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How to Visit Sydney on a Budget

How to Visit Sydney on a Budget

Want to visit Sydney on a budget? We share the best ways to save money in Sydney after exploring the city on a budget ourselves.

With landmarks like the Sydney Opera House, Bondi Beach, and the Darling Harbour, Sydney is a city unlike any other.

However, it can also be quite expensive to travel there, especially compared to holidays spent in South America or Southeast Asia

But hear us out: It’s more than possible to visit Sydney on a budget with the right strategies.

How to Visit Sydney on a Budget

Sydney Skyline

1. Pre-Plan Your Travel Budget

Any upcoming holiday will set you back hundreds—if not thousands of dollars. And if your destination is Sydney, it’s more likely the latter. Although Sydney is on many Australia bucket list but of course, it can be expensive.

To ensure that your pockets won’t be completely wiped out by the end of the trip, it’s crucial to set a travel budget. This budget should include a maximum fund limit that you’re willing to spend for the trip. Furthermore, it should only include the amount meant for the trip.

You can break down the budget costs into separate spending categories like accommodation, food, transportation, and activities. This can help you track your expenses more easily. 

The best place to store and grow funds is in a bank account. Click this link to learn more about safely storing money through banking.

2. Use This Airport Transfer Trick to the CBD

For most people, using the public railway system to go to the city from their local airport is the cheapest transportation option.

However, at the Sydney Airport, you’ll have to pay an extra $15 AUD on top of the standard rate to go to the Central Business District (CBD)–setting you back about $19 per person.

If you’d rather keep your $15 AUD, follow this hack: take the bus to Mascot Station—the next stopover from the station at Sydney Airport. Then from there, you can ride the train to the Sydney CBD. The fare is only about $2 to $5 this way.

Alternatively, if you’re not lugging around many pieces of luggage, then you can consider walking about 20 to 25 minutes from the airport to Mascot station and riding the train from there. The fare is less than 20% of the original price this way.

If you’re travelling in a group of 3 or 4 from the airport, it’s much better to use a rideshare service like DiDi or Uber to get you to your destination. This not only saves you time, but it can also save you money since you’re sharing the cost of the fare among multiple people.

Food in Sydney on a budget

3. Search Online for Cheap Eats Nearby

Food in Australia can be delicious and some of the best of these are found in Sydney. The city is a multicultural haven with a tonne of dining options. From fancy and delectable French cuisine to Asian food galore, there’s no shortage of good food options for the hungry traveller.

That said, there’s an equally large number of restaurants and dining halls, with meals costing you $20 and upwards. This can rack up over time, leaving quite a large dent in your overall budget.

A good way to figure out where to find cheap eats is by using Google Maps and using the price filter option. Searching the phrase “cheap food near me” is generally a good way to discover some places that serve decent food at a reasonable price. 

Besides GMaps, apps like Yelp, Zomato, and TripAdvisor can also come in handy to help you uncover some hidden gems.

Sunset in Sydney

4. Choose A Hostel or Budget Accommodation

Accommodation costs in Sydney can be notoriously expensive for travellers. Luckily, there are some affordable options you can consider.

One affordable option is staying in bunk-style hostel accommodations. Just like hotels, these accommodations provide essential amenities such as free Wi-Fi, toiletries, breakfast (in some cases), and access to kitchens, allowing you to save on meals.

Not only are these shared accommodations the cheapest lodging in Sydney, but they also have community spaces that allow you to socialise with other travellers. Some hostels even have private rooms for the more picky traveller. 

You can typically find and sort through these hostels on websites like Hostelworld, Agoda, and Some hostels may even have their own website and email address where you can book your stay.

Of course, safety is a priority, so be sure to pick a hostel that has a good reputation with a policy and storage area for valuable safekeeping. You can look through Google Reviews to see whether a hostel is reputable or not.

Free things to do in Sydney

5. Visit Free Things to do in Sydney

You don’t have to spend money on an organised day tour of Sydney’s top attractions; you simply need to do some simple planning and a little bit of change for public transportation.

Places like the Royal Botanic Garden, Darling Harbour, and Bondi Beach are completely free to enter and are some of the best Australian landmarks to visit. You can spend as long as you want in these places and truly immerse yourself in the local, Sydneysider life.

But that’s not all. There are also many museums and galleries that visitors can enter for free in Sydney. The Art Gallery of New South Wales and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia offer free entry to their permanent collections.

You can spend multiple days visiting these areas without spending a single dime. Alternatively, you can also explore the city on your feet by passing through its many bustling districts, like The Rocks and Haymarket. 

Central Sydney is both a safe and fun place to stroll around, so don’t be afraid to get lost and enjoy yourself as you walk around the city. Perhaps you can even discover certain areas that you may not have otherwise known about.

Sydney on a budget

6. Ride Public Transportation

If you’re travelling by yourself or with just one other person, then you should ride public transportation as much as possible. This is by far the cheapest way of going around Sydney—and it’s fairly reliable too.

Sydney has a vast network of trains, trams, ferries and buses that can take you anywhere you need to go within the greater Sydney area. 

You may use an eligible credit card or purchase an Opal card to tap in and out of these public vehicles. The Opal card gives you discounted fares and weekly spending caps—making it a good value option for your transportation needs.

By choosing to ride public transportation, you can explore Sydney economically and efficiently. And, in some cases, the transportation can even double as a sightseeing adventure, particularly if you’re riding the ferry from Sydney to Manly.

7. Get a GST Refund

If you went on a shopping spree while in Sydney (we don’t blame you), then you can lower the total cost by claiming back some of the taxes that you’ve paid for the products. 

If you have spent more than $300 AUD on a single goods purchase, you can claim a GST refund for that purchase within 60 days of your departure from Australia. You should have the receipt and the item in your carry-on or luggage to qualify for this refund.

To claim it, simply go to the TRS counter to submit your claim. They will then refund your tax payment through your preferred method, allowing you to essentially “spend less” on your trip to Sydney.

8. Visit in the off-season

As with many destinations in the world, knowing the best time to visit Australia can make or break your trip. However, because Sydney is a city, you can really visit any time of the year, as long as you come prepared.

Because of that, we recommend visiting Sydney in the off-season or shoulder season, to get the best deals on flights and accommodation. Low season is from June to August, as this offers colder weather but is still warm enough to explore the city.

Things to Know Before You Go to Australia

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