The best things in life are free, but in beautiful, glamorous Sydney – one of the world’s most expensive cities to live in, and certainly not a cheap destination to visit – is it possible to find authentic experiences which won’t break the bank?
We believe it is.
Our favourite free Sydney experiences will show you the real Sydney, which locals enjoy every week and which only cost the price of your transport there. Though, as any Sydneysider will tell you, having $4 in your pocket for a Flat White (espresso coffee with steamed milk) is bound to greatly improve any experience in the Harbour City, no matter what you’re doing!
This one is an iconic free Sydney experience, which most visitors have on their hit list well in advance of touching down at Sydney International. However, heading to over-crowded Bondi or Manly on a hot summer’s day might not provide the serene and picturesque experience you’d imagined. We suggest heading to a less-popular beach such as one of the following, all accessible by public transport: Coogee, Clovelly, Maroubra or Dee Why, to name a few!
OK, if we’re honest you’re not likely to spend zero at Carriageworks (also known fondly as Eveleigh, the name of the neighbourhood where it’s located in urban Redfern). There are too many amazing things to buy, including loads of breakfast and lunch options to eat on the spot. But it’s certainly possible to stroll the few blocks from Redfern Station to this massive, gorgeous undercover farmers market, check out all the stalls, listen to the resident jazz busker and taste the free samples doled out by friendly vendors, all without putting your hand in your pocket!
Sydney is blessed with an abundance of waterside walks, paths, tracks and parks, all of which are 100% free, and all of which look onto a different stunning aspect of the city’s many bodies of water. From the world-famous Bondi-Bronte Walk, which snakes along clifftops and through beachside villages, clinging to the cliffs all the while – to the green, toddler-friendly curves of the Inner West’s ‘Bay Run’ which encircles picturesque Iron Cove and joins Rozelle, Drummoyne, Lilyfield and Russell Lea, Sydney’s walks can help you see a different side of the city, provide an opportunity to meet locals and burn some of the holiday calories. Finally, Blaxland Reserve near the former Olympic Village contains a lovely walk along the Parramatta River, adjacent to the award-winning children’s playground.
An enormous (close to 200 ha) park located close to central Sydney, Centennial Park is reminiscent of a more gentile time, with Victorian flourishes, formal gardens, ponds and an equestrian centre. Take your lunch and recline on the soft grass while you watch the water birds, or if you do have cash to spare, rent a bicycle and circumnavigate the park. Then, head over the road to Fox Studios, the home of movie-making in Australia. If it’s a Wednesday or Saturday, enjoy browsing their charming small covered market and checking out the local produce, craft items and lunch options!
The actual Bridge Climb, which is becoming one of the most famous attractions in Sydney, will cost you a bomb, but many visitors aren’t aware that you can walk over the Harbour Bridge any day for absolutely nothing. Simply access the stairs via Cumberland St on the south side, or near Milson’s Point jetty on the north side, and walk across the Bridge – it takes about 20 minutes, depending on how slowly you walk and how many photos you stop to snap enroute.