What's So Majestic About Sydney's Royal Botanical Gardens?

What's So Majestic About Sydney's Royal Botanical Gardens?
Alexandra
Alexandra 
Updated

Botanical gardens are a mainstay of any major city. Used to provide entertainment, education, and relief for those seeking a touch of nature. So what makes Sydney’s botanical gardens so great?

200 years and still growing

The Royal Botanical Garden of Sydney celebrated its 200th birthday last year! While there are plenty of crow’s feet on the premise, the gardens don’t look aged at all. The garden is exceptionally well kept, full of life, and offers the tourists and locals of Sydney a refreshing break from the concrete. What awaits all of the 3.5 million visitors who come to the park annually? Let’s find out! These gardens offer over 30 hectares of cultivated land. Originally established to study the adoption of plants brought from England as well as the investigation of local fauna, the Royal Botanical Garden is now a largely recreational and educational spot for citizens and tourists alike. The whole gardens sit off the coast of Sydney’s harbour, offering spectacular views of the iconic Opera House, harbour, and cityscape from across the inlet. But scenic skylines aren’t the only thing worth walking over for. Inside there are approximately 8,900 plant species in residence, with over 67 thousand specimens to account for. The gardens also act as part museum and gallery, sprinkled with approximately 36 public sculptures and states sprinkled throughout the grounds. Its large lands also make it great for dipping in between sight-seeing with its close proximity to major sites, or cutting across the city for further exploration.

Hungry?

what's so majestic about sydney's royal botanical gardens? | hungry?
Source: Pexels

You may see locals lounging under the shade with a picnic blanket. Be sure to know you’re welcome to bring your own selection of fruits and snacks. Australia is a major agricultural state that ships off tons of excess produce. If you don’t want to pack your own picnic, the Picnic Basket Pickup from the Botanic Gardens Café is a must!

Don’t want to hunt for your own perfect spot to eat? Enjoy a fine dining lunch experience at the Botanic Gardens Restaurant. The two-story building is encased in glass, allowing visitors to continue enjoying the flora while dining.

Botanic Gardens Restaurant

Address: Botanic Gardens Restaurant, Mrs Macquaries Road, Sydney NSW 2000

Price: from 12-25 USD

Opening Hours: Saturday & Sunday: 9:30–11:30AM, 12–3PM Weekdays: 12-3PM

Website: Botanic Gardens Restaurant

Give me, give me more

The garden has many areas and sites dedicated to specific varieties of plants which you can visit. These include the Begonia Garden, Herb Garden, HSBC Oriental Garden, Palm Groove, Palace Rose Garden, Succulent Garden, and the Sydney Fernery just to name a few. The Calyx opened in 2016 to commemorate the 200th birthday anniversary. It provides a rotating gallery and event space, indoor and outdoor use, and is housed with a blend of specially designed glass panels to ensure appropriate visibility to humans along with healthy light spectrums to pass through for plants. The centre is currently housing the “Sweet Addiction - The Botanic Story of Chocolate”.

Sweet Addiction - The Botanic Story of Chocolate

Price: from 11.50 USD (adults) 8 USD (kids)

Opening Hours: 10AM–4PM. Closed on public holidays.

Duration: 30 min

Access: Closest to the Morshead Fountain Gate

Website: The Calyx

Shakespeare in the park, children plays, and movie screenings galore!

Be sure to check the productions running in the summer. This season’s pick is the comedy Twelfth Night, with season tickets running from late December to early March. Every year the park hosts a different play by The Bard of Avon. Be sure to take in a bit of tears and laughter if you’re in the area. Current tickets can be purchased for this season’s production.

Shakespeare's Twelfth Night

Price: 20-38 USD

Opening Hours: Starts at 8pm, runs until March 4th

Duration: 2.5 hours

Website: Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night Traveling with kids? Don’t let them miss out! The park often hosts a variety of children plays and showings. Current picks are Wind in the Willows and Tinkerbell and the Dream Fairies. There is always something in rotation, and the park’s proximity to the downtown area means it will never be too much of a hassle to fit this into a day itinerary.

If live productions aren’t your thing, don’t worry. The St. George Open Air Cinema provides a great scenic location for film viewing, with postcard views. The cinema offers 2,000 seats with a huge giant movie screen that plays current releases. While not technically part of the Garden, it is enclosed and only accessible by walking through there. Located by Mrs. MacQuaries Point, the background and outdoor experience gives these movie goers a beautiful view of the Opera House, Harbour Bridge, an city skyline.

Spring Walk – (September)

Sydney Botanical Gardens
Source: Photo by user Nicki Mannix used under CC BY 2.0

Spring bulbs, blossoms, and other bundles of nature’s joy come to showcase their best and brightest this time of year. Cherry blossoms, tulips, and ranunculus are putting on their best petals all along the Macquarie Walk within the Royal Botanic Garden. Don’t be afraid to give the gardens a ring to see when the peak of the blossoms are in season! But don’t worry, the garden is still a beautiful place to visit, come summer, fall, or winter.

Guided walks

what's so majestic about sydney's royal botanical gardens? | guided walks
Source: Puzzled Pilgrim

Looking for a budget friendly event? Join this all ages tour at 10:30am every morning. Free for the public.

Guided Royal Botanical Gardens Walk

Price: Free

Opening Hours: Begins at 10:30am except on Good Friday, Christmas Day and Boxing Day, or forecasted weather at 35 C or above.

Access: Tours depart from the Information Booth outside the Garden Shop at the Palm Grove Centre

Contact: (02) 9231 8317

Website: Guided Royal Botanical Gardens Walk


The Aboriginal Heritage Tour is also worth attending. In the tour you will uncover more of the local and original horticulture and learn about their medicinal and culinary uses. You will even get a chance to taste some seasonal bush food!

Aboriginal Heritage Tour

Price: 39 AUD (30 USD)

Opening Hours: 10am - 11:30pm every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. Closed on public holidays.

Duration: 1.5 hours

Access: Tours depart from the Information Booth outside the Garden Shop at the Palm Grove Centre

Website: Aboriginal Heritage Tour

Getting there

The gardens have metered parking available, although it may be a bit costly. Consider making your way to the Domain carpark to the south of the gardens if you’re coming by car. As a tourist, the gardens are easily accessible from the Martin Place or Circular Quay train stops. Check out this handy map for gate entrances.

Interactive Map: Royal Botanical Gardens

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Hello, my name is Alexandra Heidler. I'm an American native who lives with her Indonesian husband in Bandung, Indonesia. I've been an English teacher turned freelance writer and researcher. I like...Read more

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