Sydney is an amazing city but it ain’t cheap! If you want to take in all the attractions it could set you back a small fortune. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are plenty of things to do in Sydney for free.
1. Explore the Royal Botanic Gardens
Established in 1816, the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney are the oldest botanic gardens in Australia. The gardens span over 30 hectares and contain plants from all over the globe. In addition to the flora the Royal Botanic Gardens are home to various animals including hundreds of fruit bats. I just happened to look up into the trees when coming out of the loos and got a bit of a surprise! The gardens are an easy walk from Circular Quay, just round the corner from the Opera House. The walk around the outside of the gardens offer fabulous views back towards the city (see the photo at the top of this post) and when you walk round to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, actually just a rock ledge, you reach the perfect spot for snapping that postcard shot including the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. If you want to learn more about the gardens you can join a free guided walk.
2. Visit the Museum of Contemporary Art: Australia
The Museum of Contemporary Art is housed in an industrial-looking Art Deco building that was originally built for the Harbour Services Board. The museum exhibits, collects and interprets contemporary art from around Australia and the world. There are over 4000 works of art in the permanent collection, all of which are available to view free of charge. I do like a free gallery. I’m not much of an art buff but enjoy looking. I think I spent about 40 minutes in this museum. Art lovers could spend many hours I’m sure. The MCA is open daily from 10am to 5pm, except on Thursdays when the museum is open until 9pm. The museum also offers free guided tours and there’s an MCA Insight app available to download.
3. Wander round Darling Harbour
Darling Harbour is a former dockside area that has been transformed into one of Sydney’s favourite recreation spots. At Darling Harbour you can enjoy leisurely waterside walks, browse the shops at the Harbourside Shopping Centre and enjoy street performances. Darling Harbour is also home to the Sydney Visitor Centre, basically a tourist information office, but I love this places because I’ve got a bit of a leaflet fetish! The newest addition to the area is Cockle Bay Wharf , seen in the picture above. The wharf is home to various restaurants and bars making Darling Harbour somewhere to visit after dark too. You can also find some of Sydney’s major attractions in Darling Harbour including the IMAX, Aquarium and Sydney Wildlife World. If you’re on a budget I’d steer clear of these places. This November enjoy a spectacular firework display every Saturday night at 9pm hosted by the Harbourside Shopping Centre. When I arrived in Sydney, Darling Harbour was the first place I found myself. I was so overwhelmed by the realisation that I was actually in Sydney that I cried! I’m not sure I should have admitted to that :-/
4. Have fun learning at The Rocks Discovery Museum
This kid-friendly (and big kids too!) museum offers up interactive fun and houses a unique collection of images and archaeological artefacts that tell the story of The Rocks area of Sydney from pre-European days to the present. The Rocks Discovery Museum can be found in a restored 1850s sandstone warehouse in the centre of The Rocks, the birthplace of modern day Sydney. To find out more check out my previous post about exploring The Rocks area.
5. Walk across Sydney Harbour Bridge
Now you can’t go to Sydney without seeing the Harbour Bridge. There’s no need to spend hundreds of dollars on the Bridge Climb, unless you’re feeling flush of course. It’s perfectly possible to walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It might not be quite as high but the views are still pretty spectacular. The picture above shows the view from one of the access points to the walkway that runs from The Rocks to Milsons Point on the North Shore. The pedestrian walkway across the bridge provides a fantastic vantage point for panoramic views of the city, harbour and ocean. Depending on how fast you walk and how many photos you take(!) the walk should take about half an hour. To check access points to the bridge pick up a free copy of a Rocks map from The Rocks visitor centre.
Hopefully this post has given you an insight into some cool things to check out in Sydney without having to spend any money, apart from travel and accommodation obviously. If anyone has any other tips for free things to do in Sydney please do leave a comment.
By Rachel Birchley