Tell people you’re planning to travel half way around the world—with a baby—and you’ll get rather polarized reactions. Sure, the thought of traveling down under is exhilarating and exciting for most people. However, it poses unique challenges for parents. You worry about getting your gear there. You worry about your accommodations. Then, there’s the 17.5 hour flight, one of the world’s longest! (I talk about how we survived it in this post) Guess what? Traveling to Sydney with a baby is not only possible, it can be fantastic!
Need proof? We loved Australia so much, we talk about moving there at least once a week. I walk you through 5 of our favorite baby/child-friendly adventures in the video above. However, I also want to go into a bit more detail to help you conquer Sydney with a baby. Keep in mind these activities are also enjoyable for those without tots in tow.
We made the trek because my husband (a college professor) had the opportunity to teach a class there. Australia had been on our bucket list for years, but we never had enough time off work to make it happen. This trip allowed us to live in the heart of Sydney for 2 1/2 months! We walked everywhere and made it a point to explore as much of Sydney as possible. Consequently, we got to know this vibrant city quite well.
With more than 5 million people, Greater Sydney is a busy, bustling metropolis. However, it is also surprisingly easy to navigate, child-friendly and walkable. We never had a car during our time there, nor did we feel we needed one. Public transportation is easy to use and ubiquitous. If you stay in a central location (the CBD or Pyrmont neighborhood are great choices), you will be a short walk, ferry or train ride to all major attractions. We stayed in Pyrmont.
Do yourself a favor and grab an Opal card when you first arrive. It’s a super convenient way of paying for your travel on public transport and covers trains, ferries, buses and light rail. All Sydney transportation is wheelchair/stroller accessible. (Note: Strollers are called prams in Australia.)
Shopping hours will take some getting used to. While supermarkets keep similar hours to U.S. stores, malls and other stores close a bit earlier (general hours are 9 or 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.) On Thursdays, stores stay open until 9 p.m. Malls in Sydney are beautiful, particularly Westfield shopping centres, and you’ve got to check out the food court! I hate food courts, but those in Australia blew us away (think fast casual dining, but elevated in the decor and cuisine).
When dining out, you will need to ask for your bill. Australians are very courteous and consider presenting the check before you ask rude. They don’t want to rush your meal. In addition, tipping is okay, but not the norm. Australian waitstaff are well-paid, with tips built into their compensation. The minimum wage is $18.93 for employees 21+. Now, here are a few common Aussie phrases that may be helpful.
By far, walking is the best way to see this city. When the weather was nice, we would regularly take walks of 3+ hours. Of course, everything is so centrally located in Sydney, so you don’t need to hoof it that long. We’re just crazy like that… and Hudson loves walks. Wondering where to go?
Billed as one of Australia and the world’s most beautiful beaches, Bondi is breathtaking! This iconic stretch of glistening white sand and curling waves will captivate your little one all year round. Bondi Beach is 30 minutes from Town Hall Station by train and bus, and offers visitors insight into Australia’s easy-going beach culture. Our little guy really enjoyed watching the daring surfers charge their waves.
Make sure to capture a photo looking down on the Icebergs Pool—or if weather permits—swim there. It’s tough to find a more spectacular pool view! Admission is $8 for adults, $5 for kids.
We were there in Australia’s winter, so it was a bit too cold to swim. Instead, we enjoyed whale watching, shopping for beach fashion/swimwear and the food! Fish and chips are popular beach fare, or you can visit one of the vibrant cafés. We highly recommend Fishmongers. It’s casual and unassuming, but child-friendly AND the best fish we had in Australia!
The 3.5 mile Bondi to Coogee walk–or the shorter Bondi to Bronte walk–is one of Sydney’s most popular coastal walks for a reason! This paved urban trek boasts million-dollar ocean views, towering sandstone cliffs and is a great place to watch Australia’s talented surfers. It’s suitable for most fitness levels, just make sure you bring a water bottle with you. You can refill your bottle at drinking fountains at each beach. Allow yourself plenty of time to stop for a picnic and rest.
Important note: This walk is not suitable for strollers. We mistakenly brought our stroller and ended up carrying it up this walk’s many flights of stairs. Do yourself a favor and opt for a baby-carrier instead (this is the one we used on our other Australian adventures). It’s under $40, just as comfy/supportive as a BabyBjorn and has pockets for all of your essentials. Total life-saver!
One of our favorite ways to see Sydney was aboard a ferry. While Sydneysiders see these vessels as normal modes of transit, to an outsider, they are simply spectacular! Fares are reasonable, the ferries are clean/stroller-friendly and you can’t beat the harbour views. We took ferries as often as possible and particularly enjoyed the ride to Manly Beach.
This relaxing 30 minute ride has been operating since 1855, when an English businessman recognized Manly’s potential as an ideal “watering place” for Sydney residents. For $15, it takes you right between the Harbour Bridge and Opera House, offering up-close and stunning photo-ops of both. Pro tip: Do this trip instead of other touristy sightseeing offerings in the harbour. It’s more economical and you get the same views!
Manly Beach itself is also a real treat. Expect a more relaxed vibe than other Sydney beaches, great shopping options at the Corso (a pedestrian-only “Main Street” type walkway), and plenty of places to soak up the delicious sun.
If you have a child, you must put the Tarongo Zoo on your itinerary. Our son was just delighted to see its 4,000+ animals, including species native to Australia. In general, we’ve never been huge zoo fans, but Tarongo does a good job of forwarding its educational mission. All of the exhibits are designed to be teaching tools.
Tickets are bit steep at $43.20 for an adult, however you must consider you are supporting conservation efforts. Plus, admission gets you a ride on the Sky Safari. It offers insanely beautiful views of the Sydney harbor and delighted our little dude.
Okay, I know I’ve thrown a LOT of information at you. But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Vivid Sydney, an annual light, music and art spectacular. I’ve never seen such thrilling and engaging displays! And it’s all free. We loved taking long stroller walks to immerse ourselves in the creativity and technology. This festival runs May 24-June 15 for 2019. There are so many displays, including interactive artwork, you may want to allocate two evenings to see Vivid in its entirety.