While Sydney may be your dream destination, it’s far from an inexpensive locale. Depending on your starting location, getting there alone may break the bank. To ensure that your trip to Australia’s favorite city is affordable, we’ve outlined a few tips and tricks for you to try out.
Even if you’re a budget-travel extraordinaire, finding relatively inexpensive airfare to and from this city will be a challenge. If your schedule permits, search for flights departing between mid-April and late-June — prices tend to plummet during these months because it’s winter in the Southern Hemisphere. If you can bear the “cold” (temperatures hover between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit, 10-15 degrees Celsius), consider traveling during the winter months.
Alternatively, if you’d still like to experience summer in Sydney, you can avoid airfare spikes by traveling on major holidays, like Christmas or New Years. Optimize your savings by booking well in advance, though experts recommend buying your tickets to and from Australia nearly a year ahead. And, although travel agents may sound antiquated in the digital age, they can come in handy for long-haul flight deals. Some airlines even offer discounted trips with layovers in unconventional destinations if you book with a travel agency — so be sure to explore all of your options!
Because Sydney is such a cosmopolitan city, it’s home to some of the tastiest eats on the globe. While that’s great news for your stomach, it isn’t as favorable for your wallet, as sampling the city’s diverse offering of meals, drinks, and snacks can quickly add up. To keep your budget in check, consider the following locations for inexpensive, but delicious meals.
The city’s Chinatown is nested in its Haymarket district, between Darling Harbour and Central Station, and is characterized by its colorful buildings, red-paper lanterns, majestic stone lions, and budget-friendly bites.
For delicious dishes that ring up under $10 USD, head to Caysorn, Hot Star, Zhou Mum Cafe, Bo 7 Mon Thanh Tam, Chat Thai, or Xi’an, among others.
If your accommodation permits, pick up some fresh, local produce and make a couple of meals yourself. Not only will you save a few dollars, but you’ll get the opportunity to sample the city’s freshest ingredients while making some fantastic fare. Head to the Rocks Markets for food, souvenirs, and other attractions. Paddy’s Markets, near Chinatown, is also another destination for fresh vegetables and spices, as well as clothes and accessories.
In addition to the above tips, remember to bring a reusable water bottle and fill it up whenever and wherever you can — bottled water is pricey in Australia.
Finding a less-expensive place to stay in Sydney will be a feat. That said, if you put the proper time and energy into your search, you can find an accommodation that will suit your budget.
If possible, consider staying in a hostel, which will be cheaper than a typical hotel room. If you’re hesitant to book this type of accommodation, remember that “hostel” doesn’t necessarily equate to bare-bones bunks sans A.C. — especially in this cosmopolitan Aussie city. There is a multitude of (relatively) inexpensive hostels with either dorm-style or single-occupancy rooms and a host of other amenities, such as complimentary breakfasts, pools, kitchens, and lounges.
Shop around online to find a hostel or a boutique hotel that will satisfy your budget and location preferences, but note that some fan favorites include the Sydney Harbour YHA – The Rocks, a hostel built atop the ruins of colonial Sydney; the 1888 Darling Harbour Hotel, which offers special discounts for Instagrammers; and the ADGE Hotel, which is known for its homestyle environment and host of amenities.
If you’re really looking to pinch pennies, you can also find some great rooms on AirBnB that run as low as $20 a night. Or, for a slightly more expensive — but unforgettable — overnight experience, consider camping on Sydney’s Cockatoo Island.
Having fun on a dime in Sydney is surprisingly easy. If you visit during the warmer months, there’s plenty to do and see outdoors — from the city’s famous beaches (including Bondi) to the free walking trails that trace Sydney Harbour (including the Coogee Coastal Walk and the Federation Cliff Walk), the ambling paths surrounding the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, the Royal Botanic Garden, the Art Gallery of NSW, the legendary Hyde Park, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, you don’t need to spend a lot to see a lot.
Note that a night out on the town will cost you quite a pretty penny, though. Australia is the third-most expensive country in the world to buy alcohol in. So if you can curtail your consumption, it’ll benefit your wallet. And if you can’t, keep an eye out for happy hours across the city.
Forgo taxis and Ubers and utilize the city’s public transportation system. Not only is it easy to navigate, but picking up an Opal card will tether your transportation spending to less than $15 a day — a godsend if you’re keen on traversing the city via train.
If you can, travel on off-peak hours (from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.) when fares will be slightly cheaper. Also note that if you venture out on a Sunday, fares are throttled to a maximum of $2.60 — so, why not enjoy Sydney and its environs for the price of a cup of coffee?
Your wallet will thank you for it!
Header image by Pat Kay