Book with confidence
Our COVID-19 flexibility promise

Sydney is a very family-friendly city. And travelling with children certainly doesn’t make it any harder to enjoy Sydney’s world-famous attractions and unforgettable experiences. To help out with your vacation planning, we’ve got plenty of tips and tricks to share about travelling with children in Sydney. So, let’s get started...

Family Holiday Sydney

Tips on where to stay in Sydney with children

From big-name hotels and international chains, to boutique holiday cottages and private modern city condos, there are plenty of family-friendly accommodation options in every area of Sydney, offering something to suit every kind of taste, budget, and needs: 

 

If you want to stay in the heart of the action

If you want to be in the thick of it, and to have the convenience of Sydney’s main attractions being close by, you probably want to look for something in a central area like Darling Harbour, the CBD, Circular Quay, and the Rocks. 

Swissotel (near St James Station and Sydney Tower Eye in the CBD) and the Novotel in Darling Harbour are great if you’re looking for reliable big-name hotels here. If you want something a little more subtle, try the Castlereagh Boutique Hotel near Hyde Park. Or for a bit more peace and quiet, try the elegant Vibe Hotel in Rushcutters Bay or QT in Bondi, just across the road from the beach.

 

If you prefer having your own space

It’s easy to find a wide range of cozy apartments, spacious family homes, and beautiful holiday cottages in Sydney through private rental sites like AirBnB and HomeToGo. These offer plenty of listings all over Sydney – from a beach house in Dee Why to a historic period home in Rose Bay or a quiet condo in the city centre. 

... Or if you require huge space, consider staying at a holiday park on the outskirts of Sydney 

 

Now, for those hungry mouths to feed...

Sydney Holiday Park

Tips on where to eat with children in Sydney

Sydney’s food scene and cafe culture are renowned all over the world – and there’s no reason why kids can’t enjoy it either! 

In fact, from play cafes to themed restaurants, a fair number of Sydney eateries are specifically geared towards children. And even those which aren’t will usually be very child-friendly – on the whole, diners in Sydney are very comfortable and accommodating to children, and changing tables, high chairs, pram parking, toy boxes, and babycinos are par for the course across Sydney’s cafe scene. 

 

A few favourite inner-city spots for family-friendly cafes:

  • The Rocks – head to the Tea Cosy for fresh scones and afternoon tea, or baby sliders and awesome ocean views at Ribs and Burgers, just up the road on George Street.
     

  • Darling HarbourYots, right outside the National Maritime Museum, has a diverse kids menu and a giant outdoor Connect 4 board to keep kids entertained, while Danieli Cafe lets you pick up a treat or take a seat without leaving the kids playground in Darling Quarter. 
     

  • Surrey Hills – if you and the kids want to experience the lovable cat cafe trend, then Catmosphere on Foveaux Street will not disappoint – not only cat-shaped cookies and cuddle-able kittens (called “catstronauts”, in line with the cafes space theme), but even cat yoga and an in-store cat cinema.
     

 

Some of Sydney’s more refined restaurants are not quite as child-friendly as the cafes. However, that’s not to say there aren’t hundreds of excellent restaurants that are great to take children. 

Here are some of Sydney’s top restaurants that double as being child-friendly:

  • The elegant, historic Cafe Sydney  – which has a location and views, from Customs House in Circular Quay, of which practically every other restaurant in Sydney is jealous – offers high class dining and child-focused services in equal measure. They have one of the best children’s menus in town (a far cry from your standard deep-fried fare), provide colouring-in paper and pens, and unlike other fine dining restaurants they take dinner bookings from as early as 5pm.
     

  • For foodies visiting Sydney with children in tow, it’s well worth it to take a trip to the fantastic, family-friendly Acre Eatery in Camperdown. Here, kids can be introduced to the value of their ethical farm-to-table food principles, while also having a good run around in the garden and terrace area outside. Parents can easily keep an eye on the kids while also enjoying one of the very best restaurants in Sydney’s inner west.
     

  • For many kids and adults alike, nothing beats a day at the beach – and The Newport is a bar and restaurant that means you can enjoy that while also enjoying a fantastic meal. The Newport is one of the northern beaches’ most iconic venues, with great food, quality drinks from the fully-licensed cocktail bar, and a gorgeous setting on the shores of Pittwater, surrounded by gardens and plenty of space where kids can play badminton, ping pong, or even Scrabble on a giant magnetic board (this isn’t restricted to kids, of course).
Child Friendly Reastaurants Sydney

Tips on how to get around Sydney with children

 

By car: driving and renting a car in Sydney with children

For those who want the freedom of getting around at their own pace (and don’t mind the odd bit of traffic), Sydney has excellent, well signposted, and well-maintained roads. 

It’s also very easy to rent a car in Sydney and, better yet, since appropriately sized car seats and restraints for children are compulsory by Australian law, all car hire places have a good stock of car seats to fit different heights and age groups. So you don’t have to worry about trying to find or hire a car seat somewhere else.

Driving in Australia: everything you need to know

 

Getting around Sydney with children by public transport

Sydney’s public transport system is made up of trains, buses, and ferries. 

 

  • Buses and trains – Trains are the quickest and most efficient way to get between major stations, but bus routes are more comprehensive, servicing quieter areas and covering much more of the city.
     

  • Boats – Sydney’s 8 public ferry routes provide a unique and very rewarding way of getting around the city – the ferries across Sydney Harbour double as an affordable sight-seeing tour, with amazing close-up views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera House, and views back onto Sydney’s skyline.
     

  • Accessibility – It’s free to take strollers on all forms of public transport in Sydney. All buses have either an automatic or manual ramp, if required, and a designated space for prams. Sydney’s metro train system is entirely accessible, meaning there are stroller-friendly elevators at every station and platform. The ferries have access ramps, and some regional trains and boats even have fold-down changing tables in the bathroom.
     

 

AND HERE’S AN EXTRA TIP...

Ferry Sydney

Local tricks: Save time, hassle, and money

Your wallet will thank you for getting clued up on these great Sydney discount cards!

 

Opal Card: save money on Sydney Public Transport

Make getting around Sydney’s public transport network with kids easy

 

Opal is a digital travel card that lets you pre-load credit and pay by tapping on a contactless card reader on all forms of public transport (bus, train, metro, and ferry) in Sydney, the Blue Mountains, the Hunter Valley, and the Central Coast. 

With capped daily and weekly fares, a $2 saving on every transfer between different transport methods within a single trip, and big discounts like 30% off during weekends and public holidays, using an Opal Card offers significant savings compared with individual tickets. 

Getting an Opal Card upon arrival in Sydney is very easy, and it’s a great idea for all visitors – but it’s especially good for travellers with kids: 

 

  • children under 4 travel free on the Opal system

  • children aged 4-16 can get a cheaper Child/Youth card

 

Visitors can also simply pay with contactless credit or debit cards on the Opal system. However, this will presume the full adult fare every time, so it’s not a great option for travellers with children.

 

Sydney Pass: skip the queues for top Sydney attractions

 – make visiting Sydney’s top attractions a lot easier (and cheaper)

Purchasing a Sydney Pass in advance is another good tip for travellers with children hoping to visit several of the city’s top attractions. Depending on how many you want to see while in town, this can be a real life-saver:

 

  • It’s convenient – you get free entry into 25+ famous attractions without having to queue 

  • It’s cheaper – you can save up to 45% on admission price if you take the full Explorer Pass, and 20% savings if you build your own itinerary of which attractions you want to visit

  • It’s easy – you can just show your Sydney Pass on any mobile device to get in. No need to bother with the hassle of printing out a ticket (although that is an option) 

  • It’s multi-purpose – some Sydney Passes also include unlimited public transport passes, or day-long Ferry Hopper passes

 

Now, having outlined some tips to make visiting Sydney easier and cheaper, let’s dive into what visitors can actually do when travelling to Sydney with children.

Save money for your family in Sydney

Tips for enjoying activities and outings in Sydney with children

Sydney is full of world-class attractions and fun activities. Here are some which are particularly well suited to travellers with children:

 

Sightseeing with kids – major Sydney attractions with child-friendly options

 

Go to the top of Sydney Tower

The city’s tallest building also offers its best views from the Observation Deck, known as the Sydney Tower Eye. The fully-enclosed observation deck is safe and suitable for all ages, and kids under 3 are free! 

 

Climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge 

Another of the city’s most iconic attractions, kids aged 8 and over (and taller than 1.2 metres) can also climb to the very top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge’s famous iron arch. The guided climbs are operated by BridgeClimb, ranging from 90 minutes to 3.5 hours and operating throughout the day, 364 days a year.

 

Dress up for the opera at the Sydney Opera House 

We don’t mean getting fancy, we mean joining the daily Junior Adventure Tour through the Sydney Opera House, where kids get to enjoy interactive activities and games, including dressing up in historical costumes backstage at this historic venue. Adults get to learn about the inner workings of the Opera House, too. And even if you don’t opt for the Junior Adventure Tour, there are shows and events aimed at kids every day of the year, and children under 5 get free entry into the Opera House


 

Amusement parks, zoos, and other surefire crowd-pleasers for kids

 

It’s impossible for any family members to get bored during a day at one of these child-focused attractions:

 

  • Taronga Zoo – the kids will love the boat trip out to this enormous zoo, which has over 4,000 animals across 21 hectares, not to mention fantastic views over Sydney Harbour!

  • Sydney Aquarium in Darling Harbour – spot over 650 different marine species from the walk-through underwater tunnel, glass-bottomed boat, and interactive rockpool discovery zone right in the harbourside district.

  • Featherdale Wildlife Park – cuddle a koala, pet a kangaroo, and learn about other local wildlife at this small, family-friendly zoo in the western suburbs that specialises in native Australian birds, reptiles, and marsupials.

  • Luna Park – enjoy the rides and games at this iconic venue where Sydneysiders have been getting their wholesome family thrills for nearly a century.

 

The best child-friendly museums in Sydney

 

It’s easy for all ages to be educated and entertained thanks to these brilliant Sydney museums, all of which have special features aimed at children: 

 

    • The Powerhouse Museum – free for children under 16, this is full of interactive displays and child-focused exhibits dedicated to everything from the Wiggles (Australia’s most successful children’s entertainers) to the Apollo moon landings.

    • The Justice and Police Museum – this fascinating museum details Sydney’s criminal past and slightly shady underbelly, and kids will love joining in a mock trial with the Bushrangers Behind Bars programme, where they get to decide the verdict!

    • The Australian Museum – unlike most world-class natural history museums, kids are allowed to pick up and touch things here. The Kidspace is an area for under-5s, dedicated to the idea that a tactile learning experience is valuable to help little ones learn about and interact with the natural world. Children under 16 get in free, and the brilliant Tiny Tots (for 9-month to 3-year olds) and Mini Explorers (for 3-5 year olds) programmes run during school holidays.

 

The best free family activities in Sydney

It doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to entertain children in Sydney. There are plenty of fantastic family-friendly activities that are totally free.

 

Free water play parks

Public playgrounds with water play parks can be found all over Sydney. They are an excellent, easy, and entirely free way to have fun and cool off from the summer sun! 

 

Here are just a few suggestions:

 

    • Blaxland Riverside Park at Sydney Olympic Park 

The largest outdoor water play park in NSW, it also has a double flying fox, multi-storey climbable treehouse, tunnel slides, and plenty of other fun stuff.

    • Ian Potter Children’s WILD PLAY Garden at Centennial Park 

This brilliant, entirely free nature-play area inside Centennial Park is designed to encourage children of all ages and abilities to learn, have fun, and express themselves immersed in nature. Kids are free to run, jump, splash, and explore the well-supervised 6,500sqm play area, and even to use sticks, leaves, and other natural materials to create their own artworks and games.

 

The Royal Botanic Gardens

This heritage-listed, 30-hectare public space right in the heart of Sydney’s harbourside is an amazing oasis of wildlife and greenery in the centre of the city. Kids will love exploring the ‘Jurassic Jungle’ or – although it does require an extra cost of about $20 for the whole family – turn the entire Botanic Gardens into a board game with Cryptic Cities, who organise a range of Sherlock Holmes-inspired games, treasure hunts, and puzzles following a trail of clues throughout the park and gardens!

Sydney Zoo

BUT WHAT ABOUT THE BEACHES?!

Good point. Sydney is a beach city. And each and every beautiful beach in Sydney provides another totally free family activity. We have created a comprehensive guide to the best beaches in Sydney, but here's our pick of the best beaches for families:

Great family-friendly beaches to take children in Sydney

Offering safe swimming, changing facilities, toilets, playgrounds, and other child-friendly facilities, here are a few favourite choices for taking children to the beach in Sydney:

 

  • Collaroy – a long, sandy, fully accessible beach with a great playground, paved walkway to make it easy for strollers, and proximity to plenty of great shops and cafes.
     

  • Dee Why – another beautiful sandy beach that is fully accessible by ramp for strollers. Dee Why also has an awesome ocean pool with a toddler area, and the pristine wildlife refuge at Dee Why Lagoon is located just north of the beach, accessible from Dee Why Parade.
     

  • Balmoral – one of the calmest beaches in Sydney, Balmoral’s pond-like water is made for toddlers to splash and children to swim in total safety and clear view. Speaking of views, Balmoral also offers superb views out between the two headlands at the opening of Sydney Harbour
     

  • Freshwater Beach – a gorgeous sandy beach wedged between the headlands just around from Manly main beach, Freshwater offers quieter, calmer vibes. The easy walk around the point from Manly to Freshwater (and onto Curl Curl if you’re up for it), aided by a boardwalk and great ocean views, is also a winner.

 

While we’re on the subject, let’s take a closer look at the best family walks in Sydney:

 

Sydney’s best walking trails for travellers with children

Enjoy a good walk with the whole family. 

 

There are lots of good places to take a family stroll in Sydney. Whether taking in the sights, cooling off in the sea, or finding some peace and quiet, you can find safe, child-friendly walks that the whole family can enjoy. 

Here are a few suggestions:

 

Narrabeen Lagoon Bush Trail Loop

A northern suburbs favourite, this 8.4-kilometre track is full of local joggers, dog-walkers, roller-bladers, families, and cyclists. However, there is plenty of space for everybody, and with the pristine Narrabeen Lagoon Birdwood Park grasslands in the mix, there is the added bonus of awesome wildlife-spotting opportunities, which kids will love.

You don’t have to walk the entire thing. A popular stretch for families is the 2.2-kilometre section from Middle Creek (where there is a car park, toilets, and a water fountain) to Bilarong Reserve, which should take a little over an hour.

 

Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk

This eastern beaches favourite is pretty hard to beat. The mile-long path is mostly flat and very easy, following the headlands around Mackenzies Point and Tamarama Point, beginning straight from the end of Bondi Promenade. There are great views over the coves, cliffs and bays along the way, as well as many rock pools where little ones can try to spot some local sea life. 

The fun doesn’t end once you arrive in Bronte, either – in addition to the beautiful sandy beach and huge park area, Bronte Beach has toddler-friendly salt-water swimming pools, a kids playground, family picnic area, several cafes, and even an interesting local history museum inside Bronte House. The walk should take under an hour from Bondi to Bronte, at a very leisurely pace and accounting for plenty of stops.

Bondi Beach Walk

Final thoughts: next steps for planning a Sydney trip with children

Although there’s plenty more to discuss, let’s stop there and reflect on what we’ve covered about travelling in Sydney with children:

 

  • Where to stay – combine prime location with the right style of stay for you, from plush hotels to simple holiday cottages

  • Where to eat – whether beachfront cafes or award-winning farm-to-table restaurants, you don’t have to worry about finding delicious child-friendly places to eat in Sydney

  • How to get around – hire a safe family car, or get yourself some Opal Cards and enjoy Sydney’s fantastic public transport network – especially the ferries

  • What to do – it’s safe to say there’s no shortage of child-friendly attractions and activities in Sydney, whether hitting the beach or climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge

 

 

Next Steps: Planning Your Australia Family Holiday

Remember, these are just ideas and options, and there are many more to discover.

For country-wide trip planning inspiration, browse our range of family-friendly Australian self-drive itineraries. These can easily be customised to suit your family's unique needs.

Anybody wanting to know more about any activities outlined above, or any other questions left unanswered, can consult First Light Travel’s free travel planning advice service. It’s totally free, and it’ll iron out any final creases holding you back from lining up an unforgettable trip to Sydney with the kids!

Get to know our Australia Travel Team

Tags
Family
David Mckenzie
Submitted by
David Mckenzie
: 18 Sep 2019 (Last updated: 6 Dec 2019)

Subscribe to our blog

Sign up to our blog newsletter to get the latest updates.

*We will not spam your email, this newletter is sent once a month or so.