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12 Best Photography Spots for Classical Sydney Skyline


Harbour Bridge at Sunset from Luna Park, Sydney, NSW, Australia


I'm often asked by people who are travelling to Sydney what to photograph there, what are Sydney's best sunrise and sunset locations. So I've decided to write down some notes about shooting Sydney and about best photography spots. For Sydney skyline to be precisely. It's not a comprehensive Sydney city photography guide but it will give you a good idea of shooting locations around Sydney CBD (i.e. downtown), when to shoot there and how to get there. It could be very useful if you have limited time but still want to get some nice photos. By browsing through the images in this guide you can decide where to go to get the view you want.

Photographers, whether they are hobbyists or professionals, oftentimes explore a place much differently than a typical traveller. With camera in hand and in search of the best photo opportunities, they are looking for better lighting and better compositions. They want the angle, the mood, the light and some magic. You can find all that in Sydney as well but if you're a first time photographer to Sydney, this photographer's guide to Sydney skyline could be useful to you so you can head straight to the photo booty, so to speak.

These 12 spots cover almost all classical Sydney city views. However there are endless possibilities and angles to shoot Sydney and famous Sydney icons along the shorelines. All these places and lookouts are easily accessible by foot, by public transport or by taxi/car.

Spot 1: Kirribilli

Panorama of the Sydney Harbour at Sunrise, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Panorama of the Sydney Harbour at Sunrise
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


This lookout is located near Jeffrey St. Wharf (below the "intersection" of the Broughton Street and South Drive) in Kirribilli. There are a lot of parking spots there in the morning but in the evening it could be overcrowded. You can also use trains to get to the Milson's Point station. Walk down to the wharf and continue walking to the left for a little bit. There is a nice flat place with benches at the harbor bank. It provides great view to the city and the Harbour Bridge.

The best time for photography from Kirribilli is pre-dawn, around sunrise, around sunset and up to 1 hour after sunset. You need wide-angle lens for the Harbour Bridge shot and mid-range lens for the city.

Kirribilli on Google Map.

Spot 2: Mrs Macquarie's Point

Harbour Bridge and Opera House at Night, View from Mrs.Macquaries Chair, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Harbour Bridge and Opera House at Night
View from Mrs.Macquaries Chair, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


The Mrs Macquarie's Point provides two slightly different spots:
  • Mrs Macquarie's Chair
  • Walking path on the Farm Cove bay bank, below the Mrs Macquarie's Chair
Mrs Macquarie's Chair is elevated spot and provides excellent view to the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge.

The walking path below the Mrs Macquarie's Chair provides almost the same view to the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge but from a lower point. It also provides a great view to the Sydney city. However if you want to shoot only the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge only then the elevated Mrs Macquarie's Chair is better. Usually there are a lot of parking spots along the Mrs Macquarie's Road.

The best time for photography from Mrs Macquarie's Point is pre-dawn, around sunrise, around sunset and after sunset. You need full range of lenses for this spot depending on what you want to shoot. Telephoto shots from there could be also very nice as well as wide-angle shots.

The Kirribilli and Mrs Macquarie's Chair lookouts are two the most well-known lookouts and provide the most classical views.

Mrs Macquarie's Chair on Google Map.
Mrs Macquarie's Point on Google Map.

Spot 3: Milson's Point

Harbour Bridge at Sunset from Luna Park, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Harbour Bridge at Sunset from Luna Park
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


This lookout is located at the Milson's Point ferry wharf, near the Luna Park entrance. It provides a great view to the Harbour Bridge as the main point of interests and the city and Sydney Opera House in the distance. Parking is available on the South Drive, but it could be difficult to find a spot in the evening. You can also use trains to get to the Milson's Point station.

The best time for photography from Milson's Point is late afternoon, around sunset and after sunset. You need ultra-wide or wide-angle lens for this spot as the Harbour Bridge is very close.

Milson's Point on Google Map.

Spot 4: Sydney Harbour Bridge Pylon Lookout

View from Sydney Harbour Bridge Pylon Lookout, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

View from Sydney Harbour Bridge Pylon Lookout
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


The Pylon Lookout is located in the South East Pylon of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It offers spectacular views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the harbour and the city. Access is via the pedestrian pathway on the Eastern side of the Bridge from the city side (use the "Bridge Stairs" in Cumberland Street, The Rocks). Or if you are coming from the North side use the steps near Milsons Point Railway Station. Admission fee is $9.50 for 13 years and over.

The best time for photography from Harbour Bridge pylon is in the afternoon and before sunset (May - July). It's not possible to do sunrise and sunset sessions as it opens at 10 AM and closes at 5 PM. So pre-sunset shots can be done only from May till July when sunset is around 5 PM. You need wide-angle and mid-range lenses for this spot.

More information: http://www.pylonlookout.com.au

Pylon Lookout on Google Map.

Spot 5: McMahons Point (Blues Point)

Sydney Harbour Bridge, View from McMahons Point, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Sydney Harbour Bridge, View from McMahons Point
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


These two points are located at the end of Blues Point Road in McMahons Point suburb. They are providing almost identical views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the harbour and the city. Parking is available at the end of Blues Point Road. You can also get there by a ferry. If you want to use a ferry then check Darling Harbour, Parramatta River and Balmain/Woolwich ferries timetables in advance at Sydney Ferries web-site, especially if you want to shoot sunrise or sunset.

The best time for photography from McMahons Point is late afternoon, around sunset and after sunset. You need full range of lenses for this spot depending on what you want to shoot. Telephoto shots from there could be also very nice as well as wide-angle shots.

McMahons Point on Google Map.
Blues Point on Google Map.

Spot 6: Cremorne Wharf

Sydney Opera House at Dawn, View from Cremorne Point, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Sydney Opera House at Dawn, View from Cremorne Point
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


Cremorne Wharf is located at the end on Milson Road in Cremorne Point. It offers a great view of the city, the Opera House and the harbour. The Harbour Bridge is slightly closed by buildings. Parking is always a big problem there at any time. If you want to use a ferry to get there then check Mosman ferry timetable in advance at Sydney Ferries web-site, especially if you want to shoot sunrise or sunset. You can also use bus route #225 to get there. However the bus route #225 is local so you need to use another bus to get to your nearest #225 bus stop. For bus routes and timetables use Sydney Buses web-site.

The best time for photography from Cremorne Wharf is pre-dawn, around sunrise, around sunset and up to 1 hour after sunset. You need full range of lenses for this spot depending on what you want to shoot. Telephoto shots from there could be also very nice as well as wide-angle shots.

Cremorne Wharf on Google Map.

Spot 7: Balls Head, Waverton

Sydney City at Dusk, View from Balls Head, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Sydney City at Dusk, View from Balls Head
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


Balls Head is a beautiful bush reserve just 5-10 minutes walk (about 1.5 km) from Waverton station. It offers fantastic views of the harbour, the Harbour Bridge, the city, Darling Harbour and Balmain. There is a lot of parking on Balls Head Drive, Waverton.

Balls Head map on North Sydney Council web-site.

Sydney Harbor Bridge and Opera House at Dusk, View from Balls Head, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Sydney Harbor Bridge and Opera House at Dusk
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


The best time for photography is pre-dawn, right after sunrise, pre-sunset, sunset and up to 1 hour after sunset. You need full range of lenses for this spot depending on what you want to shoot. Telephoto shots from there could be also very nice as well as wide-angle shots.

Balls Head on Google Map.

Spot 8: Larkin Street Lookout, Waverton

Sydney City after Sunset, A View from Waverton, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Sydney City after Sunset
A View from Waverton, Sydney, NSW, Australia


The Larkin Street lookout is located near the Balls Head, at the end of Larkin Street, Waverton. However it offers slightly different view to the city. The Harbour Bridge is almost closed by trees and you cannot see the Darling Harbour. There is a lot of parking on Larkin Street.

The best time for photography is pre-dawn, around sunrise, pre-sunset, sunset and up to 1 hour after sunset. You need wide-angle and mid-range lenses for this spot.

Larkin Street Lookout on Google Map.

Spot 9: Bennelong Point (Sydney Opera House)

Sydney City and Circular Quay, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Sydney City and Circular Quay
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


Bennelong Point is the location of the Sydney Opera House. Walking path on the bank of the Sydney Cove bay and the upper level of the Sydney Opera House ground offer great views of the Circular Quay and the city. It is only a few minutes away from the Circular Quay train station. Parking is always the problem there.

The best time for photography is pre-dawn, around sunrise, after sunrise, sunset and up to 1 hour after sunset. You need wide-angle, mid-range and short telephoto lenses for this spot.

Bennelong Point on Google Map.

Spot 10: Circular Quay (Sydney Passengers Terminal)

Sydney City and Circular Quay, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Sydney City and Circular Quay
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


The top deck of the Overseas Passenger Terminal offers superb views of the Sydney city and the bridge. Metered parking is available in the Rocks suburb nearby. It is only a few minutes away from the Circular Quay train station.

Sydney Harbour Bridge and The Park Hyatt Hotel at sunrise, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Sydney Harbour Bridge and The Park Hyatt Hotel at sunrise
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


The best time for the Harbour Bridge photography is pre-dawn, around sunrise and after sunrise. The best time for the city photography is from pre-dawn and up to 1 hour after sunset. The best time for the Sydney Opera House photography is pre-dawn (it will be highlighted from the back), late afternoon, sunset and up to 1 hour after sunset. You need wide-angle and mid-range lenses for this spot.

Sydney Passengers Terminal South Spot on Google Map.

Sydney Passengers Terminal North Spot on Google Map.

Spot 11: Darling Harbour (Cockle Bay)

Sydney City from Darling Harbour, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Sydney City from Darling Harbour
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


The west side of the Cockle Bay offers great views of the Sydney city. There two main spots on the west side.
  • South spot, in front of the Harbourside Shopping Centre and the Sydney Convention Centre
  • North spot at the Pier 7, near Foxtel building
Sydney City from Darling Harbour, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Sydney City from Darling Harbour
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


The south sport provides narrow view of the south part of CBD and the north sport offers excellent wide view. You can get there by Sydney Monorail, by ferry or by car. There are a lot of parking places there - large car parks or parking spots along streets. However walking is probably better as there are number of other photo opportunities nearby.

The best time for photography from the Darling Harbour is second part of the day, around sunset, sunset and up to 1 hour after sunset. You need wide-angle and mid-range lenses for this spot.

Darling Harbour South spot on Google Map.
Darling Harbour North spot on Google Map.

Spot 12: Bradley's Head

Sydney City from Bradley's Head, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Sydney City from Bradley's Head
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


Bradley's Head is a small cape on Sydney Harbour and it provides superb views of the Harbour Bridge, the Opera House and the city. The lookout is located at the end of Bradley's Head Road (off Military Road) in Mosman. Bradley's Head is now a unit of the Sydney Harbour National Park and managed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service. Vehicle entry fees are $3 per vehicle per day. The park has gates that are closed at night so check opening and closing time before entering.

Sydney Harbor Bridge and Opera House from Bradley's Head, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Sydney Harbor Bridge and Opera House from Bradley's Head
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


The best time for photography from Bradley's Head lookout is pre-dawn, sunrise, after sunrise, sunset and up to 1 hour after sunset. You need full range of lenses for this spot depending on what you want to shoot. Telephoto shots from there could be also very nice as well as wide-angle shots.

Bradley's Head on Google Map.

Custom map with all 12 spots.

Last very important tip

It doesn't matter where the sun rises or sets, it doesn't matter if the the weather isn't good, you still will be rewarded with great pictures in about half-hour before sunrise or half-hour after sunset. Half-hour after sunset even much better. The combination of illuminated buildings and darken sky creates dramatic and colorful images even on the worst days. But don't forget your tripod as low light requires long exposure. And usually buildings are more illuminated on weekdays rather on weekends.

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