Sydney, the capital of NSW, is known as the most expensive city in Australia. Last year, we explored this fabulous city in just under 48 hours and managed to spend very little money! Here’s how we did it.
Accommodation is normally where most budgets fail, so it is important to research all possibilities before booking anywhere. Usually Leo and I opt for a place found through booking.com or Airbnb (sneaky tip: take advantage of free cancellation clauses and reserve more than one accommodation if you’re unsure about dates, time constraints or location!). For Sydney, everywhere was looking mighty pricey, even on booking.com, so we opted to use AirBnB.
Another thing that can save you some pennies is choosing a location other than the city hotspots. We chose to stay in Bronte because it seemed like the best compromise. We found a cute little AirBnB that was a ten-minute walk from the beach – perfect for our short stay. I would highly recommend exploring the suburbs of a city for accommodation options as it often comes with other advantages like forcing you to explore places you wouldn’t usually.
The other advantage of our AirBnB was that, of course, it came equipped with a kitchen. We love to stay in self-catering accommodations when we are in cities as it gives you the option of homecooking. We find that there is nothing worse than when you’re on a tight timeline (which we were for Sydney) and having to find cool breakfast, lunch AND dinner spots every day. Yes, you want to taste the local delicacies and experience cocktails by the beach, but just sometimes all you want is a bowl of cereal and some fruit. We cooked most of our meals in Sydney which meant that we actually appreciated the food that we ate out.
Leo and I are pretty good when it comes to finding cheap ways to get around. We rarely use taxis (apart from late-night transfers) or tourist buses. Live like a local is the saying we always go by! Sydney has a pretty satisfactory train and bus system – just pick up an Opal card, choose your pass or monetary amount, and you’re off!
Sometimes we take saving money too far. In this instance we actually walked all the way from Bronte to Sydney downtown. Now I don’t know if any of you have down this walk but it is around 9km (consequently not our best idea when it is 30 degrees outside). We did enjoy the sun though. Nothing like a 2 hour walk in direct sunlight to work on your tan.
Sydney’s free activities are the number one way to save money. Since we were only visiting for 2 days we wanted to cram as much in as possible without getting caught in expensive tourist traps.
For our first day we decided to do the coastline walk between Bronte and Bondi. I guess you could say that this is one of the most famous walks in Sydney and with good reason! The route is popular for tourists and locals alike due to its beautiful views of the South Pacific Ocean. There are several photo opportunities that are perfect for Instagram-lovers and though the walk can be crowded, you can certainly find some quiet spots to sit back, relax and be still. When we got to Bondi, we did nothing other than sit on the beach and appreciate that we were on one of the world’s most iconic beaches. Bondi Rescue anyone?
Ever fancied swimming in one of those amazing ocean pools that you see on series such as Home & Away? Yeah – me too. That’s why we recommend visiting Bronte public lido on your return from Bondi. It’s better than the Bondi version (where you have to pay and its super crowded) because it sits amongst a rugged coastline, is less popular and is totally free! Enjoy doing your laps in this novelty swimming pool. This was by far one of our favourite spots in the whole of Sydney – check it out and it’ll be one of yours too!
Day two involved our long walk from Bronte to Sydney (mentioned in point number 2). Aside from the craziness of this decision, it was an enjoyable way to see the city. You can window-shop for hours on end as well as take a walk past several parks. We ended up in the Royal Botanic Gardens which we fully recommend. There are so many amazing plants here, right in the middle of the city. We were even entertained by jumping fish in the pond.
And lastly – who goes to Sydney and neglects to see the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge? Definitely an eye opener seeing the Opera House up close. It was really amazing to see the detailing in this beautiful piece of architecture. Hang back, wait for the hoards of tourists to leave, and admire the views.
This ties in with our comments about AirBnB and the advantages of booking self-catered accommodation. Why not opt for a milkshake in one of the small cafes next to Bronte public lido, or try some Vietnamese appetizers in one of Bondi’s funky restaurants? Instead of eating out for large dinners or five rounds of cocktails, save money by opting for mid-afternoon snacks, happy hour drinks or brunches.