Royal Botanic Garden Sydney

Royal Botanic Garden, Mrs Macquaries Road, Sydney NSW, Australia

The ‘green lungs’ of the city, alongside the neighbouring Domain parklands, the Royal Botanical Gardens are an oasis of calm in the heart of the CBD, covering 29 hectares of Farm Cove along the eastern edge of the harbour. Established in 1816, the RBG is among one of the first ever public gardens in the Southern Hemisphere.

Within the grounds, you’ll find the remnants of the colony’s first ever vegetable patch, but the main attractions here are the themed garden areas. From the Rare and Threatened Plant Sanctuary, to the Rainforest Walk and the romantic Palace Rose Garden, plants from around the world are beautifully showcased and educationally signposted.

Framing postcard-perfect views of the Harbour Bridge, the Opera House and the city skyline, the garden’s sprawling lawns are perfect for picnics and all kinds of recreational activities. There’s also a lovely café, with open-air tables shaded by overhanging trees.

For those who wish to explore the garden’s heritage and botanical diversity in more detail, free 1.5 hour guided walks depart every weekday (except in exceptionally bad weather) from the Garden Shop at 10:30am.

For an ingenious perspective on Australia’s unique flora, sign up for the fascinating Australian Heritage and Bush Food tours. You’ll learn about the culture and traditions of the Cadigal people and their relationship with the local trees and plants they used as food, medicine, tools, weapons and in religious ceremonies. Tickets are $41 and must be booked in advance at the RBG website.

If all the walking gets a bit much, the cute little red “Choo Choo Express” train regularly departs near the Tropical Centre and chugs around the gardens for 25 minutes, complete with guided commentary.

Entry to the Royal Botanical Gardens is free.

Royal Botanic Garden, Mrs Macquaries Road, Sydney NSW, Australia