Sydney, Australia—one of the most livable cities in the world. Also, a city a traveler can very easily blow their budget. But fear not, as after living in this seaside metropolis for the past nine months I am happy to fill you in on just how you can enjoy yourself in Sydney and not go broke. Without further adieu, here is a guide to traveling Sydney Australia on a less than $25 per day.
Note: Prices have been converted from AUD to USD in this article.
Sydney Australia Accommodation
Let’s just get this one out of the way right off the bat since accommodation will most likely be one of the bigger expenses during your stay in Sydney. For a decent hostel in any part of the city you will undoubtedly pay a minimum of $20-25 per night. There may be places cheaper than that but for the sake of cleanliness, customer service and location I would stick to the following recommendations.
Located on Pitt Street in the heart of the city center, this is the place to stay if you’re looking for action. Public transport is easily accessible, making navigating the ins and outs of Sydney simple. Moreover, there is plenty to explore right outside the hostel doors.
Although there are private dorms available this probably shouldn’t be your hostel of choice if you prefer the laid back vibe (in other words this, is a well-known party hostel). Prices start at $23 a night; however, if you want to save a few bucks they have their “legendary” 32-person dorm option available for $18 a night.
Eastern City (Bondi)
If you’re looking for a beachfront stay for an affordable price this is it. The infamous Bondi Beach is a short 2-minute walk from the door front and the bus leading to the city is literally across the street. I actually called this home for a week upon my arrival in Bondi (and loved it!). The standard 4, 6, and 8 bedroom dorms can be found here with prices starting at $22 a night.
Northern Beaches (Manly)
If a morning surf or a walk along the beach is how you’d spend your ideal morning, Manly is the perfect spot. Manly, otherwise known as the gateway to the Northern Beaches, is just a short ferry ride away from Circular Quay is. Rooms here start at $25 per night.
Sleep For Free
And if you really don’t want to pay a dime for your lodging, CouchSurfing is your best bet. Simply sign up on the site and you’ll be able to connect with hosts who can offer their couches to you to free. Bonus: As most hosts offer complimentary accommodation because they love connecting with travelers, they’ll typically be happy to show you around, as well.
Sydney Australia Must See Budget Friendly Attractions
Tour The City…For Free!
Cost: Free + tip
Sydney is home to a company called I’m Free Tours, which offers complimentary daily walking tours at 10:30am, 2:30pm and 6pm. While the earlier tours allow you to see Sydney’s most iconic sites — some of which include Hyde Park & Barracks, the Sydney Opera House, Town Hall, Martin Place and The Harbour Bridge — the 6pm tour focuses solely on The Rocks, the very place where Australia’s first European settlement was. Keep in mind, guides work off tips (which also means they’ll work hard to show you a great time!).
See The Harbour By Ferry
Sure, you can choose to and see the Sydney Harbour views by foot; however, the best way to get a panoramic view is by ferry. For around $7 USD you can cruise past the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House allowing for plenty of photo ops. The ride from Circular Quay to Watson’s Bay will also give you a glimpse at some of the more luxurious lifestyle of Sydney as it passes by multi-mullion dollar properties and towering skyscrapers.
Explore The Rocks
Despite its’ name, The Rocks is actually a historic precinct of Sydney. Filled with cobbled alleyways, cozy cafes, markets on Saturday and Sunday and a touch of arts and culture the area is a great place to simply wander. While having a night out dinner and a few drinks will set you back a pretty penny, a more budget-friendly way to experience the area is through a free guided tour with the above-mentioned I’m Free Tours.
The Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney
If nature is your thing then packing up a picnic basket and heading to the Royal Botanical Gardens with friends is a great way to spend the afternoon. Not only will you be able to check out a variety of Australian plant life, but the city will be on display in the not so distant background offering the best of both worlds. There are also free guided walking tours starting at 10:30 am available from the Garden Shop.
Visit Manly Beach
Cost: $13 including transportation
A ferry ride from Circular Quay to Manly is a perfect day trip activity. There you can swim the crystal clear waters of Queenscliff beach, walk down the corso, or have an afternoon surf. Manly also has the walk to Spit Bridge if you have three hours to spare.
To get to Manly from Circular Quay you will need to purchase a MyFerry 2 ticket. An adult single ticket will cost about $7 USD. Or, if you plan on returning to the city, an adult return ticket will cost about $13 USD. For more information on ferry tickets, timetables, and prices visit the NSW transport site.
Bondi To Coogee Coastal Beach Walk
Cost: Free (+ board rentals at the beach, if you choose)
Best done on a sunny day, the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk offers the best of nature’s aesthetics—and the best part is that it’s completely free! There are plenty of smaller beaches and coves to stop at for a swim or rest along the way. No one’s judging if that pit stop turns into soaking up the sun on beach all day. Bondi Surf Co on Bondi Beach also rents body and surf boards starting at $10 per hour.
Wander Darling Harbour
Cost: Free (+ museum and garden admission if you choose)
Darling Harbour is jam packed with cafes, restaurants, nightlife, buskers looking to entertain and other Sydney sightseers. The area is a bit touristic but offers activities of all sorts. From here you can check out the bustling Cockle Bay Warf, the Australian National Maritime Museum (about $6 USD admission), find a bit of nature in the Chinese Garden of Friendship (which borders Chinatown and is about $5 USD to get in) or just enjoy people watching.
Sydney Australia Cheap Eats
After a day of acquainting yourself with the city you’ll no doubt be hungry. Fortunately, Sydney is full of options and caters to those on a budget as well as those looking to wine and dine. There is an Asian influence throughout the city so there are plenty of places to savor cheap sushi or dumplings. Pub food can also be found on almost every corner, so if a juicy burger or fish and chips is something you enjoy know that you can find that for around $10 in many places.
Some of my personal recommendations include:
Having lived in Bondi for the majority of my Australian stay I’ve come to love this place. I really enjoy the relaxed vibe and often meet with friends for an after work drink. On Tuesday-Friday from 5pm-7pm they have some great happy hour specials including $4.45 USD house wines and Peroni’s and some of the best pizza I’ve had in a very long time for about $13. Being a pizza fanatic I would suggest the Rita & Marg or 2 Olive Trees & A Pig.
Mary’s (No Website Available)
Mary’s can be found in Newtown, an area of Sydney that I think is best described as quirky. A place full of funky vintage shops and cafes that you can get easily lost in during the afternoon and offers a lot of nightlife as well.
Mary’s is well renowned in the area for having some of the best burgers and fried chicken is Sydney. Definitely not a recommendation for the health conscious, their food could be described as somewhere between gourmet and fast food. Expect to pay an average of $10.50-$12.50 USD for a burger and fries. While it’s not dirt-cheap it’s on the low-end spectrum of prices for eating out.
If you want cheap and quick yet know that hitting up a place like McDonalds, though easy on the budget, will not leave your body happy? Enter Guzman y Gomez, which reminds me of Chipolte back in the US.
There are the typical Mexican restaurant options of burritos, tacos, nachos and salads. I usually opt for their semi-healthy (depending on what you add on) chicken or veggie burrito bowl, which leaves me feeling full and satisfied for around $9.70 USD.
Dirt Cheap & Delicious:
- El Jannah: $5 falafel rolls and skewers, $6 chicken burgers and $3 chicken with garlic sauce
- Duy Linh: This vegan restaurant has a long list of dishes like steamed dumplings, soy sausages and vegan chicken nuggets starting at just $3.50 USD.
- Menya Mappen: Japanese noodle and rice bowl restaurant with enormous meals for under $10, such as a spicy pork miso bowl (about $3.50 USD), large cold tsuke soba with dipping sauce (about $5 USD) and sweet potato tempura (less than $1).
Sydney Australia Transportation
Cost: About $7 round trip
As mentioned, seeing Sydney by ferry is a great way to experience the city inexpensively. For about $7 USD round-trip or about $14.50 USD for unlimited 24-hour travel, Sydney ferries depart from Circular Quay frequently.
If you’re looking to see the city by land Sydney is fortunately a very walk able city; however, in order to explore outside the city center it’s best to use public transport. Sydney offers bus, train and light rail as options to get around. For round-trip using any of the aforementioned methods of transportation you can expect to pay at least $7 USD, but it all depends on where you are going.
Author: Mariana Ruiz
Mariana Ruiz is a free spirited Midwestern girl currently living out her dreams of slowly traveling the world starting in beautiful Australia. Through her writing Mariana hopes to be able to share her travel experiences, inspire others to enjoy life, and show them they aren’t the only ones thinking those crazy thoughts. Check out more of her work via her her website.