The Rocks

Once a haunt of sailors, rogues and ne’er-do-wells, Sydney's oldest district is now a paradise for foodies, shoppers and history buffs.

Sitting on the northwest edge of downtown, under the shadow of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, The Rocks is close to where the First Fleet voyagers stepped ashore in 1778. A fusion of the old and new, this area is packed with restaurants, chic bars, classic pubs, galleries and museums. All of this entertainment can be found in charming restored 19th-century warehouses and boarding houses.

Start your visit at the Visitor Centre to stock up on advice, tour information and maps. Architecture buffs will appreciate the striking building, which merges old and new styles.

Pay a visit to The Rocks Discovery Museum to learn about the indigenous people who first called The Rocks home. There’s also an exhibit about the 1970s protest movement that saved the entire area from the wrecker’s ball and modern redevelopment. Housed in a restored 1850s sandstone warehouse, this museum combines technology, interactive exhibits and traditional displays to bring the voices of this neighborhood’s past back to life.

Pull up a barstool in one of the many historic pubs or join a 90-minute Rocks Walking Tour. Anyone who likes their history spooky and spicy will love The Rocks Ghost Tour, which explores the area’s convict history, murders and hauntings. Pub tours are also popular, as are cruises on the Sydney Harbour, which depart from nearby Circular Quay.

If you’re stopping by on a weekend, be sure to wander around the eclectic stalls at The Rocks Market, which has been operating for 16 years. Pick up locally made jewelry, indigenous artwork, photography, home wares, gifts and sweet treats.

The Rocks also hosts free live music concerts and food festivals. Ask the friendly guides at the Visitor Centre for more information.

It’s best to explore The Rocks area by foot, as the metered parking is limited. The Rocks is a short walk from Circular Quay, the major public transport hub.

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