Fun Ferry Rides To Take The Kids On In Sydney

  • 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. 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.

Darling Harbour

First on the list is, of course, Darling Harbour. As one of the most popular Sydney ferry rides, 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.
For Darling Harbour ferry times, visit the website.

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.  

For Watsons Bay ferry times, visit the website.

Shark Island

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 the perfect family-friendly outing. 360-degree Harbour views, picnic facilities, toilets, and tide pool creepy crawlies to gawk at are on offer at Shark Island.

Trip time from Circular Quay: Around 25 minutes.
For Shark Island ferry times, visit the website.


For animal life and harbour views, swap the car for the ferry and visit Taronga Zoo in Mosman. The 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.
For Taronga Zoo ferry times, visit the website.


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 1 but 4 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: Around 30 minutes.
For Palm Beach ferry times, visit the website.


One of the most famous Sydney ferry routes, the Manly Ferry voyage from Circular Quay has been running for close to 140 years and is still a firm favourite with families. 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.
For Manly ferry times, visit the website.

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: Around 10 minutes.
For Fort Denison ferry times, visit the website.


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 midst of the Royal National Park and offers up 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.
For Bundeena ferry times, visit the website.

Cockatoo Island

Keen to visit a UNESCO World Heritage Site complete with 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 is offered up in droves when you catch the ferry to Cockatoo Island.

Trip time from Circular Quay: Around 30 minutes.
For Cockatoo Island ferry times, visit the website.

Other Sydney Highlights For Kids

The Best Of Penrith With Kids
Sydney's Best Playgrounds By The Water
Natural Swimming Holes Near Sydney

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