The young ones will love spending time with the animals at Taronga Zoo, Sydney Aquarium
, Manly Oceanworld and Sydney Wildlife World. They'll get a slice of history at the Australian Museum and some good exercise walking round the Sydney Tower. Getting around with the whole family is easy, pick up a travel pass that includes ferries, trains and buses.
If you want a family holiday in Sydney that suits your specific budget, check out our insider tips on where to eat out in Sydney with the kids, as well as fun-packed Sydney adventures that are absolutely free.
Tours for kids in Sydney
If you've exhausted all the city's attractions and are looking for even more ways to get the whole family out and about, organised Sydney tours are everywhere. Immerse the kids in Sydney's outdoor lifestyle, giving them an opportunity to explore and learn.
Cycling is the best way to explore the beautiful coastal town of Manly with Manly Bike Tours. With more than 20 kilometres of bike paths to discover, the kids can take in a variety of wildlife, pass by marine reserves and sandy beaches at their own pace or catch a ride on the back of your two-wheeler.
Swap two wheels for four on an open top double decker tour around the city or out to Bondi Beach with a CitySightSeeing tour or for a million dollar view take in the harbour from a sightseeing cruise.
The Australian Museum conducts exclusive up close and personal tours for children, offering a sneak peek at carefully preserved specimens and irreplaceable treasures, which are normally reserved for staff and researchers. Snorkel Safari Australia, based on the Cronulla Coast, provides full and half day underwater adventure tours. Trained instructors make exploring under the sea a fun and easy activity for kids.
A full calendar of events is also available at Sydney Olympic Park and Centennial Park including walking, cycle and behind-the-scenes sports-lover tours.
Eating out with kids
Dining in Sydney with the whole family can be affordable, entertaining, and enjoyed in one of the city's many stunning locations. There's no shortage of choices from casual to fine dining and many restaurants and pubs offer great value kids menus or early bird deals in the evenings.
Keeping it casual, weekend farmers' markets serve great value breakfasts at the Entertainment Quarter in Moore Park, Paddington, Balmain and Leichardt's Orange Grove. Join the locals for fresh juices and hearty breakfasts at beaches from Bondi, Bronte or north to Manly.
Come lunch time, flavours from around the world can be had at food courts in Pitt Street Mall in the city, Chinatown or Bondi Junction. Baguettes, pizzas and pub fare are best in The Rocks. All flavours of Asian food including Chinese, Japanese and Korean are popular in Chinatown.
Popular dinner hotspots include any one of Thai restaurants scattered on Newtown's iconic King Street. Little Italy in Leichardt serves traditional pizzas, pastas and gelato and Petersham is home to traditional Portuguese chilli chicken and sweet custard tarts.
For a feast for the senses, go early to the Sydney Fish Markets for Sydney's best seafood and fish. Grab a picnic table outside overlooking Blackwattle Bay. And if location is as important as the food, try the Newport Arms on the Northern Beaches or Doyles at Watson Bay have a menu to suit all and plenty of room for prams and for the kids to run free
Family-friendly beaches in Sydney
Sydney is a city in love with its beaches. On sunny days, it's practically an Australian tradition for families to retreat to the beach and from north to south, they are all easily accessed from the city.
To the south, Coogee Beach is protected from big swells by the picturesque Wedding Cake Island, making it one of the city's most family-friendly beaches in Sydney. Wylies Bath, the historic sea pool at the southern end, provides a netted and quiet alternative for small children.
South Cronulla Beach is safe and sandy with gentle waves. It's great for family beach activities whether it be swimming, building sandcastles or exploring the surrounding rock pools.
Manly Beach has all the essential ingredients for a great day at the beach. The smell of sunscreen, placid waves, shade when you need it, and classic fish and chip shops and cafes line the beachfront for an easy lunch. You can hop on a short ferry ride from Circular Quay and need not worry about parking.
One of the unique features of Sydney is its harbour-side beaches and pools. The calm waters and enclosed sandy slips make it safe and easy for parents. Nielsen Park, North Sydney Olympic Pool, Andrew Boy Charlton pool in the Botanic Gardens, Balmoral and Parsley Bay are quiet alternatives to rolling waves.
Free things to do in Sydney
Sydney city has an excellent choice of things to do in Sydney for everyone that cost absolutely nothing - even the bus is free within the city centre. Some of the free things are natural, from beaches, views, walks and sunset on the harbour to parks and gardens; others are cultural with museums, art galleries and fun precincts open to all. Plan a day itinerary or mix in a free option as you travel around the city.
Wander through a a 30-hectare treasury of tropical plants, green lawns, ponds and shady trees overlooking the harbour in the Royal Botanic Gardens. Join one of the free guided walks which kick off every morning. Walk from the gardens up to the Art Gallery of NSW to learn about art with the kids through free performances every Sunday.
Visit the National Maritime Museum in Darling Harbour for a fascinating display of dugout canoes, jet powered hydrofoils and an historic collection of naval vessels.
If you want to get physical, explore Sydney Olympic Park. Walk through wetlands to the bird hide, enjoy a picnic or take your bike for a spin along the cycle tracks. Give the kids a thrill by walking over the Sydney Harbour Bridge, accessible from either Kirribilli or The Rocks. Don't miss more great ideas for free events at What's On.
Sydney is packed with kid-friendly experiences that will keep the whole family entertained and most of them are easily accessible by public transport.
Take a virtual tour to the moon, planets or another solar system at the Sydney Observatory in The Rocks where you'll see the universe come to life through amazing 3D technology. Head off on a different voyage of discovery under the sea or through the human body at the world's largest IMAX Theatre in Darling Harbour.
Take the express lift to Sydney Tower, the city's tallest structure standing 250 metres high, and be wowed by the views from the observations desk. There's a skywalk on a glass platform outside the tower if you're feeling adventurous.
Keep the kids entertained with interactive exhibits at any of the following museums. Close to Circular Quay, the Justice and Police Museum lets the kids play cop for a day in a thrilling exploration of law and order. The Powerhouse Museum at Darling Harbour has more than 250 fun-packed exhibits that feature an assembly of technical, scientific and industrial wizardry while the Australian Museum has a kids' program and a dedicated area for under-5s. Right on Sydney Harbour at King Street Wharf, the wonderful Sydney Aquarium has an amazing all-Australian collection of aquatic life. Madame Tussauds at Darling Harbour is lots of fun for kids of all ages - all the stars are here in waxed perfection.
The much-loved, harbourside Luna Park promises fun and excitement for everyone with rides such as the Rotor and the Wild Mouse or the more gentle Giant Ferris Wheel. If keeping it simple is more your style, hire a bike or pony and ride through Centennial Park; alternatively, catch a ferry on Sydney Harbour and enjoy Sydney at its leisurely best.
Zoos, aquariums and wildlife in Sydney
Sydney is one of the best places in the world to see some extraordinary wildlife. Most creatures that hop, skip, burrow and crawl across the land or swim underwater can be found in zoos and aquariums here, but you can spot them in their natural environment too.
Introduce your children to animals from around the globe with Sydney's glimmering harbour backdrop at Taronga Zoo Sydney in Mosman; it's the zoo with a view. Featherdale Wildlife Park, just a 40 minute drive from Sydney, features more than 2,200 animals from over 300 species including fairy penguins and a 4.5 metre saltwater crocodile. You can have your photo taken cuddling a koala or hand feeding kangaroos.
Sydney Aquarium and Oceanworld Manly are hotspots for viewing aquatic life at close quarters without getting wet. Between May and November, catch a cruise tour with Manly Whale Watching and spot migrating whales around Sydney, Manly and Northern beaches.