Travelers from around the world flock to Sydney every year to experience iconic attractions such as the Sydney Harbour, and Bondi Beach. Sydney though is also an excellent city as a sports fanatic. So what are the best places to watch or try sports in Sydney? Let’s take a look.
Brief Sporting History of Sydney
In the year 2000, Sydney hosted a famous summer Olympic Games. Ask any local who is old enough to remember and they’ll tell you exactly where they were when Cathy Freeman crossed the line to win gold for Australia.
Like a lot of host cities, Sydney’s sporting infrastructure improved considerably thanks to the Olympics.
The new and improved stadiums that once hosted international track and field and football are now home to many professional domestic teams.
Sydney is heavily represented in all major domestic codes, from Rugby and Aussie Rules to Football and Cricket.
On any given Saturday you can wander down to ANZ Stadium for rugby league, the pulse of the Sydney sports scene.
Or you can go to the Sydney Cricket Ground and watch the Sydney Swans in a high-tempo Australian Rules football game.
But without further ado, let’s dive into Sydney’s must-see sporting events, and how you can grab yourself a ticket!
Major Sporting Events You Can Watch in Sydney
1. Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race
Even for those that have never set foot on a yacht and made their way out to sea, there is something spectacular about the beginning of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.
The Harbour is an iconic part of what makes Sydney one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. So, to see it flooded with boats, big and small, is an absolute sight to experience.
Head down to the Sydney Harbour on Boxing Day (26th of December) and not only soak in the warm summer sun but also witness all the action happening.
The race starts at 1 pm with the traditional firing of the cannon. But for what feels like an hour, boats jostle for the perfect starting position and try to time their run to the start line.
Once the cannon is fired, hundreds of boats take off for the Pacific Ocean. On either side of the racing yachts, you’ll find hundreds of boats taking in the exciting view.
Grabbing a spot on one of these is the best way to see it all happen.
- Hiring a boat to watch the race from the water
- More on the Sydney to Hobart Race from the official site.
2. The New Years Test (Cricket)
Held at the Sydney Cricket Ground, the New Years Test is both a celebration and a serious game of cricket.
Coming right on the heels of New Year’s Eve, the party atmosphere and excitement permeate the crowd from day one.
Sydney Cricket Ground is an iconic stadium not just within Sydney but throughout the country and has held many tough test match battles throughout its history.
This test is usually the last one in the Australian summer, so it can often be the deciding match between the Aussies and the traveling national team.
Even if the series has already been decided, cricketers love to play here and the pitch usually favors the batters and spin bowlers.
3. State of Origin Rugby Match
Nothing piques a Sydney-siders interest quite like State of Origin, a three-match rugby league series played by representatives from New South Wales and Queensland.
One of the three games is played in Sydney at ANZ Stadium with a capacity of over 80,000 people.
You may have seen this stadium before as it hosted both the opening ceremony of the 2000 Olympics and the track & field.
Getting a ticket early is necessary for State of Origin, as not only will the stadium pack out but the city comes to a standstill with every Joe and Jan watching on the TV.
You can look for tickets here.
Domestic Sporting Events To Watch
1. Anzac Day Rugby
Any given weekend in Sydney you will find Rugby League colors draped around the necks of fans on their way to the stadium.
9 of the 16 teams in the National Rugby League hail from different parts of Sydney, which makes the city the heartbeat of the competition.
If you happen to be in Sydney between March and early October, you’ll have the chance to go to a game yourself.
But why not plan ahead and go to the biggest regular-season match on the calendar?
The Anzac Day match, held in April, features the two powerhouse clubs of St George Illawarra and the Sydney Roosters.
You can normally find tickets through the Sydney Rooster website.
2. Watch a ‘Big Bash’ Cricket Match
Lover of all things cricket? Want to enjoy a perfect summer evening in Sydney?
Well, head to the Big Bash, Australia’s version of the Indian Premier League.
From Australian internationals players, overseas upstarts, and exciting home-grown talent, there will be plenty of sixes smacked over the fences of the Sydney Cricket Ground or at the Sydney Showground.
Grab your slice of cricket, condensed into 3 hours, while watching the sunset color the sky with blazing orange.
There are two Big Bash teams in Sydney giving you double the action. But if you are a planner like me, mark the date that the Sydney Sixers and the Sydney Thunder go head-to-head.
3. The Sydney Derby (Soccer)
Sydney is the home of football (soccer) in Australia, a place where so many of the country’s major football moments have occurred.
The match between the Western Sydney Wanderers and Sydney FC is always portrayed as a battle of the blue-collar versus the elite, the upstarts versus the perennial champs.
The fact that the Wanderers as a club was formed by disillusioned Sydney FC supporters makes this rivalry even more heated.
If you want to watch soccer (football) in Sydney, then besides getting tickets for an Australia National team game, the best option is this local derby game.
Expect an explosive atmosphere!
You can try and tickets through the two club’s sites at:
4. The Battle of the Bridge (Aussie Rules)
If you have heard of this little thing called Australian Rules Football, you may have the urge to see it in action.
Sydney has two teams who compete in Aussie Rules if you have an interest in seeing a game. If you really want to experience Aussie sporting culture, then I highly recommend and Aussie Rules game.
The best game, of course, if you can get tickets, and which takes place twice a year, is when Greater Western Sydney Giants play the Sydney Swans.
Head back to the SCG or the Showgrounds for the best Aussie Rules rivalry in Sydney.
Learn more about:
5. Sydney Marathon
Taking place every September annually, the Sydney Marathon is one of the world’s best marathons, particularly given its scenic backdrop for runners.
Sydney Marathon and the Honolulu Marathon are certainly two of my favorites.
The race starts at Bradfield Park (Milsons Point) and ends at the iconic Sydney Opera House. If you run one marathon this is the one I recommend!
- Official Sydney Marathon website
Major Sporting Venues in Sydney
To find the very latest sporting events in Sydney you can also take a look at these sites:
- Sydney Cricket Ground – The place to watch cricket test matches and for Aussie Rules.
- Allianz Arena (Sydney Football Stadium)
- Western Sydney Stadium
- Leichhardt Oval – for watching soccer and rugby league matches in Sydney
- Quay Centre – the main indoor sports centre in the city
Accommodation and Where to Stay in Sydney
Sports Travel Booking Resources
Traveling around the world to watch & experience sports, I tend to always use the same resources for booking trips. These are the ones I use most frequently and that I find to have great customer support and competitive prices.
- Sports Event Tickets – Tickets for all sporting events
- Get Your Guide – is an excellent site as a one-stop shop for booking attractions, local tours, activities, and excursions. Great customer service and an easy-to-use site.
- Booking.com – The best site I have found for hotel and accommodation bookings.
- Flights – are also now offered by booking.com and as I love the brand this is my first port of call now for flights.
- Safety Wing Travel Insurance – I love Saftey Wing as they cover everything I need to be covered and they have a simple-to-use site, and again, I have found their customer service very good, when I needed to ask questions.
- Hostelworld – Book backpacker hostel rooms around the world with Hostel World.