Updated: Nov 26, 2019
Sydney is famous for the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, as well as some of its famous beaches. Situated on the East Coast Australia, Sydney may be one of the most expensive cities in the world, but there is no denying that it is also one of the most beautiful with its gorgeous harbour and iconic landmarks.
Here is our guide to backpacking in Sydney that doesn't have to cost you a fortune and you can also check out our Sydney Travel Guide for more information. Or check out this guide on top things to do in Sydney.
This multicultural city provides for great entertainment, partying and food!
MINIMUM SYDNEY DAILY BACKPACKER BUDGET
As mentioned above, Sydney is not a cheap city so you need to cover the following basics:
Travel by train $3.50 - $7
Breakfast: $6 - 12
Beer or wine at bar: $6-10 (cheaper to buy at the bottle shop)
Dinner: $20-35 - much cheaper if you make your own or buy from supermarket or markets
First things first. You will need a visa to travel around or work in Australia and it's not easy to get into this country. Most backpackers go for a First Working Holiday Visa in Australia cost AUD450.
This visa allows you to:
Do short-term work in Australia to help fund your holiday
Four months study
Travel to and from Australia as many times as you want
BACKPACKER JOBS AUSTRALIA
Once you have your visa sorted you can register for labour hire companies, or other part time/casual work. Many backpackers work in the summer months picking fruit. You may also need to have a certificate to work i.e. traffic controller and this will also add a cost to your holiday. If you are keen to work you should have no trouble finding backpacker jobs in Australia.
You will be taxed in Australia so check out the rules on the Australian Taxation Website.
AUSTRALIA TRAVEL ADVICE
It's a pretty laid-back country and in saying that here is our Australia travel advice for backpackers:
Make sure your visas are up to date if leaving Australia for another country
Do your research, read reviews, blogs and government websites
It’s wise to have travel insurance. You will not be covered for medical in Australia if you are not a permanent resident
Purchase a local sim card and phone number
Leave an itinerary and copy of your passport
Be prepared for hot weather especially if you are not used to extreme temperatures
Be careful at the beach there could be riptides
When travelling alone in a taxi sit in the back seat (same with Uber)
If travelling on city trains, sit near the guard’s compartment or make sure you are on carriage with other people if late at night
Although it’s not common, don’t be a target for pickpockets
Sydney is famous for its backpacker hostels and there is a host of great places to choose from. It's good to be respectful of the locals if you are staying in a populated area such as Potts Point and keep the noise down late at night. Other options are to find work that also provides accommodation. You could also try camping and hire a campervan but it's not as cheap as you may except. Some holiday parks charge up to $43 a night for two people.
The most favourite places for backpacking in Sydney are:
Sydney Central YHA is a budget accommodation in Kings Cross. Included is free breakfast, city maps, internet, wifi and linen included.
If it's the famous Bondi Beach that you are craving then Bondi Beach is definitely the place to stay.
Take the ferry across to Manly and you may never want to come back! Manly is truly a great place to stay in Sydney, it's out of the CBD and close to bushwalks and the other Northern beaches.
Explore hostels here.
POPULAR THINGS TO DO IN SYDNEY
Many backpackers in Sydney are experienced surfers and head on down to Manly or Bondi to surf with the locals. If you have never surfed and wish to learn then checkout the surfing lessons at the iconic Bondi Beach with an expert instructor. You can learn the basics in a group session or have one on one.
Sydney's historical convict precinct, The rocks is situated near Sydney Harbour Bridge. In 1788 the British began colonising Sydney in this area by the harbour. With picturesque views, cobblestone laneways, workman's cottages, historical buildings made of sandstone The Rocks offers plenty to fascinate visitors to Sydney. For a great night out some of Sydney's oldest pubs are situated in The Rocks. For a cheap meal check out the Friday Foodie Markets at the Rocks.
SYDNEY MUSEUMS AND ART GALLERY
For entertainment on a budget you will probably find something interesting at the Museums and the Art Gallery of NSW. Both are free to enter except for exhibitions which are sometimes charged for. There's also the Museum of Contemporary Art that's worth a trip.
WATCH THE STARS FROM THE SYDNEY OBSERVATORY
Situated in the The Rocks parklands the Sydney Observatory offers great views of the city. Admission to the observatory is free during the day but you will need to book for the tours starting from $10 pp. Check out the website if you are an astronomy lover to see what is on offer.
Pylon Lookout is one of Sydney’s best vantage points. The 200 stairs up to the lookout will give you a spectacular view of the harbour, including the bridge and opera house. You will also discover history of this famous Sydney landmark too. Entry $15 per adult. It's definitely worth a visit for those instagram photos you might want to take.
For more things to do in Sydney navigate through this website as these suggestions are just a few on offer, there are far too many too name in one article.
GETTING AROUND SYDNEY
Sydney's public transport consists of rail, bus, taxi, ferry, fast ferry, uber, hop on hop off bus and light rail. You will need an opal card for getting around Sydney. You can purchase these at some convenience stores, newsagents and railway stations. Opal cards can be topped up at some train stations, newsagents or online. Many people take the ferry across the Sydney Harbour as day trips.
Don't be alarmed when you first arrive and discover the Airport Link Train to City and Return at $18.50. Many a Sydneysider complains about this considering you can travel much further on the same line for a fraction of the price. Most train fares cost between $3.50 - $7.00.
EATING IN SYDNEY ON A BACKPACKER'S BUDGET
There may be times when eating out isn't in the budget but you can still eat well with the local supermarkets such as Coles and Woolworths and some of the Metro Woolworths have great salads, prepared meals and delicatessen.
Sydney Chic has reviewed many Sydney restaurants and you can check out the reviews here.
Sydney Tap water is safe to drink and free!
OTHER THINGS TO KNOW WHEN BACKPACKING IN SYDNEY
Australia's Internet isn't the fastest and it can be expensive which is another gripe of many locals. The good news is that you can pretty much get free WiFi at places such as shopping centres, McDonalds, cafes and the airport.
Sydney is pretty lame when it comes to shopping hours. In the CBD shops open at 10.00 am until 7pm at the latest, and everywhere else they close at around 5 or 6pm expect for Thursday late night shopping where most shops close at 9.00pm.
TIPPING IN AUSTRALIA
Tipping in Australia is really up to the individual and it's not usually expected. However, if you have had exceptional service you might like to offer a tip. Restaurants are the usual places to tip provided you are happy with the service and food. It is not expected in hotels for concierge, bag service, or housekeeping, nor for cafes, hairdressers and taxis like some other countries.
SYDNEY (EAST COAST AUSTRALIA) ESCAPES
If you are looking for other places to visit beyond Sydney check out our travel reviews on the East Coast Australia and my other blog North Coast NSW Leisure and Life.