The best free things to do in Sydney on a budget

Enjoy the city on a shoestring

From art to music to sports, there's plenty of things to do in Sydney without spending a cent. Doesn't matter if it's a weekday or a weekend, you just have to know where to look.

Get arty at galleries and exhibitions

Sydney’s thriving art scene means there are always creative events happening in the city. Keep your eye out for artist talks, workshops, and free exhibitions. In the meantime, check out these permanent fixtures.

Yayoi Kusama 'Flowers that Bloom in the Cosmos' 2022, artwork © Yayoi Kusama, photo © Art Gallery of New South Wales, Zan Wimberley

Art Gallery of NSW

Want to see Kandinsky and Yayoi Kusama in Sydney? The Art Gallery of NSW has everything from Impressionism right through to contemporary sculpture and Indigenous art. The gallery itself is a pleasure to spend time in and around. Its two buildings are home to countless lovely archways, outdoor spaces and great views over Woolloomooloo. Entry is free to the permanent exhibitions.

Art Gallery Road Sydney NSW 2000

Museum of Contemporary Art

The MCA is located on the water’s edge at Circular Quay. It features more than 4500 works by Australian artists, with over a third represented by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists. Entry is free for the permanent collection. Tip: the Café on level 4 has spectacular views of Sydney Harbour and a sculpture terrace.

140 George Street The Rocks Sydney NSW 2000

White Rabbit

The White Rabbit Gallery has one of the largest collections of contemporary Chinese art in the world. Exhibitions are spread across 3 levels. The tea house downstairs is a spot of zen in the city. Their range of fine Chinese and Taiwanese teas are worth the stop. Entry is free.

30 Balfour Street Chippendale NSW 2008

Go sightseeing

We’re totally biased, but we think Sydney is the most beautiful city in the world. We’re lucky to have picturesque parks and interesting architecture all surrounded by a sparkling harbour. Take it in without spending your hard-earned cash.

Walk across the Harbour Bridge

It doesn’t cost a cent to walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Start from The Rocks and wander over to Milsons Point to enjoy sweeping views of the city CBD and Sydney Harbour on the way. The walk across the bridge is approximately 1 kilometre and a nice easy (if a little windy) stroll. If you’re worn out once you reach the other side, you can grab a scenic ferry from Milsons Point back to Circular Quay.

People walking across the Harbour Bridge in support of LGBTIQA+ people and rights. Image: City of Sydney / Abril Felman

Pack a picnic and visit Observatory Hill

Observatory Hill is perched above the historic Rocks and is one of the nicest spots to take in picturesque views of Sydney. Choose a sunny day, pack a picnic and take some time out.

A popular spot with locals, workers and visitors, Observatory Hill Park offers sweeping, panoramic views of Sydney Harbour and the Harbour Bridge for free.

Take a stroll to Mrs Macquaries Point

Looking for the perfect place to take a few happy snaps in front of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House? Wander over to Mrs Macquaries Point – you won’t be disappointed. Accessible via the Botanic Gardens or Mrs Macquaries Road.

Mrs Macquaries Point is a great backdrop for some amazing pictures with the Harbour Bridge. New Years or otherwise. Image: City of Sydney / Matt Lambley

Go for a walk

We’ve got some pretty good weather on our side here in Sydney. Not to mention the views. There’s really no excuse for boredom in a town like this: go for one of many scenic walks. Here are some of our favourite ways to walk the city.

Go clubbing

Love walking? Join the club – literally. Find out about your local walking club.

Dual Nature, part of our City Art collection.

Culture walks

Explore Sydney’s historical and cultural past with the free Culture Walks App. It’ll tell you the stories behind public artwork and historical sites in Sydney. Download it for free on iOS and Android.

Walk the foreshore

Circular Quay to Rushcutters Bay, the Glebe Foreshore Walk and Barangaroo Reserve are three of our city’s favourites. See more of Sydney’s best walking tracks.

Enjoy our libraries

Head to one of the City’s nine libraries. Membership is free and they offer more than books. Work or study in comfort, join talks, workshops and events. Kids can enjoy rhymetime and storytime. Discuss your latest read at the monthly online book club, create in the makerspace, access the extensive online collection (newspapers, magazines, music and movies) or borrow toys and games for the young and young at heart.

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