Photo Courtesy of Petrina Tinslay

Home to the world’s most famous opera house as well as volumes of convict lore, it’s no surprise that Sydney is well-loved for its cultural attractions. On top of opera and classical music, Sydney is renowned for dance and theater. And art—you can find touring international exhibitions as well as local stars at the Museum of Contemporary Art. For Aboriginal Australian art, head to the Art Gallery of New South Wales or the Coo-ee Aboriginal Art Gallery. If you’re more interested in the avant-garde, try Carriageworks and White Rabbit. And don’t miss the Hyde Park Barracks Museum or Cockatoo Island for prison history.

Parties might be what Australians do best, and Sydney features a full lineup of festivals, from the huge to the obscure. Start with the famous New Year’s Eve fireworks, and continue summer with the Sydney Festival, Australia Day, and the Big Day Out and St. Jerome’s Laneway music festivals. Early fall sees Gay Pride Mardi Gras, winter comes alive with Vivid Ideas lectures and light shows, and spring features favorites like Sculpture by the Sea, the Festival of Dangerous Ideas, and the Night Noodle Market. Every season has a film festival, or four. Check out Tropfest, Flickerfest, and all the outdoor cinemas that pop up in summer.