Image by David Messent Getty Images
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 at 10.30am daily, plus 1pm on weekdays (no 1pm tour from December to February). Book ahead for an Aboriginal Heritage Tour.
A hop-on, hop-off tourist train runs a route around the main points of interest in the garden.