The first time I stepped off the train and into Sydney Harbour I was blown away. This is what I had been thinking about for months while I grinded and saved back home. Unfortunately it didn’t take me long to realize just how bloody expensive of a city it was. How was I going to enjoy this place on my shoestring of a budget?

Luckily there are a few things me and my buddy Josh discovered while we were there. Neither of us had much money to spend, granted we were taking a 3-month hiatus from work so it was self inflicted, and we didn’t want to spend EVERY day chilling at the beach. So we went out to see what Sydney had to offer for the broke af backpacker.

1. A drink at the Glenmore

Notice how I said drink and not drinks? One drink wont break the bank and it’s absolutely worth it to get yourself on to the rooftop patio at the Glenmore. This place is located just next the the harbor bridge in The Rocks. The rooftop patio gives an incredible view of the harbor and the Opera House and is possibly even more incredible at night. It’s a little bit out of the way so while not the best kept secret in Sydney you should never struggle to get a spot to sit and enjoy the view.

2. Take a ferry somewhere

Sydney is lucky to have ferries as a major part of their public transport network. This means you can get out on the water for next to nothing. For just a few dollars you can take Sydney in from the water. Sailing back into Sydney Harbour under the bridge, is a pretty special experience. Something that special shouldn’t come so cheap. For a great journey along the inner harbor try visiting Cockatoo Island. Want to see some of the outer coast? Take the ferry to Manly instead.

3. Swim in Bronte Beach Rockpool

Probably the most famous rockpool in the world is at Bondi Icebergs. Guests are welcome year round and it costs just $7 including access to the Sauna. What’s that you say…I thought this was an article for true backpacker budgets? Well if you don’t want to cough up the $7, and trust me I’ve been there, you can take the absolutely stunning Bondi to Coogee coastal walk Stop at Bronte Beach and find a similar rockpool to the one at Bondi Icebergs except this one is totally free. So get the budgie smugglers on and go for a dip!

4. Climb the Harbour Bridge (Sort of)

Obviously I can’t include the extortionate bridge climb in a blog about backpacker budgets. You can however get kind of, sort of close to climbing the bridge. You can actually climb the Pylon Lookout. That’s the big concrete towers you can see towards either end of the bridge. This won’t be quite as thrilling as climbing the bridge itself, but for just $15 general admission you can get a view that’s almost the same. And you can spend the rest of your travels telling everyone how you climbed Sydney Harbour Bridge which will technically be true.

5. Take the train to the Blue Mountains on Sunday

Get yourself an Opal card (Sydney’s travel card that you preload and can pick up at most newsagents and stations) and travel all day on Sundays trains, buses, ferries and light rail and pay no more than $2.70 a day for Adult. You can travel the whole way to the Blue Mountains, which is over 1.5 hours drive from the city centre, for just $2.70 return. You can ride the train all the way to Katoomba and then take local buses to get around and see the different sights. The Blue Mountains are a must see when you are in Sydney. So forget the $100 day tour, get some friends together and do it yourself. How’s that for exploring on a budget?

Don’t get me wrong, Sydney is an expensive place to visit and live in. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get out and enjoy yourself. There are lots of things you can do that are either free or pretty well close to being free. Forget about your dangerously low bank balance and go have some fun in Sydney. It’s an amazing city that has loads to offer, even for us poor backpackers!