Fancy a Sydney family holiday? Well, you’ve come to the right place. In this post, we’ll provide you with a complete guide for visiting one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
Sydney on Australia’s east coast is a bustling metropolis with stunning landmarks and breathtaking views to captivate any tourist. Moreover, for those travelling with children, there are plenty of things for families to do in Sydney.
From climbing the iconic harbour bridge and sunbathing on world-class beaches to visiting beautiful botanic gardens and having fun at Luna Park, this city offers many activities for parents and children alike.
If you’re planning a family trip to Sydney and want to make the most of your time Down Under or out of state, you’re in for a treat!
So please keep reading until the end to discover 15 fun and exciting kids’ activities in Sydney that will create family travel memories you will cherish forever.
Best Time to Visit Sydney
Sydney is a city you can visit all year round. Therefore, the best time for you to go there depends very much on factors like what kind of experiences you are looking for, your budget, weather preferences and the age of your children. That said, if you want to visit Sydney with kids, each season has its appeal, as it offers something different.
For instance, the spring months of September to November are a terrific time for a Sydney family holiday. The weather is pretty good, with temperatures averaging between 17°C and 24°C daily. Additionally, visitor numbers tend to be less, so you should have no problem sourcing accommodation and booking tours or attractions.
The same can also be said for the Autumn months of March to May, which features similar temperatures and the added benefit of stunning foliage colours in the city’s gardens, parks and green spaces.
The most popular time of the year to visit Sydney is during the summer months of December to February. At this time, the weather is glorious, with the mercury regularly topping 30°C, which makes it an ideal time for those wanting to enjoy beach trips, water sports activities and outdoor festivals.
However, this is also the peak tourist season – due to it being the Australian school holidays – so be prepared for larger crowds and higher prices. But having said that, if your family loves the sun and beach activities, summer is the time to go on your Sydney family holiday.
Contrary to what you might think if you live outside of Australia, it can get cold in Sydney during the winter months of June to August, with average temperatures tending to hover between 8°C and 18°C. However, don’t let that stop you from coming to the city then because you’ll pick up some excellent hotel deals during this off-peak tourist season. There are also plenty of family things to do in Sydney that are based indoors – for instance, museums, escape rooms, play centres – if the wind chill factor proves too much.
Ultimately, the best time to visit Sydney for a family holiday depends on your family’s interests and the weather you prefer. Each season offers unique experiences, so you should consider your priorities when planning your trip.
Spring and autumn are your best choices for avoiding large crowds and enjoying pleasant weather. But if you’re eager for beach time and outdoor activities, summer could be your preferred season. At the same time, winter is the time to come if you want to secure cheaper Sydney accommodation.
Getting Around in Sydney
Getting around the city during your Sydney family holiday is relatively easy – either via public transport or hiring a car.
Sydney’s public transport system is run by Transport for NSW. It is well-developed and includes buses, trains, ferries and light rail. Between these various modes of transport, you’ll be able to access most parts of the city and surrounding suburbs directly or by changing at least once. They provide a convenient way to reach many attractions, including beaches and parks.
If you intend to use public transportation, it is worth utilising an Opal Card. This contactless smart card conveniently allows you to pay for all forms of public transport. You can purchase and top up Opal Cards at various locations, including train stations, convenience stores and online.
While buses and trains are a fast and efficient way to travel around the city, one of the best things for families to do in Sydney is to take the ferry. Sydney Harbour is famous for its scenic ferry rides, which enable you to reach destinations like Balmain, Manly, Taronga Zoo and Circular Quay.
Riding this form of transport also provides you with exceptional close-up views of the Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House.
The light rail system is another good transportation option, connecting you to areas like the CBD, Darling Harbour and Randwick.
If you are travelling with young children, plan to explore areas outside of Sydney or have specific destinations in mind that are not well-served by public transport, renting a car may be a good option. Most major car rental companies, including Hertz, Avis, Budget and Enterprise, have offices throughout the city, including at the airport and within the CBD.
Bear in mind that navigating Sydney’s city centre can be challenging – particularly if you are used to driving on the opposite side of the road! – due to traffic congestion and expensive parking fees.
However, renting a car can be convenient when travelling with children, as it allows you more flexibility in schedules and destinations. You can also do practical things like easily store strollers and child seats in a rental car.
If you want your car to be with you throughout your family holidays in Sydney, be mindful that staying outside the city centre may be more economical. This brings us nicely to…
Where to Stay in Sydney With Kids
If you plan a family trip to Sydney, you will need a place to stay. Thankfully, the city has several excellent options for both suburbs and holiday accommodation.
For those visiting Sydney for the first time, Circular Quay and The Rocks are terrific places to base yourself. These areas are in the city’s heart, making exploring iconic attractions like the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge convenient. It’s a lively area with many dining options and cultural experiences.
If this area appeals to you, consider staying at the Shangri-La Hotel if your budget can stretch. This luxury hotel offers stunning views of the harbour and Sydney Opera House. It also has an exceptional outdoor pool, babysitting services, and outstanding children’s menus at its onsite restaurant.
Darling Harbour is another good option for those travelling to Sydney with kids. Its vibrant waterfront precinct houses numerous family attractions, including the SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, Wild Life Sydney Zoo and Madame Tussauds Sydney.
A perfect place to stay here is the Novotel Sydney Darling Square, which is centrally located and offers spacious family rooms on a dedicated family floor. It also has an outdoor swimming pool and children’s play area among its facilities.
Manly and Bondi are terrific choices for those wanting to be based near the beach. Both offer different beach experiences, with Manly’s being ideal for families due to its relaxed nature. By contrast, Bondi is a world-class beach known for its beautiful sandy shores and vibrant surf culture.
If you choose to stay in Manly, the Sebel Sydney Manly Beach makes a good choice. It has apartments with kitchenettes perfect for families wanting to self-cater. Additionally, it is right across from Manly Beach, so it is easy to swim in the ocean. The ferry ride to Circular Quay from Manly also provides a scenic commute to the city.
The QT Bondi is a boutique hotel just a short walk from the beach in Bondi. It offers comfortable rooms with kitchenettes and is also centrally located close to several cafes and restaurants.
For those travelling with a caravan and campervan, Sydney doesn’t offer many options within a 20-minute drive of the CBD. However, a little further out, you’ll find some excellent places, including the Sydney Lakeside Holiday Park in Narrabeen.
This holiday park is situated on the shores of Narrabeen Lagoon and offers powered sites for caravans and campervans. It also has BBQ facilities, a playground and access to the beach, making it an excellent option for those planning a Sydney family holiday.
Overall, Sydney offers many family-friendly places to stay, catering to different budgets and preferences. However, wherever you decide to stay, it is worth booking accommodations well in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons, to secure the best options for your family.
Best Things to Do in Sydney For Families
There are lots of different family things to do in Sydney on your holiday, so boredom shouldn’t be an issue!
To help with your travel planning, here are 15 activities you should consider doing during your time in the capital of New South Wales.
Explore Taronga Zoo
Taronga Zoo, right on the picturesque shores of Sydney Harbour, is an absolute must-visit for families. Home to over 4,000 animals sourced from around the world, this iconic zoo offers an educational and exhilarating experience.
Kids can get up close to cuddly koalas, hop with kangaroos, and even embark on a cable car ride showcasing breathtaking city skyline views.
Additionally, the zoo runs workshops about its conservation efforts that can inspire young minds towards the animal kingdom.
Explore the Powerhouse Museum
Located in Ultimo, this museum offers hands-on exhibits on science, technology and design. It prides itself on making learning fun for kids of all ages and is a terrific place to go when it’s raining or the sun is too hot.
Visit SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium
One of Sydney’s most popular kids’ activities is visiting the SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium. Here, children can embark on an aquatic adventure like no other.
Housing an impressive collection of marine life species, including sharks, rays and penguins, it’s an opportunity for young explorers to connect with the wonders of the world’s deepest oceans.
The highlight is the Great Barrier Reef exhibit, a breathtaking recreation of one of the world’s most diverse ecosystems that will awe children and adults equally.
Spend a Day at Bondi Beach
Bondi Beach embodies the quintessential Australian beach experience and if you spend a day there, it won’t take you long to discover why it’s such an iconic destination.
With its golden sands, inviting surf and lively atmosphere, Bondi offers a perfect blend of relaxation and excitement. Families can build sandcastles, take a dip in the sea, or stroll along the famous Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk for stunning views.
Lifeguards ensure safety, and the surrounding cafes serve delicious meals – so overall, it is easy to enjoy a full day of sun, surf and delicious food there.
Learn at the Australian Museum
The Australian Museum in Darlinghurst is a terrific destination for older kids wanting to explore the nation’s history and natural wonders.
It features engaging exhibitions, interactive displays and a fascinating dinosaur gallery – making it an ideal place for children to discover Australia’s rich cultural and scientific heritage.
Picnic at Centennial Parklands
Centennial Parklands is a vast green space where families can picnic, ride bikes or paddle boats and run around in its sprawling playgrounds.
It is a lovely place for parents to relax when the kids need to burn off some energy.
Discover Darling Harbour
Darling Harbour is a bustling waterfront precinct brimming with family-friendly attractions. The Darling Harbour Carousel, IMAX Theatre and numerous dining options make it a vibrant hub for entertainment and relaxation.
Families can enjoy leisurely walks by the water, visit the Australian National Maritime Museum, or just soak in the lively vibe of this iconic destination. The playground here is superb if kids just need a place to run around.
Climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge Pylon Lookout
If you’re travelling with teenagers, climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge is an experience they will never forget. The unique vantage point at the top showcases the iconic Sydney skyline while giving you a close-up look at the engineering marvel you are scaling.
Don’t worry if your kids are young; the Pylon Lookout – open to all ages – offers the whole family an alternate and accessible way to enjoy the panoramic views of the city and its famous harbour.
Explore the Royal Botanic Garden
The Royal Botanic Garden is a lush oasis in the heart of the city, which provides a lovely change of pace and scene from the frenzy of the CBD.
Encompassing themed gardens, diverse plant species and stunning views of the Sydney Opera House, it’s ideal for leisurely strolls, picnics and educational adventures.
Children can discover the wonders of nature while parents will no doubt relish the tranquillity and scenic vistas!
Experience Luna Park
Big and little kids alike would love visiting Luna Park at Milsons Point.
Its colourful rides, games and delightful Ferris wheel that offers breathtaking harbour views make it a perfect destination for an exhilarating day out.
With its vibrant atmosphere and nostalgic charm, this classic amusement park promises endless family fun.
Take a Ferry to Manly
Kids will love the ferry ride across Sydney Harbour to Manly Beach, where they can play in the sand and enjoy family-friendly eateries along the Corso.
Immerse in Aboriginal Culture
For those wanting a deeper understanding of Aboriginal culture, a terrific place to do this is at the Royal National Park.
Located just south of Sydney, this pristine natural reserve offers guided tours and cultural experiences that provide insight into the region’s rich indigenous history and heritage.
Families can learn about traditional Aboriginal customs, art and storytelling while exploring the land’s stunning landscapes, ancient rock engravings, and spiritual significance.
Overall, it’s a magnificent opportunity for children to foster a greater appreciation of Australia’s First Nations people and their enduring connection to the land.
Catch a Show at the Sydney Opera House
The Sydney Opera House is an iconic building you should see from the outside at various vantage points in the city. If time permits, though, why not check out one of the regular family-friendly performances and events?
It is a great way to introduce children to the world of arts and culture. Alternatively, a behind-the-scenes tour is highly recommended.
Experience Wild Life Sydney Zoo
Just next door to SEA LIFE, Wild Life Sydney Zoo lets families get acquainted with native Australian wildlife, including kangaroos, wallabies and a giant crocodile.
We’ll admit, it’s nowhere near as good as Taronga Zoo, but if you’ve only got a short time in Sydney, seeing these two attractions together in Darling Harbour makes perfect sense (and you save buying the tickets together).
Go Whale Watching
From May to November, Sydney offers fantastic whale-watching opportunities. So why not take the kids on a family-friendly whale-watching tour to witness these magnificent creatures migrate along the coast?
Several whale-watching tours depart from Sydney Harbour and nearby coastal areas, allowing kids to witness humpback and southern right whales breaching and tail-slapping in their natural habitat. It’s an awe-inspiring experience, the memories of which will stay with you for many years.
More Tips For Visiting Sydney
- Sydney can be an expensive city to eat in for families. So look for food courts, restaurants offering lunchtime specials and supermarkets with a grab-and-go section to reduce costs. Generally speaking, the closer to a major tourist attraction you are, the more expensive the food will be.
- For any attraction you want to visit it is worth booking your tickets online ahead of time. You can waste a lot of time queuing at Sydney attractions. So doing this will allow you to beat the lines and walk straight into the venue. We use and recommend Get Your Guide for pre-booking attraction tickets (we love their flexible cancellation policy should plans change)
- Another wise choice for seeing multiple attractions in Sydney is investing in the Syndey Go City Explore Pas. You can combine many of Sydney’s most prominent attractions, from the zoo to whale watching, walking tours or thrilling harbour rides, for one combined price.
- If you fancy a day trip or two whilst in Sydney, consider visiting the Blue Mountains, Palm Beach (where the TV show Home & Away is filmed), or even Canberra, which all make for great day trips or family weekend getaways.
Expanding Your Trip Beyond Sydney
If Sydney is just the starting point of your Australian adventure, you’re in for a real treat! Once you have a set of wheels and are ready to hit the road, we recommend you check out the following:
- Try one of these scenic driving routes from Sydney to Adelaide
- Take on the Sydney to the Red Centre drive – traversing through three Australian states and two territories on this epic, mulit-week driving itinerary.
- Take the coastal drive from Sydney to Byron Bay for the best of the NSW Coast
- Or extend the coastal drive even further to take in the best of the Queensland coast, following our Sydney to Cairns itinerary
© Family Road Trip