Entertain the kids with public transport to Sydney hotspots
Visiting Sydney for the first time can be overwhelming due to all the big attractions to see. With these attractions being in and around the city, driving isn't really an option especially with impatient toddlers in tow.
Have you ever experienced the satellite navigation losing its signal through tunnels, slow connections meaning you are at a loss to turn left or right or be aware of road closures on George Street due to the light rail works. I hear your groans in agreement.
The option of parking in the city is stressful at best with scouring the streets or paying an arm and a leg for a few hours at the parking station, making you wonder if the day out was worth it.
Luckily, the option that suits families and visitors is the use of public transport. See the wonder in your child's eyes as they hop on the train crossing the harbour bridge, see the skyscrapers on the light rail and feel the sea breeze whilst catching the ferry.
My top places to visit in Sydney are:
1. Sydney Harbour Bridge This is one of the well known icons of Sydney with unparalleled views of the harbour. Another popular activity is the bridge climb which allows you to summit the riveted arches of the Harbour Bridge and see the harbour city in all its glory. The climb is very popular so don't miss out. Book ahead or else you may be disappointed.
How to get there? Catch the train to Circular Quay and walk towards The Rocks and head towards to Harbour Bridge. Free entry to Sydney Harbour Bridge. BridgeClimb Sydney is on Cumberland Street under the Cahill Expressway overpass. Costs vary from $158 - 373 adult, $128 -268 child (8 -15 years)
Sydney Harbour Bridge
2. Sydney Opera House The Sydney Opera House took 16 years from its conception to completion. For a building that was 10 years behind schedule and $100 million over budget, it is one of the most recognised icons. The Sydney Opera House hosts many cultural events such as opera, dance, plays and forums to discuss social and political issues. You can opt for a guided tour for insights into this cultural hub and take happy snaps on the forecourt steps like many before you.
How do get there?Catch the train to Circular Quay then walk towards the Opera House sails along many rows of shops and bars. There is free entry to the Opera House. Don't forget to take in the magnificent view with a drink in hand at the Opera Bar.
Sydney Opera House
3. Sydney Tower Eye At 309m high, Sydney Tower Eye is the tallest building in Sydney. Its main attraction is the Sydney Tower Buffet, a revolving restaurant. Take note of the building you see when you first sit or else you may end up completely confused with having no point of reference and looking a little silly having walked around the place to find your seat again. Yes, this may have happened to me.
Another attraction is the Skywalk. Hope you're not afraid of heights as you will be standing in the open air on a viewing platform looking straight down to the buildings and traffic below. How to get there? It's a short walk from Town Hall Station to Westfield. The entrance is on the corner of Pitt St and Market Street. Buy ticket online for discount, costs for a single visit is $18.55 adult and $11.20 child (4-15 years).
Bird's eye view from Sydney Tower Eye
4. Royal Botanic Garden Can you believe that Royal Botanic Garden Sydney celebrated 200 years this year as the oldest scientific institution in Australia. With kilometres of paths to walk along and 30 hectares of gardens with plants from all over the world, it's no wonder the gardens are a drawcard for tourists and locals alike. There are panoramic views of Farm Cove and don't forget Mrs Macquarie's Chair to sit and watch the boats sail into the harbour as the wife of Governor Lachlan Macquarie once did. If you get a chance take a free tour of Government House Sydney but make sure you have valid identification to register.
How to get there?Catch the train to Circular Quay, Martin Place or St James as there are various park entrances only a short stroll away. There is free entry to the Gardens and Government House. My favourite way to get to Royal Botanic Garden would be along Circular Quay, walking along the row of shops and turning up the road before the Opera House and entering the lush gardens.
Royal Botanical Gardens
5. Darling Harbour, Cockle Bay, Barangaroo The dockyards around Cockle Bay were revitalised in the eighties and it is now one of the best dining and night spots in Sydney. Heading north around the bay leads you to Sea Life Aquarium, Madame Tussauds and Wild Life Sydney Zoo, all excellent ways to entertain the kids and young at heart.
Continuing past King Street Wharf are a few well known restaurants and bars such as Cargo Lounge, Kobe Jones and King Street Brewhouse for an icy cold beverage stop. If you keep walking along you venture to the newly developed green space of Barangaroo. Now that the pop up restaurant Belle's Hot Chicken is to stay, ther's more incentive to grab a bucket of fried chicken or stop in for donuts from Short Stop.
Walk across Pyrmont Bridge, one of the world's oldest surviving electrically operated swing bridges. Back in the day the bridge provided the main transport route between the city and Sydney's growing western suburbs while the swingspan allowed tall vessels to access Darling Harbour. Pyrmont Bridge takes approximately 60 seconds to open completely to 83 degrees. It is open for demonstrations on Saturdays, Sundays and most public holidays (weather permitting) at 10.30 am, 12 noon, 1 pm, 2 pm and 3 pm.
Once across Pyrmont Bridge you'll find Australian National Maritime Museum. Why not book in for a Mini Mariners session or peruse Harbourside shopping centre with loads of restaurants along the perimeter. You may want to catch a 3D movie at IMAX, boasting the world's biggest screen. Or have the kids play at the interactive playground complete with water play areas, giant slippery dip, flying fox and nearby restaurants to keep the rumbling bellies at bay.
How to get there? Take the train to Town Hall station and walk down Druitt Street via the footbridge which will take you the rest of the way. Or catch the light rail from Central Station to The Star for a shorter walk. Free entry for the walk except for the attractions.
Darling Harbour, Cockle Bay and Barangaroo
6. Manly ferry
You haven't seen the sights until you have taken the ferry from Circular Quay to Manly. Have your Titanic moment with the sea breeze in your hair, watching the waves and the Sydney CBD grow smaller. Not only is it a cheap way to see Sydney Harbour but it provides ample opportunities to happy snap away to your hearts' content. At Manly you can check out Manly Sea Life Sanctuary and stroll along the beach.
How to get there? Take the train to Town Hall station and walk down Druitt Street to King Street Wharf via the footbridge. Or catch the train to Circular Quay station for a shorter walk to Circular Quay Wharf 3.
7. Fort Denison
The island was referred to as 'Pinchgut' by the locals, as it was believed convicts were sentenced to weeks at a time isolation on the island with little bread and water. Fort Denison served as a mini Alcatraz back in colonial times. Later it became a naval fort and now offers historical tours and hosts weddings and corporate events. One experience not to miss is the historical firing of the 1 o'clock cannon in the afternoon. Or wander around the island with a self-guided tour at your leisure and enjoy a morning or afternoon tea, or lunch in the restaurant.
How to get there? Take the train to Town Hall station and walk down Druitt Street to Darling Harbour Wharf Pier26. A footbridge will take you the rest of the way. Or catch the train to Circular Quay station for a shorter walk to Circular Quay Wharf 6. Entry to Fort Denison is $7 National Parks entry fee.Captain Cook Cruises costs $20 per adult, $17 per child. Or book via Manly Fast Ferry.
8. Luna Park
Opened in 1935, it offers old fashioned fun as Sydney's amusement park listed on the State's Heritage Register. Take a photo with the Luna Park's 9-metre-wide (30 ft) smiling face, as well as its flanking towers, which have presided over the main entrance for almost all of the park's existence.
How to get there? Take the train to Town Hall station and walk down Druitt Street to Darling Harbour Wharf F4 via the footbridge next to Slipp Inn. Entry to the Park is free, however the rides incur a cost.
9. Taronga Zoo
Visit the zoo with the best view of Sydney city since 1916. The giraffe enclosure boasts a view of the Harbour Bridge. Covering 52 hectares, Taronga Zoo is home to over 4,000 animals of 340 species. Visitors can even camp overnight, take nocturnal tours or get the adrenaline pumping with the wild ropes course.
How to get there? Take the train to Town Hall station and walk down Druitt Street to Darling Harbour Wharf F4 via the footbridge. You will have to disembark to catch another ferry at Circular Quay. Or catch the train to Circular Quay station for a shorter walk to Circular Quay Wharf 5 to Taronga Zoo. Buy tickets online to take advantage of discount, $41.40 per adult, $23.40 per child (4 -15 years).
Sydney Taronga Zoo
10. Cockatoo Island
Cockatoo Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Listed historical site that once hosted a convict penal colony and then was a shipbuilding yard in years gone past. It is now a venue for art installations and overnight camping and is a fascinating island to visit and photograph.
How to get there? Take the train to Town Hall station and walk down Druitt Street to Darling Harbour Wharf F3 via the footbridge next to Slip Inn (where Princess Mary met Prince Frederik of Denmark. Check the Ferry timetable for times and costs.