When people talk about Sydney, the first thing they usually think about is the famous view of The Sydney Opera House alongside the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I know we did. When we finally visited Sydney, after years of seeing it on the TV we were excited to get those iconic photos; The Opera next to the sparkling blue waters, The Bridge looming over the city. What if I told you that you could get the best views of Sydney from above, without the €300 price tag? Crazy right? What if I said that you could experience these breathtaking views for just $15pp? Yep, it really is that dirt cheap! Pylon Lookout offers you exactly this, and it’s worth every tiny penny!
When we started planning our Sydney trip, we had our heart set on doing the Harbour Bridge Climb, we have family who had done it and the photos look like it was an experience not to be missed – despite my crippling fear of heights. One quick Google Search soon put an end to that though. Coming in around $300pp, with the cost of professional photos on top, there was no way these budget backpackers could afford (or even justify) spending that much. Yes, it’s a ‘once in a lifetime experience’ to see the Sydney Harbour bridge views from the top but to us, $300 could fuel our car for weeks and get us to hidden gems much more special, at least to us. Plus anyway, by the time I reached the top you can guarantee I’ll be a sobbing windswept mess!
A good compromise for anyone not wanting to do the bridge climb is to walk across it instead. Don’t worry, this bit’s free! To make the most of your walk, start on the East side and walk towards the city, it’ll save you having to turn your head to see the sights. It wasn’t too busy when we walked over, so plenty of time to stop and take photos without feeling too crowded. If you do start on the East side, it’s quite a long walk so make sure you take water! Once we reached the West side pillars, called Pylon Lookout, this was where the magic was hidden. It isn’t well advertised, at least not directly from ground level but we knew what we were looking for.
Through the stone doorway, we were faced with 200 steps, they’re fairly easy going, not too steep or narrow with benches and water provided often on the way. About halfway up is when we had to pay, it’s $15 per adult for unlimited time up there, it’s the perfect budget-friendly option in our opinion. If you’re interested in the history of the Harbour Bridge there’s a museum-style set up at the top too, there’s a lot to be learnt here and some facts that will probably surprise you!
spoiler: did you know it took over 20 years for the council to decide they actually wanted the bridge! It was nearly a tunnel! That would have drastically changed the landscape we all know and love today!
Once you reach the peak of Pylon Lookout prepare to be blown away, we were greeted with a panoramic view of Sydney Harbour, an almost bird’s eye view of The Sydney Opera House and a great viewpoint to watch those who did pay out the big bucks to do the climb. The best part about it was how quiet it was up there, maybe 10 other people? That’s less than the crowd you do the climb with! We exchanged photos with people and spent what felt like hours up there. We watched group after group brave the stairs over the Sydney Harbour Bridge and as the crowd below went about their daily lives.
Being able to experience Sydney from a different viewpoint really helped us get a feel for just how HUGE this amazing coastal city is. It may not have the massive cultural diversity that Melbourne has, but it certainly has the beauty to make up for it! As we watched the clouds roll by from our peaceful spot on Pylon Lookout, it was hard to tear ourselves away.
On the way back down we were surprised to find another mini-museum, and a video hall tucked away that went unnoticed before. The video is worth stopping for if you want a more in-depth look at how the tower was built, it’s only 5 minutes long and makes for the perfect rest stop before continuing your hectic day sightseeing!
All in all we really enjoyed Pylon Lookout as our compromise to the Bridge climb, I know we’ve bashed it a fair bit in this post but honestly, it’s the jealousy talking haha. Budget travel definitely teaches you a hard lesson in compromise and assessing you’re true wants! It was hard for us to give up our Bridge Climb dream, but the results from Pylon Lookout definitely eased the blow.
We’d love to hear from you, have you done either of these experiences? What did you think? Let us know down below! And don’t forget to check out our Facebook page for real-time updates on our travels!
Safe Travels guys!
Leah + Dec