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Jacaranda tress at the Royal Botanic Gardens.
Photograph: Destination NSW

Where to find the best Sydney parks

Escape the high-rises to one of the most beautiful parks and gardens in Sydney

By Fatima Olumee and Time Out editors
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In these times of isolation and spending a lot of time indoors at home, getting some fresh air and some sunlight might be just what you need. Whether you're looking to go for a run, walk your dog, have a sedate picnic or just take a break from your four walls, these are the parks to visit.

They have sprawling open spaces, free barbecues and shaded spots to while away an afternoon or simply catch a break at lunchtime. Some of these parks also welcome horse riding, if you fancy a bit of equestrian exercise. 

Remember to continue to practice physical distancing, as stated under the rules in place from May 15, and do not gather with more than 10 people. Some hand santiser also wouldn't go astray.

Find the best picnic spots in Sydney and the best free barbecue spots in Sydney for more ideas. 

RECOMMENDED: Sydney's social distancing rules explained and how to go out safely.

The best parks in Sydney

Centennial Parklands, Moore Park
Centennial Parklands, Moore Park
Photograph: Lawrence Furzey/Destination NSW

1. Centennial Park

Things to do Centennial Park

Best for: kicking back or working out

It’s not hard to scout out a secluded spot to lay under the shade, read a book, or have your lunch in Sydney's largest park. The statues, ponds and native flora make this location a pretty place all year round. There’s an outdoor fitness station, places to cycle or horse ride, and ranger-led walks to join onto.  

2. Hyde Park

Things to do Sydney

Best for: lunchtime catch-ups

Australia’s oldest park is found in the middle of the city. Take a leisurely stroll around the historic Archibald fountain, or find a quiet spot for losing yourself in a good book. Hyde Park offers an escape from the concrete jungle and it’s only a four-minute walk from Town Hall Station.

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Barangaroo Reserve, Barangaroo
Barangaroo Reserve, Barangaroo
Photograph: Anna Kucera/Destination NSW

3. Barangaroo Reserve

Things to do Barangaroo

Best for: watching the sunset

Sydney’s newest foreshore park is six hectares of open headland space rich in Aboriginal history. Named after the prominent fisherwoman Barangaroo, the waterfront park is ideal for sprawling across the grass as you admire the sweeping harbour views. There are plenty of walking and cycling paths, shady spots under trees and even free WiFi.

Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney Harbour
Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney Harbour
Photograph: Steve Back/Destination NSW

4. Royal Botanic Gardens

Things to do Sydney

Best for: native flora – plus Opera House views

This harbourside botanic garden has colourful flower beds that make excellent still life for budding photographers, or a pretty backdrop for lunchtime runners. Many dedicated yogis can also be spotted mid vinyasa underneath the shady canopies, too. It’s an excellent place to find native flora and birds, and a top Sydney attraction.

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5. Bicentennial Park

Things to do Sydney Olympic Park

Best for: family gatherings at the free barbecues

Located in the wetlands of Homebush Bay, this park offers 40 hectares of land teeming with activity. Fire up one of the free electric barbecues for a casual lunch with friends or family and hire a bike to burn off the big feed. There’s a water play area and plenty of secluded areas surrounded with bushland, plus trails for walking your dog on a leash, be mindful of the signposted ‘no dog’ areas aimed at protecting local wildlife.

Dudley Page Reserve
Dudley Page Reserve
Photograph: Jordan Kretchmer

6. Dudley Page Reserve

Things to do Dover Heights

Best for: outdoor fitness

This park is great for anyone wanting to get in shape surrounded by spectacular views of the harbour. Build up your strength with pull-ups and crunches at the park’s outdoor gym – or simply park a picnic blanket on the edge of the grassy knoll so you can watch the sun setting over the city. Got kids? This park has a cycling track for children.

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7. Robertson Park

Things to do Watsons Bay

Best for: picnics overlooking the harbour

Situated in the heart of Watsons Bay, Robertson Park boasts wide open green spaces and – in the distance – city views. Find yourself a spot under a pine tree for a leisurely lunch break or seek shade under one of the many rotundas located all around the park. It’s a quick walk to Camp Cove beach if the weather heats up.

Parramatta Park, Parramatta
Parramatta Park, Parramatta
Photograph: Gavin Maxwell/Destination NSW

8. Parramatta Park

Attractions Parks and gardens Parramatta

Best for: touring historic buildings

This park is rooted in history; you can explore the Boer War Memorial, Old Government House and the Dairy Cottage to learn more about the colonial impact on the area, as well as how the Aboriginal community has survived since. The park can get busy with families on weekends, but like most of these public parks, there is enough space for you to scout out a private spot to enjoy the serenity.

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9. Sydney Park

Things to do Erskineville

Best for: feeding the ducks

Sydney Park is 40 hectares of wetlands and rolling grassy hills ideal for a picnic by the water. The park is known for its historic sites, including the old brickworks site complete with brick kilns and towering chimneys. Head over to the ponds to feed the ducks from the viewing deck.

Ashfield Park Farmers Market morning
Ashfield Park Farmers Market morning
Photograph: Creative Commons/Liz Castro

10. Ashfield Park

Things to do Ashfield

Best for: admiring the architecture

Ashfield Park is filled with leafy Phoenix palms perfect for lounging under, there are pathways for long walks and a soccer field too. But the park is also rich in Victorian era history with notable architecture such as the Commonwealth Pavilion and the War Memorial. Check out the iron statue of Mary Poppins; Ashfield Park was one of author P.L. Travers’ favourite places to frequent while she was writing the character.

If you're feeling hungry...

Person cooking food on barbecue outside in the park
Photograph: Shutterstock

The best barbecue spots in Sydney

Attractions Parks and gardens

Grill, baby, grill. Sydney has some great public barbies in scenic spots around town. (But before you break out the snags, always check for weather conditions and fire bans.)

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