Of all the major cities in the world, there is perhaps only Brazil's Rio de Janiero that has a natural harbour as iconic and spectacularly beautiful as Sydney. Port Jackson, containing Sydney Harbour, is a magnificent backdrop to Sydney; it is the location of Australia's most internationally recognised buildings - the Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Taronga Zoo, and all are best viewed from it. There are a number of islands in the harbour, some are open to visitors, all played an important role in Sydney's colonial past. Historic fortifications with gun placements and tunnels, built in the days when Australia was no more than a colonial outpost of the British Empire, occupy prominent headlands of the harbour, and are open to explore. Lookouts at various points up and down the harbour shores give different perspectives of the city.
Many pockets of natural bushland are scattered around the harbour's 240 kilometres of shoreline, most are accessible by walking tracks, making the harbour foreshores a walkers' paradise. It is possible to walk around much of the harbour's edge, and to picnic, relax or swim at a wide choice of diverse settings, all within a relatively short distance from the city centre.
Sydney Harbour is one of three large saltwater inlets which make up Port Jackson. The other two - Middle Harbour and North Harbour - are covered separately. Note: as the lower sections of the Lane Cove River and the Parramatta River are perceived as being part of Sydney Harbour, they have been included here, though technically they are not part of the Harbour.