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Sydney is an amazing city, however it is also among the most expensive cities in the world. When coming to Australia you definitely want to spend a couple of days in Sydney exploring the many things the city has to offer. Especially when traveling on a tight budget or if you simply want to stretch your Australian dollars to see and experience as much of the country as possible, it needs a bit of research and planning.
So how can you travel to Sydney on a budget?
The first thing you want to do is get an „Opal“ card. You can use it to take busses, trains and ferries. There are a lot of benefits using the Opal card and you can save a lot of money. Before using it you add money and tap on and off when using public transport to pay. Fares are generally cheaper than getting single trip tickets. There are also rewards for frequent travelers. For example, after 8 journeys per week you get all other trips afterwards at half price, also you don’t pay more than 15.80$ for adults/7.70$ children a day to travel anywhere in the network.
Best thing: On Sundays you pay no more than 2.70$ to travel as much as you want.
If you want to do Sydney on a budget you probably won’t be able to avoid sleeping in shared dorm rooms to save your dollars, especially when traveling solo. A great central hostel in the heart of Sydney just a short walk from the central station is Wake Up!. If you are planning in staying in Sydney for a longer period of time, you can also look to help out at some hostels in exchange for free accommodation. Simply go around and ask.
When traveling in a group you might consider booking an airbnb. Get 25 € off your first booking when using my discount link. (link)
Couchsurfing is a free option and a great way to meet locals. Locals offer their couch to travellers for free. I have done it a couple of times in the past and have met some great people threw the site as well as saving some money.
However there are a few things to keep in mind. Couchsurfing is about sharing and connection. So spend some time with your host, engage, be neat and respectful as well as reliable. And always: Be safe.
You can still eat out and have some delicious food when doing Sydney on a budget and there are quite a few cheap eats in the city. The city in fact is a foodie heaven and you do find dishes from all over the world.
A few recommendations where you can eat in Sydney on a budget are:
- Soul origin: for breakfast, lunch or a snack. Amazing pastries, salads sandwiches.
- Five O’s: Ocean view and cheap eats. For example, 10 $ for a schnitzel and fries
- Manoosh Pizza: 10 $ pizza from Monday to Wednesday
- King Senn: tasty Thai cuisine under 15 $ per dish
- Mappen Noodle: Japanese curry or noodles
- Gyradiko: gyros for 8.50$
- Out of the Blue: best chicken burger for 7.40$ in Sydney
- Burger Project: Classic American burger
Quite often I would also go in the supermarket and either cook in the hostel-most of them have kitchens or get a big salad from the supermarket’s salad bar.
Free or cheap things to do in Sydney on a budget:
Sydney has quickly become one of my favourite cities in the whole wide world. There is simply so much to do and see. I loved the mix of urban, beach and harbour paired with a relaxed vibe. Even when travelling to Sydney on a budget, you will have an awesome time as a lot of the main activities and fun things to do won’t break the bank or are even free.
- You want to start your trip in Sydney with a stroll from Darling Harbour to Circular Quay taking in the skyline and the views of iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House
- To get some information about the city I am travelling to and to get a quick overview of where to go I love to take the free walking tours. They usually have tours operating daily in a major big city. Tours work on a tip basis, so you simply give what you can afford and what you think the tour was worth it for you. A nice way to get to know the city you are visiting a bit better and to take some fun facts home.
- Climbing the arch of the Sydney harbor bridge is a popular thing to do among tourist. Unfortunately that comes as a steep price. For a 3.5 hour experience you pay 170 $ and more depending on time and day. To get a similar view you can also cross the harbor bridge on the pedestrian walkway.
- To experience the harbour and get a nice view of Sydney’s skyscrapers, the harbour bridge and the opera house, I can recommend you to take a public ferry from Circular Quay to Kiribilli or other destinations.
- One must thing to do in Sydney is to experience the beach life. The most popular beaches are Bondi and Manly. Take the public transport, a towel, sunscreen and maybe a couple of snacks and enjoy the sunshine. It is great fun for people watching and getting a nice tan. Along the beach you also find places to work out, skate or even some natural swimming pools.
- One of my highlights was the walk from Bondi to Coogee.
- Bondi Icebergs are one of the most famous instagram locations of Sydney. The iconic landmark is open to visitors all year around. To take a swim and use the sauna and facilities you only pay 7$.
- Why not visit one of the great museums in Sydney. Lots of world class museums in Sydney are actually free. Such as the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Museum of Contemporary Art, The Rocks Discovery Museum, Australian National Maritime Museum, Sydney Observatory and the Government House. Plenty to see for all sorts of interests and without spending a penny.
- The Royal Botanic Gardens are just a short stroll away from the Sydney Opera House and a feast for the eye. It is a nice place to take a break from bustling city life, walk around and enjoy the harbour views as well as the exquisite collection of plants from all over the world.
- Free live music at the Opera Bar. This lovely terrace bar situated next to the Sydney Opera house not only has a great view, but has free live music each night and on weekend afternoons.
- Take a walk around Luna Park. This historic fun amusement park has no entry fee. You only pay per ride.
- Enjoy an amazing firework display at Darling Harbour on Saturday nights for free. Check online for the schedule.
I hope I could give you some helpful tips and information on how to make the most out of Sydney on a budget. Let me know in the comments if you have some other recommendations.
Traveling up the East Coast?
If you are planning on seeing more of Australia, I can highly recommend Stray Australia, a hop-on, hop-off tour company showing you the East Coast in a flexible way.
Renting a car or camper can be expensive, especially if you are a solo traveler like me. The tour with Stray is very affordable and includes transportation, a lot of fun activities plus a guide will be traveling with you that can give you valuable tips and information. Once I booked my tour (I traveled from Sydney to Cairns on their Mick Pass) I knew roughly what my expenses will be prior to coming to Australia.
Plus I made memories and friends of a lifetime – and that in fact is priceless.