Sydney is the most famous and attractive city in Australia. Surely no tourist in Australia would like to miss this city’s attractions and activities. But unfortunately, Australia is an expensive destination and Sydney is no exception.
Even comparatively Sydney is more expensive than other cities in this country because of its popularity and it’s a tourist hotspot. Now in such a case, finding free things to do in Sydney is a little hard but not impossible.
I am a budget-friendly traveller and always in search of things which are cheap and affordable. For that quest, I have found some incredible free things to do in Sydney that can make your Sydney trip worthwhile without spending much AUD.
Read till the end to get some bonus tips for free things to do in Sydney.
1. Walk around the Sydney Opera House
You must be thinking, Sydney Opera House is not a free entry place so why have I included it on my list? Yes, you’re right, it’s not a free-entry place. But it’s also true that you don’t have to pay a single penny to walk around the Sydney Opera House and admire its scenic views and architecture of it.
Your Sydney trip is incomplete without visiting the world-famous Opera House which is also a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. But it’s okay if you can’t afford the entry ticket because you still have much to enjoy here.
The exterior design of the Opera House is awe-inspiring and can give you some iconic pictures. At the same time, it is surrounded by scenic views to please its visitors. The night view of this Opera House is more enchanting, try not to miss it.
- Address: Bennelong Point, Sydney NSW 2000
- Opening time: Monday to Saturday 09:00 am to 08:30 pm｜Sunday 10:00 am to 06:00 pm
2. Go for a free walking tour
The free walking tour is a guided tour where you’ll get a tour guide who will take you to some amazing attractions in Sydney. If you have been to Europe, you are probably familiar with this guided tour.
You just have to join any of these organized groups and meet up with them at a specific time and place. Then they will make you walk through some incredible places in this city for nearly 2-3 hours.
Usually in Sydney, you can go for a walking tour in the morning and in the afternoon. Though it has no cost, you can leave some donations at the end of your tour.
3. Enjoy the view of the Royal Botanic Gardens
Located near the Sydney Opera House, Royal Botanic Gardens is undoubtedly one of the must-visit places in Sydney because of its mesmerising view of nature. Sydney is a bustling city and the Royal Botanic Gardens is an escape from that bustle.
The garden is rich with thousands of plants and colourful birds, which makes it a perfect place for bird watching.
Apart from this, you can also learn Aboriginal history here through the 90-minute guided Aboriginal Heritage Tour. Via this tour, you can learn the use of traditional plants, discover the culture, and taste some tropical fruits.
The tour departs from the visitor center at 10:30 am on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, and it’s completely free. Not only that you can also explore some nearby attractions of the city like Circular Quay and Hyde Park.
- Address: Mrs Macquaries Rd, Sydney NSW 2000
- Opening time: Everyday 07:00 am to 06:30 pm
4. Explore the Bondi to Coogee Clifftop Trail
I have walked through many clifftop trails, but I can bet no clifftop coastal walk is as beautiful as the Bondi to Coogee Clifftop Trail. The trail is the most exclusive gem of Sydney that offers an unforgettable experience to its visitors.
When you start hiking the trail, you will feel that you’re on a picnic tour as the walk is featured stunning views, beautiful beaches, bays, cliffs, parks, and rock pools. There are also lots of places to rest, swim, and eat.
Most beaches and parks offer picnic shelters, washrooms & changing rooms, play areas, and free electric barbecues. The walking distance from Bondi to Coogee is 6 km and it may take 2 to 3 hours to reach from one part to another.
It is recommended to wear comfortable shoes and bring a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, and water. If you come in colder weather, make sure to wear appropriate clothes.
5. Walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge
No tourist leaves Sydney without taking a picture on the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It’s a must-visit landmark in Australia. But you definitely know climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge is one of the most expensive activities in Sydney.
What if I say you can explore the scenic views of the bridge for free? Yes, climbing the bridge may be costly but walking across the footpath on the Harbour Bridge is totally free.
During your walk across the bridge, you can check out the exotic views of the surroundings. It’s a 20-minute walkway. You can start from the Bridge stairs in The Rocks and finish at the Bridge stairs in Milsons Point or vice versa.
- Address: Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney NSW
- Opening time: 24 hours
6. Discover the history of the Parliament House
Sydney’s Parliament House is a legendary landmark in this city as it’s Australia’s first Parliament and the world’s oldest continually operating parliament building. If you’re a history buff the building will surely give you pleasure.
This Parliament House was built in 1816 and it has been the Parliament of New South Wales since 1829. So clearly, you can discover lots of history here and watch some of the oldest rooms of Sydney where laws are made.
The building is open for public tours only on Monday and Friday at 01:30 pm. And the tour is completely free. But when the Parliament is sitting, you’re not allowed to enter the house.
- Address: 6 Macquarie St, Sydney NSW 2000
- Opening time: open for public tours on Monday & Friday at 01:30 pm
7. Admire the faith of Catholics at St Mary’s Cathedral
Sydney is the home of the Catholic community and St Mary’s Cathedral has a great significance to this community. The believers admire this place for being the seat of the Archbishop of Sydney and the oldest Catholic Chapel in Australia.
The construction of the building began in 1821 but it was destroyed by fire in 1865. The church started to rebuild in 1868. Constructed in local sandstone, the architecture of the building reflects the Gothic Revival Style.
And I can bet that the architectural design can be the only reason to visit the church. Tourists all over the world come here to admire the exotic design of St Mary’s Cathedral.
And the church gains more popularity because of its free entrance. Remember it’s a worship place so whenever you visit treat the place with respect.
- Address: St Marys Rd, Sydney NSW 2000
- Opening time: Monday to Friday 06:45 am to 06:00 pm｜Saturday 09:00 am to 06:30 pm｜Sunday 07:00 am to 06:30 pm
8. Enjoy the Aboriginal music at Circular Quay
Circular Quay has the title of being the most Instagrammed place in Sydney as it’s the best place for sightseeing and photography. Not only that Circular Quay is also popular for being the home of a huge number of cafes and restaurants.
Eating, drinking, sightseeing, and every kind of pleasure you can have at Circular Quay. But do you know, it’s also the home of the buskers who play Aboriginal music all day here?
Every time their enchanting music stops me next to the piers. And I am sure you will love it too. It’s free but you can give some donations to support their talent.
9. Visit the rare collection of art at the NSW Art Gallery
The NSW Art Gallery is a remarkable gift to Sydney visitors who are finding free things to do in Sydney. Founded in 1871, this art gallery showcases a rare collection of modern, indigenous, and contemporary arts which you can find hanging on the walls of the NSW Art Gallery.
Apart from this, the Art Gallery also hosts numerous free and creative events like live concerts, screenings, celebrity talks, lectures, and kids’ activities. So if you’re lucky enough, you can attend one of these events. Usually, these events take place on Wednesday evenings after 10:00 pm.
You will get a range of free guided tours on the regular basis at the Art Gallery. And these tours are available in many different languages like Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, and Cantonese.
- Address: Art Gallery Rd, Sydney NSW 2000
- Opening time: Thursday to Tuesday 10:00 am to 05:00 pm｜Wednesday 10:00 am to 10:00 pm
10. Explore the Manly Beach
All beaches in Sydney are free, so you can opt for any beach including Bondi beach, Manly beach, Shelly beach, Palm beach, or beaches in the Royal National Park. But I particularly suggest Manly beach because it’s less crowded.
Manly beach is located on North Steyne Road and you have to make a ferry journey from Circular Quay to reach Manly. But trust me, the beach is worthwhile to making this attempt.
Manly is one of the most magical beaches in Australia with yellow sand, towering trees, and chilling vibes. The beach offers many activities like surfing, swimming, biking, diving, and snorkelling. If you’re not interested in any of these activities, you can simply relax on the soft sand and enjoy the beautiful view of the beach.
- Address: North Steyne Manly NSW 2095
- Opening time: 24 hours
11. Learn the story of the Rocks at The Rocks Discovery Centre
The Rocks Discovery Centre is a museum that’ll take you back to the pre-European days through the unique collection of images and archaeological artefacts. Even to make their exhibition more realistic, they have included a touch screen, audio and visual elements.
Situated near Circular Quay, The Rocks is housed in a restored 1850s sandstone warehouse, which used to be a poor and dirty neighbourhood. But today, it is a tourist hotspot and a historic suburb of Sydney surrounded by some of the best bars and restaurants.
The Rocks Discovery Centre is free, family-friendly, and most importantly it’s rich with history and culture from the pre-European days to the present day. So you better not miss this free attraction of Sydney.
- Address: Kendall Ln, The Rocks NSW 2000
- Opening time: Everyday 10:00 am to 05:00 pm
12. Spend a day at Cockatoo Island
Located at the heart of Sydney Harbour, Cockatoo Island is a great place to spend your day and it’s totally free to enter. You just have to get a ferry from Circular Quay to reach the island.
Cockatoo Island is a UNESCO World Heritage and National Heritage listed island because of its rich history and mesmerising views. The island used to be a convict penal establishment and a naval shipyard. Now it’s one of the favourite picnic spots for the locals and tourists as well.
Cockatoo Island hosts many seasonal events like New Year’s Eve and musical concerts. Here you can enjoy the panoramic views and relax in front of the water.
And if you make to spend some money, the island also offers history and paranormal guided tours, camping grounds, and waterfront cafes.
- Address: Cockatoo Island, Sydney, New South Wales 2039
- Opening time: 24 hours
13. Escape into nature at the Centennial Park
Sydney has numerous vibrant places to visit. But sometimes we want to escape this vibrant life and get into nature. When you need relief from city life without really leaving it, Centennial Park can be a way for you.
It is the biggest park in Sydney spreading over 360 hectares of land and houses nearly 15,000 trees, ponds, flower beds, and statues. Not only that you will find various Australian Wildlife here including rabbits, foxes, and unique species of birds.
Centennial Park has not only aesthetic beauty but historical significance as well. It’s the home of Australia’s Federation Monument, the Federation Pavilion.
Can you imagine, that you will get to enjoy all of these attractions for free? So undoubtedly, Centennial Park is one of the best free things to do in Sydney, isn’t it?
- Address: Grand Dr, Centennial Park NSW 2021
- Opening time: Everyday 06:00 am to 05:30 pm
14. Discover arts and sciences at Powerhouse Museum
Powerhouse Museum is the ideal place for creative and curious minds. Unlike historical museums, it showcases objects that are related to science, arts, technology, innovation, and design.
Powerhouse Museum offers 12 permanent exhibitions and has an impressive collection of over 500,000 items divided into different sections like science and technology, design and decorative arts, space exploration, Australia’s social history, and transport.
Moreover, the museum hosts workshops, performances, special events, tours and demonstrations on a regular basis. The best part is you can enjoy all the attractions and activities of the Powerhouse Museum without spending money.
- Address: 500 Harris St, Ultimo NSW 2007
- Opening time: Friday to Wednesday 10:00 am to 05:00 pm｜Thursday 10:00 am to 09:00 pm
15. Have fun at Luna Park
Can you imagine free entry to an amusement park in an expensive city like Sydney? Yes, like you, I was surprised too. But it’s true, Luna Park, which is the most famous theme park in Sydney, offers free entrance to all visitors.
Here you can enjoy the 1930s vibe and iconic views of Sydney Harbour. The entrance of this park is more impressive, featuring a chip-toothed clown face.
Luna Park has many thrilling and exciting rides to entertain visitors but they require admission charges. The Ferris wheel and the Tango Train are the must-try rides of this amusement park which can give you a unique and spectacular view of Sydney Harbour.
Apart from this, you can wander throughout the park and take pictures of its surroundings. The park also offers annual passes and twilight saver deals (available after 06:00 pm), you can check out to get a discount on rides.
- Address: 1 Olympic Dr, Milsons Point NSW 2061
- Opening time: Friday to Sunday 11:00 am to 08:00 pm｜Monday 10:00 am to 03:00 pm
16. Connect with nature at Royal National Park
Royal National Park is the oldest national park in Australia and the world’s second oldest national park just after Yellowstone in the USA. Fortunately, the park has free entry. Otherwise, getting endless opportunities for connecting with nature and admiring its beauty, could be pricey in Sydney.
Spread over 15,000 hectares of land, the Royal National Park is the home of many pristine beaches, rainforests, waterfalls, wildlife, wildflowers, and ancient Aboriginal sites.
The park is located an hour’s driving distance from the Sydney CBD and can be a great place for a day tour. You can do activities like bushwalking, cycling, hiking, camping, surfing, and swimming. Some of these activities require a few dollars to spend.
To get the true experience of the Royal National Park, make sure you visit the Figure 8 Pools, Wedding Cake Rock, and Wattamolla Beach.
- Address: V3J7+JF, Royal Nat’l Park NSW 2233
- Opening time: Everyday 07:00 am to 08:30 pm
17. Admire Australian arts at the Museum of Contemporary Art
The Museum of Contemporary Art is a place where you can truly admire the incredible art of Australian artists as well as international artists. The museum showcases over 4,000 contemporary arts, including the works of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists.
The museum reflects the late Art Deco architecture as it’s housed in the former Maritime Services building at Circular Quay. And the highlight of this building is the rooftop cafe that gives you stunning views of the surroundings.
MCA Volunteers offer free guided tours of the exhibition daily and it’s available in many different languages. For the tour schedule, check out the information desk on Level 1.
- Address: 140 George St, The Rocks NSW 2000
- Opening time: Tuesday to Sunday 10:00 am to 05:00 (closed on Monday)
18. Visit the Weekend Markets of Sydney
The weekend markets of Sydney reflect the true nature of this city. These markets are a delight not only for locals but tourists as well.
In these buzzing markets, you will find every necessary thing like food, flowers, fashion accessories, local produce, etc. If you’re not willing to buy anything, you still can’t resist stopping by and checking out them.
Here are some weekend markets that you can visit during your Sydney trip.
Situated a little east of Oxford street, Paddington Markets is a fashion hub and it sets every Saturday morning. Here you’ll find every kind of fashion accessories, jewellery, handicrafts, and arts. Not only that you can get acquainted with people who have made these items.
Since 1973, Paddington Markets has been serving all visitors with its nearly 150 unique stalls selling fashion, jewellery, food, flowers, scented soaps, candles, and many more.
- Address: 395 Oxford St, Paddington NSW 2021
- Opening time: Every Saturday from 10:00 am to 04:00 pm
As Bondi is one of the most popular beaches in Sydney, Bondi Markets is also equally famous among visitors. This market is situated just a short walking distance from Bondi beach and sets every Saturday & Sunday, creating a festive vibe on the weekends.
Bondi Markets is the spot where you can get some unique and old-school items. The market has all kinds of stalls including clothing, furniture, vintage homewares, jewellery, and so on.
You can also participate in a free yoga class here, just bring your yoga mat and join them.
- Address: Campbell Parade, Bondi Beach NSW 2026
- Opening time: Saturday 09:00 am to 01:00 pm & Sunday 10:00 am to 04:00 pm
The Rocks Markets
The Rocks Markets is one of the best weekend markets in Sydney. It is the place where weekends come alive with harbourside views, artisanal wares, and local street food.
In this market, you will find not only local arts and produces but also the artists and photographers who are selling their products.
The Rocks Markets is great for walking around, tasting some local food, or buying some goodies. When you come to visit the Rocks, check out this market and have a cup of coffee here.
- Address: George St, The Rocks NSW 2000
- Opening time: Saturday & Sunday 10:00 am to 05:00 pm
Sydney Flower Market
Watching stalls that are decorated with colourful flowers is really delightful even if you’re not intended to buy them. Sydney Flower Market gives you the opportunity to watch countless flowers at nearly 200 stalls.
It’s the biggest flower market in Australia that is spread over 5200 square meters of area. It is the wholesale market for flower growers, sellers, and shop owners and is also open to the public as well.
The market is open daily except for Sunday, but I recommend you to visit it on Saturday morning to avoid crowed.
- Address: 212 Parramatta Rd, Homebush NSW 2140
- Opening time: Monday to Saturday 05:00 am to 11:00 am (closed on Sunday)
Chinatown Night Market
Night Markets show the true tradition and culture of any city. But guess what, Chinatown Night Market doesn’t reflect the culture of Australia but it shows the authentic and vibrant Asian tradition.
It is the place where you can enjoy the delicacies of Asia without really leaving Australia. Chinatown Night Market sets every Friday at Dixon Street.
The aroma of street food will force you to try some of them. The most famous delicacies of Chinatown Night Market are eggplant dumplings from Chinese Noodle House, fluffy roti canai from Mamak, har gow mango pancakes from the East Ocean, etc.
- Address: Dixon St, Haymarket NSW 2000
- Opening time: Every Friday from 04:00 pm to 11:00 pm
19. Swim in the freshwater of Winifred Falls
Located in the Royal National Park, the Winifred Falls is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Sydney. Most of the tourists opt for the Wattamolla falls, so this waterfall is often overlooked and I would say that’s the bright side of the Winifred Falls. For this reason, the waterfall remains peaceful and less crowded.
Winifred Falls trail is only 1km long but it is quite challenging so make sure you wear a suitable pair of shoes. And to cover the area you may need 30 to 40 minutes. If you have a car, you have to pay $12 as a parking fee for the whole day.
- Address: Winifred Falls Firetrail, Royal Nat’l Park NSW 2233
- Opening time: Everyday 07:00 am to 08:30 pm
20. Visit the spectacular beauty of North Head Sanctuary
North Head is the hidden gem of Sydney. This Sanctuary is located on the highest part of the peninsula at the northern entrance to Sydney Harbour and is bordered by dramatic cliffs.
North Head Sanctuary offers a number of walking and biking tracks through the coastal bushland. And when you walk through this path, you’ll be acquainted with lots of diverse species of flora and fauna. The Sanctuary has over 10 kilometres of easy walking trails that you can explore within two hours.
Apart from natural beauty, the North Head also has historical significance as you’ll find the military fortifications from World War II and signs of the nation’s early quarantine practices. The North fort was an integral part of Sydney’s defence in World War II.
- Address: N Head Scenic Dr, Manly NSW 2095
- Opening time: Monday to Friday 09:00 am to 04:00 pm｜Saturday & Sunday 08:30 am to 05:00 pm
21. Admire the architectural gem of St James’ Church
St James’ Church is greatly admired because of its outstanding architecture and it was designed by the government architect and former convict, Francis Greenway. It is the oldest surviving colonial church in Sydney that was established in 1822.
The church was designed as a courthouse but later it was transformed into the Chapel of the Holy Spirit, the Crypt, and the Children’s Chapel. The highlight of the church is the plaques on the wall which tell the story of the hard early colonial days when people were lost in the sea, were separated by blacks, and tortured by the British Empire.
- Address: 173 King St, Sydney NSW 2000
- Opening time: Monday to Friday 10:00 am to 04:00 pm｜Saturday 09:00 am to 01:00 pm｜Sunday 07:30 am to 04:00 pm
22. Enjoy a free concert at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music
The Sydney Conservatorium of Music is the premier musical training institution in Australia and part of the University of Sydney. The students and teachers of this institution organize concerts every Wednesday and Thursday during lunchtime.
In this concert, you can enjoy the live music of all the talented students of the Conservatorium. The concerts take place at the beautiful Verbrugghen Hall only during the academic year. The duration of these concerts is usually 45 minutes and it starts at 12:30 pm.
Besides enjoying the free concerts, the architectural design of the Conservatorium is also outstanding for taking pictures. The building was also designed by the same architect, Francis Greenway who designed the St James’ Church.
- Address: 1 Conservatorium Rd, Sydney NSW 2000
- Opening time: The concerts are held on Wednesday & Thursday at 12:30 pm
23. Enjoy the majestic view from Barrenjoey Lighthouse
Barrenjoey Lighthouse is one of the most stunning and iconic attractions in Sydney. The lighthouse is located at the most northern point of Sydney and is positioned 91m above sea level from where you can enjoy the majestic view of the ocean.
The sandstone lighthouse was built in 1881 as a part of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. It’s also included in the cultural heritage list.
The Barrenjoey Lighthouse trail is a short and easy bush walk and it takes approximately 30 minutes to reach the top of the lighthouse. To enjoy the top views, you have two route options- shorter stairs and a twisting, convict-built track.
The best time to visit the Barrenjoey Lighthouse is Winter and early Spring. Here you can also do swimming and fishing.
- Address: 1199D Barrenjoey Rd, Palm Beach NSW 2108
- Opening time: 24 hours
Bonus Tips for free things to do in Sydney
Free Transport: I know transport costs in Sydney are unbearable but there is a shuttle bus called 555 Bus which gives free rides to all passengers. It will take you throughout the city centre from Central Station, Circular Quay, George St & Elizabeth St.
Sydney Festival: It is one of the largest annual festivals in Australia that has been celebrated since 1977. Sydney Festival is held every year in January and it lasts for three weeks. All the Sydneysiders celebrate this festival with live music, dance, theatre, visual arts, and forums.
Vivid Sydney: It is also an annual and award-winning festival that Sydney celebrates during the month of late May to mid-June. The Vivid Sydney festival lasts for 23 days and nights and during this time the city takes an elegant look with the lights, colours, and music.
Thanks for reading! Hope this article will help you and make your Sydney tour amazing.