Planning a trip to Sydney but need to do it on a budget? While it may sound impossible, it isn’t. Any savvy traveller can take a budget trip and still have an amazing time. After all, it isn’t about how much money you spend, it’s about how much fun you have while you’re there. To help you plan your budget-friendly trip to Sydney, I’ve put together this guide on how you can get luxe for less, based on my very own budget weekend in Sydney! Your bank account will thank you…
Where to stay
Views of Sydney Harbour can cost you an arm, a leg and a strange sacrificial ritual involving a chicken. But, they don’t have to! I stayed at The Holiday Inn Old Sydney, which offers million-dollar views for less. From the rooftop pool, you can clearly see the Opera House, Sydney Harbour and the Harbour Bridge. Our room also offered views of all this!
The rooms are functional, comfortable and well-maintained, with everything you could possibly need to have a great stay. This means prices are kept low but you don’t compromise on any of the hotel-room essentials needed to actually enjoy your vacay.
The hotel is in a perfect location, situated in The Rocks precinct and in easy walking distance to the Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge and all the shops in the heart of the Sydney’s CBD. Also, you’re a very short walk from the ferry terminal and train station, which means you can get anywhere in Sydney, without splashing the cash on taxis. Importantly, there are plenty of great things to see and do in the area. This place was absolutely fantastic and perfect for the budget-savvy traveller.
What to eat
Just because you’re on a budget, doesn’t mean you have to miss out on life’s most wonderful treasure…. food. Oh food, how I love you so. I’ll tell you right now, there’s no way I’m missing out on eating some really delicious meals when I’m travelling, which is why it’s important to be a crafty, food-loving, budget traveller.
- Grab a couple of takeaway coffee’s and some freshly cooked French pastries from La Renaissance Patisserie Francaise, then take a short stroll down to the harbour. We found a great spot to sit and soak in million-dollar views of the Opera House as ferries sailed by. It was also a great spot to do some people watching!
- If you find yourself near Potts Point, stop in at Room 10 for breakfast or lunch. These guys serve up insanely good coffee but also really great food that won’t break the bank. Their breakfast toastie with smashed egg, hollandaise sauce and double smoked ham will set you back $10. Their slow cooked beef brisket sandwich is FAMOUS and will fill your belly for $12.
- Get yourself over to the Paddington Markets, held each Saturday from 10am to 4pm. It’s a great spot to do some browsing of market stalls and, most importantly, grab a budget bite to eat. Fuel up with food like vegetarian Indian curries, Philly cheese-steak subs, noodles and salads, cupcakes and cookies, cakes, slices and much, much more. There’s live music too, so grab your food, pick a shady spot to sit and watch it all go by.
- If you love burgers, do yourself a favour and visit Cheekyburger, also in Paddington. They have a cheap Tuesday deal offering $10 burgers, as well as $5 beers, wines and cheeseburgers 5-6pm Tuesday to Friday.
- For a dumpling feast that costs much less, visit Sea Bay in Sydney’s CBD. This cheap and cheerful Chinese restaurant offers free BYO (yes!) but, most importantly, serves up big portions of really delicious dumplings, including steamed vegetarian and fried pork dumplings. Yummmmmmm!!
- Immerse yourself in the local food scene by tracking down a food truck for some alfresco dining. You’ll find Mama Linh’s serving out-of-this-world Banh Mi for $10, Caminito dishing up South-American fare from $7 a pop and the EatArtTruck selling American Street Food, like their eight-hour slow-cooked pulled pork bun, for $12. Stalk the Sydney Food Trucks here.
Things to do
Admission fees can kiss my butt! Rather than forking out a small fortune for entertainment, here are some ideas on cheap and free things you can do in Sydney.
- Go op-shopping at the trendiest thrift stores in Sydney! Take a trip to Paddington and peruse the many second-hand stores along Oxford Street. Thanks to the ladies of Potts Point, you’ll find high-end and designer clothes for an absolute steal.
- Watch the sunset at Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, for amazing views of the harbour, Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge.
- Visit the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, at The Rocks, where entry is free and you don’t gotta be a G.
- Go swimming at Rose Bay Beach, if the weather is warm enough, then hang around to catch the sunset over the water.
- Take a trip out to Cockatoo Island and discover this UNESCO world heritage listed site, right in the middle of Sydney.
- Catch the FREE shuttle bus loop to Paddy’s Markets, then spend a few hours exploring the huge market. Check the opening times here.
- Explore The Rocks Markets, held on Saturday and Sundays 10am to 5pm, and scoop up some great jewellery, clothing and food.
- Do the Bondi to Bronte Coastal walk, which takes you past some absolutely spectacular views along the coastline.
- Instead of forking out a small fortune to climb it, simply walk across the pedestrian pathway across the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
- It’s free to visit Sydney’s premier art gallery; Art Gallery NSW! On Wednesday night they have free talks and film showings.
- Hit up The Chinatown Markets, held each Friday night in Chinatown from 4pm.
Watch: our ‘Luxe for Less in Sydney, Australia’ video
Phoebe Lee is a travel writer and award-winning blogger with a love for storytelling. Phoebe creates practical, fun and engaging written content designed to inspire and energise travel-lovers and dreamers. Follow her and Matt’s adventures at home and around the world, right here on Little Grey Box and through Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.