When visiting Sydney, you cannot miss the Harbour Bridge. But you may struggle to find which option is the best to experience the iconic bridge. You’ll often have to make a big decision about what to do on the bridge. Pylon Lookout vs Bridge Climb, what’s the best way to see Sydney Harbour? The answer to this question isn’t straightforward. My tips below can help you decide what’s best for you.

But don’t stick to the bridge to experience it. It’s free to walk on it, and you’ll have superb views of it from the Sydney City Botanic Garden or a ferry boat, like when you go to Manly Beach for example. If you can afford a helicopter ride*, you won’t regret it.

The price difference between the Pylon Lookout vs Bridge Climb

If budget isn’t an issue for you and if you have time, don’t hesitate and do the Bridge Climb.

But most visitors are conscious of their travel budget. And the price difference is a huge factor to consider when deciding between visiting the Pylon Lookout vs Bridge Climb. Have a look at this comparison:

Pylon Lookout

Price: $15

Duration: approx. 30 mn

Photos: free, you can take your own.

Bridge Climb

Price: $300

Duration: 3.5 hrs

Photos: $60 extra

I’ll make the maths for you: the Bridge Climb is 20 times more expensive than the Pylon Lookout. So is it worth spending all this money if your budget is tight?

Is the Bridge Climb experience much better than the Pylon Lookout?

My short, personal answer is yes the Bridge Climb is better, but I wouldn’t break the bank for it. Of course, it depends on what you’re after.

Although they aren’t as good as on the Bridge Climb, the views from the Pylon Lookout are spectacular.

From 87 metres above sea level, you’ll get a great view of Sydney Harbour, with the Opera House, the city and all the beauty around it. And you cannot get a closer view of the Harbour Bridge itself unless you are climbing it.

What about climbing the inner arch for $170? I don’t know much about this one. But I wouldn’t go for something in between, especially if the same restrictions (photos + queuing) apply.

Pylon Lookout vs Bridge Climb - Sydney

Why the Pylon Lookout is better than the Bridge Climb

First, because you’ll save $275 that you can spend on another awesome experience, like a Harbour Helicopter Tour* for example. But if we put the budget aside, there are still reasons why the Pylon Lookout provides a better experience.

Both experiences will allow you to learn more about the Harbour Bridge construction. The difference is that you’ll do it at your own pace in the Pylon Lookout museum by stopping at the three different levels as you climb the 200 stairs. During the Bridge Climb, you’ll have to listen to the guide via your headphones as you’re stopped on the stairs. Some will love the opportunity to admire the view for two hours in a climb that could be done in 20 minutes. Others may feel desperate or stuck if it’s too slow to their taste.

At the Pylon Lookout, you can take millions of photos and selfies if you want to. There is no restriction and no time limit. There weren’t even many people both times I visited. It truly is one of the most photogenic places in Sydney, perfect for your Instagram shots!

Sydney Harbour from the Pylon Lookout

Why the Bridge Climb is better than the Pylon Lookout

For some people, climbing the Harbour Bridge is an Australia bucket list item. The question Pylon Lookout vs Bridge Climb isn’t about getting the best views but about ticking a unique experience. It’s for sure something you don’t get to do often. Although there are a few other bridges that you can climb for only one-third of the price (Brisbane Story Bridge* or Auckland Harbour Bridge* for example), the Sydney Harbour Bridge is the most iconic one.

It can also be an opportunity to go out of your comfort zone, face your fears and get some adrenaline, in very safe conditions.

They have also recently added a tour with an Indigenous Storyteller to experience the views from the bridge from an Aboriginal perspective. It would definitely be my choice if I had the budget to book a Bridge Climb.

Finally, the Pylon Lookout is open from 10 am to 5 pm. So if you want the sunset, sunrise or night views, the Bridge Climb is your only option left.

Did you go to the Pylon Lookout or did you climb the Harbour Bridge when you visited Sydney? Share your experience in the comments below!

Sydney Pylon Lookout Harbour Bridge

Where is Sydney Harbour Bridge Pylon Lookout?

Leave the city behind you and walk on the right path on the Harbour Bridge. Enter the first Pylon to access the museum and, at the top, the lookout. This map from the Pylon Lookout brochure can help you find it:

Where to stay in Sydney

I recommend staying not too far from the CBD for the best experience: Circular Quay (click here to view availabilities)*, Barangaroo (click here to view availabilities)* or Darling Harbour (click here to view availabilities*) are close to the water and very scenic. From there, you can easily catch a bus or a train to explore the rest of the Sydney region.

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Pylon Lookout vs Bridge Climb - Sydney Harbour


Eloise is the creator and writer of MyFavouriteEscapes.com. She writes about her experiences exploring exotic destinations and finding hidden gems closer to home. Her goal is to share tips and stories to inspire and encourage others to go on their own adventures. She loves outdoor and nature-based activities like scuba diving, hiking, kayaking, and sailing. She grew up in France and has lived in England and Turkey before calling Australia home for the past decade. So let's get ready for another adventure!

This Post Has 15 Comments

  1. Craig

    I will have to do this myself. I got to Australia for a year in January and Sydney is definitely on my hit list!

    1. Eloise

      Welcome Down Under Craig! Sydney is for sure a must-do while in Australia. It’s a very beautiful city 🙂

    1. Eloise

      Definitely worth to check it out! Even for locals, it’s an interesting visit!!

  2. Christa

    That’s a beautiful view but I’m not sure I could get over my fear of heights long enough to climb up there!

    1. Eloise

      Christa, I have a fear of heights but I didn’t have issues going up there. The stairs were all fine and the wall at the top of the tower was high enough to avoid having vertigo. Of course, it wasn’t the same story when looking down… but it always helps to have a steady floor under our feet!

  3. Nina

    Great suggestion for visiting Sydney! I always try to head to bridges when I’m visiting a city for the first time..the view from them provides the perfect place to see the city in a different way. Bridges are my favourite and the Harbour Bridge looks incredible!

    1. Eloise

      Thanks, Nina. I love bridges too! The Harbour Bridge is a must-do, for the bridge itself and for the view! 🙂

  4. Jana

    Last time we have been to Sydney we have been wondering about how good the views from up there would be. Should have checked! Glad you have found it and it will definitely be on our list when we are down there next time 🙂

    1. Eloise

      Thank you for commenting, Jana. Definitely worth checking it out next time 🙂

  5. Bianca @itsallbee

    Great timing. I am heading to Sydney in about 2 weeks and still thinking of cheap and cool things to do in the city.

    1. Eloise

      Awesome, Bianca! The Sydney Tower also has a great view. My tip: go to the bar and order a beer for $7. It’s cheaper than visiting the top and still a good experience for the view 😉

  6. Takoyacki

    Woah, I’ll definitely check this out when I go down under! I’ll land in Perth though, I’ll probably be in Sydney by 2017.
    Thank you for sharing! 😀

    1. Eloise

      Great! If you cross the country by car, check out my post about South Australia. Amazing things down there! I’ve never been to Perth or WA but it’s on the list. It’s just so far that it cannot be done within one weekend, I need to plan holidays there!

  7. Theresa Rose Ingram

    Great information! Thanks!

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