Sydney is not exactly known as the most economical destination in the world. Indeed, Australia as a whole isn’t very wallet-friendly. However, Sydney is worth the money-burn: its beaches are glorious and it has so many iconic structures that it’s hard to know where to begin. Luckily, though, there are still some ways you can save on your visit to this beautiful city.
1. Stay in the suburbs.
Inevitably, the most expensive accommodation is going to be in the center of the city, or in the massively popular and overcrowded areas like Bondi. Even hostels can top $50 for the night in the sought-after areas — but be smart about it, and you can find great accommodation for way cheaper.
Glebe, for example, is a cute hipster neighborhood just a bus ride away from town, and you’ll save at least 10% on your nightly costs by staying there. Plus there are plenty of cool coffee joints, op shops, and restaurants to keep you entertained without needing to go into Central every time.
2. Take full advantage of the public transport cap.
Sydney’s transport network is pretty good, but the cost of it can quickly mount up. Get an Opal card to make your life easier — while you can purchase single tickets, it’s only possible to do so at selected stops and on selected routes, which is a real pain. Opal cards are free to buy, and the minimum credit for an adult is $10 AUD.
The transport cap is $15.40 AUD in the day for an adult, which sounds like a lot, but if you are getting the ferry to Manly this is eaten up pretty quickly as the ferry costs $7.35 AUD each way.
A good way of working with the system, therefore, is to do all of your most expensive travel on the same day. Spend the whole day riding around on ferries, or choose one day to tour ’round all the popular neighborhoods to find your favorite. You can even head up the coast to Newcastle using your Opal card.
3. Or travel on a Sunday.
Even better, make your biggest travel day a Sunday. On Sundays in Sydney, all transport is capped at $2.60. That’s $2.60 for everything, for the whole day.
I’d highly recommend making the trip up to Katoomba and the Blue Mountains on a Sunday — that’s several hours of train rides, plus buses to get to Sydney central, all for just $2.60.
4. Walk between all the beaches and pick a favorite.
The 6km Bondi to Coogee beach walk is a favorite activity among travelers and locals, and best of all it’s free. You get to see some of Sydney’s best beaches, and scope out which ones you might want to come back to later: Tamaranta, Maroubra, Coogee itself, Bronte — there are so many to pick from.
The walk only takes about an hour, but you could easily take a picnic and swimming stuff and make a day of it, by stopping at your favorite spot and lounging the day away.
5. And take that picture of the Bondi Icebergs from afar.
The iconic Icebergs swimming pool is a pretty cool sight, but you have to cough up $6.50 AUD if you actually want to go in. However, you can get a pretty good view of the place from along the coastal walk, so if you want to get that Insta shot of the waves splashing in from the rocks, just take it from the boardwalk above.
6. Admire the icons as you walk among them — just don’t stay there to eat or drink.
Luckily, Sydney’s main attractions are all within walking distance of each other. The Harbour Bridge, the Opera House, the Rocks, and the harbor itself are all contained within the same stretch. Not only is walking the best way to experience these places (sitting in traffic along the Harbour Bridge, no thank you), it’s also the cheapest way.
Just don’t stick around those key areas to eat or drink, or you’ll leave with a serious dent in your wallet.
7. Get knowledgeable about the happy hours with an app.
Drinking in Sydney will set you back a fair bit of cash. However, there are ways around the expense. Download the Happiest Hour app, find out where the cheap nearby deals are, and you’ll save a bundle.
8. Do the Aussie thing and have a barbie.
The great stereotype of Australia turns out to be true: barbecues are a mainstay of Aussie culture. The best thing is, loads of parks and public areas have barbecues that are free to use — just show up with stuff to cook, and get going.
The instructions are usually on the unit, but they are normally gas-powered so you just press a button and get started. Just make sure that you clean up after yourselves!