We all know that travellingis expensive. Well, traveling in Australia is SUPER expensive. So if you’re on a budget and plan on staying within it, here are some little tricks that I discovered during my week in Sydney that will help you save some money while still having a grand ol’ time:
1. Take Advantage of the Opal Card
The Opal Card is your ticket to Sydney’s transportation system. The card itself is free BUT you have to load monetary value onto it and tap on and off each time you use a bus, ferry or train. Here’s the trick: if you use your Opal Card on 8 trips, you get the rest of your trips for that week FREE. Therefore, the sooner into the week you use those 8 trips, the quicker you will have free trips. On any given day, the Opal Card will never deduct more than $15 no matter how many trips you take. $15 is the limit per day. SO if you take 8 trips on Monday (the start of the week), you will pay a total of $15 and get the rest of your trips that week for FREE. The only catch is that you have to wait an hour between each of your 8 trips (so you can’t hop on and immediately off in the hopes of reaching your $15 limit and securing the rest of your week’s trips for free). There are some people who buy the weekly pass of $65…DON’T DO IT. Be strategic – even if you don’t take your 8 trips in one day, you will still save money investing in the Opal card.
2. Plan your ferry trips for Sunday
It costs $2.50 to ride the ferry on Sunday – $2.50!! On any other day, it costs an adult around $6.20 one way. (The fare is slightly cheaper with an Opal card but not as cheap as $2.50!!) So if your trip to Sydney includes a Sunday – plan your visits to Manly Beach or the Taronga Zoo on this day!
3. FREE walking Tours
Most walking tours charge around $40…why spend $40 when you can get the same information for free?! Free Walking Tours operate on a tip only basis which allows you to learn the secrets, history and stories of Sydney on any budget. They also conveniently occur every day in rain or shine, so you can be sure to fit it into your schedule.
4. Visit the Free Museums and other Attractions
There are a ton of free activities to do in Sydney that won’t cost you a cent! Check out the Museum of Contemporary Art, walk through the Royal Botanic Garden, visit Hyde Park, explore Darling Harbour, get lost in the city, walk across the harbour bridge, take the Bondi to Coogee walk!
5. Buy an iVenture Card
Of course you want to see Sydney’s top attractions but you also don’t want to pay an arm and a leg. To save money, consider buying an iVenture Card. This card gives you either free access or a discount on Sydney’s top attractions. BUT if you are a staying at a hostel, I would suggest purchasing your iVenture card AFTER you’ve found out whether your hostel offers any discounts. The cheapest iVenture card is $99 for 3 attractions. You can potentially go to 3 attractions for less than that depending if your hostel offers discounts.
6. Do the Blue Mountains on Your Own
I was originally going to use my iVenture Card to do a tour of the Blue Mountians as I was wary of doing it alone but luckily, I met some friends at the hostel I was staying at and we made a day trip out of it. (Note: it’s totally possible to do it by yourself as well). The Blue Mountains is a 2 hour train ride away. Once you get to the region, it’s about a 20 minute walk to the view of the Three Sisters. Then it’s pretty easy to follow the trail and find your way to the Katoomba Waterfalls. My point is: don’t waste your money on joining a tour when you can take public transit to get there and see the sights without a guide!!
7. Buy Groceries and Cook Your Meals
Eating out is fun but it is also expensive. (Especially if you don’t know where the cheap eats are). Assuming you have a kitchen area, a much more affordable alternative is to go to the local grocery store and cook your own meals. If you’re really in a fix, you can always buy a Dominos pizza for just $5.
8. Buy Opera Tickets after 4:30 on the day-of!
At 4:30pm on the day you want to go to the Opera, approach the box office and say “I would like a $45 ticket to tonight’s opera” and they will ensure you get one in the best seats available. This isn’t something they advertise but luckily one of the representatives let me in on the secret when I asked if there were any deals for buying tickets on the day-of. The cheapest tickets are around $80 (including transaction fees and taxes) – so by waiting until 4:30 you save a whopping $35! (Now you can treat yourself to a glass of wine without feeling guilty about it!)
9. “Darling Harbour is a Tourist Trap!”
That is what my guide told me when I did the free Walking Tour. So if you really want to eat out, maybe consider a restaurant that isn’t in Darling Harbour. You can always try Friday Foodie Markets at the Rocks – I know for a fact that their ice cream is only $4 compared to all the other ice cream bars I saw that were $5 or more for one scoop! And if you’re really craving ice cream but don’t even want to pay $4…you can get a cone at McDonald’s for 50 CENTS!! (Subject to change probably depending on when you go!)
10. Jump on Bus 555
Bus 555 is a FREE shuttle service that stops at most of the major areas or will at least bring you within walking distance of them. I used the service to get from Circular Quay to Darling Harbour – it doesn’t stop directly at the Harbour but it brings you close enough to make it an easy walk!
11. Enjoy the View from a Restaurant
If you really want a view of the Sydney Skyline but don’t want to spend $40 to see it, consider dining at the Skytower restaurant. In fact, don’t even buy dinner – just buy a drink! If you drink very slowly, by the time the tower rotates all the way around, you should be done your drink and ready to go. If you have kids, check the dates that kids eat free and plan your visit accordingly! However, if you really want to do the skytower, buy your ticket online for a cheaper price or check with your hostel to see if they get an even better discount!