48 hours in Sydney on budget

Are you having a layover in Sydney? Is this your entry point to a trip in Australia? Or maybe you’ve always wanted to visit and see the majestic Opera house? Whatever it is, my quick guide is here to help you spend your short time in Sydney without diving too deep into your pockets.

For those of you who have been to the big cities like London, Singapore or New York, Sydney is not going to be a major jaw-dropper. Yes, it is mainly just another big city, but with much better views and weather. On top of being pleasantly clean and spacious, it is also very green and has plenty of open hang out spots.Parks in Sydney

How expensive Sydney really is?

The positive side to living in one of the most expensive cities in Europe – that being Copenhagen – is not getting swept away by high prices in other places. There is hardly anything out there that can beat the first price shocks I got when I moved to Denmark πŸ™‚

I guess what I am trying to say is that comparing to Scandinavian prices, Sydney didn’t turn out to be more expensive. Let’s see in breakdown just how expensive Sydney is!

Prices in Australian dollars.

  • Coffee – $3
  • Public transport – from $2.5 to $3.5 depending on the length of your trip (within 10 km city radius)
  • Brunch – $15 – $17
  • Hostel stay – $30 per night

Where to Stay?

I have stayed in YHA Central hostel and, honestly, I had an amazing experience. Everything, from being able to check in at 6 AM to having awesome breakfast deals was amazing. You get a central location, cinema, events organized to introduce backpackers to one another, tour bookings, and even gorgeous rooftop with a swimming pool. I mean, this is the maximum you can get out of your $36 per night fee. YHA Central Sydney

But the most important part to know is, if you are traveling throughout Australia, YHA has a good network of hostels everywhere. You should consider getting YHA membership, which will give you at least 10% discount on all your hostel stays.

How to spend 48 hours in Sydney?

Day 1.

Arrive at the airport and jump on to the train to get to the city center. The ride takes about 15 minutes.

You might consider getting an Opal travel card that works for all types of public transport in Sydney. The card itself is free and you need to top it up with cash. One way trip from the airport will cost you around $17, so I found that topping up with $40 should cover you both ways and give you spare change for few in-city rides.

Once you arrived and checked in and got over your jet lag (good luck with that, by the way), take a walk around Sydney visiting the best hallmarks, such as Darling Harbor and Hyde park.

Views in Darling Harbor in Sydney

Darling Harbor views

And of course, do not miss the classicΒ  – Sydney Opera House. So far, this has been the most touristy place I’ve seen in Sydney. But the building is worth all the fuzz.

If you get hungry, stop by the cafe for one of those classic brunchus with avocado and poached eggs, they are delish. We had our brunch at a Brewer’s Tale, it is a bit on the medium price scale ($16), but it is what you want after two days of airplane food.

Day 2.

If you can, try to wake up early and go greet the sunrise on the Observatory hill for some epic views over the Sydney Harbor Bridge. If you get there early in the morning you will be able to take amazing photos powered by the first sun rays in complete solitude, as there are almost no people.

Morning view over the Harbor Bridge in Sydney

View from the Observatory Hill

Observatory Hill in Sydney

View from the other side of Observatory Hill

Bridge Climb is one of the most popular travel experiences, however, it is very pricey. But no worries, you can still walk the bridge. It won’t be that spectacular, as it is fenced, but you can still take awesome shots of the Sydney Opera house from there. Sydney Opera House in the morning

Want to break away from the city?

You don’t have to go far. Hop on the bus #333 from Sydney central station to the Bondi Beach and you’ll be able to appreciate Sydney from the different side, a chill out beach side.

Be ready for some absolutely gorgeous views of raging Pacific and the perfect coastal beach line. It might be rather crowded during high season, but it was almost empty in April. The only downfall of visiting Sydney in off season is that you cannot really swim during this time as it is already too cold.

Bondi Beach in April

Bondi beach

Bondi beach Syndey skate park The adventure doesn’t end with Bondi beach alone. Take the coastal walk passing through other beaches on your way. From Bondi to Tamarama to Bronte beach will take you around an hour of awesome views.

Crushing waves in Tamarama beach

Tamarama beach

You can continue the walk all the way to Coogee beach, which will take another hour on top of that.

What I’ve experienced is that one beach is going to be better than another, with huge dramatic waves and the finest sand. I wish I could pass the smell of the sea through words but just so you know, it makes you want to sit here and never go anywhere else so your bus ride costing $3.50 will totally be worth it.

Quick tips to Sydney on a budget

  • Visit places that do not require entrance fee or involve cost
  • Stay in one of the backpacker hostels in Sydney
  • Travel during off season. April – May is still comfortable in terms of weather, and may have better price deals.
  • Eat in your hostel (YHA Central in Sydney has awesome deal for $1 pancakes for breakfast)
  • Buy the Opal travel card to save on public transport fairs
  • Join the free walking tours to see the city

Like It? Pin It!Sydney on a Budget

Planning on visiting Sydney? Traveling throughout Australia? Let me know in the comments below!


10 comments… add one
  • Liza 06 May 2017, 1:14 am

    Awesome post! I’ve always been dreaming of going to Australia, hopefully, one day I’ll go πŸ™‚ Bookmarked your post, 48 hours sound like enough time in Sydney! P.S.: I’m surprised to see that a hostel can be so cool!
    Liza recently posted…The ultimate guide to St. Petersburg, Russia | Tips from a localMy Profile

    • Lena 06 May 2017, 3:10 am

      Thanks, Liza!
      I was positively surprised as well. It seems like this is a standard in Australia to have a pool in a hostel, but to me, a European, it is a luxury.

  • Rhiannon 06 May 2017, 1:46 am

    This is such a great post! Super informative and your photos are beautiful! I’m Australian (from South Australia) and Sydney is the only city I’m yet to visit! Every time I read a post all about Sydney, it makes me want to go so much more πŸ˜€ Thanks for the helpful tips!
    Rhiannon recently posted…10 Reasons Why You Should Travel The World: How Travel Will Change Your Life for the BetterMy Profile

    • Lena 06 May 2017, 3:08 am

      We are still on our way to the South!! Any tips or special place we need to visit? Would love some advice from a local.

  • Karin 06 May 2017, 2:19 am

    Beautiful photos! IΒ΄d love to visit Australia one day but omg, the prices πŸ™‚

  • Sherri 06 May 2017, 2:35 am

    Thanks for the great post! I always assumed Australia was too expensive for a short visit but your post gives me some ideas. It is still on my bucket list!! πŸ™‚

    • Lena 06 May 2017, 3:11 am

      Hi Sherri, I think it is still expensive (same as Scandinavia), but off course there are some ways to bring the costs down, like staying and eating in the hostel and doing the free sights. Hope you make it there!

  • Laura 06 May 2017, 3:28 am

    Ahh yes! The Bondi to Cogee walk was the first thing I did after arriving at my hostel in Bondi – such a nice, free way to spend an afternoon! I meant to walk across the bridge and never got to, but I’m debating spending another weekend in Sydney just to round out my Australian experience. πŸ™‚

    • Lena 06 May 2017, 3:39 am

      Yes, the walk is amazing! I found two full days in Sydney to be enough for me, but I guess I was just tired of cities and wanted to get out in the wild πŸ™‚

  • Agness of aTukTuk 17 May 2017, 2:15 pm

    This was a truly motivational and educational post, Lena! I am in Sydney these days and I read this post at the right time!

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