10 Fun Ferry Rides in Sydney the Kids Will Love

  • Toddlers

Seeing the sights of Sydney by ferry is one of the best ways to explore the city, and even more so when you’ve got excitable kids in tow. Ferry rides in Sydney for kids offer loads of excitement for the little ones, and they sure do chew up a lot of time - *wink, wink*.

If you ever got to ride a Sydney ferry as a kid, you’ll remember how thrilling and grand such an excursion can be. So if you’re stuck for some weekday or weekend fun, let the Sydney ferry system entertain the kids for you.

10 Fun Ferry Rides in Sydney the Kids Will Love

1. Darling Harbour

Darling Harbour
Darling Quarter Playground

First on the list is, of course, Darling Harbour.

As one of the most popular ferry rides in Sydney for kids, the trip to Darling Harbour from Circular Quay is quick and fuss-free, plus, there’s plenty on offer at Darling Harbour to keep the kids entertained until the ride home, including the aquarium, Powerhouse Museum, the Chinese Garden of Friendship, and the Darling Quarter Playground.

Trip time from Circular Quay: around 20 minutes.

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2. Watsons Bay

If you’re after stunning harbour views, swimming, fish and chips, and maybe a lunchtime tipple or two, catch the ferry to Watsons Bay for a thoroughly enjoyable day out.

The Watsons Bay ferry leaves from the Pyrmont Bay Wharf daily and will traverse several harbour hotspots before dropping you off at Watsons Bay where beach swimming, cafe culture, and delicious dining awaits.  

Trip time from Pyrmont: 1 hour and 10 minutes.

3. Shark Island

Ferry rides in Sydney for kids
An aerial view of Shark Island in Sydney Harbour. Image Source: Destination NSW.


The mere mention of Shark Island should have the kids in a bit of a tizzy!

Although you’re not likely to see any sharks, this picnic oasis in Sydney Harbour National Park is one of the best ferry rides in Sydney for kids. 360-degree harbour views, picnic facilities, toilets, and a tide pool full of creepy crawlies to gawk at are on offer at Shark Island.

Trip time from Circular Quay: approximately 25 minutes.

4. Parramatta River

Ferry rides in Sydney for kids
Parramatta RiverCat

For a hop-on, hop-off cruise along the picturesque Parramatta River, you can't go past the Parramatta RiverCat

This is one of our favourite ferry rides in Sydney for kids as the views are just sensational. Plus, you have the option of hopping on and off as you please. The RiverCat stops off at numerous locations throughout the city and along Parramatta River, including Luna Park, Dawes Point, Barangaroo, Balmain, Greenwich, Homebush Bay, and more.

Passengers can choose whether they depart Circular Quay and travel west, or start in Parramatta River and travel east.

Check out 10 must-see attractions along Parramatta River.

5. Mosman

Taronga Zoo and Sydney Harbour
Enjoy views of Taronga Zoo and Sydney Harbour.

For animal life and harbour views, swap the car for the ferry and visit Taronga Zoo in Mosman via boat.

The Taronga Zoo ferry trip across the water is a quick 15 minutes and your destination is pretty spectacular, to say the least. Make sure you look out for the friendly giraffes popping their heads above the trees as you approach the wharf.  

Trip time from Circular Quay: around 15 minutes.

6. Ettalong

Palm Beach Ferry
The ferry to Ettalong leaves from Palm Beach wharf. 

If you’re keen to explore a bit further afield, you can be in the sunny Central Coast in just 30 minutes when catching the ferry from Palm Beach to Ettalong.

The Fantasea Ferry that runs between Palm Beach and Ettalong takes in not one but four waterways – Pittwater, Broken Bay, Box Head, and the Hawkesbury River – and once you arrive in Ettalong, you’ll be rewarded with awesome outdoor adventures for the whole family to soak up.  

Trip time from Palm Beach: approximately 30 minutes.

7. Manly

Ferry rides in Sydney for kids
An aerial view of the Manly Ferry.

One of the most famous Sydney ferry routes, the Manly Ferry voyage from Circular Quay has been running for close to 145 years and is still one of the best ferry rides in Sydney for kids.

The 30-minute trip across the harbour from Circular Quay is an adventure for the kids and once you arrive in Manly, there’s plenty of sea, sand, sun, and maybe some sundowners to while the afternoon away.

Trip time from Circular Quay: around 30 minutes.

8. Fort Denison

Fort Denison
Fort Denison

If you have little history buffs in the family, a ferry ride to Fort Denison will stick in their memory for years to come.

Smack-bang in the middle of the Harbour, the former defence facility is now home to a museum, restaurant, and working cannon that fires off cannonballs every day at 1 pm.

The ferry ride over is only 10 minutes long so it’s ideal for all ages.

Trip time from Circular Quay: approximately 10 minutes.

9. Bundeena

Ferry rides in Sydney for kids
The famous green and yellow Bundeena Ferry.

Escape the city and get back to nature for a blissful afternoon on the Cronulla to Bundeena ferry.

Departing from Tonkin Wharf in Gunnamutta Bay, the 20-minute ferry ride takes you across the Port Hacking River and plonks you in the middle of the Royal National Park.

With so much to see and do, you won’t know where to start. A beach day at stunning Bundeena is an opportunity not to be missed, while outdoor enthusiasts can test their muscles on the 26-kilometre Coast Track taking in incredible sights and sandy inlets on the way. Coffee, pastries, fish and chips, and other delights will be waiting for you in the charming town of Bundeena.

Trip time from Tonkin Wharf: around 20 minutes.

10. Cockatoo Island

Ferry rides in Sydney for kids
Cockatoo Island

Keen to visit a UNESCO World Heritage Site complete with a convict precinct and gaol?

Cockatoo Island is one of Sydney’s most stunning paradoxes. With a scandalous past and cooked characters to one side, and a thriving arts scene, family-friendly campground, and dining precinct on the other, history, culture, and cuisine collide. Catch the ferry to Cockatoo Island to soak up one of the most unique destinations in the harbour where you'll learn a crooked tale or two. 

Trip time from Circular Quay: approximately 30 minutes.

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