It’s pretty difficult to narrow down the endless opportunities that Sydney can offer a backpacker. But for my ‘Top 5’ list I decided to focus on those things that really allow you to soak up the Aussie way of life without splashing the cash. Here goes.
1) Take the Ferry to Manly Beach
Of all of the beautiful beaches Sydney has to offer, Manly Beach is one of the best. Not only does it have Australia’s signature powdery sands and luscious blue waters, but you also have the added bonus of the seafront. Much like a British seaside, Manly has lovely pastel-coloured restaurants lining the beach that are perfect for a spot of lunch and people-watching.
But the best part of Manly is actually getting there. The ferry from Circular Quay will take you across to Manly whilst showing you the best view of Sydney Harbour. I mean sure you can climb the bridge and tour the Opera House, but nothing beats this spectacular view of seeing it all in one gorgeous panoramic shot. You won’t stop taking photos for the full 30 minute ferry ride.
2) Coastal Walk from Coogee to Bondi
This is one of my fave things to do in the Eastern Suburbs and it doesn’t cost a thing. This coastal walk connects 2 of the most popular beaches in Sydney – Coogee and Bondi. Both are very popular with backpackers and have a ton of hostels and bars in each area, so it’s likely you’ll be staying in one of these areas.
Bondi is iconic and has it’s own little community feel with independent cafes and bars. Shout out to Gertrude and Alice, the bookshop/cafe which is such a cool place for lunch. Coogee on the other hand has cheaper hostels and the Coogee Bay Hotel with a great beer garden for some drinks after a day at the beach.
The walk itself winds along the coastline and passes through lots of pretty secluded beaches that you wouldn’t have thought of going to, like Bronte and Tamarama, and is just a great chance to experience Sydney’s outdoorsy culture.
Also, if you’re missing the gym on your travels and are feeling the need to get your jog on, this is also a great running route. The best part is that lots of little outdoor gyms are scattered along the route if you want to work on those Bondi abs.
3) Backpacker Bar Crawl
The nightlife in Sydney is made for backpackers on a budget. The ones to hit in the CBD are Three Monkeys, Side Bar, Scubar and Scruffy Murphy’s.
If you’re after a bigger night out, head to the King’s Cross area where you can find a ton of options. World Bar is my personal fave with it’s teapots of cocktails and sick beats, but the King’s Cross Hotel is another backpacker haunt with a very popular rooftop terrace.
For Sydney’s gay scene, head to Oxford Street. Arq and Stonewall are great and you will find good music and frequent drag shows (although you may have to pay to get in to Arq on certain nights).
4) Free events in Sydney
This is my absolute favourite thing about Sydney. It is the city of events. And free events at that. Darling Harbour is a great place for this kind of thing. As well as the fireworks display they put on every weekend, there is also a new theme to the almost weekly celebrations that go down there. Once there was even a free circus in the harbour with acrobatics and aerialists and all that jazz.
Hyde Park in the CBD is also a great location for a free events. They put on a lot of food stalls and activities here for Australia Day in January, and the Night Food Festival in September is a treat for the tastebuds and a great atmosphere.
Not forgetting the infamous Sydney Mardi Gras parade on Oxford Street in March. Although when I went it was pouring with rain so I looked not the most amazing photo…
5) Explore the Cool Neighbourhoods
Sydney is one of those cities that you could just wander round all day and not get bored. Some of the quirky neighbourhoods are great for this.
Glebe to the west of the city is a charming little area full of fabulous coffee shops and second-hand book stores. Two of my favourite things. It is also the best place in Sydney for a good brunch in my opinion.
Newtown is a cool area with lovely restaurants and bars that tend to have a lot of character. I like Hive Bar for their fab cocktails and intimate little nests of tables. Good vibes.
So that is my Top 5 for Sydney! It was ridiculously hard with this one as Sydney is just made for backpackers and full of cool tourist attractions. But with a mix of beaches, bars, coffee culture and the iconic Sydney skyline, this list should give you the best of this awesome city on a shoestring.
What do you think? Did I miss anything?