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Backpacking in Sydney is on most people’s Bucket List. This city has it all: beautiful beaches, a vibrant nightlife, impressive architecture, epic day trips – the list goes on. But figuring out where to stay in a city as big as Sydney can be time-consuming and overwhelming.

We know you’d rather spend your days researching the best places to party or the best bars with 2-for-1 drinks. But with several different neighborhoods to choose from, backpackers in Sydney should be smart when deciding on where to stay. Before you hit that book button, there are a few things you should consider when picking a neighborhood: your interests, convenience, accessibility, and of course, costs.
If Sydney will be your first point of arrival from abroad consider a Sydney welcome package that will save you money on your stay.
To make things easier for you, we did all the (heavy-lifting) research and chose the top five areas that are well-suited for backpackers. All you need to do now is pack your bags and bring enough stories to share with the awesome people you’ll meet!


Travel Preparations for Sydney, Australia
Travel Preparations © Courtesy of


Sydney CBD on a Budget

If you want to stay in the heart of Sydney where everything you want to see and do is within arm’s reach, then staying in the Central Business District is a must. The CBD is always bustling with energy and filled with crowds from sunrise to sundown.
The best part about staying in this central location is that you’re just a hop, skip, and a jump away from all the must-see places on your list. You can start your day with a walking tour of the Royal Botanical Gardens, then head on to the iconic Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge for an Instagram-worthy scene. When your tummy starts to rumble, you can easily grab lunch by the water in Darling Harbour and continue your afternoon in The Museum of Contemporary Art. To end your day, treat yourself to some dinner and drinks with stunning views of Circular Quay.  If you are one of the many that want to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge you will find the details here.


Backpacking Sydney CBD
Sunrise at Darling Harbour © Courtesy of


The only downside to staying in the CBD is that prices are much higher than most of the suburb neighborhoods. Luckily, being in the center means you won’t have to spend money on transportation to most of Sydney’s famous sights. A trick for backpackers in Sydney is to take advantage of happy hour deals and lunch specials in restaurants which normally start at $18. For accommodations, you can check out hostels such as Sydney Harbour YHA, Maze Backpackers and Wake Up! Central for affordable bed options.


King’s Cross: Backpackers Central

King’s Cross is what most people call “backpackers central” because of the countless bars that line the streets. The neighborhood comes alive at night until the wee hours of the morning. Locals also flock to this area on Friday and Saturday nights to drink and dance the stress away from the previous work week.
Apart from its colorful and vibrant nightlife, there are many exciting things to do in King’s Cross. For the history buffs, you can join Sydney Urban Tours Crime & Passion guided tour where they share stories of the city’s unsolved mysteries. The neighborhood got its reputation from the long history of crime, murder, and drugs. Those who are into performing arts shouldn’t miss a show from The Griffin Theatre Company who performs regularly in the SBW Stables Theatre.
But what’s a red light district without some drinks, right? Check out the ultra-cool Eau de Vie in Kirketon Hotel. If you get lost looking for it, just remember their cocktails are worth the extra effort. If you choose to stay in King’s Cross, there are plenty of accommodation options for the budget travelers such as The Jackaroo Hostel, Jolly Swagman Backpackers, and Kings Cross Backpackers.


Newtown on the Cheap

There are so many reasons to love Newtown. It has a diverse mix of culture, music, and arts you can’t find anywhere else. Home to many artists and creative minds, the neighborhood is surrounded by interesting and well-designed murals and graffiti. You can even take a self-guided walking tour to see all the street art.
As a backpacker who always wants to keep your itinerary packed, you’ll never run out of things to do. You can listen to live music in Enmore Theatre or shop along King Street where you can find quirky trinkets and vintage clothes. You can even enjoy some good reads from Better Read Than Dead’s floor-to-ceiling book displays.
And the best of all? There are plenty of restaurants and bars to choose from. You can get affordable eats from Newtown Thai, Brewtown Newtown, and Lentil as Anything, a pay-what-you-want vegan restaurant. For drinks, you can’t go wrong with Courthouse Hotel with its gorgeous beer garden. The Newtown Hotel and Young Henry’s also have a great selection of drinks to keep you buzzed all night long.
For those looking to save on accommodations in Newtown, Billabong Gardens offers both dorm and private rooms.


Bondi Beach for Backpackers

Known as the most popular beach in all of Sydney, Bondi draws huge crowds every day. The long stretch of golden fine sand and crashing white waves make it one of Australia’s must-visit locations.
Fitness enthusiasts and active tourists will enjoy staying in this area because there are plenty of spaces to get your sweat on. There’s the Bondi Park Outdoor Gym and the popular Bondi to Coogee trail walk with beautiful sea views to boot. You can also try water activities such as surfing and snorkeling.
Bondi is also famous for its trendy cafes and hip bars which sometimes come with a hefty price tag. For a backpackers’ budget, La Piadina offers ham provolone for $13 while The Char offers a whole chicken with stuffing (perfect for sharing or for leftovers) for only $17.90. When it comes to partying, you can drink some margaritas from The Anchor or hang out in Bondi Icebergs and make sure you get a sweet spot overlooking the iconic pool.
Staying in Bondi on your vacation? Check out Noah’s Bondi Beach and Bondi Beachhouse YHA for cozy accommodations at bargain prices.


Coogee Beach on a Backpacker Budget

Just a quick drive from CBD and just a short walk from Bondi, Coogee is a good central neighborhood for backpackers if you want to enjoy the sun, sand and the sea without the crazy crowds. Like Bondi, it has surfing and snorkeling spots you can enjoy. Coogee also has three beautiful ocean pools, Giles’ Baths, Wylies’ Baths and McIver’s Baths, where you can enjoy the water without the huge waves.
The food and drinks options in this neighborhood will also not disappoint you. No matter what you’re craving, you’ll never run out of choices! Barzura and Little Jack Horner not only offer delicious meals but also gorgeous beachfront views. You can spend the afternoon in Coogee Pavilion Rooftop with a cocktail while overlooking the ocean. This hotspot gets packed with people who are looking to have a fun night so make sure to get social.


Coogee Beach on a Backpacker Budget
Little Jack Horner © Courtesy of Little Jack Horner


Accommodations in Coogee are not difficult to find. For backpackers on a budget, the recently-opened Mad Monkey Hostel is the perfect home base. You can choose between the dorm rooms and private rooms. You can also enjoy the communal kitchen and lounge area to meet other fun travelers. Discounted tours and exciting group activities are also regularly available.


Backpacking Australia General Tips


More Information For Backpackers in Sydney

Need more help planning your trip to Australia? Check out these other articles about how to travel Sydney on a backpacker budget! Less time researching, more time learning that Aussie slang in preparation 😉




About the Author

Mad Monkey is Southeast Asia’s leading hostel operator — born in Cambodia with more properties in Thailand, Indonesia, Australia, Laos, and the Philippines. We pride ourselves in creating meaningful and sustainable travel experiences for our guests, whilst promoting socially responsible tourism.