Sydney may have a reputation for being expensive, but in reality, you don’t need a lot of money to experience the best this city has to offer. In fact, most of Sydney’s most prized attractions won’t cost you a cent. So except for food, accommodation and a little bit of budget for transport, here’s how to spend 48 hours in Sydney for free.

Day 1:

Circular Quay

If you’ve only got 48 hours in Sydney, then your first stop should be Circular Quay. It’s one of the most scenic parts of the city and is home to Sydney’s most famous landmarks, the harbour bridge and Opera House. This large pedestrianised area runs all along the waterfront and is great to wander around.

Circular Quay, Sydney

Royal Botanical Gardens

After taking in Sydney’s famous sights at Circular Quay, continue to the Royal Botanical Gardens just past the Opera House. The walk along the water’s edge to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair is particularly scenic and offers amazing views of both the Opera House and Harbour Bridge.

Royal Botanical Gardens

Bondi Beach

You can’t spend 48 hours in Sydney without visiting the famous Bondi Beach! After exploring the Royal Botanical Gardens head back to Circular Quay where you can catch the bus to Bondi. Although the beach is the big attraction here, the real highlight of Bondi is the beautiful coastal Bondi to Coogee Walk. Make sure to check out the ocean pools at Bondi Icebergs Club along the way.

Bondi Beach, Sydney

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Observatory Hill Park

After getting the bus back to Circular Quay, your next stop is Observatory Hill Park at the south side of the Harbour Bridge. This is a very pretty park with a hilltop that’s a particular popular sunset spot, offering amazing views across the city and harbour.

Observatory Hill Park Sydney

The Rocks

After watching the sunset in the park, continue to The Rocks neighbourhood nearby for some well-deserved food and a few drinks. The Rocks is the oldest area of Sydney and boasts an array of historic pubs that date back to colonial times. Popular favourites include The Glenmore rooftop bar which has amazing views across the harbour. The Lord Nelson, home to Australia’s oldest pub brewery. And The Australian Heritage Hotel with its impressive beer collection.

Money-saving tip: All pubs in The Rocks have happy hours in the early evening. Download ‘The Happiest Hour’ app which will tell you when they all are.

Day 2: 

Catch the ferry to Manly

Wake up early and catch the ferry from Circular Quay to the seaside suburb of Manly. The 30-minute ferry ride to Manly is a very scenic one that takes you past the Opera House and out through the harbour. It’s even worth taking the ferry to Manly just for the journey itself. Once in Manly take the walk from Manly Beach to the secluded Shelly Beach at the other side of the bay. Stop off at the 4 Pines Brewery opposite the ferry port for a pint before heading back to Sydney.

Money-saving tip: Don’t pay extra for the fast tourist ferry to Manly. The commuter ferry to Manly is far cheaper and only takes 10 minutes longer.

Ferry to Manly, Sydney

Sydney’s art galleries

After arriving back at Circular Quay, spend your afternoon exploring Sydney’s art galleries. In particular, The White Rabbit Gallery in Chippendale has an amazing collection of contemporary Chinese art. Whilst the Art Gallery of NSW has a great mix of modern, contemporary, and indigenous works. Entry is free at both.

White Rabbit Gallery, Sydney

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Next head over to Chinatown for an early dinner. Its streets are packed full with delicious cheap eats where you can get a lot more bang for your buck. Highlights include Mamak for tasty roti, Gumshara for ramen and Do Dee Paidang for Thai food.

China Town Sydney

Sydney Harbour Bridge Walk

After eating your fill in Chinatown it’s time to walk across Sydney Harbour Bridge at Golden Hour. Catch the train across Harbour Bridge to Milson’s Point where you’ll find the northern entrance to the bridge’s pedestrian sidewalk. Starting your walk at the north side of the bridge is the more scenic option as you are walking back towards the city and get the best views.

Sydney Harbour Bridge Walk, Sydney

Cocktails at Opera Bar

Finish your 48 hours in Sydney by splashing out with a drink at the iconic Opera Bar. With an open-air seating area, music and the backdrop of the harbour there’s no atmosphere quite like it.

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