Xplore Sydney on a Student’s Budget

An Economic, Leisure & Adventurous trip to make the most out of your week when in Sydney. This travel log submitted by Natasha Menon will take you through her experience and the itinerary she followed for a 6 day trip in and around Sydney.


Enjoy the iconic landmarks of Sydney

Enjoy Gelato with a view of the Harbour Bridge

Take a ferry to beautiful Manly

Explore Manly Beach & the historic walks

Visit the beautiful St.Mary Cathedral

Learn about Australia and its history at the Australian Museum

Visit the beautiful Newtown

Relax at one of the beautiful beaches of Sydney


Appox. 150 AUD per day.


I live in Sydney, but there many youth hostels that are reasonably priced as well as the AirBnb which is a popular option for friends traveling together.



To keep it on a budget and explore the city, you have all these modes of transport available in Sydney.

  • Bus Transport Systems
  • Train Transport System
  • Boats and Ferries
  • Walking and Hiking

The best thing to do in Sydney is to invest on an Opal Card. You can purchase them from any convenience stores and can top them up online, via an app or at the machines at the stations. These gives you access on all public transportation in the state of New South Wales ( trains, buses and ferries). Trains run from 4:30 AM – 1AM and buses are available most of the time , though they are fewer in number after 11PM. This also depends on the places you visit.
You can download the Opal App or use Google maps to access public transport routes to the places that you are going to.



  • Arrive at Sydney, Pick up guide book from Airport/ Seaport/ Stations. These usually mention events that occur within the month that you decide to visit.
  • Reach accommodation and rest for a bit.
  • Around 1-2 PM, Take a train/ bus to Circular Quay. Besides having many restaurants, cafes and bars here decorating the sea side Quay, this is the location from where you get a beautiful view of The Harbour Bridge and you can walk towards the Sydney Opera House. It is a beautiful place to just take Instagram-able photos, explore the Opera House and the Royal Botanical Gardens.
  • If you are peckish, there is a Hungry Jacks at the entrance of station. They offer fast food, but have a diverse variety of food , with options for vegans/vegetarians as well. This is a good option for a light snack as you can have quite a bit to eat for a bargain cost.
  • From Circular Quay, you can walk up to The Rocks, a historic area which holds some of Sydney’s oldest bars and pubs as well hotels. The Rocks also has weekend street markets that is quite a sight.
  • From the Rocks area, you can climb up on to a walkway that stretches across the length of the Harbour Bridge. During the walk across the Harbour Bridge, you will find The Pylon Lookout. This lookout will give you a 360 degree birds-eye view of the city, and an experience pretty similar to the Harbour Bridge walk, but for a fraction of the price (Extra points- there are special rates for students, so do carry your student card with you).
  • The walk across takes about 15 to 30 minutes from Circular Quay to Milsons Point, where Luna Park is located. You can enter Luna Park without a ticket, but if you are interested in going on rides , then you need to purchase a ticket. It’s definitely worth a look, especially during and after sunset as there are many light displays at Luna Park.
  • End the night by taking a train back to Circular Quay where there are an array of restaurants to pick for dinner. One of my favorite places to eat is Chat Thai, which is located a couple of minutes away from the station. It has reasonable prices & Thai food with amazing range of meats, noodle, rice and soups available.
  • Another place I would recommend is Ribs and Burgers at The Rocks. Their outdoor seating provides a beautiful view of the harbour, with the bridge and Opera house in view. Ribs and Burgers may be a bit more pricey compared to Chat Thai, but their portions are quite big and meals can be shared.
  • You can end the day by relaxing by the harbour, watching street performances and have an cone of Gelato from Messina (hands down the best gelato I have had).


  • On a nice sunny day, start early (around 9-10 am) to Manly.
  • To get to Manly, you need to take bus/train to Circular Quay, and take a ferry from there to Manly.
  • Do carry sun protection ( sunglasses, hat and sunscreen) as well as enough water as it will be a full day of activity. There are spots on Manly beach and Shelly Beach where you can refill your water bottles.
  • The ferry ride to Manly is very scenic and beautiful and it will take about 30 mins to reach Manly. From Manly wharf, you can walk down to Manly beach. This walkway to the beach is surrounded by souvenir shops, clothing stores and restaurants. They even have a street market on the weekends.
  • On reaching Manly Beach, you can relax on the beach, and if the weather permits take a dip or surf the waves. You can grab a bite to eat from the many restaurants, cafes and bars located near Manly Beach. If you would like to just grab a quick and cheap bite, there a few fast food places located close by. I would recommend trying the Manly Kebab Shop, where they have huge slices of pizza and pide ( kinda like fatayar- a Lebanese/ Arabic pastry filled with cheese/meat/spinach) for $4. They also make sandwiches and wraps.
  • If you prefer a more sit-down, ‘drink a cocktail and take pretty pictures’ place, I would recommend Hemingway, a cosy pub at Manly Beach. They are reasonably prices with good food and good drinks menu. They also have live performances during the evening and other events.
  • From Manly Beach, you can follow the Scenic beach trail to Shelly Beach, which is a small quaint beach where many people scuba dive. Its shallow waters are calm and peaceful and very ideal to take a relaxing dip in.
  • After drying off in the sun, follow the trail up to to the Shelly beach lookout which will give you a beautiful view of the ocean. The climb isn’t very difficult and people at any fitness level can climb to it.
  • From here you can walk along the path into the Historic walkways where you can see some World War II dig outs. Walk along this path to see some beautiful display of Australian flora.
  • The walkways will lead up to to the North Head offering sweeping views of the harbour and Sydney city skyline. This walk can take around 1-2 hours depending on your fitness level and the number of times you stop. The walk back to Manly Wharf takes about 30 mins.
  • After the long exhausting day, its up to you on whether you would like to sit and relax at Manly Beach, grab a bite to eat from the many restaurants in the area and then watch the sunset on the ferry back to the main city (maybe to enjoy another cone of Messina Gelato, trust me you will get hooked),
  • OR , take the ferry back to the main city and rest and freshen up to explore the nightlife the city has to offer.


  • Start your day by Visiting the St. Mary Cathedral by walking from Town Hall or taking a train to St.James Station or the nearest bus stop. The Church is built in Gothic style with beautiful sculptures and strain-glass windows.
  • The Australian Museum is just minutes away from the cathedral. If you are interested in learning about Australia, then this would be a great place to visit. They also have special rates for students, so don’t forget to carry your student ids with you at all time. The museum has 4 floors of wonderful exhibit that any museum enthusiast would thoroughly enjoy.
  • Hyde Park is also very close to the Australian Museum and St.Mary’s. You can spend some time there relaxing in the sun. There are a lot of shops, restaurants and malls in the area if you are interested in getting a bite to eat or do some shopping.
  • This area is the location of one of my favorite Thai restaurants- ABB Thai. They have a cute little restaurant 5-7 minutes away from Town Hall station. I absolutely love their chicken dim-sum and their noodle dishes. They have a good Thai tea as well. They are pretty reasonably priced and once again their meals can be shared.
  • If you are in the Town Hall area, you have to taste the cheese tarts from Uncle Tetsu. They are the most delicious, melt-in-the-mouth dessert available just for $4 (YOU HAVE TO TRY IT, YOU JUST HAVE TO).
  • Darling Harbour would be an ideal place to visit after this. Just a 7-10 mins walk from Town Hall, the first thing I would recommend to do at Darling Harbour is to visit Chinese Garden of Friendship. Its is a very beautiful and serene place, which also luckily has student discounts on entrance tickets. After seeing the beautiful gardens, you can walk down to the main area where there are many restaurants, pubs and bars.
  • Also located at Darling Harbour is the Sea Life and Wild Life Aquarium and Madame Tussauds. If you are interested you can purchase discounted tickets online and visit these attractions, but these can be expensive.
  • Darling Harbour is known for its popular pubs and Happy Hour for drinks.
  • My favorite places to go for Happy Hour are 1) BlackBird– they have Happy Hour from 3-6 pm where all beer, wines and spirits as $5 and specialty cocktails are $8. They also have 15$ pizzas. They have a great view, being located on the first floor at Cockle Bay, and has a great ambience. 2) Tokio Hotel has the added advantage of having a longer happy hour, which is from 3-8 pm. Also located at Cockle Bay , this bar has live music and 5$ on house beer, wines and spirits and all cocktails are $10. You could hang out, have a drink and enjoy the sunset from these bars.
  • If you are lucky and are at Darling Harbour on a Saturday, you could even see the fireworks at Darling Harbour. End the night by having dinner either at one of the many eateries present at Darling Harbour or walk back into the city and pick a restaurant there.


  • Start Early (Around 7-8 AM) and head on to Wynard Station. This is where you can take a bus to Palm Beach. The journey can take about an hour or so. Once again, do not forget to carry enough water and sun protection as you will be spending most of the time outdoors.
  • If you do wish to pick up some food to eat , there is a sandwich bar in the station which serves freshly made rolls. There is also Coles Supermarket where you can pick up some snacks and drinks for the trip.
  • On reaching Palm Beach, it is up to you if you just want to relax by the beach or walk up to the Barrenjoey Lighthouse for a beautiful view of the peninsula. The pathways to walk up to lighthouse requires light-medium fitness level, and it is a 20 minute walk from the beach.
  • You can also explore the surrounding areas and head to the West Head Lookout for some scenic views and view aboriginal art.
  • Head back down from the beach and head down the road for about 15 mins to reach another section of Palm beach. This stretch of beach has restaurants lined along the side of the road. This is an ideal place for lunch. I would recommend trying Palm Beach Fish & Chips. This small quaint restaurant has been recognised by local newspapers and other establishments as having the best fish & chips in the region. They also have burgers and salads. They also have vegetarian options. They are reasonably priced and the meals are absolutely delicious. They also have yummy sorbet for just $5 (I recommend the coconut sorbet).
  • After lunch head out to the beach, where you can spend time relaxing in the sun, collecting shells and take a dip in the cool, calm waters. After spending a couple of hours here, head to the closest bus stop and head back to the city.
  • By the time you reach back, you will be quite exhausted and can use the night to rest and refresh for the next day.


  • You can relax and wake up today as it isn’t as intense as the day before.
  • After grabbing a coffee/tea and snack from on of the many coffee shops in the city, catch a train to Redfern.
  • Redfern has many interesting places to visit, one of them being Carriageworks. This establish as art installations put up my various artists, most of them being free to the public. It is definitely worth visiting.
  • After exploring Redfern, you can catch a train/bus to Newtown. Newtown is a bohemian area with tons of street area, innovative restaurants and a great area for vintage and thrift shopping. Just walking down the streets of Newtown is an experience itself.
  • It is my most favorite place to be. Walk into the many bookshops and get lost amongst the books, thrift shop at Vinny’s, or enjoy $2 dumplings at Dumpling Hut.
  • The Newtown Hotel also have drag shows every Friday night. There are many pubs and bars that offer happy hour as well as a collection of restaurants to try. They also have many dessert stops (yes they have a MESSINA!)
  • The most interesting place I have visited in Newtown is Lentil As Anything. It is a small quaint restaurant that doesn’t have a fixed menu or any prices. They serve vegan food and is a wonderful place in the community. It’s ambiance and the people you meet there is a must have experience.


  • BEACH DAY: Spend your last day in Sydney to visit one ( or more) of the wonderful beaches Sydney has to offer.
  • I would recommend Congwong Beach at La Perose. It is an hour away from the Sydney CBD, and has the calmest waters I have had the pleasure in swimming in.
  • The water is crystal clear and it is a beautiful place to visit. If Congwong is too far away, you could visit the beaches in Bondi Junction, including Bondi Beach. It is quite beautiful and there is a beautiful saltwater pool that you can access for just $7. This pool allows you a panorama view of the beach and is the perfect location for beautiful pictures.
  • After a fun day at the beach, you catch a bite to eat around the beaches or return to the city and explore Haymarket for some exciting Asian cuisine.


  • Always have sun protection on you. Sydney can get very hot. Also carry water. Keep phones charged. They are important when traveling with public transport.

If you want to explore more of Oceania, head to Tuvalu and be one of the very few who have visited this island nation in the Pacific.



I am a Masters student living in Sydney making the most and exploring the beautiful country.

Natasha Menon

You can reach out to Natasha on her Instagram

Ensure you travel responsibly and keep your carbon footprint to the minimum. Happy Xploring!

Want to share your Xperience and tell everyone about how you travel and plan your trips? Now you can, in just a few steps! Head out to Share your Trip page now!

Ismail Lakdawala

Ismail Lakdawala

A digital content creator, Ismail loves to explore new destinations and enjoys outdoor adventures! He's in love with all forms of stories, and is a big fan of movies and books!

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Nandan

    Good job Natasha…Acha

Leave a Comment, Question, Feedback or Opinion!


Rudraprayag - Confluence of the Alaknanda and Mandakini rivers (Panch Prayag)
Nishtha Jain

Panch Prayag in Uttarakhand

Rivers are considered sacred in India. In Hinduism, rivers are highly significant, andeach one represents a deity. In Uttarakhand, five holy river confluences are collectivelyknown as “Panch Prayag.” The most

Read More »

Xclusive Merch Launched

A little about us

We make content around DIY Adventures, Offbeat & Responsible Travel!