Sydney is one of the main backpacker destinations to visit when travelling Australia and quite rightly so. From the world-famous Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge, to Bondi Beach and the Blue Mountains, there really is something for everyone in this unique city.
When you first arrive here, it can be overwhelming! With such a vast choice of places to see and things to do, to make life easier, we’ve drawn up a list of some of the less well known places we recommend you should check out during your stay in Sydney.
If you plan on using public transport to get around the city, get yourself an Opal card from the 7/11 or city convenience store. This can be used on all forms of public transport, including buses, trains and ferries.
Not only will it save you from buying tickets for every journey, an opal card will give you a 30% discount on your train fares when travelling off-peak. Please also note that all bus stops in the Sydney CBD are prepay-only between 7:00am and 7:00pm on weekdays excluding public holidays.
Coogee to Bondi Walk (or vice versa)
This is a great way to see the Pacific coastal line and take some incredible photos to make everyone at home extremely jealous. The walk takes around 2.5 hours in total (if you don't stop off along the way) and encompasses five of the many beaches Sydney has to offer, including Coogee, Clovelly, Bronte, Tamarama, and Bondi. You can get the bus from Hyde Park on Elizabeth Street; the 372 and 373 buses are the most regular.
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Obviously, when in Sydney, everyone wants to visit the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. These iconic landmarks are surrounded by bars and restaurants dotted around the quay. One to check out is 'The Opera Bar' located, as the name suggests, in front of the opera house. The average drink costs around $10 so it’s pricey enough but lovely for a treat.
Royal Botanic Garden
Also in this part of the city, is the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney, which is a gorgeous oasis of calm and natural beauty. This is a great way to spend time outdoors. If you're on a budget or have time to spare, why not take a picnic and make an afternoon of it?!
Situated west of Sydney, the Blue Mountains is a breathtaking national park everyone should visit. It’s packed with things to do like ride the steepest incline railway in the world, see a range of wildlife, and take in panoramic views from a cable car.
Many travel desks sell tours priced between $80 - $110, which includes travel to and from the city, lunch and a tour guide. However, if you’re on a budget, or prefer to do your own thing, hop on the train from Central station (trains leave every hour) and travel to Katoomba. This takes around 2 hours, and if you go on a Sunday, this will only cost $2.50 with an opal card – bargain!
A red double-decker Explorer Bus departs from Katoomba Station and will take you to the top 30 attractions in the Blue Mountains. You can buy a hop-on / hop-off pass for the day for around $40.
The easiest way to get to Watsons Bay is to catch the ferry from Circular Quay, as it takes only 20 mins. This beach has a much more chilled out vibe, and the sea is calm so if you're looking to surf, this isn't the beach for you.
Again, the easiest way to get to Manly is via ferry; this takes around 40 minutes. In Manly, there are many shops, bars and restaurants, as well as a number of beautiful beaches.
Looking for a night out with the locals and some cool music? Go to the Hotel Steyne (located at the top end of the high street) on a Sunday night. At the top of the hotel they have 'the moonshine bar' where upon they have live reggae music; a different band plays each week.
You may have heard about or watched 'Home and Away'. This soap opera is actually filmed at Palm Beach. Situated North of Sydney, this is known as the jewel of the Northern Beaches. Again, the secluded beach is beautiful, and not too overcrowded or busy, even on weekends.
It will take between 1.5 - 2 hours to get there by public transport; however, it’s well worth the time if you have it. Take the L90 bus from George Street, use the stop in front of Event Cinemas.
3. Food & Drink
Sydney has a vast number of amazing restaurants and bars, all with different price ranges. As loads of our readers are backpacking, and therefore likely to be on a budget, we have included places you can go and get great value for money.
Cargo Bar, Darling Harbour
$10 steak, Monday - Wednesday, from 11.30am. What's not to love about this? You simply can't go wrong.
The Cuban Place, York Street, CBD
With live Cuban music, this a great place to visit to practice your salsa dancing. Go on Tuesday and Thursday for $6 mojitos, and on a Wednesday for $1 tacos!
Soda Factory, Surrey Hills
This really is an awesome bar/diner to visit. To enter the bar, you walk through a retro coca cola machine door, and once inside you have unique decor including pictures of iconic rock & roll stars and actors, cool music and a laid back atmosphere. Come here from 5pm on a Tuesday for the $1 gourmet hot dogs.
The Scary Canary, Kent Street, CBD
This is one of our favourite backpacker bars. The bar hosts a $10 menu daily, serving food until 9pm and it also does a dinner special each day for $7 between the hours of 7pm - 9pm.
Join them from 4pm - 6pm daily for happy hour, where you can get $4 local spirits, wines and beers. Come night time, The Scary Canary is a nightclub, with guest DJs weekly playing a variety of music. Wednesday night is the 'big one', as they host a 'wet T-shirt competition' which as you can imagine, is highly popular.
Mad Monkey, Kings Cross
This travel shop by day turns into a backpacker bar by night. Come along on a Thursday night for speed dating! This is a really fun night, whether you're looking for love, or just make new friends. It's cheap as chips too. You pay $10 a ticket, which includes a pizza and 3 drinks, and after this the drinks only cost $3! The best thing about this night? The person with the most 'likes' wins a free skydive or scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef!
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Beach Road Hotel, Bondi
A great venue, and very popular with backpackers on Wednesdays, as they offer free entry. Go between 2 rooms; upstairs has a live band and the second room has a live DJ playing a range of club music. They also show sports in the front downstairs bar. Beach Road is perfect for a mid-week night out, as it closes by 1am, so you can be in bed for an early start if needs be.
Blackbird Cafe, Darling Harbour
A great place to go for afternoon drinks, as the bar has a daily happy hour from 3pm - 6pm, with $4 spirits, wines and schooners, $5 coronas and $10 cocktails. Enjoy the views of the harbour whilst listening to deep house music, and enjoying a modern Australian bar. Come here on a Saturday night to get the best views of the popular Darling Harbour fireworks, which begin around 9pm.
The O-bar, George Street, CBD
The O-bar is a must do! Based on the 47th floor of a sky scraper, this incredible revolving bar supplies breathtaking views of the whole city including the Opera house and Sydney Harbour Bridge. Whilst the drinks are pretty pricey ($10 a beer, $18 - $20 a cocktail) it’s well worth visiting if you can afford it - we guarantee you will not be disappointed.
The Barber Shop, York Street, CBD
Again, this bar is a little pricey ($10 beers, $20 cocktails), however it’s one of the coolest bars in Sydney, and the cocktails are very good quality, so we think it’s well worth the money. To get to the bar, you walk through an old fashioned barber shop and through a metal sliding door at the back which leads to the bar. The vibe is very chilled and relaxed, and the bar has a 1920s theme. It’s different to any bar you have ever experienced.
Keep an eye out for the Taxback.com team as we’re often giving away free bar tabs in some of the bars we’ve mentioned above.
Come and say hello – we’re a friendly bunch!