Darling Harbour is one of those iconic Sydney locations listed in the “must do” section of any guide book. I would say it’s very similar to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. For those of you familiar with that Bay Area attraction, you are probably groaning in recognition and dutifully putting an asterisk next to this line item on your travel plans. Let me assure you that, like Fisherman’s Wharf, Darling is truly a “must see”. It’s like going to Memphis. You just HAVE to visit Graceland, even if you’re not an Elvis fan. But leave your wallet in your room.
According to the official web site for Darling Harbour, among the top 21 things to see are 12 restaurants (all grossly overpriced), the Maritime museum ($25 per person), the Chinese Garden $6 per person (the one in the Royal Botanic Garden is free and should be on your “to see” list anyway), a bowling ally (really?), a laser tag joint (again, really?), and a Madam Toussaud’s wax museum ($28 per person). If you’ve never been to a Madam Toussaud’s and you don’t think you ‘re going to make it to London, by all means, check it out. Other than that, ya gotta ask yourself if the rest of the stuff is worth it. There are two more attractions you need to know about. One is the Sydney Aquarium ($35), the other is Wild Life Sydney ($35), both located on Darling (various discounts are available). Given the very limited space availability, the animals are relegated to relatively small exhibits. This is particularly sad because Sydney has the Taronga zoo located just across the harbor.
There are other things to see down on Darling and you should definitely visit. But it’s a typically high-priced touristy area. The best way to see the harbor is on a full stomach with a bottle of water and a pair of good walking shoes.