Sydney Harbour Bridge: The Climb of Your Life


Climbing up the side of a 134-metre bridge over eight lanes of busy traffic and choppy seas may sound like a scene from a Bond movie, but head to Sydney, Australia and you could find yourself in this exact scenario – and you’ll pay for it too.

Over 2.75 million people have climbed Sydney Harbour Bridge, and that includes famous faces like Oprah Winfrey, Will Smith, Matt Damon, Nicole Kidman, Justin Timberlake, Cameron Diaz, Robert De Niro and even Prince Harry. And if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for Traveler’s Digest.

Sydney Harbour Bridge spanning the Sydney Harbour with the Opera House in the background.

Sydney Harbour Bridge spanning Sydney Harbour with the Opera House and CBD in the background.

The Bridge Climb begins with a very thorough safety demonstration, which includes a breathalyzer we might add, so it’s probably best not to pop to the pub for some pre-climb Dutch courage and to instead save the beers for after. Then it’s time to don the blue climb suit, hat, radio and headset, and get ready for a practice climb in the secure indoor training facility.

After everyone’s warmed up and ready to go, it’s time to hit the bridge for real. Your professional and chatty guide leads a group of about 10 climbers out onto the first ledge. You hook yourself onto the safety mechanism that runs along the railing at waist height, and off you go. As you emerge out of the building and into the blustering Sydney Harbour wind, you know there’s no turning back.

The steel arches of the Sydney Harbour Bridge with traffic racing below.

The steel arches of the Sydney Harbour Bridge with traffic racing below.

Above you, you can hear traffic – you start the Bridge Climb below the bridge – and that’s a lot of traffic because Sydney Harbour Bridge has 160,435 vehicles passing over it every day. Pedestrians squint up at you from the street below, kicking your depth perception into gear because they already look small. As the route takes you higher and higher, your witty guide relays some humorous stories to distract you from the drop below, followed by some you wish he didn’t, like the one where he told us that the height at which we were standing was twice what a human could survive falling, or something to that effect –this writer’s memory skills clearly distorted by vertigo.

There are 200 steps in total to get to the top, and numerous stop points along the way to enjoy the view and take a few pictures. Photos are taken by a professional up here though to avoid accidentally dropped iPhones plummeting through car windscreens. Everyone gets one picture and a video of their climb to take home for free.

With 200 steps to the top there's plenty of time to appreciate the views.

With 200 steps to the top there’s plenty of time to appreciate the views.

After a mixture of steps, ladders and ledges, you finally reach the top. And the view is stunning. You get a 360-degree sweeping panoramic of Sydney Harbour, which includes Sydney Opera House and Centrepoint Tower. It takes two hours to reach the summit and an hour to get back down, so you really get a chance to absorb the experience.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb is a fantastic day out that can be enjoyed by anyone who’s over 10 years old and in good health. And if you’re looking for an exciting and unexpected place to pop the question you could do a lot worse than kneeling down on the top of Sydney Harbour Bridge. In fact, it’s such a good idea that 4,000 couples have done it! Talk about sweeping a girl off her feet. For an extra special treat, book a romantic luxury hotel in Sydney with Expedia for at least a week.

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The views from the top are fantastic, as you can see.

The views from the top are fantastic, as you can see.


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Christina is a globe-trotting journalist born and raised in Hong Kong, though a former resident of Thailand and London, who loves traveling and currently calls Sydney home. Find her on Google+.