Sydney and Melbourne on a Budget: The Best Cheap Things To Do in Each City

Here in Australia we have access to some of the greatest cities and natural wonders in the world – and exploring them doesn’t have to break the bank. Sydney and Melbourne are two of the world’s greatest towns, and whether you’re looking for a staycation, or showing friends from out of town around, there are a lots of cheap and even free options that let you see the best of both without a huge price tag.


Coogee to Bondi coastal walk

This iconic walk boasts views of Coogee, Gordon’s Bay, Clovelly, Bronte, Tamarama and Bondi and is all yours for free. It takes roughly two hours to traverse the length of the walk, unless you stop for the mandatory selfies or a swim at each beach. Pack your own snacks and drinks and make a cheap, fabulous day of it.

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Relax with a drink at the Glenmore Hotel rooftop

Glenmore Hotel in the Rocks

Enjoy one of the best views of Sydney harbour with a drink in your hand from this classic pub. Check their website for a list of daily cheap eats and drinks.

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Ride the ferry from Circular Quay to Manly

Sydney to Manly Ferry

Locals know you don’t need to spend much to enjoy time on one of the world’s most beautiful harbours. With a small cost of $7 – $11 for a ticket, jump on the Manly ferry to take some photos of the harbour and visit Manly beach – free to enjoy once you arrive! 

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Visit Spice Alley for dinner

Spice Alley Sydney

Enjoy the beautiful Asian inspired décor of Spice Alley at night. Wander through to take in the sights and smells for free, or stop for cheap eats. Just moments from the city, but you’ll feel like you’re in the heart of Asia, and there is a dish to suit everyone’s taste and budget.

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Paddington Markets

Every Saturday from 10am Paddington Markets showcases over 150 local stalls, selling everything from fashion to accessories to delicious cheap eats. The birthplace of many popular Australian designers, the markets are free to walk around unless something special catches your eye!

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Enjoy the Royal Botanic Gardens

Soak up the (free) serenity of the Royal Botanic Gardens, just moments from the hustle of the city. Enjoy the sun and spend the afternoon, or make your way around the water’s edge on an easy stroll over to the Opera house for a photo op.

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MCA Sydney

With free entry for general wandering around, both venues are iconic and free must-sees. With a variety of art installations, these galleries will give you your fix of art and culture during your visit to Sydney with a zero price tag. 

MCA Sydney Art Gallery

Where to stay:

Stay at the Park Regis Sydney City Centre to be close to the excitement and heart of Sydney. With copious amounts of places to eat and drink within walking distance you’ll never be bored. 

Visit Park Regis City Centre

Or if you prefer to stay a little out of the city and want to explore north of the bridge, try the Park Regis Concierge Apartments in Cremorne. While the city is only a short drive away you’ll also have the luxury of being closer to the north shores beautiful beaches.

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Explore the laneways and stop at Market Lane Coffee

Melbourne’s famed laneways and alleys are bursting with life and great street art. You can spend an entire day discovering them without spending a cent. If coffee is your thing, every Friday from 10am Market Lane Coffee holds artisanal coffee tastings (cupping) for under $10 at their Prahran Market pop-up shop. Make sure to book to secure a spot for this cheap but amazing experience. 

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Hit up the Yarra Trail

Walk Alongside the Yarra River

Walk or ride a bike along this trail, making sure to leave some time to stop and enjoy the sites like New York artist Ugo Rondinone’s gigantic and cheerful rainbow sculpture, ‘Our Magic Hour’.

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Test Your Trivia knowledge

Visit The B.East for free Tuesday night trivia and enjoy yummy (and affordable) food and drink specials.

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Explore the Botanic Gardens

We couldn’t mention Sydney’s Botanic Gardens without mentioning Melbourne’s. Head down to Fern Gully and the Arid Garden to get your nature fix – both completely free of charge. 

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Window Shop at the Arcades

This one is free if you’re satisfied with just looking! Try the Royal and Block Arcades; they’ve been around since the 1800s, before heading into the bustling city centre to take in the designer window displays and an array of local boutiques. 

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Visit the State Library

The State Library of Melbourne

For literary lovers and casual bookworms, wandering around the extravagant Dome Reading Room of the State Library for free will be an impressive experience.

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Go Penguin Spotting

Penguin Spotting at St Kilda

See the penguins at St Kilda Beach; they’re there all year round and spending some time observing them will cost you nothing. Just make sure you don’t disturb their eggs on the rocks, use flash photography, touch, or feed them – these lovely little creatures are still wild animals!  

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Where to stay:

Park Regis Griffin Suites is situated in a fantastic position between Melbourne’s city centre and popular St Kilda Beach with Chapel St nearby. With very affordable prices it’s the perfect place to stay for any traveller looking to get amongst the vibrant essence of Melbourne and keep their bank balance intact.

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