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Sydney on a Shoestring

Home > Sydney > Beaches | Cafes | Free | Parks | Travel | Lists
Published July 8th 2014
Affordable Sydney
Travelling through Australia can be pricey, however it doesn't need to be. Some things are completely affordable and even free. So here's a list of some of my favourite ways to enjoy travelling, keeping costs down without losing the fun factor:


I know first hand that we don't always want to stay at a backpackers, yet sometimes they are the only option. I was even stunned here at the price to stay at one, $40 for a shared room. I've done enough of that in Europe in my twenties and it's just no longer my scene. If you are looking to save money backpackers are the best solution and super social, however there are other options.

Botanica Cafe, sustainable, garden cafe, northshore cafe, sydney, waverton
Hanging out in Botanica Cafe, Waverton
Couch surfing: An amazingly cool experience. Limited people do it in the bigger cities or hip spots so you might need to look a little further out where people have the space and not the crowds.Do make sure you try to hook up with someone with similar interests and write a personal request, rather than a mass one – I've mainly hosted on this site, but for those that are happy to crash on a sofa while meeting the locals this is a great option.

Workstay/Workaway:There is a small membership fee, reasonable though if you think you'll be getting fed and a place to stay, and there will be work to be had depending on the place. This for me was a small price to pay.

I was lucky enough to stay at an amazing place on French Island, while it was hard yakka but it was also without a shadow of a doubt some of the most enjoyable work I've ever done! I loved it. I learnt about Comfrey(which I've integrated into some amazing magical healing ointments which I now swear by), permaculture, gardening, companion planting and so much more. I had the most fantastic week there and am really looking forward to going back one day.

There are all sorts of places on offer through the site, it's really up to you to choose whether you prefer to be out in the country, city or beach; babysitting, looking after someone or their animals, gardening... there are places everywhere, so whatever might rock your boat – have a look and give it a go.

House-sitting: I did join a few site. You really need to be flexible on time and place, most places are way out in the country, and everyone need people around the holidays and long weekends. Best if you have a car and flexible dates.

AirBnB: This is my favourite option as I am not much of a couch person and the house sitting/ workstay wasn't always available. I travelled and stayed in quiet a few places thanks to this site and met some of the most amazing people at the same time. You get a really local perspective and have a super range of options.

Again I personally I like to look for somewhere to stay that that suits me and who I am, and I personally prefer to stay with real people other than those who run their rooms as a pure business. That choice though is luckily up to you. The choices are endless and it's usually more affordable and homely than a hotel.

Camping: Australia is still one of the countries where you can park your tent in the most odd places. To search for a camping spot, go to Environment NSW site or check out where to stay in the National Parks.

For those who are really travelling and wanting to do things on a budget, it's best to find a travel buddy and to rent a campervan or converted (read pimped) Sandman. My friends did this and it was the coolest way to travel. You can park it where you like and you have a place to stay and wheels in one. I remember these cars from back in the day where surfers used them to get around and sleep near the beach – I see someone else came up with a better way to travel. Love it.

What to do

So now what to do now that you've found the ideal place to stay and you're looking for something entertaining and fun to do yet without spending a small fortune doing so. Top low-cost to free options:

If you have the funds climb the Sydney Harbor Bridge, however you can also just walk across it for free and get just as good a view. Or catch a bus over it, ferry under it – don't worry you can hardly miss the bridge, you can get a great photo moment from most spots in town.

The Sydney Opera House. Without a doubt it's amazing to go to a show here and see the inside and the best photo opportunity is outside, on the steps. Be creative, see if you can get the bridge and opera house in both. It's also a lovely place to walk around and get the view and greatness of the building itself, more endlessly great photo opportunities.

Museums: Most all Australian state museums are free and there are some great ones in NSW. I would highly recommend the State Art Gallery and if you're with the kids don't miss the Australian Museum as well as the Musuem of Contemporary Art. I was lucky enough to be there the same time as the Coroboree which was a great event so many free exhibitions, workshops, talks and shows, what an amazing opportunity to explore and discover such a touching side of Australia's history. It's on again in November so be sure to check it out.

Picnic in the Royal Botanic Gardens: this is one of the most beautiful spots in the city, lush and scenic and it offers too many great picnic spots from where you can watch the ferry's and boats on the water. See the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge and all the local Sydneysiders enjoying their afternoon jog/ bike/ walk through the stunning array of greenery.

• Beach: for a days adventure take the ferry over to Manly and have a lunch on the coastline and stroll through the shops. However without a doubt the famous Bondi (best thing about Bondi is the free WiFi, I kid you not, it's the only place I found other than the libraries of Australia with free WiFi) is not to be missed at all, although you'll be fighting for a wave or spot with all the other tourists. If you want to miss the hustle or bustle go further up the North Shore to Balmoral or Curl Curl.

• Feeling sporty? There are just too many options. You can either go for hike in the parklands, however the Bondi to Coogee Beach trail is also a great hike with the most amazing views of the sea and beaches and an endless amount of great spots in any of the beaches to stop in for a coffee or lunch.

• If you want to get out of town for a day or a few days, I highly recommend you take the train or drive up the Blue Mountains. They have some of the most stunning hikes, lakes and camping spots, and all only an hour or so out of town.

• If you have even more time on your hands and want to visit the infamous wine country without heading all the way to South Australia, head over Hunter Valley – stunning drive and some great wineries and restaurants to suit all tastes and wallets.

Two of my favorite spots to hang out are:

Gertrude & Alice Cafe Bookstore
46 Hall St Bondi Beach Sydney Australia (02) 9130 5155

This is little bookshop café is just the best. It's a little small yet so cosy, great food, super friendly staff and there is nothing like finding a book and being able to sit down, eat and drink while reading. Great vibe, loved it.

Botanica Cafe, sustainable, garden cafe, northshore cafe, sydney, waverton
Upcycled garden at Botanica Cafe
Botanica garden Café
61a Bay Rd, Waverton, New South Wales, Australia 2060

It's a little out of the way, yet was working up north for a week so had a few breakfasts here, I love that the garden is built from recyclables, and that the menu is all organic – and the food is as amazing as the service. Super popular on the weekend for people to come and hangout and eat with their pooches in tow, just such a nice place to sit and be. Highly recommended.
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Your Comment
You can go up the pylon of the Sydney Harbour Bridge for much cheaper... not as high, but still a great view, quicker than the bridge climb, you can take your own camera and you don't have to wear the jumpsuit :)
by nickt (score: 0|5) 2052 days ago
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