Walking across the Sydney Harbour Bridge (it’s Free)

A few months ago Savannah and I were in Sydney and found ourselves with an hour to kill.

It was morning, the sun was shining, and I felt like stretching my legs. So I thought one final walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge was in order before we departed on our year+ road trip around Australia.

Now, you can donate $200+ and climb the bridge (recommended once in your life) where they harness you up and guide you over the famous steel arch, minus your own camera of course because they need you to donate some more money and buy their photograph of you!

Alternatively, you can take the cheaper option and just visit the Pylon Lookout for $11 and get fantastic views plus learn about the history of the bridge.

Or, the much cheaper option is to simply walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge and take in the same panoramic views on a lower level, for FREE. It’s one of my favourite free things to do in Sydney.

There are three ways you can walk the bridge.

Firstly, on the Circular Quay side of the harbour you can start from The Rocks District (Sydneyโ€™s oldest neighborhood).

There’s a sign along George Street directing you towards a flight of stairs. Once on the pedestrian walkway wander across to the other side and catch the train back to the city from Milsons Point station.

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Secondly, you can jump on a train at Wynyard Station in the city and get off at Milsons Point station on the North Sydney side of the harbour, and then walk back to The Rocks District.

Or thirdly, you can start your walk on whichever side you are based and simply walk across and back again.

Because I had little Savannah and her stroller with me, and we were already in the city, I decided to take the train option from Wynyard to Milsons Point and walk back to The Rocks.

Milsons Point station is right across the road from the stairs leading onto the bridge. Just bear in mind that you will have to carry your stroller up the flight of stairs (and down on the city side) otherwise the stairs are no bother at all.

Once you are on the bridge, it’s an easy and safe flat walk via the pedestrian walkway to the other side.

Sydney Harbour Bridge
approaching from Milsons Point side
Sydney Harbour Bridge
approaching from Milsons Point
Sydney Harbour Bridge

It was just after 9am, so we missed the peak hour pedestrian traffic and had plenty of room to walk at leisure and take photos.

Savannah kicked back in her stroller, enjoying what she could see from her level, and surprisingly fell asleep towards the end, which left me with some serenity and ample photo opportunities without having to chase her from one end to the other.

This is what we saw on our Sydney Harbour Bridge walk:

Sydney Harbour Bridge
Sydney Harbour Bridge
Sydney Harbour Bridge
Sydney Harbour Bridge

I have walked several of the world’s famous bridges, the Golden Gate Bridge and Brooklyn Bridge to name just two, and I never get tired of walking across the SHB.

Smack bang in front of you is probably the world’s most stunning harbour, with the added bonus of a birds eye view of the equally impressive Sydney Opera House.

Sydney Harbour Bridge
Sydney Harbour Bridge
Sydney Harbour Bridge
Sydney Harbour Bridge

As you make your way towards the city and past the halfway point of your walk, into full view comes Circular Quay, home of the Sydney Ferries, and the city skyline. On a sunny day like we had, a spectacular site.

Sydney Harbour Bridge
Sydney Harbour Bridge
Sydney Harbour Bridge
Sydney Harbour Bridge

The pedestrian footway is only located on the eastern side of the bridge, and to the right of you is the constant flow of traffic and trains which occupy the western side.

To walk across the bridge in one direction as we did, the distance of the span is 504m plus the short additional approaches from the stairways to the start of the span.

Sydney Harbour Bridge
Sydney Harbour Bridge

If heights don’t bother you and if you’re traveling on a budget and still want to get a taste of what it’s like to be on the bridge, and to see these famous icons up close in person, walking across the bridge is a must.

Hot Tips for walking across the Sydney Harbour Bridge

  • If you are only capable of walking in one direction, I suggest you start on the North Sydney side and head towards the city. This way you will have the best views right in front of you (Opera House and Circular Quay) as you walk forwards. Then grab yourself a coffee (or beer) in The Rocks or Circular Quay.
  • Sunrise would be the best time as you are not only looking at the sun rising in the sky, but in the direction of the Opera House, Circular Quay and the most scenic side of the harbour bridge. Otherwise sunset would be a close second.
  • Either sunrise or sunset is most appropriate for photographs (the lighting will be softer) compared to the harshness of the middle of the day.

Sydney Harbour Bridge facts

  • The bridge was formally opened on Saturday, 19 March 1932
  • Sydney Harbour Bridge is nicknamed “The Coathanger” because of its arch-based design
  • The arch at its summit is 134 m high (440 ft) above sea level
  • About 79% of the steel was imported from England, with the rest being sourced from Newcastle.
  • The bridge is held together by six million hand driven rivets.
  • There have been over 4,000 proposals at the summit of the bridge.
  • 85-year-old Lloyd Poulton has done the climb 50 times
Here are some excellent private walking tours of Sydney with Boutique Traveler that include professionally edited photos of you enjoying Sydney’s iconic sights. #pricelessmemories

More tips for your Sydney travel

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Tours of Sydney


35 thoughts on “Walking across the Sydney Harbour Bridge (it’s Free)”

  1. I chose to walk across the Harbor bridge when I was in Sydney. True, it’s one of the free things in Sydney that’s really exciting! There’s no point in wasting for a climb or a helicopter ride.

    1. We have done the helicopter flight (which was amazing), and the bridge climb, but they both set you back some serious cash. You can still see Sydney using these cheaper options!

  2. Love it, the Bridge climb is always something I’ve planned on doing. In my younger days, I learned the hard way (after a bit of a night boozing) that you had to have a BAC of .00!!

    1. If you have the spare funds, by all means do it. And yeah, no alcohol in the system is a requirement for the bridge climb. I can only imagine their yearly insurance premium ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Great post. Thanks for the tips. We’re going to visit Sydney next year and looking forward to do the Harbour bridge walk.

    10 more days and we’re starting in Adelaide our one year road trip around Australia. Very much looking forward to it.

    Thanks again, fab post. We love reading them.

  4. Yep, free is good! That climb looks amazing, but its not too wheelchair friendly. Glad you guys are enjoying the road trip.

  5. Fantastic photos!

    When I lived in Neutral Bay, I used to walk across the bridge to work every once in awhile instead of taking the ferry. It’s a wonderful way to start the day. (Actually, the Neutral Bay ferry isn’t too shabby either. ๐Ÿ™‚ )

    Taking the lift at Circular Quay, east of Gelatissimo, is another option. There is a viewing platform along Cahill that is a perfect spot for a few photos.

    Excited to read about your upcoming adventures on the road. Do you have a recording of “I’ve Been Everywhere” to play while driving? The Aussie version (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-UAh7ogwAYQ).

  6. I’ve always wanted to do the bridge climb, even though it’s expensive. Since you’ve done both, are the views really just as good if you simply walk across?

    1. The views are better from up the top as you don’t have the barrier fences in your way, but if you are short on cash, then the walk across will still give you gorgeous views- it’s a really good alternative.

  7. Wicked photos, I’ve seen pictures before of the bridge but not in this fashion. Good for you for capturing a different perspective. And that photo of the Opera house through the diamond support is gnarly!

  8. This was one of my favorite things I did in Sydney too. I also really enjoyed the ferry over to Manly. Sydney is a place where the “classic” tourist stuff is very enjoyable e.g., Bondi. Great photos!

  9. I wondered if you could help out a naive foreigner, to get on the bridge from the Rocks you go down George ST, until you find a sign (pictured) that shows you the rest of the way? Google maps lacks reference in this, it shows the entry to the walkway (by the route it chooses) further south than George ST. Will there be anything to worry about finding it or is it made fairly obvious? (I’m only going to be in Sydney for a day and a half so my schedule is kinda tight).

    1. Yeah, it’s kind of hard to describe. But if you turn left up Argyle ST – the Orient pub is on the hotel and then left at the first street. Walk up the road a little and on the left hand side you’ll see a stone wall and some stairs leading up; Follow those stairs all the way up and then turn right. Walk down that street until you get to The Australia Hotel on the left. Turn right at that junction and across the road you’ll see stairs going up to the harbour bridge.
      Hope that helps

  10. this is my last one week in Sydney after living here for about a year. definitely will do this SHB walk, probably this morning. thanks so much for your information and by the way : great pictures. hopefully one day we can go back here with our little ‘savannah’ (no baby yet for now) and show her how beautiful Sydney is ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Oh sounds lovely. Thank you and enjoy your last week! So glad you spent such a long time in our beautiful country and we hope you do come back!

  11. The pictures you’ve got here are magnificent! But like you’ve said, I think that you need to go down and walk the Sydney Harbour Bridge yourself to really get an idea of how beautiful the view is with your own eyes! I myself love taking the time to walk the bridge in my free hours too!

  12. Great tips for walking the Sydney Harbour Bridge! On the list for tomorrow. You just saved us $200 bhy not taking the Bridge Climb.
    Today did one of the best beach walks we ever took, Bondi to Coogee. Spectacular scenery, cliffs, bays, only-in-Australia pools by the ocean, underwater diving park (Gordon’s Bay) and the biggest payoff, The Pavillion, an amazing restaurant in Coogee.
    Just happened upon a group that does a regular 1/4 mile swim at Bondi every Sunday at 1000 and joined them. Love the Aussies!

  13. Thank you for the detailed guide! I’m so glad you included information like that the pedestrian walkway is on the eastern side only (I wanted to look for photography vantage points), and the recommendation about if you can only walk in one direction. The photos of the actual views were helpful, thank you!

  14. Great pictures! The last time I was in Sydney and walked over the same bridge nobody had heard about digital cameras…. The pictures I took are on old fashion film..
    I too walked over the Golden Gate, the Brooklyn Bridge and over the London Tower Bridge…..aren’t they great?

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