1. Use the free tours
For the inside track on any city it’s hard to beat a local guiding you around, especially for free. The aptly named offers fun, three-hour walking tours accompanied by savvy locals. Look out for the guides - hard to miss thanks to their lime-green t-shirts – at Sydney Town Hall.
2. Walk the coathanger
Why pay over $200 (£130) to climb the Harbour Bridge, known affectionately locally as “the coathanger”, when you can snap up the same panoramic views for free by walking across? The 1.15km HarbourBridge walkway is best accessed from the north shore so you can keep your eyes on the Opera House as you stroll (or cycle) across.
3. Go swimming
Taking a dip in one of Sydneys thirty outdoor ocean pools is a classic Aussie experience. The water’s warm enough for year-round swimming and mercifully free of anything that will bite you (well, bar the odd hyperactive toddler). One of the most atmospheric pools is(free), built in 1887, and overlooking the equally lovely Bronte Beach.
4. Challenge yourself to a coastal hike
For those of you who own a pair of hiking boots as well as thongs (flip-flops) there are two excellent coastal walks that kick off from central Sydney: (6km) and the (10km).
5. Try a botanical escape
An oasis of calm (at least when its raucous fruit bats are asleep) Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens is a perfect escape from the hectic downtown area. Also within the park is the imposingly colonial (free entry), a kind of pint-sized Buckingham Palace, surrounded by manicured grounds.
6. Head to the free art galleries...
You could easily spend a day wandering around the NSW Art Gallery, whose vast collection includes Asian masterpieces as well as European Impressionist, Aboriginal and colonial works. For free contemporary art don’t miss the newly expanded or the .
7. ...as well as the free museums
Two of the finest free museums are the , which traces the country’s many links with the ocean and the , which, as well as the usual dinosaur skeletons, displays some pleasingly lethal creepy crawlies. Also free are the excellent yet often overlooked museums of the.
8. Take a free bus to a free internet spot
Look out for the which does a useful circuit of central Sydney every 10min. For free wi-fi try , you can check in on the lastest Rough Guides content online while you’re there.
9. Hit the Rocks
Easily the most atmospheric part of Sydney, the Rocks harbourside district is where the first Europeans stepped ashore on 26 January 1788. Strolling the cobblestone streets is, of course perfectly free, though its addictive weekend market should come with a wallet health warning.
10. Free festivals
Well worth timing your visit for, January’s features everything from burlesque circus to indigenous arts and kicks off with a huge free street party. Another annual fixture is the fabulous open-air exhibition. For other free events check out .