Thinking about visiting Sydney Australia with your kids? Then this kid-friendly travel guide to Sydney, Australia is just what you’re searching for.
Australia has always been on my travel bucket list for as long as I can remember while growing up in the Caribbean watching cricket on the television with my father. I remember telling him, “I’m going to live in Australia.” While that dream didn’t come to fruition, I did the next best thing, I paid the country a visit. Australia may be on the other side of the world, and airfare may be on the expensive side, but every once in a while you may find a great deal on an airline ticket.
Once I decided that we were going to visit Australia for Spring Break, my next decision was whether we were going to Sydney or Melbourne. I did my research, even reaching out to a few people who lived in Australia and found out that Sydney’s Darling Harbour was the most kid-friendly location, so off to Sydney we went!
WHERE TO STAY
Sheraton Grand Sydney Hyde Park
Now, most would tell you to stay in the Darling Harbour area, but I wanted something away from all the tourists, (after all, that’s where they would be) but still centrally located and close by. The Sheraton on the Park was just what we needed. Not only was it within walking distance of Darling Harbour, but it was directly adjacent to Hyde Park and the St. Mary’s Cathedral and all the shopping that your heart could ever desire. It is a 5-star hotel, so it was a bit pricey, but totally worth it, especially if you get club lounge access which we always do with a Sheraton (now Mariott Bonvoy) hotel.
HOW LONG SHOULD YOU STAY?
I recommend staying no less than a week, and even with that being said, I would also suggest two weeks to maximize all that Sydney has to offer including some of the free attractions. While you can do more than two activities in a day, you’ll be rushing around from place to place, and you won’t get to enjoy it as much as you should. Take time to really explore and take in the sights. After all, you’re on vacation and vacations should not be rushed. You’re also going to be suffering from jetlag after flying for more than 15 – 18 hours around the world if you’re coming from some parts of the US. So take the first day to unwind and sleep!
HOW TO GET AROUND
Now there are quite a few options in Sydney and none that you may not be familiar with. When it comes to public transportation, you can ride the bus, train, light rail, ferry, catch a cab, or even an Uber. Yes, the ever popular Uber is available in Australia, so your Uber App comes in handy there, but your American dollars credit isn’t available for use. For you Lyft users, sorry, there are no Lyfts available. In order to get on the bus, train or ferry, however, you do need to have the Opal card, either an adult card (ages 16+) or a child/youth (ages 4-15). While the Opal card is free, you will need to load it up with $10 for the adult card, and $5 for children before your first use, and using it is very straightforward. Merely tap on when you first get on any public transport and tap off when you get off, and the fare will be deducted. What makes this so awesome is that you can only pay a maximum of $15/day for adults and $7.50 for children no matter how many places you travel to that day, making the Opal card the best way to go in Sydney. Here’s another fun fact – your balance never expires so you can save your card for your return visit.
WHAT TO DO?
There are many things that you can and should do while you’re in Sydney. Many of the activities are family friendly and are a surefire way of creating everlasting memories. Consider engaging in the Coogee – Bondi (or Bondi – Coogee) walk and taking in the views of the Pacific ocean, exploring and shopping at the Markets on the Rock or Darling Harbour, strolling through China Town, visiting the Chinese Garden of Friendship, taking the Ferry to Manly Beach, swimming in the many beaches, and even delighting in delicious Aussie food. You’re never going to run short of ideas or things to do while in Sydney.
Remember to take Day 1 to relax and decompress after your long flight. Maybe take a stroll around your hotel, and if you’re staying at the Sheraton as I suggested, cross the street to Hyde Park and relax on a bench and take in the sights and sounds.
Sea Life Sydney Aquarium + the glass bottom boat experience ($)
Don’t let the size of the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium fool you (it sure did us), this place is massive. You’re going to be spending at least two hours here, and maybe even more if you make your way carefully through the exhibits, taking it all in. I would also suggest doing the glass boat experience which is an extra paid activity, but so worth it. Not only do you and your kids get to sit in a glass boat and experience what it’s like on a reef, but you’ll get to see some of the marine animals that call the reef home.
Madame Tussauds Sydney
Right next door is Madame Tussauds Sydney, and this is where you can get up close to historical figures, and celebrities alike. Madison and I had a blast here, and some of the exhibits are even interactive which makes it even more fun. One display I was really interested in seeing was the DC Universe, and it did not disappoint. Get up close to The Flash and try and beat him in a race, test your strength with Superman and even light up the bat signal. Madame Tussauds is an excellent place for kids because they love touching everything within sight, and touching is certainly allowed.
Wild Life Sydney Zoo + a Koala Encounter ($)
The Wild Life Sydney Zoo is a bit smaller than the aquarium but just as lovely. While there aren’t any wild tigers or lions, what you do find are animals that are native to Australia such as Kangaroos, Wombats, Tasmanian Devils, and even Koalas. Speaking of Koalas, you’ve got to experience the Koala Encounter, a paid activity at the Wild Life Sydney Zoo, that allows you to get up close as you can with a Koala and get your photo taken together. It’s’s a once in a lifetime experience and must not be missed.
Sydney Tower Eye + Endless Nights experience (free, but as a pop-up for a limited time only)
This is also an experience that without a doubt should be added to your Sydney to-do list. Be sure however to plan your visit for a rain-free and cloudless day or night as you’ll be able to see the Sydney skyline a whole lot better. On the night that we decided to visit the Sydney Tower Eye, there was a slight fog, but the views were still spectacular. It’s indeed one of the best ways to “see” Sydney.
Australian National Maritime Museum
Located in the Sydney Darling Harbour neighborhood, and right next door to the Wild Life Sydney Zoo, Sea Life Sydney Aquarium, and Madame Tussauds is the Australian National Maritime Museum. For those who love ships and all things military, this is a great way to see the ships that were involved in warfare many years ago. Get on a submarine and learn the history of these fantastic Australian naval ships.
Luna Park Syndey
After spending most of your morning learning about ships and war history, its time to have some fun, and what better way to spend it than at an amusement park. It’s also a great way to spend some time aboard a real working class ship (aka the ferry). Luna Park Sydney is one of the oldest amusement parks in Sydney Australia and has been around since 1935. A must do is the Ferris Wheel which gives magnificent views of the Harbour Bridge and beyond.
The Royal Botanic Garden
Take a relaxing walk through the Royal Botanic Garden, or indulge in a free guided tour. The Royal Botanic Garden hosts an array of plants and trees and spectacular picnic areas and is the perfect place to “smell the roses.” This beautiful place is also free to the public so no need to pull out your wallet. Madison and I took our time one glorious morning and strolled amongst the flowers and even took the time to sit on the grass and just enjoy the morning.
Sydney Opera House
Now no trip to Sydney Australia is complete without a visit to the Sydney Opera House, just a short walk away from the Royal Botanic Garden which is why I suggest doing both in one day. We strolled around the harbour where the Syndey Opera House is located and found our way to the top of the stairs which is absolutely free and also makes for great photos. There are tours that you can take, and you may even indulge in a show. We weren’t able to see any shows as the kid shows weren’t being performed until May, so plan your trip accordingly.
BEST WAY TO SEE IT ALL?
The Sydney Pass
Now I’ve mentioned that I like spending as little as possible for activities whenever we visit a new country. I’d rather save my money to purchase souvenirs to remind me of my time spent there along with the memories of our photos and time spent together. The Sydney Pass is a great way to see many of the attractions mentioned here at one low price saving you lots of cash in the long run. There are 25+ attractions that you can see, and you can put together a pass for just the attractions that you’d prefer visiting, making it convenient and economical for you. After all, why spend money on attractions that you’re not interested in?
If you’re planning on taking a trip to Sydney, Australia with your children in the not too distant future, or even if you’re planning on visiting a few years from now, we hope that our kid-friendly guide will be of some help throughout your stay.