20 Things For Budget Travellers to Do and See in Sydney
Today I am sharing part one of the Ultimate Sydney Bucket List series. Each part will focus on a specific theme to help you get the best out of Sydney no matter what your passion. As a budget traveller at heart, I am starting with the Budget Bucketlist, the best things to see and do in Sydney that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Although they are low cost, they are all great options regardless of the size of your wallet.
1. Watch the Sunrise from a Sydney Beach
Sydney does a great sunrise – my favourite spots are Bondi of course, Mahon Pool near Maroubra or Turimetta Beach near Narrabeen on the Northern Beaches.
2. Visit the Botanic Gardens
With its waterfront setting, 55 sculptures and 3,964 trees Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens are worth a couple of hours exploration. There are free tours daily at 10.30 am and 1 pm Mon-Friday or just pack a picnic and enjoy the view.
3. Ride a Sydney ferry to Manly
Do it on a Sunday for $2.50 with your Opal card if money is tight. This 30-minute trip will cover a good part of the harbour and a bonus is you get to visit one of Sydney’s iconic northern beaches.
4. Take in some history in The Rocks
Sydney’s oldest area was home to the convict settlers on arrival and continued to house the working classes for the next 100 years. These days it’s mostly home to pubs, hotels, restaurants and shops but thankfully many of the buildings have been preserved. Try my self-guided walk around the Rocks to uncover some of the hidden gems.
5. Watch the Sunset from Mrs Macquaries Point
This is the spot of the postcard shot of your visit to Sydney. It’s nice at sunrise but at sunset, it comes alive. I recommend getting here at golden hour and hanging around for an hour or two. BYO picnic for a romantic date
6. Take a walk in a national park
There are four great parks within easy reach of Sydney. If time is short, then Sydney Harbour National Park has half a dozen trails within 15-20 mins from Circular Quay. If you have a car, the Royal National Park and Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park are great options.
7. Take in the view from the top of the Sydney Harbour Pylon
For A$13 you get a birds eye view that is almost as high as the one on the Bridgeclimb – the bonus here is you can take your camera with you.
8. Visit an Art Gallery – Either the Art Gallery of NSW or the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) – both are free
Personally, I prefer the Art Gallery of NSW because they have a great Australian collection but the MCA is a good choice if modern art is your thing. Both galleries offer free tours daily and the Art Gallery of NSW is open late on Wednesday nights.
9. Check out the secret tunnel at the Hero of Waterloo
One of the cities oldest pubs the Hero of Waterloo is full of stories. Call in for a drink and ask the bar staff to fill you in on the famous underground cells.
10. Stroll through Chinatown and eat a cheap meal at one of the food courts.
There are four main food courts in Sydney’s Chinatown and each offers great budget dining. Some are a little dingy but that is half the experience, right? Try Market City or the Sussex Centre for a more modern experience. Thang of Noodlies has done a great post that lists every food stall across these four food courts.
11. Check out the free Fireworks at Darling Harbour
Along with the big NYE event, Darling Harbour puts on fireworks shows every Saturday night from April to the end of October. Find out more here Thanks to my friend Aya Harrington for this great action shot.
12. Visit Glebe or Rozelle Markets
Each weekend many schools and church grounds across Sydney turn into markets where you can grab a bargain on a second-hand book or pre-loved piece of clothing. Glebe and Rozelle are both short bus rides from the city centre. If you are looking for new gifts try Paddington or Bondi, although these are more expensive
13. Take a stroll through Newtown and Enmore to check out some great street art
These inner-western suburbs host hundreds of murals and are a must for anyone who is a fan of street art. There are also fascinating shops and plenty of great eats to make this a brilliant way to spend a few hours. I have done a map of some of the highlights here.
14. Join a free walking tour of Sydney with I’m Free Tours
I’m Free Walking Tours offer three free tours a day, two general Sydney sites tours and one evening tour that focuses on The Rocks. All are free although a donation of $10 per person is average.
15. Take the train to the Blue Mountains on a Sunday for $2.50
Sure if you have the cash a tour is an excellent way to see the Blue Mountains and several great tour operators visiting this area but if you are on a budget, you can take the train and do it yourself for as little as $2.50.
16. Check out some of the 20 odd pubs in Balmain
Balmain sits on the western side of Sydney Harbour and is a great spot to get a glimpse of Sydney’s early architecture. While you are there see how many of the 22 remaining pubs you can visit. This one, The Exchange, is one of my favourites. The London on Darling Street is also on my list; its wooden bar is beautiful.
17. Visit South Head, Hornby Lighthouse and The Gap at Watsons Bay
Take a ferry from Circular Quay to Watson’s Bay and explore South Head, one side offers glorious Harbour views and on the ocean side sheer cliffs and dramatic rock formations.
18. Take a swim at the historic Wylie’s Baths in Coogee
Wylie’s Baths opened in 1907 and has been a local favourite ever since. Besides being a National Trust listed building, it is also a great place to swim.
19. Book a greet with a Sydney Greeter
I am a volunteer with the Global Greeter organisation in Sydney. Sydney Greeters spent a few hours with visitors showing them around their favourite parts of the city. In this photo Alice and Alex from the UK and I spent a few hours checking out street art and craft beer. Cheers guys if you are reading 🙂 Make sure you book your greet a few weeks before you plan to arrive and for the best chance of getting a match try to be flexible with your availability. We have more volunteers available on the weekends.
20. Check out the view from the Rooftop bar of the Glenmore Hotel
Head up on a Monday evening and get a $12.50 steak with your view.
Have you been to Sydney? Do you have a budget tip to share?