What to See at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney

Set in the heart of Sydney’s urban Central Business District, there is a natural oasis bursting with exotic colours. The Royal Botanic Gardens are a verdant collection of some of the world’s most incredible plant species, all of which can be seen against a picturesque backdrop that feels a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre.

The gardens date back to 1816 when they were first opened as a scientific hold for some of the world’s most exotic plant species. Today, it remains one of the oldest scientific institutions in Australia and takes the title of one of the world’s most important historic botanical institutions. Access to the public is free. This, combined with its central positioning close to the famous sights of Sydney Harbour and the Sydney Opera House, make it a popular landmark in Sydney.

Covering more than 30 hectares in total, the Royal Botanic Gardens create an impressive natural amphitheatre that wraps around a vibrant “stage” known as Farm Cove. Within its clutches, there are hundreds of different plant species, some dating back thousands of years, and some originating from the other side of the world.

The gardens are split up into 4 distinct sections known as the Lower Gardens, the Middle Gardens, the Palace Gardens, and the Bennelong precinct. Each area boasts its own unique selection of plantlife and flowers, as well as smaller gardens and ornamental lawns that are well worth a wander through. Throughout the gardens, there are a number of wooden lawn areas for picnics, as well as a couple of eggshell-smooth lakes that break up the greenery. At the centre of it all sits the Palm Grove Centre, where there is an on-site café, visitors centre, and a bookshop.

In the Lower Gardens, visitors can explore the Band Lawn, the main ponds, and the HSBC Oriental Garden, while the Middle Gardens are home to a huge collection of succulents and threatened plant species. The Palace Gardens boast a series of ornamental gates, including the Palace Garden Gate and the Morshead Fountain Gate, and the Bennelong Precinct showcases Government House and the Australian Native Rockery.

Perhaps the most impressive and popular landmark within the Royal Botanic Gardens is the age-old sandstone seawall that flanks Farm Cove and stretches from the iconic Mrs Macquarie’s Point to the world-famous outline of the Sydney Opera House. This separates the gardens from the sprawling expanse of the harbour and provides exceptional views out across the rest of the city.

Visit the Royal Botanic Gardens on our Half Day Sydney City Tour with Bondi Beach.

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