One of the best things about Sydney is that it offers so many different spots where you can get a great photograph and view of the Sydney Opera House.
Not only that, it is one of the most magnificent buildings of the 20th Century, and it is one of the most famous and instantly recognised landmarks in the world!
Many tourists will just stick to Circular Quay to get their photos of the Opera House.
However to fully appreciate the beauty of the Sydney Opera House it’s best to view it from several different locations around the harbour! It looks incredible from every angle.
Situated in a prime location within Sydney Harbour, there are many vantage points from which to admire The Sydney Opera House.
And from every perspective the Opera House looks different yet uniquely breathtaking – whether you’re on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, The Opera House stairs, on a ferry or more!
In this article we will look at all the best spots to view the Sydney Opera House, and where we can go for the best view to take great photographs.
Whether you’re after a sunrise, sunset, daytime or nighttime photography view, this guide will help you find the best photo locations – both well-known spots as well as little-known local spots, so you can take the best photos of the Sydney Opera House!
Here are the 29 best places to photograph the view of the Sydney Opera House!
- Mrs Macquarie’s Chair
- The Royal Botanic Gardens
- The Sydney Opera House Steps
- Opera Bar
- Circular Quay Train Station
- Cahill Lookout
- Circular Quay West
- Campbells Cove & Park Hyatt Hotel Walkway
- Hickson Road Reserve
- Dawes Point
- Under The Harbour Bridge
- On The Harbour Bridge
- Pilon Lookout
- Luna Park
- Milson’s Point
- Mary Booth Lookout Reserve
- Beulah Street Wharf – Kirribilli
- Ferry to Manly
- A Westbound Ferry
- Inner Harbour Ferry
- Harbour Boat Cruise
- Cremorne Point
- Taronga Zoo
- McMahons Point
- Dudley Page Reserve
- From A Helicopter
- Shangri-La Hotel Bar (Blu Bar)
- Cirq Bar At Crown Sydney
- Vivid Festival
BEST SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE VIEW FROM CIRCULAR QUAY
The following locations are all located within the vicinity of Circular Quay. Whilst it may seem like a lot of photo spots, they are all located fairly close to each other and you can easily walk between all of them.
You could probably visit many of them within just an hour – however you’ll most likely want to make a morning of it, relax and really enjoy the views!
These locations offer some of the most iconic spots to take photos of the Sydney Opera House, so make sure to visit these first! I have put them in the order they appear on the map so you can just walk from one to the other.
1. Mrs Macquarie’s Chair
Mrs Macquarie’s Chair is the famous spot that almost everyone visiting Sydney will go to for the classic Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge photo!
From here you can see the city skyline, the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge all in the same shot. It’s a fantastic iconic view and probably the best location to view all three together.
As Mrs Macquarie’s Chair directly faces the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, this is one of the best views in the city and so makes for a very popular spot for both tourists and photographers.
Mrs Macquarie’s Chair is an especially popular spot for sunset photos – the sunsets are spectacular here as the sun sets right behind the Opera House so try to time your visit for then!
If you only have time to watch one sunset whilst in Sydney, try to make it here! If you stay until dark you’ll see the Harbour Bridge light up.
Despite Mrs Macquarie’s Chair being a popular spot there is always plenty of room to sit and enjoy, whether you’re right next to the foreshore or up on the grassy bit slightly higher.
It’s a very relaxing place, and it’s also one of the best places in Sydney to watch the New Years Eve Fireworks!
The actual Mrs Macquarie’s Chair is a seat that was carved out of the sandstone rock in 1810, made for the wife of the Governor of NSW.
Mrs Macquarie’s Chair is on the edge of Sydney Botanical Gardens, and can be accessed by the walkway from the Opera House through the Botanic Gardens. It’s a lovely walk that will take around 20 minutes.
The Botanic Gardens gates close at sunset so you’ll need to exit via Mrs Macquarie’s Road – this access point is always open!
Alternatively you can drive to Mrs Macquaries Point and park (metered parking) but parking spots can be limited!
2. The Royal Botanical Gardens
Another one of the best places to see the Sydney Opera House is from the Royal Botanical Gardens. The Botanical Gardens are free to enter and are a lovely place to relax.
Stroll along the footpath, admiring the changing view and angle of the Opera House as you continue walking.
3. The Sydney Opera House Steps
The steps leading up to the Sydney Opera House make for a fabulous place to get photos. This spot offers a really unique perspective and angle of the Opera House compared to other places.
The Opera House steps are a really popular place to get photos of the Opera House during the day, so if you don’t want other people in your photo you will need to get here early – at around sunrise!
Walk to the top of the Sydney Opera House steps, walk around the outside and try playing around with different angles to find the best view you like.
I particularly like walking around to the eastern side of the building and looking at the texture of the tiles.
You can get some nice close up shots of the sails and from here you can see the three individual shells that make the Sydney Opera House.
In addition to getting photos on the steps of the Opera House, you may want to walk back a little bit to capture more of the unique shape of the building.
4. Opera Bar
An extremely popular place to get some of the best views of the Sydney Opera House from a different perspective is from the Opera Bar right outside!
You don’t even need to buy drinks here to enjoy the view – there is a curved walkway here with lots of outdoor seating, which you can still access when the bar is closed.
So you can come first thing in the morning and get photos of the Opera House without other people in!
Alternatively you can come later on in the day or in the evening – both of which are very busy, have some food and drinks here, and you’ll get people in your shots.
The Opera Bar has an amazing atmosphere and is a must-visit for drinks one afternoon or evening when you’re in Sydney! It’s one of my favourite places to visit in the city!
5. Circular Quay Train Station
Circular Quay Train Station is definitely up there as one of the stations with the best views in the world!
From Circular Quay Train Station you can see the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, so when you get off the train (coming from Wynyard or Town Hall on the city circle) make sure to get a photo before you leave the platform!
6. Cahill Lookout
For a similar view from Circular Quay Train Station but from higher up, head to the walkway and lookout along the Cahill Expressway.
This is a little-known pedestrian path above Circular Quay Train Station that provides some of the most stunning views in Sydney! Walk along the walkway and you’ll get a full view of the Harbour and the Opera House.
You can access the Cahill walk from the lift or the stairs on the eastern end of Circular Quay by the corner of Phillip Street. This is also a great spot to see Sydney’s purple jacaranda trees in October/November!
7. Circular Quay West
The walkway on the western part of Circular Quay offers lovely views of the Sydney Opera House.
There are some bars here – such as Cruise Bar (head to the top floor – it has a direct view across the harbour!) where you can sit and enjoy the view, or you can just enjoy the view whilst walking.
Sometimes there are big cruise ships moored up here which will obstruct the view, but if there isn’t then you can get some lovely photos at the viewing platform at the end of the Overseas Passenger Terminal.
8. Campbells Cove & Park Hyatt Hotel Walkway
At Campbell’s Cove you can get great photos of the Opera House with the Sydney Harbour tall ships. When you have finished, continue around the path to the harbour bridge.
A hundred metres or so past the Tall Ships is the Park Hyatt Hotel. Walk up the stairs on the left-hand side of the hotel.
Local photographers particularly love this photo spot as the glass window of the Park Hyatt lounge reflects the Opera House, creating a really interesting mirror-like reflection shot!
The best lighting to photograph the Opera House from here is at sunrise.
9. Hickson Road Reserve
Hickson Road Reserve is just around the corner from the Park Hyatt Hotel and so it’s worth heading there straight after.
It’s a lovely area with palm trees that’s nice to relax in, and it offers some of the best close-up views of the Opera House from the side. It is a favourite spot with photographers to get that classic Opera House shot!
Whatever time you visit Hickson Road Reserve you’ll be able to get pictures without other people in as the water is right behind you!
However, it’s a great spot to take sunrise photos as the sun rises close to the Opera House and begins illuminating the sails so you can get some amazing shots.
If you only get to have one sunrise in Sydney, this is the spot to be! Definitely wrap up warm if you’re here at sunrise as it can get chilly!
10. Dawes Point
Dawes Point is right below the Harbour Bridge, next to Hickson Road Reserve. You can get some great up-close shots of the Harbour Bridge here as well as the Opera House.
A unique and creative photo that you can take is in the gap in the iron railings.
There is only one of these gaps where you can frame the Opera House inside it, and it is especially popular with sunrise photographers.
Even if you arrive before sunrise, there may already be a photographer with a tripod set up there – at least it will make it easy to spot! In the daytime there’s rarely anyone taking photos here.
If you’ll be arriving for sunrise photography, parking is free before 8am so it’s often easy to get a parking spot when the city is quiet. Parking after 8am costs around $6 per hour, plus it’s very difficult to find a parking spot!
11. Under the Harbour Bridge
Another really interesting angle is to capture the Opera House from underneath the Harbour Bridge – just next to Dawes Point. You can get a really unique perspective from here, with the Harbour Bridge looming in the foreground!
Sunrise is the ideal time to visit, when it isn’t busy and you can catch the soft golden rays of the sun.
12. On The Sydney Harbour Bridge
Another spot where you can get a great view of the Sydney Opera House is from the Harbour Bridge – Sydney’s other famous icon!
You can do the whole walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge (1.5km walk) from one side of the harbour to the other, starting at The Rocks and finishing in Milsons Point.
The walk should take around 20 minutes, and along the way you’ll get many different compositions and vantage points of the Opera House.
There are metal railings on the side of the bridge for safety reasons, however you can easily shoot through the holes in the railings so they won’t appear on your photos!
It’s completely free to walk over the Sydney Harbour Bridge and it’s something you definitely must do on any Sydney itinerary.
The entry to the Sydney Harbour Bridge for pedestrians is at the Bridge Stairs on Cumberland Street, next to the bridge over Argyle Street which you’ll find opposite The Glenmore Hotel.
You can do this walk at any time day, however sunrise is definitely the best time! The sun rises behind the Opera House and produces some fantastic shadows, so you can get really good sunrise shots.
13. Pilon Lookout
You can climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge with Sydney Bridge Climb to get great views of the Opera House, however it is very expensive (several hundred dollars!) plus it takes several hours and you aren’t allowed to bring cameras or phones!
The only photos you can get are the ones they take for you!
A much cheaper alternative where you’ll be able to bring your own camera and phone, is to go to the Pilon Lookout! Here you’ll get incredible uninterrupted views of the Sydney Opera House and the whole harbour.
I definitely recommend this if you want to get more of a bird’s eye view of the Opera House!
This is a unique spot as you’re quite high above the group so photos taken from here look like they were taken with a drone (which is great as drones aren’t allowed to be flown around Sydney Harbour without prior permission from the Government).
The Pilon Lookout is located on the south side of the Harbour Bridge – it’s one of the 4 main pilons that make up The Harbour Bridge.
You can climb it for just $19 – you’ll just have to walk up the 200 or so shallow steps to get to the top (there isn’t a lift!)!
BEST SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE VIEW FROM THE NORTH SHORE HARBOUR
All the following photography spots on the north shore harbour are all just a short walk away from each other, so you can visit them all within an hour if you wish!
Of course we recommend to take your time and make an afternoon/evening of it! You’ll get some really nice sunset and night photography shots from here.
14. Luna Park
The vintage Luna Park fairground park is a Sydney icon and is quite possibly the best located theme park in the world!
Located right on the harbour next to the Harbour Bridge with views of the Opera House, the views are incredible and you can get some really impressive photographs from here of the Opera House with the Harbour Bridge in the foreground.
Both sunrise and sunset offer a nice soft light in which to shoot from here, however at night Luna Park is also lit up spectacularly so it’s also nice to do some night photography here.
Make sure to spend some time enjoying Luna Park too – it’s a really fun place and it’s free to enter! Even if you don’t want to go on any rides it’s a great place to visit and soak up the atmosphere!
You just pay for each ride (or buy an unlimited rides pass here). There are rollercoasters, Ferris wheels and many more fairground rides, plus plenty of game machines and food stands!
You can also walk around to Lavender Bay from Luna Park. Lavender Bay is a lovely quiet area that offers stunning views from the jetty.
To reach Luna Park, take the 5 minute ferry over to Milsons Point – it’s right next to Milsons Point wharf!
15. Milsons Point
Just to the other side of the Harbour Bridge from Luna Park and Milsons Point Wharf you’ll find Bradfield Park and Broughton Street Lookout.
This spot offers a unique angle where you can get some great photos of the Sydney skyline. You can also see the Opera House front on, with the two layers of buildings that form the Opera House.
This is a popular photography spot, as well as a popular place for people to relax and enjoy, especially around sunset time.
16. Mary Booth Lookout Reserve
Some of the most gorgeous views of the Sydney Opera House can be found across the harbour on the lower north shore.
The Mary Booth Lookout Reserve is one of the best places to enjoy a front-on view of the Opera House and take some photographs.
Located on the Kirribilli Foreshore, the Mary Booth Lookout Reserve also offers stunning views of the CBD skyline and the Harbour Bridge.
To get to the Mary Booth Lookout Reserve you can walk across the Harbour Bridge or take the train to Milsons Point Station. Then just walk down Broughton Street to the waterfront and you’ll find the Mary Booth Lookout Reserve on your left.
Alternatively you can take the ferry to Jeffrey Street Wharf or Milsons Point and then it’s just a few minutes walk. There are also metered car parking spots here, although it can be difficult to find a spot!
Sunset is the best time to visit this spot as you’ll get the lovely sunset colours behind the Opera House and CBD, and see the city slowly change from day to night and start to light up.
17. Beulah Street, Kirribilli
Less than a 5 minute walk from the Mary Booth Lookout Reserve is Beulah Street. Beulah Street makes for a favourite night photography spot of the Sydney Opera House amongst the locals, when you can see the sails of the building lit up fantastically.
It offers a really unusual and impressive perspective of the Opera House, and a popular shot is to frame the Opera House in between two rows of houses where Beulah Street meets Waruda Street.
As Beulah Street is a great night photography spot it’s a good idea to visit after you’ve watched the sunset at the Mary Booth Lookout Reserve. Seeing the city lit up from here is really special.
BEST SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE VIEW FROM A SYDNEY FERRY
Hopping on a ferry from Circular Quay is actually one of the best ways to see the Sydney Opera House!
The ferry is one of the main public transport systems in Sydney, and so riding on a Sydney ferry should be one of the top things to do when you are in the city.
Some ferries go east, some go west, some go north, each offering different views! If you have time try and get on all the below ferries!
18. Ferry To Manly
The most popular ferry for tourists is of course the Manly Ferry!
The Circular Quay to Manly Ferry is a 30 minute ride that has such lovely views it’s almost like doing a harbour cruise, just much cheaper!
The ferry goes very close to the Opera House so you can get some really good close-up side on views of the Opera House which you can’t get from anywhere else!
Manly is one of Sydney’s most popular beaches, so it’s a great way to spend a day in Sydney.
Check out the triangular-shaped Fairy Bower Ocean Pool – one of the best rock pools in the Northern Beaches, or head to the Manly Wormhole – a secret tunnel linking Queenscliff Beach to Freshwater Beach!
19. A West Bound Ferry
Hopping on a Milsons Point or McMahons Point Ferry means you’ll go west underneath the Harbour Bridge. This offers some really interesting views of the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.
20. Inner Harbour Ferry
Taking an Inner Harbour Ferry to Cremorne Point offers a different view of the Opera House. You’ll be able to see the Opera House head-on, however not so close as the Manly Ferry which means you can get the skyline behind!
21. A Harbour Boat Cruise
A popular option to spend a couple of hours relaxing is to go on a Harbour boat tour.
There are many companies that offer harbour cruises departing from Circular Quay, and on the cruise you get lots of opportunities to take photos of the Opera House from different angles.
They’ll usually provide you with lunch too, so it’s a lovely way to spend the afternoon!
LOCAL SPOTS TO VIEW THE SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE
The following spots are more local spots where you can get a lovely view of the Sydney Opera House – perfect if you want to get away from the crowds!
22. Cremorne Point
More known just to the locals, Cremorne Point is a fantastic place to view the Sydney Opera House!
Offering some of the best views of the harbour but in a much quieter setting than the other locations, you can get some lovely photos here from several different perspectives.
You can get the ferry to Cremorne Point from Circular Quay – it takes just 10 minutes!
Once at the wharf head left to the grassy area and nearby MacCallum Pool (about 200 metres from the wharf) – one of the best pools in Sydney! This free outdoor pool has a stunning view of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge behind it!
Alternatively, head right to the nearby Robertsons Point Lighthouse and capture some shots around here – this forms part of the Cremorne Point to Mosman Walk.
Late afternoon and sunset is a great time to enjoy the view from Cremorne.
23. Taronga Zoo
You can get some great views of the Sydney Opera House from Taronga Zoo – often with giraffes in the photo in front of the skyline! Now talk about that for a great shot!
Around feeding time is a good time to try and capture the photo, but be aware they have to be in a certain position to appear in the photo and they might not comply!
You can also get some fantastic photos from the Sky Safari cable car ride (closed now for refurbishment until 2025!).
24. McMahons Point
McMahons Point on Sydney’s Lower North Shore also offers some of the best harbour views in Sydney. It’s a great sunrise spot, but whatever time of day you visit the view is stunning!
You can also continue walking around to Blues Point Reserve, a five minute walk away that also provides great views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge.
The easiest way to reach McMahons Point is to take the 10 minute ferry from Circular Quay. The ferry will go under the Harbour Bridge so you can also get some fun shots on the ferry!
25. Dudley Page Reserve
If you’re heading over to Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs check out the Dudley Page Reserve. From here you get a nice overview panoramic view of the city, as well as the Harbour Bridge, the Opera House and the whole harbour.
Dudley Page Reserve is perched on a hill in Vaucluse and you can reach it by taking the 387 bus from Bondi Junction, or visit it along the way on a Bondi Beach to Watsons Bay Coastal Walk.
If you’ll be driving there is plenty of street parking available.
TREAT YOURSELF VIEW OF THE SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE
26. From A Helicopter
If you’re up for a treat, book a helicopter tour! Seeing the Sydney Opera House from above is absolutely incredible!
You can book a 15 minute flight over the Harbour, or book a 30 minute flight that takes you over Bondi Beach and Coogee Beach too!
The front seat is the best spot to take photos and get the best views!
27. The Shangri-La Hotel Bar (Blu Bar On 36)
Blu Bar on level 36 of the Shangri-La Hotel is a posh bar that offers one of the best views of the Sydney Opera House. Treat yourself to some cocktails, enjoy the sunset and seeing the city light up after dark!
You can even book a room here with a view of the Opera House from your hotel window!
28. Cirq Bar At Crown Sydney
My favourite rooftop bar in Sydney is in the newly opened Crown Sydney building (also known as One Barangaroo) – the tallest building in Sydney!
Located on level 26, Cirq Bar has a lovely outdoor area where you can get great views of the Opera House.
The bar feels very luxurious but there’s a lovely laid-back vibe here, food and drink isn’t ridiculously expensive, and the staff are so helpful if you need to get some photos!
29. Vivid Festival
For 3 weeks every May and June, Sydney hosts the Vivid Festival and the city is transformed with music and light sculptures! The Opera House gets lit up in varying images and it’s incredible to see!
Cruise Bar is a great place to admire the Sydney Opera House during Vivid, however the lit-up Opera House can be admired from any of the viewpoints listed in the article!
As you can see, there are so many spots where you can get a great photo of the Sydney Opera House! Hope you enjoy getting some great photos!