Royal Botanic Garden

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in Circular Quay & The Rocks

aerial view of royal botanic gardens, sydney

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Southeast of the Opera House, this garden was established in 1816 and features plant life from around the world. Within the gardens are hothouses with palms and ferns, as well as the Calyx, a striking exhibition space featuring a curving glasshouse gallery with a wall of greenery and temporary plant-themed exhibitions. Grab a park map at any main entrance.

The gardens include the site of the colony's first paltry vegetable patch, but their history goes back much further than that; long before the convicts arrived, this was an initiation ground for the Gadigal (Cadigal) people. Free 1½-hour guided walks depart from the visitor centre (open 10am to 3pm) at 10.30am daily, plus 1pm on March to November weekdays. Book ahead for an Aboriginal Heritage Tour with an Indigenous guide.

A hop-on, hop-off tourist train runs a route around the main points of interest in the garden.