They call it the Emerald City, and it certainly does glimmer with glitz, glamour and some good old family fun. What’s not to love? Some of Australia’s richest history, best-loved beaches and most recognizable icons sit in Sydney, as well as some of its most stunning gardens and best food.
Its location also means Sydney is a great home base for exploring some of the most amazing regions of New South Wales. Head to the Central Coast, Hunter Valley or even the Blue Mountains for a weekend away.
Sydney was the first spot colonized by the British when they entered, home to sandstone buildings and convict stories dating back to the First Fleet. The Rocks, the Museum of Sydney and the Australian Museum tell many a local tale. Even more importantly, Sydney’s lands and waterways have belonged to the many peoples of the Eora nation for numerous millennia. Modern and ancient Indigenous cultures are shared in spots such as the Art Gallery of NSW, Barangaroo walkway and Kuring-gai National Park, where you can see rock carvings made many years ago.
Read more: Top 11 family bush walks in Sydney
Get your postcard snaps against the most renowned of Sydney’s backdrops. See a show under the sails of the iconic Sydney Opera House or go for a swim at world-famous Bondi Beach. Climb the Harbour Bridge or perch with a picnic on Observatory Hill.
Darling Harbour is a great base for a family Sydney stay. It is alive with atmosphere and bursting with attractions such as the Powerhouse Museum, SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, Wild Life Sydney Zoo, Madame Tussauds and the Australian National Maritime Museum.
Ride the Sydney Ferry to one of Sydney’s great harbourside suburbs or to Cockatoo Island. Here, the kids can explore spooky convict prisons and rusting cranes. Then, catch the ferry north for all the fun of the fair at Luna Park and the incredible Taronga Zoo. And visit iconic Manly for fish and chips on the beach, or to grab a surf lesson from a pro.
From sparkling Sydney Harbor to iconic architecture and beautiful beaches, there’s so many must dos in Sydney. Here are ten of our favourites.
Take the Sydney Harbour Ferry to Taronga Zoo. You can share the breathtaking views of Sydney Harbour with its furry, scaly and feathered residents. There are also several playgrounds where kids can climb and explore.
While you are still on the Northside, Luna Park has a dedicated area with rides for tiny tots. Their older brothers and sisters will also love letting loose on the other rides!
Back in the city, the Australian Museum is the place for kids to stomp and roar as they walk among the dinosaurs. Enjoy the interactive fun of the Kidspace mini-museum experience for under-fives. At the Museum of Contemporary Art, even the littlest visitors are catered for with guided Art Baby sessions for parents and carers with babies.
Sydney is a glorious destination for families all year round. The city lies in a temperate zone so while the climate can be variable, it is generally free from extremes. The warmest weather falls between December to February and the coolest from June to August when you will need to rug up, especially in the evenings and early mornings.
With its dazzling Harbour and excess of attractions, Sydney is a popular family destination all year around so you will need to book well ahead to secure the best accommodation for your crew. For pleasant weather, more affordable prices and smaller crowds, the shoulder seasons of March to May and September to November are ideal. If you are on a budget consider visiting during winter as you will find much better deals. It’s worth noting though that in late May and early June, the Vivid Festival sees the city bursting with visitors, so accommodation needs to be booked way in advance. New Year’s Eve, with the famous Sydney fireworks, is another very popular time of year. Expect big crowds in town.
Sydney is one of the world’s great cultural melting pots, with more than a third of its residents born overseas and more than 250 different languages spoken. This diversity shines through in an almost inexhaustible variety of food experiences that are accessible to kids. Start with Chinatown for yum cha lunch at The Marigold in Haymarket and wander over the Pitt St to explore Thai Town and Korea Town. Jump on a train at Central to Cabramatta and take a walking food tour of the fabulous Vietnamese restaurants and takeaways. Take a bus to Leichhardt for some famous Italian.
Visit the Sydney Fish Markets for the freshest seafood, pack a picnic to enjoy one of Sydney’s beautiful parks or take a ferry across the Harbour for fish and chips on Manly Beach.
While there are plenty of places that offer kid friendly menus, a kid-friendly vibe can be harder to find. The Grounds is café culture at its family friendly best. A sanctuary of sustainable locally roasted coffee, fresh organic food and friendly service in a heritage listed factory space, you’ll also find a pretty spacious courtyard with lemonade stalls, an animal farm and kids enclosed play area.
January – Sydney Festival
Enjoy a three-week cultural extravaganza of music, theatre, art, circus and family fun.
February – Sydney Chinese New Year Festival
Celebrate the largest Lunar New Year celebration outside of Asia with markets, Dragon Boat Races, a Twilight Parade and fireworks.
April – Sydney Royal Easter Show
From animal shows and craft displays to stadium spectaculars and showbags, the kids will love Sydney’s biggest show.
May/June – Vivid Sydney
Sydney’s most glittering festival brings together stunning light installations, music performances and creative ideas.
August – City 2 Surf
The City 2 Surf attracts thousands of fit families for the 14-kilometre run or walk from Hyde Park to Bondi Beach.
October – Art & About Sydney
Get creative at this month-long festival celebration of art and performance.
Dec – New Year’s Eve
Sydney Harbour’s New Year’s Eve fireworks spectacular is the best in the world and an unmissable delight for families.
Finding an outing which spans the interests of three generations can be tough. But food is a wonderful connector and the arrival of the Claris High Tea at Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour sees generations bonding over fine food and a little mouse named Claris.
From Shrek animations to deep-sea dinosaurs, awesome exhibitions are popping up in museums and galleries around Australia this summer.
Hit the road with your family to explore the best Aussie road trips across desert, rainforest, mountain range, coast and island.
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