Sydney is a city that celebrates the outdoors. There’s botanical gardens, architectural wonders and some of the best beaches in the world waiting to be explored. And one of the great things about the outdoors, is that it doesn’t cost a dollar to enjoy. So if you’re on a tight budget but fancy taking a trip soon, Sydney is the perfect option. With some savvy planning and careful choices, you’ll still get the full city experience.

Here’s our top picks of the free things to do in Sydney:

Walk the Sydney Harbour Bridge

While the bridge climb will set you back several dollars, it’s completely free to walk the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The pedestrian pathway at the bridge’s eastern edge offers panoramic views just as beautiful. Begin your stroll from The Rocks at the southern end and meander the 1.4-kilometres across the bridge to Milsons Point at the northern end. You can then either walk back to really earn your lunch, or catch a train from Milsons Point Station to Circular Quay. It’s a free thing to do in Sydney that involves one of the most iconic landmarks.

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City Route, Stop: Sydney Harbour Bridge

Coast from Bondi to Coogee

If you’re looking for a way to spend a few hours that involves sun, sea, sand and a swim, then the Bondi to Coogee walk combines all of these elements. This 6-kilometre coastal stroll features glorious views, rock pools and passes by all the beaches you will want to take a dip at. Tamarama, Bronte, Clovelly and Gorden’s Bay are all en route. In Spring, you’ll get to see the Sculpture by the Sea festival near Bondi as you pass. And if you keep a keen eye out, you might even spot some migrating whales. It’s the free thing to do in Sydney that just keeps giving.

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Bondi Route, Stop: Bondi Beach

A royal picnic

On a glorious sunny day, why not pack a picnic and pitch up at the Royal Botanic Gardens. Free to enter, it’s an oasis in the heart of the city. You’ll enjoy spectacular views of the Sydney Harbour while you nibble on your sandwich. You’ll be surrounded by succulents, herbs and even tropical flora. And if you time your visit right, you can join one of the free tours on offer. For one of the best vantage points in the city, and a free thing to do in Sydney, check out Mrs Macquarie’s Chair and look back over the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge.

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City Route, Stop: Botanical Gardens

Catch a performance

The Sydney Conservatorium of Music is a cultural hub that inspires the study, research, creation and performance of all kinds of music. And on a Wednesday, they’ll treat you to a free show. The Lunchbreak Series runs throughout the academic year, and is a classical concert performed by the institution’s students. An inspiring free thing to do in Sydney that gives you a window into the world of its vibrant community.

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City Route, Stop: Botanical Gardens

Discover the Neighbourhoods

Sydney is an inclusive city, with districts and neighbourhoods that reflect the locals. And a day spent exploring them is a free thing to do in Sydney that gives you an insight into daily life. Surry Hills is an artistic neighbourhood with a diverse mix of cafes, restaurants, wine bars and pubs serving a variety of cuisines. Paddington is the fashionable side of the city, famous for boutique shopping and art galleries. Darling Harbour is a lively harbourside great for kids, with a playground and a fun and free programme of entertainment each week. And The Rocks district is Sydney’s oldest district with heritage buildings and cobblestone lanes. Pop into the Rocks Discovery Museum (also free!) to learn more about the history of the area.

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For Paddington:
Bondi Route, Stop: Paddington Town Hall

For Darling Harbour:
City Route, Stop: Chinese Gardens / Chinatown

For The Rocks:
City Route, Stop: The Rocks

Hit the beach

They say the best things in life are free, and what could be better than spending the day chilling, swimming and surfing at one of Sydney’s beautiful beaches. Our favourites include Manly, Bronte, Coogee and of course, the super famous Bondi Beach. Whether you’re a surfer dude or a sun worshipper, there’s a perfect stretch of coast for you. Let’s start with Bondi with its golden sand, great surf and eye-candy lifeguards (not in order of importance). If the water doesn’t beckon you, there’s a running track, the famous Icebergs sea pool, and plenty of trendy bars and restaurants too. If you’re new to the world of surfing, the gentler swells of Manly could help you get in some practice. This is a long stretch of sand, with scenic walking routes behind the beach itself. Then there’s Coogee, the beach where the locals come to hang out and have fun. And if you have little ones in tow, Balmoral is a shallow sloping beach with gentle currents and watersports to keep them entertained. For the full list of beaches in Sydney we recommend, check out our guide to the Best Beaches in Sydney.

Bondi Route, Stop: Bondi Beach

So there you have our list of the top free things to do in Sydney. And now that you’ve managed to save so much money, why not splash out on a Big Bus tour and see all the city’s sights in style. With stops by all the landmarks and attractions Sydney is famous for, you can hop off and explore more wherever you choose. For more inspiration on how to fill the rest of your time in this laidback city, check out our guide to the Top 10 Things to do in Sydney.