Although Sydney can be an expensive city to visit, there are plenty of things to do that won’t break the bank. Check out our list of the top free things to do in Sydney…

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Swim at one of Sydney’s many beaches

Sydney’s beaches are famous and a trip to the Harbour City wouldn’t be complete without a swim at Bondi beach. From the Eastern Suburbs to the Northern Beaches, there are so many beautiful beaches to explore. Our favourites are Manly, Coogee, Bronte, Tamarama, Clovelly and of course, Bondi. The promenades, cafés and boutique shops surrounding the beaches will keep you entertained once you’ve had your fill of sun, sea and surf.

Tip: many of Sydney’s beaches also have barbecues that are either free to use or coin-operated.

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Explore vibrant neighborhoods

If you want to get out of the tourist hub of the Central Business District (CBD), exploring a little further out offers a local perspective on Sydney life. 

Surry Hills, just south of the CBD, is known for its cultural and café scene. Galleries, pubs, wine bars and eateries are housed in beautiful old terraced buildings – no wonder it’s such a popular place with locals for a relaxed weekend brunch.

Paddington is situated between the CBD and the beaches and is one of the more relaxed neighborhoods due to it being mainly residential. However, there are great little boutiques if you are in need of some retail therapy and it’s home to Victorian houses on gorgeous tree-lined streets. 

The Rocks combines cobbled streets, harbour views, gourmet street food and lively bars. Wander around the area, grab a bite and stroll along the foreshore for some of the best views of the Opera House. 

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Walk across the Harbour Bridge

Although climbing the Harbour Bridge is expensive, simply walking across it is free and offers some of the best views of the harbour. Start from the Rocks and stroll the 1.4km across the bridge.

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Visit Sydney’s largest park

Centennial Park is a lush green oasis not far from the centre of Sydney. Because there is so much space (540 acres), even when the park is busy it never feels crowded. Watch the ducks and geese at one of the 10 ponds, marvel at the seasonal formal gardens, cycle through the park on one of the dedicated routes, lose yourself in the labyrinth or stock up at one of the delis on nearby Queen Street in Woollahra, find a quiet spot and have a picnic. 

There’s plenty to keep little ones entertained too, from playgrounds to the Wild Play garden.

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See the city in a whole new light

Vivid Sydney is the world’s largest festival of light and for a few weeks each year, hundreds of spectacular light installations and projections transform the city. The sails of the Sydney Opera House are illuminated by a different artist each year, and other Sydney landmarks like the Botanic Gardens, the Harbour Bridge, Luna Park and Taronga Zoo become a treasure trove of light installations. Definitely one not to miss.

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Browse for bargains at a market

Spending a couple of hours wandering around one of Sydney’s markets is one of the best ways to soak up the city’s atmosphere. 

Chinatown Night Market: every Friday, the main strip transforms into a vibrant food market selling everything from takoyaki (a savory donut filled with seafood) to Korean barbecue. There are a couple of stalls selling gifts and trinkets, but these tend to be mass-produced rather than artisanal. 

Glebe Markets: more than 200 stalls take over Glebe Public School every Saturday, selling mainly vintage fashion and handmade jewelry and accessories. Live music and food stalls make this a perfect place to while away a Saturday afternoon. 

The Rocks Markets: The place to go if you’re looking for a unique souvenir. Handmade Australian fashion, jewellery and homewares fill the cobbled streets of The Rocks each weekend, and there are great street food stalls too.  

Bondi Farmers Markets: go for a swim, then join the locals for brunch. There is the usual fare (breads, jams, cheeses) but the warming pho with beef, basil and star-anise stock, corn fritters topped with bacon, chipolatas, salsa and sour cream, or raclette covered potatoes are what the locals go for. Of course, there are stalls selling fruits and juices too if you are feeling a little less hungry.


Watch the sunset from Mrs Macquarie’s chair

The views from this vantage point are stunning at any time of day but absolutely spectacular at sunset. Watch the sun go down behind the Harbour Bridge and Opera House. Picnic and champagne optional. 

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Walk along the coast from Bondi to Coogee

Soak up sun, sea and panoramic views on this 6km coastal walk. Make sure you bring your swimmers so you can stop off at some of the best beaches on the eastern coast. There are plenty of cafés along the way, or bring a picnic with you, pick a spot on the sand and watch the world go by. 

Tip: for a couple of weeks in spring, the 2km stretch between Bondi Beach and Tamarama Beach is turned into the world’s largest open-air sculpture exhibition: Sculpture by the Sea. More than 100 international artists showcase their work against the beautiful backdrop of the Pacific.

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Take in some culture at an art gallery

The Art Gallery of NSW houses a permanent collection of Australian art including a considerable Indigenous section, as well as temporary international exhibitions. Entry is free, as well as guided tours in various languages. Every Wednesday the gallery is open late for lectures, talks and live music – grab a bite and a drink from the café and let the learning come to you.

The Museum of Contemporary Art Australia is situated right on Sydney Harbour, which makes the views from the rooftop café and sculpture terrace some of the best in the city. Inside you can find a variety of art forms from contemporary talent, as well as a significant amount of work from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists. Like the Art Gallery of NSW, entry to the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia is free and there are complimentary guided tours in several languages.  Admission fees apply to some major exhibitions. 


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