You don’t need a pocket full of pennies to enjoy all that Sydney has to offer. We’ve asked some fellow Sydney-based travel bloggers about their favourite things to do in Sydney that won’t cost you a thing. Check them out below!
Managing a website about hiking, it’s no surprise that my favorite free thing to do in Sydney is discovering new walking tracks.
Hiking in Sydney is the best way to fully appreciate everything this beautiful city has to offer. Sydney has a very diverse landscape, so you can walk the beaches, the bush, the mountains and of course the magnificent Sydney Harbour. What’s great about Sydney Harbour is that it is home to countless walking tracks that take you past secluded beaches, beautiful parks, picturesque bays, old lighthouses and much more. And you can discover all these exciting places with the city literally only a stone’s throw away.
Some parts of the Harbour also hold lots of relics from Sydney’s military history. At Bradleys Head for example you can find a fortification complex that was built in the 19th century to protect New South Wales against invaders. And Goat Island, right in the middle of the Harbour, once served as a massive gunpowder store.
So go ahead, dust off those hiking shoes and head outdoors to discover the goodness that Sydney has to offer, for free!
Families visiting Sydney can find all sorts of economical activities. For younger kids visits to some of Sydney’s truly amazing playgrounds are a must. Visit a playground by a beach and you have a great free fresh air day out. Great playground and beach combos can be found at Bondi, Bronte, Watson’s Bay, Clifton Gardens, Balmoral, Collaroy and Mona Vale.
Families with older children might enjoy snorkelling, free if you bring your own kit. Try Shelly Beach at Manly for vibrant sea life, rays, wobbegongs and even (harmless) juvenile dusky whaler sharks.
Ocean swimming is another super healthy Sydney sport you can enjoy for free. Explore the many rock pools on the ocean beaches. Check out the Bold and Beautiful Swim Squad if you are a confident sea swimmer. Dozens of swimmers enjoy their daily dip at 7am each morning. Meet at Manly SLSC and ask for a free pink cap.
One of our favourite free things to do in Sydney is the Bondi to Bronte walk. This iconic cliff-top walk is 2.5km long and joins two of Sydney’s most famous beaches. The views of the ocean and the coastal cliffs along the walk are stunning, making this a real Sydney must see.
The walk takes us around 2 hours with two young kids in tow. Adults doing the walk without kids could easily do it in one and a half hours. There is also the option to continue the walk all the way to Coogee Beach, which is a further 3 kilometers. The walk is also a popular jogging route, and has a few workout stations dotted along the path.
When doing the walk with kids, we usually stop off at Tamarama Beach or Park on the way for a rest and a snack, and end the walk by playing on the beach in Bronte. Bronte has a lovely park with a playground and plenty of nearby cafes, making it ideal for families. The Bondi to Bronte walk is absolutely stunning and one of the most popular places in Sydney for taking photos, so don’t leave your camera behind!
Sarah Shrapnel – Love Swah
If you’re a culture vulture in the mood for some creative inspiration without breaking the bank, then Sydney is the place for you! This notoriously extensive city is home to a huge selection of budget-friendly art galleries showcasing artworks from emerging and prominent artists, many of which you can visit free of charge.
Firstly head on down to the Museum of Contemporary Art to enjoy their impressive permanent collection. Not only does it feature an array of world class modern art from around the globe, this collection is also free! Another permanent collection worth checking out is at the Art Gallery of NSW which is filled with an eclectic range of Australian, Asian, Western and Pacific art works.
A local favourite on the smaller end of the spectrum is White Rabbit Gallery situated in Chippendale, which houses one of the largest collection of modern Chinese art in the world.
Exploring Street Art in Sydney’s Inner West – I love exploring the thriving street art culture in the inner Sydney suburb of Newtown. World class murals adorn walls on almost every corner here thanks in part to a local government initiatives aimed at reducing tagging by matching property owners with street artists.
Newtown has always been colourful community, but the volume of work by local and international artists here makes it a perfect place for any street art lover to explore. Add to that some great small bars, cafes and several local craft breweries and you have plenty of great rest stops too.
Check out Lennox Street Newtown if you’re after a high reward to effort ratio with half a dozen full-scale murals in just 2 blocks. Alternatively make an afternoon of it, take the train to St Peters station and snake your way through the back lanes to a nondescript warehouse in the backstreets that is home to local brewery Young Henry’s. This is the perfect spot to taste some really inspired local brews and reward yourself for all that walking! Sydney’s own street art nirvana is only 10 minutes by train from the CBD.
Tip – Along the way pick up a lamington from Flower Drum on King Street or a great meat pie from Black Star Pastry, in Australia Street, Newtown!
Nothing beats snorkelling in one of Sydney’s stunning beaches on a scorching summer day. All you need is a snorkel and mask, and it’s easy to learn, even if you’re new to the sport. Snorkelling is the best way to discover a new side of Sydney, and come face to face with incredible marine life, including rays, blue gropers, wobbegongs, seahorses, and a wide variety of colourful fish, kelp, and rocky reefs. Don’t forget your GoPro!
In the Eastern Suburbs, Gordons Bay (complete with underwater nature trail!), and Clovelly Beach are perfect places to get started. Clovelly offers easy beach access in a sheltered bay, making it the perfect spot for first-timers. Clovelly is also famous for its resident blue gropers, so keep your eyes peeled for these friendly fish.
On Sydney’s north, Shelly Beach, near Manly, is part of the Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve, and offers pristine blue waters teeming with marine life. It’s also popular with divers. Wherever you end up, you’re sure to have a fantastic time- snorkelling is one of the best free things to try in Sydney. Bring a friend, some sunscreen, and dive in!
Tucked away in one of the myriad bays and inlets on the northside of Sydney Harbour is my favourite Sydney walk. Only a few kilometres long, you can stroll the entire path in less than an hour. The path follows the harbour shoreline beginning at Cremorne Point wharf and ending at Mosman Bay wharf, making it easy to get to by inner harbour ferry.
Before you set out take a short detour through Cremorne Point Reserve for spectacular views across Sydney Harbour, or better yet, bring a picnic and enjoy the sunshine. Don’t miss Robertson Point Lighthouse, still a working lighthouse guiding boats safely past the point. You can’t go inside but you can get quite close. Heading north from the reserve, the path winds past some of Sydney’s most exclusive Federation mansions and million dollar water views.
At Mosman Bay wharf either catch a ferry back to the city or retrace your steps as far as Hodgson Ave. Follow the street to join up with a parallel path on the east side of Cremorne Point for the best views of the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge has to offer.
Living in Sydney we are spoilt for choice when it comes to scenic natural attractions. One of my favourite free things to do in Sydney is walking the different parts of the The Coast Track in Royal National Park. The entire track is 26km-long and takes two days to complete but it doesn’t have to be done all at once. You can easily do parts of the track as spectacular day hikes.
The northern part of the track takes you from the village of Bundeena to Marley beach along one of the most beautiful stretches of Illawarra coastline. On top of the dramatic scenery, this walk also gives you the perfect chance to spot Humpback whales during their migration between April and December. The southern part of the coastal track takes you from Otford train station to Burning Palms beach via the Palm Jungle loop trail. This track has the best of all worlds: towering cliffs of the rugged coastline, eucalypt forest, rainforest gullies, beaches, grasslands and even a palm jungle!
Attending a conference I discovered this self-made walking trail from North Sydney. It’s a great way to watch the city wake and spring to life. Starting on Blues Point Road and passing the eclectic mixture clothing shops, restaurants and bars, walk to Henry Lawson Avenue. Wander alongside Blues Bay to the iconic Sails Restaurant at Lavender Bay. Stop and take in the views of the Harbour, The Bridge, Circular Quay and Opera House.
Next, follow the laneway from Sails to E Cres Street veering right onto Bay View Street. You’ll walk passed beautiful homes with Bay views. Continually hugging Lavender Bay, walk round to the left into King George Street taking the laneway to the right soon after. Stroll down the lane until Wendy Whiteley’s Secret Garden. This marks the beginning of Peter Kingston Walkway. This will take you pass Luna Park and North Sydney Pool. Follow the signs up onto the Harbour Bridge. Explore the Rocks area at the end and walk through to the Quay and Opera House. If you do this walk early in the morning, when the sun is just rising over the harbour, you can enjoy your own private “Rocky” moment up the Opera House stairs!
For more fun and free activities in Sydney, click here!