Circular Quay is situated in the small inlet of Sydney Cove, the official landing site of the First Fleet. Scottish political reformer Thomas Muir once had a cottage here, and for decades it was the city’s main shipping port. Today, it’s best known as the place to catch one of Sydney's iconic ferries, which travel all over the harbor. It’s also a great spot to take in incredible views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.
Circular Quay is Sydney’s outdoor answer to New York City’s bustling Grand Central Station. As well as the ferry terminal, it has one of Sydney's busiest train stations and a bus interchange. The central location and views of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge ensure that this hub is always buzzing with commuters and tourists. It’s also a focal point on New Year’s Eve, when crowds pack the area to watch the annual fireworks display.
The area is home to Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) and the Customs House. Art buffs will love the MCA, which underwent a major refurbishment in 2012. It’s open daily and entry is free; some touring exhibitions may attract a fee.
At the Customs House and explore the library and exhibitions, or relax with a coffee. Don’t miss the grand atrium and staircase, and the impressive scale model of Sydney, displayed under the glass floor on the ground level. Keep an eye out for the ghost of convict David O’Connor, who was hanged on the site in 1790. Rumor has it, he walks the halls of the building offering rum to unsuspecting visitors!
Harbor cruises operate regularly out of Circular Quay’s cruise terminal. For something romantic, book a sunset dinner cruise from jetty number 6. One of the most inexpensive ways to see the harbor is to catch the Manly Ferry, an unforgettable 60-minute round trip.
Located just north of downtown on Sydney Cove, Circular Quay is best accessed via public transport or on foot.