Off-peak season is always the best time to fly, and that's when most of the flight deals start happening. Avoid school holiday season — although, if you must go during that time, the end of the season is the best — since everyone would be wanting to travel at that time, which bumps up travel and accommodation prices significantly. There are several places where you can get last-minute plane tickets online.
Jetstar is the airline to go with when you're flying domestic, as it's affordable and plentiful, and you're only going to be on the plane for a couple of hours at most. The tickets are usually one-way, but because they're so cheap, it really doesn't matter if you have to buy them separately. Failing that, I would not say no to Virgin Australia, although they tend to be a little more expensive.
If you don't mind what airline you fly with, it's a good idea to compare tickets on different sites, such as:
It's also a good idea, especially if you're a frequent traveller, or are expecting to travel a lot in the coming days, to subscribe to flight deals from these sites. They often do specials, especially off-peak, and you can keep up to date with the deals so you can get the most affordable flights every time. Remember to compare prices when you can!
The best thing about the sites above is that the majority of them will help you look for accommodation as well. I would definitely be more selective about hotel and serviced apartment deals than flights, since you will have to be staying at the location for an extended period of time, so take some time to compare the prices, deals, and read the reviews for the places you have selected.
Meriton 2-Bedroom Serviced Apartments, Pitt Street. Image from MeritonApartments.com.au
Of course, if you're making last-minute plans, often you can't afford to sit and compare. At this time, I would either take a leap of faith and decide on the cheapest accommodation with the best rating (never below a four, although I'd make a concession for a 3.5 if it's very conveniently located); or I would stick to what I already know, from the list of available places. This means going back to a hotel or apartment I've stayed in previously, or asking a friend who's been before.
I've had a lot of luck with Wotif before, especially when looking for deals for Meriton Serviced Apartments in the CBD, which can get pretty pricey. If you're travelling with family, or as a group, serviced apartments would be better than hotels, so you can all stay together.
If you're by yourself, and not staying for very long, or are primarily staying in centralised locations, go for public transport. Train and bus tickets are not expensive (but only when compared to car rental and petrol prices), and you can get pretty much anywhere within metropolitan Sydney.
Invest in an Opal Card if you're planning on staying for a while, or will be coming back constantly, because the few cents that you save using it (and the free rides after your first eight trips) will accumulate over time. If you get them online, you have to load a minimum of $40 onto your card to activate it, so try and buy it at an Opal retailer where you can.
Family groups, or those travelling outside of Sydney, may benefit more from renting a car. You can always go for the rentals at Sydney Airport, but that can often be more expensive. If you know what kind of car you're looking for, or don't mind either way, try some of these comparison sites:
Last Tix is a site with tickets to the theatre, concerts, and opera. Definitely recommended if you're looking to see something a little different and less mainstream. They also have a sub-site called Fast Tix Friday, which gives you special deals between 11am and 8pm every Friday; and ticket packages at Showbiz, for big productions like Les Misérables, Cirque du Soleil, and other shows.
One important thing to remember is that there are always deals online, even the direct source. This is especially true for concert and opera tickets, which you can get from the event website directly. Subscribe to newsletters where you can — venues such as the Sydney Opera House and other concert halls don't tend to spam you with unnecessary emails, so you can still get the best deals without the hassle.
As with the flights and accommodation services from before, you can also get cruise deals from websites such as Expedia and Flight Centre. The only thing with cruises is that they're not as "last minute" as most other entertainment options, probably because they're more expensive, time-consuming, and happen across a longer period of time. You're looking at around a month. Other sites to try are Oz Cruising and Cruise Away.
Of course, if you're just looking for the Sydney Harbour Cruise experience, such as dinner cruises, or showboats, that's a different story. Try Sydney Showboats for regular deals and group discounts on their special programs, Red Balloon, or good ol' Last Minute for quick and cheap tickets.
Captain Cook's cruise ship 'Explorer' gives a two-day sample of cruising in Sydney harbour. Picture: Supplied Source: National Features
The Urban List compiled a list of the best restaurants where you can get last-minute dinner reservations in Sydney. They're mostly CBD and central Sydney areas, but they're great for last minute plans that will still wow your company.
Dimmi is a site (and app!) that can get you reservations to over 2,500 restaurants across Australia, instantly. You can also do this with Yumtable, or Lunchalot.
So the next time you're coming to Sydney, and need somewhere to stay, or something to keep yourselves occupied at the last minute, remember to search and compare online for the best deals and prices first!
Sometimes jet start not always the cheapest. By the time u add luggage, seat , booking fees, taxes etc other airlines prices can sometimes b better. Need to look at total cost before u can decide which is cheaper.