The Best Free Things To Do In Sydney

Do you know there are dozens and dozens of wonderful places to visit and things to see and do in Sydney that are all absolutely free.

There are our marvellous parks, beaches, rock pools, walks and playgrounds, of course. But there are also museums, guided walks, historic buildings and a lot more too.

On this post you will find many suggestions for free fun in Sydney.

So do check it all out!

NB I have put in opening hours in each listing but PLEASE PLEASE do check the relevant website or make a call to check there are no changes.

Sydney City Centre: Free Places To Visit

free things to do in Sydney
Government House Sydney

Government House Sydney and Gardens

Macquarie Street, Sydney

Designed by William Blore, who also designed London’s Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, Government House was completed in 1845. It is a magnificent building, set in gorgeous gardens.

Visitors can enter the Gardens every day from 10am, closing time varies. Tours of the house run on most days every 45 minutes between 10am – 2.30pm.

However, do check the website as the house is sometimes closed for official functions. You need to bring ID to join a tour.

Visitor Information is here

Government House website is here

MCA: the Museum of Contemporary Art

140 George Street, The Rocks

Open every day except Christmas Day, the MCA is Sydney’s premier contemporary art space. Enjoy the exhibitions, the excellent cafes and the museum shop (which stay open later than the art spaces.)

Set on gorgeous Circular Quay this is a must-visit location, you can enjoy a visit using the free app, or join a free guided tour.

Contemporary art can work really well even for young kids, and there are free artmaking activities for families daily.

Read about What’s On and find Visitor Info on the MCA website here. 

The Art Gallery of NSW

Art Gallery Road, The Domain

One of Australia’s leading art galleries, the Art Gallery of NSW is open every day except Christmas Day and Good Friday.

The Gallery has huge collections of Australian and international art works. There are exhibitions of Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander art, and interesting tours are offered.

The gallery is free to visitors, most special exhibitions are free too though some do have a charge.

There are some free tours and activities for children and families.

Check out visitor information here.

The Parliament of New South Wales

6 Macquarie Street, Sydney

Australia’s first Parliament was established in 1829, in these building which were originally built as the Rum Hospital. A visit to Parliament combines history and the modern, as you see our democracy at work.

Open daily, visitors can only access the Visitors Gallery when Parliament is sitting and can visit the Chambers when it is not.

There are regular public tours, daily in school holidays. There’s also an annual Family Fun Day.

Read more about these and find Visitor Information on the NSW Parliament website here.

The State Library of NSW

Macquarie Street, Sydney

With a collection of over 5 million books plus many other artifacts, the State Library is a true treasure trove.

There are always excellent exhibitions, a daily free tour, the remarkable Mitchell Library which houses all things Australian and lots more to explore.

This is a reference library, where you can view materials but not take them out of the library.

The State Library website has a useful Plan Your Visit webpage here.

St Mary’s Cathedral 

St Mary’s Road, Sydney

This magnificent towering Gothic cathedral is across the road from Hyde Park and the centre of Catholic life in Sydney.

The building itself is interesting to visit, and in the Crypt there is an exhibition of Catholic life in Australia from its earliest day.

St Mary’s Cathedral choir is world famous, you can check out the choir schedule here.

Read more about visiting St Mary’s on the website here.

The Rocks Discovery Museum

Kendall Lane (enter via Argyle Street),
The Rocks, NSW, 2000

10am – 5pm daily (closed Good Friday and Christmas Day)

Each nook and cranny of The Rocks has a story to tell, from the millenia when the Gadigal people lived there to its earliest settlement by colonisers and its decades as a commercial hub.

Visit The Rocks Discovery Museum to learn the history of this significant area. The Museum is free and very family friendly. free, family friendly museum which tells the story of The Rocks from pre-European days to the present.

The exhibits focus on several eras: 

  • Warrane (pre-1788)
  • Colony (1788–1820)
  • Port (1820–1900)
  • Transformations (1900–present)

The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney

Mrs Macquaries Road, Sydney

Open: From 7am to dusk, check website for exact closing times which vary depending on the season

You can enter these 30 acre of lush parkland and fascinating flora using gates by the Opera House, on Mrs Macquaries Road, and on Macquarie Street. There are daily free guided walks, and also free (and some paid) exhibitions.

Children love a jaunt in the trackless train which runs around the Garden, but you do need to pay for this.

Originally a farm, the Garden was proclaimed in 1816 and as well as the plants, the statues, gates and monuments are fascinating to see.

There’s also a cafe and a restaurant in the Gardens, but bringing a picnic is cheaper and more cheerful.

Check out the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney website here.

More Free Sydney Museums

The Army Museum of NSW

Victoria Barracks, Oxford Street, Paddington

Open: Thursdays from 10am – 2pm, first Sunday of the month 10am – 3pm

Built between 1841 and 1849 these building are considered one of the finest military barracks in the world.

You will find exhibits of many army uniforms from various wars, medals and a lot of weapons.

vvRead more on the Army Museum of NSW website here.

Nicholson Museum and more Sydney Uni Museums

Main Quadrangle, Manning Road, University of Sydney

Open: 9am – 4.30pm Monday – Friday, 12 – 4pm each first Saturday of the month

Australia’s oldest university museum houses a vast collection of antiquities. These were collected by Sydney University’s second Chancellor Sir Charles Nicholson.

There are over 30,000 artefacts from Egypt, Greece, Italy, Cyprus and the Near East.

Located in the graceful and imposing main quadrangle of Sydney University, a visit to the museum can be an inspiring lesson for kids. Do not miss the Lego Pompeii!

The Macleay Museum and the Art Gallery are closed until 2017 when they will be housed in the new Chai Chuk Wing Museum.

Sydney University Museums website- click here.

Museum of Nursing, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Heritage Centre

Queen Mary Building, Grose Street, Camperdown, NSW

Open: 10am – 2pm on Wednesday or by appointment

Marvellous old nursing and medical items are displayed here along with vivid descriptions of medical in days gone by.

Combine this with the university’s walking tour, info on website below, and perhaps a swim at an Eastern Suburbs beach or a play at at a groovy inner city playground and you have the complete, unusual Sydney family day out.

RPA Museum and Archives website here

Kids Free At The Powerhouse

500 Harris Street, Ultimo

Adults have to pay to visit the Powerhouse however children aged 16 years and under visit free. Time to get those bigger kids taking the wee ones whilst the adults go for a coffee!

There is an annual free weekend at both the Powerhouse and the Australian Museum, so it’s worth looking out for those.

Read more on the Powerhouse Museum here.

Places Of Worship

The Bahai Temple

173 Mona Vale Road, Ingleside

This beautiful white temple is open every day from 9am – 5pm and visitors are welcome.  You can explore the temple, walk in the beautiful grounds and visit the shop.

This is a lovely place to visit on the way to one of the beautiful beaches nearby.

Read more at the Bahai Temple website visitors page here.


Rookwood Hidden Cemetery Sculpture Walk

Australia’s largest cemetery is something of a memories to Victorian funeral history. there are also Jewish and Muslim sections.

Hidden is a Rookwood Sculpture Exhibition and Walk, you can download a visitor guide and map from the Hidden in Rookwood website here.

There is a cafe at Rookwood in the Village area.

The Rookwood General Cemeteries Reserve Trust website has more information.

Clue Trails and Quests

Clue Trails at Sydney Olympic Park

Download one of the self-guided clue trails and follow it as you walk around some of the amazing sites and locations at Sydney Olympic Park.

There are simple versions for very young children and more challenging trails for older kids and adults.

There are clue trails also for Newington Armoury and Amazing Chase bike challenges for there and for Bicentennial Park too.

Find the Clue Trails on the Self-Guided Activities webpage here

10 Wonderful Sydney Walks

Click on the titles to read all about the walks:

Crossing The Coathanger – Sydney Harbour Bridge

South Head Heritage Trail, Watsons Bay + Camp Cove

Cremorne Point Walk

Centennial Park Circuit

Manly Four Beaches Walk

Sydney Harbour Bridge to the Art Gallery of NSW

Narrabeen Lagoon Trail

Parramatta River Walk

Parramatta Park Walk

Berry Island Mini Bush Walk

Two wonderful longer walks are the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk and the Spit to Manly Scenic Walk.

50+ Fantastic Playgrounds

Playgrounds Deluxe, the best in Sydney

Click the title to read about the absolute best playgrounds in Sydney.  You can also check out the best Sydney playgrounds by suburb here.

Free Playgroups

The Magic Yellow Bus – Marrickville

The Magic Yellow Bus is a mobile play group running offered Monday-Friday from 9.30am – 1.30pm within parks in the Marrickville Council area.

It is aimed at children aged six weeks – 12 years and their carers.

There are play activities, carers have a chance to connect and also to find useful local information.

Everything happens outside so you do need to check what is happening in doubtful weather.

Find out more on Marrickville Council’s Magic Yellow Bus webpage here.
Keep popping back – more free fun will be added regularly.

Sydney’s Best Beaches + Harbour Pools

Beaches and rock pools are all free, they cost you zilch, except maybe parking costs and an ice cream for the kids.

Find detailed descriptions of dozens of wonderful Sydney beaches and pools here.

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