney experience you’re after: 

Royal Botanic Gardens: Sydney’s beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens are a must visit for anyone dropping into Sydney! The heritage-listed gardens take up 74 acres of the CBD and offer plenty of lush nooks and crannies to explore. Take a free walk with one of the volunteer guides, go on an Aboriginal Heritage tour, enjoy high tea at The Calyx (the Gardens’ futuristic event space and cafe) or simply spend time learning about and walking among over 1000 native and exotic plants, collected over centuries. The Gardens are only 1.5 kilometres from the Pier One Sydney Harbour, so making your journey via foot is what we’d suggest. 

Sydney Park: Sydney Park clings to the south of the city and takes up about 99 acres starting near St Peters. This former major landfill site is a lush, hilly oasis that, now this is the best part, welcomes dogs off-leash (like us!). Head here to walk, run or ride among verdant grass, landscaped gardens, rolling hills with views of the CBD and stunning wetlands. Get here via train from Circular Quay (jump off at St Peters) – it’s the perfect spot for a quick city escape… with doggo in tow!

Centennial Parklands: A trip to Sydney’s Centennial Parklands may take a bit more time but it’s well worth it, spend the day there if you can. Catch the 333 bus from Circular Quay, take in the sights and shops of Oxford Street while you’re at it, then disembark at the Parklands for a day of picnicking, relaxing and exercise. The Parklands are mostly flat, making it an excellent spot to cycle or go for a run. It’s also dog-friendly, so don’t forget your best mate.

If you’re after something close by: 

Barangaroo Reserve: At just a 10-minute walk from Pier One, Barangaroo Reserve makes for the perfect spot for a quick dip into nature. The reserve is a beautiful foreshore park, with a unique view of the Harbour, transformed from an old industrial site to a rocky, grassy place for people to picnic among native landscaping. 

Observatory Hill Park: This patch of greenery in the midst of the city is another interesting option if you’re looking for something close by – it’s just a 13-minute walk from the hotel. We’d recommend pulling up to a patch of grass under the beautiful, massive Moreton Bay fig tree. Within the park there’s a tennis court, gym stations and lots of spots to unwind with a book and takeaway coffee.  

If you’re after a physical (and mental!) challenge: 

Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb: It may be the tourist attraction of all tourist attractions but climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge is a feat even Sydneysiders enjoying attempting. Enjoy an unparalleled panoramic view of the city, where sights of the Sydney Opera House, Blue Mountains and Sydney’s many national parks can be observed with ease and excitement. A degree of fitness is needed for the climb as a little over 1,300 steps will be defeated on your journey. Getting to the start of the climb is no trouble at all, it’s just a six-minute walk from Pier One Sydney Harbour. To avoid disappointment we’d recommend booking your climb in advance – we can certainly assist with this, just let us know.

Chowder Bay to Balmoral: If crossing the Bridge and escaping the city a little bit sounds like just the right sort of balm, the short but challenging hike from Chowder Bay to Balmoral is a perfect idea. Pack a bag and take the whole day to enjoy the Northern Beaches, with views of Sydney’s military and settlement history to take in along the way. You can start the hike from either end, though we’d recommend starting at Chowder Bay, that way you can finish your walk with a dip in at Balmoral Beach.

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