The list of things to do in Sydney with kids could be endless. Caz and I both grew up an hour north of Sydney and have visited Sydney countless times as kids ourselves and now with our own children. We never run out of things to do, and keep going back to our favourites.
Sydney is one of the world’s top tourist destinations for a reason and whether you have toddlers or teens, or young adults, you’ll all enjoy seeing the sites together.
If this is your first time visiting Sydney, below are my top 15 suggested activities and things to see and do for families including the iconic highlights plus more!
How to get to Sydney from the airport
To get into the city of Sydney when you first arrive at the airport:
- Hop on the Sydney Airport Link Train, which takes 15 minutes (adult $17, child $14). Get yourself an Opal Card which is a smart card you top up so that you can pay your fares on trains, buses, ferries and light rail.
- Catch an Uber. (Use this code if it’s your first time to grab a free trip ql3dc) The airport link is expensive, so sometimes an Uber works out to be about the same price and is more convenient. You can do a price estimate through the Uber app before you request it to double check.
Once you’re in the city, I suggest you book your accommodation in the Sydney CBD so you’re centrally located to make the most of your visit, and several of Sydney’s highlights can be taken in for free or cheap simply by walking around.
Things to do in Sydney with kids
1. Explore Circular Quay
If this is your first visit to Sydney as a family, the best place to start is in Circular Quay. The Quay is the main transport hub of Sydney Harbour and it’s here that two of Australia’s most famous landmarks reside: the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Even though we’ve been many times, we still like to wonder around and take our “I was here” photo in front of these famous structures and feel the pulse of the city. There’s probably no other pace that will jolt you awake from your jet lag and have you saying to yourself “hey, I’m in Sydney!”
On any given day, especially a sunny day, Circular Quay is a great place to walk about or just sit and watch the ferries come and go. And if you want to step inside and experience the interior of the Opera House, consider taking a 1-hour tour.
Being a busy transport hub you’ll also find many outdoor cafes and restaurants lining the harbour, so if you skipped breakfast you can grab a quick bite here!
2. Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk
We never get tired of doing this walk. The Bondi to Bronte coastal walk is one of our favourite free things to do in Sydney with kids. A stunning 1 km coastal walk starting from the Bondi Promenade and the perfect way to spend a gorgeous morning in Sydney.
If you can get your kids to rise early, either grab breakfast at your hotel or head straight to Bondi and enjoy breakfast at the family friendly Bill’s Cafe.
This walk usually takes us two hours with the kids as we like to take photos and admire the stunning views of cliffs, bays and rock pools. There’s a kiosk (cafe) at Tamarama Beach if you need to rest or grab a coffee and bite to eat.
At Bronte Beach, our kids like to play on the playground towards the back of the picnic ground. Don’t forget your swimmers if it’s warm – the Bronte baths are a good spot for the kids.
To get to Bondi, either catch the train from Central Station to Bondi Junction, then a bus to Bondi Beach. Or buses 333, 380, 381 (to Bondi) and 378 (to Bronte) stop near the walk.
3. Taronga Zoo
It would be hard to find a better setting for a zoo in the world than Taronga Zoo, situated right on Sydney Harbour in a natural bushland setting.
Taronga is the first zoo we ever visited as kids growing up, and enjoy taking our own kids now who love to see the wide variety of animals from around the world, shows, keeper talks, and animal encounters making it a great family outing.
Taronga is just 12 minutes from Circular Quay by ferry which offers amazing views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge.
4. Catch the ferry to Manly
You can’t visit one of the best harbour cities in the world and not get out on the water!
We love jumping on the ferry at Circular Quay and visiting Manly on the Northern Beaches. The short ferry ride is a great and cheap way to experience Sydney Harbour with stunning views of the city skyline, Opera House, Harbour Bridge and Botanic Gardens.
In Manly, walk down the palm tree-lined Corso, hit the promenade on the beach for an ice-cream, or walk around to picturesque Shelly Beach. Time your return ferry trip back to the Quay to coincide with sunset behind the harbour bridge.
5. Darling Harbour
You can spend an hour or half a day at Darling Harbour, a lively harbourside precinct that’s just a 10-minute walk from the CBD or quick ferry ride. It offers activities for all the family. We like to just wander around and enjoy the free and paid entertainment.
Our kids love the large playground featuring slides, swings, a flying fox and climbing ropes. And the historic carousel is always a hit. Darling Harbour is also home to Sea Life Sydney Aquarium, the Wildlife Park, and IMAX theatre.
For eating and drinking, there are ample waterside restaurants and cafes overlooking Cockle Bay and the playground. For a cheaper bite to eat there’s also a food court in the Harbourside shopping centre.
6. Luna Park
The enormous smiling face at the entrance to Luna Park is an iconic symbol of the city. We have fond memories of visiting this amusement park from our own childhood so it was fun to take our own kids for the first time recently.
‘Just For Fun’ is their tagline and we certainly had fun as a family taking on the big slides in Coney Island, riding the wild mouse, and smashing into each other on the dodgem cars. Jump on the giant Ferris Wheel for spectacular elevated views of Sydney harbour!
Luna Park is on the northern side of the harbour at Milsons Point. Jump on a train or ferry from Circular Quay, or do as we did and walk across the Harbour Bridge!
7. Picnic in the Royal Botanic Gardens
In my opinion, the Royal Botanic Gardens are one of the most impressive gardens in the world, certainly from a location standpoint.
You cannot beat the serenity of the city and harbour views from these gardens, and spending an hour or so here is a relaxing and free way to enjoy one of Sydney’s top spots.
We like to pack a picnic lunch, or grab some take away from one of the shops at Circular Quay, and enjoy a casual lunch with plenty of room for the kids to run free.
If you have time walk around the gardens to admire the many different types of plants and city views. You can also take a free self-guided walking tour. Be sure to check out Mrs Macquarie’s Chair which has one of the best vantage points in Sydney looking back over the Opera House and Harbour Bridge.
8. Cockatoo Island
What was once an island covered with red gums and frequented by the sulphur-crested cockatoos which gave the island its name, it has served as a prison, a reformatory, and shipyards, with its prison buildings now recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage site.
We enjoyed the 45-minute Convict History Tour to learn about the fascinating history of its days as a convict prison between 1839 and 1869. And our kids loved the self-guided Convict Clues Challenge with activity booklet and pull-out map, running in and out of the ruins and dancing in the old mess hall.
Cockatoo Island is a unique place to visit to learn about local history and also offers a different perspective of Sydney Harbour, and the cool thing about this island is that you can even camp or sleep in a heritage house on the island!
9. Walk across Sydney Harbour Bridge
You can pay $200+ each to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge, recommended once in your life, or for a MUCH cheaper option, do what we like to do and simply walk across for free and take in the same panoramic views on a lower level.
Start from The Rocks District at the southern end and take the gentle 1.4km stroll across the bridge to Milsons Point at the northern end. Either walk back or catch a train from Milsons Point Station to Circular Quay Station, or a ferry.
Whilst walking across the bridge you can also visit the Pylon Lookout where for $11 you get fantastic views plus 3 levels of exhibits to learn about the history of the Bridge.
10. Hang out on the Beach
Sydney’s beaches are famous and a must for free things to do in Sydney as a family (besides the cost of getting there).
From the Northern Beaches to the Eastern Suburbs you have many great beaches to explore. Our favourites include Bronte and Coogee in the eastern suburbs – and you must visit famous Bondi Beach at least once. And Manly, Freshwater, and Palm Beach on the northern beaches.
11. Learn to surf at Bondi Beach
You can’t get any more Australian then learning to surf at Bondi Beach, Sydney’s iconic beach.
If you’ve got teens looking to surf for the first time, Bondi is perfect for any beginner as the beach faces south so you are protected and the surf is not so wild. Let’s Go Surfing is the only learn to surf company in Bondi.
12. Chinese Gardens of Friendship
We’ve walked past the Chinese Gardens many times but never ventured inside until recently, so glad we did.
We were impressed by the tranquility of this oasis in the middle of Darling Harbour and the city with waterfalls, lakes, exotic plants, pavilions and hidden pathways – it’s not just another garden city, but like a secret garden.
Collect a self-guided map from the front desk. Our kids loved discovering all the zodiac statues scattered throughout the gardens. And be sure to finish up with tea and a bite to eat at the Teahouse.
Child: $3 (under 12 years)
Family: $15 (two adults and two children)
13. Powerhouse Museum
We’re not typical museum people and it takes an interactive museum to keep our engagement. The Powerhouse Museum is one of the best for kids and adults alike with a hands-on approach to learning!
It seems like there’s always a new exhibit on show here and on our most recent visit we enjoyed the Art of the Brick – which involved the use of over a million lego bricks to create more than 120 large scale sculptures of DC Comics superheroes and supervillains (now over).
There are permanent exhibitions, like Experimentations (experiment with heat, light, chemistry, electricity and movement), Locomotive No. 1 (brings to life the age of steam travel), and Wiggles World.
Open daily: 10:00am – 5:00pm (Closed Christmas Day). Adult $15, Children 16 years and under FREE.
14. High Tea at Langham Hotel
You’ve got to treat yourself every once in a while and as a family, we loved indulging with a high tea at the Langham Hotel, famed as the birthplace of the traditional Afternoon Tea direct from London.
For a slower pace, we stopped in here after our Bondi to Coogee walk and we must say this reward provided a little extra motivation for our young kids to finish the walk.
Located in the grand lobby of the hotel, this high tea experience features home-made cakes and pastries, savoury sandwiches and tarts and freshly baked scones as well as a selection of Wedgewood teas. Gluten free and kids options available.
Monday – Friday starts from $65.00 per person. Saturday – Sunday $75.00 per person.
15. Go to the top of Sydney Tower
For $18 an adult and $11 a child you can go up to the top of Sydney Tower, the city’s tallest free-standing structure standing at 309 m (1,014 ft) above the CBD. It has an observation deck with awesome views of the skyline.
And for an extra cost and an unforgettable Sydney experience consider the Sky Walk 268 metres above the city streets looking through a glass floor.
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Plan your trip to Sydney
We’ve come to rely on a few trusted websites that save us money and time when booking accommodation, flights and car rental. Below are our preferred partners:
- Booking.com has over 500 properties in Sydney including hotels, apartments and hostels. You get free cancellation on most rooms and a best price guarantee.
- RentalCars.com is the world’s biggest car rental booking service that compares all the major brands like Hertz, Avis, Alamo, and Europcar.
- Skyscanner is a comparison website that searches millions of flights. Once you find your best deal, book directly through the airline (no extra fees).
Do you have any tips on things to do in Sydney with kids? Please share in the comments below!