The Royal Botanic Gardens were first established in 1816 and they are now one of Sydney's finest natural assets. The gardens also offer some of the best views of Sydney Harbour, the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge possible. The 30 hectares of gardens are home to over a million specimens, some of which were planted by the newly arrived European colonists almost 200 years ago. The gardens were also home to Australia's first vegetable patch and you can visit the site where Governor Phillip planted the first European vegetables more than two centuries ago.
The sealed walking tracks make easy work of getting from A to B in the gardens and if your appreciation runs deeper than the aesthetics, then a guided walk is a must. Be sure not to miss the many examples of contemporary sculptured artworks that are scattered throughout the gardens. The path that skirts the harbour beginning from the Opera House and leading around to Mrs Maquarie's Chair provides magnificent views of the harbour, particularly at sunset.
The gardens are also home to the Sydney Tropical Centre that is enclosed in an impressive glass pyramid. Deeper within the gardens you'll find the Herb Garden, The Fernery, a formal Rose Garden, Succulent Garden, the newly completed Oriental Garden and a section dedicated to Rare and Threatened Plants of the World which includes a specimen of one of the rarest plants in the world, the recently discovered Wollemi Pine.
Admission is free to all features of the gardens with the exception of the Tropical Centre which costs around $3.30 for adults, $8.80 for families and $2.20 for concession.
The Royal Botanic Gardens are stop number 3 on the Sydney Explorer route. Circular Quay is the nearest stop to the gardens for trains, buses and ferries. From Circular Quay, the gardens are an easy 10 minute walk just past the Opera House.