This CBD waterfront destination is Sydney's premier harbourside dining, shopping, entertainment and nightlife precinct. By day, the family-friendly area is home to a plethora of museums, amusements, attractions and parklands, but once the sun goes down, the piers and marinas host a vibrant dining, bar and nightlife scene with one of the best views in town.
Built on reclaimed waterfront, Darling Harbour boasts some amazing modern architecture and attractions that draw visitors from Sydney's outer 'burbs and beyond. Darling Harbour is bordered by Chinatown, Haymarket, Pyrmont and Ultimo and includes King Street Wharf and Cockle Bay Wharf. Main attractions include Sydney Aquarium, Madame Tussaud's and Wild Life Sydney along Pier 26, LG IMAX Theatre, Sydney Entertainment Centre, Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre, Australian National Maritime Museum, Powerhouse Museum and The Star Hotel and Casino - all within cooee of each other. Harbourside is a two-level shopping centre specialising in souvenirs, King Street Wharf is the destination for upmarket bars and restaurants on the waterfront including the new Darling Walk development, and Cockle Bay Wharf also hosts an array of bars and restaurants that draw a crowd. Parts of Darling Harbour are currently slated for a $2.5 billion revamp.
Within this area of non-stop activity you can still find some pockets of serenity, namely the Chinese Garden of Friendship. This tranquil oasis was designed by the Guangdong Landscape Bureau in China to celebrate Australia's bicentenary in 1988, and contains meandering paths through pavilions, wooden bridges, koi-filled lakes, waterfalls and a traditional teahouse. The garden is open daily from 9:30am to 5pm. Adult entry is AU$6 and AU$3 for kids under 12. For more green spaces there's also Tumbalong Park in the centre and Palm Grove near Cockle Bay. The picturesque setting of the area lends itself easily to wandering around the piers and marinas with a great view of the western cityscape from the Pyrmont side of Darling Harbour.
To visit Darling Harbour, the closest train station is Town Hall and then it's a 12-minute walk straight down Bathurst Street. The area is also accessible by light rail, ferry and buses.