Image by Allan Baxter Getty Images
A 12-minute ferry ride from Circular Quay, this bushy harbour hillside is full of kangaroos, koalas and similarly hirsute Australians, plus numerous imported guests. The zoo’s critters have million-dollar harbour views, but seem blissfully unaware of the privilege. Encouragingly, Taronga sets benchmarks in animal care and welfare. Highlights include the nocturnal platypus habitat, the Great Southern Oceans section and the Asian elephant display. Feedings and encounters happen throughout the day, while in summer, twilight concerts jazz things up (see www.twilightattaronga.org.au).
Tours include Nura Diya (an Indigenous cultural experience set to relaunch from mid-2019); Roar & Snore is an overnight family experience. There's also Wild Ropes, high-ropes courses offering special views (it's cheaper to buy this with zoo entry than separately).
Catching the ferry is part of the fun. From the wharf, the Sky Safari cable car or a bus will whisk you to the main entrance, from which you can traverse the zoo downhill back to the ferry. Access for people with disabilities is good, even when arriving by ferry.
If you are driving and staying a while, note that the zoo car park ($18 per day) is much cheaper than the metered parking on the streets around (weekdays/weekends $4.20/7 per hour). Getting here by bus is the cheapest option; the M30 heads here from Wynyard.
Booking online will save you 10%.