Trying to plan a budget weekend in Sydney? You have probably heard how expensive the city can be, and that’s true it can be, but with some planning and our local tips, you can see the best of the city and take home some cash to start planning your next getaway!
Sydney Expert’s guide to 48 hours in Sydney on a budget.
A weekend in Sydney does not have to see you spending a small fortune. You can enjoy many of the best experiences in the city for free – add a modest budget, and you can include some great eats and a few happy hour drinks on the itinerary.
On a weekend trip, we think you should spend most of the weekend in the Sydney CBD and inner suburbs because there is so much to see. Save day trips for when you have a little more time.
Accor Hotels have plenty of budget accommodation options in Sydney that
are in the heart of the CBD and surrounding suburbs.
Our itinerary assumes you will arrive in the city just after lunch on Friday.
Day One in Sydney
Explore the Harbour, Manly and the Inner West
Your first afternoon in Sydney should be spent on Sydney Harbour. Head to Circular Quay and jump on the Manly Ferry.
Once you arrive, there are plenty of things to do in Manly, but we think a walk down to the Corso and around to Shelly Beach is hard to beat.
Along the walk is the Bower Cafe, one of our favourite spots in Manly to grab a coffee – the view here out over the ocean pool is hard to beat, and it’s a great people-watching spot.
After you have had enough beach time, head back to Manly Wharf, and hopefully, you will be just in time for happy hour at the Wharf Hotel. They usually have some great bar snacks that will help tide you over till dinner.
As the sun begins to set – make your way down to board the ferry. If you time it right, you will end up with some fabulous sunset photos of the Sydney Opera House to take home.
Now it’s time to find some dinner – you could make your way by train from Circular Quay to the inner-west suburb of Newtown, where you will find dozens of affordable dining options and some great small bars.
If you would like a local to show you around, there is a fun tour, Newtown Chewtown – Food & Street Art that is perfect for getting an overview of the bars and street food at a very affordable price.
Day Two in Sydney
Put on your walking shoes and explore Sydney’s inner East and the famous Bondi Beach
Morning – Start your day with a walk; take the train or bus to Kings Cross and have a wander around the villages of Potts Point, Elizabeth Bay, and Woolloomooloo. Filled with Art Deco buildings, pretty bays and plenty of history, it’s a lovely pocket of the city. You will also be spoilt for choice when hunger strikes with plenty of great cafes.
On weekends, the Kings Cross Organic Market in Fitzroy Gardens is worth a look with plenty of affordable treats.
If you prefer to keep moving, grab a pastry and coffee from Baked By Keiren on Elizabeth Bay Road and walk down to Beare Park to enjoy breakfast alfresco.
Now it’s on to the “Loo”, as locals refer to Woolloomooloo, to see the heritage-listed finger wharves. On the way, be sure to pass Elizabeth Bay House, once considered the finest building in Sydney.
If it’s time for lunch, grab a meat pie floater from iconic food truck Harry’s Cafe de Wheels, operating for over 80 years. Everyone from Frank Sinatra to Prince Harry has sampled Harry’s pies on their visits Downunder.
From Woolloomooloo, you can easily walk back into the city via the Royal Botanic Gardens and the Art Gallery of NSW. If your feet or the weather are not up to scratch, then jump on the bus opposite Harrys and ride back into the city.
Alternatively, if you prefer nature over the urban jungle, we recommend a Harbour walk. There are many pockets of bushland lining the waterfront that allow you to feel 100s of miles from the city and, soak up the harbour’s best views. Choose the length to suit you, from a 6km track to a short 2km boardwalk.
Afternoon – This afternoon, it’s time to head to Watsons Bay and the eastern suburbs. The short ferry ride gives you a chance to see the south of the harbour. If you are lucky, you might even glimpse a seaplane landing in Rose Bay.
Once you arrive in Watsons Bay, take the short hike up to the lighthouse for fabulous views of the harbour.
The walk also takes you past Camp Cove beach, one of the loveliest harbour beaches in Sydney. Retrace your steps to the wharf and head through the park to check out the sandstone cliffs of The Gap.
After that, jump on the 380 bus for the 20-minute trip to North Bondi. Once you are in Bondi, you have dozens of ways to spend the afternoon.
- Grab drinks on the balcony at North Bondi RSL
- Or an ice cream from Messina on Hall St
- Check out the street art the lines the walls at the beach
- Shop at the Bondi Markets every Saturday and Sunday
- Walk the Coastal Track to Bronte
- Take a swim at the Bondi Icebergs
Evening – You may want to stay in Bondi for the evening, or you could take the 333 bus back to Town Hall and make your way to Darling Harbour.
The best cheap eats in Darling Harbour can be found in Darling Square, near Haymarket. There is a leafy outdoor eating area and Saturday nights often live entertainment, giving a fun atmosphere. The Ibis at Darling Harbour can make a great base for your stay.
After dinner stroll the Darling Harbour waterfront, the skyline looks spectacular at night from this vantage point or ride the Ferris Wheel for just $10
The best way to travel around the city is to use public transport. You don’t need a pass; just tap on and off with your credit/debit card or phone’s PayPass app.
Your Final Morning in Sydney
A morning exploring the history of Sydney and the city’s newest precinct
This morning you will explore the Harbour Bridge, Sydney’s historic district, The Rocks, check out the Museum of Contemporary Art and have a stroll around Barangaroo Reserve.
Start your day by grabbing a coffee and pastry at Bourke Street Bakery in Barangaroo. I recommend grabbing one of their signature ginger brulee tarts to eat later when hunger strikes.
While you are there, take time to visit Wellama in the Cutaway and watch the six-minute video installation, which includes an Aboriginal Welcome to Country Ceremony.
Follow the foreshore footpath through the six-hectare reserve that has been planted with over 75,000 native trees, plants and shrubs, many chosen because they existed on the site at the time of settlement.
Exit the reserve and Towns Place to Hickson Road, which will lead you under the Sydney Harbour Bridge and into the heart of the Rocks.
Download our Rocks Self Guided walking tour; it will help you find all the best spots in the Rocks and give you a little history lesson too.
Before you know it, your time in the Harbour City will be up, but over these 48 hours in Sydney, you will have seen a good cross-section of the city and no doubt found plenty of places you want to return to.
If you are flying into Sydney, we suggest you check out our Sydney Airport Guide that explains the budget options for getting to the city from the airport.
If you find by good fortune, you have an extra day, head to the Blue Mountains using our budget guide. The return trip can cost you less than $10!