The Sydney Budget Travellers Bucket List

Sydney Bucket list sunset

20 Things For Budget Travellers to Do and See in Sydney

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.

Watch the Sunrise from a Sydney Beach

Sydney does a magnificent sunrise – my favourite spots are Bondi of course, Mahon Pool near Maroubra or Turimetta Beach near Narrabeen on the Northern Beaches.

Bondi Sunrise
Sunrise at Bondi – one of the only times you might find this beach peaceful

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 daily at 10.30 am and 1 pm Mon-Friday or just pack a picnic and enjoy the view.

Botanic Gardens Opera House View
Calla Lillie view from the Royal Botanic Garden

Ride a Sydney ferry to Manly

Do it on a Sunday for $2.60 with your Opal card 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.

Manly Beach things to do
Bird’s eye view of Manly Beach

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.

The Rocks Sydney Budget Bucketlist
Looking over the Rocks from the Cahill Lookout

Watch the Sunset from Mrs Macquaries Point

Mrs Macquarie’s Point is THE spot for your postcard shot of Sydney. It’s nice at sunrise, but at sunset, it really comes alive. I recommend getting here at golden hour and hanging around for an hour or two. BYO picnic for a romantic date.

Sydney Bucket list sunset
The view from Mrs Macquaries Point just after sunset

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. 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.

Hermitage Foreshore Walking Track Rose Bay Sydney
The very peaceful Hermitage Foreshore Track

Take in the view from the top of the Sydney Harbour Pylon

For A$15 you get a bird’s eye view that is almost as high as the one on the Bridgeclimb – the bonus here is you can take your camera with you. The Pylon lookout also has a small museum that details how the bridge was built.

View from the Habour Bridge Pylon lookout to the east
Great views for less than $20 from the Sydney Harbour Pylon

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 and the largest 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.

Art Gallery of NSW
The Art Gallery of NSW is free to enter

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.  You can read up on the history of the pub before you visit.

The Hero of Waterloo Hotel in The Rocks
Visit one of the heritage pubs in the Rocks like this one.

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.

Sydney budget traveller bucketlist Chinese in Chinatown
The quality of Chinese food in Sydney is fantastic

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.  These are scheduled to run from April 2019  but check their What’s On page for any upcoming shows.

Darling Harbour Fireworks
Check the Darling Harbour website for dates of the fireworks

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, they have a great range of local small businesses.

Glebe Market Sydney
Glebe market is a great spot to grab a unique bargain

Take a stroll through Newtown and Enmore to 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 of the highlights here.

colourful mural Newtown
Newtown is Sydney’s street art capital

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.

Im free walking tours bucket list
I’m Free offer two free tours each day

Take the train to the Blue Mountains on a Sunday for $2.60

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 $2.60. Check out my guides on how to choose the Best Blue Mountains tours or if you prefer how to visit the Blue Mountains without taking a tour.

Sydney budget bucketlist sunday blue mountains
The Three Sisters are the main attraction in the Blue Mountains

Check out a few of the 20 or so 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.

Sydney Bucketlist pub crawl in Balmain
Balmain has more than 20 heritage pubs to visit

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.

The Gap and Watsons Bay
Check out the cliffs of South Head

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.

Wylies Baths are open every day of the year
Swim in one of the local ocean pools

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. Apologies for the slightly blurry photo, that’s a chance you take asking a stranger in a brewery to take a picture for you 😉

My greet with Alice and Alex
Book a local greeter at least 2 weeks before

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.

Roof top bar with a view Glenmore Hotel The Rocks
The Glenmore from the Harbour Bridge steps

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 a budget tip to share? 

Need free help planning your trip to Sydney? Join our Sydney Expert Facebook Group where you can ask questions, stay up to date with what’s happening in Sydney and meet a bunch of friendly locals happy to offer their advice!



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