Gather your crew and show the kids the best parts of Sydney. Take your pick from surfing lessons to zoo expeditions and ocean pool dips. Here’s your guide to a family-friendly long weekend in the harbour city.
With fascinating museums, exciting outdoor activities and lots of delicious food and drink, this 72-hour family itinerary showcases some of the best ways to explore Sydney with kids.
Sydney is an energetic city with loads to keep the kids entertained. Peppered with swathes of green spaces, positioned around a sparkling harbour and laced with beautiful beaches, it’s an outdoor playground, perfect for group adventures and memorable experiences. Whether your kids are into animals or surfing, or interested in learning something new about Sydney, the ideas in this three-day itinerary should keep them engaged and happy little travellers.
Try bush food in Sydney Royal Botanic Garden
Tackle the surf at Bondi Beach
Meet the wildlife at Taronga Zoo
Climb Sydney Harbour Bridge
Sample new flavours at the Chinatown markets
Learn from the locals
Start your Sydney adventure by delving into the Indigenous culture of the city. This engaging tour blends nature and traditional learnings in the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney. You will learn from an experienced Aboriginal guide who will share stories about the traditional owners of the land, the tools they used and the bush food they gathered and ate. Your kids will love sampling some of the native bush foods, too, selected by your guide.
Take a short stroll past the sails of the Sydney Opera House, then along the harbour’s edge to Circular Quay and take the kids on a ferry ride across the water to Taronga Zoo Sydney. Spend the afternoon spying all walks of wildlife from towering giraffes with a city skyline backdrop to cheeky meerkats. Treat the kids to a bite to eat at Taronga Food Market, watch the popular Seal for the Wild Presentation, then settle in for a fascinating keeper talk. Don’t forget to download your Taronga Zoo app for an interactive map in your pocket and fun missions for the kids. Before you go, why not tackle the Wild Ropes Adventure to see Sydney from new heights and wave to koalas and kangaroos along the way as you navigate suspension bridges, climbing walls and flying foxes.
After you’ve finished your wild and wonderful zoo adventure, catch a ferry across the harbour back to Circular Quay, then around to Barangaroo for an early dinner at Belle’s Hot Chicken – the delicious crunchy fried chicken comes in different levels of spice to suit everyone. Afterwards, grab a sweet gelato or thickshake from Rivareno and wander the streets and grassy spaces of Barangaroo.
Discover an endless playground
The first half of day two is all about aquatic adventures. Head to Sydney’s most iconic beach, Bondi, and hit the foamy peaks with a Lets Go Surfing lesson: you can even book a private family session. If everyone still has energy to burn, start the coastal trail from Bondi and follow the path that hugs the ocean’s edge around to Bronte Beach. Cool off in the rockpool and fuel up at local favourite the Bogey Hole Café.
From Sydney’s east, start moving towards the city to Darling Harbour for an afternoon discovering the fascinating nautical history at Australian National Maritime Museum. Kids can climb aboard tall ships, a cold war submarine and many other vessels, go and peek below the surface of the harbour or get involved in plentiful kids’ activities. Then cross the Pyrmont Bridge and explore the natural wonders of SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium. The aquarium is one of the world's largest - with over 700 different species and 13,000 animals. Explore one of the nine themed zones and meander through the Jurassic Seas, Sydney Harbour and Dugong Island, then, immerse yourself in the underwater world of Shark Valley, the majestic ocean tunnel walk-through, next visit the penguins on Macquarie Island and end with the mesmerising Great Barrier Reef zone.
Afterwards, spend a bit of time at Darling Quarter Playground, one of the best and largest playgrounds in Australia, with a 21m flying fox, climbing ropes and water games. For dinner, visit nearby Chinatown and slurp delicious noodles at the bustling and vibrant Friday night markets or dine on tasty dumplings along Dixon Street.
Thrills and spills
Start day three on top of the city, with a walk across Sydney Harbour Bridge to the Pylon Lookout. You’ll see sweeping views of the entire CBD, north shore and Circular Quay. If you want to ascend the bridge right to the top, prebook a BridgeClimb tour. The ‘Summit Express’ is a slightly shorter climb – and remember kids need to be eight years or older and at least 1.2m tall. Get an iconic photograph of the family atop one of the world’s most famous bridges.
Head down to the water and elevate the excitement with a thrilling boat ride across Sydney Harbour with Thunder Jet Boat. This is sightseeing with a twist, literally – as you race around the water past the Sydney Opera House, the iconic architecture that fringes the shore and dodge a few ferries while your experienced driver performs thrilling slides, twists and fishtails.
Back on land, calm your adrenaline rush with an ice cream, then head to the light rail station to jump aboard the tram to Hyde Park. Walk through this lush inner-city park and you’ll come to the Australian Museum, Australia’s oldest. Here, the whole family will marvel at the interactive dinosaur exhibition, with more than 400 animal exhibits at Wild Planet and a fascinating history and climate change exhibit Surviving Australia.
Destination NSW acknowledges and respects Aboriginal people as the state’s first people and nations and recognises Aboriginal people as the Traditional Owners and occupants of New South Wales land and water.