Cheap Things to Do in Sydney: Explore Sydney on a Budget

portrait of hotel concierge
10 minutes Apr 16th, 2024
View of the Sydney Harbour Bridge from the docks

So, you’ve found yourself in Sydney, which isn’t exactly the cheapest place to run wild in. If your wallet’s on a diet, you’ll want to find the best ways to soak up all that Sydney goodness without breaking the bank.

From chilling out on Bondi Beach to exploring the iconic Rocks district, there’s a whole list of possibilities that won’t cost you an arm and a leg, and we’ve compiled our favourites here to make sure you keep that house deposit intact.

Free (or Almost Free) Things To Do This Month

For the SUPER budget-conscious, let’s start with the things that are basically free, a rarity in today’s overpriced existence.

Biennale of Sydney

White Bay Power Station for the 24th Biennale of Sydney (2024)
Photographer: Jacquie Manning
Source: @biennalesydney

The Biennale of Sydney is an epic contemporary art festival that transforms the city into a vibrant hub of artistic expression. Running from March 9 to June 10, 2024, this year’s theme, “Ten Thousand Suns,” explores many global cultures with a transgressive spirit reminiscent of Carnivale – and best of all, it’s free!

Spread across six locations, including iconic sites like the Art Gallery of NSW and the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Biennale showcases awe-inspiring installations and thought-provoking exhibitions, all free for everyone to visit over 16 weeks.

Marrinawi Cove

The Barangaroo Reserve area and Marrinawi Cove near The Rocks in Sydney
If you’ve ever dreamt of taking a dip in the Sydney Harbour without battling a boat or getting tangled in a fishing net, Marrinawi Cove is for you! The newest swimming spot to hit Barangaroo Reserve in over half a century is now open for business, boasting safety nets, safety signage, and even a shiny new shower.

Marrinawi Cove is where the Gadigal people have been fishing, canoeing, and swimming for thousands of years. Found in the northeast corner of Barangaroo Reserve, Marrinawi Cove is in the middle of the CBD, surrounded by lush flora, and you’ll often catch free public art installations there to improve the view (not that it needs to be improved at all).

Art Gallery of NSW

The Art Gallery of New South Wales
The Art Gallery of New South Wales is a real gem right on Sydney Harbour, on Gadigal land. This place ain’t your average art museum, and over a million folks stroll through its doors each year because it’s absolutely free on the first Wednesday of every month or for specific exhibitions throughout the year! You can soak in all that artistic goodness without spending a cent.

With its recent expansion through the Sydney Modern Project, the Art Gallery has transformed into a sprawling art campus spanning two buildings and a stunning public art garden. When you’re done marvelling at all the masterpieces, you can treat yourself to a bite at Crafted by Matt Moran or MOD. Dining by Clayton Wells (both definitely not free, however.)

Carriageworks Farmers Market

people shopping produce at the Carriage Farmers Market in Sydney
Photographer: Jacquie Manning
Source: @carriageworksfarmersmarket

You’ll find the freshest local produce, artisan crafts, and a feast fit for a king at the Carriageworks Farmers Market. Every week, this place transforms into a bustling hub of foodie goodness, showcasing the best seasonal produce and artisanal delights from local growers and producers across NSW. Entry is absolutely free, so you can wander to your heart’s content without spending a single dollar.

Curated by none other than the acclaimed chef Mike McEnearney, this market has farm-fresh veggies, freshly cut flowers, and plenty of lunch options like a steaming bowl of pho from Bar Pho or a falafel breakfast from Keppos St Kitchen.

Take the Bondi to Coogee Walk

People walking to Waverley Cemetery along the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk in Sydney
What’s better than a great free activity that also includes a little fitness? One of Sydney’s best ways to tick both boxes is the Bondi to Coogee Walk. Stretching a solid six kilometres along the eastern suburbs, you’ll see some of the most breathtaking coastal trails and hidden beaches in Sydney. We’re talking cliff-top views, pristine beaches, lush parks, and crystal-clear rock pools. It’s like nature decided to show off, basically.

But it’s not just about the views. Along the way, you’ll stumble upon some sweet spots to rest your weary feet, take a dip in the ocean, or chow down at one of the cafes or restaurants dotted along the route. In keeping with our budget theme, you can even fire up one of the free electric barbecues at Tamarama, Bronte, Coogee, or Maroubra.

Cheap Eats in Sydney

Feeling hungry after a day full of activities? Don’t worry we’ve got you covered.


ramen at Mappen Noodle Bar in Sydney
Mappen is a go-to spot for some seriously delicious and wallet-friendly Japanese noodles. Offering a fast-casual dining experience, slurp down savoury udon or soba noodle soups, customisable with your choice of tasty toppings and tempura delights.

It’s not just about the price tag; Mappen prides itself on its authentic flavours and top-quality ingredients. Whether you’re craving classic udon ramen or bukkake, they’ve got you, and it’s all self-service! You can load up your plate as your heart desires – nobody’s judging here.

Address: 11/537-551 George St, Sydney NSW 2000 

Spice Alley

Pad Thai at Spice Alley Sydney
Source: @spicealleysyd

If you’re craving some seriously tasty Southeast Asian eats that won’t break the bank, look no further than Spice Alley. The narrow, bustling streets are filled with the tantalising aroma of spices and sizzling woks. It’s like stepping into a hawker centre straight out of George Town, Penang. Spice Alley is home to four permanent stalls, each serving fragrant curries, crispy pork belly, and a bunch of other dishes for less than 20 bucks.

It’s not just about the food, though, as Spice Alley is all about the vibe, thanks to its sunlit stools, vibrant murals inspired by Asian street culture, and buzzing atmosphere. It’s the streets of Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur in Sydney, and it also happens to be BYO. Bring your own drinks to enjoy alongside your mea l, free of charge.

Address: Kensington St, Chippendale NSW 2008

Paddy’s Markets

Entrance into Paddy's market
Paddy’s Markets are like a global food court with dumplings, sushi, kebabs, burgers, and more, all under one roof. Most options will set you back less than 15 bucks, so you can enjoy something scrumptious in a bustling hub of activity. There’s everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to imported fashion, souvenirs, makeup and beauty products.

It’s a must-visit for tourists, foodies, or just a group of mates looking for fun, cost-effective eats.

Address: 9/13 Hay St, Haymarket NSW 2000

Kenny’s Pork Rolls – $9 Banh Mi

Bahn Mi from Kenny's Pork Rolls
Source: @kennysporkrolls

Kenny of Kenny’s Pork Rolls fame is a master when it comes to making banh mi. Once you sink your teeth into one of his creations, you’ll understand why he’s got folks lining up around the block. Kenny serves up authentic Vietnamese flavours at prices that won’t leave your wallet crying for mercy. We’re talking mouthwatering banh mi for under $10, and you can get a bit fancy with the soft shell crab or the vibrant grilled pork sausage, should you feel like it.

Caffeine Hit – $10 Acai

Two Acai in the cup
Source: @caffeine.hit and @dangimhungry

You’ll find some seriously tasty and refreshing açai bowls without breaking the bank at Caffeine Hit. Located in the back streets of Guilford, this family-run joint is pumping out some of the best açai in Western Sydney for just under $10 bucks. Grab a small açai bowl topped with granola, strawberry, and banana and a towering swirl of velvety smooth goodness that’ll put other bowls to shame; plus, you can add toppings like peanut butter for just a buck more. This place is open in the evening to satisfy your late-night açai cravings.

Address: 73 Broughton St, Old Guildford NSW 2161

Malaak Baghdad – $5 Falafel Sandwiches

falafel sandwich at Malaak Baghdad Restaurant in Sydney
We end our list with an absolute belter: Malaak Baghdad in Fairfield. Crispy, golden falafel nestled in warm pita bread, packed with all the fixings you could ever dream of for $5. It’s an absolute steal. Authentic flavours that’ll transport you straight to the streets of Baghdad, these vegetarian falafel sandwiches simply cannot be ignored.
Staying at Veriu in Sydney? Here are some insider tips.

Address: 2/4 Station St, Fairfield NSW 2165

Staying at Veriu in Sydney? Here are some insider tips

Looking to stay in Sydney without breaking the bank? Veriu has some sweet deals that’ll help you save big on your next getaway. Here are some classic Veriu hacks that will keep your bank balance looking good:

  • If you book your stay 14 or more days in advance, you can score some serious savings. Plus, if you’re planning to stay for 3, 4, or 5 nights, you might be able to shave off up to 20% on your total stay.
  • If you’re planning a longer stay and book for a minimum of 14 nights, you can unlock some huge savings on your accommodation.
  • Become a Veriu member and you’ll get even more perks on your booking. Members can pick their perk, whether it’s a bottle of wine, a naughty or nice snack bag, late check-out or early check-in, local beer, two barista-made coffees, or free parking.

If you’re looking for a stylish and affordable stay in Sydney, Veriu is the way to go. With these sweet deals and extra perks, you’ll be living the high life without blowing your budget!