A Guide To Backpacking Sydney On A Budget

It’s no secret that Australia is an expensive country, with Sydney being the most expensive of them all. While there are expenses that can be hefty, but don’t worry, there are still so many things to do in Sydney that are budget-friendly and fun. Part laid-back beach town and part glowing metropolis, there is something to do for everyone in this iconic Australian city.

Getting out of Sydney Airport

The fastest and most hassle-free way of travelling from the airport to Sydney central is by taking the airport link on the metro. The trains run approximately every 10-minutes and only takes 13-minutes for the train to reach the city. Tickets are AU$14.80 for an adult and AU$13.30 for concession.

If you are on a tight budget and not burdened by luggage, the cheapest option is to take a 20-minutes pleasant walk to Wolli Creek Station. From here, you can take a train to city without paying access fee. This option should cost no more than AU$5 if you’re travelling within 20-kilometres radius.

Alternative, you may take a local bus #400 towards Bondi Junction. Get off at the 3rd stop which is only 300-metres from the Mascot rail station. This option will cost about AU$3.30 for bus and no more than AU$4 on train.

Flying in/out of Sydney

The good news is, if you’re in Asia, there are budget airlines flying in and out of Sydney.

  • Jetstar has Friday Frenzy deals with flight sometimes as low as US$19. Subscribe to their newsletter and be ready once you get it.
  • Airasia has Crazy Thurs-Deals and sometimes you might get 1-for-1 deal.
  • Scoot has promotion on every Tuesday, so be sure to subscribe their newsletter.
  • Tigerair is another low-cost carrier which you can use to fly within the country.

Australia’s Visa

Fortunately, Australia has a very straightforward electronic visa system, also known as Electronic Travel Authority (ETA). The visa is electronically linked to your passport and must be applied for in advance of your arrival. It allows you to stay in Australia for up to three months, and it only costs AU$20 if you’re American, Canadian or Asian, free if you’re an EU citizen. Its approval time is usually no more than 24-hours.

Public Transport

Opal is your best friend to travel in and around Sydney. It is a smart-card ticketing system used to pay for travel on public transport which helps saving money than buying one-trip tickets. With the Opal Card, there is a cap on how much you pay: AU$16.10 a day, AU$50 a week, and AU$2.80 on Sundays.

  • Metro/Trains – With most inner city metro running till around midnight, and extensive train network to get you around the CBD linking up with north, south, east and west lines to the surrounding suburbs, you basically can get anywhere from Sydney.
  • Buses – Sydney has a comprehensive bus network. Many buses are able to reach all the major tourist attractions in the city including Bondi Beach, The Rocks and Sydney Opera House, and even beyond to the suburbs and regional areas. There are regional bus services that travel to the Blue Mountains, and along the coast to other Australian towns and cities, departing from Eddy Avenue in front of Central Station. Operators include FireflyExpress, Greyhound, Murrays and Priors Scenic Express.
  • Ferry – With its renowned harbour, Sydney was made for ferry travel. Ferry services operate around Sydney Harbour from Circular Quay to eight main destinations
  • By Foot – Nothing beats catching the city views than walking around on foot. Take a walk around the CBD, the harbor area and some of the fantastic Sydney Suburbs and see what gems you find. Or you can always join a free walking tour and learn more about the city.

Best Time to visit Sydney

Sydney is a great option for travellers and adventurers to visit year-round. The city experiences at least 300 sunny days each year with January being the hottest month, with temperature averaging 23°C and July is the coldest month, with an average temperature of 12°C.

The most expensive time to be in Sydney is during Aussie summers. Although the hot summers from December to February are perfect for travellers in the Northern Hemisphere wanting to warm up over the holidays. Travel costs and hotel rates will be rocket-high. Consider visiting during shoulder seasons like Spring and Fall. Winter in Sydney starts in May through August. The temperatures are actually quite pleasant and the deals are fantastic.

Cost breakdown in Sydney

Realistically, I had planned a budget of about AU$50-$70 a day. A budget like this will keep your trip in Sydney comfortable. Here is a breakdown of where that money goes:

  • Accommodation: Hostel Dorm Beds are AU$25-35 a night.
  • Transport: Plan to spend around AU$3.50 – AU$7 a day with Adult Opal card. Travel on Sundays if you are planing to take ferry or train for day-trip nearby.
  • Drinking: A couple of beers at the bar will run you AU$6-10 a night. Alternatively, you can grab a goon (boxed wine) for around AU$14.
  • Food: Choose a hostel that provides free breakfast. Lunch costs between AU$8-15, dinner between AU$15-20. These can obviously be brought down with market shopping and cook your own meal in hostels.
  • Activities: Stick to things that are free or low cost like a day on the Beach and scenic coastal walks.

Tips on saving money in Sydney

  • Use refillable water bottles & reusable coffee cups – There are so many refill points around Sydney, there is no need to purchase bottled water. Many cafes offer up to 50 cents off a coffee every time you use a refillable coffee cup.
  • Download the Eat Club App – You’ll find deals for all types of food from coffee & cake to Sushi, often up to 50% off.
  • Foodie Market – Don’t miss the Artisans market at The Rocks every Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
  • Check out all the free and budget-friendly things to do in Sydney!
  • Happy Hours – There are so many happy hours, especially on Sundays where they last all day, so keep an eye for deals particularly between 5 pm -7 pm.
  • Sundays – All travel is capped at AU$2.70, including public transport to Blue mountains & ferry to Manly. You will need an opal card to get this offer.

Lastly, if you want to keep a track of all my photos and travels, remember to follow @wanderrsaurus on Instagram!

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Aloha! I'm Bunzy, a curious dreamer who is passionate about roaming around the world getting lost, experiencing new cultures and meeting the locals. My superpower is to be able to sleep anywhere, anyhow!

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