10 free things to do in Sydney

We were worried Sydney was going to bankrupt us but we soon realised there are lots of fun and FREE things to do in and around the CBD. Here are 10 free things to do in Sydney!

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia

“Dedicated to exhibiting, collecting and interpreting the work of today’s artists”, the MoCA holds premier real estate in the shadow of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The museum is a mix of paid and free galleries and you can catch free guided and spotlight tours everyday. Oh and there’s AC and free WIFI! 

Find more information about current exhibitions and galleries here http://www.mca.com.au/

10 free things to do in Sydney - MOCA

Jake contemplates one of the exhibits at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia

Royal Botanical Gardens and the domain

The Royal Botanical Gardens describes itself as “a place of natural beauty, where people come for peace, relaxation, education, and to learn more about plants and horticulture. The surrounding parkland of the Domain is a place for sport, entertainment and recreation” and we couldn’t put it better ourselves. We love a relaxing walk through a leafy park and the royal botanical gardens were no different. Set in Sydney Harbour you don’t have to go far to escape the cosmopolitan CBD. You can catch a free guided walk at 10.30am everyday. 

10 free things to do in Sydney - Royal Botanical Gardens

The botanical gardens hold an excellent spot by the harbour

Art Gallery of NSW

The Art Gallery of NSW was my favourite free attraction in Sydney so its no surprise it attracts over 1 million visitors a year. If we lived in Sydney I know I’d visit often. The gallery has a diverse collection including European, Australian, Aboriginal and Asian art. I was surprised to see Picasso, Monet, Freud and Cezanne all rubbing shoulders in the European Art gallery. While we meandered through the galleries at our own pace you can catch various free tours and events. See the calendar for these here http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/calendar/type/free/.

The Art Gallery of NSW has a great website with all the information you need to plan your visit http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/

10 Free things to do in Sydney - Art gallery of NSW

The Art Gallery of NSW holds a pretty impressive collection of art

Bondi to Coogee walk

Taking just over two hours this walk features some beautiful views and offers ample opportunity for the budding photographer. Or so we hear, we didn’t actually do this attraction but it was suggested by a good friend. Find all the information you need here http://bonditocoogeewalk.com.au/. Like all walks you’ll need good shoes and plenty of sunscreen and water! 

10 free things to do in Sydney - Bondi walk

Bondi beach is the start of the Bondi to Coogee walk – Photo from www.sydney.visitorsbureau.com.au

Cross the Harbour Bridge

Possibly my favourite day in Sydney was spent crossing the bridge and crossing back again after a relaxing coffee on the North Shore. Crossing such an iconic landmark while having a great view of another felt really special. Although minute in comparison to the number of Padlocks you’ll find on some landmarks, I loved reading the padlocks attached to the bridge. The wind also offers a change from hot old sydney! You can walk on the east side or cycle on the west side of the bridge. If neither of those views take your fancy you can walk across the top of the bridge with Bridge Climb but that will set you back a cool $250!

10 free things to do in Sydney - Walk the bridge

Jake and I really enjoyed crossing the harbour bridge on foot – Excuse the hair, it’s pretty windy up there!

Visit St Mary’s Church

St Mary’s Cathedral stands in the centre of Sydney just by Hyde Park. It stands out from surrounding sky scrapers due to its gothic design. This Cathedral represents the spiritual origins of the Catholic Church in Australia and is one of Sydney’s most treasured historic buildings. Free Tours, lasting one hour are conducted on Sundays after Mass, around 11.30am.

You can get more information on the St Mary’s website http://www.stmaryscathedral.org.au/

10 free things to do in sydney - St Marys

St Mary’s stand out for its gothic design – photo courtesy of timeout.com

Soak up the sun in Hyde Park 

No we haven’t muddled up this one with a draft of “Free things to do in London”. Sydney too has its own Hyde Park. Stretching 16 hectares across central Sydney, Hyde park is Sydney’s oldest park. All that space offers ample opportunity for a picnic or afternoon nap in the sun. We loved the closeness to the centre and watching the Australian white ibis stalk the park. We also enjoyed the Archibald Fountain not just for its design but also the cool spray it gives off. Merge this one with a visit to neighbouring St Mary’s.

10 free things to do in Sydney - Hyde Park

Hyde Park offers hours of relaxation – don’t forget your picnic!

Paddington Market 

What better way to spend a Saturday than wandering through Paddington Market while enjoying a Melbourne quality coffee. Open since 1973 the market displays wears from local fashion designers, craftspeople, jewellery makers and artists across 150 stalls. 

The Market has a great website you can use to plan your visit http://www.paddingtonmarkets.com.au/

10 free things to do in Sydney - Paddington market

Who doesn’t love a good market? Paddington Market is a show ground for local businesses – photo from www.paddingtonmarkets.com.au

Watch the sunset over the Opera house and Harbour Bridge

Cliche but breath taking watching the sunset over the Opera house is an hour well spent. The landmark is impressive in the day but for me it came to life as the sun started to set. We watched it from the slow ferry to Manly but watching it from almost anywhere in the bay will give a similar affect. If you have a few spare dollars from doing all the other free attractions we’ve mentioned I’d recommend grabbing a glass of wine at the opera house bar and watching the sunset from there. My friend Jacqueline Armour recommended we visit the bar and it was a great shout. The bar offers surprising value for money given the view it has, a glass of wine and beer was around $18.

10 free things to do in Sydney - Sunset over the harbour

Watching the sunset over the harbour is a must do while in Sydney

State library NSW 

The state library of NSW rivals those in neighbouring Melbourne. The library describes itself as “a knowledge landmark, a pre-eminent cultural destination which attracts scholars, students and visitors who can read, converse, learn, visit exhibitions or enjoy events”.The library building itself is beautiful both inside and out. As well as holding an impressive collection of works the library hosts a variety of free exhibitions. When we visited the exhibitions were “Shop keepers of Newtown” and “Lynley Dodd: A retrospective”, these are still running at the moment and we’d recommend both! The library has a great website you can use to plan you visit http://www.sl.nsw.gov.au/

10 free things to do in Sydney - LoNSW

We loved the library – have a wander around the collections and exhibitions and you’ll see why!

And nearly free…

On a Sunday you can travel anywhere within NSW on an Opal card for a maximum cost of $2.50. This means you can visit the Blue Mountains, neighbouring Newcastle or do an island hop on the ferry for $2.50. What a bargain! See more about the Opal card here.

We hope you love Sydney as much as we did

Lots of love, Lisa

What is your favourite free attraction in Sydney? What would you add to our list? Alternatively, do you have any tips on how to make the most of a visit to the attractions mentioned above? We’d love to hear them. 

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