Visiting Sydney with kids

I am super excited to bring this post to you by a Sydney resident and expert Seana Smith. I love Sydney and think it is a great place to take the kids, especially if you only have time for a few days away. Seana has put together a three day itinerary for families with school-aged children visiting Sydney.

Seana runs the popular blog Hello Sydney Kids, plus her more adult focused swimming holidays website Swim the World. So if you want to find out more about Sydney or swimming the world I highly recommend checking out her sites!

Hello there, great to hear that you are thinking of visiting Sydney with kids. There is so much to see and do in our beautiful Harbour city and myself and the kids are thrilled to show you around.

Here are our suggestions for a three day visit with school aged children. We’ve mixed up visiting museums and iconic features with enjoying Sydney’s wonderful wild places. We hope there is something for everyone here.

NB. If you are not sure which part of Sydney is best for your family to stay in, have a look at this post: Best Areas of Sydney To Stay – With Kids.

Day 1: Sydney City Centre Icons

This is a day of exploring central city, visiting the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge, then choosing from a variety of other family-friendly activities.

Sydney Opera House

Walk along Circular Quay watching the ferries buzz back and forth then along to the forecourt of the Opera House. You can run up and down the stairs, have a coffee at the café or just gaze up at the sails.

You can see shows at the Opera House and do behind-the-scenes tours too, of course.

Royal Botanic Gardens

Alongside the Opera House are the delightful and extensive Royal Botanic Gardens, a terrific place to escape the city’s hustle and bustle.

You can enjoy meals and snacks at the kiosk or the café at the Calyx where there are often interesting exhibitions.

If you are an art lover, walk all the way through the gardens to the huge Art Gallery of NSW overlooking Woolloomooloo Bay. You could stop for a dip at the Andrew ‘Boy’ Charlton outdoor pool on the way if it’s a hot day.

Otherwise go back to Circular Quay and walk into The Rocks historic area on the west side.

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Organised climbs of the Bridge are marvellous but very costly, they are excellent for special occasions. You can save money by simply walking onto the Bridge and climbing the Pylon Lookout, where there is an exhibition, the fee to do this is very small.

A walk right across the Bridge doesn’t take too long, the views are wonderful. Once on the north side, the suburb of Kirribilli is cute and full of eateries. You can catch a ferry back from Milsons Point to Circular Quay or simply walk back across the Bridge.

PS. Also on the north side of the Bridge are the fairground Luna Park, plus the beautiful North Sydney Olympic Pool.

For the rest of the day, choose from these central Sydney adventures :

  • Try out one of the child-friendly Harbour Cruises
  • Explore Sydney’s history and character at The Museum of Sydney
  • Check out art at the MCA (Museums of Contemporary Art) at Circular Quay
  • Visit Sydney Tower Eye for stunning views of the city

Then enjoy dinner at one of the many historic pubs or restaurants in The Rocks, we like the Argyle Pub or the German Munich Brauhaus.

Collapse exhausted into bed!

Day 2: Explore the Beach Suburbs

Righty oh, you have to decide whether to go north, catching the ferry to Manly or to head to Bondi and the Eastern Suburbs, using the hop on hop off Bondi Explorer Bus.

Manly on the Northern Beaches

If you choose Manly then just head to Circular Quay and catch a Manly ferry. Don’t forget your bathers.

You can walk for miles along the ocean promenade which stretches from Manly up to Queenscliff Beach, or just duck south along the promenade to little Shelly Beach (stop for a dip at the exquisite Fairy Bower pool.)

Shelly Beach is a wonderful place to go snorkelling, this area is an aquatic reserve and there is abundant marine life.

Manly is also an excellent place to enjoy surfing lessons or even a full day surf camp. Book ahead for that.

On the Harbour side at Manly you can find a small waterslide park called Manly Surf n Slide, it’s good fun for school aged kids.

Manly is chockablock full of cafes and restaurants, most are super family-friendly.

Bondi and the Coastal Path

If you choose to explore Bondi then hop on the Bondi Explorer Bus, you can choose to visit other places on the way if you fancy too.

Have a walk along the promenade, your kids might enjoy a splash at the kids rock pool at the north end of Bondi.

A play in the waves is always fun, there are showers and change blocks by the beach if you need them. There’s also a terrific playground nearby with some equipment that’s good for school aged children.

At the south end of Bondi is the famous Bondi Icebergs Club, you can find two pools here, one for serious lap swimmers and one that’s fine for kids to splash in. You need to pay a small fee to enter. Read more about Bondi Icebergs on Swim The World here.

The Manly Coastal Walk starts from here too. If you love to walk and the kids are safe near cliffs then this walk is a must do. You can walk for miles past an assortment of ever more delightful beaches, all of which have kiosks, cafes, playground and life guards to hand.

There’s Tamarama, gorgeous Clovelly then Gordons Bay, then Bronte (with its excellent playground at the rear of the reserve), then Coogee and on up the cliffs past McIvers Ladies Baths and stunning Wylies Baths.

Walk until you are sated with sea views and then either walk back to Bondi or find a bus to take you back to Circular Quay.

Like Manly Bondi has an abundance of groovy kid-friendly cafes, restaurants and pubs.

If beaches and walking aren’t your bag them this is the day to visit Taronga Zoo and Luna Park.

Day 3: Darling Harbour Big Day Out

Darling Harbour is a Sydney playground, with cafes, restaurants and shopping centres galore.

Here you will also find:

  • The Australian National Maritime Museum
  • The Chinese Garden of Friendship
  • Madame Tussauds
  • Sydney Aquarium
  • Wild LIFE Sydney Zoo

Visiting two or three of these places plus enjoying lunch will take up a whole day.

But wait, there’s more. The most fantastic kids playground is found at Darling Harbour, in the Darling Quarter area. There’s water play, huge slides and climbing nets and swings. A must-visit.

It’s also a short walk from Darling Harbour to the new Barangaroo quarter, full of terrific restaurants. You can walk around the reclaimed headland and enjoy views and some peace and quiet.

If that all sounds too busy, hectic and intense, then just head off to Taronga Zoo instead, perhaps with a trip to Luna Park afterwards if you love a fun fair.

I hope you have enjoyed this very general overview of things to do in beautiful Sydney when visiting with kids.

If you’d like to research more, do pop over to Hello Sydney Kids and use the search box. All of the places mentioned are described there in detail.

You’ll find my email address on the website side bar there, do ask any questions, I really enjoy helping families as they plan their trips to Sydney.