We really are spoiled for choice when it comes to picnic spots in Sydney — from beautiful beaches to lush gardens and spacious parks. Here are some of my best picnic spots the city has to offer. I’ve also included plenty of detail and must-know insider tips to make sure you get the most out of your day.
1. Royal Botanic Gardens
Sprawling gardens, waterfront views, plenty of shade and free entry? This is about as Sydney as a picnic spot gets and it’s one of the most beautiful locations in the city.
The gardens are so big, I highly recommend choosing your exact spot well before the day so your party can plan their trips accordingly. For a photogenic picnic spot that feels like you’re frolicking in a meadow, opt for the Rose Gardens. If you’re keen to check out some culture before or after, a spot near the Woolloomooloo Gate offers an easy stroll to the NSW Art Gallery. Or, on a scorcher of a day, take advantage of the harbour breeze at the Lower Gardens or Harbour View Lawn.
As long as you’re packing light, getting the train or ferry to Circular Quay and walking around to your picnic spot is an adventure in and of itself. Paid parking is also available on Mrs Macquaries Road — pack your swimmers and take a dip in the Andrew “Boy” Charlton Pool while you’re there.
2. Nurragingy Reserve
This might be one of the best picnic spots in Sydney because of how underrated it is. A short drive from Blacktown to Doonside gets you to an incredible picnic spot with grass, undercover shelters and BBQs. Take in views of landscaped gardens, natural bushland and waterfalls.
Off street parking is available, as are BBQ facilities and public toilets. It’s worth bringing some folding chairs so you can take a load off, crack a cold non-alcoholic beer and wait for your sausages or mushroom burgers to cook.
The Chang Lai Yuan Chinese Gardens at Nurragingy Reserve have to be seen to be believed. Make sure you check them out and take some ‘me’ time while you listen to the water gently flowing.
3. Chinamans Beach
Located in the middle of Mosman, this beautiful (surf-free) beach spot boasts sand and grass to lounge on, sparkling waters and a serene oasis in the least likely of places.
With convenient parking and a modern public toilet block, this Sydney picnic spot is great for big groups with kids. Because it’s so easy to get to, you will need to stake out a spot with a picnic blanket early on sunny days.
Plenty of buses run down Military Road, which is a short walk away from this secluded patch of paradise, but beware — the hill back up at the end of the day is steep! Relax with a chilled non-alcoholic wine until the midday sun has eased up a bit for an easier (and cooler!) walk back up the hill.
4. Barangaroo Reserve
Around the other side of the harbour from the Botanic Gardens is the newly refurbished Barangaroo Reserve. Since its makeover, this Sydney picnic spot has become one of my favourites — central, easy to get to and gentle sloping hills that give way to amazing views of Luna Park, the Harbour Bridge, Balmain and more.
While alcohol is technically allowed onsite, I always stick to non-alcoholic drinks so that everyone stays alert and full of beans for games, bike riding and general fun. If your group is less than 50 people, there’s no need to book either.
Several of the nearby pubs offer takeaway picnic baskets filled with snacks and other filling fare to take out into the park. If you’re loaded up with non-alcoholic sparkling wine and RTD drinks, take the easy way out and opt for this as a food option. There’s no shame in keeping things effortless!
5. Parsley Bay Reserve
Nestled right in the heart of Vaucluse, Parsley Bay is just too beautiful for words. A park with playground equipment and towering Moreton Bay Fig trees provides plenty of shade and amusement. Head further down and you’ll reach the beach itself, a narrow stretch with both sand and rocks that are great for lounging.
While it’s a little tucked away, Parsley Bay has all the amenities you need once you’re down there. Public toilets and even a small cafe are set up to make this picnic spot convenient.
Walk across the Parsley Bay Bridge and get an amazing view of the scene as you head down from street parking up the road and don’t forget your snorkel — there’s some beautiful sealife to be spotted.
6. Petersham Park
There’s something so classically Australian about this quaint little picnic spot in Sydney’s Inner West. An old-fashioned rotunda is the prize to be won if you get there early enough and there’s a large oval that’s great for ball sports or taking in a local cricket game. Petersham Pool (AKA Fanny Durack Aquatic Centre) is right on the edge of the park, so you can grab a dip and an ice cream from the kiosk there if you’re feeling daring.
This is a nice and easy picnic spot that’s close to buses and the Petersham train station. There’s also public toilets and BBQ facilities, so you can definitely set up for a long afternoon of cold summer drinks and warm company.
If you have more than 30 people coming, you’ll need to pay a fee of $51.00 per hour and book up to 4 weeks ahead. The upside to this is you can reserve an ace spot without worrying about rushing in the morning.
7. Wendy’s Secret Garden
Wendy Whiteley, husband of the artist Brett Whiteley, took over the abandoned railway land near their Lavender Bay home in 1992. Since then, the spot has been transformed into a lush garden full of life and colour. At the top of the garden, you’re treated to a great view of the Harbour Bridge and sparkling Sydney waters. This has got to be the best Sydney picnic spot for showing visitors a classic side of the city.
The garden is set on a steep incline and you’ll need to head to Quibaree Park at the bottom of the hill for amenities like toilets. Street parking is available and you’re only a short walk away from Milsons Point train station and shops.
If you want a secluded spot to enjoy yourselves, head down the stairs to the very bottom of the garden, where mismatched garden furniture is available for anyone to use. Just set up your picnic basket, some glasses of your favourite non-alcoholic wine and you’re good to go.
See you at the picnic spot
I hope this list of the best picnic spots in Sydney has given you some outdoor inspiration. Which Sydney picnic spot are you going to be visiting this summer? I’d love to see how you enjoy the sun, so make sure you follow my Instagram and tag me in your posts and stories of picnic fun!
And of course, if you’re wondering where to buy non-alcoholic wine that’s perfect for enjoying in the great outdoors, I’ve got you covered at Sans Drinks!