You have friends and family incoming. You want to show them the very best that Sydney has to offer. Where can you take them during their visit to give them a great local experience? Read on for our recommendations on not-to-miss places for fun reunions and quality time with mates and loved ones in our beautiful city.
When it comes to wowing the fam or entertaining the friends when visiting from near or far, Sydney sets the scene perfectly – the mild weather, the stunning harbour, the pristine beaches. But you can’t rely solely on the stunning views to impress after a few days. And when the shine of these starts to dim, what to do with your visiting mates and relatives then?
Playing tourist in your own town is a great way to reconnect with all the things you loved about Sydney when you first saw it – or if you’re born and bred here, it’s a sure-fire way to remind you why you’re one of the lucky ones living in such a wonderful place. Sharing this with visiting family and friends for the first time should be a joy! But coming up with an array of activities to keep your close ones busy can be challenging!
But we’re here to help with these top tips on the best to see, eat, drink and do in Sydney, around the CBD and further afield.
1. Plan A Perfect Picnic With A View
What better way to spend time with your beloveds from intrastate, interstate or overseas than treating them to a picture-perfect picnic with the most glorious views of Sydney’s iconic blue waters and natural scenery. Find pinnacle picnic spots scattered along Sydney Harbour from the lush Royal Botanic Garden overlooking Sydney Opera House, to Instagrammable Observatory Hill Park with elevated panoramic views of Walsh Bay and Circular Quay. And just a short walk from our hotel is Pirrama Park in Pyrmont, boasting vistas of two of Sydney’s famous bridges, Anzac Bridge and Sydney Harbour Bridge. Seeking to uncover Sydney’s lesser-known spots? Pay a visit to Wendy Whiteley’s Garden.
Keep costs down by packing your own picnic food, or splash out on a fully catered option. Or set up a picnic basket with friends or organise a family barbecue on Cockatoo Island, Sydney’s very own UNESCO World Heritage Site. Travel to this hidden gems via ferry and the journey can be just as momentous as the destination.
2. Embark On An Underrated Museum Tour
For the best fee-free things to do in Sydney with family and friends, museum hopping ranks high among the many options. There’s the known tourist spots like Powerhouse Museum and the Museum of Sydney, but you want to take your people to something a little off the beaten track, right? Discover the museums that your average ChatGPT travel plan wouldn’t cover mention. Travel back in time with a visit to The Rocks Discovery Museum, Hyde Park Barracks and the Opal Museum, where you can find the National Opal Collection.
And right on our doorstep is the unmissable Australian National Maritime Museum. Hot tip: for an incredible view of the museum, Darling Harbour and Sydney’s cityscape, book your visitors into one of our The Balcony rooms. And when you’re done with a tour of Sydney’s many museums, head to Wayfarer’s Bar & Cafe for a quick bite and refreshment.
3. Enjoy Waterside Dining With A View
One of the world’s most charming cities, Sydney is home to an impressive array of waterside dining and drinking venues with a view which set the ideal scene for memorable moments with friends and family – and the best backdrop for the all-important family photo for the ‘Gram! From fancy fine diners set atop a wharf to casual eats overlooking the harbour, our city delivers better than most on the waterfront restaurant front. But which are the best in and around Pyrmont, Darling Harbour and Barangaroo? Some of our personal favourites include LuMi Dining, Sala and Ploos. Read all about these and more here.
4. Discover Local Seafood At A Cooking Class
Sydney is home to one of the world’s biggest fish markets, the Sydney Fish Market where your visitors will be wowed by thousands of varieties of local seafood. Take the seafood exploration further by booking into an on-site Sydney Seafood School cooking class. Working together as a duo or small group, learn how to prep and cook up the many delicacies from the sea which call Australia home, then sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labour over a glass of wine. When it comes to food, there’s nothing more synonymous with Sydney than fresh, locally-caught seafood.
5. Frolic Along the Sydney Foreshore Walk
For fitness pals and those seeking family-friendly activities on a budget, exploring Sydney on foot is a great way to see the city’s many highlights. And you’ll cover off some of our most fascinating precincts via Sydney’s 11km foreshore walk from the Anzac Bridge to Woolloomooloo. Along the way, discover the charming neighbourhood of Pyrmont, walk through Sydney’s most iconic waterfront destination Darling Harbour, drop by the Chinese Garden of Friendship and dine on delicious dumplings and other delicacies at The Gardens by Lotus, before making your way to Barangaroo. Wander around the docks at Walsh Bay, manoeuvre towards the historic The Rocks and across Circular Quay, and through the Botanic Gardens to Woolloomooloo. Take a quintessential friends and family photo at the Sydney Opera House, and grab a bite and beverage at Opera Bar.
6. Explore Sydney By Sea
For families and friends opting for minimal walking and maximum scenery, travel by way of water around Sydney and you’ll be set. Cruise along the spectacular harbour for a family outing with Sydney by Sail or hop on a shared Paddle Pirates kayak with your best buddy. Sail in style with Sydney’s abundance of waterway travel options for a family outing at sea. True Sydneysiders know that the best way to travel around is Sydney’s extensive ferry network. With various standout drop off points, your visiting family and relatives can hit up Sydney’s hottest destinations with speed, from Luna Park, Taronga Zoo, Manly Beach, Fort Denison and more. The best bit? The Pyrmont ferry wharf is just metres from our front door.
Need a place to stay?
Where will your friends and family stay when they’re in town? Well, we have a suggestion…
Base them by all the action across from the CBD and nextdoor to Darling Harbour, in the village-like neighbourhood setting of Pyrmont. That way, they can have the best of both worlds as well as easy access to everything around Sydney.
Convenience meets artistic flare here, with luxe features like hand-painted murals, Dyson hair dryers and free-flowing Moda sparkling water, on-site restaurant and bar, and one of Sydney’s best hotel breakfasts.