Little have you realized that of all the amazing bridges around the world, there are only five Bridge Climbs in the world, three of them in Australia. Stay with us until the end of this article when I will spill five bridges around the world for you to do so. But for now, I would like to share with you my experience in Sydney – my best place for a Bridge Climb in the world!
Why Sydney BridgeClimb? Is it worth climbing Sydney Harbour Bridge?
The Sydney Harbor is a beautiful, spectacular natural harbor in the world. The stunning coastline and remarkable architecture amazed me when I first saw the photos in travel books as a 5-year-old kid. But of course, the harbor had dramatic changes since then – more and more skyscrapers were built along the coast to cope with the city’s rapid growth. Even so, the most iconic architecture remained peaceful and quiet, overlooking the wonderful natural wonder.
While I don’t get any money for saying it, now that I know there are only five places in the world to go bridge climb, it is a “must-do” in Sydney simply because of its uniqueness, you can literally not do that in many other places in the world; and of all the other rare places that offer bridge climb activity, none of these can rival Sydney’s (well they others also have an open and unobstructed view, but come on.).
The Sydney Harbour Bridge is a well-known architecture by itself, and being able to walk on the edge of the arch and reach the top is the cherry on the cake. Syndey BridgeClimb is also named one of the world’s top 10 “Biggest Adrenaline Rush” experiences by Lonely Planet. So here, let me give you some tips and guides about the BridgeClimb if you have already made a reservation; or, if you are still considering it, hopefully, I will be able to convince you somehow.
Something about… Sydney BridgeClimb
Sydney Harbour Bridge opened in 1932 and it has been an icon of the city, given that the bridge shines hope and optimism in the depths of the Great Depression at that time. Less than 20 years ago, smart businessmen launched the Bridge Climb experience for tourists to enjoy the harbor view on top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and this activity was the first of its kind all over the world. Now, whenever someone tells me they are planning to go to Sydney, I recommend them to go to the Bridge Climb.
It was a wonderful day with a clear sky, cool weather in September, and perfect timing; and it was one of the most unforgettable experiences that I had when I was in Sydney; (it’s hard to choose between cute Marsupials and natural scenery.)
The entire tour takes around 3 hours including the time to gear up and pre-bridge climb briefing. In fact, the Bridge Climb website has a lot of information, which I recommend all participants read, to get prepared for the climb.
The climb starts on the right side (Opera House side) of the bridge and returns to the BridgeClimb Center (based on the BridgeClimb Center near the Circular Quay) on the left side (Darling Harbor side) after crossing the bridge at the summit. Therefore, tourists do not exactly cross the bridge, but instead, return to the starting point after the climb.
Types of Sydney BridgeClimb
The BridgeClimb is not exactly crossing the bridge from one side to another, actually, the climbers walk up from one side (at the Rocks) to the top of the arch, and then return to the same spot. As I mentioned, it takes about three hours for the entire climb, and there are six types of BridgeClimb, mostly distinguished by different times of the day (and prices are different):
This is a complete experience of 1,621 steps to cover the entire arch of the bridge, being able to enjoy the view of the harbor from 134 meters above it.
This is one of the most popular packages to climb to the top of the arch, and descend to Climb Base afterward. The price differences are based on whether it’s a Day Climb, a Twilight Climb, a Night Climb, or a Dawn Climb.
While the Dawn Climb is obviously the most sought-after tour, it is also the most expensive. Here’s a little tip: Select the last Day Climb, especially in Spring / Fall, which you will enjoy at a lower price, you still get to see a bit of the sunset on the Bridge. However, this is not guaranteed, and you should book as early as possible, the tours could be the full way in advance.
This tour costs slightly less than the summit, and it takes a shorter time to the top of the bridge, as climbers walk on the lower arch. Climbers can still go up to the summit once they reach the peak of the lower arch. It is an option for those who are pressed on time, the summit experience is full, or prefer to walk up the bridge at a lower height.
This is an aboriginal climb experience and newly added. While the route is the same as the summit, it focuses on Sydney’s Aboriginal history. A First Nations Storyteller will be the guide and offers commentary of both old and new.
Sydney BridgeClimb tips and afterthoughts
- What do I need to bring, what to wear for Sydney BridgeClimb? BridgeClimb provides all required gears and outfits for the climb; sunglasses are absolutely required even on a cloudy day (not to mention a sunny day). Actually, it is basically the only thing climbers can carry to go on the climb. BridgeClimb offers handkerchiefs, sunglasses stripes, caps, fleece, jackets, safety belts, and earphones – all of which would have a clip to your jumpsuit.
Climbers will go through the security check before departure so don’t think about smuggling anything in :). The entire group would be hooked in a line to a safety wire right before the climb until the finish. Therefore once got in, climbers couldn’t switch places, use phones, use cameras, bring water bottles, or go to the toilet!
- Is it safe? The BridgeClimb so far has a 100 percent safe record. I am a little scared of heights. The BridgeClimb is not an extreme sport. The bridge arch is not as steep as I thought. It’s wide and the bottom is covered. We were like walking up a hill made of steel. It is an enjoyable activity for everybody.
- Can I take photos during BridgeClimb? Absolutely no photo-taking by yourself – well, BridgeClimb made it very clear that no phones and no cameras while we were on the bridge. Not only I couldn’t take photos, but also I couldn’t contact the “outside world” for 3 hours straight in the center of a metropolitan in the southern hemisphere. It’s insane!
In fact, if they could make hooks and stripes for glasses and caps and all that, it’s not impossible to hook your camera with your jumpsuit, too. I speculate this security excuse was to make sure they can sell you photo packages. During the climb though, the guide would be happy to help you take photos at photo-taking spots as much as he/she can and make sure you are happy with them.
My package includes 10 photos, plus a short video of each of us standing at the summit of the bridge, waving and leaving a message of our choice, and finally panning away to the bridge’s surroundings. To be honest of course I have the slightest and tiniest resentment about this policy.
Not being able to bring a camera to the climb and take 1,000 photos is “unnatural”. Now I think about it more, I agree that it could be disastrous for the tour guide to control the speed and safety of a group if the climbers are all hooked up in a line, but no one is paying any attention to him/her since everyone is too busy handling their cameras or taking photos.
- How much are Sydney BridgeClimb photos? AUD 35 for the first picture, and AUD 10 for the following pictures. The only thing that is outrageous!
- How hard is the Sydney BridgeClimb? The climb requires a certain level of physical ability – you need to walk up hundreds of stairs, and climb a few ladders to get to the top of the bridge, so it may be challenging for those who have problems walking up or down stairs. Having said that, there are a number of stops when the guide is telling a story and it’s not a sport competition. Most can complete the climb at any pace that they are comfortable with.
- Can childeren do the climb? Yes, accompanied by their parent.
- Which BridgeClimb is for me? I have already shared the types earlier, and it really depends on your time, budget, and preference. All in all, the BridgeClimb experience is not exactly cheap… BridgeClimb would mark up (quite hugely) for a certain time slot; like the “twilight tour” is designed for climbers to see the sunset.
I went there in September and the sunset time was a little bit earlier in the evening. We didn’t join the twilight tour but the normal tour at 3 pm during the day had a full spectacular view of the opera house and harbor, and went back down at around 6 pm, just in time to see the romantic sunset on the west side of the bridge. Fantastic!
- Who are the celebrities who did the climb? A number of Hollywood actors and actresses did the climb including Cate Blancett, Cameron Diaz, Nicole Kidman, Matt Damon, Kylie Minogue, Justin Timberlake, and Oprah Winfrey. Even royalty like Prince Harry, Crown Prince Frederik, and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark!
Bridge Climbs around the world, how many do you know?
Bridge Climbs are rare across the world because it has to have supporting facilities and infrastructures to ensure the safety of general visitors. Imagine how is it possible for climbers to walk on ropes and steel if there’s no walkway on the arch or bridge towers. In that sense, the Sydney Harbour Bridge does have an advantage because of its arch’s design.
Besides, weather plays an important role as the condition changes unpredictably up on the top of a bridge, usually, that straddles an open sea with heavy traffic below – That’s why there have been several plans for a climbing tour of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, but dismissed due to various concerns.
So here are the other places in the world where you could sign up for a Bridge Climb:
Brisbane Story Bridge
Brisbane, Australia. Story Bridge Adventure Climb is a shorter, faster, and also cheaper option developed based on Sydney’s experience. Climbers could enjoy the beautiful view of the city’s skyline on the river, the surrounding hills, and Moreton Bay.
Auckland, New Zealand. Known for its various exhilarating activities (huh, bungee jumping, and sky diving, just to name a few), now that Bridge Climb is also available in the capital city, Auckland.
While it is not as epic as the entire experience in Sydney, the Auckland Bridge Climb has some good reviews and is described as a rewarding experience.
Akashi Kaikyo Bridge
Kobe, Japan. The Akashi Kaikyo Bridge is in fact officially the longest suspension bridge of any kind in the world. The bridge straddles the Akashi Strait, connecting Awaji Island and Honshu. With an impressive length of 4 kilometers. Another way to admire this architectural wonder, take a walk along the Maiko Marine Promenade and visit the Bridge Exhibition Center.
Take a bus and go across the bridge afterward. Visit the Awaji Island Anime Park, or Awaji Yumebutai, a multi-functional convention complex designed by renowned Japanese architect Tadao Ando. The complex features modern and concrete architecture, with a stepped garden of one hundred flower beds arranged in grids and different levels, offering a breathtaking view of the Seto Inland sea.
Check out more about my journey from Osaka, Kobe, and Akashi, to Himeji: A Perfect Cherry Blossom Itinerary from Osaka to Himeji Castle
Perth, Australia. This is a new addition to the world! Yet, it’s another bridge in Australia that you are able to climb. The Matagarup Bridge is a pedestrian bridge across the Swan River, and it has been a landmark of Perth since it was completed in 2018. Zip+Climb took over the operation and climbers can walk upon the steep 314 steps to the top of the wave-like arch (73 meters high) that holds the bridge in place. The entire experience is faster – that takes about 90 minutes.
Check out more about a 4-day itinerary in Perth: Exploring Perth: 4-day Itinerary and City Walk
Arrabida Bridge Climb
Porto, Portugal. The Porto Bridge Climb, or Arrábida Bridge Climb, is technically the only “True” bridge climbing activity available on the continent. Porto is actually known as “the city of six bridges”, while Luis I Bridge is the most well-known among all, Arrábida Bridge is also an architectural marvel for being the world’s largest concrete arch bridge – completed in 1963. The arch offers a walkway, like the Sydney Harbour Bridge, of which you can harness up and climb the 65-meter high arch to enjoy the thrill and a rewarding view on both sides of Douro: the hilly, old city of Porto and also the ocean. It is a perfect place to enjoy the sunset and the bridge climb tour takes off multiple times each day.
Check out more about a day in Porto: A Perfect One-day Itinerary in Porto for Art, History, and Wine
London, United Kingdom. While the London Bridge does not have exactly a “bridge climb” experience, visitors can walk up the iconic tower and experience Glass Floor: the high-level walkway 42 meters above River Thames. The Glass Floor measures 11 meters long and 1.8 meters wide and comprises panels weighing 530 kilograms each.
Check out more about a day in London: Santander Cycle Challenge Accomplished: London in a Nutshell in One Day