If you’re planning the great Australian adventure, chances are that you will be stopping by Sydney for at least a few days. Sydney is the backpacking mecca of Australia and for many, the city in which most travellers gain their very first taste of the laid back Australian way of life. Sydney is located around a 10 hour drive from its neighbouring cities: Melbourne and Brisbane. Yes we know… Australia is a VERY BIG country! So if you are planning to visit, here are some of the best free or cheap things to do in Sydney.
Free Things to Do in Sydney
1. Explore the Suburbs
Like most major cities, the outer suburbs are the best places to get a ‘real’ taste of what life in Sydney is all about. Glebe is one of our favourite suburbs. Expect to see some pretty funky little cafes, restaurants and boutique stalls. Check out the Glebe Markets on Sundays! In the opposite direction you’ll stumble upon Surry Hills – a great place to grab an afternoon drink or a night out. And of course – a visit to the hipster capital of Sydney – Newtown – is a must! Newtown reminds us a little bit of Melbourne – graffiti lined streets, great live music and happening bars. And last but not least – King’s Cross, Sydney’s iconic nightclub strict, is also worth a looksie – enjoy the craziness and a night out.
TIP: If you’re lazy or boasting a killer hangover – check out the FREE 555 Bus that takes you around the CBD. There is also a FREE City Walking Tour departing 3 times each day from Town Hall Square.
2. Do the Bondi to Coogee Walk
Prepare to have your mind blown! You WILL get hometown envy on this walk. Catch a bus (ok, the bus isn’t free but it is cheap) from Sydney’s CBD to either Bondi Beach or Coogee Beach. From there you can follow the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk along the ocean. The beaches are absolutely stunning with plenty of opportunities to stop and swim. After the walk, enjoy the beach and grab a beer at one of the beach front bars.
3. Check out Darling Harbour
Ok so for some inner city sightseeing, be sure to check Darling Harbour. Darling Harbour’s shops, cafes and attractions are situated around the beautiful harbour. If you do fancy spending money here you will find the Sydney Aquarium, IMAX Theatre and you can actually spot a real Koala out the front of Wild Life Sydney.
4. Sit on The Opera House steps
Head on down to Circular Quay from Darling Harbour where you’ll be able to grab some photos of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Or sit on the famous steps of the Sydney Opera House – our tip: grab a drink at the Opera Bar whilst the sun sets!
5. Paddy’s Markets and Chinatown
With Sydney’s multicultural community, a trip to Chinatown is a must. On your way, make sure you stop by Paddy’s Markets. A great place to pick up some cheap clothes, jewellery, souvenirs and pretty much anything you can think of! Chinatown is the place to grab a cheap delicious eat with a bottle of BYO wine – yummo! On Friday nights, be sure to check out the Chinatown night markets.
6. Check out the The Rocks
The Rocks is a bustling little inner city area right by Sydney Harbour Bridge. It is a great place for a bar crawl and there are usually many festivals or events on. On Friday, Saturdays and Sundays there are some great markets to check out with loads of cheap food trucks to fill your hungry belly. Make sure you also check out The Rocks Discovery Museum while here.
7. Chill out in The Royal Botanic Garden
The Sydney Royal Botanic Garden has free guided tours and free wifi, so either learn something about the flora and fauna or catch up with your mates on facebook!
8. Sit in Mrs Macquaries Chair
Found at The Royal Botanic Gardens Mrs Macquaries Chair has amazing views of the Harbour Bridge. Perfect photo opportunity!
9. Get Cultural at one of the many Museums or Art Galleries
There are many historical buildings and free art galleries and museums to check out when visiting Sydney. A stop by St Mary’s Cathedral in Hyde Park is worth a little squizz, The Rock’s Discovery Museum provides a great in depth overview of the area’s Aboriginal History, if you feel like getting artsy then stop by the Art Gallery of NSW, for a look into Sydney’s maritime history then a visit to the National Maritime Museum is a must and the Museum of Contemporary Art always has amazing ‘out of the box’ exhibitions to explore.
10. Hit Hyde Park
Sydney’s city centre is bustling with some pretty sweet gardens where you can chill out, grab a picnic or read a book. Hyde Park is worth a little visit, especially as it’s in the centre.
Cheap Things to Do in Sydney
11. Take a Ferry ride around Sydney Harbour
This is one of the cheapest and scenic ways to explore Sydney. Surrounded by water taking a public ferry is a fantastic way to cruise past the city’s iconic attractions and beaches without paying a huge amount for a tour. There are ferry terminals located around the city but the two major hop on and hop off points are Darling Harbour and Circular Quay. Return ferry tickets allow you the opportunity to hop on and hop off as you please. We highly recommend jumping on at Darling Harbour – the views as you cruise under the Sydney Harbour Bridge towards Circular Quay and the Sydney Opera House are stunning! Once you have jumped off and had time to get some selfies at the Opera House, jump back on a ferry and head over to Manly Beach for the day!
TIP: Head to Shelly Beach for some marine spotting and snorkeling!
12. $10 Rides at Luna Park
As you take the ferry around Sydney Harbour there is no doubt that you will spot the BIG smiling face of Luna Park (designed on the Coney Island Smiling man at St Kilda Melbourne’s theme park). Entry to the historic building is free but to get on the rides you’ll either have to purchase a $20 Sampler Pass (which allows you to ride on 2 of the rides – only $10 each!) or purchase your tickets online on Mondays and get up to 27% off an unlimited rides pass!
13. Sydney Tower Eye
To really get a grasp on Sydney, we definitely recommend a little visit to the Sydney Tower. When you reach the top, the observation deck offers 360 degree panoramic views of the city – you may even be able to spot the Blue Mountains! Tickets are around $28.