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Sydney and its surroundings are home to no shortage of splendid hikes and walks, including many with stunning views, whether of natural scenery or city skylines. When next visiting Sydney, consider adding some of these top hikes with a view near Sydney to your itinerary.

Sydney Harbour Foreshore Walk

Sydney Harbour Foreshore Walk with a view of the Sydney Opera House

Sydney Harbour Foreshore Walk

Much of the harbour foreshore of Sydney is public land, and it’s possible to walk for kilometres along it. Along the way, you’ll marvel at the views of the Sydney skyline, the Harbour Bridge and the sails of the Opera House.

A great spot to start a harbour-side walk is from the recently completed Barangaroo precinct. Just a short walk from Wynyard station and many city centre hotels, head north along the shoreline of grassy Barangaroo Reserve, before cutting past the former wharves at Jones Bay, and then underneath the span of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

The walk will become busier as you walk through the Rocks, past the Overseas Passenger Terminal and then to Circular Quay. Loop around past the Opera House (don’t miss checking out the sails up close), to the entrance of the Royal Botanic Garden.

Follow the path along the harbour’s edge of the gardens, around to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. You can then return to the city centre past the new wing of the Art Gallery of NSW.

Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk

Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk, one of the best hikes with a view near Sydney

Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk

Sydney is home to countless beautiful beaches, with none more famous than Bondi. Bondi Beach is also the start of the very popular Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk.

One of the chief attractions of this walk are the views of the many beaches that you pass, where it’s possible to enjoy a dip in the water. Heading south from Bondi, you’ll pass Tamarama, Bronte and Clovelly Beaches, before wrapping up at Coogee.

My top recommendation though is to find a spot to lounge on the rocks at Gordons Bay and enjoy a swim or snorkel in the turquoise waters, home to an underwater snorkelling trail.

While only 6km long, this hike has plenty of stairs, not to mention distractions along the way. Ideally allow at least half a day to complete it, stopping for brunch or lunch at one of the many cafes along the way.

Federation Cliff Walk

Federation Cliff Walk, one of the best hikes with a view near Sydney

Federation Cliff Walk

The Bondi to Coogee Walk isn’t the only coastal hike with views in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs. Another excellent walk is the Federation Cliff Walk, which follows the cliffs north of Bondi Beach, between Dover Heights and Watsons Bay.

The 5 km-long walk officially starts at Raleigh Reserve, but it’s possible to start from the northern side of Bondi Beach, following the signs for the Bondi to Manly Walk (a multi-day venture!) From Dover Heights onwards, the walk weaves between multiple clifftop reserves, sometimes with stretches of street in between.

Unlike the Bondi to Coogee Walk, there are no beaches along this walk. Combined with the lack of shade, it’s better to complete it in the cooler months of the year. During the winter and spring months keep an eye out for whales off the coast – the cliffs provide the perfect vantage point.

Once you reach Watsons Bay, take a stroll through Gap Park, then up to Gap Bluff in the Sydney Harbour National Park. Nearby Camp Cove Beach is a calm harbour beach that is ideal for a cooling swim. Alternatively, enjoy a drink in the beer garden at Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel or dine on seafood at Doyle’s. Then it’s an easy ferry ride back to the city.

Spit Bridge to Manly Walk

Spit Bridge to Manly Walk

Spit Bridge to Manly Walk

The Eastern Suburbs of Sydney doesn’t have a monopoly on scenic view walks in Sydney. Another very popular hike in Sydney is the Spit Bridge to Manly Walk, also known as the Manly Scenic Walkway.

Most hikers start this 10km-long walk at the Spit Bridge, before wrapping up in Manly, whether at the beach or its many pubs and restaurants. The Spit Bridge is an opening bridge that crosses Middle Harbour, connecting Mosman to the Manly Peninsula.

The walk starts relatively easy, following the shoreline past multiple harbour beaches, before it climbs after Clontarf Reserve into Sydney Harbour National Park. It’s surprising how much bushland still remains in this part of Sydney, thanks to the steep terrain.

Along much of the walk, there are beautiful views across Sydney Harbour to its southern shoreline, spotting the Manly ferries go by. Other highlights include the historic Grotto Point Lighthouse and Aboriginal rock engravings. You’ll also pass Reef Bay, a harbour beach only accessible on foot.

Prince Henry Cliff Walk

Prince Henry Cliff Walk, one of the best hikes with a view in the Blue Mountains near Sydney

Prince Henry Cliff Walk

Just west of Sydney are the magnificent Blue Mountains. This World Heritage-listed wilderness area is home to some stunning scenery, not to mention world-class hiking. Some hikes are quite strenuous, but for an easier hike with views near Sydney, hit up the Prince Henry Cliff Walk.

This easy walk stays entirely on top of the cliffs near the mountain town of Katoomba, rather than venturing down into the valleys below. The complete walk from the Katoomba Cascades to Gordon Falls is 7km one-way, but it’s also possible to walk just part of the walk and then retrace your footsteps.

The most popular part of the walk is the western end, in between Echo Point, home to the Three Sisters, and the Cascades. You’re never far from clifftop views and some excellent lookouts. The eastern part of the walk offers up more waterfalls. In total there are over 20 lookouts and three waterfalls along the track.

Giants Staircase Walk

Giants Staircase Walk, one of the best hikes with a view in the Blue Mountains near Sydney

Giants Staircase Walk

If you’d prefer a round-trip hike near the Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains, one of the most popular options is the Giants Staircase Walk. This hike combines part of the Prince Henry Cliff Walk with the Federal Pass Track. It’s one of the best hikes with a view near Sydney.

The most accessible place to start the walk is at Scenic World or a nearby carpark. Walk along the clifftop to the Katoomba Cascades and the start of the Prince Henry Cliff Walk, detouring to the many lookouts, before you arrive at Echo Point. From there it’s a short walk over to the Three Sisters, for an up-close view.

Now for the hard part. The Giants Staircase consists of 998 steps – it’s better to head down than up! At the bottom, turn right onto the Dardenelles Track, which soon joins up with the Federal Pass Track. Follow the signs to the Scenic World Boardwalk.

Once at the Scenic World Boardwalk, you have three options to ascend back up to the top of the cliffs. The easier options are the historic Scenic Railway (the steepest passenger railway in the world) or the more recent Scenic Cableway. Alternatively, the Furber Steps are a tough climb, but they’re free and offer more views along the way!

Wentworth Falls National Pass Walk

Wentworth Falls National Pass Walk

Wentworth Falls National Pass Walk

Katoomba and the Three Sisters aren’t the only highlights of the Blue Mountains National Park. Another popular destination in the park are the Wentworth Falls, a few kilometres to the east.

It’s a short walk from the carpark and picnic area to multiple lookout points and the top of the falls. But for more of an adventure, continue hiking down to the bottom of the main fall and take one of the multiple hiking trails to loop back up to the top for stunning views.

One of the best options is the National Pass. This track follows a narrow terrace in the middle of a long cliff, with spectacular views along much of it. The Federal Pass is longer and more strenuous.

Shortly after Empress Falls, follow the signs to the Queen Victoria Lookout and Conservation Hut. Then continue back along the top of the cliffs along the Overcliff Track and Undercliff Track. The complete loop is just under 5km.

Otford to Burning Palms Walk

Otford to Burning Palms Walk

Otford to Burning Palms Walk

Sydney is completely surrounded by national parks, with beautiful hikes on offer in every direction. If you’d instead prefer to head south of Sydney, the main national park is the Royal National Park, the second oldest national park in the world and the first in Australia.

This large national park contains a wide variety of hiking trails. One of the most spectacular is the Otford to Burning Palms Walk. This popular hike starts near Otford railway station, or alternatively park at Otford Lookout, on the southern edge of the park.

The hike follows the Coast Track route, passing multiple lookouts peering down at a few small beaches, including the interestingly named Hell Hole. After passing through the Palm Jungle, you’ll eventually reach Burning Palms, a remote beach that is only patrolled on weekends during the summer months.

A popular detour from Burning Palms is along the rock platforms to the south, to the Figure Eight Pool. Just be warned that this should only be attempted at low tide, and during calm seas, with several unfortunate accidents having occurred in recent years.

Return by the route you came, or else it’s possible to continue north and then turn up Burgh Ridge, returning by the Garrawarra Ridge fire trail, which is easier underfoot. Depending on your choices, expect to hike around 12km in total.

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