Sydney is one of the best cities I have ever been too (I love it so much that they can’t get rid of me). With over 100 beaches, a world-famous harbor and 236 days of sunshine. What is not to love?
For tourists, it can be a tad daunting, since the playground is so immense and so much to see and do but it is hard to make a dent. With a famous bridge and opera house, many many beaches and lots of walking trails, at times it’s all a little overwhelming.
So I thought I would help a fellow traveler out and scribble down what you must see and how much a trip to Sydney would cost you. (She ain’t cheap). You’re welcome…
WHAT TO DO
Underneath are some of the best things that you should see and do when traveling to Sydney for the first time. This will include the cities most touristy (but awesome) sights and attractions.
This is probably a must on all travelers lists, taking a swim at Sydney’s and probably Australia’s most famous beach.
Taking a dip at Bondi Beach is an absolute must. This world famous beach cannot be seen without having a dip in the ocean. Now be smart and swim between the flags, otherwise, you might be staring in an episode of Bondi Rescue. Although the ocean looks (often) pretty mellow, it can actually be quiet tricky underneath the surface. Dangerous rips can be found all over the beaches and the boys in Blue know how to spot them (Hallelujah!)
WANDER THE HARBOR BRIDGE
There is a pedestrian walkway on the eastern side of the Sydney Harbour Bridge that offers some of the best views of Sydney Harbour.
There are two ways to access the walkway: from the southern side of the bridge or from the northern side. I advise you to go to the Northern site (Milsons point) because this way you are walking towards the opera house, so you have the best views.
The walk across the bridge should take from 15 to 30 minutes, depending on how many times you stop to admire the harbor and take photos. First timers, I say give yourself an hour, as the astonishing views will keep you captivated.
During Vivid this walk is an absolute MUST as well as it offers you some unique picture opportunities.
VISIT TARONGA ZOO
Sydney’s animal home is set against a backdrop that belongs in a National Geographic calendar. It’s stunning! While enjoying the monkeys and gorillas, you’ll also enjoy the most breathtaking views across Sydney Harbour.
SPOT CELEBRITIES AT PALM BEACH
If you’re a Home and Away fan, you have to make the trek out to Sydney’s most northern suburb and the home of Summer Bay. You can have lunch at the Pier Diner (or The Boathouse Palm Beach, as it’s called in real life), take a selfie outside Alf’s Bait Shop, run up and down the iconic yellow sand dunes, and pretend to be a lifeguard out the front of Summer Bay Surf Club.
Palm Beach is the place where some of Sydney’s wealthiest and most famous people escape on their holidays. It’s isolated, tranquil, charming and absolutely beautiful. In Palmy you could walk right by someone like Mick Jagger and not even know it. Celebrities such as Kelly Slater, Guy Sebastian, and Nicole Kidman and hubby Keith Urban also regularly visit Palm Beach during summer.
Palm Beach is located 41 kilometers north of the Sydney CBD. The golden sands of Palmy curve 2.3km, from Little Head to Barrenjoey Point and is an excellent place to surf. You can also follow a trail to heritage-listed Barrenjoey Lighthouse which also offers splendid views of the coast, Pittwater and Kur-ring-gai Chase National Park.
CHILL AT THE BOTANIC GARDENS
Just think about the wonderful lush color of the sweeping lawns, dark green canopies and thousands of beautiful flowers. The Botanic Gardens are not just a place to sit back, relax and enjoy the stunning views, there is always plenty to do and new things to discover, doesn’t matter if it’s summer or winter.
Home to colorful lorikeets, screaming parrots and every now and then a whale (Yup you read that right, every now and then a whale makes a wrong exit and ends up at Sydney harbor whoopsie).
AMAZING WALKING TRAILS
Sydney truly has some of the best walking trails ever. From Lush bush-lands to coastal walks and cliff and harbor views. They are all available within the vicinity of Sydney. Underneath are some of the best trails that you should/can do.
BONDI TO COOGEE – COASTAL WALK
Probably one of the best walks you can do in Sydney.
This two-kilometer walk takes about 30 minutes, depending on how many photos you’re taking. And with cute little coves, 52-inch widescreen ocean views and a number of beaches, odds are you’ll be taking a lot.
If your boots are made for walkin’, you don’t have to stop at Bronte. Keep marching for Coogee. You can learn all about the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk here.
TARONGA ZOO TO BALMORAL
An easier and less tourist walk then the Bondi to Coogee but almost just as stunning. This amazing coastal and bush walk is 6.5 kilometers long and offers some stunning city views along the way. Towards the start of the walk it is quite easy and flat but towards Balmoral there are some climbs and stairs making you huff and puff a little. I do think this walk is doable for most people, just take it easy.
You can also encounter some Australian wildlife. From a variety of birds, snakes and heaps of (very large) spiders. So keep your eyes open. The effort you will put into this walk will be worth it…. Trust me.
SPIT BRIDGE TO MANLY
Put your walking shoes on for this one because mate, shes a big trek! but it is definitely worth the effort. This 10K walk is one of the most popular walks in Sydney. With crystal blue water, secluded bays and beaches, bush-land, stunning cliffs and some some unimaginable views along the way.
It has quite a few stairs, and its made up of a series of smaller trails. There’s no big expressway-type walking path like there is at the Bondi to Coogee walk. The ‘path’ is at varying points made up of pebbles, compressed earth, concrete, sand and steps carved out of rock – it’s full cross country.
Whilst you are hanging out at Palm Beach, make sure to do the hike up towards Barrenjoey lighthouse. There are two ways you can travel up, a longer but easier route or (Yep, you guessed it right) a shorter but more intense route. I suggest you take your time and take the longer route up, and on your way back you can take the short one. This way you have different scenery, but you don’t have to struggle as much getting up there.
If you still haven’t enough things to do then here are some more options:
Q station – A truly unique destination. Sydney’s former Quarantine Station in Manly is reputed to be one of Australia’s most haunted sites, with stories of ghosts and paranormal occurrences entwined throughout its history. Ghost tours have operated here since the early 1990s.
Sydney tower eye – The tallest building in Sydney offering you some stunning views of the city.
Madam Tussauds – There are a lot of hands-on props and uniquely Australian public figures as well as internationally known stars & athletes. There is also a superhero section. You can pose and take pictures with all the exhibits. Everyone of all ages will enjoy this!
WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo – a small zoo located in Darling Harbor. An Indoor zoo with animals, reptiles, insects, this place will make you explore all of them in one go. Two of main attraction areas – The Kangaroos & Koalas. Fun to be with these animals and the perfect encounter for international tourists.
LET’S TALK ABOUT COST…
When it comes to planning a backpacking trip/holiday, it is a common wish for one to know exactly how much to budget per day. If you are planning to go to Sydney then I’m sure you have already heard that it’s not a cheap destination to travel too. So before you go, you want to know how much to save for your trip to Sydney.
As you can imagine it depends on many different factors.
- How long you are traveling
- Where you want to stay eg hotel, backpackers hostel, couch surfing etc.
- Your eating habits and cooking skills haha
- General lifestyle eg do you smoke, drink etc.
- Spending habits eg souvenirs, activities, taxies etc.
BEFORE YOU GET TO SYDNEY
Even before you arrive in Australia you will have some costs. Underneath I have summed up the most common costs.
Tourist visa $140 AUD
Working holiday $440,- AUD
You gotta get there somehow. Walking just isn’t an option for this one.
Never travel without it. Not worth it when you need it. I had that happen to me and it cost me over $400,- to be seen by a doctor. If I had Insurance for a few tenners, I would have saved myself a lot of trouble and money.
So get it… Listen to Auntie Noni.
WHEN TO GET TO SYDNEY…
After a long flight, it is time to travel to your hotel. To calculate the cost I am going to assume that you will be staying in the most popular area, Sydney central/CBD. From the airport, there are a few ways you can get to your accommodation.
FREE AIRPORT PICK-UP
Some accommodation offer FREE airport pickups. You don’t even have to stay at expensive hotels to get this. Even cheap backpacker hostel offers to pick you up for free if you stay 3 nights or more in their hotel. They often use Airport/shuttle buses.
These are also a cheap option of getting into the city. Even if you can’t get a free pick up, these shuttles offer cheap drop off options.
Price: from $12,-
AIRPORT LINK (TRAIN)
From Sydney airport, it is only a few stops to Sydney Central.
Direct services operate from Sydney City to the Domestic Airport and the International Airport Stations. These can be accessed from Central, Museum, St James, Circular Quay, Wynyard and Town Hall Stations. (all stops in Sydney CBD)
Trains depart between 4.23am and 11.23pm on weekdays and between 4.54am and 11.54pm on weekends.
UBER OR TAXI
An Uber pick up and drop off at Sydney CBD would cost you about $40,- AUD. The same ride with a taxi will cost you about $60,- AUD.
You can make your stay as expensive or cheap as you’d like. But keep in mind is that you get what you pay for. If you are after cheap accommodation, then there are a ton of cheap hostels. Feeling fancy and happy to spend the money, then there are hotels rooms with opera house views for about $500 per night. Underneath I have listed some options in different price categories. (Prices are October 2018, keep in mind that they will go UP over summer)
Cheap hostel in Sydney CBD
- Base Sydney – The hostel just beside the Town hall station and make you easy to go anyway and also the airport. The location is therefore perfect because It’s right in the center of the city and right next to Darling Harbour. Reasonably clean, a large kitchen area and plenty of laundry facilities to use. Being next to a bar that does good deals on meals is also a good bonus.
From $57 per night (10-bed dorm) to $143 for a private room.
- Maze Backpackers – Cheap budget accommodation in the heart of Sydney. Proper international party hostel.
From $27 per night (6-bed dorm) to $70 for a private room.
A bit fancier hostel
- WakeUp Sydney – Great place to meet people, daily outings/events organized most of which are free if you are staying here. Great location, next to train station and really close to opera house/ harbor bridge/darling harbor so you don’t have to spend money traveling to these places as so easy to walk.
From $38 per night (6-bed dorm) to $139 for a private room.
- Central Perk Lodge – Decent accommodation for the budget conscious. Good location, opposite Kings Cross station, less than 20 min walk to Hyde Park. And a short walk to Finger Wharf in Woolloomooloo.
Private rooms from $100,-
Underneath are some options if you are in the mood for a fancy pancy hotel. Since the prices fluctuate a lot, I have not added those here.
- Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour
- The Langham Sydney
- Simpsons Of Potts Point
- Ovolo Woolloomooloo
- Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney
EATING, DRINKING, AND NIGHTLIFE
Underneath are some of the costs that you can expect when going out for dinner, having a few drinks and going out.
Meal out: Around $26 per head including one drink. This is for a decent meal (Not Maccas)
Show/gig at theatre: The Oxford Arts Factory, in inner-city suburb Darlinghurst has a diverse array of gigs and events on regularly.
average ticket price is around $30. Another option is Capital Theather in Haymarket they often have large shows on, costs around $120.
Beer or house wine: a drink costs about $8 per glass (of course you can drink Goon for a lot less, but this is ‘normal’ wine)
So if you are thinking about going out on a Saturday with dinner, a drink and a show it will cost you around $100,-
If you just want a few drinks it will cost you around $40-50.
Underneath some of the most popular activities in this Sydney and how much it would cost you to do them.
- Sydney Bridge Climb – $168,-
- Sydney – Bondi Hop-on Bus – $49,50
- The Rocks Walking Tour: The Original Guided Walking Tour of The Rocks = $32,-
- Blue Mountains Nature and Wildlife Day Tour – FROM $85,-
- Sydney Skywalk at Sydney Tower Eye – FROM $70,-
- Sydney Whale-Watching Cruise – FROM $69,-
- Madam Tussauds – $33.60
- Sydney Aquarium – $42 at gate $33.60 Online
- Sydney Wildlife Zoo – $42 at gate $33.60 Online
- Taronga Zoo – $47 at the gate or $42.30 Online
- Do the Bondi to Coogee Walk
- Stroll the Sydney Harbour Bridge
- Enjoy an afternoon at Luna Park (Entrance is free, rides do cost money)
- Experience tranquillity at the Royal Botanic Gardens
- Get lost in the Royal National Park
The beauty of traveling is that you can do it precisely the way you like it. You can spend as little or as much money as you desire. Whilst one person doesn’t mind eating instant noodles for dinner every night, someone else might want steak for dinner
If you are a budget conscious traveler then your daily budget for Sydney should be around $40 per day. This includes accommodation, food, and transportation.
If you want a bit more luxury (think better hostel and better food) then you should budget in about $60 per day.
And if you want extreme luxury, then you can make it as crazy as you’d like.
If you have made it this far then you must really want to go to Sydney <3 I hope this post was helpful and that I will see you soon in sunny Sydney.
PLANNING TO GO TO AUSTRALIA SOON? THEN CHECK OUT SOME MORE TRAVEL GUIDES HERE:
- Sydney city guide
- Melbourne City Guide
- Perth City Guide
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