Romantic Things to Do in Sydney (on a Budget)
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So you’ve read the other romantic things to do in Sydney lists and you think; “Wow, Sydney is REALLY expensive!” As an 8-year Sydney local (one who is literally always saving money for travel) I can assure you there are loads of really fun things to do in Sydney on a budget!
CONTENTS OF ROMANTIC THINGS TO DO, SYDNEY
❶ What to Do in Sydney Today
❷ Sydney Weekend Activities
❸ Couples Hiking in Sydney
❹ Sydney Night Activities
I’m not going to lie, my ideal date is one where I get to do something cultural or adventurous or learn something new. I’ve been living here so long that when my girlfriend and I decide to go out on a special romantic date in Sydney, the boring old ‘dinner and a movie,’ simply will not do. So this is a
This is a collation of all my favourite romantic places in Sydney. Many are a little it “different” to what you might expect, but they give a great taste of rich Sydney culture while allowing you to spend quality time with your date. And the best bit, all these romantic things in Sydney are either free or cheap!
ROMANTIC THINGS TO DO IN SYDNEY TODAY
These are the most romantic places in Sydney, so long as you want to get out and experience what this spectacular city really has to offer!
Explore an Old Jail and Boat Workshop on Cockatoo Island
This is the best place to go on free, romantic dates in Sydney, hands down! Why? Because it’s interesting, beautiful and the perfect way to get out of the crowds to spend some alone time together.
Cockatoo Island boasts a huge chunk of fascinating harbour history packed into one tiny island. The UNESCO world heritage island is filled with old industrial equipment, huge rusting boat sheds and giant pieces of old warship and submarine repair machinery sitting around. You can check out the old haunted jail and walk amongst the submarine docks and through a mountain mining shaft.
My friends are Sydney wedding photographers, and I first discovered this island through one of their engagement shoots. I spotted the dreamy photos that they took at Cockatoo Island and then went to see the place myself less than a week later. It’s one of my top things to do in Sydney for couples because it’s secluded and beautiful and there’s also a gorgeous little café on the waterfront to stop at and stare into each other’s eyes.
If you are looking for a romantic Sydney weekend getaway, Cockatoo Island rent out glamping tents on the island. A must for adventurous couples!
The easiest way to get to Cockatoo Island is by a delightful public ferry ride from Circular Quay which is only accessible during ferry times (unless you kayak there, like me and my partner did for a romantic day out once).
Feed the Cockatoos at the Royal Botanical Gardens
This park is about as romantic as you can get with its exquisite harbour views, lush gardens and close proximity to the Opera House. And feeding wild cockatoos with hot chips will surely impress your date! As you walk over to the Botanical Gardens, drop onto the McDonalds at Circular Quay and grab a small pack of hot chips – the cockatoos just love them! Alternatively, they’ll eat nuts and crisps as well.
Now comes the hard part… Finding them… Listen for the loud screeching and flurry of white colour. Then head towards them holding out a chip and moving slowly. They’ll even land on your arm for easier chip-grabbing. One of the most fun and also the cheapest things to do in Sydney!
Chinese Garden of Friendship
For a romantic sanctuary inside the bustling city, head to the Chinese Gardens for some tea and “quiet couple time”. The pretty garden is located on Darling Harbour, sectioned off behind big walls creating the feeling of being somewhere else completely. Slowly walk the gardens, hand-in-hand and after, have Chinese tea and dumplings by the pond.
The Chinese Gardens are open 9.30 am – 5 pm every day ($6 adults, $3 children/concession).
A Meal at the Famous ‘Lentil as Anything’
Is your date vegetarian by any chance? Even if they aren’t, you should still bring them on a date to Lentil As Anything, especially if you are exploring Sydney on a budget.
The restaurant is “pay as you feel”, meaning pay what you can afford and feel the food is worth. The food is vegan and really, really delicious. So good, in fact, that there are always long lines out the front of the restaurant on weekends and outside of business hours. But don’t worry, the lines usually go quick and you’ll soon enough be relaxing in the funky restaurant seating.
Lentil As Anything also runs several donation-based activities during the week, like Dance Classes and Meetups. My favourite is
I will admit, the vibe is more of a community feel than a quiet romantic restaurant. But this place is a winner if you need fun cheap things to do in Sydney! The restaurant is open from 12 pm on weekdays and from 10 am on weekends. There are two Yoga Classes per week on Saturday mornings 8:30-10 am and Tuesdays 6-7 pm. Food and activities are paid for by donation.
Locally Famous ‘Pasticceria Papa’ in Haberfield for the BEST Bread and Cakes
Haberfield is the quintessential Italian nonna-
Papa’s is open 7 days a week 7:30 am til’ late.
ROMANTIC THINGS TO DO IN SYDNEY THIS WEEKEND
Wondering what to do in Sydney this weekend with your date? I’ve got you covered!
Also! Did you know all public transport is only $2.50 on Sundays if you use an Opal Card? If you’re really tight on money, do all of your romantic Sydney activities on Sundays so you don’t break the bank!
Locally Made Art and Music at Glebe Markets
I absolutely love Glebe Markets. I go there both by myself and with a date just for the vibes! There are locally made goods and artwork, so many delicious and cheap food options (think beetroot-flour Arepas and paleo desserts) and there’s usually a band playing on the grass.
Grab a mid-morning coffee and meet your date on the grass to chat and soak up the sun and sounds.
Glebe Markets happens every Saturday 10 am – 4 pm and is free to enter.
Reggae and Chill in Sydney Park
I don’t know why the Sunday Dub Club in Sydney Park isn’t more of a thing among Sydneysiders, because it’s such a great free event. On the first Sunday of every month, some DJs bring their sets and speakers and just pump the reggae tunes out all day. You can BYO alcohol, a picnic blanket, snacks and your date.
Sydney Park is one of the best parks in Sydney. It’s huge and has a smooth walking or bicycle track winding around a lake and through the bush. There are lots of hidden romantic spots to throw down a picnic blanket and spend some time alone with your date if you feel so inclined.
Sunday Dub Club happens on the first Sunday of every month and is free to attend.
ROMANTIC SYDNEY WALKS
There’s nothing more romantic than walking slowly, hand-in-hand around Sydney’s beautiful sights while chatting and getting to know each other. Sydney has some of the most spectacular harbour and coastal walks in the world. Here are a few of my favourite ones for couples.
Bondi to Coogee Walk for Coastal Views
This is possibly the most famous coastal walk in Sydney and in my opinion one of the best ways to really get to know the city (oh, and your date of course). The six kilometres of paved track covers beaches, rock pools, parks, a cemetery and seriously spectacular views. It’s so romantic!
I once did this walk on a Tinder date. The walk was lovely, and it was a beautiful day. But I decided within a few minutes that I didn’t really like them, but then had to spend another two hours with them! So keep that in mind when considering the Tinder option!
Just walk past Icebergs on Bondi Beach and along to Marks Point, which is also a great whale-watching spot. The walk will take around two hours with minimal stops, or you could make a day of it by stopping in at each beach for a leisurely swim.
This romantic hike is commonly known as the Bondi Coastal Walk. But you don’t have to do the entire six kilometres to Coogee! The Bondi to Bronte walk is also popular and is only two kilometres from Bondi.
My favourite is the Coogee to Bondi walk. It’s the same walk, just the opposite way meaning fewer people are doing it this way. During the summer months, there is a bus between Coogee and Bondi (if you don’t want to walk back!)
Glebe Foreshore Walk for Leisurely Harbour V
This fantastic little harbour walk covers some gorgeous secret spots on the harbour, historical infrastructure, parks, dogs and cute cafes. After walking for about an hour you finish up in Sydney Fish Markets (fresh fish lunch anyone?) where you can soak up the busy market atmosphere.
The Glebe Foreshore walk starts at Jubilee Park in Rozelle (near Glebe) and is a short two-kilometre walk taking only one hour.
Royal National Park to Wedding Cake Rock
Maybe you’ve seen the pictures, or maybe you’ve just heard about it. This is one of the most popular walks in Sydney, and it will not disappoint. The Wedding Cake Rock Walk starts from the car park in Bundeena and winds through the Australian bush, before emerging out and then running along the coast with dramatic cliff edges and beautiful rock formations. After around an hour’s walk, you’ll arrive at the most romantic section of the park – Wedding Cake Rock. Its sharp edges, squared shape, deep cracks and bright white colour make it look like a giant wedding cake, perched high on the edge of the cliff.
In the past, you were able to walk to the edge of the rock and take photos like this. But now, the rock has become unstable and it is too dangerous. However, it’s still a beautiful place to see and a spectacular walk to do with your date.
Mozey Across the Sydney Harbour Bridge Walk
The Harbour Bridge is one of Sydney’s most iconic landmarks. So why not take your date on a romantic walk across it? From Darling Harbour, you can make your way to the Eastern side of the bridge and there will be stairs to the walkway from there.
On this walk, you’ll see the whole harbour from above, including the Opera House all the way to Manly. It’s magical. You will then arrive at Milson’s point where you can walk over the Luna Park to top off your romantic walk. Alternatively, catch the Ferry from Darling Harbour to Milson’s Point and walk back across the bridge.
Manly to Spit Bridge Walk for Spectacular Harbour and Ferry Views
The lush Manly to Spit walk weaves through the beautiful bush, cute coastal inlets and up to spectacular viewpoints. At certain times of the year during the migration, whales can even be spotted from some viewpoints on this walk. If you have the time, be sure to veer off-track to find secret romantic places to drop a picnic blanket or swim in the calm clear bays.
The well-signposted 10 km Manly to Spit walk can be accessed from the Manly Ferry Port or from the edge of Spit ridge on the way to Manly. If you drive, you can park near Spit Bridge (parking in Manly is a nightmare) and then catch a bus back from Many to Spit Bridge to find your car. My favourite way to do it, however, is to catch a bus to Spit Bridge, do the walk and then afterwards catch a romantic ferry back into the city.
Check out my Spit to Manly Walk map (jump to map) to see the start and finish points for this hike. This is a long and physically demanding walk so I would recommend you leave an entire day to do it, and don’t attempt to walk all the way there and back again. It’s just too much.
ROMANTIC THINGS TO DO IN SYDNEY AT NIGHT
Wondering what to do in Sydney at night, that’s not the same old “movie, dinner or drinks”. Look no further! This list has an awesome set of not-so-normal romantic options to do with your date.
Cuddle Up Over a Spectacular Sunset at Watson’s Bay
Want to know the absolute BEST place to see the sunset over Sydney Harbour? Camp Cove in Watson’s Bay is it. With little grassy knolls to sit on and some seriously sexy views, it’s easy to see why you should make the effort to get here for sunset.
I recommend catching the 20 min ferry from Circular Quay to Watson’s Bay and then catching the cheaper bus back.
Art After Hours at the Art Gallery of NSW
Want to feel like a distinguished art enthusiast but don’t have the money to take your date to talks or exhibitions? Well, Art After hours has your back! Occasionally big named artists will do free 30-minute talks, plus there are free exhibitions and bands.
The Art Gallery of NSW opens its doors for these free events from 5:30 – 10 pm each Wednesday. Check out the Art After Hours guide for more info.
Watch the Bat Exodus at Centennial Park
Okay, okay, hear me out. I know this doesn’t sound that romantic But it really is! Centennial Park is huge, beautiful and oh! So romantic, especially during the golden hour just before sunset. Flying foxes are native to Australia and among the largest bats in the world.
I recommend you both head to Centennial Park in the late afternoon with a delicious picnic to enjoy by the lake. As the sun starts to set and colours burst across the sky, go and search for the thick patch of paperbark trees right in the middle of the park (Lachlan Reserve). You’ll probably hear the bats from far away because this is where the flying fox colony live. Once you’re close to the colony, just lie back on the grass, look skyward and watch the bats twist and play as they leave their home for the night.
Only a few locals actually know about the daily bat exodus in Centennial Park, but it’s one of my favourite free, fun things to do in Sydney.
Curl up with a Cinema Under the Stars
This has got to be one of the most romantic things to do in Sydney. Curling up on a beanbag or on a picnic blanket with a bottle of wine, cheese and crackers and watching a movie on the big screen under a perfectly starry night sky. There are loads of different venues to choose from and you can easily find one near you. Plus, they all have amazing private beanbag selections for a higher price or the ability to BYO outdoor blanket or beanbag that usually costs less than an indoor cinema!
Sounds amazing, right? The only problem is that they only run over the summer months in Sydney, and tickets always sell out fast. So get in quick!
Check out Timeout Sydney to see the huge selection of summer outdoor cinemas, plus times, dates and programming.
Meander Through Chinatown Friday Night Market
Do you and your date like trying new foods? Oodles of noodles and other exotic Asian delights can be found in this bustling night market. Watch the Japanese make Takoyaki (octopus balls) from scratch and peruse the always-entertaining array of quirky Chinese toys. Some of the food is deliciously cheap and the atmosphere will take you and your date to a different country!
Chinatown Night Market runs every Friday during the warmer months from 4 – 11 pm and is free to enter.
Check out a Famous Film Set and a Drag Show at the Imperial Hotel in Erskineville
The Imperial Hotel is an important cultural place for the LGBTIQ community, as it supports inclusion and is one of the birthplaces of
Also, if you haven’t seen it yet, you need to watch Priscilla Queen of the Desert. It’s a HILARIOUS Aussie classic and some of the movie was filmed in this bar!
The Imperial Hotel is open Wednesdays to Sundays from 3 pm, check out what’s on for more info. Entry is free, drinks are cheap.
Crab Racing at the ‘Friend in Hand’
UPDATE: Crab Racing appears to have paused for now.
A lot of places do crab racing, but not a lot do it quite like Friend in Hand. This is not your normal romantic date. This is something completely different. Prepare to be sprayed with a hose, embark on a hula-hoop competition or partake in a speedy ‘Sayo eating competition’.
It’s the dirtiest kind of fun and it’s sure to quickly break the ice if this is the first time you two have met. Oh, and there’s a good chance you’ll win a jug of beer for all your efforts if you get involved in the boisterous activities.
Crab racing happens on the last Wednesday of the month from 8 pm and it’s free to enter, however placing bets and buying drinks will cost you.
FIND A CREATIVE AND ROMANTIC DINNER IN SYDNEY
This is the perfect list of cheap romantic restaurants around Sydney. ‘Wow’ your date without spending too much money on a fancy place to eat. These creative ideas for romantic dinners will be sure to impress and surprise your date, and you’ll soon be coming back for more.
Ramen-Kan Japanese, Haymarket
This could be referred to as the locals’ best-kept secret because you have to go up a small hidden lift to get to it (it’s pretty exciting). Once inside it’s quite well decorated with ropes and wooden latching. The staff is friendly and the place is big enough to bring a few friends though it does get quite busy on weekends. The food is cheap, huge and usually damn good. The $3 side dishes are a huge bonus too.
Menu highlights include handmade gyoza, Spicy Ramen, Kaisen Don (raw salmon and tuna with rice), Tonkotsu Ramen and house-made flavoured teas.
Ramen Kan is located at 1/90 Hay St in Haymarket, on the second floor. An average meal costs $35 for two people.
$10 Steak at Cargo Bar, Darling Harbour
Monday through Thursday nights are the $10 steak nights. It has a great menu normally, but the $10 steak is one of the best in Sydney. Cargo Bar has an alfresco heated outdoor area with harbour views, so is a beautiful place to have a romantic dinner, even in winter.
Cargo Bar is located on The Promenade in Sydney. An average meal costs $30 for two people.
Lal Qila Authentic Indian, Surry Hills
For couples seeking that real, traditional Indian taste, La Quila definitely satisfies them. Slightly more pricey than the thousands of takeaway Indian eateries spread around Sydney, but a great place to share some delicious food in a gorgeous romantic setting. Upon arrival, you will receive some free poppadoms with mint sauce, which are delicious and moreish. The food is super authentic and with two locations to choose from, you’ll easily find one near you!
Menu highlights include Mudhi Keema (minced lamb with spices, chilli, ginger, garlic), Maharani Sabzazaar (fish marinated in green herbs) Masala-e-Anarkali (fresh okra cooked with onion, tomatoes and a secret blend of Lal Qila’s spices) and Khumb Pulao (rice cooked with saffron, mushrooms, fried onion and spices).
Lal Qila is located on Cleveland St in Surry Hills and Lime St in Darling Harbour) The average meal costs $50 for two people.
Mamak Authentic Malaysian, Chinatown
With lines constantly down the street, you know you are onto something good. As you’re in the line you can watch the skilled chefs stretch out the roti on the hot plates, working skillfully with their hands. It will be sure to impress your date and make the time go by fast. The interior is modern and elegant, and the food is seriously delicious and super authentic.
Menu highlights include Roti Planta (buttery roti), Kari Kambing (spicy tender lamb curry), Nasi Goreng (Fried rice with spicy sambal), Ayam Goreng (Malaysian-style fried chicken), Nasi Lemak (Malaysia’s national dish) and Roti Tisu (a huge cone dessert roti, perfect for sharing!)
Mamak is located on Goulburn St in Haymarket. An average meal costs $50 for two.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN SYDNEY
This is the ultimate list of the best cheap places to stay in Sydney for couples who want
1831 Boutique Hotel, Sydney CBD
Who doesn’t love a gorgeous boutique hotel? They are always the best kind of hotel for couples. The 1831 Boutique Hotel has a modern, beautifully decorated interior and is right in the middle of everything on George St, Sydney. Their cheapest room; the “Shoebox” is impeccably clean, and boasts a toilet and shower, air conditioning, tea and coffee making facilities, refrigerator and free wifi, all in the cute room!CHECK PRICES
28 Hotel, Chippendale Sydney
This perfectly located art deco hotel offers great prices for couples looking for Sydney budget hotels with a bit of romance and charm! All rooms come equipped with air conditioning, bathrooms, ironing facilities and a hairdryer. This cheap hotel in Sydney Central is right near Central Station, Chinatown and trendy bars and cafes.CHECK PRICES
Australian Heritage Hotel, The Rocks, Sydney
One of the cheapest Sydney harbour hotels you’ll ever find! It boasts cute private rooms for couples, so long as you don’t mind sharing a bathroom. It’s located in a historic building right in the middle of The Rocks, amongst narrow sandstone laneways, open-air markets and restaurants, beautiful views and an array of museums. The Rocks
SYDNEY ATTRACTIONS MAP
This custom map includes all of the places to visit in Sydney that I have included on this list, plus great romantic places to eat in Sydney and the best hotels in Sydney for couples.
Click on each icon for more information about each Sydney activity, restaurant or hotel.
To open this map in Google Maps simply tap the small square icon on the top right-hand side of the map.
If you are using the map from your phone, the map should save into “Your Places” > “MAPS” automatically. You can select an area to download and use offline if you won’t always have access to data. For more information on how to download maps for offline, click here.
ENJOY YOUR ROMANTIC DATES, SYDNEY!
So now I’m totally maxed out of romantic ideas! Sydney is such a beautiful and diverse city with so many fun and free things to do, whether it be one of the best walks in Sydney or the Blue Mountains romantic getaways. Sydney will always deliver.
Do you want to work and travel in Aus? Check out my guide for Finding Work in Australia.
Have you found a super romantic spot in Sydney? Don’t keep it a secret. Tell me about it in the comments below!
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Originally Posted: September 2017. Frequently updated.
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