Darling Harbour ~ Sydney Australia Travel

Family Friendly Attractions in Central Sydney

Darling Harbour is a great family-friendly part of central Sydney, Australia. Lots of shops, the Sydney Aquarium, the Chinese Garden, IMAX theater, Martime Museum, water features to cool you down on a hot summer's day, and a little train to take you around when you cannot walk another step! Darling Harbour is west of the harbour bridge, Sydney Opera House and Town Hall.


Darling Harbour Map Board ~ Sydney Australia Map board at Darling Harbour in Sydney Australia.

The first thing to do is orient yourself using one of the large map boards.

Darling Harbour has fireworks shows at various times throughout the year and during the Chrismas holidays.

I could hear the sounds of fireworks around 9:30 pm on a Januray weekend, but couldn't see them from my room at the Pensione Hotel.

This area is popular for watching the New Years Eve fireworks, but good spots are staked out early.

Tumbalong Park, just under the raised roadway, is a good spot to let the kids run around for a bit.

The Star Casino, Harbourside Shopping Centre, SydneyShopping malls and river at Darling Harbour in Sydney.

This view is looking west across the end of Darling Harbour where it becomes Cockle Bay.

The Harbourside Shopping Centre, a multi-level full service mall, is on the far side of the bay, as are the convention center and Star City Casino (The Star).

As you'd expect, there are dozens of hotels around Darling Harbour and in adjacent Haymarket, The Rocks, and Central Business District.

Note that most hotels anywhere in downtown Sydney have special conditions such as minimum stays and number of guests, with higher rates for the days around New Years Eve.

Entrance to IMAX Theatre, Darling Harbour in SydneySydney IMAX theater at Darling Harbour.

The entrance to the IMAX cinema (photo) is located under the elevated roadway above the end of Darling Harbour Cockle Bay.

See google map imax for details. I've not visited it myself (no time) but there are reviews and tips on the map page, as well as transit information.

If you are self driving, be aware that all downtown Sydney is a parking challenge, and look for car parks.

The Darling Harbour web site lists all transit, parking, etc. as well as cruise ship dock information.

Note that at New Years, streets in this area may close for the afternoon and evening. Public transit is the best way to access the downtown area.

Water Features at Darling Harbour in Sydney Good Spot to Cool Off! Visitors walk in water fountain, Darling Harbour, Sydney.

The entire Darling Harbour area is suited to casual family fun, including this spiral concrete water feature.

[One day, a great many little girls were  scampering about the area, each wearing a fairy princess costume, complete with wands and tiaras.]

Another large rectangular fountain area runs under the roadway (above photo), where toddlers and younger children splashed to their heart's content.

There are several places to get food, including McDonalds, the Mall, the Tea Garden restaurant in the Chinese Garden or nearby Paddy's Market area (see budget meals page).

People Mover Train at Sydney's Darling HarbourSmall train cars mover people around Darling Harbour in Sydney.

Part of the long fountain can be seen in this picture as the People Mover train cars roll past.

These trains operate from 10-6pm in summer, and cost around $4-$6 per person.

Stop by the Sydney Visitor Centre here or ones in The Rocks, the Airport or Circular Quay for maps, bookings, tours etc.

If you are traveling to Sydney you might like to see my tips on What to Pack for a trip to Australia.

I could easily spend an entire day exploring the Darling Harbour area, and in fact, I have.

For as popular an attraction as it is, there are still lots of places to have a quieet sit-down and just take it all in.