Top 10 Free Things To Do In Sydney

By Josh Edwards

May 10, 2024

Known around the world for its impressive landmarks, Sydney is one of the most instantly recognisable cities in Australia. It’s a popular tourist destination for international and domestic travellers, and is a great place to explore with a car. If you’re going to be in Sydney there are many budget friendly activities you can do during your trip, including some that are completely free of charge! Here’s our top 10 free things to do around Sydney.

1. Swim at Bondi Beach

Australia is famous for its white sandy beaches and bright blue sea, with Bondi Beach being one of the most iconic seaside locations. Easily reached with one of our hire cars, there’s plenty of parking along the foreshore near the Bondi Beach Lifeguard Tower. Pick a spot along the beach to relax in the sand and be sure to go for a swim in the refreshing salt water.

2. Stroll along the Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk

At the southern end of Bondi Beach you’ll find the start of the Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk. This stunning scenic trail winds its way along the cliff tops, giving you unrivalled views of the ocean. If you’re there between July and September you might be lucky enough to see humpback whales swimming past, as they complete their annual migration.

3. Take in the sights at Eveleigh Point

You may not have heard of Eveleigh Point but there’s no doubt you’ve seen it! Located in the heart of Sydney it’s home to the Sydney Opera House, the most famous building in Australia. From the end of the point, there are outstanding views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and city skyline, and on the eastern tip is the Benny Seal Resting Point. When exploring Eveleigh Point and the surrounding attractions it’s easy to drive in and park at a garage for the day, walking between the different points of interest.

4. Discover the Royal Botanic Gardens

Next to the Opera House is the expansive grounds of the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney. The oldest botanic garden in Australia, it’s home to over 20,000 different plants. Highlights include the Wildflower Meadow, Pioneer Memorial Garden, Succulent Garden, Cadi Jam Ora – First Encounters Garden, and Oriental Garden. If you’re there during spring be sure to embark on the Spring Walk and keep in mind there are free daily guided tours that you can reserve in advance.

5. Go back in time at Rocks Discovery Museum

On the walk between the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge you will likely pass the Rocks Discovery Museum. Housed inside a series of buildings that date back to 1844, the museum explores the early history of Sydney. It features archaeological artefacts from the area that are used to share stories of the past and examine historical events from different perspectives.

6. Explore the past at the Australian Museum

Opposite Hyde Park near the Anzac Memorial is the Australian Museum. There are over 21 million items in the collection, many of which are displayed in permanent exhibits. The Australian Museum also hosts special events where visiting collections from overseas museums are shared. It’s worth checking their website to see what’s on at the moment; in the past there’ve been opportunities to see terracotta warriors from China and treasures of the Egyptian pharaohs. 

7. Visit the Art Gallery of New South Wales

If you’re an art lover then make sure a visit to the Art Gallery of New South Wales is on your list of things to do! Directly south of the Royal Botanic Gardens, the art gallery displays a huge variety of pieces from different time periods and cultures. As well as free entry, there are also free daily tours that focus on specific parts of the collection, including gallery highlights, Indigenous art and 20th century pieces.

8. Spend the day at North Head

For those who like getting outdoors and having a bit of variety on their adventures, a visit to North Head is worth the drive. Easily accessible by car, the area boasts scenic walk trails, beaches, the old North Head Quarantine Station and historic sites left behind by the Australian Army, all of which have a level of free access. If you go up the coast a little, you’ll also find Shelly Beach, which has a reputation for being an excellent snorkelling spot.

9. Hike up to Barrenjoey Lighthouse

At the northern extreme of Sydney is the Barrenjoey Lighthouse. Built in 1881, it offers panoramic views of the area which are especially beautiful at sunrise. Getting up to the lighthouse involves a hike up the steep Smugglers Track or a longer but less strenuous walk up Barrenjoey Track. The closest place to park is the North Palm Beach carpark and while you’re there it’s absolutely worth checking out the beach; you might recognise it as Summer Bay from the long-running Australian TV show, Home and Away.

10. Chill out at one of the many parks

Sydney has no shortage of beautiful parklands and with a hire car you have the freedom to visit as many as you want. In the city centre is Hyde Park, the oldest public park in Australia, as well as Barangaroo Reserve, Mary Booth Lookout Reserve and Wendy Whiteley’s Secret Garden. Going a bit further out you can explore the expansive Centennial Park, visit Gap Park for cliff top views or go to Bradleys Head, which like North Head features a few interesting historic sites.

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