Cheap (or free) days out in Sydney with kids


Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney is Australia's largest and most visited city. It's also one of our most beautiful cities, filled with iconic landmarks, world-class museums and gorgeous beaches. Unfortunately is also one of the most expensive cities in the world.

The cost of a vacation can be expensive, so saving money on your hotel room and flight to Sydney is very important. You will find that most websites will offer a good discount when you book your hotel and flight together. While the cost of a beer in a swanky inner city pub is roughly the same as a monthly wage in a developing nation, many of Sydney's biggest attractions are free. Having a fun and fairly inexpensive trip with your friends and family is still possible. With a little planning, the only cost you will have to worry about is public transportation and food!

Here are four of our favourite outings that are easily accessible by public transport.

Catch the train over the Sydney Harbour Bridge

I can almost guarantee that if you tell your children they are going to catch a train over the Sydney Harbour Bridge, they'll be out the door with their shoes on before you can count to ten. Sure you could pay the money to climb to the top of the bridge, or walk over it for free but I can guarantee the train is going to result in a lot less cries of 'my legs are tired, carry me'. A LOT LESS!

Both the northern and north shore lines pass over the Harbour Bridge. If you have the time you can even swap to one of the city loop lines and head to the Sydney Opera House or Darling Harbour.

Cityrail train on the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Visit Darling Harbour

Darling Harbour is one of Sydney's iconic landmarks. It's free to visit, offers fantastic views of the city and often has festivities going on.

Our favourite day out there includes buying an ice cream, playing in the playground, watching the buskers and having a picnic in the Chinese Garden. The best bit though, if you are lucky is watching Pyrmont Bridge swinging open as you cross it. Even if you miss out on seeing the bridge opening the views from the bridge are fantastic and it's still fun to let the kids try to figure out how the swinging part of the bridge works.

Darling Harbor

Visit a Museum

One of our favourite things to do is to visit the National Maritime Museum and climb the 19th century lighthouse. Located at Darling Harbour, the museum has a whole host of interactive maritime exhibits, both indoors and outside. The museum is free although you will probably want to pay the fee to go into the two real highlights of the museum - a naval ship and submarine.

HMAS Onslow HMAS Vampire

Both the Australian Museum and Powerhouse Museum are fantastic days out with the kids, although at $30 for a family (or $18 if just one adult and two children at the Australian Museum) each they're not the cheapest outing. Still, if your children are mad for dinosaurs or science it's worth considering visiting at least one of them. Both are world-class museums with great hands-on attractions for children.

Botanical Gardens and the Sydney Opera House

Perhaps Sydney's most famous landmark, the Opera House is free to visit. You can enter the building or explore the public areas for free, or just wander around the outside admiring the views of the building and the harbour all for free. You can't buy flights to Sydney and not stand on the steps to take a cheesy "I'm here" photo! I have a rather stunning one of myself with my school band on the Opera House steps, in a rather fantastic 80s band uniform. And no I won't be posting those photos online!

Tours of the Opera House of course offer more insight into the history of the building and the performances inside, and give you access to more areas, but tours are ... well like most paid things in Sydney, expensive!

Just near the Opera House are the Royal Botanical Gardens. Beautiful and old, they're a fun place for a picnic. A trackless train can take you around the park, although at $10 for adults and $5 for kids walking is a much cheaper option. If you have paid for a tour at the Opera house show your ticket for a $5 discount on the train (or show your train ticket at the Opera House for a $10 discount on the tour).

Sydney Harbour & Opera House

Head to the beach

Sydney's beaches and cliff-filled coastline are gorgeous. Bondi Beach is world famous so it's often pretty busy but it's also the closest beach to the CBD. At the northern end of the beach is a children's wading pool.

Nearby Coogee Beach is usually a little quieter and a great choice for families as the surf is often a little calmer than at Bondi. At the southern end just around the headland is a great playground and several sea-pools. The women's pool is very cheap to swim at, although only children and women are welcome to use the facilities.

A stunning coastal walk connects the two beaches. The walk is long so you may want to skip it with young children or just explore a small section. Along the walk are some lovely secluded beaches.

Coogee beach, Sydney view

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About the Author


Tracy Burns

Tracy always talked about traveling a lot more than she ever traveled. Married to an avid traveler that thankfully changed. After almost two years exploring South East Asia and Australia, enjoying the most amazing food, temples, beaches, and more importantly every sweet food treat she can find, Tracy is keen to explore further afield. Tracy juggles homeschooling, playtime, blogging and learning more about photography while they travel. Some days she juggles them better than others!

Comments (2):

  1. Love Sydney - grew up there and took it all for granted! Cant wait to show our boys Sydney Harbour Bridge and the North Shore Beaches, and the art gallery! I used to walk all over Sydney and see everything without appreciating what was in front of me. Now I realise how much our boys can "see" :)
    Love the idea of a train ride over Sydney Harbour.

  2. In the botanic gardens, don't miss the fruit bats, which roost in the centre near the cafe. And on beaches, if you a staying in the city, a ferry ride to Manly beach is a perfect day out, and generally a bit less crowded than Bondi can be on a hot summer's day. There is a great walk to a small, sheltered beach (Shelley Beach) with cute little sculptures to find along the way.

    I think the playground inl Darling Harbour is one of the best in the world, and I would also recommend the Chinese Gardens nearby. $15 for a family of four, and a fantastic spot for hide and seek. Not big enough to get properly lost in, but big enough to do some great hiding.

    If you have a public transport ticket, y have to catch a ferry somewhere. Catch a train across the Bridge and the ferry back.

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