Yes, you do need to dish out some dollars for Sydney holiday experience. Sydney is not a cheap place to visit or live in. But you don’t need a fat wallet to do either.
Whether you’re a visitor to our fair city or a local looking for something to do during the weekend/school holidays, balance out some of the pricey must-see or must-do experiences with any one these FREE activities for the whole family.
Coogee to Bondi walk
This is a beautiful and very scenic coastal walk along some of the best beaches in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. It is a 7km walk from Coogee beach to Bondi beach that is easy for kids to do.
The walk is mostly flat and pram friendly, however there are a few stairs so make sure you’re with another adult that can help or bring one of those all-terrain prams. 🙂
Allow at least 2 hours for this walk, for a return trip. Although be warned … it is so dangerously beautiful that you will most likely stop for pictures and allow the kids to explore the sandstone rocks or the short paths.
Snorkel at Shelley Beach
No need to pay for Aquarium entrance fees. Bring your own snorkel to Shelley beach, the sheltered cove just off Manly on the Northern beaches, and watch the marine life in their natural setting. Should you wish to drive, there is a small car park near Shelley beach and also some residential streets nearby, all of which gets very busy during the summer. Alternatively get yourself to Manly by ferry or car and enjoy the 20-30 minute walk to Shelley beach.
Note that as the name indicates, there are a lot of shells so bring a picnic blanket or something to sit on. There are also coin-operated BBQ facilities on the beach that is well maintained and available for everyone to use, making it easy to spend the whole day there.
Darling Park Playground
Let the kids blow off some steam at this playground. Water games, climbing ropes, swings, slides and flying foxes will keep children of any age occupied for hours. Whilst there, grab a snack or enjoy a lunch at one of the many cafes or restaurants nearby.
Walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge
Climbing the Sydney Harbour bridge is wonderful but before you shell out a whopping $300 per person, walk across the bridge instead. The pedestrian walkway allows for a walk across the harbour possible. Although there is some rather unsightly wire mesh, they are there for safety reasons and when you see how far one can possibly fall, you’ll be thankful for it. There are gaps at chest and head height to allow for unobstructed pictures to be taken and best of all it is absolutely free.
The best way to access the walk is to catch a train to Milsons Point station and walk towards The Rocks. Alternatively you can go the opposite direction or walk both ways for a view of both sides. For a small admission fee, there is also the Pylon Lookout where you can learn about the history of the bridge and soak in the best view of Sydney. The lookout is open 7 days a week from 10am to 5pm.
Art Gallery of NSW or Museum of Contemporary Arts (MCA)
There is free entry to both of these museums with the MCA charging an entrance fee to specific exhibitions through the year. Both museums cater to families and kids really well with excellent activities and workshops to expand their artistic minds.
Enjoy the stunning Sydney beaches
In the city where the sun shines 300 days of the year and is home to the insta-worthy Bondi beach, it s no wonder that beach time is what most people (locals included) want to do when they get to Sydney.
In fact, we have spent many summer holidays just exploring the different beaches. Here are some of our favourite Sydney beaches and why we love it:
- Shelly beach, Manly is our most favourite beach and we’ve been coming here for as long as we can remember. Amongst many things we love it for the toddler friendly rock pool, stand up paddle boarding, snorkelling and most of all picturesque views.
- Shark beach on Nelson park, Vaucluse for great picnic areas on the grass and then walk down to the soft sandy beach for a swim. Don’t be alarmed by the name, it is a protected swimming bay part of the Sydney Harbour National Park and has a shark net for precaution only.
- Balmoral beach, Balmoral – we love for the enclosed pool area on the beach, the board walk to jump off from, the playground and long promenade to ride bikes/scooters.
- Camp Cove, Watsons Bay for the calm bay with views of Sydney harbour.
Queen Victoria Building
The QVB is an iconic Sydney building, which admittedly as a local I overlooked for many years. It wasn’t until we returned from a European trip, where we saw similar buildings, that I appreciated its history and beautiful architecture.
Construction on the building commenced in 1893 at a time when Sydney was in a severe recession. Built to be a monument, the elaborate designs and architecture was intentional so that they can employ many of the out of work craftsman.
It is easy to get carried away by the designer shops, cafes & restaurants that now occupies the building. But take a moment to look at the talented works of the stonemasons, iron welders and stained window artists and it will transport you back in time to a very different Sydney.
Throughout the year there are many festival events held in Sydney and most, if not all, have free events that everyone can attend.
Here is a short list of different Sydney festivals and when they are held.
- Sydney Festival runs for only a few weeks in January of each year with plenty of fantastic free events. www.sydneyfestival.org.au
- Good Food Month is held in all major capital cities in Australia and for Sydney this is usually during October of each year. Whilst there are no free food giveaways, there are free entertainment and activities for the whole family to enjoy with your delicious meal. www.goodfoodmonth.com
- Vivid Light Festival takes advantage of the slightly longer nights during the winter months to provide us plenty of spectacular light shows. See Sydney’s world-famous Opera House, Harbour bridge and many others like you’ve never seen before. www.vividsydney.com
Visit the websites provided for more information and a list of the free events.