Sydney Opera House is the most recognizable Sydney landmark and a popular tourist attraction.
With over forty shows a week, this multi-venue performing arts center at Sydney Harbour attracts more than 8 million visitors a year.
Queen Elizabeth II inaugurated this tourist attraction in October 1973.
In this article, we explain everything you must know before visiting the Sydney Opera House.
1. How to reach
2. Best time to visit
3. Box Office
4. Inside Opera House
5. Opera House restaurants
6. Opera House shows
7. Opera House tours
8. Combo tickets
9. Best Seats
10. Dress Code
11. Opera House map
12. Opera House at night
13. New Year’s Eve
14. Opera House history
How to reach Sydney Opera House
This city-defining building is at Bennelong Point, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia.
Sydney Opera House is located North of the Sydney city center, in the central harbor hub of Sydney’s Central Business District (CBD).
Walk to the Opera House
If the weather is good, and you are close to the Sydney Opera House, we suggest you walk it.
If you are in The Rocks, the neighborhood around Sydney Harbour Bridge, you can walk to the Circular Quay even as you explore the city.
If you are further away, the city center, for instance, head North along Macquarie Street and keep walking till you reach Circular Quay.
From the Quay, you will be able to spot the Sydney Opera House and walk the distance in five to ten minutes.
Take the train
Public transport in Sydney well managed, and there are plenty of trains which can lead you to the Sydney Opera House.
However, the trains only go till the Circular Quay station, after which you must walk to the Opera House.
Circular Quay station services Aqua, Orange and Green lines.
If you are in a station which doesn’t serve any of the above three lines, you can take a train to the Sydney Central station, which serves all the Metro lines.
Once you are at the Central Station, you can board a train to Circular Quay.
Some tourists prefer to walk the distance from the Sydney Central Station to Sydney Opera House – a distance of 3 km (1.9 Miles).
Board a bus to Opera House
Buses are far more cost-effective than trains, so if you are on a budget, that’s what we recommend.
The right bus for you depends on where you are, and what time you want to leave.
NSW’s transport website is the best resource for bus routes and schedules in Sydney.
Arrive in a car
If you are not a fan of walking, hiring a taxi to get to the Sydney Opera House is a great option.
Taxi stands are available throughout the city center, or if you prefer you can call an Uber.
The taxi/uber will drop you off at the designated taxi stop on Macquarie Street, past the Wilson’s Carpark entrance.
On your return, your taxi will again pick you up from the same designated area.
Another way to reach the Opera House is by water taxis.
You get to see the Sydney skyline, Sydney Harbor, Sydney Harbour Bridge, etc. making it quite a romantic journey.
The Sydney water ferries travel along the Parramatta River and stop at many places, making it an ideal means of transportation. Ferry routes
Parking at Sydney Opera House
Wilson Parking operates Sydney Opera House’s car park, which is under the building at 2A Macquarie Street, Sydney.
The Sydney Opera House parking is open all the time, including public holidays.
The Opera House car park has 1200 parking bays, so you are guaranteed a slot whenever you come in.
Best time to visit Sydney Opera House
More than twenty thousand people visit the Sydney Opera House every day.
Of these, approximately 1,200 visitors book the Sydney Opera House tours to explore the cultural monument. The rest come in to watch shows, dine, or drink.
If you want to avoid the crowd, the best time to visit the Sydney Opera House is early in the morning or late at night.
To be more specific, 9 am on a Sunday is the best time to visit the Sydney Opera House.
It is best to avoid Sydney Opera House on hot summer days, rainy days, and school holidays in January because it gets crowded.
Sydney Opera House box office
Sydney Opera House’s ticket office is in the Box Office Foyer, which is at Level 1 of the building.
Monday to Saturday, Sydney Opera House remains open from 9 am to 8:30 pm.
On Sundays, it closes a little early – at 5 pm.
If you are worried that the performance you plan to attend is outside of the general box office opening hours, don’t be.
Whenever there is a performance, the Sydney Opera House Box Office remains open until 15 minutes after the performance starts.
However, we recommend you buy Sydney Opera House tickets for tours and performances much in advance to avoid last-minute disappointment.
Inside Sydney Opera House
Many visitors to Sydney wonder what’s inside the tourist attraction.
There are two ways to experience the Sydney Opera House from inside.
Sydney Opera House for free
You can visit the Syndey Opera House for free, at any time of the day.
You can enter and check out the foyers, the Box Office, or dine and drink at one of the restaurants/bars in the building.
Exploring the interiors
To experience Sydney Opera House beyond the foyers and dining places, you must book a tour of the building or book a show at one of the venues.
Or you can book a combo ticket, which includes both a tour and performance.
Till then, lets tell you what’s inside the Opera House –
Venues in Sydney Opera House
There are six performance venues in this beautiful building.
On average, 2000 plus events are held annually at these performance centers.
These venues host a varied range of performances ranging from operas, rock music concerts to seminars.
Concert Hall is the biggest of the venues inside Sydney Opera House, and the Utzon Room is the smallest.
The other venues are Joan Sutherland Theatre, Playhouse, Drama Theatre, The Studio and the Forecourt.
Sydney Opera House restaurants
There are three main restaurants at the Opera House.
1. Bennelong Restaurant
The Bennelong serves modern Australian cuisine, and if you want to have ‘Australia on your plate,’ this is the place to visit.
The Bennelong serves modern Australian cuisine, and if you want to have ‘Australia on your plate,’ this is the place to visit.
The Bennelong is on Level 1 of the Sydney Opera House.
Bennelong is open daily for dinner, and from Friday to Sunday, it is open for lunch as well.
Lunch service: Friday to Sunday, from noon to 2.30pm
Dinner service: Sunday to Thursday, from 5.30 pm to 9 pmFriday and Saturday, from 5 pm to 9 pm
You can drop into Bennelong for a pre-theatre or post-theatre visit as well.
Pre-theatre: Sunday to Thursday, from 5.30 pm to 6 pm
Friday and Saturday, from 5 pm to 6 pm
Post-theatre: Thursday to Saturday, from 10 pm to 11 pm
2. Opera Kitchen & Bar
The Opera kitchen is located at the water’s edge on the Lower Concourse level of the Opera House, making it one of the favorite Sydney experiences.
It has a seasonal menu and is open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Opera kitchen is perfect for all occasions and popular with guests with kids as well.
Monday to Thursday: 10.30 am to 12 am
Friday: 10.30 am to 1 am
Saturday: 9 am to 1 am
Sunday: 9 am to 12 am
3. Portside Restaurant
If you want to have a private dining experience with uninterrupted views of the Sydney skyline, you must visit Portside.
Portside is under the Colonnade on the Broad western walk facing the Harbour bridge.
You can choose from the restaurant’s a-la-carte menu, the kids’ meals or one of the grab-and-go options (ideal for pre-theatre goers).
Portside is open daily for both lunch and dinner – lunch starts from 11.30 am, and dinner from 5 pm.
Sydney Opera House shows
The Sydney Opera House hosts more than 2,000 shows a year out of which more than 300 are operas.
The other shows are usually stand-ups, rock shows, orchestras, ballet performances, art and culture lectures, theatre, dance, and international concerts.
Show tickets at Opera House
– These show tickets are smartphone tickets, which means as soon as you purchase them online, the tickets get emailed to you. On the day of your visit, show the ticket on your phone and enter the Opera House.
– If you change your plans, all these show tickets can be cancelled for free up to 24 hours before the show/performance starts
We list below two of the most popular shows currently going on at Sydney Opera House.
1. Madama Butterfly by Opera Australia
Madama Butterfly is the story of a romance between an American Naval Officer and his Japanese wife.
If you love a good tearjerker, stunning sets and costumes you must book this Opera show at Sydney Opera House.
Time: 7.30 pm
Duration: 2.5 hours
Ticket price: You can book the D-Reserve tickets for Madama Butterfly for as less as A$ 99, but if you prefer premium seats you may have to spend around A$ 327 per person. There are many other in-between options, as well.
2. Grand Opera hits by Opera Australia
During this show, you get to listen to famous arias from composers such as Rossini, Bizet, Puccini, and Verdi performed by some of Opera Australia’s best opera singers.
A piano accompanies the singing.
Time: 5 pm
Duration: 90 minutes
Ticket price: The standard seating will cost you A$ 69 while the premium seating is costlier at A$ 89 per person.
If you prefer a more extensive Opera experience, check out this two-and-a-half-hour concert at the Sydney Opera House.
Sydney Opera House tours
Opera House tours come in three flavours –
1. Guided Sydney Opera House tour
This tour is the cheapest and the most popular option.
A local guide takes you around and helps you get a glimpse of the 300 corridors and 1000 rooms of the Sydney Opera House.
Once your tour is over, you are free to hang around for as long as you want.
Adult ticket (16+ years): A$ 42
Student ticket (with ID): A$ 32
Child ticket (5 to 15 years): A$ 22
Kids below four years get free entry to Sydney Opera House.
This tour is also available in Mandarin.
2. Sydney Opera House tour + dinner
This ticket helps you combine the Opera House tour with a relaxed meal at the Opera Bar.
After the tour is over, you can head out to the Opera Bar located just a short walk from the Welcome Center on the Lower Concourse Level and have lunch or dinner.
Dining is available between 11.30 am and 6 pm.
Adult ticket (16+ years): A$ 73
Student ticket (16+ years with ID): A$ 63
3. Sydney Opera House backstage tour + Breakfast
This ticket gets you the most intimate of Sydney Opera House tours.
You get to access areas usually reserved for the stars and their crew members.
Your two-and-a-half-hour tour starts at 6.45 am and ends with a full breakfast in the Green Room, the space reserved for the star performers.
Ticket price (10+ years): A$ 175
Combo tickets at Sydney Opera House
These tickets give you the complete Sydney Opera House experience because they include –
1. Tour of Sydney Opera House
2. A dining experience at one of the Opera House restaurants
3. A stunning performance at one of the Opera House venues
If you are not on a budget holiday (yes, these tickets are costly!) we highly recommend these experiences.
Even though these packages are costly, they regularly sell out weeks in advance.
Book ahead of time to avoid disappointment.
1. West Side Story
This experience starts at 4.15 pm with a VIP guided tour Sydney Opera House.
You then have a two-course dinner with wine, at one of the top three restaurants at Opera House – Bennelong, Aria, or Alfresco Portside restaurant.
After the dinner, you head to Opera Theatre, the second-largest venue at Sydney Opera House, for a stunning West Side Story performance.
2. Opera Concert
This experience also begins at 4.15 pm with a VIP guided tour of Australia’s most famous icon, the Sydney Opera House.
Two-Course dinner at either Aria or Bennelong restaurant follows the tour, after which you get to enjoy a performance by Opera Australia.
3. Australian Ballet
You start with a 1-hour VIP behind-the-scenes tour of the iconic performing arts center.
The tour is followed by a 2-course dinner at either Bennelong, Aria, or Portside restaurant even as you enjoy views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Circular Quay, and the Opera House.
The last item on the day’s agenda is the Australian Ballet Company’s full-length classical ballet performance.
Best seats at Sydney Opera House
At all theatres, the seats decide the quality of viewing experience.
The same holds at Sydney Opera House as well.
That’s why, before booking the tickets, the visitors want to know the best seats for the shows.
The organizers of the shows also know this, and that’s why the price of Sydney Opera House show tickets depends on the seats selected.
Experience or Value for Money?
When it comes to the best seats at the Sydney Opera House, there can be two ways of looking at them:
– Best seats in terms of value for money
– Best seats in terms of experience
We share this critical information for all the six venues at the Sydney Opera House.
1. Concert Hall
The Concert Hall is the most prominent performance venue at Sydney Opera House.
With 2670 seats, it is also the biggest venue.
Sydney Opera House Concert Hall seating encircles the main stage, offering many viewing angles.
The Concert Hall seats are laid out in three sections – Stalls, Circle and Box.
Concert Hall seats with best view
Since this is a big hall, there can be differing opinion on the seats with the best view.
If you don’t mind spending, we recommend the middle seats in rows D, E, and F.
Seats in the first row of the ‘Circle’ are also a good option.
However, these seats offering a direct view of the stage get sold off fast.
Concert Hall seats with best value
At the Concert Hall, the most value for money seats depends on the show you have opted to see.
If you are in for an Opera, we recommend the box seats next to the theatre because it is more important to have better audio than better visual.
If it is a Ballet or any other such performance you must opt for the middle seats in rows N to S.
These seats aren’t priced high and yet offer decent views of the stage.
2. Joan Sutherland Theatre
Joan Sutherland Theatre is the second biggest venue at Sydney Opera House.
It has 1507 seats which are laid out in three sections – stalls, circle, and box.
The performance-friendly layout helps you get a good view wherever you sit, but then some seats are better than the others.
Seats with the best view
The opinion here is varied because there are so many options, but we recommend seats 22 to 28 in the rows F, G, H, J.
These seats are just the right distance from the stage and right in front of it, offering the best possible view.
Being premium seats, you must shell out a pricey sum for the show tickets.
If you prefer watching your shows from a vantage point, we recommend the front row of the circle section.
Value for money seats
Thanks to the unique design of Joan Sutherland Theatre, there are many seats which don’t cost a bomb and yet provide your money’s worth.
In the Stalls section, try to get the middle seats in the S, T and U rows. These are A Reserve and B Reserve seats and hence cost less.
In the Circle section, you can also opt for middle seats in rows F and G.
3. Drama Theatre
Located on the ground floor of the Opera House, the Drama Theatre is much smaller and hosts plays and musicals.
It has 544 seats laid out in an almost-rectangular block format.
The first three rows A, B, and C, can be removed for performances which need additional stage area.
This removal of seats brings down the capacity to 475.
Seats with the best view at Drama Theatre
Since this theatre has a straight-forward seating, the best seats are easy to pinpoint.
You need to leave the first three rows, and book in the middle seats in the next three rows – that is, rows D, E, and F.
These are usually the premium seats, in such a layout.
Value for money seats at Drama Theatre
Since there are not many different types of seats, the cost of the ticket doesn’t vary much.
If you want to save money, we recommend the middle seats at the back of the theatre.
Choose any of the middle seats in the Rows P, Q, R, S or T. They offer a good view of the stage and yet aren’t as pricey as the premium tickets in the front.
The Playhouse is one of the smaller venues in the Sydney Opera House, and hosts show for a younger audience.
It is on the ground floor in the south-western corner of the Opera House.
The Playhouse’s seating plan is very straight forward – everybody sits in the front.
Seats with the best view at Playhouse
The Playhouse is a small theatre, with about 400 seats.
There is hardly any difference between the seats – the only difference is its distance from the stage.
For best viewing experience we recommend you skip the first three rows and book middle seats in Rows E, F or G.
If you will be attending with kids, it is better to book the middle seats in the three rows after that – H, J, and K.
Because of the elevation, your kids won’t have to crane their necks.
Value for money seats at Playhouse
Since this is a small theatre, the price difference between the seats isn’t much.
However, if you do want to get the most bang for your buck we recommend the last three rows – R, S and T.
Even though they offer similar viewing lines, just because they are farther from the Stage, these seats are cheaper.
5. The Studio
The Studio is the most flexible venue in the Sydney Opera House, and it can be changed to meet the requirements of the performances.
During the day The Studio hosts show for kids, and at night it transforms into a place where the world’s best cabaret and circus acts happen.
It can seat around 300 guests.
Because of its flexible nature, it is not possible to provide recommendations on the best seats.
6. Utzon Room
The Utzon Room is the only room entirely designed by architect JornUtzon.
It is the smallest venue at the Sydney Opera House can seat 200 seats.
It is not possible to give seat recommendations for the Utzon Room because there is not any difference in the view quality and the pricing.
7. The Forecourt
This venue is located below the iconic white sails of the Opera House and offers a great view of Sydney Harbour and the City.
The Forecourt is the only outdoor performance space in the Sydney Opera House.
Once again, it is not possible to recommend the best seats because this venue has outdoor, flexible seating.
Sydney Opera House dress code
Since the Sydney Opera House is a cultural hub, many visitors wonder if this Sydney landmark follows a dress code.
As long as you are wearing shoes and a shirt, Sydney Opera House management is okay.
Whether you have just walked into the Opera House to check out the foyers or you plan to attend one of the Operas, you can dress however you like.
If you don’t want to be underdressed or overdressed during your visit, we recommend smart casuals.
However, if you have booked a guided tour of Sydney Opera House you must wear comfortable shoes for you will be climbing more than 300 steps.
Sydney Opera House map
Sydney Opera House is massive, and one can very easily get lost.
Sydney Opera House’s Welcome Centre, also known as the reception, is on the Lower Concourse.
Near the Welcome Center, you will also find lifts to all the performance venues.
There are two Box offices, one at the Ground Level and another at the Upper Level.
Public toilets are located on the Lower Concourse and inside at the Main Box Office and Western Foyers.
We recommend you bookmark this page or download the map to your mobile so that you can explore this Sydney landmark better.
Sydney Opera House at night
One of the touristy thing to do while holidaying in Sydney is to check out the Sydney Opera House looks at night.
Many tourists opt to walk around Circular Quay at sunset, from The Rocks to the Sydney Harbour Bridge to see the changing colors of the building.
The 10 Million plus tiles of Sydney Opera House’s roof reflect the nature’s mood and present a visual feast.
Seeing the architectural beauty from across the Quay, with the numerous boats in the forefront is nothing short of amazing.
Some wining and dining at the Opera Kitchen and Bar is also recommended.
Sydney Opera House on New Year’s Eve
Every year, more than a million people land up in Sydney to welcome the New year.
There are many places in the city from where you can watch the New Year fireworks and ring in the next year.
However, nothing compares to the Sydney Opera House’s New Year experience.
New Year’s Eve Opera Gala
The Opera Gala on New Year’s Eve at the Sydney Opera House is a two and half hours show.
The show starts at 7.45 pm on the 31st of December.
After you enjoy the talented performers from the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra for an hour, you come out of the Opera House for the fireworks.
You will have front-row views as fireworks light up the Sydney Harbor Bridge and Sydney skyline precisely at 9 pm.
The fireworks over the Sydney Bridge lasts for 15 minutes after which you get back to the Opera concert, which then goes on till 10.30 pm.
After the Opera performance is over you are free to welcome the New Year, as you wish.
Sydney Opera House history
In 1957, Bennelong Point in Sydney emerged as the top spot for building the cultural center.
To attract the best of the architects, the Australian Government decided to launch an international competition for the building’s design.
JørnUtzon, a Danish architect, emerged as the winner and the work started under his guidance.
In 1966, after being with the project for almost a decade, JørnUtzon backed off.
He didn’t want to help build Sydney Opera House since he was disappointed and disillusioned because of the technical problems, delaying construction, and mounting costs.
The building was finally completed ten years later than planned at 10 times the cost of what was estimated.
The budget for Sydney Opera House was initially estimated to be A$10 million, but in the end, it cost the Government A$100 million.
On October 20, 1973, when Queen Elizabeth II opened the Sydney Opera House for the public, designer and architect Utzon did not attend the opening ceremony.