The Deal On Getting A Deal In Australia’s Most Expensive City
Life hacks to save cash in Sydney.
More expensive than London and New York and only slightly cheaper than perennially exey Paris, travelling in Sydney can drain a month’s travel budget in what feels like less than a week. That doesn’t mean you have to skip the iconic sky-scraped harbour and golden beaches; nor does it mean settling for a set menu of baked beans and 2–minute noodles during your time in the city. Whether you’re a local or just passing through, here are some clever ways to maximise your budget and your experience.
With a change in licensing laws, more and more establishments are opting to sell their own drinks. Fortunately, however, plenty of cheaper places still let you crack the twist top on your own bottle o’ wine to wash down their tasty fare. These also tend to be the places where there are no two-hour sittings, meaning you can relax over your meal and polish off a bottle or two without a bill being pushed under your nose the moment your last bite approaches your mouth.
There are still some high density BYO pockets of the city. Despite soaring rents in the inner-west, King Street in Newtown is hanging on to its reputation as perennial favourite for penny-pinching Sydneysiders. Bring as much of your own wine as you like to Wagaya Tapas and get set to stuff yourself with delectable and affordable bites of Japan. Tre Viet Restaurant is the place to get your affordable pho on for less than $15, or if something more Mediterranean tickles your fancy Pastizzi Cafe makes a mean – well, pastizzi, as well as homemade ravioli.
Just remember to have a bottle of wine with you when you head out or know a cheap bottle shop nearby. Buying a take-away bottle late at night from a pub can cost you as much as just buying in once the BYO surcharge is added.
Happy (hour) drinking
If you’re travelling midweek, keep the hours between 5-7pm wide open. This is where you’ll get bang for your buck all over Sydney as the tills tick over into Happy Hour. The best deals actually happen in the CBD, aimed at luring the stray passersby before the suits with salaries clock off. You can take advantage of Cargo Bar’s generous offerings where your $5 bubbly, beer or vodka comes with spectacular views of Darling Harbour. On the other side of the CBD, Darlo Bar also knocks a few dollars off selected beers and wine. Plenty of places in between offer similar deals, just remember to check at the bar before placing your order.
Blessed with ridiculously good weather even in winter, the best way to save money in Sydney is to stay outdoors as much as you can. Beaches are the great equaliser where even those on the most narrow of a budget can rub shoulders with celebrities. Swimming weather might be behind us but the bracing walk between Coogee and Bondi allows you to take in some of Sydney’s most scenic spots. Pack a picnic to maximise the million dollar view.
You can also find some new threads on a budget in the great outdoors. Find pre-loved gems at the Glebe Market each Saturday – it’s a gold mine of classic designs and hard-wearing brands. Go early and you can pick up a vintage dress, a pair of Levis and a faux-fur hat with change for a $20. Some of Sydney’s best people watching happens here, so you’ll get some stories with your bargains.
No one is accusing Sydney of having the most extensive free Wi-Fi network, but there’s still no reason not to upload the odd selfie about town. Your best bet is one of the 12 public Sydney libraries dotted around town which also often have computers available for use. Manly Ferries, Circular Quay Train Station, The Corso in Manly and Sydney Airport all also offer Wi-Fi free of charge. The gong for the most reliable Wi-Fi still goes to the hundreds of cafes though, so it might be worth shelling out a few bucks for some latte art and an hour of uninterrupted Instagramming, Skyping or Youtubing.
Sydney is not as big as it seems – pack your sneakers, hit the pavement and discover how surprisingly quickly each inner-city neighbourhood blends into the next. It also gives you a better chance to discover those off-the-wall cafes, laneways and boutiques that don’t make the guide books.
Whether you’re a resident or traveller, you should check if the Opal system will be of advantage to you. These tap-on/tap-off cards allow for all kinds of discounts on Sydney’s public transport system. The best being the $2.50 cap for all transport on Sunday. Save big bucks by using Opal to catch a ferry to Manly or head up to the Blue Mountains to escape it all amidst pristine bush land and antique shops.
(Lead Image: Darlo Bar)