I bet Sydney ranks on many people’s travel bucket list. It could be somewhere within the top 10, should I make a guess, after other heavyweights like Paris, London and culture powerhouses like Bangkok, Tokyo and Milan. And like other well-visited cities in the world, Sydney ain’t cheap – it’s even known to be the most expensive in the Southern Hemisphere. But being passionate travelers that we are, cost won’t definitely stop us from making our way to Sydney. Here’s a rundown of some hacks you could use to keep your trip to Sydney still affordable:
Booking an inexpensive flight to Sydney could be quite a challenge but a little flexibility on your schedule could mean scoring better deals. Consider traveling during the winter months – that’s between April to July – as airfares tend to be much cheaper. Though you better be ready with your thermal wear and gloves as the weather could get really chilly especially if you come from a tropical climate like that of the Philippines.
If the winter time does not suit your taste, you could still enjoy sunny Sydney in the summer. Depending on where you come from, flights on Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve tend to be affordable as most people avoid flying on these days to celebrate the holidays with family. Also, traveling to Sydney on school holidays tend to be expensive - so might as well avoid booking flights on these dates.
You may also want to plan your trip and book your flights months in advance to get some savings. And finally, consider flights with layovers over direct flights.
Frequent budget travelers would already know that hostels could be your best bet to save a ton of money on accommodation which could set you at around AUD 25 to AUD 35 per night. Hostel culture in Sydney is not too shabby and may be better than some in Asia. Crowd favorites include The Pod Sydney and Wake Up! Sydney Central right at the Central Business District and Sydney Harbour YHA at the Rocks. Good thing about these hostels is that you need not to sacrifice being far from the happenings in exchange for an affordable stay as they are right next to the main attractions.
Always an alternative, of course, is AirBnB. Or better yet, have your friends or family adopt you (and perhaps your company) just like what I did!
Sydney has an efficient public transportation system. Get an Opal Card to avail of the discounted fares and the maximum fare charge. You can use the trains, buses and ferries all you want and be charged AUD 15.80 max per day – and AUD 2.70 on Sundays! Downloading the Opal app (iOS, Android) allows you to check your account balance and get a trip planner feature with fare estimates.
What’s also good about Sydney is that most of the popular attractions in the city are situated close to each other so you need not spend on transportation as much.
Another way to save on transportation in Sydney is through bike sharing. It is an excellent way to see the city and at the same time it allows you to save some bucks as it would only cost you around AUD 2 per 30 minutes. Not a bad deal, isn’t it?
While dining with the Sydney or Darling Harbour at the background may be so appealing, eating at restaurants on the harbor would cost you a hefty price. Instead, head to Chinatown where you’ll find a good selection of authentic meals roughly at AUD 10 per meal per person.
Sushi is also an easy, delicious and affordable way to fill up your tum tums. For less than AUD 5, you’re probably good to go.
Depending on your accommodation situation, you may also opt to prepare your own meals. On top of that, avoid buying bottled water as it’s too expensive. Sydney is said to be a city where beer and soda are cheaper than water! So better get yourself a reusable bottle you can take and refill as you go. There are a lot of water fountains around the city - mostly located at parks.
Sydney may be one of the most expensive cities to travel to but, fortunately, there are a ton of things you can do for free. You can join a free walking tour around The Rocks, chill under the sun at Bondi Beach or Manly Beach, or perhaps visit the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Coastal walks are also big in Sydney.
Or maybe you want to take a bike tour or to gaze at the beautiful parks such as the Royal Botanic Garden and the Hyde Park. Stop by for a quiet time at St. Mary’s Cathedral, too.
Climbing to the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge may be a must-try for thrill-seekers, but it could set you somewhere around AUD 300. As an alternative, you can get the next best thing by walking through the bridge along the pedestrian pathway.
And finally, taking a spot at the Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair offers a million-dollar view of the famous harbor headlined by iconic Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
What do you think of these cost-saving tips? Are there any other hacks you can share? Leave a comment below.
Special thanks to my friends Kimi and Nina for their generous inputs.