All of the FREE Things to Do in Sydney (And How to Get There)

Find all the free things to do in Sydney, so you can enjoy this beautiful city on a budget.

by Layla
Published: Last Updated on

There are so many free things to do in Sydney.

Do you want lots of free things to do in Sydney when you visit? No worries, you’ve come to the right place!

The city of Sydney has a spectacular harbour, stunning beaches, and breathtaking coastlines with a cosmopolitan, and energetic city centre. The atmosphere in Sydney is vibrant and dynamic, which is down to its diverse multicultural population.

In general, Australia is an expensive place to travel to. Visiting the city of Sydney is also one of the most expensive things to do in Australia.

However, there are actually lots of free things to do in Sydney — you simply have to know where to look and when to go.

And that’s where I come in. 

I know Sydney REALLY well, I’ve visited multiple times and lived there on two separate occasions — including a time when I was very poor.

So ultimately I became an expert at finding fun things to do in Sydney for free.

So, don’t worry, you don’t have to pay sky-high prices to get to see Sydney’s most famous landmarks and enjoy its stunning coastal beauty.

My knowledge and expertise are priceless when it comes to travelling on a budget and helping people travel more. It can be done!

All it takes is some planning and budget-saving tips which you’ll always find here on my blog.

And that’s what has made this one of the most comprehensive guides to finding free things to do when you’re in Sydney.

 

Fun Facts About Sydney 

Let’s start with a few fun facts about Sydney, that you may not know.

  • Sydney’s population is now just over 5 million people (that’s the same as the entire population of New Zealand!)
  • On the land where the City of Sydney metropolitan area sits, the indigenous Gadigal people of the Eora nation are the traditional owners.
  • From Bondi up to Manly, Sydney has over 100 beaches around the city
  • The iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge is nicknamed ‘The Coathanger’ due to its arch-based design.
  • Sydney was where the first European colony was established in 1788 when the first fleet of convict-carrying ships arrived from England. As a result, they established the colony of New South Wales.

So, let’s check out some of these awesome things free things to do in Sydney.

 

All of the Things to Do in Sydney for Free

Sydney is a pretty huge city by area and doesn’t have a typical grid layout like other cities. One of the challenges you’ll come across when you’re visiting attractions in Sydney is actually getting to them.

And of course, you want to fit in as many things as you can during your trip.

So, because Sydney is such a huge city and there are so many things to do for free in different areas, I have split this post up into the areas of Sydney city and its surroundings.

To make your trip easier, I have also included: 

  • Location
  • How to get there by public transport
  • Opening hours – where applicable 

In some items, I have even linked you to the Google Maps location so you know exactly where to go. 

If you only have a short stay planned in Sydney, I recommend you focus on the free things to do in the Sydney city central area, as this is where the most popular attractions are. 

And you can do several of these attractions in one day if you allow enough time.

 

Public transport in Sydney

There is plenty of public transport to get to all of these attractions, including train, light rail, bus and ferry. And you can even walk or grab a Lime bike to most of the city’s central attractions.  

Use my link to get $4 off your first Lime ride, anywhere in Australia. 

See the Transport NSW website for all public transport options, and use their helpful trip planner. Simply type in the street name, attraction or suburb and it’ll tell you which bus/train/ferry to take, and the fare price.

And if you’re in Sydney longer than a week, it would be beneficial and cheaper to pick up an Opal transport card, as you’ll get discounted fares when you use one. You can grab one from train stations, ferry ports and convenience stores.

 

Free Things to Do in Sydney City Central

These things to do in Sydney for free are all focused around the centre of Sydney City or the CBD.

 

1. Free Sydney Walking Tours

I think that one of the best ways to get to know a new place — especially a large city —  is to take part in a walking tour.

Sydney City runs free city walking tours twice a day called I’m Free Walking Tours.

All tours are run by volunteers who are friendly, experienced and knowledgeable locals proud to show off their hometown of Sydney.

There are two walking tours called ‘Sydney Sights’ and ‘The Rocks’.

The Sydney Sights tour is the one I’d recommend as it covers everything from Sydney’s convict colony origins to the major attractions that make Sydney the world-class city it is today. 

The Rocks tour focuses on the historic Rocks district of Sydney, the site of the first European settlers and delves into how Sydney was settled and established. (Be aware this walking tour includes stairs).

  • Sydney Sights Free Tour — 2.5 – 3 hrs walking tour leaving at 10:30 am from Town Hall Square (on George St between Town Hall & St Andrews Cathedral).
  • The Rocks Free Tour — 1.5 hrs walking tour leaving at 6:00 pm from Cadmans Cottage,110 George St (in the waterside courtyard in front of the building).

The tour guides are all volunteers so although the tour is free, they work on a ‘pay what you think it’s worth’ model, so a small donation is always gratefully received.

      • Location: Tours start at Town Hall Square or Cadmans Cottage
      • Nearest Light Rail/Train Station: Town Hall station or Circular Quay station
      • Opening Hours: 10:30 am Monday, Wednesday, Friday & Saturday or 6:00 pm Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday. 
      • Admission: FREE (Pay what you think it’s worth).

 

2. Visit The Rocks Discovery Museum

The Rocks in Sydney

The Rocks district is a neighbourhood steeped in rich colonial history, home to Sydney’s oldest streets and is the place where European settlers first arrived, in 1788. 

This area was founded on the land of the Gadigal people who remain the traditional custodians of this area.

The Rocks Discovery Museum is home to archaeological artefacts and collections from this area and through interactive exhibits, it tells the story of The Rocks and the original settlement of Sydney. 

This museum is free to enter, family-friendly and is open daily. It’s all really interesting stuff, well worth a visit.

      • Location: The Rocks Discovery Museum, 2-8 Kendall Ln, The Rocks, Sydney
      • Nearest Light Rail/Train Station: Circular Quay station
      • Buses: For buses travelling through the CBD along Elizabeth Street, get off the bus at Bridge Street and head north to The Rocks. 
      • Opening Times: 10 am – 5 pm
      • Admission: FREE

 

3. Explore Circular Quay

Circular Quay in Sydney

Sitting nestled between the iconic Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, Circular Quay is a vibrant and bustling hub of activity. And a great base to explore the city by public transport. 

Circular Quay is a harbour and port area and the main ferry terminal in Sydney, with ferries and cruise ships arriving and departing from its colourful port. 

TIP – You can also jump on the 333 bus to Bondi Beach from Circular Quay or take the City Circle train line for more scenic routes. 

      • Location: Circular Quay. In Sydney Cove, on the northern side of the CBD. 
      • Nearest Light Rail/Train Station: Circular Quay station
      • Buses: For CBD buses travelling along Elizabeth Street, get off at Bridge Street and head north to Circular Quay.
      • Opening Times: Always open
      • Admission: FREE

 

4. Gaze at the Sydney Opera House

Seeing Sydney Opera House is one of many free things to do in Sydney.

Once you’re at Circular Quay, you may as well go and visit the world-famous Sydney Opera House too.  

The Sydney Opera House, located on the foreshore of Sydney Harbour, is one of the world’s most iconic performing arts centres. 

It is considered a masterpiece of human creative genius and a symbol of modern Australia. Built on the traditional land of the Gadigal people, it fosters a shared sense of belonging for all Australians. 

It’s completely free to walk around the exterior of the Sydney Opera House and take plenty of IG-worthy photos of it. 

And you’ll have the stunning blue Sydney Harbour as your backdrop.

Over the years, I’ve visited the Opera House area about 20 times, and I’ve managed to capture a few shots without anyone else in them. It’s just a matter of going early or staying around for a while till the crowds die down. 

      • Location: Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point, Circular Quay
      • Nearest Light Rail/Train Station: Circular Quay station
      • Buses: For CBD buses travelling along Elizabeth Street, get off at Bridge Street and head north to Circular Quay.
      • Opening Times: Open always – to walk around and look at
      • Admission: FREE to walk around outside

 

5. Climb the Observation Tower at the Overseas Passenger Terminal for amazing photo ops.

If you’re looking for another free thing to do in Sydney and a fantastic view, get to the Observation Tower. 

Located at the end of Circular Quay’s Overseas Passenger Terminal, there’s a round tower which is an observation deck that gives visitors stunning views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Luna Park and the Opera House. 

To find the tower, head in the direction of Sydney Harbour Bridge and follow the signs for the Overseas Passenger Terminal. 

There is a lift to the second floor of the tower near the entrance of the restaurant.

      • Buses: For CBD buses travelling along Elizabeth Street, get off at Bridge Street and head north to Circular Quay.
      • Opening Times: Always open
      • Admission: FREE

 

6. Walk over Sydney Harbour Bridge

Walking over Sydney Harbour Bridge – one of the things to do in Sydney for free.

Rather than pay $300+ to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge, why not walk over it for free instead?

Walking over the Sydney Harbour Bridge is one of the best free activities in Sydney and a great way to experience this iconic bridge. 

On the Circular Quay side of the harbour, start at the southern end which is The Rocks area, get onto Cumberland or Argyle Street and you’ll see signs saying Sydney Harbour Bridge BridgeClimb. 

Just follow these signs to find the stairs. Click here for the Google Maps location of the Bridge Stairs

TOP TIP – For a historically scenic (but steeper) route, take the Argyle Stairs which join Argyle St and Cumberland St in The Rocks.

Once on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, there’s a pedestrian walkway and it’s an easy, flat walk across the bridge.  And you’ll end up in North Sydney once you’re on the other side. 

From there, you can either walk back again or easily catch a train back from Milson Point station. 

On the walk over, there are plenty of opportunities to take photos of the stunning views over Sydney Harbour and the Opera House.

Avoid peak hours or ‘rush hour’ times of the day, and you’ll have heaps of space and unimpeded views from the bridge.

      • Location: Circular Quay/The Rocks. (The Bridge Stairs or Argle Stairs are located at Circular Quay, off Cumberland Street near Cahill Expressway).
      • Nearest Train Station: Circular Quay/Milson Point station
      • Buses: For CBD buses travelling along Elizabeth Street, get off at Bridge Street and head north to Circular Quay.
      • Opening Times: Always open
      • Admission: FREE

 

7. Explore Queen Victoria Building

Visiting Sydney’s Queen Victoria Building (QVB) is a must for any visitor. 

The QVB has a rich history and is architecturally splendid, with its Romanesque revival architectural style, and its stained glass windows, mosaics, sculptures and more.

Built as a monument to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1893-1898, the QVB now serves as a five-level shopping centre filled with over 180 of Sydney’s finest fashion boutiques, jewellery shops, cafes and homewares.

It’s easy to get there, the QVB is on George Street and you can’t miss it, just look for the huge and architecturally beautiful building. 

      • Location: QVB, 455 George Street near the Town Hall
      • Nearest Train Station: Town Hall station
      • Buses: For CBD buses, get off at the corner of York St & George St
      • Opening Times: 0900-1800 Mon-Sat, 1100-1700 Sun
      • Admission: FREE

 

8. Explore Darling Harbour

Walk around Darling Harbour for free in Sydney.

Darling Harbour in Sydney is a vibrant waterfront precinct that has a ton of fun things to do such as SEALIFE Sydney Aquarium, Madame Tussauds Sydney, The Star, Cockle Bay Wharf, the Australian National Maritime Museum, boutique shopping malls and some of Australia’s most acclaimed restaurants and cocktail bars.

However, you can still experience Darling Harbour without breaking the bank.

  • Take a Leisurely Waterfront Walk: Take a stroll along the picturesque waterfront areas of Cockle Bay Warf and Pyrmont Bridge. Enjoy awesome views of the harbour, watch boats sail by, and capture stunning photos of the iconic Sydney skyline as a backdrop.
  • Darling Quarter Kids Playground: Families with children will love the Darling Quarter Playground. Let your little ones unleash their energy in this fantastic free outdoor play area featuring water games, climbing ropes, swings, and slides. 
  • Tumbalong Park: Adjacent to the playground, Tumbalong Park is a green oasis offering some peace from the bustling city. Pack a picnic and relax on the grassy lawns or find a shady spot under a tree. The park also hosts free community events, concerts, and festivals throughout the year.
  • Catch the Spectacular Fireworks: If you’re lucky enough to visit on a Saturday night, prepare to be dazzled by the completely free and breathtaking fireworks display over Darling Harbour. 
  • Explore Public Art and Sculptures: Darling Harbour is adorned with captivating public art installations and sculptures that add charm and character to the precinct. 
  • Take a self-guided tour to appreciate these artworks, including the iconic “Archibald Fountain” located near Hyde Park North. Each sculpture tells a unique story and contributes to the cultural richness of Darling Harbour.
      • Location: Darling Harbour, Sydney, 2000
      • Nearest Train Station: Town Hall station or Wynyard station are within walking distance of Darling Harbour. For Light Rail, get off at Pyrmont Bay station.
      • Buses: For CBD buses, catch buses travelling along Elizabeth, Castlereagh, George or York streets, and get off at Market, Park, Druitt, Bathurst or Liverpool streets.
      • Opening Times: Daily
      • Admission: FREE 

 

9. Free Fireworks at Darling Harbour

Every Saturday night, Darling Harbour has its own small but impressive fireworks show and it’s completely free to attend. 

Find a cosy spot along the waterfront and watch as the night sky lights up with a kaleidoscope of colours. You can watch at Darling Harbour or from any other vantage point around the city. 

We used to get a great view of them from Balmain Wharf when we were house-sitting in Balmain.

      • Location: Darling Harbour, Sydney, 2000
      • Nearest Train Station: Town Hall station or Wynyard station are within walking distance of Darling Harbour. For Light Rail, get off at Pyrmont Bay station.
      • Buses: For CBD buses, catch buses travelling along Elizabeth, Castlereagh, George or York streets, and get off at Market, Park, Druitt, Bathurst or Liverpool streets.
      • Opening Times: Saturday nights
      • Admission: FREE 

 

10. Free Museums in Sydney

The Powerhouse Museum in Sydney is a must-see for anyone interested in arts, science, innovation and design, and is another one of the great things to do in Sydney for free. 

Located in the heart of the city in Ultimo, the contemporary Powerhouse Museum offers free entry and no bookings are required. 

Inside, you’ll find an array of exhibits spanning from science to decorative art. You’ll be amazed by the Powerhouse Museum’s unique collection of materials, artefacts and heritage. 

The Powerhouse Museum is easy to get to and there’s a cafe onsite too.

      • Location: Powerhouse Museum, 500 Harris St, Ultimo
      • Nearest Train Station: Central Station – walk the Goods Line, a 500m pedestrian route from Central Station to Ultimo.
      • Buses: For CBD buses, the 501 bus stops outside the museum
      • Opening Times: Daily, 1000-1700 and late on Thursdays
      • Admission: FREE

 

11. Check out Sydney’s Art Galleries

If you love art and are looking for free activities in Sydney, you can explore the city’s premier art destinations at no charge. 

Both of these Sydney city museums are completely free to enter:

  • Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW) 
  • Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) 

At the Art Gallery of New South Wales, you can view the extensive collection of classic Australian art, as well as an impressive array of international pieces. 

Meanwhile, at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, you can experience rotating exhibits from around the world and can take in stunning harbour views while dining in the cafe. 

Both museums have stores offering Australian and international artworks to purchase. 

      • Location: Art Gallery of NSW, Art Gallery Rd, The Domain Sydney (it’s next to the Royal Botanic Gardens) or Museum of Contemporary Art, 140 George St, The Rocks, Sydney (entrance is on George St)
      • Nearest Train Stations: St James or Martin Place station for AGNSW or Circular Quay station for MCA
      • Buses: For CBD buses, get bus 441 from the York St side of the QVB for the AGNSW. Then walk from there to the MCA, via Hunter St & Pitt St. 
      • Opening Times: Both daily 10 am – 5 pm (MCA closed Tuesdays)
      • Admission: BOTH FREE

 

12. Take a wander around the Royal Botanic Gardens

Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens are free to enjoy.

One of the best free things to do in Sydney is to wander around Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens. You can easily walk there from the Opera House (just follow the signs).

The Royal Botanic Gardens are heritage-listed and they’re the oldest botanical gardens in Australia. It’s set on 30 spectacular hectares and home to native plants, as well as specialist plant collections focused around Australia and the South Pacific. 

If you’re short on time, you can also join a free guided tour around the gardens, to experience the very best they have to offer. 

Free walking tours are daily, at 10:30 am, leaving from the Royal Botanic Gardens Visitor Centre. 

      • Location: Royal Botanic Gardens, Mrs Macquaries Rd, Sydney
      • Nearest Train Station: Martin Place or Circular Quay
      • Buses: For CBD buses, take the 441 bus from York St at Town Hall station and get off by the Art Gallery of NSW
      • Opening Times: Daily, hours are seasonal. 
      • Admission: FREE

 

13. Explore Hyde Park

Located in central Sydney, this 40-acre oasis is the oldest park in Australia and is a beautiful space to wander around and get away from the bustle of the city. 

Take a stroll through the tree-shaded pathways, or spend time admiring the monuments and statues, including the Archibald Fountain and the Anzac War Memorial. 

There’s also a reflection pool, two themed gardens and plenty of green lawns to relax on. 

Throughout the year, Hyde Park also plays host to a number of cultural events such as the Sydney Festival and Australia Day, as well as the Food and Wine Fair.

      • Location: Hyde Park, Elizabeth St, Sydney
      • Nearest Train Station: St James or Museum stations
      • Buses: For CBD buses, get off at Elizabeth St anywhere between St James or Museum stations
      • Opening Times: Daily, 
      • Admission: FREE

 

14. Admire The Architecture Of St Mary’s Cathedral

St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney.

The St Mary’s Cathedral on College Street at the end of Hyde Park is the oldest church in Australia.

This Roman Catholic cathedral has a rich history and is the spiritual home of Sydney’s Catholic community.

The building is designed in the Gothic Revival style and features a stunning facade made of sandstone. The cathedral’s spires reach a height of 75 meters, and the building itself spans over 100 meters in length.

Entry is free and you can also take a guided tour every Sunday at 2 pm, following High Mass. 

(There is no entrance fee but donations towards the upkeep are welcome). 

      • Location: St Mary’s Cathedral, St Marys Rd, Sydney
      • Nearest Train Station: St James, Martin Place or Town Hall stations
      • Buses: For CBD buses, any bus that stops on College St, Prince Albert Rd, William St or Elizabeth St
      • Opening Times: Daily, 6.30 am – 6.30 pm
      • Admission: FREE

 

15. Browse Sydney’s Weekend Markets 

Free things to do in Sydney – Check out Sydney Fish Market.

Sydney is known for its vibrant and bustling markets, and on the weekends, locals and tourists alike flock to some of the city’s most iconic markets. 

  • Paddy’s Markets in the heart of Chinatown and The Rocks Markets in the historic Rocks district, are both in the inner city. 
  • For fresh seafood, head to the Sydney Fish Market, which is in Pyrmont just west of the city. (You can walk there from the city). Here you can browse an array of speciality seafood products from local suppliers. 
  • Walkable (or cyclable) from Sydney Fish Market, are Glebe Markets and jump on the Light Rail for Rozelle Markets, which are both must-visits for vintage and second-hand items.
  • For a variety of fresh produce and hand-crafted items, Bondi Markets is the ideal spot and you can squeeze in a beach trip afterwards. 

With so many great markets to explore in Sydney, no weekend should go by without visiting at least one.

 

16. Do the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Walk

The Sydney Harbour Foreshore Walk is an invigorating and scenic walking route that follows the edge of Sydney Harbour from Woolloomooloo to Pyrmont along the waterfront.

On this walk, you’ll pass through some of Sydney’s most iconic landmarks and attractions.

The trail covers a distance of 11 kilometres and is mostly flat, with only a few sets of stairs. 

However, these can be bypassed without difficulty, making this walk an ideal option for families with children or less able-bodied walkers.

One of the best things about the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Walk is that it offers stunning views of the sparkling harbour and the city’s impressive skyline throughout the entire route. 

The walk is free to do and can be started at any point along the route. There are also plenty of places to stop and rest or grab a bite to eat along the way, including cafes, restaurants, and picnic areas.

For those on a quick trip or visit to Sydney, this walk gets you some of the best views of the city and harbour.

It also ticks off several key attractions in Sydney and is especially ideal for tourists.

The highlights of this walk include:

  • Woolloomooloo Wharf
  • Mrs Macquaries Chair
  • Royal Botanic Gardens
  • Sydney Opera House
  • Campbell’s Cove
  • Museum of Contemporary Art
  • Sydney Harbour Bridge
  • Barangaroo Reserve
  • Darling Harbour
  • Pyrmont Bridge 

 

Things to Do in Sydney for Free in the Eastern Suburbs

These things to do in Sydney for free are all focused around Sydney’s eastern suburbs of the city. 

Sydney’s eastern suburbs are very popular with visitors, as it’s where you’ll find Bondi Beach, Bronte Beach, Watsons Bay and the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk.

There are also some very upscale suburbs nestled around the bays such as Rose Bay, Rushcutters Bay and Point Piper which are all very picturesque and perfect for exploring. 

 

17. Explore Bondi and laze on the iconic Bondi Beach

Free Things to do in Sydney – Sun bake or swim at Bondi Beach.

The vibrant and lively beachfront suburb of Bondi Beach is located 7km east of Sydney CBD and is famous for its stunning sandy beach, blue waters and surfing.

The area of Bondi is a haven for those who love the outdoors, health and wellness and surf culture. 

Indulge in delicious meals at Bondi Icebergs or enjoy the trendiest cafes and fashion boutiques of Bondi. 

Bondi and North Bondi are great places to experience how locals live, with endless walking and hiking opportunities, taking dips in the ocean, and surfing some of the most famous waves in the world. 

For nature lovers, a scenic walk from Bondi Beach to Coogee is a must, and snorkelling is a favourite pastime here. 

For something off the beaten track, visitors can search for secret beaches tucked away in the area. 

The iconic Bondi Beach offers a perfect mix of outdoor adventure, local culture and beachside bliss.

      • Location: Bondi 
      • Nearest Train Station: Bondi Junction 
      • Buses: Get on the 333 at Circular Quay, which also stops at most stops on Elizabeth St or Oxford St.
      • Opening Times: Always open 
      • Admission: FREE

 

18. Do the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk

Free Things to do in Sydney – Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk.

A must-do while in Sydney, the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk is an iconic 6km paved trail that takes two to three hours to complete. 

Along the way, you’ll take in breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean, rugged coastline and sandstone cliff-top views. 

You’ll pass by five beautiful beaches, two picturesque bays, and historic landmarks like Waverley Cemetery, as well as local landmarks like the Bondi Icebergs Club.

The track can be busy, but this only adds to its charm as you get to meet people from all walks of life, locals and tourists alike. Whether you’re looking for a quick day hike or a longer leisurely stroll, this is one gorgeous coastal walk you don’t want to miss.

Simply pack some snacks and water, apply sunscreen and get going!

The Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk is easily accessible by public transport, and there are plenty of cafes and restaurants along the way to stop and refuel. 

      • Location: Start the Bondi to Coogee Walk at the Coogee end at Goldstein Reserve.
      • Nearest Train Station: Train to Bondi Junction or the Light Rail to Randwick then get a bus down to Coogee Beach to start the walk. 
      • Buses: From Bondi Junction station catch the 313 to Coogee.
        From Randwick Light Rail station (walk to Royal Randwick Shopping Centre) and catch the 373X to Coogee.
      • Opening Times: Always open 
      • Admission: FREE

 

19. See the Pelicans at Watsons Bay

Pelican at Watsons Bay Sydney

Watsons Bay is a charming and peaceful suburb located in the eastern suburbs of Sydney. You can easily get there by ferry from Circular Quay.

It’s widely known for its stunning beaches and picturesque coastal cliffs, beautiful waterfront location and a range of attractions that draw in both locals and tourists.

Watsons Bay is beautiful but only a petite place and it gets busy at the weekends and on holidays, with Sydneysiders looking for a beach resort vibe, that’s only minutes away from the CBD.

If you’re lucky you may see the resident Pelicans that frequent Watsons Bay. 

Other things you can do in Watsons Bay include:

  • Walk along South Head: Take a coastal walk along South Head, stopping at the 19th-century Hornby Lighthouse on the way.
  • Take photos at The Gap: For awesome ocean views, head across the road from the ferry wharf to The Gap — a cliff-top lookout that offers breathtaking views of the ocean and over to Manly. 
  • Frolic on Lady Bay Beach: (That’s right, I said frolic!) Watsons Bay’s local legally-sanctioned nude beach.
  • Bask on Camp Cove: A beautiful beach for swimming and snorkelling.
  • Eat at Doyle’s on the Wharf: Munch on excellent seafood and fish and chips at the famous Doyle’s on the Wharf.

So jump on a ferry and get yourself over to Watsons Bay. An ideal place to spend a relaxing day by the beach, explore the coastline, and indulge in delicious seafood.

      • Location: Watsons Bay, Woollahra, Sydney
      • Nearest Train Station: No trains. Get the ferry to Watson Bay ferry wharf, the views on the journey are worth it.
      • Buses: Take the 324/325 from Circular Quay or the 380 from Bondi
      • Opening Times: Daily
      • Admission: FREE

 

20. Swim in Sydney Harbour at Murray Rose Pool

For another free thing to do in Sydney, swimming in Sydney Harbour at Murray Rose Pool can be a great experience if you love to swim outdoors and enjoy stunning city views.

Sydney has lots of beautiful ocean pools, however, not all of them are free to swim in.

Murray Rose Pool is located in the suburb of Double Bay and is named after the Australian Olympic swimmer, Murray Rose. The pool is an ocean pool, which means it is filled with saltwater from the harbour and is open to the public all year round.

This pool is on the edge of Sydney Harbour, giving swimmers breathtaking views of the harbour and the city skyline. 

Murray Rose Pool is Olympic-sized, suitable for both recreational swimmers and serious swimmers who want to train. It also has shark nets, shaded seating areas and changing facilities.

It’s surrounded by a large sunbathing deck and central pontoons, so perfect if you want to relax and soak up the sun after a swim.

      • Location: Murray Rose Pool, 536 New South Head Rd, Double Bay
      • Nearest Train Station: Get off at Edgecliff on the T4 line 
      • Buses: Get on 323, 324 or 325 and get off at Blackburn Gardens
      • Opening Times: Open 24 hours
      • Admission: FREE

 

21. Picnic, cycle or run in Centennial Park

Stroll through Centennial Park, Sydney.

Centennial Park is a huge, sprawling and popular urban park located in the eastern suburbs of Sydney, Australia. 

It’s one of three major parks that make up Centennial Parklands. The other two are Moore Park and Queens Park. 

It is the largest urban park in the southern hemisphere and a significant part of Australian history,

With 189 hectares of wide open space, Centennial Park is ideal for so many free activities; enjoy a picnic, have a bbq, go for a bike ride, go for a walk or just watch the wildlife.

With wide avenues with cycle tracks, sports fields, wetlands and gardens, it provides an ideal escape from the hustle and bustle of the city centre.

      • Location: Centennial Park, Sydney.
      • Nearest Train Station: Bondi Junction is nearest to the northern end of the park
      • Light Rail: Get off at Royal Randwick on the L2 line
      • Buses: 333, 340, 352, 355, 389 and 440 all make stops on Oxford St by the park gates
      • Opening Times: Daily, 6 am – 8 pm (until 6 pm in daylight savings time)
      • Admission: FREE

 

Things to Do in Sydney for Free on The Northern Beaches

All of these free things to do can be found in the Northern Beaches area which unfortunately has no trains or light rail but is serviced by the express B-line buses and other buses.

 

22. Hang Out At Manly Beach

Hang out at Manly Beach in Sydney for free things to do.

Along with Bondi, Manly Beach is one of the most famous beaches in Sydney. 

It is located in the suburb of Manly, which is in the Northern Beaches area of Sydney.  This iconic beach suburb draws in both locals and tourists, known for its excellent surf, scenic views, and vibrant beach culture.

Manly Beach stretches for almost two kilometres and is divided into three main areas: South Steyne, North Steyne, and Queenscliff. The whole beach is patrolled by lifeguards, making it a safe place to swim and surf.

The southern end of Manly Beach, South Steyne, is a great spot for beginners and intermediate surfers, with small and manageable waves. North Steyne, located in the middle of the beach, is a more challenging surf break with larger waves, attracting more experienced surfers.

Manly Beach is not just for surfing, there are many other attractions in the area, including the Corso, a pedestrian-only street that runs from the ferry wharf to the beach. 

The Corso is lined with shops, cafes, and restaurants, and is a popular place to grab a bite to eat or do some shopping.

Or if you like coastal walks, try the scenic 10 km Manly to Spit Bridge Walk or the easier 1.5 km Fairlight to Manly Beach Walk. 

To get to Manly Beach, you can take a bus, although I’d recommend taking the ferry from Circular Quay, which offers stunning views of the harbour and the Opera House.

      • Location: Manly Beach, Northern Beaches
      • Nearest Train Station: No trains, grab the bus instead.
      • Buses: City buses depart from Wynard station (Carrington St) to Manly or catch the ferry from Circular Quay. 
      • Opening Times: Daily
      • Admission: FREE

 

23. Explore the Northern Beaches markets

The Northern Beaches have some of the most awesome markets in town. Whether you’re a fan of fresh produce or love scoring unique handcrafted goodies, these markets have got you covered.

Manly Markets

Don’t miss out on the weekend fun at both of the Manly Markets right in the heart of the Corso. 

You’ll find everything from hip designer stuff to eco-friendly products, artsy jewellery, and vintage clothes. Plus, the whole place buzzes with excitement, surrounded by cool shops and cafes. It’s an awesome day out in this seaside village.

When and where?

 

The Beaches Market @Palmy

This vibrant market at Palmy (Palm Beach) is worth the scenic drive, or you can catch the bus there.  You’ll be treated to mouthwatering food, fresh coffee, cool homewares, trendy clothes, and of course, stunning ocean views. This one is like paradise for market-goers!

When and where? Find The Beaches Market @Palmy, at Governor Phillip Park, Palm Beach, on the 4th Sunday of the month 9 am – 3 pm.

Lane Cove Makers Markets

Happens on the 3rd Sunday of the month. Local artisans rock this place with their unique Australian creations. 

When and where? Find Lane Cove Makers Market, at The Canopy & Lane Cove Plaza, Lane Cove, on the 3rd Sunday of the month 9 am – 3 pm.

Dee Why Lighthouse Market

Make a beeline for the Dee Why Markets at Meriton Square, a treasure trove of locally-made goodness. They’ve got 20 stalls jam-packed with awesome handmade goods and fantastic coffee or brunch options.

When and where? Find Dee Why Lighthouse Market, at Meriton Square, Dee Why, (on Howard Ave outside Woolworths), on the 1st Sunday of each month, 9 am – 2 pm.

 

      • Nearest Train Station: No trains, grab the buses instead.
      • Buses: City buses depart from Wynard station (Carrington St) to Manly or get the ferry.
        For Dee Why, catch the B-line buses.
        For Palm Beach, get the B-line buses to Manly (or anywhere north of Manly) and then catch the 199 bus to Palm Beach. 
      • Opening Times: Weekly or monthly, check above or online for dates
      • Admission: FREE

 

Things to do in Sydney for Free in North Sydney 

These free things to do in Sydney are all focused around Sydney’s northern suburbs of the city.  Simply wander over the Sydney Harbour Bridge towards the north end and that’s it – you’re in North Sydney!

 

24. Walk from Taronga Zoo to Balmoral Beach

Clifton Gardens beach on the way to Balmoral Beach.

The Taronga Zoo to Balmoral Beach walk is a stunning beach-filled walk, dotted with bays and look-outs and just minutes from Sydney CBD. 

Suitable for most fitness levels, it’s a 6.5-km (one-way), coastal trail that takes around 2-3 hours depending on the number of stops. The walk begins at the Taronga Zoo ferry wharf, with stunning views of Sydney Harbour Bridge and the famous Opera House. 

The easiest way to get here is to simply jump on a ferry from Circular Quay over to Taronga Zoo Wharf to get started.

On this coastal walk, a few attractions you’ll pass by include: 

  • Bradleys Head
  • Clifton Gardens Reserve
  • Chowder Bay
  • Georges Head Lookout
  • Gunners Barracks
  • Balmoral Beach

Once at Balmoral Beach, there are a few cafes and restaurants overlooking the beach to refuel.

      • Location: Start from Taronga Zoo Wharf walk onto Athol Wharf Road and then onto Bradleys Head Walking Track.
      • Nearest Train Station: North Sydney but way quicker to get the ferry.
      • Buses: For CBD buses, catch the 100 from Wynyard station at Clarence Street or from the QVB at York St to Taronga Zoo.
      • Opening Times: Daily
      • Admission: FREE

 

25. Relax in Lavender Bay

Make your way to Luna Park and take a leisurely stroll down the boardwalk behind it, to the serene oasis of Lavender Bay

Trust me, the view of Sydney Harbour from there is hands-down the most epic view you’ll find in the entire city.

Lavender Bay is the place to be if you’re all about taking things slow. This tucked-away gem is a true escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Now, if you want to feel like a real insider, head straight to Wendy Whiteley’s Secret Garden. It might not be such a secret anymore, but it’s still a peaceful paradise. You can sometimes practically have the whole place to yourself and bask in the tranquillity.

This garden holds a beautiful story too. It’s all about Wendy Whiteley, the wife of the awesome Aussie artist Brett Whiteley. You’ll learn all about her life and the purpose behind creating this breathtaking spot. It’s an experience that will make you appreciate the place even more.

TIP: Bring a picnic along. It’s the perfect way to enjoy your time in this idyllic oasis.

      • Location: Lavender Bay, North Sydney.
      • Nearest Train Station: Get off at Milsons Point station to walk the boardwalk around the harbour. Or get off at North Sydney station. 
      • Buses: For CBD buses, catch the 320, 252, 261 or any northwest-heading bus from Wynyard station at Clarence Street.
      • Opening Times: Daily
      • Admission: FREE

 

Free Things to Do in Sydney in the Inner West

These free things to do in Sydney are all focused around Sydney’s inner west suburbs. 

 

26. Walk the Bay Run

Walking the Bay Run at sunset is stunning and another thing to do in Sydney for free.

The Bay Run is a popular, scenic 4.4-mile (7 km) loop in the inner west of Sydney. It passes through the picturesque Iron Cove and beautiful bays in six other suburbs including Rozelle, Lilyfield, Haberfield, Five Dock, Drummoyne, and Leichhardt. 

This route is mostly flat and is suitable for walkers, joggers, cyclists and rollerbladers. Along the way, there are plenty of facilities such as playgrounds, fitness stations, water bubblers and toilet blocks.

During the pandemic, we were in lockdown in the inner west and we were so grateful that we could go for walks nearby, somewhere as pretty as the Bay Run. 

Leichhardt is a great place to start and end the walk as you can easily take the Light Rail there. 

Go during sunset for some epic Instagram-worthy shots of the foreshore all lit up.

      • Location: The Bay Run, Haberfield, Sydney
      • Nearest Train Station: Leichhardt North stop on Light Rail gets you the closest to the Bay Run, or get off at Hawthorne to grab a coffee from Cafe Bones Dog Park on the canal before you set off.
      • Buses: For buses heading west, take buses from Railway Square in the city. 
      • Opening Times: Daily 
      • Admission: FREE

 

Explore Sydney’s inner west 

The inner west of Sydney is a network of suburbs, directly west of Sydney’s CBD and is known for being a creative community made up of eclectic and artsy neighbourhoods, with an edginess that draws you in.

I’ve lived in the inner west several times and I love the alternative, eclectic vibe there. 

Some of the most interesting inner-west suburbs to check out are:

  • Newtown
  • Balmain
  • Marrickville
  • Erskineville
  • Rozelle
  • Leichhardt
  • Drummoyne
  • Glebe

Spend a day or afternoon out just exploring the inner west, which is easy to get around by train or light rail. Plus, there are lots of diverse eateries and drinking dens dotted around to keep you entertained.

Culture and entertainment? Check out the Enmore Theatre, Carriageworks and the White Rabbit Gallery. 

Walk or run? Take a walk along the Glebe Foreshore, The Bay Run or Rozelle Bay. 

Shopping? Check out Erskineville Farmers Market, Sydney Fish Market, historic pubs and European boutiques in Leichhardt, or the abundance of diverse op shops in Newtown/Enmore on King St and Enmore Rd.

Coffee? The cafe culture here is strong and the most popular spots for a caffeine fix are 212 Blu, Brewtown Newtown, Matinee Coffee and Mecca Coffee. 

Hungry? Salivate at the many food options in Newtown and Enmore, from Egyptian street food to sophisticated Italian. Or check out the Tramsheds eateries in Glebe.

      • Location: Inner West suburbs of Sydney
      • Nearest Train Station: Newtown, Enmore for trains or Leichhardt, Glebe or Rozelle Bay for Light Rail.
      • Buses: For buses heading west, take buses from Railway Square in the city.
      • Opening Times: Daily 
      • Admission: FREE

 

28. Visit Sydney Olympic Park

Explore Sydney Olympic Park.

Visiting Sydney Olympic Park is a great way to spend a day out of the city. 

With 430 hectares of parklands, a wide selection of eateries, and an abundance of entertainment, sports, and outdoor activities, it’s an ideal destination for a family outing. 

It’s also home to Qudos Bank Arena, the hosting venue for the FIFA 2023 Women’s World Cup, the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. Now Qudos Arena is Australia’s largest indoor entertainment and sporting arena. 

There’s always heaps going on here, especially during the school holidays.

Take a tour of the area with Bike Hire @ Sydney Olympic Park (or take your own bike) and using their guided circuits, explore the parks’ Olympic icons, lookouts, mangrove boardwalks and bird-watching spots. 

For those who prefer guided tours, there are plenty of options available including the 90-Minute Newington Armoury Segway Tour.

Bicentennial Park is a lovely, peaceful park to spot some birdlife, catch some sunshine or just walk the trails.

      • Location: Sydney Olympic Park, Sydney
      • Nearest Train Station: Catch the train on the T7 line and get off at Olympic Park station
      • Buses: Much easier to get the train as it’s pretty far out west.  
      • Opening Times: Daily
      • Admission: FREE (Bike hire costs extra).

 

We’ve come to the end of our epic journey through the land of FREE things to do in Sydney, this beautiful city!  

 

From mesmerising beaches and picturesque parks to vibrant markets and hidden gems, Sydney has it all without costing you a thing.

I hope this guide has been helpful and that you’ve found some great ideas for free activities in Sydney. 

What are some of your favourite free things to do in Sydney? Let us know in the comments below if we’ve missed any of your recommendations for things to do for free in Sydney.

Until next time, keep exploring, and keep making memories that’ll last a lifetime.

 

Happy and Safe Travels 

Alial 🙂

 

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4 comments

Terri 27 August 2023 - 12:55 AM

I am traveling to Australia in 2024 so I will save your guide. I love all the intel on free things to do.

Reply
Layla 27 August 2023 - 5:48 PM

Awesome. I hope some of them help you out! thanks for reading 🙂

Reply
myfabfiftieslife 27 August 2023 - 5:28 AM

Some great ideas here. I’ll be back in Sydney later this year. Saving for then!

Reply
Layla 27 August 2023 - 5:49 PM

For sure, it’s not a cheap place to travel! Hope you have a great time when you go. Thank you for reading 🙂

Reply

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