If you, like me, are as frugal as they come. Then you, like me, will be the kind of traveller that takes advantage of any and all free things a city has to offer. Given that Sydney is seemingly a very expensive city to visit, I have spent my time here so far keeping my money close to my chest and taking advantage of the cheap side of the city. There is a surprising amount of free activities, and it turns out that Sydney isn’t actually that hard on the bank account. I mean, I guess if you eat in the fancy resteraunts or stay in the nice hotels then yes, your money will disappear. But eating in cafes and staying in hostels is actually cheaper here that it was in Melbourne. So not to worry, I have graciously decided to share my knowledge on how to experience Sydney on a budget!
Royal Botanic Gardens
My first week here I must have gone to the Royal Botanical Gardens every other day. It’s on the harbour and looks out over the water so I would just sit there and watch the waves for hours.
A smaller park in the heart of the city. It is really beautiful though. It is home to a lovely fountain and paths lined with Fig Tress (my new favourite tree thanks to Sydney). There is also an ANZAC War Memorial.
Chinese Friendship Garden
Okay so this isn’t free. But I’s only $6 and you can spend as much time as you like there, so that’s pretty good in my book. It is a beautiful haven in the heart of the city that makes you feel you are no longer in Australia. Keep an eye out for the big lizards that roam the gardens.
The views from the observatory are absolutely killer, it is well worth the walk up the hill. Not to mention that massive beautiful trees you can sit under and admire the scenery!
Of course, Sydney Harbour is a must. The famous Opera House. The Harbour Bridge. It is the most iconic spot in the city, and absolutely and completely free of charge. Sure, if you want to go into the opera house for a tour or show you will need to pay. But looking at it from the outside is good enough for me! I recommend trying to get there for sunset, thought it is beautiful at any time of day.
At Sunset and 7pm each night, there is a light projection show on the side of the Opera House that lasts about 10 minutes and is worth sticking around to see. I think it changes every few months of so.
One of my favourite spots in the city. I don’t know why I love it so much but it is just so peaceful, even though it is always swarmed with people. There is a shopping centre at the Harbour, as well as many bars and restaurants. However, I enjoy just sitting by the water listening to my music or reading a book. There is a Ferris Wheel there right now that is only $8 if you like that kind of thing.
Art Gallery of NSW
I really enjoyed this Art Gallery. Not only is it extremely air conditioned, but it has some really beautiful art work. They were setting up a special exhibit when I was there, so some on the building was cut off. What I did see, however, was stunning. Yes there was some dodgy, “This blank black canvas is art and represents my soul” kind of art that I don’t quite get, but the majority of it was lovely.
Museum of Contemporary Art
This museum was a bit too abstract for my tastes, but still interesting to walk around. Three floors of art to see, plus a café at the top that offers stunning views of Sydney Harbour.
So the beach is free, but you will need to pay for the bus to get there. Which costs about $3.50 each way so not much. A lovely beach, though not as big and amazing as I expected. Seeing as it’s Bondi – Sydney’s most famous beach, I was a but underwhelmed. Then again, I’m not really a beach person.
While you are in Bondi, if you have a free 3 hours, you can do the stunning coastal walk to Coogee Beach. It passes by five other beaches, plus some amazing rocky coastlines that will take your breath away. Bus fare from Coogee back to the city is roughly the same price as it would be from Bondi.
Again, all you would be paying for is the ferry over to the island. Which is $6 each way. You can explore the island for as long as you want. I didn’t know anything about Cockatoo Island before visiting. And I am sad to report that there is not a single Cockatoo in sight. It is actually an old prison island where they used to keep convicts years ago. Not a very happy place, but interesting to explore. There is a free Art Installation on the island just now till the 11th of June.
Manly is said to be one of the most beautiful spots in Sydney. And I wholeheartedly agree. It’s such a stunning place, and the town itself reminds me of a much nicer St Kilda. A total beach town. The ferry over is $9 each way on the fast ferry and a bit cheaper on the slow ferry (only takes an extra 15 minutes). I’m a sucker for a sunset so I would recommend going over in time for that and watch the sky change colours. Absolutely breath-taking.
There are many many tours that cost anything from $80+ that take you around the Blue Mountains. However, you can just catch the train out to Katoomba Station and walk it from there. If you just want to see the Three Sisters, it’s not long a walk. If you want to see more you can buy a $35 hop on hop off bus ticket that takes you around all the sights and trails.
TOP TIP: All travel in Sydney is capped at £2.50 on Sundays. So you could take the 2.5 hour train out to Katoomba and then back again and you won’t be charged more that $2.50. Same for the ferrys and buses and trains. It’s amazing and I definitely recommend you take advantage of that!
Multi Pass Experience
If you want to see the touristy things like the Aquarium and Madame Tussauds etc, that will eventually add up. Each attraction is about $42 each. However, if you get the multi pass, you can save a bundle. $60 gets you into three attractions. $70 gets you four. Also, with the physical ticket they give you, there is a $5 off voucher for your next visit. This is where I got my ticket.