With its picturesque, cobblestone streets and sceneries, Antigua is arguably one of the most beautiful towns to visit in all of Central America (let alone just Guatemala). Filled with colonial architecture, bustling markets, and spiraling volcanoes that assault from all corners, Antigua is an absolute must-visit.

In this guide, we’ll explore this Central American gem, including FIVE of the very best free things to do in Antigua, Guatemala. We’ll explore each individually, including everything you’ll need to know such as how to get there as well as the history behind each destination.

Free Thing 1: Explore The Plaza Central Park

As well the picture-perfect landmarks, Antigua is also known for its charming yet bustling plazas. For anyone backpacking Guatemala the Plaza Central Park is the heart of the town and is a great place to pass by during any time of the day. Exploring this plaza makes the top of our list as the best free thing to do in Antigua Guatemala.

Exploring the Plaza Central Park is one of our favorite free things to do in Antigua

Exploring the Plaza Central Park is one of our favorite things to do in Antigua

Within the park, you’ll find a large fountain, as well as many benches for you to sit on and watch local life unfold in front of your eyes. There are also lots of vendors around here, selling cheap ice creams, drinks, and typical dishes of Guatemala, all for a cheap price. 

Like many Latin American Plazas, this one is also surrounded by many important buildings on its outskirts, such as the Ayuntamiento and the Catedral San José. What is quaint and relaxing during the day quickly turns into atmospheric when the night comes. 

During the evening you’ll find tonnes more locals out and about, with public performances and activities on regularly. 

It is known that many street vendors work here and wait for tourists to arrive, so if you’re approached and not interested, simply a polite “no gracias” will suffice. 

For reference, the plaza is around two blocks away from the Santa Catalina arch, so it’s worthwhile combining both on a short walk around town.

Free Thing 2: Mercado Central Antigua

Guatemala is known for its unique and vibrant culture, and there’s no better introduction than through its bustling town markets. The Mercado Central Antigua is located on the western edge of town, at the end of 3a Calle Poniente. Wandering around the market is one of our favorite free things to do in Antigua, Guatemala.

Free things to do in Antigua - The bustling Mercado Central Antigua

The bustling Mercado Central Antigua

Here you’ll find locals selling everything from foods to artisanal products and electronics, however, the main experience is simply joining-in with the somewhat chaotic herd as you enter the busy ring of stalls. Here you can also spot many of the local “chicken buses” that Guatemala is famous for. 

Our main tip when visiting this market is to leave all valuables at home, and any phone and wallet in your front pockets or in a safe pouch in you. 

Like most Latin American countries, Guatemala also has a reputation for pickpocketing, so a little preparation before will ease most of your worries. 

Also, be sure to dress down and leave flashy accessories at home; not just to avoid any unwanted attention, but also to show locals respect as many live in poverty. 

Free Thing 3: Arco de Santa Catalina

Antigua truly is full of amazing architecture and beautiful landmarks. If you’re looking for free things to do in Antigua, Guatemala, you could simply wander around and take in the sights. However, the Arco de Santa Catalina has to be up there as one of the very best landmarks. Type ‘Antigua’ (followed by Guatemala of course – or else you’ll get the Caribbean island instead) into Google and this will most likely be the first image you’ll see. 

The iconic Arco de Santa Catalina in Antigua, Guatemala

The iconic Arco de Santa Catalina in Antigua, Guatemala

This faded yellow arch and clock tower is one of the very best things to see in town, and not just for the sight itself. Located along the busy 5th Avenue Norte, here you’ll also see many locals working as well as chicken buses riding through from time to time, giving a much more authentic view of everyday Guatemalan life. 

Whilst nowadays a snap-worthy site, the Santa Catalina arch used to be a walkway for the local nuns, so that they could pass into the convent without leaving the monastery. 

There are some backpacker hostels close by but if you stay outside the immediate area, we recommend heading there in the early morning when the mist from the previous night is still lingering which makes for a great photo. Another great time to visit is at dusk, especially if you’re lucky to see the red lava flows of Volcán Fuego in the distance. 

Whichever you decide, be sure to bring a couple of layers since temperatures plummet around these times in Antigua!

Constructed in the early 18th century, the Ayuntamiento (Town Hall in English) is one of the most stunning buildings to see in Antigua. 

Free Thing 4: Walk through the Ayuntamiento

With noticeable baroque features, rows of stone pillars, and looping arches, it’s quite intriguing to see the different eras of Antigua’s rich past combine here, where you’ll be able to see a variety of contrasting styles. 

Due to Guatemala’s hot tectonic activity, the town hall had been rattled by a series of earthquakes, which was then followed by restoration efforts in the 19th century. Whilst still used today by the municipal government, it’s open for viewing pleasure to the public from 8:00-12:00, and also from 14:00-18:00, making it one of the best things to do for free in Antigua Guatemala.

We recommend heading between 8:00-9:00, as you’ll beat all the crowds who come later and can have the place more or less to yourself. 

We also recommend combining this with a walk in the Plaza Central Park and also to the Santa Catalina arch, since they’re all within a stone’s throw of each other (not to mention the town of Antigua being pretty small anyhow).

Free Thing 5: Cerro de la Cruz

What makes Antigua especially great is its epic landscapes, with volcanoes looming pretty much everywhere you look! Volcán de Fuego is still active, meaning you’ll also be able to see puffs of smoke every now and then, and if you’re lucky, a hot red flow of lava at night. 

The Cerro de la Cruz with a view to Volcan Agua

The Cerro de la Cruz with a view to Volcan Agua

And as far as viewpoints go to see all of this beauty, Cerro de la Cruz is by far the best. Located just outside of Antigua on a hill (in the north), you can walk here in around 30 minutes from the town center.

As well as the views over the town, there’s also a giant cross which is great for a snap or two. Here you’ll find local vendors selling local Guatemalan dishes if you get peckish too. 

Be sure to bring lots of water, as it can get quite warm during the day when you’re hiking up to the viewpoint. The absolute best time to head here is around 5 pm, just as the afternoon draws to a close. 

You can thank us later! From here you can actually continue upwards into the highlands if you fancy. The path continues up to the road, and if you follow for around an hour (or get a taxi if you must!) you’ll come to a small village higher up with even better views.

Overview

And that’s all for our guide on free things to do in Antigua, Guatemala! This stunning colonial town is one of the best destinations to visit in Guatemala

With an abundance of volcanoes to be explored, and historical sights and landmarks aplenty, it rightfully so is a must-visit when in this area of Central America. 

In this guide, we’ve explored 5 of the very best things to see and do for free, which range from awesome viewpoints to picturesque buildings and sights. 

We’ve also given our own recommendations on each to help you have the best experience possible, as well as how to get to each individual attraction.

Uganda, the famed Pearl of Africa, is a destination many travellers ought to have on their bucket list. There’s a lot to see in this small yet mysterious country and if you are not careful enough, you will end up spending your blife’s savings just to explore its beauty.

You might think that traveling Uganda on budget would be easy, given the foreign exchange rate and how literally almost everything seems cheap; accommodation, fruits, food, drinks, transportation and even some tours.

But with everything sounding cheap, it could hurt your bank account in the long run if you don’t find ways to tame your expenses while out here in Uganda. Plus, some of the most famous activities in Uganda can be very pricey, like gorilla trekking, or safari. To help you backpack on a budget in Uganda, follow these insider tips.

Meals

When it comes to meals, there are various ways you can stick to your budget when backpacking Uganda. Food is generally cheap in Uganda, but of course it depends on your choice of restaurant. The most popular Ugandan dishes include matooke/ green bananas, cassava, sweet potatoes, potatoes, yams, beans, peas, peanuts, chicken, beef, cabbage, and pumpkin.

Usually, the best place to find affordable prices is to eat at a local restaurant, since they mostly serve local food and cuisines. If you are the kind that loves to integrate variety, there are plenty of midrange restaurants that serve delicious treats. Usually, their prices range on location and cuisines offered.

Cooking for yourself can also help you save some money; it is very much possible in big cities and towns where they have supermarkets that offer a wide range of spices, vegetables and tinned foods. Vegetables are readily available around Uganda, though vegetarians are less catered for in restaurants.

Accommodation

This is one of the areas that most travelers fail to stick to a budget. The accommodation in Uganda comes in all ranges, and you can find options ranging from 1 star to 5 stars depending on where you are. Usually in towns, accommodation rates are quite high, but if you travel a few kilometers outside of the city center, you might find a budget-friendly, comfortable and quiet option.

A budget option for backpackers in Uganda is to stay at a hostel, which is a great budget option for most travellers to Uganda both local and international. There are a wide range of hostels that you can check out like Kyampisi Backpackers Home, Nile River Camp, and Red Chilli among others.

Camping is greatly increasing in popularity in Uganda, there is also an increase in the number of organized campsites. The fees for these tend to differ depending on whether you have your own tent or not.

Another budget accommodation option is to find a home stay, though these are quite hard to arrange in Uganda. Most homestays are arranged through word of mouth, so if you have a friend who has travelled here before, they can recommend places they have been to.

Budget Safaris and Tours in Uganda

Stick to budget tours and safaris in Uganda

Stick to budget tours and safaris in Uganda

It is always good to visit a country and carry back as many memories of it as possible because we never know when we will visit again. Carrying a camera is very important on such trips and knowing how to get the best deals is another way.

When it comes to budget safari options, group tours are the best; you don’t only get to mingle with people from other nations and walks of life, you also get to kick away the boredom of traveling alone, and it even gives you the courage to try out some adventures that you wouldn’t have tried if you were alone.

For solo travelers, the best time to travel in Uganda is during the low season; that is the rainy season and there are pools in the parks, that’s if you are not afraid of getting stuck while there. The most unique thing during this time though, it is the period when the country is most beautiful, the savannah plains and everywhere else is covered in green and photography is at its best. There a different glow too when the sun shines over in the afternoons and evenings.

Another unique and better way is to go off the beaten paths and explore places that most tourists rarely visit and discover these raw and untouched wild places. Among these are rarely visited waterfalls like Kisizi, Itanda, almost deserted islands in the Victoria Lake, dense forests like maramagambo, tea, sugarcanes and coffee plantations that adorn Uganda’s nature. Such places keep you immersed in nature’s own ambiance and make you part of it.

Transportation on a Budget

If your plan is backpack Uganda extensively, then you will most likely use public means or walk. There are private means of transport like hiring a cab or hiring a car to drive yourself but the charges on these make them expensive in the long run especially if you are staying longer in the country. There are a lot of options in regards to the public means for you to choose from as well.

Mini buses/ taxis or matatus are also used to get from city to city. These do not run on a set schedule but rather leave when full; they are the most affordable means when going from town to town or city to city though one has to be certain of their destination/ drop off when considering these.

And the boda-boda (motorcycle taxis) found almost every in Uganda; one of the most popular and exciting way of getting around though they should be approached with caution, and don’t do it unless you feel comfortable.

Travel Uganda on a Budget

Hop on a boda-boda to travel in Uganda on a budget

The buses that go across regions and the most comfortable and more organized in regards to payments and staging. There are plenty of bus and coach service providers in Uganda that link nearly all towns and cities. Most tickets provided within Uganda are one way, so you can spend as much or less time in a region as you desire.

Private taxis/special hires are also helpful in some cases. These are comfortable and can be relied on when getting around as they drop/ pick up to/from your specified location. They usually charge per kilometer or route and depending on the deal you give them.

Volunteering

Volunteering is a great way to travel Uganda on a budget

Volunteering is a great way to travel Uganda on a budget

One other way of backpacking Uganda on budget is through volunteering. Volunteering gives you a touch to a country’s culture than anything else; you get to move deep down to the grassroots, get immersed in particular culture, learn and share ideas, something an itinerary limits. There are number of organizations that provide volunteering services to students, professionals and seniors in different communities across the country and some of these have extra activities over the weekends that help you to discover and travel around. Ssamba Foundation provides free volunteering to Uganda.

Affordable Travel Insurance

It is always good to travel with Travel insurance, especially to a country like Uganda where you will have new experiences on almost everything. Insurance will help protect yourself from a lot of would-be hustles, when you run out of money, or when things are not going your way. Travel insurance will get you covered if you face the unexpected, like if your luggage gets lost and you need to replace your belongings, or when you fall seriously ill and need to fly back. One of the most commonly used travel insurance company is World Nomads and the reviews about it are very good.


There are many other ways a person can travel to Uganda on budget, it could be through consulting a friend who has been here before, or having to stick to a budget to get you going. Everyone traveling on budget has a special way of doing it apart from the basics, like having a local guide friend to help you juggle day to day life or get attached to an organization that offers country coordinators.

Backpacking around Australia is an amazing experience. You get to explore natural wonders at your fingertips from white sand beaches and lagoons to natural rainforests, mountains and ranges.

With all this travelling though, it can often end up being an expensive trip. If you are backpacking in Australia, you may have come across the issue of being low on funds.

With this in mind, one of the best ways to make the most of your time in Australia and avoid running out of money is to work while you travel. If you’re not too sure where to start, we can help you out. Take a look at our top 5 backpacker jobs to earn money in Australia.

Fruit picking jobs

Discover fruit picking jobs all around Australia

Discover fruit picking jobs all around Australia

Fruit picking jobs and harvest work, in general, are highly seasonal, but they are also a fun way to earn money in Australia while backpacking. Finding fruit picking jobs in Australia is a great way to see more of the lesser travelled parts of Oz while making some lifelong friends along the way. You can travel the length and breadth of the country following the harvest seasons. From banana farms in the tropical north to blueberry picking in New South Wales through to apple and pear harvests in Tasmania.

Some great places to look for fruit and produce picking jobs in Australia include Murray River, the Queensland Coast, The Top End of the Northern Territory and Margaret River in Western Australia.

Pros

  • It’s fairly easy to pick up a position as farmers are always looking for help
  • Pay is decent at anywhere from $25.41 to $30 an hour
  • You get to spend your time outdoors away from a desk

Cons

  • Fruit picking jobs in Australia can be physically hard and tiring
  • Not as reliable long term as other industries
  • Being out in the sun all day can lead to sunburn and heat fatigue

Gig economy jobs

Find a wide range of gig economy jobs in Australia to earn money while backpacking

Find a wide range of gig economy jobs to earn money in Australia while backpacking

The gig economy is heating up, with plenty of people turning to odd jobs such as food delivery or air tasker jobs to help earn some extra cash. Like many casual positions, you get out what you put in, so if you’re willing to work, you can make a good amount of cash here. Earning money in Australia with gig economy jobs can include everything from rideshare drivers and food delivery drivers to pet sitters, furniture removalists or freelancers. The scope is wide and can be tailored to your interests, skills and talents.

A great benefit of the gig economy is that you can do it practically anywhere there is internet service. This makes it a great way to earn money in Australia while backpacking with little to no experience.

Pros

  • Flexibility and ability to travel while working
  • Huge variety of gig economy jobs available in Australia, so you shouldn’t struggle to find work
  • You can often work to your own timetable, which is perfect for those who want to spend more time sightseeing and exploring

Cons

  • Often requires you to have your own equipment or vehicle such as a bike, car, laptop etc depending on the job
  • Pay can be lower than a traditional job
  • No job security or peace of mind

Bar and hospitality jobs in Australia

Working in hospitality is a great way to earn money in Australia while backpacking. Australia has a huge hospitality industry, so you should be able to find work anywhere in the country, especially in the top tourist destinations. Many businesses will hire and train someone even if they don’t have any experience, which makes it a great option for everyone.

Hospitality jobs can be found all around Australia, simply walk into any bar or restaurant and ask to see the manager.

Pros

  • Work experience not often required
  • Easy to find work throughout Australia
  • Pay is usually reasonable, especially if penalty rates are offered

Cons

  • You will often have to give up your weekend and evenings
  • Can be harder to go exploring for more than a day or two due to shift work
  • Customer service isn’t necessarily for everyone

Fishing jobs

If you have some experience on fishing vessels or in the industry, you shouldn’t have any trouble getting a position in one of the many coastal towns in Australia. Working on a fishing vessel or charter cruises is a great way to spend some time on the water while earning some extra cash.

These jobs understandably are found in coastal locations in Australia, so might not be suitable if prefer larger metro destinations.

Pros

  • Fishing jobs in Australia offer great pay
  • If you love fishing or being on the water, you’ll have a great time while getting paid
  • You’ll learn a lot about the industry and location from your coworkers and team

Cons

  • Experience in such a position is often required
  • Limited positions depending on location and season may be available, making it a competitive job market
  • Hours of work are often long

Housekeeping work in hotels and hostels

Work in a hotel or hostel to earn money while backpacking Australia

Work in a hotel or hostel to earn money in Australia while backpacking

Housekeeping jobs are a quick and easy way to earn money in Australia while backpacking around. You will have plenty of places to find work from hotels and motels to the hostel that you are staying in. Housekeeping often has set hours that allow for plenty of time to explore your current location.

You will be able to find plenty of housekeeping jobs no matter where you are, to earn money in Australia while backpacking.

Pros

  • Housekeeping jobs in Australia are often easy to find
  • Pay rates are often quite good, with $20 – $30 an hour being standard
  • Experience is often not required to get into the industry

Cons

  • Can be a physically demanding job, with lots of walking around and picking things up
  • You may find some duties unpleasant
  • You are often expected to work swiftly and accurately, requiring attention to detail

Backpacking around Australia doesn’t mean that you have to chew through your entire travel fund and head home early if you run out of money. With some creative thinking and a bit of research on the internet, you will be able to find plenty of jobs that can help you earn money in Australia while still experiencing the best that the country has to offer.

Backpacker Job Board is a great place to start your job search. The site is free to use and has 100s of active job vacancies, all suitable for working holidaymakers.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could travel, meet new people, broaden your horizons, and generally have a grand adventure without blowing a hole in your wallet (or selling your kidney for that matter)? Believe it or not, you actually can (no kidneys involved). Some savvy backpackers have the formula figured out – they manage to globetrot on an amount of money you typically spend in your city for daily living.

While you don’t need to globetrot (not unless you want to), you could still have an awesome weekend trip on a shoestring budget, spending no more than you would anyway at home. It requires some planning, clever workarounds, and a few minor sacrifices. Read on for our best tips for how to plan a weekend trip on a budget.

Pick a flight first instead of a destination

The typical travel process is this: You pick a destination you want to visit and then, hopefully, find a cheap flight to get there. We recommend flipping the script: Pick a cheap flight first to a likely-looking destination. It could save you hundreds of dollars.

Furthermore, even if the destination isn’t your first choice, that doesn’t make it a bad one. There are plenty of undiscovered gems out there. You can and will still have a good time.

Be creative with your food

Besides flights, food and drinks will be amongst your biggest expenses when you’re figuring out how to plan a weekend trip on a budget, reports GOBankingRates. You could reduce your spending by being creative with your food. For example, pick a hotel or hostel with free breakfast, skip lunch, and then splurge on dinner. If you’re looking to penny-pinch, you could cook your own food or try cheap supermarket meals.

Hunt for last-minute deals or check out “secret” deals

Online travel portals will often feature last-minute discounts – say when a particular flight or destination isn’t fully booked. It pays to scour these deals. You will have to be flexible, but you could snag a top-tier destination at a rock-bottom rate. Secret deals are also worth trying out. They often include stays in well-known hotels and resorts. You find out the exact details after booking.

Have a Saturday-Monday weekend off-season

How to plan a weekend trip on a budget

Avoid peak weekend prices by traveling Saturday to Monday

When demand is high, so are prices. When you’re figuring out how to plan a weekend trip on a budget, consider traveling from Saturday to Monday (people typically book flights and stay Friday through Sunday). Traveling off-season also helps. “Shoulder season”, says Real Simple, is a good time to travel because it offers good pricing, fewer people, and better access to destinations. It refers to the period between low and high seasons for a particular destination.

Look for cheap or free stays

It goes without saying – prioritize cheap stays whenever possible. If you don’t mind sharing a room, you could have a perfectly comfortable bed in a hostel for $20 per night. If you’d prefer a bit more privacy, you could also find an affordable Airbnb, hotel room, or similar. You should scour top sites (like Booking.com) for deals.

Image via Unsplash

Prioritize hostels with free breakfast, classes, and activities

Plan a weekend trip that includes activities to stick to your budget

Book accommodation that includes activities to stick to your budget

Hostels are usually a good idea not just because of the cheap room, but also the board. Many throw in free breakfast and allow you to cook food in the kitchen. Furthermore, some offer special classes and activities to travelers. These range from yoga classes to walking tours, and everything in between. Not only could you have fun, but you’d also save money.

Minimize touristy activities

They call them tourist traps for a reason. Many tourist-related attractions charge premium prices. You will also end up paying more for eating or shopping in a place that’s near a major tourist landmark. If you truly want to experience a destination as well as save money, consider living like a local.

Make a budget and stick to it

This is just like our first tip: Usually, people pick a destination and then decide on a budget. It may be a good idea to reverse that process when determining how to plan a weekend trip on a budget – make a budget first. Think up how much you’d be okay with spending on entertainment, food, travel, shopping, and similar. Then stick to your resolution. Too many people end up overspending because they don’t hold themselves to a budget.

Share your travels and potentially earn money

If you’re the especially entrepreneurial type, you could also monetize your travel. You’ve likely heard of travel blogging, vlogging, and similar. You will need to document your travels, take plenty of photos, and share it all with your viewers. At the very least, you could have some memories for later (something to show your grandkids).

Good-quality snaps on social media can help you attract followers (and generally make good memories). You may need to use a photo size editor to adjust the size of your images to fit a social media platform’s requirements. It’s as simple as uploading a snap from your phone or camera, having it resized, and then download it for use on the social media page.

Image via Unsplash

Planning a weekend trip on a budget – final thoughts

As you can see, traveling doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive. Of course, when figuring out how to plan a weekend trip on a budget, you may have to forgo a few creature comforts, but you can still have a wonderful time. It’s a weekend well spent and will let you come back to work energized and refreshed. Don’t forget to follow these safety and general tips for the best results.

Sydney is the backpacker hub of Australia. 

It is a world-famous city with iconic landmarks such as the Sydney Opera House, the Harbour Bridge, Bondi Beach, and more. And Australia, in general, is an easy country to travel around because it has good infrastructure, friendly locals, and a strong backpacker community 

The main obstacle for backpackers in Australia is usually money!

Australia is a notoriously expensive country, and Sydney is one of the more expensive places to visit Down Under. Though you’ll definitely spend more money backpacking in Australia than you would in places like Southeast Asia or Central America, it is still possible to explore cheaply. 

This guide will break down backpacking Sydney on a budget. You can stay in Sydney and have an epic time without spending a fortune. You just need to know how to use your money wisely. 

Throughout this budget travel guide, you will learn about flights, transport, accommodation, food, drinks, and activities in Sydney. And you’ll learn how to do it all on a backpacker budget!

How to Find Cheap Flights To Sydney

Don't let your budget hold you back from experiencing Sydney!

Don’t let your budget hold you back from experiencing Sydney!

Because Australia is so far away from most of the world, your flights to and from Sydney may be your biggest expense. Flying to Australia is not cheap, especially if you’re coming from the Americas or Europe. 

But it is possible to score affordable flights to Sydney. The best tips for finding cheap flights to Sydney are:

  • Fly Off Season
  • Fly Budget Airlines
  • Be Flexible 

In Sydney, Summer is peak travel season. From December to February, people are on holidays, the weather is hot and sunny, and everyone wants to hang out at the beach and have parties. Summer in Sydney is so much fun, but it’s also crowded and expensive. 

The best time to visit Australia is probably the shoulder seasons of Spring or Autumn. You’ll still get beautiful weather, but the crowds will be less intense and the flight prices will drop. For the cheapest flights to Sydney, visit in winter. Temperatures are a bit chilly, but you’ll still get lots of sunshine and you’ll find flights for as much as half of what they cost during peak season!

Also be flexible with your travel dates and times, and fly budget airlines. If you’re traveling a long distance to Australia, you’ll probably need one or two layovers. Browse websites like Skyscanner or Google Flights to compare different airlines and layover cities. 

Flights with more layovers, early or late flight times, and budget airlines will be much cheaper. Sure, a direct flight on a nice airline may be more comfortable. But if you’re backpacking Sydney on a budget, pick the cheapest flight and save money for fun activities when you arrive. 

Transport Within Sydney

Once you arrive in Sydney, public transport will become your best friend. There is pretty good public transport throughout the city, and it’s significantly cheaper than taking taxis or Ubers. 

I wouldn’t recommend renting a car in Sydney, as there is a lot of traffic and parking can be expensive and stressful. If you plan on doing any road trips around NSW, then you can rent a car for that. But for getting around in the Sydney CBD, stick to walking and public transport. 

The best form of public transport in Sydney is the train. It covers most of the CBD and Eastern Suburbs, and even goes down the NSW South Coast, up to the Central Coast, and to the Blue Mountains. 

The train is super well organized and easy to navigate. Train journeys in Sydney are capped, so you can ride unlimited journeys and the most you’ll spend is $16.30 per day or $50 per week. On weekends and public holidays, the rate is capped at $8.15 per day. 

Efficient and affordable, the train is the best way to get around Sydney on a budget

Efficient and affordable, the train is the best way to get around Sydney on a budget

You can also take buses, ferries, the metro, or the light rail around the city. The Northern Beaches don’t have trains, so bus and ferry are the best options there. 

For all Sydney public transport, use an Opal Card. You can pick one up at any convenience store and top up at the train stations. With such easy, straightforward public transport, you should never have to pay for a taxi! When possible, walk around Sydney as this is obviously free and the best way to exercise and see everything. 

Budget Accommodation in Sydney

Accommodation is not that cheap in Sydney, unfortunately. If you’re backpacking Sydney on a budget, I would avoid hotels altogether and just stick with hostels!

Hostels in Sydney

Hostels are a budget traveler’s best friend. Most of the hostels in Sydney are very nice as well, with lots of amenities, a social atmosphere, and fun events and activities. Just read traveler reviews on Hostelworld so you know what to expect at any hostels you book. 

Most hostels in Sydney cost around $20-$40 AUD per night for a bed in a mixed dorm room. Private rooms are anywhere from $80-$100 USD per night. If you’re backpacking, I highly recommend staying in dorm rooms. It’s a fun experience and you’ll meet lots of other travelers. 

Wake Up! hostel located in the heart of Sydney

Wake Up! hostel located in the heart of Sydney

Mad Monkey, Wake Up!, and Summer House are the three most popular and highly rated hostels in Australia. Each one has numerous locations around Sydney, such as Bondi Beach, Coogee Beach, Kings Cross, and other spots in the CBD. But there are many more options, so just browse Hostelworld for all the best Sydney hostels. 

How To Find Free Accommodation in Sydney

If you want to take your money saving to the next level, there are ways to get free accommodation in Sydney. 

The first is couchsurfing. This is an online platform that connects travelers with locals all over the world. You can stay on someone’s couch or in their spare room for free! Just always trust your instincts, use good street smarts, and only stay somewhere if you feel comfortable. 

Another option to save money on accommodation is doing a work exchange. This is when you work in exchange for free accommodation. The work is usually only about 20 hours per week, and popular work exchange options include working in a hostel, helping a local with housekeeping or childcare, or volunteering on a farm or eco village. 

Work exchanges offer a cool cultural experience that you may find on the usual tourist trail. You can live with locals, learn new skills, and save money. 

Eating and Drinking on a Budget in Sydney

It is possible to eat and drink in Sydney on a budget. I would recommend sticking to the following tips:

  • Cook most of your own meals
  • Shop at budget grocery stores and farmers markets
  • Dine out for lunch rather than dinner
  • Visit Happy Hours
  • Drink local stuff
  • Ask for local recommendations

If you eat out often and get cocktails in fancy bars every night, you’ll spend so much money in Sydney. The dining and nightlife in the city is really expensive, whether you’re a local or a backpacker. 

If possible, stay in a hostel with a communal kitchen. That way you can cook a lot of your own meals and prepare packed lunches for long days of exploring. Shop at local markets and budget grocery stores like ALDI for the most affordable food. 

Stay on budget in Sydney by cooking meals in your hostel's kitchen

Stay on budget in Sydney by cooking meals in your hostel’s kitchen

That being said, don’t restrict yourself too much! Sydney has lots of amazing eateries, and if you’re a real foodie, definitely treat yourself here and there. Ask any locals you meet what their favorite spots are, as they will probably be more affordable than spots in the touristy areas. 

Look up local happy hours, as you can find food and drinks that cost as little as half the normal price. Many restaurants and pubs do cheap lunch specials as well, so eating out at lunch is often cheaper than dinner. 

Drinking alcohol is also pretty expensive in Sydney, but local beers and wines are cheaper than imported. Cocktails cost around $15-$20 each, so don’t go overboard on those or you’ll spend a fortune. Even at a liquor store (known as a “Bottle-o” to the Aussies), hard alcohol is expensive, so stick to local beer and wine. 

Free Things to Do in Sydney

Strolling around Sydney's famous waterfront

Strolling around Sydney’s famous waterfront

To save money in Sydney, fill your schedule with these free activities:

  • Exploring the Royal Botanic Gardens
  • Strolling around Sydney Harbour
  • Walking across the Sydney Harbour Bridge
  • Admiring the Sydney Opera House (from the outside)
  • Visiting St Mary’s Cathedral
  • Sunbathing at Bondi Beach
  • Walking the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk
  • Walking the Manly to Spit Bridge Coastal Walk
  • Window Shopping in Newtown
  • Wander through the Queen Victoria Building
  • Go on a Free Walking Tour
  • Relax in Hyde Park or Centennial Park
  • Browse the Art Gallery of NSW or the Museum of Contemporary Art
  • Seeing the light installations at Vivid Sydney (If you’re there in May-June)

So there are lots of free things to do in Sydney! Just walking around the Harbour, the beaches, and the free art galleries are amazing ways to enjoy the city without spending a dime. 

Other Affordable Things To Do In Sydney

Some fun Sydney attractions cost money, but they are definitely worth it. If you balance out your free activities with some costly ones, you’ll be able to make the most of Sydney without spending heaps of money. 

There are some activities that cost a lot of money, such as a luxury harbour cruise, a Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb, skydiving, or enjoying a multi-course fine dining experience. Because this is a guide to backpacking Sydney on a budget, I’ll skip going into detail, because most budget travelers aren’t looking to drop hundreds of dollars. 

However, these activities are still super fun, and they cost under $100 each. Book ahead using Get Your Guide or Viator to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

  • Touring the Sydney Opera House
  • Taking a surf lesson in Bondi
  • Going to a comedy show
  • Visiting the National Maritime Museum
  • Riding the ferry from Circular Quay to Manly
  • Kayaking or snorkeling at Shelly Beach
  • Renting a bike in the Northern Beaches
  • Enjoying the view from the top of the Sydney Tower Eye
  • Seeing the animals at Taronga Zoo
  • Visiting the historic Luna Park

Day Trips From Sydney

If you have some spare days during your day, definitely do a day trip from Sydney! There is so much natural beauty around the city, from the Royal National Park, to the Blue Mountains and more. 

Visit the Blue Mountains on a day trip from Sydney

Visit the Blue Mountains on a day trip from Sydney

The cost of Sydney day trips depends on how you do them. If you book a guided tour that includes all your transport to and from the city, they can cost around $150-$200 AUD. 

If you take public transport and explore on your own without a tour, they may only cost $50 AUD or less. For example, you can take the train directly from the Sydney CBD to Katoomba in the Blue Mountains and do a free day hike. Or take the South Coast Train line down to Wollongong or Kiama. 

You could also rent a car for day trips. Just do a bit of research about what transport is available when you choose where you want to visit. 

Here are some of the best day trips from Sydney:

  • Hiking in the Blue Mountains
  • Seeing the amazing coastal views in the Royal National Park
  • Wine tasting in the Hunter Valley
  • Road tripping down the Grand Pacific Drive and passing the Sea Cliff Bridge
  • Hiking in Dharawal National Park
  • Checking out Wollongong
  • Hiking in the Illawarra Escarpment 
  • Visiting Stanwell Park and Bald Hill
  • Touring Symbio Wildlife Park
  • Exploring Newcastle
  • See the Kiama Blowhole

Backpacking Sydney on a Budget: Final Thoughts

Although Australia is one of the world’s most expensive countries to visit, you can still explore on a budget! Sydney is an amazing city and with the right mindset and these budget travel tips, you can enjoy this city cheaply. 

Travel off season, take public transport, stay in hostels, eat and drink like the locals do, and stick to mainly free or cheap activities in Sydney. You will have no problem backpacking Sydney on a budget!

Backpacking Sydney on a Budget

Pin Backpacking Sydney on a Budget