Sydney is a fabulous city with no end of things to do and see, but if you don’t watch your wallet, it can be very expensive. Fortunately, as in life, some of the best things in Sydney are free. You just need to know where to find them. This guide to Sydney’s best free attractions will get you started.
You can spend days exploring the free art galleries and museums of Sydney. Better yet, they are some of the best galleries and museums in all of Australia. Start with the Art Gallery of New South Wales in the Domain. It’s within walking distance of the city, so even getting there is free. Inside is a vast collection of some of Australia’s and the world’s finest art. Make it a point to see the aboriginal and islander art at the Yiribana Gallery in the Art Gallery of NSW. On Tuesdays and Thursdays you can take a free guided tour of this gallery.
Also within walking distance of the CBD is the amazing Museum of Contemporary Art in the Rocks area of Sydney. Afterwards, you can explore the historical Rocks, Sydney’s first settlement, for free, but be careful there or you may end up spending a lot of money in the fascinating tourist shops, historical pubs and wonderful al fresco cafes in and around the Rocks. If you love to walk, you can get to the Sydney Harbour Bridge quickly from the Rocks. Walk halfway across the bridge and enjoy million dollar views for free.
Head over to Darling Harbour and stroll down the promenade to the Maritime Museum. Once inside, you will get lost in Australia’s rich maritime history. Occasionally you will have to pay a small fee to see a temporary exhibit, but the free permanent exhibits would be well worth paying for, even if you had to. Afterwards, walk down the Darling Harbour promenade, all the way to the new free children’s playground. Better than an expensive theme park, the new playground has water games, slides, climbing ropes and even a thrilling flying fox. The kids will beg you to return and you will gladly comply, since it’s all free and in a lovely garden setting.
You will want to get a close-up look at the Opera House when you’re in Sydney. While you’re there, just stroll a little further and enter the magical Royal Botanic Gardens. Established in 1816, the Royal Botanic Gardens have just gotten better over the years. If you’re lucky enough to be in Sydney during the Southern Hemisphere Spring months of March-May, a day spent in the Gardens just may be the highlight of your Australian vacation. Entry is free, but the experience is priceless.
Fortunately, there are some wonderful cafes within the boundaries of the Royal Botanic Gardens, because you will need refueling in order to make the most of your day. After you have explored the gardens, admired the sculptures and circumambulated the ponds, take a lunch break before visiting Government House. Formerly the residence of the Governor of New South Wales, Government House, on a hill overlooking the Opera House, is now open to the public. Entry is free and it is open every day between the hours of 10am and 4pm.
These free Sydney attractions can easily fill most of your days, leaving you plenty of spending money for your Sydney accommodation and meals. Since they are arguably some of Sydney’s best attractions as well, why would you want to miss them?
Rob Schneider writes for ‘Book It Now’ about popular things to do in Australia. If planning on visiting Sydney you will find information about where to stay in Sydney and a wide range of Sydney accommodation on ‘Book it Now’.