You’re back in Sydney on the job hunt after a wild trip along the east coast with Stray. One too many cartons of Australia’s finest boxed wine has your bank balance looking kinda sad… but do not fear, we’ve got your back! Here are 30 free or cheap things to do in the big city.
1. Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk
A cliff top coastal walk, the Bondi to Coogee walk extends for 6km in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.
2. Sydney Harbour Bridge
Take a stroll on the pedestrian-only footway located on the east side of Sydney Harbour’s iconic steel through-arch bridge.
3. North Head Lookout
The heath-covered cliff tops at North Head reveal unending ocean views and a spectacular panorama of the harbour and Sydney skyline.
4. Art Gallery of NSW
Visit the most important public gallery in Sydney, and one of the largest in Australia. Admission is free to the general exhibition space, which displays Australian art from settlement to contemporary.
5. Royal Botanic Garden
Opened in 1816, the Royal Botanic Garden is the oldest scientific institution in Australia. Don’t miss the free hour long guided walks that depart daily from the Information Booth.
6. Camp Cove
Camp Cove Beach is one of Sydney Harbour’s finest sandy beaches. There is also a rock shelter at the northern end of the beach that shows evidence of habitation by the local indigenous people.
7. Sydney Opera House and Opera Bar
After getting up close and personal with one of the 20th century’s most famous and distinctive buildings, head down to the Opera Bar where you can listen to live music as the sun goes down.
8. Bronte Park
Head down to Bronte Park with your friends and chuck some prawns on the barbie! There are plenty of BBQ hotplates, the beach is nearby, and there is lots of green space for that essential game of cricket!
9. Shelly Beach
Shelly Beach is located in Manly and forms part of Cabbage Tree Bay, a protected marine reserve. Grab your snorkelling gear and check out the large variety of marine life on display.
10. Museum of Contemporary Art
The MCA is dedicated to exhibiting, interpreting, and collection contemporary art from around the world. The collection contains over 4000 works by Australian artists that have been acquired since 1989.
11. Royal National Park
The ‘Nasho’ is the world’s oldest surviving purposed national park. It’s 15,000-hectares boast a variety of walking tracks, cycling tracks, and lookouts, including the must-see Figure Eight Pools.
12. St. James and St. Mary’s
St. James’ is an Anglican parish church in inner city Sydney consecrated in 1824. Founded in 1821, St. Mary’s is a prime example of an English Neo-Gothic cathedral church, with some interesting local touches in its crypt (free tours after Sunday Mass.)
13. White Rabbit Gallery
The White Rabbit Gallery was opened in 2009 to showcase what has become one of the world’s most significant collections of Chinese contemporary art.
14. Carriageworks Farmers Market
Held every Saturday between 8am to 1pm in the heritage-listed Eveleigh Market. Find seasonal produce, including organic and biodynamic foods, from farmers and artisan producers from across New South Wales.
15. Centennial Parklands
The 189-hectares of Centennial Parklands were opened in 1888 and feature formal gardens, ponds, grand avenues, statues, historic buildings, and sporting fields. Visit the Equestrian Centre and go horse riding in the park, as Sydneysiders and tourists alike have done so for many years.
16. The Spit Bridge to Manly Walk
The 10km coastal walk is a series of short tracks passing some of north Sydney’s stunning beaches, bays, and inlets. Take a detour to see the Aboriginal rock engravings at Grotto Point Lighthouse.
17. Sydney Conservatorium of Music
‘The Con’ is one of the oldest and prestigious music schools in Australia. Attend a free ‘Lunchbreak Concert’ to witness Australia’s finest upcoming musicians, or stop by for one of the many free masterclasses or lectures on offer.
18. The Rocks Discovery Museum
A free museum, housed in a restored 1850s sandstone warehouse, which tells the story of The Rocks area of Sydney from pre-European days to present.
19. Paddington Markets
The Paddington Markets have been held every Saturday in the grounds of the heritage-listed Paddington Uniting Church since 1973. A community based market supporting local people passionate about their craft and local community.
20. Sydney Olympic Park
With the completion of the 2000 Olympics, Sydney Olympic Park has undergone significant development. Currently there are more than 5000 events held at the park each year including the Sydney Royal Easter Show, sporting events, and music festivals and concerts.
21. Free Walking Tours
Rain, hail, or shine, the free Sydney walking tours always run three times a day. Departing from Town Hall Square at 10:30am or 2:30pm you can explore the sites of downtown Sydney, and at 6pm meeting at Cadmans Cottage, you can learn about Australia’s early European settlement.
22. Hyde Park
Hyde Park is Australia’s oldest park and it contains around 580 exotic and native trees, including the historic central avenue of Hill’s Figs. The park is also home to the ANZAC Memorial building and visitor centre, the pool of reflection, and numerous monuments and statues.
23. Cockatoo Island
Cockatoo Island is a world-heritage-listed island in the middle of Sydney Harbour. The island contains the nation’s most extensive and varied record of shipbuilding. Since 2005, Cockatoo Island has hosted a number of major events such as the Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour Finale.
24. Australian National Maritime Museum
The ANMM is a federally operated maritime museum that hosts one of the largest floating historical vessel collections in the world.
25. Chinese Garden of Friendship
Modelled on the typical private gardens of the Ming Dynasty, the Chinese Garden of Friendship offers an insight into Chinese heritage and culture. The gardens are filled with beautiful bamboo plants and glistening waterfalls.
26. Barefoot Yoga
This Paddington based studio offers donation-based yoga classes. The Barefoot team believe that yoga is essential to health and wellbeing and should be made accessible to everybody, irrespective of social or financial status.
27. Darling Harbour Fireworks
Head to Darling Harbour to experience an amazing fireworks display every Saturday night.
28. Oxford Arts Factory
The OAF is a two room, multi-functional venue that has reshaped entertainment in Sydney. The Gallery Bar is nearly always free entry to encourage people to check out new acts and artists.
29. Sydney Observatory
Built in the 1850s, Sydney’s copper-domed observatory can be found atop the pretty Observatory Hill, overlooking the harbour. It is home to Australia’s oldest working telescope, built in 1874.
30. Free Movies
Not only a great place to grab a cheap eat, the Soda Factory is only accessible through a secret fridge door! Head to this Surry Hills bar on Monday.
NOTE: If you’ve explored all these places and/or still have a few $$ in your pocket – you could check out Stray’s day trip to the iconic Blue Mountains! It’s all about walks and wildlife with a cold beer at the end.