Sydney is a frequent starting point for many travellers coming to Australia.
It’s a city that uniquely balances nature experiences, including beaches, parks, zoos and river cruises with stunning architecture including the famous Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge.
But how do you tackle the best of Sydney if you only have 3 days?
Our city experts with the help of Seana, founder of Hello Sydney Kids have put together this 3-day Sydney itinerary for families to make sure you capture the best the city of Sydney has to offer, especially for newcomers to Australia.
You can listen to an interview between our editor Marianne and Seana on our City Travel with Kids Podcast below – full show notes for the podcast can be found here.
Day 1 Sydney Itinerary with Kids
Start your Sydney with kids itinerary with a walk through the historic Rocks area of Sydney and visit the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House, both in the Circular Quay area of the city.
Older children may want to try the iconic Bridge Climb for stunning views atop Sydney Harbor Bridge.
With younger kids, you can easily walk across the bridge to Milsons Point (about a 1.4km walk), and stop to see the Pylon Lookout to learn more about the bridge’s history.
Walk or train back to Circular Quay to then explore the Sydney Opera House. It is great fun, even from the outside kids can enjoy playing on the stairs. Older kids and grownups may be interested in a behind-the-scenes tour, or check out their extensive program of family-friendly events.
Grab a picnic and head to the Royal Botanical Gardens beyond the Opera House, or for one of the best city viewing spots of the city, walk around to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair.
Head back to Circular Quay and catch a ferry to Taronga Zoo (the Ferry is half the fun for kids!).
This will give you a full afternoon of entertainment at one of the world’s most spectacular zoos with amazing city views and a huge interactive program of events for kids.
Where to stay in Sydney with kids
There are plenty of options both within the city and staying further out in the suburbs and nearby beaches, depending on how long you have. If you are just on a 3-day break we recommend you stay within the city.
The best areas include Darling Harbour and around the Rocks, but anywhere within the CBD you will be walking distance to most attractions. Accommodation in Sydney does not come cheap!
- At the luxury end with spectacular views and convenience to top attractions try Pullman Quay Grand Sydney Harbour or Swissôtel Sydney.
- There are lots of self-catering hotel-apartment options around Darling Harbour, we like Adina Apartment Hotel, or try Fraser Suites in the CBD.
- Budget and inner Sydney do not go hand and hand but one of the more affordable options to try is staying at a youth hostel in a family room. You can try Sydney Harbour YHA or Sydney Central YHA
You can check out our full selection of hand-picked Sydney hotels for families as chosen by our Little City team of experts here.
Day 2 Sydney itinerary with kids
We’re going to spend the whole of Day 2 in the Darling Harbour area of Sydney. There’s plenty to see both outdoors and indoors, which will give you some hot and rainy-day options too.
Visit the highly acclaimed Australian National Maritime Museum – with real ships and submarines to explore.
The Darling Harbour playground is the perfect spot for a quick bite. There is a large McDonalds here as well as many other café choices, all with a great view of the playground.
There’s also a coffee shop in the middle of the playground for a coffee for the parents and snacks for the kids.
Head to the Chinese Garden of Friendship for some inner-city tranquility.
If you missed any of the attractions mentioned in the morning, catch up on these in the afternoon.
Day 3 Sydney itinerary with kids
We’re going to head out of the city centre for the final day of your Sydney with kids itinerary and explore one of the city’s exciting beaches.
You will only really be able to fit in one of these areas in a day as they are quite far apart. You can choose between Manly & the Northern Beaches, or Bondi & the Eastern Beaches!
Eastern beaches of Sydney
You can take a combination of trains and the bus to get to the famous Bondi Beach. Here you will find the iconic Icebergs swimming pool and the starting point of the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk.
Little legs may only make it around the first couple of bays as far as Bronte, but this is the perfect stop for lunch and fish and chips at the beach.
There is a large park and playground here, and the beach is perfect for kids with shallow rock pools.
From either Bronte or Coogee you can take the bus back to the centre of Sydney.
Northern Beaches – Manly
Take the ferry from Circular Quay to Manly. You can spend a full day exploring the promenade, walking as far north as Queenscliff then back to the sheltered waters of Shelly Beach.
A hidden gem is the Little Manly Beach, a protected cove on the harbourside of Manly, not far from the ferry.
Further family activities in Sydney
If you have more than 3 days in Sydney (which we highly recommend, this is a city difficult to cover well in just a few days), then some suggested day trips include:
- Head to some of the further away beaches including Palm Beach (get set Home and Away fans) and La Perouse.
- Take an organised trip out to the Blue Mountains (or hire a car if you prefer to self-drive). There are many tour operators though that will help you with a full day package including a stop at Jenolan Caves.
- Visit the Featherdale Wildlife Park. If time allows this would be our top choice for taking in a wildlife experience in Sydney.
- Those with teenagers will love some of Seana’s suggestions in our podcast including taking a kayak out on to Sydney Harbour or heading out into the Blue Mountains for a canyoning experience.
How to get around Sydney
It is definitely preferable for tourists to get around by public transport rather than attempting to hire a car in central Sydney. There is a good network of trains, buses, light rail and ferries that operate across the city.
(And top tip – many public ferries cover similar routes to the paid tours, a much cheaper way to see the harbour!)
What to pack for Sydney
- Sun protection in Australia is essential. The most important thing you will want to pack is a kids’ (and grownups) Rashy to protect your skin out playing in the water, as well as a water hat.
- Taking a compact stroller with you that can easily hop on and off transport is helpful as you will still want the stroller for long walks. The city is very stroller-friendly.
- Kids will want their own small backpacks as there are lots of walks you can take.
Remember to pop on over and listen to the podcast if you would like to learn more about all the places we mention from Seana & the Little City team.
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