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Top things to do in Sydney

From harbour cruises on tall ships to adventures in the Blue Mountains, there’s plenty to see and discover when you’re in Sydney.

Before you book that family trip to Sydney make sure you spare enough days to cover all the events and experiences the city and its surrounds have to offer. Think walking tours through old cobblestone districts and harbour cruises up and down the coast to get you started. Then, venture out and discover the Australian landscape.

We’ve rounded up the best things to do when visiting Sydney, including child-friendly options, so you won’t leave feeling you’ve missed out on anything. Here you go:


Top things to do in Sydney with family

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1. Go on a Sydney Harbour cruise

You won't be doing a trip to Sydney justice unless you've seen the iconic Sydney Harbour from all angles. Stroll along the foreshore to take in the architectural genius of the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge before exploring the historic Rocks district.

For something more relaxing but just as arresting, try a Sydney Harbour cruise. Many provide a wealth of information as well as lunch to keep you powered for the rest of your day.


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2. Comb the beaches

Some say Sydney has the best beaches in the world. Ask an Aussie and they’ll probably agree.

Put your money where your mouth is and take your bikinis and board shorts to the beach to soak up the sun, wriggle your toes in soft sands and cool down in inviting waters.

Bondi Beach is perhaps the most famous of the lot and for tourists, is a must to walk, tour and explore.


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3. Take on an adventurous water sport

With enviable harbours (Darling Harbour and Sydney Harbour for starters) and beach fronts (Bondi Beach, Manly Beach) Sydney is not short of opportunities for adventure on the water.

There’s a wealth of options in this department from flyboarding to jetboating.


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4. Do the Sydney Harbour Bridgeclimb

Climbing to the arms of the coathanger AKA the Sydney Harbour Bridge is one of those once-in-a-lifetime moments you'll remember forever.

Book to climb it during the day for panoramic views over the harbour or romance it up with a twilight session and see the sun drop golden across the water.


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5. Visit Taronga Zoo and Wild Life Sydney

Australia has some of the most unique animals in the world. We’re home to the only two monotremes in existence (the echidna and the platypus) and the best place to have a close encounter with either, or both, is in our of our wildlife zoos.

Taronga Zoo and Wild Life Sydney are the two most accessible from Sydney's city centre.


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6. Get scared at a ghost tour

There’s one in every city, but Sydney’s best has got to be around The Rocks area. Many a murder has been committed in this historical area of Sydney.

The ghost tours include historical commentary about the area and the people who lived there.


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7. Bushwalk through the Blue Mountains

Located in Regional Sydney, the Blue Mountains is an icon of Australian bushland. It’s a rugged territory where you can enjoy bushwalks, Aboriginal tours and unique vistas like the The Sisters sandstone rock formation.

En route you can also visit the Jenolan Caves, a limestone cave formation nearby.


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8. Explore The Royal National Park

40 minutes south of Sydney is The Royal National Park, which is a wilderness unlike the Blue Mountains. Its landscape is much flatter and it hugs the coast nicely, revealing beach views along its multitude of hikes.

Expect cool swimming pools, Australian native wildlife and verdant rainforest to colour your journey through the park and activities such as kayaking to get you that much closer to nature.


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9. Day trip it to Canberra

You’re so close, you might as well take a day trip to the capital of Australia. Canberra offers a wealth of educational experiences, including tours of Parliament House, the Australian War Memorial and the National Art Gallery.

If you’re short on time, a day trip can cover it all with no fuss.


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10. Drive up the coast

Head further north from Sydney and you’ll discover the Central Coast. It’s a string of beautiful beaches that are a world away from the tourist beaches you’ll find closer to Sydney.

One essential port of call is Port Stephens, an open valley estuary that offers an escape of sun, surf, sand and whale and dolphin watching.


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11. Drive down the coast

Head south past Wollongong and you’ll discover the coastal beauties of the south, including Jervis Bay. Its biggest claim to fame are its white sands, which some claim are the whitest in the world.

While there, feel free to explore the National Park, dive the turquoise waters and polish the night off with a tipple from the Cambewarra Estate.


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12. Visit a museum

Learn a bit about Australia's past through culture and art with a visit to one of Sydney's museums, like the Australian National Maritime Museum, the Powerhouse Museum or the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

It's also a perfect excuse to cool down on a hot summer day or to keep dry if it rains during your stay.


7 things to do in Sydney for free

  • Have a picnic and see unique plants in the Royal Botanic Gardens.
  • Walk across the sidewalk on the Sydney Harbour Bridge and get a view of the harbour from above.
  • Visit the waterside Luna Park -- it's free to enter, but you will need to pay to play games or go on rides.
  • Splash around at one of the city beaches like Bondi, Manly or Coogee, or head to a harbour beach like Balmoral for more kid-friendly surf.
  • Bring the kids to The Playground at Darling Quarter where there's ropes, slides, a flying fox, swings and more.
  • Go for a walk along the city's many trails in Sydney Harbour National Park or the iconic Bondi to Coogee walk.
  • See the exhibits at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) in the Rocks or at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Things to do in Sydney cheap | Top Sydney experience deals

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Alex Keshen

Alex takes care of the travel section here at finder.com.au. If there's a new sale on tours or cruises, discounted flights or hotels, or anything else that can be on offer, she'll fill you in.

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