The famous Sydney Harbour Bridge is arguably Sydney’s most iconic landmark. Connecting the CBD with Sydney’s north shore, the Harbour Bridge is both a popular tourist attraction as well as a crucially important piece of infrastructure.
There are various ways to get up close and personal with the Harbour Bridge. The walk across the bridge is easy and is a must for every tourist visiting Sydney.
Visiting the Pylon Lookout is even more exciting, with not only breathtaking views to enjoy, but it also includes a small museum with lots of interesting details about the history behind the bridge.
And for the more adventurous among us, the climb to the summit of the Sydney Harbour Bridge is a once in a lifetime experience.
About the Sydney Harbour Bridge
Opened in 1932, the Sydney Harbour Bridge not only has the best looks, it’s also an incredible piece of superb engineering.
Also known as the Coathanger because of its recognizable arch-based design, the 134m high Sydney Harbour Bridge connects the CBD with Sydney’s north shore.
History of the Bridge
In the 19th century, well before the bridge was built, a thriving ferry service carried travellers across the Sydney Harbour from the north shore to the city.
But with an increasing population and growing economy, the need for a bridge or tunnel became increasingly obvious.
After many years of debating, royal-commissioning, designing, tendering and analysing, construction of a bridge across Sydney Harbour was legally authorised in 1922.
Construction work officially started in 1924, the two arches joined in 1930, and the bridge was completed and opened in 1932.
Design of the Bridge
The Harbour Bridge was ultimately designed as a two hinged single span steel arch bridge. This type of bridge was chosen because a steel arch could accommodate heavy loads while at the same time would look impressive and imposing.
The winning design of the bridge needed to combine both functionality and beauty. The four massive pylons, for example, weren’t actually required, but they were added to make the bridge appear more robust and attractive.
The pylons were also faced with granite to give them a more natural look, despite the fact that this involved considerably more expense.
Now, almost 100 years later, we should be thankful to Dr John Bradfield for designing a bridge that not only has had a dramatic impact on the city’s infrastructure, but one that also has the perfect looks.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge now carries 1 highway with 8 lanes, 1 railway line, 1 cycle lane and 1 pedestrian walkway.
|Sydney Harbour Bridge in Numbers|
|Granite:||17,000 cubic metres|
|Concrete:||95,000 cubic metres|
|Total Cost:||10 million pounds|
Sydney Harbour Bridge Walk
One of the absolute best free things to do in Sydney is walking across the Sydney Harbour Bridge from The Rocks to Milsons Point.
The Harbour Bridge walk is a purpose-built pedestrian walkway on the eastern side of the bridge, starting at the Bridge Stairs in The Rocks and finishing at the Bridge Stairs in Milsons Point.
It’s a very easy 1.5km walk that offers panoramic views of Sydney Harbour, Circular Quay, the Opera House and Kirribilli.
How to Get There
The somewhat mysterious looking, art-deco building that holds the Bridge Stairs is located at 100 Cumberland St in The Rocks, a short walk from Circular Quay.
The bridge walk can also be accessed from the Cahill Walk, which runs along the Cahill Expressway above the Circular Quay train station.
Pedestrians can access this walkway via a lift at Circular Quay or from a path above Macquarie Street at the Royal Botanic Garden.
Views from the Bridge
What’s great about the bridge walk is that the walkway is located on the eastern side of the bridge, facing Circular Quay, the Opera House and Kirribilli.
In other words, the views from the walkway are absolutely stunning. In contrast, the cycle lane and the train line are both located on the western side of the bridge.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge Walk finishes at the Bridge Stairs in Milsons Point, close to the train station. Milsons Point and next door neighbour Kirribilli are both great suburbs to have lunch, with lots of cafes and restaurants to choose from.
It’s also recommended to go for a walk in this area, as there are so many spots with beautiful views to enjoy. See further below in this article for more details about this walking track in Milsons Point.
The biggest drawback of doing the Sydney Harbour Bridge Walk is the never ending noise from the cars that drive past right next to the walkway.
However, a good way to find some temporary relief from the noise pollution is by going up the Pylon Lookout!
|Sydney Harbour Bridge Walk|
|Distance:||1.5 km (one way)|
With amazing views of the city skyline and the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge Pylon Lookout is one of the best lookouts in Sydney.
Visiting the Pylon Lookout at the Sydney Harbour Bridge is a wonderful way to enjoy breathtaking views, at a fraction of the cost of the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb.
But it’s not just the views that attracts visitors into the Pylon. It also holds a small museum with lots of interesting details about the history behind the bridge and how and why it was built.
Entrance to the Pylon Lookout is on the pedestrian walkway on the eastern side of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Simply follow the walkway from the Bridge Stairs in The Rocks, and you will see the entrance at the first pylon.
The Pylon consists of three levels of informational exhibits and a 360 degree lookout platform at the very top. The museum part of the Pylon Lookout is very well presented, with lots of information and photos to absorb about the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Pylon Lookout Museum
In the museum you can find out how and why the Sydney Harbour Bridge was constructed, the people behind its design and build, plus the stories and historical images of the opening celebration, including rare video footage.
It emphasizes the dangerous work that was carried out in that period, and the bravery that was required with the available tools. Various displays explain why it took so long to realise the bridge, and the engineering challenges that such a steel arch presented.
As awesome as the museum is, most people visit the Pylon Lookout for the incredible views of the city and the Sydney Harbour. Trust us, the views from the open-air observation deck do not disappoint!
The indoor viewing area in the middle provides interesting facts about the bridge, such as how many rivets were used to make the bridge, how much did the bridge cost, how much paint was used to paint the entire bridge, and so much more.
Overall, a visit to the Pylon Lookout is absolutely worth your time and money. This top Sydney tourist attraction is educational and enjoyable, for both adults and children.
|Opening Times:||10am to 5pm (7 days a week)|
|Height:||87m above sea level (200 steps)|
Harbour Bridge Climb
The Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb is a truly once in a lifetime experience, walking over the bridge’s arch all the way to the highest point, with views that are absolutely phenomenal.
Climbing the bridge certainly isn’t cheap, but it’s one of those things that you will remember for the rest of your life, which makes it worth the investment.
Are you ready to climb 134 metres above sea level and enjoy amazing 360 degree views of one of the most beautiful cities in the world?
There are different ways to do the Harbour Bridge Climb:
1. Daytime Climb
The daytime climb is the original Harbour Bridge Climb experience, bringing you to the summit of the bridge. After enjoying the superb views from the summit, you then cross the bridge to the Darling Harbour side and descend back to base from there.
The beauty of this 3.5 hours long adventure is that you get to enjoy views from both sides of the bridge, which means you can see the whole of Sydney from a birds-eye perspective!
Every ticket to the top includes goodies such as a group photograph, a bridge climb cap, a certificate and a complementary pass to the Pylon Lookout.
2. Twilight Climb
Slightly more expensive than then the Daytime Climb, the Twilight Climb departs as the day closes.
This climb is essentially the same as the Daytime version, but you will get to enjoy a double unique experience, as you soak up the day’s sunset while being on top of the bridge!
3. Night Climb
The Sydney Harbour Bridge Night Climb departs after the sun has set, introducing the bright lights of the city under a blanket of darkness!
This climb is slightly more affordable and shorter than the Daytime version, but it’s done at night time which makes it a different unique experience.
4. Express Climb
The Express Climb also goes to the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, but it takes a bit of a shortcut so you’ll get there faster!
It’s essentially the same summit experience, just a bit quicker, which makes the Express Climb suitable for those that are on a tighter time schedule.
5. Sampler Climb
A bit worried about going all the way to the top?
At a much more affordable price, the Sampler Bridge Climb allows you to get a good taste of the climb experience without going all the way up. In just 1.5 hours, you will ascend the inner arch of the Sydney Harbour Bridge to a spectacular vantage point located halfway to the top.
This is the perfect Bridge Climb option for those who are a bit afraid of going all the way to the summit, but still want to enjoy mind blowing views of Sydney!
North Side of the Bridge
If you’re walking across the bridge to Milsons Point, it’s highly recommended to spend some time exploring this beautiful area. It’s a part of Sydney that not many tourists go to, but it’s actually very pretty.
The best way to do this is by following the scenic Lavender Bay circuit walk.
Bradfield Park and Broughton St Lookout
From the Bridge Stairs, head south towards the Harbour and cross Bradfield Park underneath the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
This park extends to the Broughton St Lookout, one of the most scenic lookout points in Sydney, with breathtaking views of the city skyline, the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge.
From the lookout, follow the picturesque walking path around the Milsons Point peninsula along the shoreline. The path continues under the bridge towards Luna Park and the North Sydney Olympic Pool.
North Sydney Olympic Pool and Luna Park
Opened in 1936, the iconic, art deco style swimming pool complex includes a 50m outdoor pool, a 25m indoor pool, a professional gym and a sauna and spa.
If you do fancy a workout, swimming at the North Sydney Olympic Pool is quite a unique experience, with the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the background.
The enormous face structure next to the swimming pool is the entrance to Luna Park, Sydney’s world famous amusement park featuring fantasy architecture in classic 1930’s style.
From here, you can continue the walk through Luna Park (free entrance) or via the boardwalk that follows the foreshore of Lavender Bay.
Wendy’s Secret Garden
At the north end of the bay, climb up the steep stairs to discover Wendy’s Secret Garden. This beautiful garden overlooking the bay with the Harbour Bridge in the background is an excellent picnic spot.
It’s a green oasis of native plants, fig trees, beautiful flowers and a thriving community of birds. Created in 1968 by artist Wendy Whiteley, this beautiful garden has been featured on the radio, television, newspapers and blogs countless times since its inception.
From the garden, head back to Milsons Point train station via Lavender St and Alfred St. You can then decide to either walk back to the city via the Harbour Bridge, or catch a train.
Alternatively, catch a ferry from the Milsons Point ferry wharf to Circular Quay. This way you get to travel underneath the Harbour Bridge, which is another unique experience!
To walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, head to the Bridge Stairs in The Rocks. The official address of the Bridge Stairs is 100 Cumberland St, and is easily accessible from Circular Quay train station.
Entry to the Bridge Stairs at the other side of the bridge, in Milsons Point, is on Burton Street, close to the train station.