Posts Tagged ‘topdeck’

5 Great Summer Experiences!

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

The history books are strewn with people who have made terrible decisions. Here’s a few examples -

  • Adam and Eve, the first two humans ever, deciding to eat an obviously-delicious forbidden apple. I therefore hold them personally responsible for all the idiocy which follows then!
  • Nero, the insane 1st century Roman Emperor, deciding to burn down his own city while singing happily and playing a fiddle. Not surprisingly he was killed by an angry mob.
  • Napoleon invading Russia in winter.
  • Hitler invading Russia in winter (can anybody spot a theme?).
  • The nine publishing companies who rejected JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book. Oops!

Don’t add your name to the above wall-of-shame! Make a great last-minute decision and join Topdeck for the trip of a lifetime this summer. Half of the fun is deciding where to go, but here are five of our favourite experiences for summer 2013 to inspire you…

Experience the thrill of the ‘Running of the Bulls’

The ‘Running of the Bulls’ in Pamplona is definitely one for the bucket list. Topdeck has lots of superb-value trips to take you to the heart of the action in sunny Spain, including budget trips staying at our gorgeous lakeside campsite with swimming pool from £179 (less than £36 per day!). For something a bit different, our awesome 14 day Spanish Sun & Fiestas trip combines a trip to Pamplona with the quirky ‘Wine Battle’ Festival in Haro, the cultural cities of Bilbao and Madrid, and the beachside paradise of San Sebastian.

We’ve got a great range of Running with the Bulls trips. Check them out here.

Paint The Town Red at La Tomatina

The Spanish tomato-throwing extravaganza may be one of the most eccentric festivals in a country which is renowned for eccentric festivals, but that’s what makes it so much fun! The world’s biggest food fight is a blast, quite literally! To make it even better, all of Topdeck’s La Tomatina trips offer central accommodation in the vibrant beachside city of Valencia – home of paella.

You can check out all of our trips to La Tomatina here.

Live like Marie Antoinette and Spend the Night in a French Chateau

Take a trip off the beaten track through fantastique France and realise why 80% of the French holiday in their own country! This 14 day Explorer trip travels through vibrant cities, gorgeous wineyards (with plenty opportunities to taste!), historic medieval towns, and perhaps best of all – spend the night in an opulent French Chateau in the Loire Valley. Sacré bleu!

We currently have 10% off our Discover France 13th July 2013 departure!

Stay Overnight With The Navajo Tribe in Monument Valley, USA

The breathtaking natural beauty of the USA will blow away the most cynical of travellers. Our 19 day Great Parks of the USA trip will take you back to nature, combining staggeringly beautiful national parks, the Grand Canyon, and an unforgettable overnight stay with the Navajo Native American Tribe in Utah, where you’ll also get a guided jeep tour of Monument Valley. If all the beautiful natural landscapes get too much for you, we’ll also take you to the awesome cities of Reno, Salt Lake City, Jackson, and Sin City itself - Las Vegas!

Take a look at our Greatest Parks of the US here.

Take a Party Bus Down the Las Vegas Strip

Our epic road trip across the USA from New York to Los Angeles (or reverse) is the definitive summer experience for 2013. There are too many highlights to name – Cajun cuisine in Louisiana, a visit to Elvis’s home Graceland, country music in Tennessee, a guided tour of the illuminated Washington D.C monuments, a visit to Death Valley (the hottest place on earth!), and so much more. But in my humble opinion, there is nothing in the world more fun than taking a party bus down the Las Vegas Strip, complete with mp3 dock and state-of-the-art audio equipment … Viva Las Vegas!

Read more about the Vegas Party Bus & the Coast to Coast trip here.

Come and join Topdeck for a fun-filled summer and take the hassle out of travelling. It’s a far better idea than invading Russia this winter!

40 things to do before you’re 40 - Number 13!

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

13. Watch the sunrise over Uluru

The ultimate icon of Australia, Uluru (also known as Ayers Rock) has an almost mystical presence. There’s something intangibly moving about seeing dawn’s first light settle on this geological marvel at the heart of the ‘Red Centre’.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Uluru is sacred to the Anangu, the Aboriginal people of the area. For them it is inextricably linked with their Dreamtime stories, and even in today’s modern world it retains a sacred place in their culture.

In 1873 Uluru was given a second name, Ayers Rock, after the Chief Secretary of South Australia, Henry Ayers. Since 1993 it has officially had dual-name status, and is now referred to in formal terms as Uluru/Ayers Rock.

Located 335km south-west of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory, Uluru sits in terrain which is unmistakeably Outback. In the area there are waterholes, caves, springs and Aboriginal rock paintings.

But it’s the flatness of its surrounds which makes Uluru stand out even more. What earthly business does this striking protrusion have in such a landscape? It all adds to the rock’s enigmatic appeal.

For overnight visitors to this great Aussie wilderness, there’s only one way to stay – in a swag (Aussie bedroll) under the stars! And camping close to this magical monolith gives people the chance to experience one of the most majestic views in the southern hemisphere; sunrise over Uluru.

As dawn’s first rays kiss the sandstone summit, Uluru stirs and awakens as if a living thing. Shades change imperceptibly with the sun’s steady migration, until the entire rock glows fiery red, as though the blood of the nation was coursing through it. Apt, you might say, for a landmark at the very heart of Australia.

A more contemplative and peaceful way to start a day you’d be hard pressed to find. If ever there was a reason to get up before dawn, then watching sunrise over Uluru is surely it.

Topdeck Top Tip: To climb or not to climb? The Anangu ask visitors not to climb Uluru, as it’s a sacred religious site to their people, but neither is there a law against it. Take time to read the reasons for and against so you can make an informed decision.

Lonely Planet visit Uluru:

A nice time-lapse video showing Uluru’s changing colours at sunrise:

And another:

40 things to do before you’re 40 - Number 12

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

12. Go clubbing until dawn in Europe

Everybody enjoys a good night out… but once in a while, a night comes along that’s so epic that you just don’t want it to end – you want to hit the clubs and dance until the sun comes up!

When that you get that feeling, Europe’s the place to be. From Parisian wine bars to Hungarian dive bars, from London’s super pubs to Berlin’s superclubs, this continent is full of amazing nightspots.

Whether you’re an occasional clubber or a serious partygoer, you’ll love the variety of local nightlife on offer. Here are five of our favourite all-night party spots in Europe:

Barcelona – the cool Catalan capital is rightly renowned for its clubbing scene. If you’re after free entry and the latest chart heavyweights, head to Port Olimpic – a buzzing stretch of bars and clubs along the harbour front. If you’re a serious clubber and don’t mind a cover charge, superclubs like Opium, Razzmatazz and La Terazza are well worth a visit too.

Mykonos – this gorgeous Greek island boasts some of the finest dance clubs in Europe. On Paradise Beach alone there are TWO of DJ magazine’s Top 100 Clubs for 2013. Elegant Cavo Paradiso (#13) is perched on a rocky outcrop and has hosted the likes of Tiesto and Sebastian Ingrosso, while its lower neighbour Paradise Club (#33) can boast Avicii, Carl Cox and Bob Sinclar on its CV.

Amsterdam – with a reputation as one of Europe’s party capitals, Amsterdam doesn’t disappoint. Leidseplein is a buzzing nightlife hub with something for everyone; catch a live band in the Watering Hole, dance to chart hits in brilliantly OTT bars, or maybe even go to a gig in legendary venues Paradiso or Melkweg.

Prague – any city which can boast a five story nightclub is not shy about its party credentials. Situated near the stunning Charles Bridge, many a Topdeck traveller has wandered into Karlovy lázn? in the dark only to wander out again as the sun’s rays are coming up! But by no means is this the only spot – Prague is a goldmine of cool underground bars and quirky clubs.

Ibiza – the mecca of dance music, this hedonistic Spanish island has been top of the global clubbing tree for many years. Ibiza superclubs Space and Pacha occupy the #2 and #3 spots in DJ mag’s Top 100 Clubs, while Amnesia and Privilege also make the top 20. The clubs may be pricy, but they attract a who’s who of international DJs each summer (Skrillex, Tiesto, Chase & Status, Armin van Buuren), while indie artists (Bloc Party, Kasabian, Tinie Tempah, Azealia Banks) are also getting a look-in with Ibiza Rocks growing bigger by the year.

So next time you’re in Europe, why not hit the clubs and enjoy a night out to remember? After all, you get to sleep every night… surely you can afford to take a night off?!

Topdeck Top Tip: Don’t head out too early! Many clubs in Europe don’t even get going until midnight, so pace yourself if you want to see the sunrise.

Sebastian Ingrosso at Cavo Paradiso, Mykonos in 2012 (skip to 0.50 for the drop):

Closing night 2012 at Space Ibiza:

One for dance lovers – DJ mag’s Top 100 Clubs list:

40 things to do before you’re 40 - Number 11!

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

11. Lie under a palm tree on a white sand beach

Once in a while you need to slow things down, get away from it all. And when the time comes to unwind, is there any better place to do so than on a beautiful beach?!

Lying on the sand, listening to your beach playlist, reading a book and sipping an ice-cold drink, as the blue ocean caresses the shore and a gentle breeze sways green palm fronds above your head… bliss!

But where’s the best place to go? For the purposes of this blog, we decided to take a straw poll of the Topdeck office to see where our staff thought you could find the best beaches in the world.

We heard many impassioned speeches and sparked intense debates, but eventually the survey turned out 3 main contenders. To try and make an informed decision, we summarised their pros and cons:

Zanzibar, Tanzania, Africa

Pros: White sand beaches, coconut palms, sapphire blue ocean, traditional fishing vessels, friendly locals, cheap cold drinks, great kitesurfing, proximity to some of the world’s best safari destinations, name that makes you think of a Persian restaurant.

Cons: errrrm…

Oahu, Hawaii, USA

Pros: White sand beaches, coconut palms, sapphire blue ocean, crazy waves, hot surfer dudes and chicks, location in the middle of the Pacific, lifeguards who (may) look like they’re in Baywatch, possible hula music in the background.

Cons: uhhhhh…

Whitsunday Islands, Queensland, Australia

Pros: White sand beaches, coconut palms, sapphire blue ocean, tropical rainforest, incredible flora and fauna, great sailing destination, chance to play beach cricket, strong likelihood of a BBQ occurring, certified free of Drop Bears by the Queensland Government.

Cons: ahhhhh…

As you can see, we didn’t do too well on the Con front. In fact, we didn’t do too well separating them at all. So we’re going to sit on the hammock on this one – choosing a favourite beach is entirely subjective. But one thing all of us agreed on – we’d all like to be on one right now!

As for a good beach playlist? Well there’s something we can help you with! Here’s our pick of beach tunes for 2013, (not) available in all good music outlets:

Topdeck Beach Playlist 2013

1. Psy – Sandnam Style

2. Kylie Minogue – Loco-ocean

3. Nelly – Tide Wit’ Me

4. The Beatles – Here Comes the Sun(burn)

5. Men at Rest – Sand Down Under

Topdeck Top Tip: What to say about a beach? If you turn up on one and everyone’s naked, it’s probably a nudist beach. There you go!

A gorgeous video of Zanzibar from a kitesurfering couple:

Photos of Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsundays:

40 things to do before you’re 40 - Number 10!

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

10. Discover the ancient city of Petra.

It seems entirely fitting that Petra in Jordan is the subject of one of the most evocative poems ever written. When John Burgon penned the immortal line “A rose-red city half as old as time”, he summarised this astonishing place perfectly.

This wondrous ancient city lies in a hidden valley in south Jordan, and is estimated to be over 3200 years old. Capital of the ancient Nabataean civilisation, it remained unknown to the Western world until it was introduced to Swiss explorer Johann Burckhardt in 1812.

How his jaw must have dropped when he first set eyes on it.

Hewn in to the red rock canyon walls are dozens of buildings, the most important of which display remarkable architecture and immaculate beauty. Columns, pediments, sculptures and decorations adorn the fronts of the the Monastery (Al Dier) and particularly the famous Treasury (Al Khazneh).

While such classical structures are impressive when seen in stone, or even the white marble of Ancient Greece, to see them carved from sheer red sandstone walls is something else entirely.

Anyone who has seen the classic film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade will have a sense of what to expect. In the movie, Petra (specifically the Treasury) serves as the resting place of the Holy Grail.

Director Steven Spielberg picked an ideal location – an ancient site steeped in history, both beautiful and mysterious.

There’s a reason why Petra has made just about every travel list ever compiled – including this one! And if you needed any more motivation to visit, then just think; the sooner you journey to Petra, the longer you get to remember it for!

But while we at Topdeck dearly love Petra, no words of ours could compete with John Burgon’s prize-winning 1845 verse, so we’ll just let him do the talking from here:

It seems no work of Man’s creative hand,
by labour wrought as wavering fancy planned;
But from the rock as if by magic grown,
eternal, silent, beautiful, alone!
Not virgin-white like that old Doric shrine,
where erst Athena held her rites divine;
Not saintly-grey, like many a minster fane,
that crowns the hill and consecrates the plain;
But rose-red as if the blush of dawn,
that first beheld them were not yet withdrawn;
The hues of youth upon a brow of woe,
which Man deemed old two thousand years ago,
match me such marvel save in Eastern clime,
a rose-red city half as old as time.

Topdeck Top Tip: Petra is much bigger than most people think! It’ll involve a fair bit of walking, so wear comfy shoes and take plenty of water due to the heat and sun.

See a gallery of Petra photos here:

25 mins of awesome HD Petra footage (skip to 3.40 for the Treasury):

40 things to do before you’re 40 - Number 9!

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

9. Re-enact Gladiator in the Colosseum


The Colosseum is truly remarkable, even by Rome’s lofty standards. It may have lost some of its shell to an earthquake, but this crumbled edifice retains the imperious air of an old Roman commander; unbowed by centuries of neglect, impervious to the relentless march of time, it stands tall and proud over all it surveys.

Centrepiece of the mighty Roman Empire, the Colosseum was completed in 80AD and has witnessed thousands of deaths during its blood-soaked history. Here gladiators would engage in mortal combat while crowds of over 50,000 Romans cheered on their every sword stroke and spear thrust.

It wasn’t just plain one-on-one combat; historic battles were re-enacted using moveable sets, while other contests pitted man against beast. Exotic animals such as lions, elephants, bears and giraffes from far-flung corners of the Empire really drew the crowds.

Emperors put on free Games to increase their popularity – Trajan once celebrated a victory with 123 days of games featuring 11,000 animals and 10,000 gladiators!

And what better setting to host them than the Colosseum, an arena to match any modern sports stadium. Standing nearly 50m tall, the Colosseum was so well designed that it could supposedly be emptied from full in just 8 minutes. The seating was sectioned, events were catered, and a moveable awning protected the masses from the searing Roman sun.

The spectacle was memorably recreated in Ridley Scott’s epic movie Gladiator, the Oscar-winning film of 2000 starring Russell Crowe.

One of the most eye-catching scenes is when Crowe’s character Maximus strides in to the arena for the first time. For viewers who visit the Colosseum, it’s easy to picture yourself as the betrayed, tough-as-nails former General entering the arena.

Where today the bowels of the stadium are revealed, instead picture the sandy blood-soaked floor. Where the empty tiers rise above you, picture endless rows of expectant Romans. And if you concentrate very hard, where the Emperor’s box used to be, you can picture Joaquin Phoenix as the evil Commodus…

And so in one of the most iconic structures on earth, you have the chance to be in your own private Hollywood movie.

Stand with your back to the arena, head bowed, as Commodus approaches behind you. Then slowly, with the weight of grief and anger rising, turn and remove your invisible helmet, and solemnly declare:

“My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius… father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife, and I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.”

What’s that you say? People will stare?

Well you never know, perhaps one will be a casting agent!

Topdeck Top Tip: An audio guide will give you some juicy information as you explore the Colosseum at your own pace. Simply get in the audio guide queue once through the main entrance. You can get your entrance ticket there as well!

A Maximus-eye view of the Colosseum

Practice your lines:

40 things to do before you’re 40 - Number 7!

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

7. Take a Bungy jump

Bungy jumping is much like the perfect holiday romance; fast, exhilarating, and you’ll soon be on the rebound!

A primal thrill which is guaranteed to get the blood pumping and the heart racing, it’s also the most peculiar of activities. Tell your friends that you’re thinking of jumping off a bridge and you’ll probably illicit looks of serious concern and a phone number for a suicide helpline.

But explain that you intend to do so with a giant rubber band attached to your ankles and not only does it become socially acceptable, you’ll likely be met with responses of jealousy and awe!

Bungy jumping was pioneered by a mulleted young Kiwi called AJ Hackett. His adventures in gravity-defying included a perilous plunge from the Eiffel Tower in Paris (see number 1 on our list), which earned him an arrest and an accusation of an act of terrorism (or “tirrorism” as he would have no doubt pronounced it).

His witty response was that it was merely an “act of tourism” – and in those prescient words he foretold of bungy’s wider appeal.

The business bearing his name quickly boomed in New Zealand, where it is still going strong. Beyond its homeland, bungy has become a global activity (though it’s written as bungee in most other places).

There’s no real secret to its huge appeal – the pure, unadulterated adrenaline rush you get as you leap from a ledge, against all your natural instincts, and hurtle earthbound at a rate of knots.

The air screams from your lungs as the ground looms with indecent haste, before the recoil kicks in and you bounce back in to the air for a fleeting moment of weightlessness. The natural high is hard to replicate and it’s what gets adrenaline junkies hooked.

At Topdeck our favourite bungy spots are Queenstown on New Zealand’s South Island, and Livingstone, a thrill-seekers paradise in Zambia.

Adventure capital Queenstown is considered the spiritual home of bungy and can boast several options including the mammoth 134m Nevis Bungy. Livingstone is perhaps Queenstown’s African equivalent, where it’s possible to bungee near the jaw-dropping Victoria Falls, Africa’s greatest natural wonder.

So why not put a bungy jump on your travel bucket list? You might just love it! And if not… well, you’ll quickly bounce back.

Topdeck Top Tip: Think you’ll struggle to overcome the terror? Don’t look down! Fix your eyes on the horizon and pretend that you’re diving in to an infinity pool.

A brilliant showcase of jump styles at the Ledge Bungy, Queenstown. Check out the views!

Obi Wan Kenobi refuses a bungee jump! Ewan McGregor turns down a bungee at Victoria Falls but colleagues on his Long Way Down TV show make the leap:

40 things to do before you’re 40 - Number 6!

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

6. Drink a stein of beer at Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, is the biggest and best beer festival on the planet! You’ll never forget sinking a litre of frothy Bavarian beer in a huge tent packed with thousands of thirsty companions. Locals and visitors sing side by side, ‘Oompah’ bands play and everybody clinks steins in a mass public cry of “Prost!”

Until you visit the Oktoberfest, it’s difficult to comprehend the scale. The numbers? 16 days, 6.5 million visitors, 6.9 million litres of beer, 500,000 chickens… it’s absolutely massive!

Known by the locals as Wies’n, Oktoberfest began in Munich in 1810. Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria married Princess Therese and invited locals to celebrate with a horse race in a field outside the city, and from these humble beginnings the modern festival evolved.

It originally started in October, but in later years the beginning was brought forward to September. Today it boasts 14 large beer tents, smaller tents which also serve schnapps and wine, and a huge fairground complete with rollercoasters.

Only local beers are represented, including Löwenbräu, Paulaner, Augustiner and Hofbräu. The tents (more accurately giant wooden halls) all serve hearty food to soak up the beer; think roasted pork knuckles, rotisserie chickens, pretzels, sauerkraut and sausages, while the atmosphere is helped along by house bands who kick off the drinking songs.

All locals and many visitors wear traditional (and seriously cool) Bavarian dress; lederhosen for men (leather trousers) and dirndls for women (cleavage-enhancing dresses). The crowd is an international affair, although locals take the Oktoberfest very seriously and try to attend as many days as possible.

With beers served from as early as 9am it’s no wonder that things get misplaced! Common lost property items include wallets, keys, ID cards and eyeglasses (whose owners were presumably blind drunk)…

In recent years, kindly souls have handed in a lost electric wheelchair, a copy of Playboy signed by one of the centrefolds and even false teeth!

Charles Reinbold, who oversees lost property at Oktoberfest, has seen plenty of the latter. He told German newspaper Der Spiegel in 2012 “I think the adhesive has improved for false teeth. The year I started we had five or six sets of false teeth in, and a pensioner walked in and tried them all on. Unfortunately, his weren’t among them.”

Musical instruments are frequently found at the start of the Oktoberfest when the Bavarian marching bands stage their ceremonial processions and then flock to the beer tents. “They get drunk and when they get home that night they say where the hell’s my trumpet?” Herr Reinbold added sagely.

As all Bavarian men know, too many litres of strong Oktoberfest beer can seriously affect your trumpeting performance!

But pace yourself properly and you’re in for the time of your life. There’s little wonder the Oktoberfest is so adored, it’s a knees-up like no other in a marvellous city. If you ever get the opportunity to attend this amazing festival, make sure you take it. Prost!

Topdeck Top Tip: There are so many for Oktoberfest! Here’s a couple:

  • You must have a seat at a table to get served
  • Always tip your waitress, or else she won’t come back and serve you again
  • Text your mates, don’t call! The tents are far too loud for a phone conversation
  • If you’re not a big drinker, try a “Radler” – half beer, half lemonade

Official highlights of Oktoberfest 2011 from the Munich city website:

A selection of Oktoberfest galleries from the official site:

40 things to do before you’re 40 - Number 5!

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

5. Trek to see wild mountain gorillas

Nowhere on Earth is the natural world more gloriously showcased than in Africa. But of all African wildlife encounters, coming face to face with endangered wild mountain gorillas is perhaps the most unforgettable.

Like gazing through a window to our distant past, observing mountain gorillas in their natural habitat is a humbling and resonant experience. Up close the complex family structures are revealed; powerful silver-backed males command authority, mothers tenderly care for their young and adolescents explore inquisitively.

It’s impossible not to feel a sense of privilege watching two gorillas grooming one another, or impossibly cute youngsters playing with carefree abandon.

For an audience with these gentle giants you must first purchase a permit, then trek with guides through jungle in the gorillas’ lowland mountain habitats in Uganda, Rwanda or DR Congo. It’s often a demanding trek, but with so few gorillas left, it is a necessity.

Sadly the mountain gorilla symbolises the dangerous impact humans can have on wildlife. Over the last century they have been driven to the brink of extinction due to poaching, loss of habitat, war and human diseases.

It is estimated that as few as 880 mountain gorillas remain in the wild and they are among the most critically endangered species on Earth.

However hope endures for our simian cousins (we share around 99% of DNA), as admirable conservation efforts are being made to ensure their survival. The permit system has actually contributed to growth in gorilla numbers in recent years.

The cost of each gorilla permit helps protect habitats, educate guides and train rangers. Visitor numbers and times are carefully regulated so as not to disturb the gorillas, making it a fine example of responsible ecotourism. For those who take the trek, amazing memories are complemented by the sense of contributing to a worthy cause.

A gorilla trek can be a life-changing experience, one that hopefully will be available to travellers long in to the future. It can affect you profoundly and generates feelings which are difficult to adequately put in to words.

When you see for yourself, you’ll know exactly what we mean.

Topdeck Top Tip: To spot the alpha male of the troop, look out for the distinctive white hair on their back, known as the ‘silverback’. Male gorillas develop this around age 13, when they reach adulthood. Troops can sometimes have more than one silverback – although there’s only ever one alpha male!

Tell us about your experience with these magnificent animals.

Sir David Attenborough explains how gorilla populations were brought back from the brink:

Photos of mountain gorillas in Rwanda:,29307,2096456,00.html

40 things to do before you’re 40 - Number 4!

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

4. Climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Affectionately known as the Coathanger, Sydney Harbour Bridge is a defining symbol of Australia. Along with the equally iconic Opera House, it is the centrepiece of Sydney’s skyline and arguably the best lookout point in the city!

Opened in 1932, this engineering masterpiece was created to link Sydney’s business district and the North Shore. With admirable foresight, planners created a huge bridge which today bears eight lanes of traffic and two railways.

It’s an impressive construction from any angle, though it photographs particularly well from certain spots; the Rocks, the Manly ferry, and Mrs Macquarie’s Point near the Royal Botanic Gardens.

But there’s another view worth considering – the one from the top of the arch!

Since 1998 it’s been possible for visitors to climb all 134 metres of the bridge itself, including celebs such as Bill Gates, Kylie Minogue, Usain Bolt, Steve Irwin and Daniel Radcliffe. We’re sure Sydneysiders wish the latter could magic away the Queensland state flag, which gets flown on the bridge if rivals Queensland defeat home team New South Wales in rugby league’s State of Origin!

The view from the top is breathtaking – look south and skyscrapers spike from Sydney’s CBD; to the southeast the Royal Botanic Gardens sit lush and green behind the inimitable white curves of the Opera House.

West lies the Parramatta River, its estuary pooling around fingers of developed land; to the north are the wealthy suburbs of the North Shore, while eastwards the world’s largest natural harbour gives way to the Pacific.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge is a truly impressive landmark in a magnificent city, one which literally brings the citizens of Sydney closer together. And if you ever get the chance to be in Sydney for New Year’s Eve, then you’ll see it play a pivotal role in the legendary fireworks display.

Who knew that setting a Coathanger ablaze could draw such a big crowd?!

Topdeck top tip: A sunset or night climb can be particularly memorable, offering a different perspective of Sydney’s cosmopolitan metropolis.

Have you climbed all the way to the top?
Tell us about your experience!

Other Sydney Harbour Bridge Media

Celebrity photos from atop the bridge:

New Year’s Eve celebrations: