The Sydney Opera House is a masterpiece everyone can enjoy regardless of whether you are an opera fan or not. The building is a modern marvel and the most iconic symbol to represent Australia. You can learn all about its construction and the amazing performances spaces on a 60 minute guided tour that will take you behind the scenes. Recently, my sister and I took a little trip to Sydney and joined a guided tour of the Sydney Opera House and needless to say we were both very impressed.
How to get there
By Train: Circular Quay is the nearest train station to the Sydney Opera House. From here it is a 600 metre walk along the harbour to the Welcome Centre.
By Ferry: The Sydney Opera House is also conveniently located beside the harbour with regular ferries docking at Circular Quay.
By Bus: A bus may be the best option for you to arrive at Circular Quay depending on where you are located in Sydney. Visit the NSW Trip Planner for live bus information.
By Car: There is an undercover car park accessible via 2 Macquarie Street and is open 24 hours a day. Rates vary depending on the time that you visit and can be quite expensive.
- Unique vantage points of the Sydney Harbour
- Behind the scenes of performance space
- Knowledgable guides that are happy to answer your questions
- 10 minute documentary about the construction of the building
What you’ll do
Arrive at the welcome centre
With our Experience Oz vouchers in hand we arrived at the Sydney Opera House Welcome Centre and placed our large bags in at the cloakroom in preparation for the tour. A few moments later our friendly tour guide, Laura, arrived and distributed out headsets to each person so that we could hear her commentary clearly.
Smile for the camera
After a photo or two of the stunning harbour we head off on the beginning of the tour with an introduction to the history of the building before entering the first venue of the tour-The Playhouse.
As we entered we were immediately hit with the delicious smell of gourmet food and popcorn as the staff prepared for the evening’s performance. Our guide began to point out interesting points about the design of the building that make the Opera House a modern architectural feat. When we step into the petite venue, our guide explains that the venue was once a cinema and is now used for smaller Shakespeare and arthouse plays.
A short 10 minute documentary is also played in here as you sit back in the seats. The construction of the building was a bit of a rollercoaster ride originally planned to take 4 years to build and cost $7 million, however, the project blew out to $100 million and took 14 years to complete. In fact, the main architect even resigned at one point.
While we were inside the venue, a person commented that their chair was squeaky and the guide informed us that there is actually a person at the Opera House whose job is to test every seat before every performance to make sure that they are comfortable and in working order.
The Concert Hall
The tour then leads us back outside and up 2 sets of external stairs to the back of the Concert Hall where some of the best views of the Sydney Harbour can be seen. It is here that you can start to see that the Sydney Opera House is actually two separate buildings- the external shell never touches the internal performance spaces.
On the day of our tour crew were setting up the stage for a concert so photos were not permitted but we were allowed inside the venue to sit in the custom made white birch timber chairs, appreciate the amazing acoustics and marvel at the huge ceilings.
Joan Sutherland Theatre
The final venue of the guided tour took us to the Joan Sutherland Theatre named after a renowned opera singer. The venue alternates between a ballet and opera season and from our spectacular seats we could see all the way through to the backstage area where the sets are lifted up onto the stage. A production team was in the beginning stages of setting up for the ballet season so all the equipment was being tested.
It is truly incredible to go inside these venues and learn about their construction and the historical performances that have occurred here.
Time to say goodbye
The tour comes to end finishing up at the gift store and Welcome Centre where you can view and purchase any photos that were taken of you during the tour.
- 1 Hour Sydney Opera House Tour
I highly recommend this tour to locals and visitors. My sister and I are based in Queensland and while we have been to Sydney many times, neither of us have actually been inside the Sydney Opera House or attended a performance here so we found the tour very interesting and well worth the money.
The hour went by very quickly and the level of commentary and sights that you see are perfectly balanced. Not only did we walk away knowing a lot more about a piece of Australian history and an iconic landmark but it made us want to come back to watch a performance here.
Travellers should note that there are around 200 stairs on this tour so while you don’t need to be fit it wouldn’t be suitable for those with mobility issues. The group was made up of a mixture of ages including families with children as well as Australians and tourists.
The tours run hourly between 9 am and 5 pm and they are a great way to learn about this incredible architectural feat. If you are going to visit the Sydney Opera House don’t just take the obligatory selfie and leave- stay a while and join the tour, dine here or even take in a performance after getting a behind the scenes peek inside the venue.