Best Free and Paid Ways to See the Sydney Opera House

by | Last updated Nov 28, 2023 | Sydney | 22 comments

When visiting Sydney, a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Sydney Opera House is surely on your list. Now there are different ways you can choose to see the Opera House, some ways are free and others will cost you. So in this post, I am going to give you the rundown on the best free and paid ways to see the Sydney Opera House. So no matter your budget, you have options to spend time here.


Why Visit the Sydney Opera House?


The Sydney Opera House sits proudly on Sydney’s harbour foreshore on Bennelong Point, and has done so since it was opened by Queen Elizabeth II on the 20th October, 1973. It is an Australian icon and whether it is your first visit to Sydney or you are a local Sydney-sider, everyone pays a visit to the Sydney Opera House. Even though it was built as a musical facility, there is more to it than that and you will discover them on a visit. And there are a number of ways you can visit and enjoy this icon of Sydney. 


How to Choose the Best Way to See the Sydney Opera House?


As mentioned, there are free and paid options to see the Sydney Opera House. Depending on your budget and your time will influence how you visit the Sydney Opera House.


Free Options to See the Sydney Opera House


There are a few free ways to see the Sydney Opera House.


Walk around the Sydney Opera House

Yep, even if you are flat broke, it costs nothing to walk around the Opera House and Sydney Harbour foreshore. Walk up the paved reddy brown granite pebbly steps while gazing at the 89m high white tiled scallop shells above you – just wonderful! And the views of Sydney Harbour as you walk around the perimeter of the Sydney Opera House are spectacular! You can even go inside to some of the public areas that are open, including the toilets and the gift shop. 


See the Opera House from the water

Walking around the Sydney Opera House is great, but jump on a ferry or go on a boat tour and you will get a different view of the Opera House from the water. It will only cost a couple of dollars for the ferry ride.


Be invited to an event inside

This can be a tricky one as you need to know someone who is having an event there. I was once invited to main music hall for my sister’s graduation from Teachers College. It was so big inside and the organ is extremely large.


Paid Options to See the Sydney Opera House


Pay to see a show

There are always shows at the Opera House and not just opera or music. I once went to see a comedian, Bob Downe, who was performing there. We had a drink in the bar overlooking the harbour before the show – how decadent!


Go on a tour of the Sydney Opera House

There are different tours available to experience the Sydney Opera House. All Opera House tours can be booked at the ticket counters inside the Sydney Opera House or online. Tours include:

Guided tour – Discover the stories, history, and magic of Sydney Opera House with a guided tour. Step beneath the world-famous sails and be shown around the building visiting the main spaces including the Concert Hall.

You can book a guided tour of the Sydney Opera House here.

Guided tour with lunch nearby – yep, after a tour of the Sydney Opera House indulge in a meal at one of the restaurants nearby.

You can book a guided tour with lunch here.

VIP Backstage tour with breakfast. This tour is run daily at 7am. See the Opera House’s backstage areas including the dressing rooms and orchestra pits before enjoying breakfast.

You can book a VIP Backstage tour with breakfast here.

Experience an opera performance at the iconic Sydney Opera House. There is no better way to appreciate the Sydney Opera House than seeing and hearing a performance in the Concert Hall.

You can book to see a performance here.

Dine at Bennelong Restaurant. Having a meal at Bennelong Restaurant is quite an indulgent experience. You can eat for around $250 for 2 course meal and $290 for a 3 course meal. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner Wed through Sunday – check out the menu and book your table here.


How to Get to the Sydney Opera House


Now you know the free and paid things to do at the Sydney Opera House, how will you get there. If you are staying in accommodation nearby Sydney Harbour, then you could walk however, many catch a train, bus or ferry to Circular Quay. From here, it is a further 5-10 minutes walk to reach the Opera House. 

Now, there’s only one more thing to say, enjoy your visit to Sydney’s Opera House, no matter how you choose to visit. I’d love to hear about your planned visit or your visit in the comments.

Sydney Opera House under grey skies.


  1. Sheryl

    It’s been a while since I’ve been to the Opera House, I think just over 10 years ago now! It was incredible though, you’ve provided great information on how to see it 🙂

    • Sharyn McCullum

      The Opera House hasn’t changed much in 10 years – it’s just as iconic as ever! I hope you can get back there one day in the future.

  2. Alona

    This is a great place for my family to visit. They really love opera so much. Thank you for this information =)

    • Sharyn McCullum

      Then you will love visiting the Sydney Opera House because they have many opera performances for you to enjoy.

  3. Josy A

    It’s pretty awesome that walking up and visited the Sydney Opera house is free! I like the idea of seeing it from the water, but it does make me happy when buildings that are as iconic as this are free to get up close!

    • Sharyn McCullum

      Absolutely, but it is what tourism in Sydney wants – it wants an inclusive Sydney so it makes all the icons easy to see.

  4. Kelly

    What an insightful article on tips for seeing the Sydney Opera House! Great for those on a budget travelling to Sydney. Thanks for sharing these helpful tips!

    • Sharyn McCullum

      Yes, it doesn’t matter what budget you have on a visit to Sydney – there are ways to discover the Sydney Opera House.

  5. kmf

    The Sydney Opera House is so iconic! Great tips on how to see it for free but would gladly pay for the experience.

    • Sharyn McCullum

      I would gladly pay for the experience also but seeing it as much as I do, walking around it suffices.

  6. Jaqueline

    The opera house looks so amazing! I really wanna go one day – thanks for the guide 🙂

    • Sharyn McCullum

      I hope you can, the Sydney Opera House is amazing to see.

  7. Saunter With Sanika

    I recently visited Western Australia and was so sad I couldn’t make it east – but I really hope to soon! Visiting the Sydney Opera House is definitely on much bucket list.

    • Sharyn McCullum

      Yes, I hope you can too – Sydney is so beautiful and visiting the Sydney Opera House is a must on any visit to Australia.

  8. Amy Tull

    It’s my dream to see this extraordinary building. Tell me, did the people of Sydney immediately appreciate the architecture or did it grow on them, as the Eiffel Tower did in Paris?

    • Sharyn McCullum

      I don’t remember when it was first built – but I think it was a controversial design and of course, you have the lovers of it, and the haters. But I think it has grown on everyone and IS just apart of Sydney Harbour. The harbour would look strange without it!

  9. Susan

    I studied abroad in Sydney and was elated to see the Sydney Opera in person for the first time. I was a student on a budget but enjoyed walking around it and seeing it from the ferry! Great tips – so many options.

    • Sharyn McCullum

      There are a number of options to see the Sydney Opera House. I’m glad you had a chance to see it.

  10. Travelling Tam

    Such a comprehensive list! I recently went to Sydney again after about 8 years and just walked around, but next time I’d like to see the Opera House by the water!

    • Sharyn McCullum

      Yes, what a treat to see the Opera House from the water. I hope you get to see it from the water next visit to Sydney.

  11. Jolayne

    My husband has been to Sydney a few times. While he hasn’t toured inside the Opera House, he has marveled at the light shows projected on and around it.

    • Sharyn McCullum

      The Opera House is beautiful at night with the different light shows.


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Bells Beach Surfing Recreation Reserve Sign shaped like a big white wave with Sharyn McCullum On the Great Ocean Road.

G’Day! Sharyn here, an Aussie loving discovering Australia. Let me show you around so you can discover Australia too.  Read my story here.

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