Cheap Things to do in Sydney in 2024
Looking for cheap things to do in Sydney? We have pulled today 20 things to do in Sydney on a budget so that you can still have a good time without hitting the credit card too hard!
As a budget traveller at heart, I have enjoyed putting this list together. I wanted to showcase just how many great things there are to see and do in Sydney, regardless of the size of your wallet.
- 20 Cheap Things to Do in Sydney for budget travellers
- Watch the Sunrise from a Sydney Beach
- Visit the Botanic Gardens
- Ride a Sydney ferry to Manly
- Take in some history of The Rocks
- Watch the Sunset from Mrs Macquaries Point
- Take a walk in a national park
- Take in the view from the top of the Sydney Harbour Pylon
- Visit an Art Gallery
- Check out the secret tunnel at the Hero of Waterloo
- Stroll through Chinatown and eat a cheap meal at one of the food courts
- Check out the free Fireworks at Darling Harbour
- Visit Glebe or Rozelle Markets
- Take a stroll and check out some excellent street art
- Join a free walking tour of Sydney with I’m Free Tours
- Take the train to the Blue Mountains From Friday to Sunday for $8.90
- Check out a few of the 20 or so pubs in Balmain
- Visit South Head, Hornby Lighthouse and The Gap at Watsons Bay
- Take a swim at the historic Wylie’s Baths in Coogee
- Book a meet up with a Sydney Greeter
- Check out the view from the Rooftop bar of the Glenmore Hotel
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20 Cheap Things to Do in Sydney for budget travellers
We present our budget travel bucket list of all the best things to see and do in Sydney without breaking the bank. If you can think of some places we can add to our list, please pop over and share them in our Facebook Group.
Watch the Sunrise from a Sydney Beach
Sydney does a magnificent sunrise – my favourite spots are Bondi, Mahon Pool near Maroubra or Turimetta Beach near Narrabeen on the Northern Beaches.
Once you are done, grab a cheap breakfast and tackle the Bondi to Coogee walk.
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 of exploration. There are free tours several times a week at 10.30 am and 1 pm Mon-Friday or pack a picnic and enjoy the view.
Ride a Sydney ferry to Manly
Do it on a weekend for $8.40 if money is tight. This 30-minute trip will cover a good part of the harbour, and as a bonus, you get to visit one of Sydney’s iconic northern beaches. If you want to make a day of it, continue around to North Head Scenic Reserve.
Find more great things to do in Manly while you are there
Take in some history of 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.
Have a few drinks with your history lesson in one of these Rocks Pubs
Watch the Sunset from Mrs Macquaries Point
Mrs Macquarie’s Point is THE spot for your postcard shot of Sydney. It’s excellent at sunrise, but it comes alive at sunset. I recommend getting here at golden hour and hanging around for an hour or two. BYO picnic for a romantic date.
Take a walk in a national park
There are four great parks within easy reach of Sydney. If time is short, Sydney Harbour National Park has half a dozen trails within 15-20 minutes from Circular Quay. The Royal National Park and Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park are great options if you have a car. Two of my favourites at the Hermitage Foreshore Walk in the eastern suburbs and the track from Taronga Zoo to Balmoral Beach on the lower north shore.
There are three more national parks you can visit by public transport.
Take in the view from the top of the Sydney Harbour Pylon
For A$19, you get a what has to be the best value view in Sydney. It’s almost as high as the one on the Bridge climb – the bonus here is you can take your camera with you. The Pylon lookout also has a small museum detailing how the bridge was built.
Check out this guide to walking across the Harbour Bridge
Visit an Art Gallery
Either the Art Gallery of NSW and it’s stunning new Sydney Modern or the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) – both are free; I prefer the Art Gallery of NSW because they have a tremendous Australian collection and the most extensive collection of Aboriginal art in Australia, but the MCA is an excellent 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.
Here are twenty more museums in Sydney you might like to visit
Check out the secret tunnel at the Hero of Waterloo
One of the city’s 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. You can read up on the history of the pub before you visit.
Stroll through Chinatown and eat a cheap meal at one of the food courts
The two main food courts in Sydney’s Chinatown are the Sussex Centre food court at 401 Sussex Street and the Market City Food courts above Paddy’s Market (ground and top floor). Far from the dingy Chinatown food courts of old, these two spaces are clean and offer plenty of seating.
If you want to learn more about Chinatown and Sydney’s Chinese community, book a tour with Local Sauce.
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 October. Check their What’s On page for any upcoming shows.
Check out our favourite places to eat in Darling Harbour.
Visit Glebe or Rozelle Markets
Each weekend, 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, they have a great range of local small businesses.
Take a stroll and check out some excellent 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 interesting shops and plenty of great eats to make this a brilliant way to spend a few hours. I have done a map of some highlights here.
Check out our list of 20 Fintan Magee murals in Sydney
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.
Take the train to the Blue Mountains From Friday to Sunday for $8.90
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 $8.90 return.
Check out a few of the 20 or so pubs in Balmain
Balmain sits on the western side of Sydney Harbour and is a brilliant spot to glimpse Sydney’s historic 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.
Visit South Head, Hornby Lighthouse and The Gap at Watsons Bay
Take a ferry from Circular Quay to Watsons Bay and explore South Head; one side offers glorious harbour views and on the ocean side sheer cliffs and dramatic rock formations.
Take a walk along South Head to Hornby Lighthouse.
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. You can find out how to get to Sydney beaches by public transport in this post.
Book a meet up with a Sydney Greeter
By far, one of the best cheap things to do in Sydney is meet up with a local. I am one of the founders of 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. Apologies for the slightly blurry photo; that’s a chance you take asking a stranger in a brewery to take a picture for you 😉
Check out the view from the Rooftop bar of the Glenmore Hotel
Head up on a Monday evening and get a cheap steak with your view.
If you have not yet decided where to stay, check out of mega list of the best budget hotels in Sydney or if hostels are more your style, the Broke Backpacker has a great round-up of the best hostels in Sydney.
Now, where will you eat?
Have you been to Sydney? Do you have some ideas for cheap things to do in Sydney?
About the author: Paula Morgan, a born-and-bred Sydney resident, has been sharing this city and its secret spots for over 15 years. She’s not just about the iconic landmarks; she’s all about the hidden alleys adorned with street art, and the joy of discovering a new café or a fabulous restaurant tucked away in a corner you never knew existed and weekends away exploring regional NSW.