Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb – Would you do it?

Would you do the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb sparked a lively discussion on our facebook fanpage.

Sydney Harbour BridgeThere was a mix of answers ranging from “Absolutely the experience of a lifetime,”…to… “No, it’s too expensive.”

A lot of people were undecided and needed more time to think about it. And rightly so. It is a lot of money, but climbing the arches of probably the most famous bridge in the world over one of the world’s most stunning body of water, is also a once in a lifetime experience.

I have written before on the topic of  ‘Is budget travel all that matters?’ Sometimes we have to weigh up the budget with the experience, and, if it will create a lifelong memory, then the budget often has to have a chunk taken out of it.

We’ve done it before with the seeing the gorillas in the wild in Uganda and weddings in Fiji and Africa. Others choose private jet charters, staying at the Bellagio Las Vegas, or shopping at Harrods.

On my recent trip to Sydney with Destination NSW, I had the opportunity to climb Sydney Harbour Bridge and to see for myself whether this was a worthwhile tourist attraction – one that was featured on the Oprah Australia series and is often on the bucket list of those traveling to Australia.

I would have to say I’m pretty much on the fence with this one.

Opera House and Harbour BridgeI grew up just over an hour north of Sydney and it’s where we currently reside.

As a child I frequently would go into the city on trips with my parents, walking around the Botanical Gardens and riding the ferry on the Harbour across to Manly.

As a University student I would frequently go on harbour party cruises at night and crawl the bars in the Rocks area as the Bridge lovingly guarded us.

Now as parents, we frequently take our children to enjoy all that Sydney Harbour has to offer.

I LOVE Sydney Harbour and it never ceases to amaze me with its beauty.

BUT, I also think that I am a very good friend of the Harbour. She is a familiar site to me. The first time WOW factor is not really there, nor is the idea that I have to take all of her in as I may never see her again.

Sydney Harbour Bridge climb at Twilight
Sydney Harbour Bridge climb at Twilight

My Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb Experience

I think that perhaps for this reason, I was missing that WOW factor by my climbing of the Bridge experience.

I did enjoy it, but for the price of $208,  I was left feeling a little unsure as to whether it was worth it.

One thing that could have really changed my decision was the fact that you had to pay extra for your single photo at the end of the tour. You do receive a group photo complimentary, but the individual one will cost you another $35…OUCH!

You cannot take your own camera equipment up, which is fair enough. The motorists below really don’t want anyone slipping and dropping their camera gear onto their windshield.

The safety measures are so tight, you cannot even wear clips in your hair in case they slip out and fall. Your hat and glasses are allowed, but are tied down to your suit that connects you to the cable that runs all the way around the arched climb.

inner arches of the Sydney Harbour BridgeIt was fascinating to climb through the steeled arches of the bridge and hear the stories of its construction and that of the Opera House standing opposite.

Only 16 people died during the 8 year construction that cost $13.5 million. This year marks the 80th anniversary.

Of the 2 people that fell off the bridge, only one survived, a remarkable tale of a quick thinking Irishman who in a moment of not thinking stepped backwards off his ledge to drop 50 metres below. He realized that he needed to hit the water feet first and managed to do it during the 2 second free fall.

Those watching thought he would never rise to the surface. So shocked were they when he popped back up and swam for the nearest boat, breaking only a couple of ribs.

Sydney Harbour Bridge ClimbI found the views from the top of the bridge breathtaking and I did see a side to the Harbour I had not seen before.

I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the whole of the Harbour in one vista, having a clear view of the Government house sitting on the knoll overlooking the Sydney Opera House and Farm Cove and Kirribilli House opposite. Politicians never want for the best views and abodes in the city!

So yes, to some this view would be definitely worth it.

Is a fear of heights stopping you from climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge?

approaching the Sydney Harbour Bridge ClimbI can understand why this might lead you to say no.

I would say that the initial climb under the roadway was the scariest part, as the path was very narrow and you were looking straight down, only a steel meshed pathway between you and the waters below.

I held onto the sides a little tight here and breathed a little deeper.  Once you pop up above the road the sense of being suspended high above the ground seems to leave you. The heights did not bother me from there on end.

Should You Climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge?

dawn climb Sydney Harbour bridge
Dawn climb Sydney Harbour bridge

I would definitely consider making the Sydney Harbour Bridge climb experience a part of your adventures in Australia.

The Harbour Bridge is an iconic image of our country and the views are something to talk about.

If you are concerned about budget, consider ways in which you can reduce spending in one area for a week so you can fit it in. Perhaps camp, couch surf or stay in cheaper hostel accommodation.

Need further convincing? Here’s some BridgeClimb Facts:

  • Over 2.75 million people have climbed the bridge
  • The oldest climber to date was 100 year old Mrs Chris Muller
  • Most frequent climber is an 84 year old man from Sydney (41 times)
  • 4000 couples have become engaged while climbing the biridge
  • On The Bridge Climb route, climbers will scale 1332 stairs.
  • On The Discovery Climb, climbers will climb 1002 stairs (good for the butt!)

Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb Tours and Prices

  • Open to anyone over the age of 10
  • The Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb is open 24 hours a day, 363 days a year. The earliest dawn climbs depart at 3:15am
  • All climbs have different prices depending on time of day but all range between $188 and $298
  • The Express Climb: 2 hours and 15 minutes 
  • The Discovery Climb: 3.5 hours. Explore the inner workings of the Bridge.
  • The Bridge Climb: 3.5 hours. Uninterrupted views as you climb the outer arch all the way to the summit.

So have you, would you, or are you going to do the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb?

This post is brought to you in part by Private Jets Charter. Now that is a once in a lifetime experience to blow your budget for.

All images courtesy of BridgeClimb Sydney

Caz
Caz Makepeace is the co-founder of y Travel Blog and has been traveling the world since 1997, first solo, then with her husband, and now with her two daughters. Get her free email series on the 4 best ways to reduce travel costs. Follow her on Google+

40 Comments on “Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb – Would you do it?”

  1. That looks amazing – i’ve never seen any other bridges you can climb. $200 seems a bit pricey to me though, but it does look like an incredible experience.
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    • It is pricey. I think probably with liability insurance it makes it much higher. The demand is there though. It’s packed every day

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  2. I completely agree that budget travel isn’t always best… if you’re constantly pinching your pennies and denying yourself big experiences, you have to wonder whether you might not be best just staying at home. Every now and then, you need to splurge! Of course, it’s up to the individual to decide where their priorities lie and what is worth the money… For me, I’m not sure this is something I am dying to do, and I think I would be happier spending that $250 elsewhere. I think with every experience, you need to consider what it means to you personally and what you think the experience is worth. If it’s your biggest wish to climb the Harbour Bridge, then I say $200 is not all that much to pay to make that dream come true!
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    • Exactly. $200 is not much to pay to make your dream come true. Everyone has different perspectives on what that is and you have to go for it. From the amount of people that climb it every day there are a lot with that dream. I think for a local person as well the price might be more attractive as you don’t have a travel budget you need to stick to.

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  3. Interesting to see fellow travellers and bloggers debating the Bridge Climb… Even though I travelled all the way from the other side of the world – and I really, really fell in love with that bridge – I decided not to do it. The money just seemed too steep and there were other things I didn’t want to miss out on. As it happens I don’t feel I missed out and got a lot out of heading up the Lookout Pylon (which I wrote about here http://www.asthebirdfliesblog.com/2012/04/up-on-bridge.html) so my advice is don’t beat yourself up if you can’t afford it… Sydney is much more than just the Bridge Climb x
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    • Agree. There are so many ways to experience Sydney Harbour, the bridge climb is just one of them. I am going to have a post coming out soon on activities you can do on Sydney Harbour in order to appreciate and love it

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  4. I really relate to blowing the budget for the sake of a once-in-a-lifetime experience or a big dream. I also think that if you’re already in a destination and you’re not sure if/when you’ll be back, it’s cheaper to do it now than to come back later. I already went glacier-hiking once, and I would go again in a heartbeat despite the price because it brings me so much bliss. I will make it happen. Climbing the Sydney Harbor Bridge doesn’t appeal to me nearly as much, only in the aspect that it would be a big challenge I would like to follow through on.

    That said, I do understand why people would sometimes skip or postpone big experiences so that they could travel more – or just decrease the expense of travel so they can make travel happen in the first place. There are so many elements that go into a choice like that, and I don’t think there’s a “wrong choice” to be made.
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    • Exactly there are no wrong choices because as you said it’s all about finding your bliss. Each of us has different likes, goals and purposes and we need to make decisions that remain true to that

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  5. When I first saw the price I figured that maybe the Australian Dollar was worth less than the US Dollar so maybe the price was not that high. I then did a currency conversion and found out there is not that much difference in value.

    I usually have no problem spending for unique experiences when I travel but there is a limit. I think this one would be out of my price range for what I would be getting. I think I could get more enjoyment spending that money in other ways.
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    • Yea Aussie and US dollar is pretty much even at the moment. I think this is an experience you really have to weigh up and do only if you don’t have tight budgets and you view it as once in a lifetime

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  6. It’s great to tackle the question of whether pricey activities like this one are worth the money rather than just giving a general overview of the experience. It seems like the high sticker price is probably a must since only a fairly limited number of people can do things like this in a given day. People that really want to give it a try will find a way to do it, and people for whom the price is shocking will just settle for other views of the bridge. I like your suggestion of finding a way to pay for it by saving money elsewhere in a trip’s budget. I’m a big fan of that principle—spend money on what you really want to do and save money on the stuff that’s less important to you.

    On a related note, I grew up near the city of Toronto and they recently opened a similar experience at the top of the CN tower called the “Edge Walk” (http://www.edgewalkcntower.ca/). I was back in Toronto recently and could see the tiny people way up above hanging out over the edge of the tower’s platform. I was definitely intrigued to say the least. Of course, I jumped on the web right away to check out the price, which is $175. It’s something I’d love to try but I guess I don’t feel the “once in a life time” urgency since I get back to Toronto fairly regularly. Maybe for a special occasion one day. One nice feature that the CN Tower experience includes is a video and photograph. With a high price tag for experiences like this, it’s a nice touch to not charge extra for photos—especially since you can’t bring your own camera for safety reasons (as with the bridge walk).

    Thanks for your review of this. I think I’m one step closer to trying the Toronto equivalent!

    Reply
    • There is a limit and it gets booked out pretty quickly. It’s amazing how many people climb it every day. The Edge Walk sounds like the SkyWalk that Craig did last year in Auckland. He was terrified and it looked pretty scary. I think that would get the blood pumping more than the Harbour Bridge Climb

      Reply
  7. 2-300 AUD? And you don’t even get to jump off it? It certainly sounds like a great experience, for sure, but I think the pricing got a bit out of control there. I think everyone has to make decisions on what to spend their travel budget on, and I think I’d give this one a miss. That many dollars out of my budget for a 3hr climb. I’d rather spend that on 2-3 other experiences. Bungy jumping is cheaper and arguably more exciting. Depends what you’re after, but personally, that wouldn’t do it for me.
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    • No jumping off it allowed! You could experience several activities on the Harbour for the same price

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  8. I would do it, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. It’s the same reason I did the helicopter hike at Franz Joseph Glacier in NZ, so expensive but an amazing time and memory.
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    • IT is all about the memories and if you can get lifelong ones then absolutely do it!

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  9. I have done it and loved it although I have a massive fear of heights! Climbing the outer arches is not scary as the arch is 3m across and you don’t get the feeling of the depth or the vertigo. We did the dusk climb and watched the sun go down with an incredible sunset of every shade of orange – it was beautiful! Expensive but worth it. The only bit I freaked out on was the walk across from the eastern arch to the western – the track is narrow and the grill see through to the traffic below – scared me tons! lol.
    I’ve also done the Skywalk on Sydney Tower – that terrified me! Terrible vertigo. But I’m glad I can say I’ve done it ;)

    Reply
    • So great to hear your experience Steph. I think a sunrise or sunset climb would make it one of those don’t miss experiences. For me that would make the price worthwhile Thankyou for making me think of this and I might go in and edit the post, recommending that option.

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  10. Shocking how expensive it is, but I think I would do it. I will have to adjust my budget slightly from Latin America when I get to Australia :-)
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  11. No way! I think the bridge is gorgeous, and I’m sure the views are amazing, but I didn’t really even consider it when I was there a few years ago. I’m not afraid of heights, but this feels like it would push me past my limit. Even aside from the price and the crazy photo fee, it just doesn’t sound like something I’d enjoy. You’ve provided some really great info for those who are considering it though.
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  12. [...] just taking pictures of these two icons of Sydney, the Opera House does offer tours, and you can climb the Harbor Bridge if you’re brave enough. If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or [...]

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  13. I would do it, but not for this price. Maybe for $50. Why pay so much when it’s possible to go climb a mountain for free?
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  14. No wonder the views from the top would be beautiful and the climb would be exhilerating but its too costly.
    Great post though, I loved reading it.
    Wish you a wonderful week ahead :)
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  15. I’ve done the climb and can say it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done.

    Before I climbed I had a fear of heights and I approached it with a little trepidation but once I was up there the fear was gone. Like Steph said there is a wide path up the arch and you are not looking directly over a drop.

    The price has risen slightly since I did it but there is no doubt that if the opportunity came up again I would do it. The views are unlike any you would experience anywhere else in Sydney.

    If you’re on a budget then I can understand that $208 is a huge amount but if you could afford it, then I’d recommend doing it.
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  16. Woah. This really is freaking costly! But…. EXPERIENCE > PRICE. Experience always pays off!

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  17. [...] Did you know you can actually climb the bridge? The next photo is from yTravelBlog’s post about doing just that. I decided against it, but I’m sure the views are spectacular if you can stomach getting up there! Check out their post about climbing the bridge here. [...]

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  18. Chantal

    I climbed that bridge just recently & I also bought two tickets – very pricey but WORTH EVERY STEP.

    I am scared of heights but pushed myself to get there and it was worth it. The views were amazing and the weather was great too!
    Reason for it being so expensive is understandable because of how much equipment is used to ensure maximum security. It’s not expensive for no reason. You’re trained on ladders and steps before the climb commences and the prices for extra photos isnt a big deal if your taking something back from a beautiful once-in-a-lifetime experience. Once you do the bridge climb, you understand why it’s so expensive. You get what you pay for.

    I’ve also done a Heli tour over Sydney and I have to say we have a beautiful harbour that must be seen from every angle.

    Reply
    • Absolutely agree Chantal. The harbour is stunning. The Best in the world. I am so glad you enjoyed your bridge walk and pushed through your fear to get up the top. The views are amazing.

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  19. V. Løvig

    I would LOVE to do it, BUT this leave-your-camera-downstairs has put me off! It is not cheap and not being allowed to take your own pictures is unbelievable. I would love to take my own pictures once I am on top! Group pictures? Sure, if there was a way to clone my husband. $35 for an individual picture? These people are really greedy! I understand their safety rules etc., but who is so stupid to drop their camera from the bridge unless it is a 10 year old?

    Reply
    • Yeah, I found that rule really annoying as well. I can understand it to some respects, but I think they could find a way to strap it to you so it won’t fall off. Otherwise don’t make the cost of the photos so expensive.

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  20. I remember watching the little string of people silhouetted against the sky as they climbed up the bridges arch. I was very jealous but sadly time was against me and on that trip I wasn’t with my family and it’s better to share those experiences.

    However it is on the list to do when we finally get to Sydney again – although that is a long time away.

    For me Sydney and many other destinations are memorable for those “money can’t buy” moments. It was a great honour to be invited to a yacht race around the harbour followed by a BBQ at the Royal Yacht Club. watching the sunset over Perth was another. Unforgettable and made missing the bridge climb not so bad. when you travel you simply can’t do everything.

    Reply
  21. Dolly Field

    How about a relatively fit 60 year old? Would an older person have to train to climb the bridge?

    Reply
    • Oh no. I don’t think so. If you are relatively fit, you shouldn’t have a problem. It’s a very slow climb and not too strenuous

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  22. We (my husband, two children of ages 11 and 14) just finished the bridge climb and it is perhaps the best holiday we have ever had as a family. We do get to travel quite a bit and this beats putting money down to buying cable t.v. (we did away with cable t.v. to save money and we won’t be buying it every again. Don’t miss it one bit). If you are on the fence in doing this climb please don’t be. I feel it is something that if you are in Sydney you should do. I promise that you won’t regret it and you will walk away with a feeling of awe.

    Reply
    • Glad it was a priceless memory Jennifer. And glad you did away with cable TV. There’s your savings right there!

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  23. Anne Davis

    I climbed the bridge last Nov as Sydney was part of my trip around NZ and Oz, and it seemed a great way to finish off my trip. I am 66 years old and was a wee bit nervous as to how I would manage the stairs and the height. I loved it. The only bit I felt a bit shaky with was the beginning on the very narrow wooden walkway with the open grill looking down onto the road and water. The actual climb up the arch I was fine and we had quite a bit of wind and rain, but it did not detract from the views. The feeling when we had our photograph taken under the Australian flag was just wonderful. It was part of an amazing trip and would not have missed it for the world.

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