Visiting Sydney on a Budget – How to Save on Your Vacation

Despite its reputation for being one of the most expensive cities to visit in the world, there are a ton of cheap and free things to do in Sydney that will help you keep your budget in check. Sydney is arguably Australia’s top vacation destination, with its wealth of cultural attractions, outdoor fun, and more.

If you’re searching for ways to visit this fantastic global city for less, you’ll want to consider The Sydney Pass. This flexible attractions pass can save you up to 45% on combined admission fees for top things to do in Sydney.

To help you save big on your exciting Sydney vacation, we’ve put together a list of our favorite budget-friendly things to do.

Save on Admission to Tourist Attractions

Admission to many of these Sydney tourist attractions is available with The Sydney Pass.

The Sydney Pass allows you to choose from plenty of top area attractions to craft your perfect Sydney vacation.

See all available passes, attractions, and prices.

A few of these attractions include:

  • Sydney Bus Tour
  • Sydney Opera House Tour
  • Harbour Cruise
  • WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo
  • Sydney Tower Eye
  • And more!

Top Things to Do in Sydney on a Budget

Hop-on Hop-off Big Bus Sydney Tour

One of our favorite ways to explore all that Sydney has to offer is this convenient option from Big Bus.

With more than 20 included stops that feature everything from Darling Harbour and Bondi Beach to the Sydney Tower Eye and more, you’ll find practically anything you want to see on this tour.

Choose between two routes (or ride them both!): Red (The Sydney Tour) or Blue (The Bondi Tour).

Getting In: Big Bus Sydney tickets are available as an option with The Sydney Pass.

Sydney Jet Thrill Ride

Sydney Thrill Jet Boat Ride Zipping around Sydney HarbourIf you’re searching for some exhilarating watersports on your Australian vacation, make a beeline for Circular Quay to enjoy this thrill ride from Sydney Jet.

This 30-minute cruise is part informative shoreline tour, part exciting boat ride. You’ll reach speeds of up to 45 knots and perform stunts such as fish tails, power breaks, and massive turns.

Along the way, you can also learn about the top sites along Sydney Harbour, including the Opera House, Rose Bay, Taronga Zoo, and many more.

Getting In: Sydney Jet tickets are available as an option with The Sydney Pass. 

SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium

If you love all things marine (and why wouldn’t you, if you came to Sydney?), then you’ll want to swing by SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium for a few hours.

Come here to enjoy seeing thousands of sea creatures from around Australia and across the globe. They offer multiple exhibits to roam through and countless fish, jellyfish, octopuses, and more.

Popular exhibit areas include: “Jurassic Seas,” “Sydney Harbour,” “Penguin Expedition,” and “Shark Walk” & “Shark Valley.”

Getting In: SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium tickets are available as an option with The Sydney Pass. 

Sydney Opera House Tour

view of the Sydney Opera House in the Sydney HarbourYou simply can’t leave Sydney without touring the iconic Opera House. Now, you can see it for less with The Sydney Pass!

A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Sydney Opera House is so much more than a pretty building. It’s a striking example of the artistic vision of architect Jørn Utzon and the way he envisioned the Opera House exemplifying the maritime spirit of Sydney.

You’ll get the chance to snap photos of this unique establishment inside and out. You will also enjoy access to areas of the building not typically open to the public, for a behind-the-scenes look.

Getting In: Sydney Opera House Tour tickets are available as an option with The Sydney Pass. 

WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo

Another one for the animal lovers is WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo. You obviously want to have the authentic Australian vacation experience, so come here to see the famous critters from Down Under.

You’ll get to see koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, Tasmanian devils, pythons, birds, and many more. Be sure to check out the Koala Rooftop in particular, where you can get your photo snapped with these cuties.

Other featured exhibit areas include the Kangaroo Walkabout (where you can see just how big these guys are) and the Butterfly Tropics (which is really colorful and beautiful).

Getting In: WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo tickets are available as an option with The Sydney Pass. 

Australian National Maritime Museum

Aerial View of Australian National Maritime MuseumExplore Australia’s storied maritime history with a visit to this Darling Harbour museum. You’ll find collections of artifacts, interactive exhibits, a 3-D film, and more.

Don’t miss out on their “floating” museum, either – they’ve got plenty of historical vessels in their collection that you can see floating right out in the Harbour. Among the many legendary vessels docked there on occasion, our favorite is the replica of Captain Cook’s HMS Endeavour.

You can also take a guided tour of the museum (included with admission), and download the official app for a more personal experience.

Getting In: Australian National Maritime Museum tickets are available as an option with The Sydney Pass.

Magistic Cruisemart Harbour Sightseeing Cruise

Magistic Sydney Harbour Cruise complimentary beverageSail around Sydney Harbour on a leisurely cruise aboard this luxury catamaran. Float past all the postcard-worthy sights, including the Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge, and more.

This two-hour excursion is the ideal way to enjoy the sun and surf of Sydney without any of the exertion that comes with watersports.

Plus, you’ll get a free adult beverage to enjoy on the way – what a perfect way to relax!

Getting In: Harbour Sightseeing Cruise tickets are available as an option with The Sydney Pass.

More Affordable Ideas

Still looking for more ways to save in Sydney? Check out these other great attractions, all of which are included with The Sydney Pass.

Madame Tussauds Sydney: If you love all things pop culture and want to learn more about Australia, Madame T’s is a must-visit. You’ll find their signature wax models so strikingly realistic that practically do a double take! Meet international favs and Australian darlings like Tim Cahill, Nicole Kidman, and Rebel Wilson.

Blue Mountains Explorer Bus: Nature lovers won’t want to miss out on the opportunity to explore the stunning and inspiring Blue Mountains. This World Heritage area is filled with wild beauty and amazing cultural sites, including Katoomba Falls, Leura Cascades, and more.

Sydney Tower Eye: See the city from a bird’s-eye view with a trip to the Sydney Tower Eye. At 269 meters above ground and covered in gold, this observation deck is immediately recognizable from the street below. Learn about the city, the building, and more.

Illawarra Fly Treetop Adventures: For the outdoorsy folks, this exciting activity is a great way to get out of the city and see more of the wilderness. This elevated steel walkway can be found along 500 meters of forest, and provides excellent views of the landscape below.

Electric Bike Tour: Another one for the active types, this Electric Bike Tour from BlueBananas helps you to see more of the city than you would be able via car or bus. Cover eight miles of Sydney landscape (at a relaxed pace), including everything from top landmarks to hidden gems.

Free Activities and Things to Do in Sydney for a Budget-Friendly Vacation

Of course, a truly budget-friendly vacation here will incorporate some free things to do in Sydney, too. Check out a few of our favorite free things in Sydney and add one or two to your itinerary. 

Art Gallery of New South Wales: Art lovers will appreciate the extent and breadth of the collections of the Art Gallery of NSW. From iconic favorites like Picasso to modern and contemporary up-and-comers, there’s plenty of enjoy here.

Royal Botanic Gardens: Cultivate inner peace with a visit to the official Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney. Here you’ll be able to enjoy flowering plants, shrubs, herbs, succulents, and even a tropical greenhouse. Get those cameras ready!

Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair: This historic site is actually one of the best vantage points from which to see down into the Harbour area. Admission is free, but you will need to pay for parking if you’re driving here.

Rocks Discovery Museum: A great family-friendly option, this museum is a perfect place for kids to learn about natural history. Explore the history of the Rocks area of Sydney through interactive exhibits that stretch from pre-European settlement to today.

Museum of Contemporary Art: More for the art lovers! This cool collection of visual arts is located quayside in a hip neighborhood, so it’s a great destination for those who want to explore like a local.

If you want to see more free things to do in Sydney, check out our post detailing all our favorites.

Let’s Recap: Visiting Sydney on a Budget

So if you’re looking for free things to do in Sydney and ways to keep your sightseeing budget in check, consider adding a few of savvy attractions to your itinerary.

And don’t forget – you’ll want to check out The Sydney Pass to save up to 45% on admission prices.

Work in a few of the free things, and you’re set for a budget-friendly Sydney vacation

Happy travels!

The information contained in this post, to the best of the author's knowledge, was accurate at time of publishing. We do our best to ensure and maintain the accuracy of this information.