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Top 10 Ways To Enjoy Sydney on a Budget

Sydney is one of the most iconic holiday destinations in the World and is Australia’s most populous city. Filled with diverse architecture, customs and traditions, the city attracts holiday-goers from all over the World and is ranked tenth in the world in terms of quality of living.

Sydney is also known as one of the most expensive cities in the world, making it rather difficult for students or individuals of whom is currently living through a budget to travel and experience Australia’s most iconic holiday destination.

Below are ten ideal ways for students to dodge the overpriced coffee, overpriced taxis and overpriced accommodation “deals” while still enjoying a quality experience.

One: Looking for Cheap accommodation? Turn to Airbnb!

Emma McColl | Airbnb apartment Sydney

Airbnb is the world’s biggest accommodation-sharing site that launched in 2009 and has expanded widely over the years. It may not be the Hilton or the Hyatt, but it certainly provides good value accommodation at affordable prices. If you use it the right way, you could find yourself situated in prime locations where normal hotels would cost much more. Some may think that sharing your accommodation with a complete stranger (the owner of the property) is a scary thought and many find this very uncomfortable. Thankfully, there is the option of short stay renting WITHOUT the owner!

Sydney is a hotspot for Airbnb, and an extensive array of houses apartments and townhouses are available for users at half the price a hotel would cost. The process is easy when looking at booking your stay, once a verified profile is created, you can send a message to the host and book instantly.

If you are looking for a short stay for two nights or more and do not want to pay hundreds of dollars then this is ideal for you. With hundreds to thousands of properties on offer for short stay, those with luxurious taste or you just the average taste then there is always a suitable option for you.

Not to mention, if you are lucky the views can be spectacular!

Two: Take advantage of UBER!

In Sydney, Uber is really taking over. For a trip that would usually cost double the price of what an uber would it is hard to not take up such a beneficial service. Trains are the next best option for cheap transportation around the city, however in many cases the train is not always within a close proximity to your accommodation or destination of choice. A walk or alternate uber option is also required, so why not get it all over and done with and avoid the hassle!

Three: Opal Cards

If Uber is just not for you and a train is a preferable option or is within walking distance to your accommodation than Opal cards are a must! Opal Cards are smartcard tickets that you keep, reload and reuse to pay for travel on public transport and can be used throughout a number of locations.

Opal cards adhere the lowest single fares and you only need to purchase an opal card once. With an opal card you will only have to pay for journeys you make and you have the opportunity to change your destination when travelling without wasting a fare.

Opal cards have an auto top up process, which makes travel easier by linking your opal card to a Visa or Mastercard or debit card.

The most important benefit of using Opal cards is the pricing. No matter how much you travel with an Opal card you never pay more than your daily, weekly or Sunday travel Caps. The card offers discounted fare prices compared to purchasing one-use tickets, there is a maximum fare charge of $15 per day and just $2.50 on a Sunday.

Four: Choose the Markets over the Malls 

Emma McColl | Paddington Markets Sydney

For most trips and as much as you may tell yourself that you will not go shopping, you generally always end up shopping. With Sydney being Australia’s largest city, you can expect some of the biggest and best shopping malls situated in every suburb. Why not satisfy this shopping urge in a different and a much more accommodating environment like the markets?

Just like the shopping malls, markets are situated in almost every suburb and will more than likely have everything you need or want in the one location at a significantly cheaper price.

Markets accommodate for all genders, ages and the many diverse style tastes of today. Markets will often obtain products from fashion pieces to beauty products, fresh produce and dairy products, gifts and hobbies and arts and crafts.

A market is not only a cheaper and more affordable option for shopping but is also an enjoyable experience with a number of cultural eateries, entertainment and an extensive range of things to see and do!

Some of the most popular Sydney Markets include the Paddington markets, the Rozelle markets, the Surry Hills markets, Bondi Markets, Kirribilli Markets, Balmain markets and Glebe Markets.

Five: Cheap eats in Sydney

Everyone’s most hated expense to pay for is food, and who wants to pay double the price in Sydney for something so standardly cheap from back home. Sydney is categorised as one of the most expensive cities in the world ranking number 21 in the world and food and drink expenses have a lot to do with this.

Despite your cravings, there will always be an option to suit you and accommodate for your food of choice. Some of the best, cheaper and still extremely popular dining locations are listed below.

  1. Spice Alley, Chippendale
  2. Mary’s, Newtown
  3. BL burgers, Darlinghurst and Parramatta
  4. Frankies Pizza, CBD
  5. Bourke Street Bakery, Surry Hills
  6. Din Tai Fung- The Star Darling Harbour
  7. Five points Burgers – North Sydney
  8. Regatta Restaurant & Bar, Rose bay
  9. Eastside Grill, Chippendale
  10. Bar Luca, CBD

Six: Admire the cities most iconic landmarks FOR FREE!  

Emma McColl | The Rocks

Sydney is popular for its iconic landmarks; individuals travel from all over the world to admire and appreciate these particular landmarks, which contributes to the pricey cost of visiting these attractions. Little do many know, you can appreciate and admire Sydney’s beauty at no cost at all and provided below is just how you can do this.

  1. The Sydney Opera House
    The Sydney Opera House is one of Sydney’s most popular tourist attractions that you can get up close and personal with for free! Walk around the Opera house and admire its pure beauty and unique design that is surround by the glistening Sydney Harbour.
  2. The botanical Gardens
    Entry is free to the Royal Botanical Gardens and you simply cannot beach the city and harbor views from the botanical Gardens. The Garden provides over 30 hectares of spectacular flora to enjoy and is the perfect spot for a picnic lunch.
  3. Darling harbour
    Whether it be night or day, the view is spectacular with sky-rise buildings surrounding the harbour. The harbour has countless things to do and see ranging from the free entertainment of buskers, the city lights that hug the harbour at night and many diverse restaurants and cafes.
Emma McColl | Darling Harbour


  1. Star City Casino
    This may seem like an ironic “free” option for visiting Sydney’s attractions, but it can easily be done! Star City Casino is more than just gambling. Simply walking through the casino will make you feel like you are in Las Vegas and is an experience on its own. Entry is free and all you will need is your photo ID to get in. If you do feel a little parched, there are many bars in the casino that have no cover charge to get in.
  2. China Town
    A great cultural experience is the famous China Town situated on Goulburn Street in the city’s CBD. China town has no entry fee and it provides endless street entertainment and cheap Asian food.
  3. The Rocks
    The Rocks in Sydney is filled with cobble stoned streets and many little nooks and crannies that each have their own story to tell. The Rocks is one of the oldest inner city areas, and wandering the street is sure to keep you entertained. The Rocks have market stalls where people set up stores and sell almost anything, from clothes to handmade jewellery, and you can find lots of great live bands in many of the great English pubs within the area.
  4. The Sydney Harbour Bridge
    The Sydney Harbour Bridge climb is one of the most raved about experiences in Australia and many travel (and pay) to walk to the highest peak of one of Australia’s most popular landmarks. A simple stroll along the pedestrian pathway at the bridge’s eastern degree to take in some panoramic views on a lower level will still provide some up close and personal experiences with no cost at all.
  5. The Bondi to Coogee walk
    One of the most stunning and spectacular walks along the coastlines is the Bondi to Coogee walk, which takes in some of Sydney’s most iconic beaches. The walk in completely free and is filled with plenty of coves and beaches to stop for a swim along the way.
  6. The Grounds of Alexandria
    Emma McColl | The Grounds of Alexandria

    The Grounds of Alexandria is a landmark café, restaurant and bar, garden, bakery and patisserie, animal farm, florist, and market, among other things – entry is completely free.

  7. Luna park
    Luna park is an attraction/amusement park suitable for all ages and is always a great alternative for a day filled with entertainment and laughs. Although Luna Park adheres a cost to utilise rides and shows, the entry is free and definitely worth the look. The park adopts spectacular harbour views and some free entertainment when wandering through. If you dare to partake in some of the amusement rides, pricing ranges from $10 and below per ride with rides certainly worth the money.


 Seven: Picnic in the Park

What better way to save your money and avoid the crowds than to pack a picnic lunch, a blanket and some wine (or beer) and relax, unwind and take in the breathtaking harbour views from the Royal Botanic Gardens?

The CBD is not only home to the Royal Botanic Gardens, but also the famous Domain, Hyde Park and Centennial Park that are always thriving with entertainment whether it be live bands/singers, buskers, markets, yoga and performances. And the best thing about all of this… it is completely free!

Eight: Everyone loves a backpacker bar and Happy hour

Drinking in Sydney is expensive, but to make the most out of your night, all you need to do is hunt down the best Happy hour locations and backpacker bars. Below is a list of just some of the best locations for Happy hour drinks and the best Backpacker bars for cheap drinks in the Sydney CBD.

Backpacker Bars

  1. Scubar
  2. Sidebar
  3. Cargo Bar
  4. Scary Canary
  5. World bar

Happy Hour

  1. The Rook
  2. The Establishment
  3. Rabbit Hole bar and dining
  4. The Morrison
  5. The Argyle

Nine: Visit the Beaches!

What better way is there to spend one of Sydney’s humid days, than enjoying the sun and the ocean at many of Sydney’s most famous (and more importantly) free beaches! Bondi beach, Manly beach, Watson’s bay, Coogee beach and Bronte beach are just some of Sydney’s famous beaches to visit with nature walks and cliff views to also enjoy for free.

One of the most iconic and picturesque spots to visit is the Bondi Icebergs, which is open six days a week from 6am until 6.30pm approximately, and entry price for the pool for adults is only $7!

Ten: Make the most of early entry!

Sydney may have a vast array of nightlife spots to enjoy on your night out, however the lock out law enforcements of 1.30am really can put an early end to your night.

To make the most of your night and to make the most of cheaper deals, early entry is the way to go. Most of the more commonly talked about venues that adhere an entry fee, often offer cheaper early bird entry fees and these are what you need to take advantage of.

Often on a Friday or Saturday night, many of these popular venues hold ticketed events, which are a great way to secure a cheap entry into the venue. Alternatively, entry prices into the venue are often increased due to the venue if you do not have a ticket.

Sydney is one of the most beautiful and picturesque locations to spend a weekend away with your friends and there is plenty to do to keep you occupied. A budget should never put a stop to your weekend adventures!

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