The Rocks is one of Sydney’s oldest neighborhoods. Originally a settlement for convicts, it’s become a bustling destination for food, drink, markets, and more. The Rocks Market is your go-to spot for street food and buskers, while the nearby Museum of Contemporary Art shows off one of Australia’s finest art collections.
With cobbled lanes and staircases, The Rocks retains some of its historic charm. Visit old buildings like Cadmans Cottage and Susannah Place, or stop for a pint in one of Sydney’s longest-running pubs. The neighborhood’s hills provide panoramic views of Sydney Harbour and the Opera House, while the Harbour Bridge rises directly above. Take the stairs up to the pedestrian walkway and stroll across to North Sydney, or climb up to the Pylon Lookout for a 360-degree view.
The Rocks is perfectly situated within the inner suburbs too. It’s an easy walk to the ferries at Circular Quay or the trains at Wynyard Station. After a busy day, there’s no better way to relax than by having a drink on The Rocks.
The Rocks Highlights
- Some of Sydney’s best museums, including the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Rocks Discovery Museum.
- Walk along the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and if you’re brave enough, strap on some safety gear and do the famous Bridge Climb.
- The Rocks Market brings live music, food, and crafts to the neighborhood every weekend.
- The Museum of Contemporary Art is your air-conditioned sanctuary on a hot day.
- The Rocks is a tourist hot-spot, so it can be crowded and expensive compared to other parts of Sydney.
- The Rocks hosts one of Sydney’s biggest St. Patrick’s Day parties.
- Stay at the YHA, one of Sydney’s best hostels with an archaeological site visible in the courtyard.
Snapshot of Features
Cafes and Tidbits
The Fine Food Store serves single-origin coffee down one of Sydney’s historic laneways.
- The MCA Cafe offers an international menu on the museum’s rooftop Sculpture Terrace.
La Renaissance Patisserie and Cafe is a French bakery in a nearly 200-year-old building.
ASLAN Coffee Roasters specialises in beans from Indonesia.
- And the Tea Cosy serves loose-leaf tea and scones.
- Sit down for a French crepe at Creperie Suzette.
- Follow up with dessert at the Guylian Belgian Chocolate Café.
- Or get your 24/7 pancake fix at Pancakes on the Rocks.
The Glenmore Hotel serves schooners and schnitzels with a rooftop view.
- For some true Australian food, try the kangaroo and emu pizza at the Australian Heritage Hotel.
Quay offers fine dining on the top of the Overseas Passenger Terminal.
Sake serves modern Japanese food.
- And Pony Dining The Rocks serves Argentine barbecue at communal tables.
- The Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel claims to be Sydney’s oldest, serving beer since 1841.
- So does the Fortune of War, although it hasn’t been running continuously.
The Doss House is a basement whiskey bar, with over 150 drinks on the menu.
- The Munich Brauhaus is a German beer hall with sausage plates.
The Argyle is the go-to spot for nightlife, featuring 6 bars in a multi-level sandstone building.
- The Blu Bar on the 36th floor of the Shangri-La Hotel isn’t for the faint-of-heart (or wallet) - the $10,000 Martini on the Rock even includes a diamond ring.
Sites and Activities
- Bike or walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge for stunning views of the city.
- Or book a Bridge Climb for even higher and more breathtaking views.
- Visit the Rocks Discovery Museum to learn about Sydney’s history.
- Explore the laneways and historic pubs after dark.
The Rocks has a mix of upscale boutiques and gritty streets. Gentrification has changed the area, but it still has a fair amount of poverty and crime. Some historic buildings have been replaced by developments, but the Sirius building is still the only high-rise in the neighborhood. As a walkable district close to the CBD, it’s a good choice for working professionals and young families.
- Millers Point
- Sydney CBD
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