10 Best Places To Watch The Sunrise In Sydney 2024 Guide
Looking to find the best places to watch the sunrise in Sydney, but unsure where to go? You might be wondering whether to head to the beach or Sydney Harbour when getting up early. But, you’ll be pleased to know the options are endless when it comes to watching Sydney wake up with a beautiful sunrise.
So, in this guide, we’re going to share where to watch the sunrise in Sydney and some tips to prepare you before you roll out of bed early.
What makes a sunrise in Sydney special?
Sydney sunrises are pretty special for a couple of reasons and getting out and about before sunrise is one undoubtedly of the best ways to start the day.
Firstly, with Sydney being on the East Coast of Australia means that the sun rises above the ocean so you can catch the first glimpse of the sun on the horizon.
It’s also pretty cool that we are among some of the first few countries in the world to start our day. That means you’ll be up there with some of the first people in the world to see the sun rising on that particular date!
Also, something you will notice about Australia, and in particular in Sydney, is how early everyone gets up to exercise, surf, meditate or just grab a coffee with friends. It’s not unusual to have done all of these things before the working day starts! This creates a great morning buzz that you just don’t get in many other parts of the world.
We’ve pulled together a guide of the 10 best locations to watch sunrise across Sydney as well as a few tips to consider before you set that early alarm the night before!
Best places to see the sunrise in Sydney
So you’ve set your alarm, you’re wrapped up warm – now where should you head? We have rounded up 10 of the best spots in Sydney to watch the sunrise.
1. Bronte rockpool
By far one of the best spots to watch sunrise is Bronte ocean pool at the south end of the beach. On a calm day the rockpool will look like an infinity pool out into the ocean with the sun rising just behind.
If you’re brave enough, you can do some laps in the ocean pool (it’s free!) or splash around in the natural bogey hold next to it.
The best thing about Bronte Beach is that it’s one of the only beaches to have warm showers so you can quickly warm up after your dip!
If you’re into your running, the 440 run club meet at 4.40am (yikes!) every Saturday morning, run a few laps of the Bronte hill and then have a coffee and dip afterwards to watch the sunrise.
Alternatively, if you don’t fancy a 4am wake up or running, Caroline from A County Down Under hosts a weekly Sunrise Social every Saturday as a chance to connect with other expats, have a coffee and watch the sunrise.
2. Bondi Icebergs Pool
Probably one of the most iconic sunrise spots, Bondi Icebergs pool provides a great view of the sunrise out across Bondi Beach. For just a $9 entry fee you can go for a swim and sauna and stay as long as you like. Just be mindful the pool is closed on Thursday mornings for cleaning.
What most people don’t realise is that you can also just go to the cafe at Icebergs, the Crabbe Hole, without paying to go into the pool – just let them know at the gate that you’re just going to the cafe. I definitely recommend the dippy egg and soldiers while watching the sunrise!
If you want to get the best view of the pool at sunrise from above, the new South Bondi viewing platform is the best place to get the perfect insta shot. Be warned – it does get busy so get there early to a get front row spot!
At the other end of Bondi Beach, you can walk up the hill on the Ben Buckler headland to watch the sunrise. Grab a coffee from Speedo’s and then head up Ramsgate Avenue away from the beach and follow the road down to the end of the headland. Climb over the fence on to the rocks for a bit more shelter from the wind. This is also the best whale watching spot during whale season!
4. Manly Beach
Manly Beach is another great place to watch the sun rise over the ocean. Why not try out the Bold and Beautiful Swim Squad who meet at 7am 7 days a week on Manly Beach and swim 750m each way to Shelly Beach. Be sure to take your goggles as there is a beautiful reef on this swim with lots of cool fish to see!
5. Kayaking on Sydney Harbour
By far one of the most memorable things I have done in Sydney is the sunrise kayak tour in the harbour. Meeting just before the sun comes up, the tour with Sophie at Oz Paddle takes you out from the Andrew Boyd Charlton pool in the Botanical Gardens, past the naval ships and out into the harbour.
You’ll paddle round to the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge for some epic photos just as the sun is rising. I did the tour before going to the office for the day – absolutely amazing way to start the day!
Sitting right above the city, Observatory Hill has stunning views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Make sure you allow enough time to climb up the hill and take a blanket so you can sit on the grass and watch the sky transform above the bridge. You won’t be able to see the sun itself rising from here but the sky is pretty special.
7. Glebe Foreshore Walk
If you’re in the Inner West, why not walk to work via the Glebe Foreshore Walk to catch one of the best city sunrises? The beautiful skies will provide the perfect backdrop to showcase the iconic Anzac Bridge. From Bicentennial Park, you’ll be able to see the shiny buildings of Barangaroo glow as the sun starts to rise behind them.
The Sydney whale watching season runs through from May to November. Whilst you can catch glimpses of the whales from the shore, by far the best way to see the whales up close is on a whale watching boat tour. There are many different companies offering whale watching tours starting from various locations around Sydney but my favourite is Ocean Extreme.
If you can get a group of 15 or more friends and family together, you can get exclusive hire of the boat at sunrise. We departed from Rose Bay around 6am. Blake has been running these tours for years and knows the best spots to see whales and dolphins metres from the boat. Ocean Extreme will provide a huge warm jacket but make sure to wrap up warm underneath, including gloves and a hat.
9. Hornby Lighthouse
Hornby Lighthouse is located right on the end of the headland at South Head near Watsons Bay. The easiest way to access the lighthouse is via Camp Cove beach. Take the stairs at the northern end of the beach by the orange juice seller and follow the South Head heritage trail (around 20 mins) up to the classic red and white striped lighthouse.
From here you’ll get amazing views out into the vast ocean making it a perfect whale watching spot in winter.
On your way back down, make sure to stop off at the historic gun emplacements which protected the land from the threat of invasion.
10. Mahon Pool
Mahon tidal pool is located at the north end of Maroubra Beach. Take the steps down from Marine Parade to access the rockpool. The pool is free to enter and is a great for swimming laps in the summer months. You’ll notice some little fish and maybe some sea urchins that have been washed into the pool swimming beneath you.
It’s worth checking the swell before you head down as it can get pretty choppy and dangerous when the waves are big.
I use the Magic Seaweed app for information on the swell and tides.
Looking for breakfast or a coffee after watching the sunrise? Check out our guide to the 17 best cafes in Bondi.
Bonus! Watch it from Sydney Harbour YHA Rooftop
One of the best kept secret places to stay in Sydney is the Sydney Harbour YHA. While it’s cheap accommodation right in the heart of The Rocks, the rooftop is massive. We’ve stayed multiple times and always roll out of bed and up the stairs to watch the sunrise over Sydney Opera House. Trust me on this one – it’s stunning!
Things to know before getting up early for the sunrise in Sydney
1. Check the sunrise times and get there 30 minutes before
The time of sunrise in Sydney varies throughout the year. The latest sunrise is around 7am and occurs on the shortest day, or the winter solstice, on 21 June. You will also get later sunrises at the end of March, just before the clocks turn back for daylight savings on the first Sunday of April.
On the other hand, the earliest sunrise in Sydney is around 5.30am on the longest day, or the summer solstice, on 21 December. Similarly, the clock change as a result of daylight savings on the first Sunday of October means you’ll also get early sunrises at the end of September.
It’s worth noting that unlike New South Wales, Queensland does not change their clocks for daylight savings so the earliest and later sunrises will align with the solstices.
You can easily find the sunrise and sunset times on any weather app but this will be the exact time that the sun first pokes out above the horizon. It’s pretty cool how accurate it is! But you’ll actually want to google what time ‘first light’ is instead – which is usually around 30 minutes earlier than sunrise. The sky is often prettiest with the morning glow at first light before the sun has actually risen.
2. Check the weather forecast
The last thing you want is to get up early and find you can’t see a thing so there are a few tips for predicting what kind of weather dictates a colourful sunrise sky. Essentially, you need minimal low clouds – this will not only allow you to see the sun rising but it also means the light can catch the higher clouds from below, producing a colourful sky.
To watch the full sun rise up, a clear sky with no cloud cover at all is great. If it’s a colourful sky you’re looking for you will also want a reasonable amount (30-70%) of medium and high cloud cover to intercept the red tones.
To find the details on cloud cover, I use Clear Outside website – as with all forecasts its not 100% accurate but it at least gives a good guide on whether to bother or not. I find that it’s more accurate the day before vs. further in advance so check just before you set your alarm the night before.
3. Wrap up warm and don’t forget your sunnies
Even in summer months, Sydney can be pretty chilly before the sun has risen so make sure to take a few layers with you which you can take off once the sun has risen. In the winter, you’ll need a big jacket and hat, especially if it is windy! I like to lay all my clothes out the night before and pack a bag so there’s minimal ‘getting ready’ time required and a few more minutes in bed.
When you’re leaving the house in the dark, it’s very easy to forget your sunnies but on a clear day they’ll definitely be needed once the sun does eventually rise!
4. Look out for whales (and other marine life!)
One of the best things about sunrise in Sydney is all the different marine life you’ll see out in the ocean. The humpback whales migrate north up the East Coast during the winter months and then back down once it starts to warm up for summer.
Between May and November be sure to keep an eye out for their blows, or even a breach if you’re lucky. Even when it’s not whale season, you’ll regularly spot dolphins and seals playing in the surf at dawn.
5. Be prepared – it does get busy
As I said above, sunrise is a pretty popular time of the day, especially in the Sydney summer months. To get a good view, make sure you get there before the sun rises. This is also a great time to FaceTime the UK in their evenings (and you can show them the sunrise too!).
Looking for more Sydney inspiration?
Check out our Sydney travel guides to help you plan your days out and holidays around this city.