You may have dreams of visiting Sydney, the Australian city that’s home to the iconic Opera House and Harbour Bridge, but if you’ve done even a little bit of research, you know that this is one of the most expensive places to visit in the world for U.S. travelers. Factor in flights (think $1500-$2500) and the costs can be prohibitively high. But you can keep to a budget if you know where to go, and where to cut costs. For example, don’t be afraid to splurge on once-in-a-lifetime experiences like the Bridge Climb, but save on eating out and other activities. Here are some more suggestions…
Dining and Drinking
Sydney has some of the highest-rated restaurants in the world, like Quay and Rockpool, but you can get a feel for typical Aussie fare without spending a fortune. Go for a traditional meat pie from Harry’s Cafe de Wheels, which won’t cost more than a couple of dollars; meals at Sydney’s classic pubs offer plenty of food for less than $10 as well. Alcohol is expensive, so stick to local wines, which cost less than imports, and seek out bar happy hour deals.
Get a foundation in the city’s history with a free tour, which leaves from Town Hall twice a day, every day. A third daily tour leaves from Cadman's Cottage. You can also walk the bottom of the Harbour Bridge for free – even if the climb to the very top carries a hefty charge of at least $200. If you don’t want to splurge, or can only handle the ground-level walk, this is a great option. The Art Gallery of New South Wales and the Museum of Contemporary Art are both free, and you only have to pay for special exhibits. And as in many big cities, some of the best sights and experiences can be taken in from public parks and green spaces – which are often free to visit. Hyde Park and the Royal Botanic Gardens offer stunning views of the city and the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk gives you views of the city’s best beaches.
Take note of two prime hotel locations in the city: Circular Quay and Darling Harbour. There are other areas, though, that offer more value and just as much convenience. Look for hotels near Central Station, which allows you to pick up the free bus into town, like the Westin Sydney or the Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney. From here, you can also quickly hop on a train for excursions up the coast and to the Blue Mountains.