Big cities can be expensive to visit and Sydney is no exception. When you’re on holidays, it’s a given that you’re going to spend a decent amount of money, but that doesn’t mean every activity has to cost a pretty penny.
There are tons of free activities in Sydney that are not just enjoyable but even mind-blowing!
Wander around Paddington Markets on a Saturday and take in the sights, sounds, smells and fun. You don’t have to buy anything to have a fabulous time! Open from 10am to 4pm, you can spend the whole day watching people go about their business, exploring the countless stalls and absorbing the flavour of the bustling environment. You’ll find fascinating crafts and local fashions on sale, some of which are exclusive to Paddington Markets so you won’t see them in shops. There are stalls selling novelty pinatas, pet accessories, opals, soft toys, jewellery, candles and skincare products, personalised bread boards and homemade soaps. And when you get hungry, you can sample some of the tantalising foods. There are cupcakes, artisanal breads and Cajun roast potatoes. Or grab some tasty street food and keep on walking. Entry is free … but you have to eat, no matter where you are!
From 10am to 5pm on Saturdays and Sundays, you can weave your way in and out of the little laneways of The Rocks district where two hundred colourful stalls are open for business. Try on some handmade, all-natural perfumes, be dazzled by the handcrafted jewellery and be intrigued by the funny rubber masks that, when you put them on, blend with your face! There are seriously so many different dimensions of fascinating products to touch, see and wonder about, that you will be fully engaged from start to finish. Entry is free.
You really don’t have to splash out on a Harbour Bridge climb or the elevator ride to the top of Sydney Tower. You can capture iconic shots of Sydney’s signature landmarks from all over the city, and not have to pay for the privilege.
You can access the pedestrian walkway on the bridge’s eastern side for free and take in all the incredible views. Safety mesh is installed along the length of the walk but gaps have been left so pedestrians can take photos. To enter from the northern side of the bridge, head to Circular Quay and take a ferry to Milsons Point (one stop), or by train, get off at the Milsons Point station. Walk up the hill and you’ll see a set of stairs that takes you onto the bridge. Allow a minimum of 15 minutes for a leisurely stroll along the bridge but if you’re going to take lots of photos, stretch it out to at least thirty.
Literally just standing at this world-famous part of the city, you’ll see interesting comings and goings, and by being at ground level, you’ll notice things from a different perspective. Aerial views are spectacular, sure, but being on the ground, you get more of a sensory version with all the sights, sounds and smells too! Witness the ferries’ busy schedule, feel the breeze off the water and expect a gigantic cruise shop to drop by too.
Australia’s oldest botanic garden is a natural playground for all ages. Snap-happy visitors will find an endless array of photographic subjects, from the plants to the hidden walkways and on to the pretty water features. Take a free guided walk or just sit yourself down at your favourite vantage point and breathe in the fresh air.
Museums and art galleries can be magical places where you get to see eye-popping artworks and ancient relics and because they’re usually so open and spacious, they provide a fantastic chance to get away from crowds for an hour or two.
Walk right in to the impressive Roman-columned building and pay nothing to see the permanent galleries and most of the temporary exhibitions. There are even free tours and talks as well as free artmaking activities, book readings and artist-led experiences. Art Gallery Road, The Domain, open daily from 10am to 5pm.
Open 7 days, the MCA’s prime focus is contemporary art from Australia and overseas. If the views of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House are not arty enough for you, then the exhibits inside will have you wide-eyed with wonder. It boasts a collection of more than 4,000 Australian works across painting, paper, sculpture and photography and includes works by indigenous artists.
Take a free guided tour of the residence of the Governor of New South Wales on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday from 10.30am to 3pm. Learn about the history of the NSW Governor and the British monarchy. The Gothic Revival architecture is stunning, the gardens are magnificent and the grandeur inside is fascinating.
Family-friendly and interactive, this one is a must-do with kids. Learn about the establishment of the British colony, who lived there, how they lived and how The Rocks evolved over time. Open daily from 10am to 5pm.
Here are some other ideas on how to see cool stuff without paying a cent.
This is just a small sample of free activities in Sydney. You can swim, walk, wander, laze in the sun, stroll around and people-watch in countless places in the city and surrounds.
Don’t forget to say “g’day”!