Sydney, Australia is well known to be one of the most expensive cities in the world. Being the savvy budget traveler I am, I found a ton of free things to do while living there this past year and lucky for y’all I compiled this amazing list of 22 free things to do in Sydney, Australia.
Follow this guide to get more out of your trip while spending less.
Central Business District Area:
1. The Royal Botanic Gardens:
Walk through the beautiful gardens, check out the weird ponds with eels in them, have a picnic and watch the sunset from Mrs.Macquerie’s Chair viewpoint. You can even go on a free walking tour every day at 10:30 am
2. Take in some culture at the Art Gallery of NSW
Located near the Botanical Gardens and just a short walk from Mrs. Macquerie’s Chair. It features various types of Art including Australian Aboriginal art.
3. Opera House
Check out the iconic Opera House and marvel at this famous world landmark. Get the shot for the gram, because if you don’t did you even go to Australia?!
4. Walk across the Harbour Bridge
You can spend a little over $300 to do the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb, or you can walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge for $0 dollars. Take the stairs up from the Rocks (there are signs) and enjoy the beautiful views of the Sydney and the Opera House.
5. Queen Victoria Building
Walk through the beautiful Queen Victoria Building. It’s a late 19th cnetury building with beautiful old school architecture in the middle of the modern central business district (CBD). They have the best chocolate dipped fruits at Parisi.
6. Chill in Hyde Park
Eat your delicious chocolate dipped fruit while taking a break from the hustle of the CBD in Hyde Park, a 16 acre park in the middle of the city.
7. Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk
It’s a 6km, cliff top coastal walk in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. It’s a really easy walk with no steep inclines and you will see stunning views, several beaches, bays and rock pools. It should take a max. 2 hrs to complete and in late spring you can check out the free Sculpture by the Sea near Bondi.
8. Spit to Manly Coastal Walk
This walk takes you from the Spit bridge with the trail weaving through a mix of lush trees, beaches and bays. It’s 10 km and once you start, you are pretty committed to finishing as there aren’t many exit points. It should take 3-4 hours to complete depending on your fitness level so pack some snacks, sunscreen and water! You can find a free map here.
9. Hiking in the Royal National Park
You could definitely spend more than one day exploring this beautiful park because it has over 100 km of walking trails. Depending on the trail you choose you can discover littoral rainforest gullies, beautiful cliffs, the figure 8 pools or pristine beaches. We went to the balconies, the instafamous figure 8 pools and wedding cake rock. Be warned, there must be a low tide to see the figure 8 pools, so time your visit accordingly and check the tide levels online. Additionally, it’s now illegal to sit on the edge of wedding cake rock for safety reason due to its instability. You can face a fine of up to $3000 if you get caught but that still doesn’t stop some people as seen in this pic!
10. Hiking in the Blue Mountains
There are multiple hikes to choose from in the Blue Mountains. We did the Katoomba loop and saw the famous three sisters, walked down 800 steps appropriately named “The Giant Stairway” and enjoyed views of the valley in a short 2 hr circuit. For more info check out: https://www.bestsydneywalks.com/blue-mountains-walks/
11. Walk through Centennial Park
This is a huge park with ponds and wildlife sprinkled throughout the grounds. Bring some snacks and get lost exploring this tranquil area away from the busy city. It’s a great place to explore on foot or on a bike. You can rent bikes here for a small fee, and they even have 4 seater bikes for groups.
12. Explore the Grounds of Alexandria
Say hi to Kevin Bacon for me! This is hands down the prettiest cafe/market I’ve ever been to. It is literally Instagram heaven so don’t forget your camera and bring your appetite!
13. Check out China town and have a famous creme puff
The store is located on Dixon st. You can’t miss it, just look for a long curved line of people waiting in front of a small window between the emperor garden restaurant and their bakery. At 35 cent a puff or 18 for 5 dollars (can you guess which one I opted for? :P) these guys are worth the wait. As tempting as it may be to eat it right away, wait a minute or two for them to cool so you don’t burn your mouth like I did…lol!
14. Eat a croissant at Iggy’s Bread near Bronte beach
No. Guys. This croissant was literally the best I’ve ever had in my life. Flaky, buttery, crispy, sweet, deliciousness. We went there after watching the sunrise and there was a queue at 7am! 7am!!! That’s how good their ish is. Seriously, go. Located at: 131 Macpherson St, Bronte NSW 2024, Australia NOT SPONSORED, just amazing pastries.
15. People watch while eating gelato from Messina at Circular Quay
Messina has over 40 unique flavours like bounty, which literally tastes like a bounty chocolate bar, Macadamia crunch, apple pie and more. So good.
16. The Rocks Market
The Rocks is a historic neighborhood below the Sydney Harbour Bridge. On Saturdays, there is the Rocks Market. You can just check it out or purchase street food and handmade fashions/art. The area also has some of Sydney’s oldest restaurants including the Australian Heritage Hotel where you can get their coat of arms pizza – that’s right, it’s topped with emu and kangaroo the two animals in Australia’s coat of arms!
17. Glebe markets
Glebe is a suburb in inner west Sydney that has a laid-back feel. It has a plethora of heritage buildings, bookshops, and restaurants. On Saturdays, it hosts the Glebe Markets where you can get great deals on vintage finds. I got a beautiful formal dress for only $30!
18. Carriage works farmers market on Saturday mornings.
As with any farmers market, you can get some great fruits and veggies here. But what’s really great is the food and coffee. Some of the best in Sydney and for a great price too! Directly across from the farmers market is an art gallery where you can see free art exhibits after eating a delicious breakfast.
19. Enjoy the city views from Wendy’s Secret Garden
One of Sydney’s best-kept secrets, you can enjoy stunning views of Sydney’s iconic landmarks from the other side of the bridge.
20. Watch migrating whales from the coastal hills
From May to November, humpback whales migrate through the waters near Sydney. Whale watching cruises are really popular but the one downside of a cruise is getting seasick (which happens A LOT). Skip the sick and head up to one of the many coastal vantage points around Sydney including the Vaucluse Hills area. Tip: To spot whales, look for the whale’s breath spray (it looks like steam) and you’ll be able to spot them more easily!
21. Chill out on the Beach
There are tons of beaches to choose from. No trip down unda is complete without a visit to the famous Bondi Beach. Manly beach is amazing, Palm Beach has beautiful postcard views, Bronte Beach and coogee beach are smaller and less crowded if that’s what you’re after.
22. Snorkel at Shelley Beach
All you need to bring is a pair of goggles, fins aren’t necessary as you don’t have to swim too far out, but they are helpful. Take the ferry to Manly and walk over on the boardwalk to Shelly Beach. When we went we saw a huge grouper about 3 ft long!
Sydney is expensive, but you can easily save money and have an amazing time by doing a few of these things. For more ways to save money in Australia, check out this awesome guide to exploring Australia on a budget.
Heading to Melbourne next? Check out this 5 Day Itinerary in Melbourne.
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What would you add to this list? Let me know in the comments below 🙂
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