Things to do in Sydney for less than AU$20

Travel May 31, 2013

While the news in Europe seems to be a permanent source of doom and gloom, things on the other side of the world have rarely been better. Warm weather, glorious beaches and huge open spaces have always made Australia’s East Coast a great place to live and study, but the long economic boom (that shows no sign of slowing down) has given the country a new confidence. Now is definitely a great time to visit Sydney.

We caught up with Rosalie Hooper from English Language Company in Sydney to get some tips for enjoying the boom town on a budget.

Darling Harbour Fireworks

Photo: nigelhowe

Darling Harbour lights up with a free firework show on select Saturdays each month. It is free to watch the fireworks and then why not take a stroll around Cockle Bay Wharf, King Street Wharf and the Darling Entertainment Quarter.

Cost: Free (

Pylon Bridge Lookout

Photo: Auburn Alumni Association

Want to see Sydney Harbour from the iconic Harbour Bridge and still have money left for a coffee? Then the Pylon Lookout is the way to go! Located on the south side of Sydney Harbour there is a fantastic view of another iconic landmark that makes Sydney Harbour so unique: the Sydney Opera House. You can also watch the traffic of boats zipping along the water coming and going from the harbour. General Admission is AU$11 and includes access to a museum where you can learn all about the history of the Harbour Bridge.

To really make a great day of it you can then walk across the Harbour Bridge to the north side of Sydney and enjoy the view from Kirribilli and Milson’s Point.

Cost: General Admission AU$11, Concession: AU$8.50 (

Sydney Opera House

Hang out on the steps of one of Sydney’s icons and get some great photos up close to the famous sails for free. From the Opera House there are also amazing views of the Harbour Bridge directly opposite. Day or night the view is definitely not to be missed!

Cost: Free

Ferry around Sydney


To enjoy Sydney Harbour from a different viewpoint, jump onboard a ferry from any Wharf located around the harbour and chug along the blue waters. If you wanted a shorter route, a very popular one is Darling Harbour or Circular Quay to Watsons Bay, otherwise if you want to take in more and venture out further in Sydney, the Circular Quay to Manly ferry is not to be missed! There is a fast ferry and slow ferry option with ticket prices varying between them, but all return tickets are less than AU$20. Find out more at and

Cost: Depends on ticket (all less than AU$20)

Steak and Chips at Cargo Bar (King St Wharf)


Enjoy a rump steak with chips and salad plus sauce at Cargo Bar Monday for just AU$10 – Wednesday from 11:30am. Every Thursday and Friday from 5pm – 7pm you can enjoy beer, wine and vodka for AU$5. (

Art Gallery of NSW

Located at the entry to the beautiful Botanic Gardens, the Art Gallery of NSW is filled with contemporary and modern art from Australia and worldwide. There is also an “Art After Hours” program where the gallery stays open later on Wednesday evenings and there many free events and talks. You can also watch a free movie at the Gallery held at select dates and times. After your visit to the gallery, why not stroll through the Botanic Gardens and take in the view of the Harbour from Mrs Macquarie’s Chair?

Cost: Free,  but certain exhibitions require a paid ticket such as the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes which are Adult AU$10 and Concession AU$8 respectively (

Harbour Walk


The Sydney Harbour walk is a great way to discover Sydney Harbour and, if you are interested, surrounding areas of Sydney. The walk itself is 26km and there are over 45km of optional tracks that can be followed. Wear comfy shoes, pack a yummy lunch and bring your swimming kit to stop at one of the secluded beaches along the way!

Cost: The walk itself is free.

Vivid Festival

During this annual festival (around May/June) you can see Sydney in a completely unique light! Once the sun sets on Sydney the city comes to life, with main attractions and buildings around Sydney shown off with beautiful light and music installations. This year the festival has been extended to Darling Harbour and you will also be able to control the images being projected onto the Sydney Opera House. There are interactive installations to enjoy as well.

Cost: Free (

Australian Museum

Image ©Australian Museum

Explore the first public museum in Australia that houses a huge collection of scientific, natural history and anthropologic displays. Located next to Sydney’s Hyde Park and St Mary’s Cathedral, the closest station is Museum Station.

Cost: Adult General Admission AU$12, Concession General Admission AU$8

Taco Tuesdays at Fly Fajita Sisters (Glebe)

Taco Tuesdays – AU$3 tacos, AU$3 tequila shots and AU$12 a head food platters. Open from 6pm to late. (

Museum of Contemporary Art

Located in the historical Sydney area of The Rocks, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) has quirky and modern artworks and displays from Australian and international artists.

Cost: Free, although some exhibitions may have an entry charge (

Australian National Maritime Museum


Located in Darling Harbour the Maritime Museum exhibits the history of Australia’s maritime efforts and also has vessels on display that you can explore.

Cost: Galleries and Exhibitions ticket for an Adult is AU$7.00, Concession $3.50 (

Live music at an Irish pub

In a city that likes to party, a couple of venues stand out for live music: Scruffy Murphy’s ( and Paddy Maguire’s ( are student-friendly Irish pubs with bands playing at the weekends.

Ji?í from ESL’s Prague office, who lived in Sydney for years, says “enjoying live rock music in an Irish pub is definitely a thing to do in Sydney… the experience is made even better if you make it out of there dry and alive!”

Sydney Fish Market

Photo: LWY

The largest seafood market in the Southern hemisphere is the place to go for fish and chips or sushi. It’s home to the Sydney Seafood School and a huge range of stalls selling fresh fish and seafood.

From cultural icons to Taco Tuesdays, AU$20 will get you a long way in Australia’s largest city. Find out more about an English course in  Sydney here and share your top tips for enjoying Sydney below!

By Alex Hammond

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