February 12th, 2024
10 minute read
All you budget travellers out there may be wondering if there are any free things to do in Sydney. Australia is known for being expensive, and surely the country's most famous city is expensive as well, right?
It's true, you could easily spend a fortune in Sydney if you stay in luxury hotels and dine at five-star restaurants. But there are also lots of free things to do in Sydney! With a bit of insider knowledge, it's very possible to explore Sydney on a budget. We've compiled a list of the top 12 free things to do in Sydney so future visitors can save money while wandering around the capital city of New South Wales.
If you're looking to explore Australia on a budget, be sure to fill your itinerary with these 12 free things to do in Sydney. In addition to prioritising the free attractions, budget travellers can also make their stay in Sydney more affordable in a number of ways.
First, stay in backpacker hostels as opposed to fancy hotels. Hostels in Sydney are super modern, clean, and fun, yet they cost a fraction of the price of a hotel. There are also plenty of cheap eats around Sydney, including takeaway joints and cozy cafes. If you can manage to find affordable accommodation and food, enjoying Sydney doesn't have to break the bank!
Luckily for budget travellers, it's completely free to admire Sydney's most famous landmark. The Sydney Opera House is a world-renown architectural marvel, and it is truly as impressive in person as it is in photos. No visit to Australia is complete without snapping a few photos of the Sydney Opera House!
Of course, it does cost money to attend a show or join a guided tour of the Opera House. These activities will be money well spent, but those on a tight budget can just observe the famous structure from the outside for free.
If you're looking to leave the skyscrapers behind and immerse yourself in a bit of greenery, Sydney has lots of amazing parks and gardens. Whether it's a tiny little landscaped garden hidden between buildings, or it's a massive green space, most parks in Sydney are free for all to enjoy.
The Royal Botanic Garden is the most famous of the Sydney parks, and it's conveniently located right next to Sydney Harbour. The nearby Hyde Park and Moore Park are two other gorgeous parks near the Sydney CBD. But lush green spaces are scattered all over the city. Exploring the Western Sydney Parklands is one of the best free things to do in Western Sydney, and Sydney Harbour National Park near Manly is an excellent place to relax as well.
Sydney is known for its abundance of stunning ocean pools. These pools are incredible because you can swim in the salty ocean water with sand and rocks under your feet, but the man-made ocean barriers protect swimmers from the waves and the wildlife of the open ocean. Not only are Sydney's ocean pools fun to swim in, they are simply gorgeous to look at!
Incredible ocean pools lie all over the city, from Shelly Beach Rock Pool and Oak Park Rock Pool in Cronulla all the way up to Palm Beach Rock Pool and Whale Beach Rock Pool in the very north of Sydney. Pretty much every beach neighborhood in Sydney has its own rock pool, and they are all free to swim in. Only the most famous of Sydney's ocean pools cost money, including the iconic Bondi Icebergs in Bondi Beach (pictured below) and Wylie's Baths in Coogee, the latter of which is one of the city's oldest rock pools.
In addition to the Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge is an iconic landmark in Australia. This giant steel bridge connects the Sydney CBD with the North Shore, and its prominent silhouette features on many images of the famous city. One of the best free things to do in Sydney is to simply walk across the Harbour Bridge!
As you stroll along the pedestrian pathways on this massive bridge, you get excellent panoramic views of Sydney Harbour. The most impressive views can be found at the very top of the bridge, which you can access by booking a bridge climb. This exhilarating experience is a bit pricey, so those looking to save money can still get beautiful photos of Sydney Harbour by just walking across the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
If you're lucky enough to be visiting Sydney in winter, attending the Vivid Lights Festival is one of the best things to do for free in Sydney. Every year, Sydney kicks off the winter season with an epic lights festival that ignites most of the Harbour and CBD with a kaleidoscope of colours. Light shows display on all of the city's major landmarks, from buildings to gardens to the Sydney Opera House itself.
The dates for Vivid vary each year, but it usually starts in late May and runs until late June. It's completely free to wander through the city during Vivid, so take this opportunity to admire the fantastic rainbow light displays that transform Sydney into an artistic masterpiece.
Another one of the best free things to do in Sydney is explore the markets. Sydney has lots of great markets where local vendors come together to showcase their goods, such as art pieces, vintage clothing, fresh produce and food, and more. Though it does cost money to purchase anything from a market, it's free to wander around and soak in the local culture.
Plus, if you do need to buy any souvenirs or food while you're out and about, markets are a great place to do so! You'll get to support small local businesses and farmers, and you can often find things for much cheaper than you would in a big retail store. The Rocks Markets, Glebe Markets, Paddy's Markets, Sutherland Shire Farmers Market, and the Rozelle Collectors Market are some of Sydney's most popular markets!
With a gorgeous coastline dotted with beaches, ocean pools, surf spots, lighthouses, and rugged cliffs, a stroll along the water is a must in Sydney. Sydney is an incredible city, but its coastline is arguably the most beautiful part. Fun, easy coastal trails line the entire eastern perimeter of the city, and they are all great places for walking, jogging, biking, or sightseeing.
The Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk is definitely the most famous trail. In a few hours, you can stroll past some of Sydney's most iconic beaches! Other popular coastal walks in Sydney include the Manly to Spit Bridge Walk, the Botany Bay Coastal Walk, and the Federation Cliff Walk. Those looking for a real adventure could even head south of the city to the Royal National Park and take on parts of the Coast Track. All these coastal walks in Sydney are completely free!
Museums are a great way to learn about the art, culture, and history of any new place you visit. Luckily for budget travellers, Sydney has some amazing museums that are free to enter! Those interested in art can check out the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia and the Art Gallery of NSW for free. You can also visit the Rocks Discovery Museum, the Reserve Bank of Australia Museum, or the Justice And Police Museum for free.
The Australian Museum is another top choice, as this incredible venue is the oldest museum in the country and is the fifth oldest natural history museum in the world! You can see almost 20 million artifacts relating to natural history and anthropology here at the heritage-listed museum. You can learn so much at Sydney's museums without spending a dollar!
Australia is home to some world-class beaches, and many of them lie within Sydney's city limits. Though Bondi Beach is definitely the most famous, the city has countless other beaches that are just as stunning but less crowded. Palm Beach in the north, Blackwoods Beach in the south, and Milk Beach in the inner harbour are all non-touristy beach options in Sydney.
And of course, there's Manly Beach, Maroubra Beach, Bronte Beach, and Freshwater Beach. Truly, the list of amazing Sydney beaches could go on and on. Just head to the coast and pick one - they are all breathtaking and they're all free!
For those who love architecture, the Sydney Opera House isn't the only impressive landmark in the city! While wandering around Sydney, there are so many cool buildings and monuments that are free to check out. St. Mary's Cathedral is a gorgeous religious building located right next to Hyde Park in the CBD. Also in Hyde Park is the unique Anzac Memorial and reflecting pool. Or you can head to the Grounds of Alexandria, an urban sanctuary full of cool art displays, gardens, cafes, shops, event spaces, and more. This is one of the most Instagrammable places in Sydney!
Another architectural masterpiece to admire in Sydney is the Queen Victoria Building. This heritage-listed shopping centre was built in the late nineteenth century and is incredibly photogenic. If you continue to explore Sydney on foot, you'll find plenty of unique buildings that are free to admire and photograph.
Those looking for free stuff to do in Sydney should definitely consider walking around The Rocks. This historic neighborhood located right at the southern base of the Sydney Harbour Bridge is an incredibly scenic place for a stroll. Filled with tightly-packed cobblestone alleyways, adorable cafes, street markets, fairy lights, and eateries, The Rocks is as photogenic as it is significant. You also get great views of the Sydney skyline from here.
The Rocks is one of Sydney's oldest neighborhoods, and some of the city's very first shops were set up here. It's free to meander around and window shop. Be sure to check out the weekend markets from 10 am to 5 pm, and learn more about the area at the free Rocks Discovery Museum. If you are looking to treat yourself to a nice meal or some nightlife, The Rocks is home to some of Sydney's oldest pubs!
Experience Sydney like a local and get up early for sunrise! Watching the sun peek over the horizon of the Pacific Ocean is easily one of the best free things to do in Sydney. Whether you're watching the sunrise from the CBD and enjoying the soft morning glow over the Opera House, or you're admiring the sunrise from one of the many beaches, there is no better way to start the day!
Blend in with the Aussie locals and go for a morning swim in an ocean pool, or go for a sunrise surf. You'll find that Aussies are always out and about early in the morning with a surfboard or a flat white in hand. Watching the sunrise is the perfect way to begin a day of sightseeing in Sydney!