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sydney city on a budget

One of the wonderful things about living somewhere like Sydney is that you have amazing restaurants and cafes, quirky boutiques, live music and theatre shows, high street shopping and wonderful markets at your fingertips. All these highlights of inner city living tend to come with a fee however, so it’s easy to think that in order to get the most out of living somewhere cosmopolitan we need to spend up big….

But is it is actually possible to have a day out in town seeing the sights and being inspired by city life without emptying your pockets entirely.  As the weather warms up and blue skies are beckoning perhaps it’s time to get out and experience the city through the eyes of a tourist (on a budget). 

So how can we experience cosmopolitan, vibrant Sydney on a limited budget?

  • Go to any one of the beautiful beaches and walk along the coast line, pack a picnic and take a dip
  • Check out the free exhibitions at the various galleries. The Art Gallery of NSW, The Museum of Contempory Art, and the Rocks Discovery Museum are all free entry for their permanent collections (though special exhibitions will have an entry fee). 
  • The Sydney Conservatorium hosts free classical music shows at lunchtime throughout the academic year on Wednesdays.
  • Keep an ear out for festivals and public performances where you can experience a free live show or performance - often Darling Harbour, the Domain and Circular Quay have exciting displays to experience throughout the year.  Events such as Tropfest, Sydney Festival and Vivid have lots of opportunities on offer to enjoy.
  • For people with kids, the playground at Darling Quarter is free and has a flying fox, water games, climbing ropes and of course slides and swings, or visit the ducks and other bird life at Centennary Park and cycle or scooter along the various tracks past pretty parkland.
  • Jump on one of the ferries (for a small fee) to experience the beautiful harbour of Sydney and wander the streets like a tourist. Visit The Rocks, Manly, Bondi and Newtown for some varied and interesting window shopping.
  • Visit one of the many national parks bordering Sydney for a mind clearing and grounding bush walk. Breathe in the refreshing Eucalyptus scent as you wander down lush bush tracks. See if you can spot some wildlife, birds or native flowers. Or have a picnic at one of the beautiful parks, from Centennial Park, the Botanical Gardens or one of the beach parks such as at Bronte or Manly’s Shelly Beach.
  • Check out the various markets held across the city, Kirribilli, Glebe, Bondi, Paddington or experience true multiculturism at Cabramatta. Set yourself a budget and check out the vintage stalls and refresh your wardrobe for a fraction of the cost of buying new stuff. You might even find vintage pieces to refresh your home too, think tablecloths, cute china cups and quirky artwork. 
  • Visit the local farmer's markets and stock up on fresh locally grown produce for often the same price as the supermarket chains.  Meet the growers and develop a better understanding and respect about where your food comes from.  
  • Wander through the historical Rocks quarter and enjoy the view of the harbour from the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  While it might cost a bit to do the Sydney bridge climb, it costs nothing to walk across via the pedestrian path way.  

The year is slipping away and the sunny Springtime skies are beckoning for us to get outside and have some fun. So go and experience this wonderful city and see what creative ways you can come up with ways to enjoy yourself while still staying on a budget.   Enjoy! 


Alison Gallagher is a freelance writer, resourcefulness expert and entrepreneur. She has been featured in various publications including Stellar Magazine, Australian Health and Fitness Magazine, and Cleo Magazine. Alison is particularly passionate about sharing practical tips on how to live simply, sustainably and seasonally.