🕵️♂️ By Mike Holford |
✍️ 20th Feb, 2019
Planning an awesome day out without spending a fortune can be a hack. Whether you want to impress friends that are visiting or are just looking for new ways to have fun without breaking the bank, these cheap day out ideas have got you covered.
Make the most of Sydney's amazing places to watch the sunrise, stunning outdoor swimming pools, public barbecues, scenic picnic spots, free museums and live music nights and create some incredible memories with friends and family without going broke.
Start by thinking outside the box around what everyone enjoys doing to work out what would suit your group most. Are you mates sporty? Is your girlfriend a foodie? Does your mum love art? The good news is, we’ve got options for all of them in our favourite things to do for less than AU$10!
1. Early-morning swim and coffee
Start the day right with a Sydney sunrise swim backed up with a great coffee. Perhaps the most iconic spot for this is Icebergs in Bondi, where a swim will set you back just $8pp. Or for the same price, pop by our favourite city centre alternative with serious wow factor, the North Sydney pool, where you can't help but be impressed by the views of the Harbour Bridge.
If you prefer the ocean, it's free to join the Bold & Beautiful at 7am daily for the 1.5km swim between Manly and Shelly Beach. Or enjoy a more relaxed start, snorkelling with giant cuttlefish, weedy seadragon, wobbegongs, eagle rays and groupers at Gordon's Bay or Manly's Cabbage Tree Bay.
2. Local city markets
Whether you fancy yourself as a bit of a chef or just love to eat fresh fish and seafood, Sydney Fish Market is a fascinating Sydney experience for foodies. The wholesale auction held at 5:30am is only accessible on a Behind the Scenes tour, but it doesn't cost anything to browse the variety of seafood on offer at the market. Our advice is go before the tour buses start to arrive mid-morning and purchase your own fish to recreate one of the dozens of free recipes listed on their website for a home-cooked meal to remember.
If multicultural street food is more your thing, The Rocks Foodie Friday Market is a great spot for breakfast or lunch and when it comes to the weekend, try the Glebe Markets that bring together local crafts, creative fashion and foodie treats topped off with live music.
3. Sydney’s Free Art
Sydney's free museums and architectural icons are easily overlooked and great options for rainy days. The permanent collection at the imposing Art Gallery of NSW is free to visit and you can also take advantage of their late night opening on Wednesdays as part of their Art After Hours offering. Elsewhere, marvel at the interior of the State Library of NSW or pop into The Rocks Discovery Museum.
Other wonderful city museums, such as Hyde Park Barracks, The Museum of Sydney and the Grand Designs-esque Rose Seidler House are just a smidge over budget at $12 per adult to visit and well worth it to see a completely different side to the city.
4. Sydney’s alternative coastal walks
Sydney is known for its beautiful coast walks with the stretches of coastal path between Bondi to Coogee and Manly to Spit Bridge well-known to locals and even on many tourists’ holiday itineraries these days. But, why not make it your mission to explore some of the kilometres of lesser-visited but no less beautiful parts? You’ll feel like you’re in on your very own secret!
For shorter walks around the harbour some of our favourite sections include Bradley’s Head; Middle Head; Rose Bay to Watson Bay; the circuit of The Gap, South Head and Watson Bay; insta-favourite Diamond Bay in Vaucluse; and Shelly Beach to North Head. Further out, we love Long Reef to Manly, the tracks in Kurangai National Park leading to Resolute Beach and up to Barrenjoey Lighthouse at Palm Beach or the glorious Royal National Park down South.
5. Sydney's best beaches
When it’s too hot for the city and all you want is a chilled day of fun in the sun, you can’t beat Sydney’s beaches. The popular ocean beaches at Manly, Bondi and Coogee are all great for a swim or surf in the waves or a game of beach volleyball, but with dozens of beaches in the Sydney area, your favourite might still be out there waiting for you to discover it.
Switching it up and going to a different beach can feel like a completely different experience even if you do the same thing when you get there. For example, have you seen the skyline views over the water from tiny Milk Beach, sat on idyllic Shark Beach near Nielsen’s Park or witnessed the dramatic craggy beauty of Turimetta Beach?
6. Picnics in the park or beachside barbies
Scenic public barbecue areas are something we love about Sydney, particularly when they look out over the water. Enjoy views of ANZAC Bridge from Blackwattle Bay Park, harbourside views at Clifton Reserve in Mosman or Little Manly Point and open ocean-views from Bronte Park, Tamarama Park, North Bondi, Shelly Beach or Collaroy. Click here to find one near you!
For a picnic, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Barangaroo Reserve and Centennial Park are all brilliant options or hop on a public ferry to Cockatoo Island and bag a picnic spot with iconic views.
7. Sydney Boat Hire
Aside from the harbour ferries, taking to the water is often an expensive experience in Sydney. You’ll have to push the boat out a little on the $10 budget (excuse the pun!), but there are a few select spots that you can live the dream on a shoestring. Barranjoey Boat Hire by Palm Beach rent out tinnies to explore Pittwater for just under $15pp based on 6 people sharing, which makes for a fantastic summer day out with friends - just be sure to book in advance! If you are a smaller group, the Palm Beach ferry costs $16pp return over to The Basin, where you can swim, spot wallabies, goannas and a variety of birdlife and feel a million miles away from the city.
Alternatively, if you head South of the city you can hire a rowboat, canoe or kayak at Audley Boatshed in Royal National Park from less than $13pp!
8. Bare Island Fort
Bare Island Fort in the La Perouse area of Botany Bay National Park was the setting for parts of Mission Impossible II and can be seen by tour on Sundays for $15pp. If you are really counting the pennies, go for a snorkel to look for the resident weedy sea dragons in the surrounding water and watch Mission Impossible II when you get home!
9. Local live music or comedy nights
There are still plenty of live music nights and comedy events in Sydney that don’t cost the earth. Reserve a table for comedy, live music or a show at Cafe Lounge in Surrey Hills, snag tickets to one of the Conservatorium’s free lunch-break concerts or enjoy live music in the city for the price of a drink at Frankie’s Pizza, Opera Bar, Marble Bar, or the Fortune of War.
Out in Manly, you might want to check out comedy or live music at Hemmingways, Manly Wharf Bar and The Steyne and weekend bands at Donny’s Bar or Daniel San. In the Eastern Suburbs try live music at The Beachy, Hotel Ravesis or Bar 34 in Bondi or Little Jack Horner in Coogee.
10. Urban Hunt adventures
Get out and enjoy a new neighbourhood or rediscover areas you thought you already knew on one of self-guided adventures. We've done the legwork, so you can simply sign-up and follow clues to visit some of Sydney's highlights and hidden gems without spending hours on research.
Whether you're looking for your next date idea, got mates in town that are up for a challenge, or searching for an affordable team-building activity, we've got 10 cryptic adventures to choose from all of which cost less than $10pp.