While the city is still rather quiet, the peace and tranquility of these lovely gardens is even further amplified. You can hear the breeze rustle the leaves about, rather than the usual sounds of city bustle.
These gorgeous gardens in Sydney are drawing nature lovers from near and far. For a quick stroll or a deep dive into horticultural exploration, you’re bound to be enveloped in the beauty of Sydney’s green spaces.
Exploring the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney
It’s been a few years since I’ve been to The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, and today I’ve happened upon it on a near-perfect day. There’s a gentle breeze blowing and it’s just refreshing enough to combat the late-morning sun. Flowers bloom left, right and centre, adding pops of colour to the patchwork of greens, and Sydney Harbour glistens in the distance.
I have already strolled through the Australian Rainforest Garden and marvelled at the variety of plants growing, then stopped by the Herb Garden for culinary inspiration. There’s a sensory fountain here (kids and adults are encouraged to touch the spherical feature. It has water flowing over it and is surrounded by a bronze ring), and my daughter spent close to half an hour playing with the water.
After our leisurely start, lunch is already calling. We go in search of the perfect spot, and it doesn’t take long to find. We perch ourselves on a patch of grass with views out to the Sydney Opera House and munch on avocado and cheese baguettes. Bliss!
As a Sydneysider, I know I’m one of the lucky ones, because if I’m hankering to be among nature it’s never too far away. The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney is just a hop and a skip away from the city centre. And parks and nature reserves are easy to find wherever you might be in this huge city. Thanks to my two-year-old daughter, we will usually visit at least one green space per day. It makes her happy, and it makes me happy too.
The psychological benefits of being among nature are well studied. It’s widely understood that spending time among trees spurs feel-good feelings. There are studies that refer to improved air quality in places with more greenery, and studies that focus on the improvement of mental health when exposed to trees. And there are dozens more studies, all pointing to humans simply feeling better when there are more trees around.
After our picnic lunch, my daughter and I spend another hour meandering through The Royal Botanical Garden Sydney until she dozes off and I plop myself under a tree to read. We’ve spent close to three hours exploring and could easily while away the entire day here.
Fun activities at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney
For more active types, there are tours and workshops: free guided tours at 10.30am Friday through Monday and many paid options. Two standouts are the Aboriginal Bush Food Experience and Behind The Scenes Sensory Tour of the display glasshouses. I’ve already got a plan for our next visit: the award-winning horticultural display centre The Calyx. It features the largest changeable interior green wall in the southern hemisphere. If you really want to tap into your zen side, join one of the regular yoga classes held in The Calyx.
Public parks are great places to explore, and there are hundreds peppered throughout Sydney. I’ve visited quite the assemblage over the past couple of years, thanks to my toddler daughter, whose first word when she wakes up is ‘park’.
More parks and gardens in Sydney to discover
Sydney Park in Alexandria is one of my favourites. It has something to please everyone: landscaped gardens, open fields, a bike track for the little ones, and birdlife-watching thanks to the wetlands. The playground is huge and keeps my daughter entertained for hours. And when it’s time to go, the cafes of St Peters and Newtown are within walking distance.
Spending time by the water is synonymous with Sydney life, and we are fortunate that there are so many green spaces nearby rivers or the sea. Barangaroo Reserve, part of Sydney’s newest harbourside precinct, has been one of my favourite spots since it was opened to the public in 2015. I think we’re all still getting used to the never-before-seen views of the city’s harbour and the native shrubs planted all around the headland.
Blaxland Riverside Park at Sydney Olympic Park is another green space we visit often. It has the largest array of play equipment I’ve ever come across and is located near Parramatta River. Sometimes my husband and I take our bikes and spend the day cycling alongside it.
Want to extend your stay in Sydney? Check out these environmentally-conscious and sustainable hotels around the city.