The Sydney Opera House is one of the most iconic, most visited and most photographed landmarks in Australia, and if you love travel photography, getting the perfect shot will most likely be at the top of your list.
Situated on one of the most beautiful harbours in the world, whether you’re on the water, above the water, or even below it, there are a million ways to get a shot of the Sydney Opera House. It’s quite easy to take a great photo here. Though this is one of the most photographed landmarks in the world, so what’s not always easy is taking an interesting one. As a tourist, it’s difficult to capture a unique angle which the world hasn’t already seen.
The following are great photography locations for shooting the Sydney Opera House. Head here if you’re looking to travel like a photographer and not a tourist. Urban photography locations in Sydney. Photos of the opera house.
The Best Places to Photograph the Sydney Opera House
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The Sydney Opera House
For close up shots, or photos of the interior, it would stand to reason that the best location for shooting the Sydney Opera House is the Sydney Opera House itself. The steps are a fantastic place for shooting the sails at close range, and you can take some great street scenes as locals and tourists make their way around Circular Quay. Places to take photos in Sydney.
For those looking to photograph the inside, look at taking the backstage tour. This is expensive and will put you back $165 per person, but is the only tour which grants you unprecedented VIP access to the Opera House.
Walking around the Circular Quay area will give you plenty of opportunities to take photos of the Opera House. Where to take photos of the Opera House in Sydney.
Kirribilli is on the outskirts of the Sydney CBD, and offers great views of the Opera House at anytime of the day or night. You can find the lookout just down from Jeffrey St. Warf near where Broughton St meets Olympic Drive; there is always plenty of parking in the morning, though afternoons and evenings do start to get quite crowded. Best lookouts in Sydney for photos.
The best time to head here is for sunrise and sunset. Kirribilli is easily accessible via public transport; there is a train station closeby, or you can catch a water taxi or ferry and get off at Jeffery St Wharf. Photos of the Opera House.
If you pack a wide-angle lens you can get both the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House into the frame. Best night photography spots in Sydney.
During VIVID Live
More of a when than a where, but during winter Sydney becomes the beautiful backdrop to the largest party of lights, music and ideas in the Southern Hemisphere. Best photos of the Opera House during VIVID live Sydney.
Usually scheduled for May/early June each year, VIVID features free nightly light shows and incredible art installations, LED-bejeweled boats cruising the harbor, live music, creative conferences, and most importantly, the sails of the Opera House are illuminated with mesmerizing 3D projections.
Photo credit: Pavel
MCA Café, Sydney Harbour, is on the rooftop of he Museum of Contemporary Art, and is one of Sydney’s hidden gems when it comes to killer views. There are panoramic views of the harbor, the bridge, and the Opera House.
It’s a great vantage point for photography, and is always named as one of the most Instagrammable cafes in Sydney.
Opening hours: Tuesday–Thursday and Saturday–Sunday 10am – 4pm (last orders at 3.30pm), Friday 10am – 9pm (last orders 8.30pm).
From the Deck of a Harbour Ferry or Cruise
Some of the best photos of the Opera House can be shot from the water. Ride the Manly or Watson’s Bay ferry in late afternoon for the best light (midday sun can be quite harsh). Sydney night view spot for photos.
For truly unique photos, you can take a 2 hour harbour cruise on a traditional 1980’s style tall ship where you will have the opportunity to snap photos and climb the mast. These cruises depart from Campbell’s Cove.
The Sydney Overseas Passenger Terminal is another great location for Opera House photos, and this is less crowded than other spots as it is relatively unknown among tourists and locals.
Located in the heart of Circular Quay on the opposite side to the Sydney Opera House, there is an observation deck which provides a fantastic vantage point for photos.
Some of the best views of the Opera House can be taken from the Sydney Harbour Bridge, though you can’t take your camera with you do the bridge climb. Instead, head to Pylon Lookout in the South East Pylon of the Harbour Bridge. How to get a sunset photo of the Sydney Opera House.
A highly underrated attraction, spend $13 and climb to the observation area 87 meters above sea level. Here you will find the best views of Sydney and you can take photos to your heart’s content. Where to take great photos in Sydney.
Access is via the pedestrian pathway on the Eastern side of the Bridge from the city side (use the “Bridge Stairs” in Cumberland Street, The Rocks). Or if you are coming from the North side use the steps near Milsons Point Railway Station.
Do note that this is open from 10 am – 5 pm, so it’s not possible to take sunrise or sunset photos here. Set up underneath the bridge on the grass at these times instead.
Mrs Macquarie’s Chair
Mrs Macquarie’s Chair is elevated spot that offers an uninterrupted view of both the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and from this angle you should be able to frame them both to be in close proximity to one another. The walking path on the Farm Cove bay bank below provides the same views but at a lower point. How to get good photos of the Sydney Opera House.
The best time for photography here is sunset, as the sun goes down behind the Opera House and this is an absolutely magical shot. Depending on what you want to shoot it’s advisable to travel with a full range of lenses. This is a great spot for panoramic shots, and those with a good zoom can shoot the Opera House sails with the bridge in the background. Sydney photo tips.
Metered parking is easy to find along Mrs Macquarie’s Road. If you’re relying on public transport you can get the bus from Circular Quay, though it’s actually also very easy to walk. Tips for urban photography in Sydney.
Photo credit: tcbutler
If you’re traveling from overseas with a lot of camera equipment, check that you have the correct travel adaptor for Australia. This means ensuring your chargers and devices are rated to 230v. Most new electronics (including phone and laptop chargers) input voltage range between 100-240v and 50-60hz.
To find out which travel adaptor you need for the country you are travelling to, visit the ‘Travel Adaptors’ page on the Electrical Safety First website.
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Wow! loved your images! Great work on putting the 2 images side by side. Is it gallery where you only have 2 images?
Would love to visit Australia one time. So many places so little time :(
Thanks Carla! Yes, I put two vertical photos into a gallery with only two images. I’ve recently become addicted to Pinterest, so it makes it easier for people who want to pin from the post this way :)
Hope you have the chance to visit us in Australia at some stage … it’s a trip you’ll never regret!
My favorite was the view from Mrs. McQuarie’s chair where you can see the bridge and the opera house. Next time, I want to try doing the bridge climb or going to the other side of the bridge.
Mrs. McQuarie’s chair is a pretty big favorite among photographers – you definitely come back with some pretty spectacular shots from that vantage point!
Highly recommend the bridge climb for the next time you’re in Sydney; in terms of photography, you can’t actually snap photos while you’re up there, though the views are amazing and absolutely worthwhile. Recommend going at sunset, or at night than during the day; the views are made so much more incredible by the lights of the skyline shimmering in the harbor.
What a lovely guide. I wish every place had a guide like this because when I visit a place I always wonder how to take the best shot or how this guy took this perfect shot and from where. I will save it for when I visit Sydney. Why is it so expensive to get into the Opera House? I can’t imagine how much the performances will be costing.
Thanks Chrysoula! You should check out an app called Fripito – you would probably really love it. It’s an app made for photographers by local photographers where you can download photo guides for hundreds of destinations around the world and pick through local tips for unique photo locations, and how to capture the authentic atmosphere etc.
Not sure why they make the Opera House tours so expensive – probably because it’s such a huge tourist draw that they feel people will pay that much. Big tourist attractions like this always seem to be over inflated when it comes to the price to get in. Sadly!
Hey Meg! Photos are stunning (as usual) but may I ask what camera are you using? I am not really good with taking pictures, let alone editing! Btw, are you in Australia for good?
Hey Trisha! Yes, we are in Australia now for good – have set up a permanent base in Canberra and will be taking our travels from here now. Looking forward to exploring Aus a little more and taking advantage of being so close to NZ and Asia!
We are now using a Nikon D5300 for our photography … highly recommend it, it’s a great DSLR :)
These photos of the Sydney Opera House are very pretty. If I had to pick one place, I like the Pylon Lookout where you can take a nice picture including a nice view of the Harbour. I also like that it’s underrated so it sounds like I would have the place to myself!
Thanks Brenda! Pylon Lookout is a nice little local secret, and definitely a great spot to go for those wanting to experience similar views to the Bridge Climb though can’t afford the expense.
Hope you have the chance to visit Sydney soon :)
WOW! this is an awesome guide! I simply love the images. Can i ask if you used any software to edit the photos?
Thanks Bernard! Some of the images have been taken by other Sydney Photographers, you can find the links to their photo profiles at the bottom under credits. But as far as our images go, we don’t use a whole lot of editing – the Nikon D5300 does a lot of the work, and then I touch the images up on Picasa (free download from Google).
Pylon Lookout is definitely my favourite, I hardly ever get to see the inside of the Opera House! This is a idea for a post, now the photos shared on this icon will show more than the recognised silhouette- love new perspectives and updates!
Pylon Lookout is one of my favorites too. One of my biggest missions when we’re discovering a new place is to come back with unique photos and to capture the destination from a new perspective.
The world has been photographed so much now that it’s pretty hard not to come home with the same photos that everyone has already taken before you, though with a bit of creativity and local knowledge on your side I think it’s still very possible to snap some unique shots :)
I started my 5 month trip through Australia in Darwin and after 2 months I finally arrived to Sydney. When I saw the Opera House for the first time, shivers went down my spice and I thought ‘finally!’ Australians should be proud of this beautiful icon! I actually also went to see a play in it, a bonus to my visit. It was Great Expectations, a great performance!
Sounds amazing Anto! I’m so glad to hear you had such a wonderful experience in Sydney … Great Expectations is a great choice of play!
I never considered that there were so many viewpoints and camera angles for the Sydney Opera House, Meg. I would be happy to have ANY view! I am only a mere iPhoneographer, but I think my favorite view is from Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. Thanks for the heads-up about not being able to take your camera on the Sydney Harbor Bridge climb.
You can get some pretty amazing shots with the iPhone though these days. I don’t have one myself, but can’t you also do panoramic shots on it as well now?
I don’t think I’ll ever tire of seeing photos of the Opera House. The designer truly hit the mark with that building. It’s magnificent. Someday we will finally make it there and I’ll try out all of your spots for getting the best pictures.
I’m the same – I sat in one spot underneath the bridge a few weeks back and just kept snapping photos … it was too magnificent a site to want to stop!!
I know you’ll absolutely love it when you do have the chance to visit Aus Laura – it’s one of those landmarks which absolutely lives up to its hype :)
Love this little guide! It’s nice to know how to see various perspectives of an iconic landmark – sometimes some locations are way too touristy or just don’t quite live up to the hype.
Thanks Mary :) I agree with you on some locations around the world being too touristy or often not living up to the hype. I’ve found that chatting with locals or sourcing a local guide goes a long way to making the experience a memorable one :)
Great job Meg,the photo clicks are just amazing.
seems like someone professionally shot.
Thanks Aparna :) Sydney Opera House is one of those locations which will turn anyone into a pro photographer!!
I went up close, on the ferry and up on the harbour bridge. My favourite photos were from the bridge. You should check out my Sydney photo diary, it has some shots from there on it. Great post, wish I had seen it when I was there :(. Haha.
Glad you had a great time and got some great shots Jessie! Will jump on over to check out your Sydney photo diary now :)
As a Sydney girl, my family have actually banned me from taking any more photos of the Opera House, so your post legitimises my obsession. It gives me great fodder to go back to them with a “SEE!” So, thanks for that! = )
Haha, I can absolutely understand how it would very easily become an obsession!! I spend so many hours clicking away in front of the Opera House on every Sydney trip!! So you’re definitely not alone :D
hi loved your seagull one where the sydney opera house was in the background and the seagull was in the front!??
Thanks Brylie! So glad you enjoyed our photos – definitely keep an eye out for seagulls when you get there too – they’re all over the place, and land on the railings quite frequently :)
Wow luv em