UPDATED APR 3, 2020
When you're stuck in the nine-to-five grind, it's easy to forget how awesome Sydney's urban parks and green spaces are. So, we rounded up our favourite spots to hit up when we need a dose of fresh air.
This outdoor oasis in Sydney's center was initially reserved as a water source for the city. So we're grateful its 189 hectares were eventually opened to the public. With rolling lawns, shady trees, large ponds, and tons of wildlife, it's one of our go-to parks to escape to. Plus, it's a great place for a jog or bike ride.
The oldest public parkland in Australia is also the most accessible. Split in half by Park Street, it's populated by several historical landmarks: The Anzac Memorial that sits at its southern end and the Archibald Fountain at its northern end. And since it's located in Sydney's Central Business District, we find it to be the ideal place for a sunny lunch on the grass or a midday stroll among the fig trees.
If you’re looking for a great place to hang out with friends and family on the weekends, head to this sprawling park at the water’s edge in Balmain. We love it for its excellent views of Sydney Harbour and the Harbour Bridge (it's a popular spot for New Year's Eve celebrations), wide open spaces—perfect for an outdoor workout—and picnic areas. We've been known to spend the whole afternoon here.
Another local favourite, the Chinese Garden's waterfalls, tea houses, and secret walkways provide a nature-filled escape not otherwise found in bustling CBD. Walk amongst willow trees, calm lagoons, lotus plants, koi fish, water dragons, turtles, and birds, or bring a book and stay awhile. Just be aware, opening times are seasonal, and there is a small entry fee of $6.
This heritage-listed site in Sydney's east was transformed from its unglamorous beginnings as a water reservoir, garage, and petrol station to one of Sydney's most photogenic and romantic outdoor destinations. Peaceful? You bet. The split level park features a sunken garden on the rooftop, immaculate gardens, and sweeping boardwalks ideal for a meditative stroll.
This sloping green space across the street from the historic University of Sydney is just great. The park has tennis courts, a swimming pool (popular with students and Glebe locals in summer), sprawling lawns, and a shaded lake that's perfect for lounging on a lazy Sunday. It's also popular location for festivals, so keep an eye out.
Yes, "secret garden" is in the name, but this jungle-like outdoor space in Lavender Bay Parklands is actually super popular. And, we understand why. It overlooks the Sydney Harbour and is filled with native and exotic shrubs, herbs, and trees that attract all sorts of birds. Walk through and you'll also find sculptures and other objects Wendy herself has collected over the years. Even better, it's open to the public and she pays for its maintenance — a gift from the Whiteleys to the people of Sydney.
At one point in time, this urban green space was a cemetery. Now, it features a continually changing array of street art and a buzz of activity. On an average day, this high-walled park close to Newtown’s busy King Street is filled with students lounging, group picnics, impromptu jam sessions, and skateboarders. It’s the perfect place to grab some grub and kick back with friends or, between 5pm and 9am, bring your dog, when the park is off-leash for four-legged friends. It also hosts a handful of local festivals, including the annual Newtown Festival, a must-see for any visitors to Sydney.
Set up in Sydney’s south, this park stands proud as one of Sydney’s most beloved green spaces. With sweeping coastal views, lush inland bushwalks, favourable surfing at Garie Beach, and breath-taking natural wonders (like Wedding Cake Rock, Uloola Falls, and the Figure 8 Pools), you’re bound for endless adventure. Want to make the trip a weekend-long excursion? We recommend brining a tent, as there are a fair amount of campgrounds on-site.
Bronte Park is quite small in the scheme of things, but it's also the backstop to one of Sydney’s favourite beaches. The tree-lined park features a number of picnic shelters and access to the famed 30-metre ocean pool. We highly recommend take advantage of the pool as a cool reprieve on a hot surf day or a shady stopover if you’re trekking the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk.
This Surry Hills gem may be best known for its heated, 50m lap pool, but Prince Alfred Park’s 7.5 hectares have heaps of ways to get active. There’s a 1km exercise circuit for joggers; 2.5 basketball courts; five pristine tennis courts; barbecue and picnic areas; and to top it all, an off-leash dog park. If you’re keen to relax, sit back on one of the park benches and take it all in.
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