Last year we visited Sydney with the kids and completed an epic 24 hours in this magical city that packed in some great highlights. This year we were able to get a child free weekend, something that rarely happens, so decided to head back to Sydney to see what a child free weekend in Sydney could entail.
Some of the things we did, the kids would also enjoy but we tried to do activities that we normally wouldn’t choose to do with an 11 and a eight year old in tow. Or that would be more enjoyable as adults without children. So here are our tips for 7 things to do in Sydney on a parents retreat.
Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb
This is quite the investment. At AUD$298 per adult for the classic weekday 3.5 hour experience, this is not something you would do every day. Whilst children are able to climb the bridge from age eight, I can’t imagine taking my eight year old on this long tour and expect her to enjoy it.
Almost a decade ago I climbed the bridge solo whilst hubby and our then 6 month old son watched on, this time we were able to share the experience together.
It is a slow climb, plenty of pauses to enjoy the views both on the way up and down. And although the bridge looks daunting from the ground, it is not a strenuous climb at all. Apart from a few ladders to get you up and down from the arch, the climb is quite leisurely.
The views are amazing, the tour guides are informative and narrate the journey providing as much a history lesson as a great activity.
The last thing our children ever want to do is sit quietly at the end of the day and enjoy a nice pre-dinner cocktail. The last thing a fancy bar wants is children sitting at said bar!
We stayed the weekend at Four Seasons Sydney and took the opportunity to try out a few of the premium cocktails at the in-house Mode Kitchen and Bar. Bar tender Adam mixed up a mean Mojito whilst we enjoyed bar snacks prepared by head chef Francesco Mannelli including the salt & pepper school prawns.
Mode is a modern bar offering a relaxed and comfortable environment to enjoy the house specialty cocktails. With an open kitchen it was fun to sit and watch Francesco prepare the specialty dish for diners, a 21-day aged 1kg Coorong Angus T-bone!
A Friday night in Sydney’s Rocks area means packed bars and happy hours! There is no way I would ever take the kids into such a busy bar, so the opportunity to sample a $7.50 Mojito at El Camino Cantina was one not to miss.
Surprisingly the drinks were quite strong and, coupled with unlimited chips and salsa, this bar was pumping. A DJ mixing in the corner, plenty of sombreros around to use in your selfies - this is a great happy hour option between 5-7pm Monday to Friday.
Darling Harbour restaurants also have great daily happy hour offers if you are prepared to have an early start to your evening. Normally with the kids we have to eat at 5pm for them - was nice to eat later saving time for pre-dinner happy hour drinks!
Harbour Dinner Cruise
Sydney’s Harbour is one of the most picturesque in the world. As avid cruisers, we have taken a few ships in and out of this harbour and know how magical the view from the water can be.
Captain Cook offer a range of dinner cruises where your dining experience is coupled with spectacular scenery. For 3.5 hours we enjoyed a relaxed experience that gave us plenty of time to leisurely dine and enjoy the sights and lights of Sydney’s harbour.
We joined the cruise at Circular Quay and sailed under the bridge to Darling Harbour before going back under the bridge and out towards the heads closely following the shore past some of the most prime real estate in the country at Potts Point, Darling Point and Watson's Bay.
The cruise featured a live band offering a dinner dance scene for those inclined, we opted for the open deck and some magical night photos in front of the Opera House and Bridge.
The Captain's Dinner Cruise provided a three course meal with sparkling wine on arrival, priced between AUD $99 - $149 per head. The menu provided a number of choices, the service was quick and efficient - however it is really the views and the experience where your investment is returned.
Run across the Harbour Bridge
If I am going to take a morning run, having some good scenery for the task is helpful. We were staying close to the Bridge so a Sunday morning pre-breakfast run across the bridge was a great way to start the day.
The initial incline was a bit steeper than what I anticipated, but the downhill runs at either end made it manageable for a novice runner. A return trip from our hotel in Circular Quay the run was just short of 4.5km.
Afternoon at the Pub
Sydney has some great old Pubs, none better than the Glenmore at the Rocks. Perched up high, the split level pub offers spectacular views of the Opera House from the rooftop bar.
The ground level bar is open and breezy with lots of open windows and light. We were in Sydney for the AFL grand final so found a spot at the bar and enjoyed the atmosphere of watching AFL amongst a packed crowd passionately supporting their teams with a cold brew in hand.
Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk
If you thought Bondi was a great attraction, you should try the coastal walk that winds through 6km of spectacular coastline taking in Bondi, Tamarama, Bronte, Clovelly and Coogee beaches.
The natural beauty of this coast offers plenty of postcard moments coupled with calm swimming beaches, golden sands, green parklands and cute seaside cafes.
Another attraction of the walk is the famous Waverley Cemetery which overlooks the ocean and must be one of the most beautiful places in the world to be offered as a final resting place. Due to some recent storm damage, the walk actually diverted right through the heart of the cemetery. And although I did not see that of famous poet Henry Lawson it was fascinating reading the turn of the century headstones.
Although this is something the kids would also enjoy, it was nice to do the walk at adult pace and not have to be carrying water bottles for two others in my pack!
Have you taken a parents retreat to Sydney? What would you recommend?
Penny - Itchy Feet Family
Penny, an avid Trip Advisor Reviewer, is the author of ITCHY FEET FAMILY. A family of 4 living in Adelaide, Australia, and taking every opportunity to travel and explore the world.