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by Gail Kavanagh

Sydney, the capital of New South Wales in Australia, is one of the world’s most beautiful cities, overlooking a natural harbor that offers excitement both on and off the water. But the things for which Sydney is justifiably renowned, such as harbor cruises and fine dining, can hit the wallet hard. Fortunately, once you get to know it, Sydney can also offer you wonderful experiences at prices the locals are happy to pay.

Cruising Sydney Harbour for Pocket Change

Cruising magnificent Sydney Harbour with all the luxurious trimmings on a fancy yacht can cost hundreds of dollars, even for a solo passenger. But like Hong Kong, Sydney also offers a daily commute across the water that is cheap and cheerful and brings you right into the life of the city.

Your magic carpet is called a Sydney Ferry and you’ll find one at Circular Quay, with the Sydney Opera House and the famed Sydney Harbour Bridge close by. Just buy a ticket to Manly, right across the other side of the huge natural harbor, and get on board for a great ride. The ferry will take you right under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and you can look back at a spectacular view of the city. Keep your camera handy.

Your 30-minute Sydney Harbour Cruise will give you the same view of the harbor that the toffs enjoy, and bring you to one of Sydney’s great suburbs at Manly, where you can relax on the beach, and stroll down to the Corso, Manly’s shopping precinct, for some seriously good fish and chips.

For just a few bucks (around $7 AUD) for your ferry fare, you will have one of the most spectacular days out you can imagine.

How to Have a Cheap Iconic Meal in Sydney

Sydney is known for its beautiful cuisine, influenced by the many cultures that have come to Australia and shared their cooking traditions. No matter what style of cooking you love, Sydney has it on offer, including the best seafood anywhere. But in all honesty, it’s not cheap. However, there is one traditional food item that everyone can afford. You just have to like meat.

The good old Aussie meat pie is both a snack on the go and a sit-down meal. Where you choose to sit down is up to you – it could be overlooking the water at Darling Harbour, or deep in the green swards of the Royal Botanical Gardens. Relax and let the world go by as you squeeze the little packet of tomato sauce onto your pie, and don’t forget to throw the crumbs to the pigeons. You’ll be surrounded by the little bandits in no time.

Catch a Train to See the World’s Most Famous Beach

Bondi Beach is a true Sydney icon you won’t want to miss, and the easiest way to get there is by train. If you take a car, the cost of parking will take your breath away faster than the salty air and finding a parking spot can be a nightmare. So hop on the train, and as you stroll down from the station, let your first glimpse of the beach take your breath away instead. It almost looks as if it is standing on end, it is so deep and wide a vista. You will feel the exhilaration the locals enjoy of being able to walk to the best beach ever.

Get Away from the Hustle and Bustle

When the city and the beaches are hot and crowded, and you need a quiet break, head for the Chinese Garden of Friendship at Darling Harbour. Built in 1988 as a symbol of the ties of friendship between Sydney and its sister city Guangzhou in China, the garden has grown into a place of peace and harmony amid the city’s bustle and noise. Everywhere you stop presents a beautiful scene worthy of framing, and there is usually some free activity going on in the holidays. The cost to get in is also ridiculously cheap – $6 AUD for adults and $3 AUD for children. There’s no time limit on how long you can stay (except closing time) and you can visit the tea house for tea and snacks to refresh yourself.

Get Your Seafood from Paddy’s Market

Craving some of the seafood Sydney is famous for, but baulking at the restaurant prices? Head for the same place those fancy chefs get their ingredients – Paddy’s Market. Here you will find literally stacks of the freshest and most delicious fish and seafood that Sydney has to offer – without the restaurant mark up. Get there early, grab yourself an esky full of ocean goodness, some fresh veggies and salad, and head for the nearest outdoor BBQ spot. Cook yourself a feast fit for a king – or at least a celebrity chef. While you are at the market, stock up on your souvenirs. It’s all made overseas but so is the stuff in the expensive shops.

Once you know your way around, it’s easy to rock Sydney on a budget. Just make like a local and follow the home crowd to the best and cheapest fun in the city.

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