Sydney is full of people to meet, parties and above all…very expensive. Unfortunately, for backpackers on a budget this city is known for high cost of living. Not great for us backpackers who want to enjoy the city without spending all our savings. Gaëlle, who spent some time in this city is giving you some ideas for great activities in Sydney that wont dry your bank account.


Lets start with the basics. When you arrive in Sydney you will require housing. Whether it is an apartment or a hostel, we spent an average between 180 and 250 AUD per week. Here are some options for you to save some money on your accomodation.


There is a lot of young Australians hosting couch-surfers. The principle is simple, people will let you sleep on their couch or in the guest room for free in exchange of nothing (except being a nice guest !). In general, the houses in Australia are big and there is always at least one free sofa. Couch surfing allows you to meet locals and have a ‘real’ Australian experience. You can usually spend a few days at the same place, giving you time to discover the area, meet some new friends and also save some cash !

Work at a Hostel

Working for accommodation is another fairly common solution to reliving the financial burden of a backpacker. Many hostels offer free accommodation in exchange for a few hours of work. Expect tasks such as housekeeping, bartending or working behind the reception. In addition to getting free accommodation it is a good way to meet a lot of other backpackers staying at the same hostel !


All Sydneysiders know moving around the city is not a given. Here are some good tips for transportation in Sydney:

Free busses

There are two free bus services in Sydney: the 555 and 430. The first is extremely convenient including the downtown connection from Circular Quay to Central. They run quite a lot so you will always be able to catch one!

Other types of transport

Another simple solution is to walk, bike, rollerblade, ride a scooter or unicycle (if that is your thing!). Even though Sydney is a huge city, the city center and surrounding suburbs (Newtown, Glebe, Surry Hill, Potts Point …) are very accessible for a pedestrian. And it is a great workout!

If you are planning on taking the train, know that is it cheaper to travel off peak hours, here are the cheapest times to travel on the train in Sydney :

Days of the
Sydney trains peak timesIntercity trains peak times
Monday to Friday7am – 9am
4pm – 6.30pm
6am – 8am
4pm – 6.30pm

Car rental

For the driving enthusiasts amongst us Sydney offers car rental solutions. At Budget you can get a car without insurance for 57 AUD a day. At No Birds Car Hire you can get a vehicle for as little as 26 AUD a day for a 7 day rental period.
See all our tips to rent a cheap car : Sydney Cheap Car Hire

Free Internet

For generation 2.0 it is difficult to go without the Internet! In Sydney you can find many free solutions to this problem! For instance McDonald’s offers free access to the internet although the quality is not always up to par. The same goes for Hungry Jack’s and many other fast food chains.

Does the smell of burgers not tempt you? Libraries provide an ideal alternative for free internet in a more studious environment. Some public spaces also offer Internet access after a simple registration process (e.g. Westfield shopping centre). Finally do not forget the many cafes offering free Wi-Fi access (e.g. Seconds Coffee on George Street (which will welcome you with a smile and great snacks for people on a tight budget!).


You cannot use Sydney being an expensive city as an excuse not to work out. Here sport is religion and the possibilities to let off steam for free are abundant! Most buildings have a free gym and pool. A few tips on working out in Sydney:


You can easily find a gym for about fifteen dollars a week. Still too expensive? Many gyms offer a free trial week. There is nothing to prevent you from trying out a different gym every week! Do not forget to check if there are any special deals that might get you discounts!


Wherever you are in the city you can find a place to run: Hyde Park, Bondi Beach, Centennial Park, Mosman or Ruschutters Bay. Plenty of options! Those parks also offer outdoor gyms for all kinds of outdoor fitness activities : pull up bar, parallel bars, ab benches etc.

While on the topic of beaches: they offer many other opportunities. Go for a swim, play some beach volleyball (Manly with all the facilities) or go for a surf! All for free!

Another interesting option is cycling! While working out you explore the city! The Bike club offers to repair used bikes and you can use them for free. The center is open 2 days a week at the end of the day. Check out their website for more information.

For a bit more ‘chilled out’ workout there are many beautiful walks you can do throughout the city with great views. The walk from Bondi to Coogee, the tour of Manly and a visit to the bottom of the Botanical Garden are just a few walks worth a visit. If you some more inspiration for great walks there is a group of student architects that offer guided tours to the most beautiful places in the city daily – for free!

Get your RSA

If you need to earn some money to do more activities and want to find a job in a bar or restaurant you will need to get your RSA. The Responsible Service of Alcohol certificate is mandatory if you want to work in establishments where alcohol is served. You can get it through the online training of the EOT company which offers you discount thanks to our partnership.
For more information check out our article with discounts: RSA Certificate in Australia

More tips on Sydney – check out Sydney Travel Tips & Deals – Part#2

Updated on 14/10/2019 – Initially published on 17/02/18

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