Why Propose in this City? With iconic views of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge from nearly every angle of Sydney Harbour, the question isn’t if you should propose here — the question is from where.
Tip 1: The Royal Botanic Garden offers the best backdrop of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge.
Tip 2: The seasons are opposite in Australia, so escape the American winter for a sunny summer marriage proposal.
Though the trip from the U.S. is as long as it gets — expect to set aside about nearly 20 hours for being on, getting on, or getting off a plane before you set foot down there, not to mention easily more than a grand each for the plane tickets — Sydney’s got a lot going for it as a proposal location. The seasons are reversed, so it’s warm when home’s freezing, everyone speaks English, the currency and prices will be better for Americans thanks to a strong US dollar, and the culture is exotic enough to satisfy while being similar enough to comfort. Plus, as the country-slash-continent’s capital of culture — the real capital is Canberra, halfway to Melbourne — Sydney’s a cosmopolitan wonderland of good eats, drinks and activities while still being home to amazing beaches and outdoors experiences.
The Best Places to Propose in Sydney
Best Instagram Proposal in Sydney: Royal Botanic GardenMrs Macquaries Rd, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
When you picture Sydney, the first landmark that comes to mind is the Sydney Opera House and the second is the Harbour Bridge. Imagine how perfect an image would be of you down on one knee before your lady with the Opera House and Harbour Bridge behind you. To get this angle, head to the Royal Botanic Garden.
Here is how you play it. Begin at the Opera House itself. Climb the stairs, pose for pictures — whatever you need to tick that box. However, the best views of the Opera House are from a distance. Enter the adjacent Royal Botanic Garden via the Queen Elizabeth II gate. The garden itself is worth a visit regardless of any backdrop or proposition you have in mind. A slow stroll through the meticulous gardens and idyllic ponds will set the romantic stage for what is to come. Take your time and check out the Rose Garden and Succulent Garden and note beforehand where her favorite plants or flowers will be. As you wrap around Farm Cove nearing Victoria Lodge, head down toward the water. When she’s ready to take her eyes up from the flowers, direct her attention toward the Harbour for the most stunning profile of Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. Now is when you drop to a knee and say the four words she’s been waiting for. The perfect photo-op is here, but a well-intentioned amateur could easily screw it up. Hire a professional to follow you through the gardens and frame that moment perfectly. (Photo by The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney)
Most Sydney Proposal: BridgeClimb Sydney3 Cumberland St, The Rocks NSW 2000, Australia
Honestly, if this were just the climb, I wouldn’t recommend it. BridgeClimb Sydney holds a monopoly on the experience, and skyrocketing prices haven’t slowed demand, so prices keep rising (currently from $210). The price has quadrupled since its opening 20 years ago, but the climb and the bridge remain the same.
However, this is your engagement, and there is no other way to get this epic perspective of Sydney Harbour. You may pay $100 more than you should, but once you swallow that pill, the company will lead the way for you. It starts with a cue just before the climb to meet in the bathroom so a staffer can hand you an “Engagement Ring Device.” This essentially attaches the ring to you, making sure you don’t drop the rock into the water below. The guide will then discreetly arrange a time for you to pop the question. They have the process down to a science as they should — they’ve seen over 5,000 engagements to date.
Since you’re already overpaying, why not spring for the Sunset Sessions tour ($256 per person). After the deed has been done, you’ll watch the sun dip over Sydney Harbour while the guide breaks out an acoustic set undoubtedly inspired by you two. (Photo courtesy of BridgeClimb Sydney)
Best Fall Proposal in Sydney: Blue Mountains Botanic GardenBells Line of Rd, Mount Tomah NSW 2758, Australia
Remember, Sydney is in the southern hemisphere, so it has opposite seasons. That means fall colors can be spotted from March to May. That’s when the already spectacular Blue Mountains turn every shade of orange, red, and yellow.
Most tourists jump on the two-hour train from Sydney Central Station to Katoomba to see the famed Three Sisters rock formation. Crowds, though, are mood killers. A more romantic option is the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden. No public transit runs here, but Blue Mountains Shuttle ($40 per person) runs a hop-on, hop-off bus from Katoomba. A car rental from Sydney (two hours) is much quicker and simpler.
The Blue Mountains Botanic Garden (free entry) features manicured tropical gardens amidst the stunning fall foliage. It’s easy to find peaceful corners tucked away for romantic solitude. Find a quiet bench, make it obvious to any passersby you’re having a moment and should be left alone, and begin your long-winded profession of your love followed by the ultimate request. Take your time here — nothing about this setting or occasion should be rushed. (Photo courtesy of The Blue Mountains Botanic Garden)
Best Restaurant Proposal in Sydney: 360 Bar and DiningF4 Castlereagh St, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
There is no shortage of fine dining in Sydney, but for this occasion you want food and views. The 360 Bar and Dining restaurant atop Sydney Tower offers the most iconic dining perspective of the city. Not a fan of your view? Wait two minutes. The continuously revolving restaurant guarantees an eventual view of the entire city 1,000 feet below.
Be sure to reserve well in advance and book the 360 Deluxe Experience. For $102 per person ($40 extra for wine pairing), you’ll be guaranteed a window table and be greeted with a glass of bubbly. You then have two hours to work through the five-course degustation menu, soak in the Sydney Harbour views and ask that fateful question. If you two are bubbly snobs, spring for the 360 Platinum Experience, which includes a Bottle of G.H Mumm Grand Cordon Brut Champagne for $308 total. You’re also allowed an extra 30 minutes to relax and take in the sights.
The restaurant recommends you notify them of special occasions, and the above experiences include a celebratory card. However, make sure they know you haven’t asked yet so they don’t blow the surprise with congratulations upon arrival. If you think it’s too risky, don’t even tell them.
Finally, if your lady is a chocolate lover, celebrate with their famous chocolate dome cake for dessert. It’s not included in the set menu, though ($31 extra), and needs to be ordered 48 hours in advance. (Photo courtesy of 360 Bar and Dining)
Best Proposal for Fit Couples in Sydney: Ruined Castle Walking Track in the Blue MountainsGolden Stairs, Blue Mountains National Park NSW 2787, Australia
Most couples look at the Blue Mountains and say, “Those are pretty,” but some look at them and say, “Those look fun.” If you’re the latter, try the Ruined Castle Walking Track. Fewer visitors come this way because of its trailhead location outside of Katoomba and the difficulty of the hike. For a fit couple, it’s a moderate hike but still takes four hours to get there and back (plus a 30-minute walk each way from town if you don’t have a car).
Begin by descending the Golden Stairs and follow the old mining trail. The most challenging — or most fun — section is the scamper over large boulders on the final steep ascent to the natural rock formation, which rises from the forested valley resembling ruins of a castle. Climb to the highest rock, which seems precariously teetered on the boulder below it, and catch your breath as you soak in the unobstructed 360-degree views of the mountains around you. There’s only room for the two of you on this rock, and it’ll feel like you’re the only two people in the world, especially when you drop to one knee. (Photo courtesy of Blue Mountains Explore)
Most Artsy Proposal in Sydney: Sculpture by the Sea302/61 Marlborough St, Surry Hills NSW 2010, Australia
The cliffs and beaches along the famous Coogee-to-Bondi walk are fantastic works of Mother Nature’s art in themselves. However, come during Sculpture by the Sea in late October and early November to see 100 art installations line the section from Bondi to Tamarama.
While the sculptures change every year, you can review them here and pick out the most fitting spot for your proposal. Or don’t. Take the walk and drop to a knee when the art and scenery and mood feel right. You don’t need too much help from the art installations, as the natural setting is worthy enough. In previous years, under the “Oceania Sphere” or in front of “Waiting by the Wings” would have worked perfectly. (Photo courtesy of Sculpture by the Sea Bondi)
Best Spring Proposal in Sydney: Under the Jacaranda TreesKirribilli NSW 2061, Australia
If your lady’s color is purple, this proposal is for you. For a couple of weeks every spring, jacaranda trees bloom with bright purple flowers, transforming select streets into purple tourist tunnels. In the same way the cherry blossoms light up the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C., every spring, jacaranda trees line McDougall Street in Kirribilli with the most dense blooming of the tropical South American flower. The residential setting, though, and influx of tourists make you feel somewhat out of place.
If it’s the surrounding views you’re after, find the jacarandas near Circular Quay (you can’t miss them) with accompanying Opera House and Harbour Bridge views. But for the overall experience, pack a picnic to the fittingly named Lavender Bay. On a blanket island in a sea of fallen purple flowers with a lilac sky of the jacaranda tree above, offer her that ring. (Photo courtesy of Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney)
Best Halloween Proposal in Sydney: Halloscream at Luna Park3.02/6A Glen St, Milsons Point NSW 2061, Australia
The entrance to Luna Park is the mouth of an enormous, nightmare-inducing ventriloquist dummy face, which could just as believably be a portal to hell. And that face is there year round. It’s no surprise then that this historic amusement park that sits at the base of the Sydney Harbour Bridge goes all out for its annual Halloscream event. And unlike Halloween amusement park events in the U.S. (like Six Flags Fright Fest) Halloscream is actually scary, and boasts several terrifying mazes that will rival your favorite haunted house back home.
Contact the park beforehand and try to work the proposal into one of the mazes, but only if she finds haunted houses genuinely thrilling. Otherwise, let your adrenaline settle and pop the question on the Ferris wheel. Be sure to wear appropriate couples costumes. A zombie bride and groom or Chucky and Bride of Chucky will do, for example. (Photo of Halloscream courtesy of Luna Park Sydney)
Best Holiday Proposal in Sydney: Lights of ChristmasSt Marys Rd, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
It’s a difficult concept for most Americans to grasp. Australian Christmas starts with a traditional exchange of gifts, but then everyone heads for the beach, basking in the hot sun and cooling off with dips in the ocean. Christmastime is summer time. Australians see Christmas in the same way we see the Fourth of July as an outdoor holiday in the middle of summer. So while it won’t be a white Christmas, you will be able to spend the holiday outdoors without worrying about her freezing her ass off. The last thing you want is to be down on one knee reciting the things you love most about her while she stands there hoping you finish so she can go inside and warm up.
Schedule a day that is uniquely Sydney but also traditionally Christmas. Definitely hit a beach, but maybe catch Festive High Tea at the Shangri-La Hotel ($45 per person). Don’t miss the Lights of Christmas (free) in front of St. Mary’s Cathedral from 7:30 p.m. to 11 p.m., where you can watch the face of the cathedral transform in a dazzling projected light show. When the music stops and the applause begins, drop to a knee and really give her something to cheer about.
If she knows the ring is coming and she’s expecting it on Christmas, catch her by surprise a few days early. Carols in the Domain is Australia’s largest free Christmas concert and is held the weekend before Christmas in the Royal Botanic Garden with what is probably Sydney’s best backdrop of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge.
By the way, women caught on a long time ago to the loophole that if you propose on Christmas, you don’t have to get other presents. It’s best to have other gifts on hand, too. (Photo courtesy of Lights of Christmas)
Best Secluded Proposal: Sydney’s Rocky OutcropsCarrington Parade, Curl Curl NSW 2096, Australia
While the city is densely populated and its numerous beaches are always packed in summer, the rocky cliffs that connect those beaches can provide some solitude. Outcrops along the famed Coogee-to-Bondi Walk have many levels and caves along their cliffs where you can find your own private spot. Even when the crowds spill on to Shelly Beach, a climb up to the rocks to Shelly Head Lookout will leave them behind. If you want an outcrop that rivals the Coogee-to-Bondi Walk but where seclusion is much more likely, hike into Dee Why Head just north of Curl Curl Beach in the northern beaches.
Here in winter? Those beaches that are packed in summer are deserted June through August when Sydney temperatures drop into the 50s. The slightly hidden Milk Beach is a summertime party beach but lies empty the rest of the year. Its epic views of the harbor and relative solitude make it a perfect spot for a wintertime proposal. (Photo of North Curl Curl Beach by Brian Yap)
Best Old-Timey Proposal in Sydney: Hyde ParkElizabeth St, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
Australia’s oldest park, Hyde Park stands as a quiet retreat in the midst of Sydney’s hectic Central Business District. Since it was first designated in 1810, Hyde Park watched the infant city of Sydney blossom into the sprawling metropolis it is today. Walk the soon-to-be missus to Hyde Park after a romantic dinner in the CBD and find a quiet park bench tucked beneath the fig trees. Take all the time you need to tell her everything she means to you — or to build a case for a favorable response — then get down on one knee and ask for her hand. (Photo by Phillip Terry Graham)
Best Beachside Proposal in Sydney: Take Your Pick!
Along Sydney’s coast and tucked within the Harbour’s numerous fingerlike bays and inlets are over a hundred beaches. Many are world famous, and everyone has their favorite for different reasons. I’ll make a case for a few completely worthy proposal beaches and let you pick from there.
Bondi BeachBondi Beach NSW 2026, Australia
Bondi Beach is Sydney’s most epic beach. Even though it’s nearly a mile long, it still gets packed in the summer. But the fanfare is worth it. If you don’t mind the crowds and want some cheers after getting your knee sandy, this is your spot. Another option is during an epic Bondi sunrise. (Photo courtesy of Destination NSW)
Shelly BeachShelly Beach, Manly NSW 2095, Australia
Manly Beach is next in popularity. But while it compares in size and crowd, the vibe is noticeably more chill. Take a short walk along the bay facing Manly and you’ll find a protected cove and tiny Shelly Beach. For a more intimate beach proposal, go with Shelly. (Photo courtesy of Destination NSW)
Balmoral BeachBalmoral Beach, New South Wales, Australia
Balmoral Beach also operates at a slower pace, and the views are among the best. Further up the northern coastline, the expansive, beautiful Narrabeen Beach is large enough to find pockets of isolation. Finally, if you’re willing to work a bit for it, Store Beach in Manly can’t be reached on foot. Pack a picnic and rent a kayak, but keep that ring secure for the ride. (Photo courtesy of Destination NSW)
Best Proposal for Animal Lovers in Sydney: Roar and Snore at Taronga ZooBradleys Head Rd, Mosman NSW 2088, Australia
Sydney’s famous Taronga Zoo puts exotic animals on display with a backdrop of Sydney Harbour. You won’t find a more impressive zoo setting. Don’t get confused by the brand-new zoo entitled “Sydney Zoo,” which is much further inland. Taronga Zoo has been around for a century and was often simply referred to as Sydney Zoo. (There’s been plenty of controversy around the new zoo’s name).
While the surreal image of sailboats passing behind giraffes feeding is enough to melt your lady’s heart, the zoo at daytime can be too crowded and busy for a proposal. The Roar and Snore overnight glamping experience starts at $443 including dinner and drinks, breakfast and fully stocked tents (most Tuesdays are adults-only). The crowds will be gone, and you’ll be led on a special night-time safari. This is when you’ll arrange with your guide a stop near her favorite animal’s exhibit or with optimal Sydney Harbour views so you can pop the question. (Photo courtesy of Taronga Zoo)
Runner Up: Featherdale Wildlife Park217 Kildare Rd, Doonside NSW 2767, Australia
While Taronga Zoo gets most of the attention, if she’d rather get up close and personal with the animals, Featherdale Wildlife Park ($23 per person) may be a better option. Here you can pet a koala and roam a field full of marsupials. While your girlfriend feeds a kangaroo, take a knee next to her and give her a new title. (Photo courtesy of Featherdale Wildlife Park)
Most Explosive Proposal: Sydney Harbour on New Year’s EveSydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney NSW, Australia
The New Year’s Eve fireworks show on Sydney Harbour rivals any fireworks show on the planet. When the clock strikes midnight, a pyrotechnic masterpiece kicks off with synchronized fireworks shooting from the Opera House, Harbour Bridge and barges in the harbour.
While the midnight show is known worldwide, Sydney makes a whole evening out of the celebration. Starting at 7 p.m., the program features a tugboat water cannon display, a traditional opening ceremony, an aerial display, projections on the Harbour Bridge, an earlier fireworks shows for kids, and a Harbour of Light parade with lighted boats. The obvious question, then, is where do you catch the show? The event’s website lists over 30 free and 20 paid viewing sites, and also designates which ones sell alcohol or allow BYO. Don’t test your luck with the public sites — the ticketed areas are capacity-controlled. It’s also not an occasion to skimp and settle for cheap seats.
The Royal Botanic Garden sites offer the best view and Botanic Garden: Midnight at the Oasis is your best option overall if you’re willing to pay. The hefty price tag of $315 per person is comparable to premium sites nearby, but the vibe is upscale with an unenforced cocktail-attire dress code and three-course meal with designated seating. After you conclude the midnight fireworks with a grand finale of your own, be sure to tell the band the news and hit the dance floor for a celebration. (Photo courtesy of City of Sydney)
Best Proposal Spot if She Has a Sense of Humor: WoolloomoolooWoolloomooloo Wharf, 6 Cowper Wharf Roadway, Woolloomooloo NSW 2011, Australia
You’ve already visited the Sydney Opera House and walked through the Botanic Garden. You enjoy the harbor views as you continue to Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair, a bench carved out of sandstone by convicts in 1811 for the governor’s wife. From here, follow the coastline into its next crevice and enter Finger Wharf, a trendy new spot with a selection of fine dining and upscale apartments, one of which belongs to Russell Crowe. As you enjoy a fine Italian dinner on the water at Molo Bar, drop to a knee and pop the question.
After she accepts and the emotions have settled, it’s time to tell her the news. You just got engaged in the Sydney suburb of Woolloomooloo. Now and forever, when anyone asks where you got engaged, the correct answer is Woolloomooloo, Australia, and you will be happy to correct her if she misspeaks. Of course, be sure she’s the type to find this humorous, otherwise you may get that ring back before she’s even warmed it up. (Photo courtesy of Molo Bar)