A guide to the Sydney Opera House

Perhaps no other building in Australia has gained such iconic status as the Sydney Opera House. One of the 20th century’s most distinctive structure, its shining white sails protruding into Sydney Harbour are instantly recognisable on postcards sold across the city, and no trip to Sydney is really complete without seeing the particular way that the Aussie sun reflects of its noble structure.

The Queen officially opened the project to the public in 1973, and it was given UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2007 for its visionary and daring approach – a successful experiment that changed design and architecture forever.

A harbour cruise is a good way to take home a signature snap of the great building from afar, as is the legendary viewpoint of Mrs Macquarie’s Chair in the Royal Botanic Gardens just across the water, but it is worth spending a few hours really getting to know the Opera House by exploring inside and basking in its architectural genius.

Much more than just a place to enjoy an evening of opera, the building is home to theaters, studios, a concert hall, rehearsal rooms, a spectacular open-air forecourt overlooking the harbor and city and even a handful of restaurants.

One of the best ways to learn about the history of how the Opera House came to be, and to go behind the scenes for an insight into the day-to-day workings of the structure, is to book a guided tour. Tours are available daily from 9am-5pm and depart every half hour. There are a number of fascinating details that make the Sydney Opera House unique, and it is a pleasure to wander around finding out more about this monumental building: the organ in the main concert hall, for example, is the largest mechanical tracker action organ in the world with over 10,000 pipes.

If you can time your trip to coincide with an opera itself, it is well worth it. You will typically need to book tickets in advance, but attending a production at this iconic venue is one of the best ways to truly appreciate the unbelievable acoustics in the context of what the Opera House really does best. Although there is high demand for the headline shows, there are over 40 shows every week held here, so there is something for everyone.

If you are planning a trip to Sydney, the Opera House really is a must-see. It is almost a religious experience standing at the entrance and looking up at the light bouncing off the giant shells. With it being located in such a beautiful setting, too, you’d be mad to miss it!