Sydney has most recently shot itself to number 6 on the list of most expensive cities to live in the world.
As we live only an hour north of Sydney on the Central Coast, we feel this pain, especially since we spend many weekends exploring one of the world’s most beautiful cities.
You can’t visit to Australia without visiting Sydney, with its iconic harbour, beautiful beaches and eclectic culture, it really is a great travel destination.
But how do you do it without breaking the bank?
12 Things you can do in Sydney on a budget…
and still have a memorable experience.
1. Explore the Rocks, Sydney
There is a story around every corner in the Rocks if you just take the time to explore its many nooks and crannies and cobble stoned streets.
Learn about the history of the area behind our first settlement at the Rocks Discovery Museum and the many plaques and billboards hanging up on the historical homes.
If you stay at the Sydney Harbour YHA The Rocks you will discover more as it is built over an archaeological dig.
2. Walk across the Harbour Bridge
A Sydney Harbour Bridge climb can be the climb of your life and offer you extraordinary views of Sydney Harbour, but it comes at a high price.
Instead, you have two options:
- Walk across the Harbour Bridge for free and take in the same panoramic views on a lower level.
- Visit the Pylon Lookout for just $11 and get fantastic views plus 3 levels of exhibits and learn about the history and construction of the Bridge.
3. Go on a Harbour Side Walk
There are ample walking trails you can take around the Sydney Harbour on the North or South Side.
You can follow the Seven Bridges walking trail or the shorter walk from Circular Quay around to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair is going to present you with many opportunities to take some photos of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge.
4. Picnic in the Royal Botanical Gardens
You cannot beat the serenity of the city and harbour views from the Botanical Gardens.
Take a picnic lunch, a blanket and a bottle of wine. Relax in the sunshine and then take a walk around the gardens to admire the many different types of plants and city views.
5. Take a Ferry Ride on Sydney Harbour
Jump on a ferry from Circular Quay over to Watson’s Bay and this will give you ample time to appreciate being on the Sydney Harbour and getting a cheap tour of the many towns and pretty bays that sit along the river.
You could also catch the ferry all the way down the Parramatta River to Homebush or Parramatta. If you have children then you will want to do this on a Sunday where you get unlimited train, ferry and bus rides for $2.50 through the Family Funday Pass.
6. Visit Cockatoo Island, Sydney
We only just recently discovered this little gem on the harbour.
You can catch a ferry over to Cockatoo Island and then walk around the small island to explore the history of this once convict prison and industrial ship building yard, and admire the views of the coat hanger, standing majestically over the harbour.
You may even want to camp here and wake up to one of the best views in the world.
7. Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach Coastal Walk
The Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk is one of the best discoveries about Sydney we have made upon our return. We can’t believe we grew up near Sydney and never did this walk.
It is stunning and completely free. The perfect way to spend a gorgeous summer day. There are plenty of coves and beaches to stop for a swim along the way should you get too overheated.
8. Visit Manly Beach
A short ferry ride from Circular Quay over to Manly on the Northern Beaches is also a great day trip. Walk down the corso, then head left at the beach around to Queenscliff beach, where the water is crystal clear and a rock pool just beneath the cliff face to swim without the waves.
There are plenty of cafes and restaurants along the way, as well as areas to spread yourself out for a picnic. And if you like to surf then Manly won’t disappoint.
There is another walk worth doing here (that we are yet to do) from Manly to the Spit.
9. Explore Buzzing Darling Harbour
Darling Harbour is bustling with restaurants, cafes and nightlife, and people aimlessly walking around watching the many buskers and dragon boat racers happening on the water.
If you want to eat here on a budget head to the food court area, or for a night out drinking we suggest starting down on King’s Wharf. But, you really will need to take out a loan to do that.
10. Visit the Art Gallery of NSW and the Museum of Contemporary Art
We are not really museum or art people. But, we have heard that it is really worth a visit for those who are into this sort of thing. And both completely free and located in beautiful spots on the Harbour.
The Art Gallery’s modern and contemporary works are displayed in expansive, light-filled spaces, offering stunning views of Sydney and the harbour.
The Museum of Contemporary Art is Australia’s only museum dedicated to exhibiting, interpreting and collecting contemporary art from across Australia and around the world. (galleries are closed due to construction until early 2012)
11. Eat in Chinatown, Sydney
Head to the Dixon Street Food Courts and if you can actually make a decision out of the endless choices on what to eat, you won’t be disappointed in flavour or price.
12. Explore the City on foot
Sydney is a very walkable city. I often like to walk down from Central station to Circular Quay so I can feel the beat of the city for a short 20 minute stroll. You never know what you might discover.
There are plenty of great inner city neighbourhoods for you to check out for great cafes, dining and pub scene. Glebe, Surrey Hills and Balmain are just a few.
What would you add to the list of things to do in Sydney on a budget?