With its hundreds of beaches and its dozens of parks, runners are beyond spoilt for choice when they arrive in Sydney. And while some of these running routes are certainly not to be missed (Bondi to Coogee, anyone?), some require a journey from the city centre. Time-pressed travellers can take heart in the knowledge that downtown Sydney itself offers a wealth of running experiences, and the following are five unmissable running hotspots in Sydney.
Named after Hyde Park in England, Hyde Park Sydney was inaugurated in 1810 by Governor Macquarie, making it the oldest public parkland in Australia. This green heaven in the heart of the bustle is a popular destination for recreation. The park is split in two, with the northern half housing the Archibald Fountain, while the ANZAC memorial sits in southern half. Hyde Park’s meticulously manicured gardens make it a beautiful running spot, while the hundreds of trees that line the park’s avenues offer plenty of shade.
The 40-acre park is situated in eastern side of the heart of Sydney’s CBD, making it incredibly convenient for tourists staying in nearby hotels to fit in a quick run while on holidays. Furthermore, it is also only a stone’s throw away from the Royal Botanic Gardens.
Royal Botanic Gardens
Spanning an impressive 30 acres, Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens is found adjacent to Sydney’s CBD. It was opened in 1816, and holds the distinction of being the oldest scientific institution in Australia, as well as one of the most important historic botanical institutions in the world. The Government House and the Conservatorium of Music are also found in the gardens.
The Botanic Gardens is divided into four separate zones, known as the Lower Gardens, the Middle Gardens, the Palace Gardens and the Bennelong precinct. In the heart of these four precincts is the Palm Grove Centre with a restaurant.
For nature lovers, the ponds and lawns, flora and fauna is a veritable delight, but what makes the Royal Botanic Gardens a must-do running spot is the seawall path in the Bennelong District, along which Queen Elizabeth II Gate is situated, which ultimately leads to the Opera House.
Access to the Royal Botanic Gardens is free of charge, and it is open 365 days a year from 7am (so runners, don’t be shocked if the gates are still closed, you might be a bit early!) Given its location and spectacular harbor views, it is one of the most-visited attraction in Sydney, and a highly popular running route among the locals, making it a must-do for visiting runners. The Royal Botanic Gardens also conveniently leads up to another running hotspot – The Domain.
Sprawling across the eastern edge of the Sydney’s CBD is an immense open space known as The Domain. The 34 hectares of public space is a frequently used for outdoor concerts, open-air events, large political gatherings and rallies and is used daily by the people of Sydney for exercise and relaxation. It is similarly divided into four separate precincts.
“Phillip Precinct” on the southwest is houses various public institutions like the Sydney Hospital, Parliament House and the State Library, which directly link up Sydney’s financial district to The Domain via a series of walkways, making Phillip Precinct a popular area for city workers to relax, exercise and play sports. Close to the Arts Gallery of NSW is the Speakers Corner, used as a platform to exercise the rights to freedom of speech.
“Crescent Precinct” on the southeast houses the Arts Gallery of NSW with its beautiful neo-classical façade. Built above the Domain Parking Station are cricket playing fields known as The Domain Pitches. South of that is the Fragrance Garden, which sits east of Hyde Park, making it ideal for runners who wish to cover longer distances without having to run laps.
“Mrs Macquarie’s Point” on the northeast is The Domain’s hottest running spot. So named after Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, which was carved out of the rock for Governor Lachlan Macquarie’s wife for her to sit and observe the passing ships, it offers runners and cyclists a vehicle-free path, which traces around the peninsula, boasting a scenic view of the waters, and from Mrs Macquarie’s Chair and Farm Cove, a view of the Sydney skyline, the Opera House and the Harbor Bridge. A word of caution for runners – watch out for the thousands of tourists and photographers!
Originally named Semi-Circular Quay, this is arguably one of the world’s most famous harbors, televised across the world annually as it hosts the New Year’s Eve countdown celebrations in Sydney. Located on the northern corner of Sydney’s CBD, Circular Quay is flanked by the Opera House on one side and the Harbor Bridge on the other, and lined with shops and restaurants.
As a running route, Circular Quay offers a scenic view of the surrounding architectural marvels, and of the boats and impressive leisure cruise ships which dock on the harbor. It is also the culturally-rich home of Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art, the City of Sydney Library in the heritage-listed Customs House, and Sydney Cove, which was the site of the initial landing of the First Fleet in Port Jackson on 26 January 1788.
Alongside the Opera House, Sydney’s Harbor Bridge is perhaps the most iconic representation of Australia to the rest of the world. Standing at 134m above water level, the steel arch bridge supports pedestrian, cycle, rail and vehicular traffic across its 50m span.
It houses a tourist lookout on the south-eastern pylon, and from the bridge, one enjoys a breathtaking view of Sydney set alongside the glittering waters of its port. Although the direction of traffic flow on the footpath is prescribed, runners should be prepared to slow down or stop occasionally, due to the volume of tourists. That said, it’s definitely not a running route to be missed while in Sydney!
Run in Sydney with CTC Travel
Tick off all five of these running must-dos in Sydney with the full marathon distance at the Sydney Running Festival! Drink in the scenery as you tackle the 42.195km through these incredible landmarks, whilst enjoying the festivities and support of the Sydney Running Festival.
Focus on scoring your PB, and let CTC Travel take care of the rest.
The Run Package offers return flights to Sydney on Scoot, with 3 nights at the Holiday Inn Darling Harbor, breakfast included. It also includes registration to the Blackmores Sydney Running Festival, and airport transfers will include a stop at the Expo for race pack collection. You will also enjoy a welcome dinner and transfer to starting line on race day for half and full marathon runners. Leading up to your trip, the Run Package also includes workshops, advisory, a 6-week training programme and pre-departure and race briefing.