Budget Friendly Travel Guide to Sydney


It’s very easy to burn through your budget when visiting Sydney. It has so many great attractions, available activities, bars, restaurants and shops that it is quite hard to keep your money in your wallet. Additionally, all those things are not what you would normally call cheap. In simple words – Sydney will cost you a pretty penny if you’re not a careful tourist. However, there are always ways to find your way around this and save up some money here and there without compromising on the quality. Here are some great ideas on how to do it.

The Most Budget Friendly Sightseeing Tours

There are several free or very affordable tours that you can take. Every day, at 10.30 am and 2.30 pm, you can go to the Town Hall Square where you will meet your guide who will show you all the great things along George Street. Guides know every little rock of the downtown and they are happy to share it with you. When it comes to rocks, the same I’m Free Tours organizes the tour of the Rocks at 6.00 pm, starting from the Cadmans Cottage. The tours are free and guides work for tips. You can easily take the famous Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk on your own. It’s entirely free and it will show you the splendour of the coastline along the way. You can even enjoy the Sculptures by the Sea. The name of this artistic project is self-explanatory and you can enjoy it for free. Another free attraction is the Royal Botanic Garden, as well as a day wandering around the Darling Harbor.

Getting Around Using Public Transportation

Your best option ever is to buy the OPAL Card. You need to top it up and start using its benefits. Some of them include all rides except the Airport Shuttle for 2.5 AUD during weekends. You can save all the long-distance travels for the weekend and save up a ton only in transportation costs. Moreover, if you have 8 rides during the week, with an hour between the end of one ride and the beginning of another, the rest of your rides are for free.

Great Places to Stay That Don’t Break the Bank

There are several ways to save up on the accommodation. One of those is to stay in hostels in the centre that have rooms with many beds. The great example is the Nomad’s Westend which has a dorm with 32 beds. Also, that is the place of all the parties, so keep that in mind when picking it for your stay. Another option is to go for Couch Surfing and stay with those that offer a place to sleep for free. Also, you can save a ton if you find other travellers that are willing to share accommodation with you. It can be a great opportunity to make friends and companions on your travels.

Getting the Taste of Sydney on a Budget

If you’re not the one to prepare sandwiches or healthy snacks for your walks, you have to be prepared to spend some money. It’s obvious that there’s a big Asian influence on the Australian cuisine, so you will easily find some cool, affordable places or street vendors. On the other hand, you should not miss out on the pub food, that can be quite filling and very tasty. Don’t miss out on the traditional Aussie BBQ. Try it at least once while there. Do check out Isabel’s post on 8 must eat food in Sydney.

Iconic Festivals and Sights You Shouldn’t Miss Out On

It is not hard to find a list of places that you should visit in Sydney. However, if you really want to see those places in a little bit of different light, try and visit them during one of the festivals. Festival of the Winds is when people gather to show off their breath-taking kites. Sydney Festival is one of the most wonderful artistic events there. There’s always something going on in Sydney, so check out the festival calendar before planning your trip. And check out some of the best music festivals one can experience in Australia.

Besides the wonderful and famous beaches, you definitely should not miss out on wandering around the coast and discovering the secluded, little bays away from the crowd. Those hidden gems can have wonderful views on some of the greatest landmarks in Sydney. You just need to search for them, which is a great adventure on its own.

Sydney has so much to offer. You can visit historical sights: The Rocks, George Street, Cadmans Cottage. If you want to relax and enjoy the nature in the urban heart of Sydney make sure to visit Royal Botanic Garden and Chinese Garden of Friendship. Or you can always spend a great day at the beach and enjoy the local festivals, like Festival of the Winds or Sculpture by the Sea.




This is a guest post by Nicole Noel

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68 thoughts on “Budget Friendly Travel Guide to Sydney”

  1. Budget friendly and Sydney is almost an oxymoron, being our most expensive city here in Australia!

    If you’re very happy to enjoy Australian hospitality, for cheap/free beds I’d try couchsurfing, and self catering is easily the cheapest way to eat!

    Most backpackers/travellers I’ve met have found the cheapest way to deal with Sydney is to leave it until last, or simply to leave it as soon as possible 😉

  2. When I think of Australia, I think of Bugs and Snakes. This Blog is really eye opening to all that he does have to offer! I’m adding it to my must see before I die lost 😃

  3. Some good tips as Australia and particularly Sydney is expensive to visit, even for locals. When I have visited Sydney, I’ve tried to walk a lot as you can see a lot in the centre of the city, even though it is a huge, sprawling city. Still, where there’s a will there’s a way.

  4. Thanks for all the tips. Like any big city it’s going to be expensive. I look for free things to do but I like to try local cuisine so I don’t skimp to much there. I love visiting gardens too and those are usually inexpensive.

  5. When I visited Sydney I was a backpacker, I wish I had this blog back then 🙂 I did the Spit to Manly coastal walk, that was stunning but then again, there are many amazing beaches to choose from and hang out! I plan to return so will use this guide then! Thanks for sharing this information.

  6. Thanks for all your tips, Nicole! Australia has been on my list of places I want to visit for a long time, but I’ve yet to visit… and one of the reasons why I haven’t been yet is the cost. Flights are pretty expensive too, so these tips will definitely come in handy. 😀

    The OPAL card sounds pretty much the same as our Oyster card here in the UK (it’s the same concept, you get a plastic card and top it up with a certain amount of money). And I love pub food here, so would love to try it in Oz too!

  7. Some useful tips there – especially the coastal walk which you should definitely do from Coogee to Bondi rather than the other way around. Taking a ferry to Manly is not too expensive and is a fantastic way to get to one of Sydney’s loveliest beaches. The free tour is a great way of learning about the city!

  8. Sydney can be so expensive…Ive bookmarked this so I have all the insider hints and tips for next time I head over! Thanks for sharing!

  9. Great tips! Agree with Travel Lexx the ferry to Manly isn’t expensive and brilliant for taking those classic photographs of the bridge and opera house together.

  10. I’m an Aussie and have been to Sydney quite a few times. I agree it can be quite expensive, particularly if you’re also paying for accommodation. Thanks for your tips!

  11. It’s difficult to stay within budget when you’re travelling especially if it’s your first time in the place and you’re excited to maximize your stay there! I think these are awesome tips for people who are planning to go to Sydney.

  12. It was lovely reading your blog about sydney. Its one of those places that you just cannot miss in your lifetime, especially the opera house. with relatives living in Sydney I would really love to make a trip there in the future. i had no idea about the Kite Festival in Sydney, thats news for me and I would love to attend that too considering I have grown up flying kites in India. 🙂

  13. You’d be surprised at how many budget options for dining in Sydney. Being a big city, there’s a lot of competition among restaurants. Accommodation can be pretty expensive though.

  14. A visit to Sydney is always very easy to enjoy, I really love the extensive food selection. When the weather is good its very pleasant to just walk around enjoying the sights.

  15. Being Australian (I’m from Brisbane) I think it is quite an expensive place to visit as a tourist but these are some great tips. I’m heading to Sydney in December again actually.

  16. There are some really useful tips for anyone planning a visit to Sydney. For me the cost of the airfare is prohibitive before I even get there! But one day I will make it 🙂 I love the sound of the Festival of the Winds. The kites in the pic are so colourful and I do love a good kite festival. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Absolutely agree – there are so many free museums, and sights throughout Sydney and it’s pretty easy to stick to a budget here. Re festivals, I highly recommend VIVID Live for anyone traveling during winter 🙂

  18. Living in NYC has sort of inoculated me against other expensive cities — there’s always cheap food and free entertainment if you look for it. Hopefully Sydney has better hostels than NYC!

  19. I’ve had the pleasure to visit Sydney twice. I love how easy it is to get around without the need for a rental car. I’d love to go back, but there are so many other places in Australia that I’d like to visit first. Thanks for the great guide.

  20. As someone who lives in Sydney I absolutely agree with you that there are loads of great things to do for free or minimal cost. There are so many stunning harbour and coastal walks you would find it hard to do them all no matter how long your visit. A couple of the things you say are not quite correct, however. The 8 free trips on the Opal Card has just been changed. You don’t get the extra trips for free anymore. I think you might get them for half price but I’m not sure. You have recommended Sculpture by the Sea as a free event. It is, but it is only on for a couple of weeks a year so you would have to be here at the right time.

  21. I would love to visit Sydney someday! The place looks super spectacular and the food looks amazing. I just have to be brave enough to be able to travel longer than 3 hours on a plain lol.

  22. Budget and Australia are two words that I don’t generally associate. Being Australian I know how much things cost and the price’s are outrageous in my country. Anywhere and anyway you can save a few coins along the way would be helpful for visiting Sydney and Australia in general

  23. Great tips for traveling through Sydney on the cheap. I had heard that it was really expensive, so to learn some tricks to keeping the price down is fantastic. Thanks for sharing.

  24. You’ve definitely covered all the bases. I love that you mention pub food. Yum! The picture of your food looks delicious. I would love to travel in your shoes. You go to so many great foreign lands and I really enjoy all of your posts. 😉

  25. I usually prefer self guided tours, read up the place and choose a path tat suits me. Budget friendly too sounds good. May be I can give it a try. Looks like they do cover the important places.

  26. Sydney is one of my favourite cityes but YES, it is true, Sydney is as beautiful as expensive. A pity I did not read post like this one before visiting it, I could have saved some bucks (and enjoyed the free city tour). Thanks!

  27. Sydney is one of my favourite cities, but I agree with you – if you are not careful, it is SO EASY TO SPEND MONEY. There is so much to do, and some cost more then others. I totally agree that using public transport is the way to go. There are also so many great spots of have a picnic, which still boasts awesome views of the bridge & opera house.

  28. I love Sydney so much, but the costs really can add up. Another tip I would give is to travel on Sundays, because when you use public tranportation on Sundays, the most you will spend is $2.50. Then the rest is free! Also, make sure to hit up Paddy’s Market for super cheap souvenirs!

  29. Some good tips on saving money while in Sydney! One thing I love to do in Sydney that’s cheap (or near free) is picnics. There are tons of locations with stunning views (Milson’s Point, Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair, Centennial Park etc) where you can bring a blanket, bottle of wine, and some food and enjoy an afternoon in the sun!

  30. Australia is definitely not a cheap destination unfortunately (and i’m Australian), but I love Courtney’s suggestion above about a picnic. There are so many lovely parks with amazing views in Sydney, buying a bunch of snacks from a grocery store and having a picnic is a great money saver!

  31. I’m from Sydney and returned for the first time in three years. My jaw dropped at the expense of everything. I agree that the festivals are quite good and you can find sort of inexpensive eats if you know where to look. It’s definitely the kind of city you need a disposal income to enjoy to its full potential. Sadly.

  32. What a fantastic guide to Sydney! Australia always looks intimidating as an expensive destination to visit and this guide debunks the whole theory. Thanks for sharing.

  33. I heard that Australia was pretty darn expensive, but I love tacos so I might lose my money on that. I didn’t know you could fly kites, but count me in for going there. I’ll also be purchasing the OPAL card.

  34. Plenty to do in Sydney that costs very little and you’ve shown some good ones here. Australia unfortunately has a reputation of being really expensive but there is plenty to do on a budget. And of course cost is all relative, depends on each person’s own circumstance and also their exchange rates. For many countries it is not considered expensive at all.

  35. Great advice! Sydney is sooooooooooooooo expensive even for local Australians (I live in South Australia) but the city does a great job maintaining affordability for international visitors.

  36. It is great that you have highlighted some budget friendly ideas for Sydney! My husband is from here and when we go there, we burn through money so quickly. I have yet to visit the botanical gardens which you mention are free. As this woudl be in our tight budget along with the Australian BBQ, I think we will certainly head there the next time we go.

  37. Austrailia is so expensive! I’m glad you found some ways to cut your cost but still enjoy your time and thank you for sharing. It’s nice to hear that it can be done with a little effort and research.

  38. wonderful tips. Particularly around food and public transportation. Often we feel a destination is very costly so we avoid it. But by knowing the right tips and tricks we can visit anywhere in a set budget.

  39. I love your post! It reminds me to all the beautiful spot I visited in Sydney.
    What I couldn’t do is go to a festival, that must be awesome. I’ll write down the website you mentioned to check out what’s the next festival to go.
    Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  40. This is such a great write up! I live near Sydney and think all your information is spot on. I love the Coastal Walk, Sculptures By The Sea and also visiting the little coves and bays in the summertime. Great info!
    Kristie – you.theworld.wandering

  41. Those tacos look delicious. I have always wanted to go to Australia and NZ. We generally take guided tours to learn about the history of the place. But it would interesting to explore Sydney on our own.

  42. I remember Sydney as the most cosmopolitan of all destinations we have explored till now. And specially as far as food goes…it has the maximum diversity of cuisines to suit all tastes and budgets.

  43. I love Sydney! I took a few day trips while I was there and the guide was telling us how much common things like car washes and manicures cost and I almost had heart attack! My biggest regret was not checking the opera house schedule and booking something. I was not aware there are smaller theaters and concert halls, even an afternoon tea!

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