Our harbour city gets its lofty reputation on the back of some hard to beat natural beauty, but Sydney’s world-class art and culture scene shouldn’t be overlooked. A day spent blending the two – well, that’s about as good as it gets. Here’s how to structure a full day of art and culture in Sydney, with some much-needed pit stops along the way.

Do: Start your day with a walk around the Royal Botanic Garden then through the Domain

Start the day in Sydney’s natural beauty with a gentle stroll through the Royal Botanic Garden. Sprawled across more than 30 hectares and set to the backdrop of some of the clearest harbour views around, the park blooms with different floral detours, including the Wildflower Meadow, Succulent Garden and, if you have time, the Palace Rose Garden. You can also just spend the morning wandering around the gardens, before following the loop from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music to the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW).

See: Kandinsky at AGNSW

Russian artist Vasily Kandinsky is a leading light in abstract painting, earned after the evolution of his work in the early 20th century. A passion for evoking hidden inner beauty in his art was realised across a career that drifted from works of wild, swirling colours to scattered geometric shapes, much of which is imbued with spiritual themes. This career-spanning exhibition at AGNSW takes key pieces from the Guggenheim’s collection, offering visitors a window into the inner world that inspired Kandinsky’s iconic art, complemented by influential works from 19th-century medium Georgiana Houghton and contemporary artist Desmond Lazaro.

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Eat: Lunch at Mod Dining

After an abstract morning, it’s worth ducking off for a bite at Mod Dining to refuel. Here, chef Clayton Wells has put together a fresh and light all-day brunch and lunch menu. There are herby salads of heirloom tomato and stone fruit, spanner crab noodles with XO sauce and ocean trout with yellow curry sauce – the sort of approachable plates that are ideal between exhibitions and designed to keep you going for the rest of the day.

See: Louise Bourgeois at AGNSW

Has the Day Invaded the Night or Has the Night Invaded the Day? is a landmark exhibition celebrating the seven-decade career of influential French-American artist Louise Bourgeois. Crossing the mediums of sculpture, textiles, printmaking and painting, Bourgeois’s art is known for its psychological exploration of themes like femininity, memory and trauma, here demonstrated across 120 works. The highly emotional collection is split between two spaces – the brightly lit Day and dark Night – while Bourgeois’s unnerving spider sculpture Maman occupies the forecourt of the art gallery’s South Building.

Eat: Grab a snack at the MCA cafe

Head a little further down towards the Harbour Bridge, where you’ll find the Museum of Contemporary Art and your third exhibition for the day. Before jumping in, head up to the roof for a quick caffeine top-up at the MCA cafe. With harbour views stretching out in front, it’s a no-brainer for a quick coffee and an Anzac biscuit or slice of spiced carrot and walnut cake.

See: Tacita Dean at MCA

Lauded as one of the world’s greatest living artists, Tacita Dean’s work is iconic. The British-born artist defies the digital revolution, opting to work with photochemical film to produce evocative photography and moving images, filtered through her unique lens. This exhibition shows off works from across Dean’s career, including 35mm and 16mm films, monumental chalkboard drawings and installations that explore themes of environmental fragility, chance, memory, history and time.

Do: Watch Badu Gili: Wonder Women on the Opera House sails from the MCA forecourt

At sunset, the Opera House lights up to celebrate the history and contemporary influence of First Nations culture. Badu Gili means “water light” in the language of the Gadigal people, and this free display shines a light on the work of six Indigenous female artists – Marlene Gilson, Judith Inkamala, Sally M Nangala Mulda, Marlene Rubuntja, Aunty Elaine Russell and Kaylene Whiskey – by projecting their works across the Opera House sails. The MCA forecourt will provide you with the best view.

Eat: Dinner at Le Foote

By the end of the day you’ll be well ready to put your feet up, and Le Foote is a worthy spot to do just that. Located in a heritage-listed building in The Rocks, the French-influenced wine bar and Mediterranean grill is all about charcoal cooking. You’ll find the requisite charred red meat like Jack’s Creek Black Angus striploin and Black Tyde rib eye, and bistro-style small plates of duck sausage with mustard and cress, and octopus with potatoes, macadamia and Aleppo pepper. Add a house cocktail or cold glass of local white wine and you’ll be set. There really is no better way to relax after a big day of art and culture than over a drink and a good meal.

Broadsheet is a proud media partner of AGNSW and Museum of Contemporary Arts Australia.