Looking for cheap things to do in Sydney, but consider yourself a bit of a night owl and prefer venturing out after dark? Never fear, because although Sydney has a reputation for being slightly heavier-hitting on the wallet, there are things to do in Sydney at night that won’t leave you feeling too much out of pocket.

Head out into the Harbour City under the cover of darkness to see what cool, quirky and fun things are on offer, including those activities that are budget-friendly AND even some that are totally free.

From getting up-close with the fairy penguins of Manly Wharf or tucking into plates at the ever-popular Night Noodle Markets to late-night art shows and the bright lights of Luna Park, you might be surprised to discover what’s on offer when the sun goes down.

Top Free Things to See and Do in Sydney at Night

  1. Walk Sydney Harbour Bridge
  2. Visit Luna Park
  3. Fairy Penguins at Manly Wharf
  4. Art Gallery of NSW
  5. North Head Lookout
  6. Night Noodle Markets
  7. Walking Tour of The Rocks
  8. Sunset at Queens Avenue

1. Walk Across the Sydney Harbour Bridge

A wander across the Sydney Harbour Bridge is a rite of passage for any visitor to the city – especially first-timers – but why not ditch the daylight walk in favour of a moonlit stroll? Equally gorgeous at night, you’ll be treated to stunning views of Sydney’s sparkly skyline, the flashing neon of Luna Park and the twinkle of boats bobbing in the harbour. 

Pedestrian access to the bridge is via The Rocks on the southern side or north at Milsons Point, and at just over one kilometre in length, it should take no more than 15 to 30 minutes to cross from one end to the other. Although with so many incredible photo ops along the way, don’t be surprised if getting across takes a whole lot longer than you originally expected. For a late-night feed, there is also a number of restaurants on The Rocks that remain open until 12 am – just choose one that fits your budget!

2. Visit Luna Park

Inside Luna Park amusement park, Sydney, Australia. Credit: geoff dude | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Speaking of Luna Park, why not pay the iconic amusement park a visit once you’ve finished your walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge. After all, it’s located right at Milsons Point, and entry is free! That’s right, it costs absolutely nothing to walk through the iconic toothy-smile entrance and have a look around. 

While you do need to pay to go on any of the rides (unlimited ride passes cost $57 for adults), there’s still plenty of things to keep you entertained if you don’t want to shell out too much for your thrills – think roving entertainers, historic carnival decorations, light-up signs and sideshow games. To quench your thirst, there is also a wine bar on site. On Fridays and Saturdays during the summer months, Luna Park is open late, to 10 pm, and if you’re looking for some old-school fun, it’s definitely one of the coolest things to see in Sydney at night.

3. See the Fairy Penguins at Manly Wharf

If you thought it was only Victoria that was lucky enough to play host to a bunch of adorable fairy penguins, then think again. Over on the Northern Beaches, Manly Wharf is actually home to the only mainland breeding colony in New South Wales. Plus, Manly is a great destination for those wanting to go for a night drive in Sydney: you’ll reach your destination in under 50 minutes and have the opportunity to go for a walk by the shore, admire the moonlight reflection on the water and, of course, catch a glimpse of the adorable penguins.

While the population once peaked in the hundreds, there are now just 60 breeding pairs left and they are classed as an endangered species. If you want to spot these very special residents, pop down at twilight between July and February to catch them coming home to nest after a long day of foraging and fishing in Sydney Harbour. As far as free Sydney attractions go, this is definitely up there as the cutest!

Lovers of art, history and film rejoice, because you can now get your all-important culture fix on a Wednesday evening at the Art Gallery of NSW. And, you guessed it – it’s free to attend! That’s right, as part of the weekly Art After Hours event, the Art Gallery of NSW keeps its doors open late, offering even more people the opportunity to wander through its hallowed, portrait-filled corridors. 

All permanent and visiting exhibitions are open to the public, and Sydney’s popular art gallery runs a rotating roster of lectures, live music, workshops, guided tours, screenings and even celebrity talks. Open until 9 pm, there’s truly something for everyone to enjoy, and definitely ranks as a nice change in pace for fun mid-week activities in Sydney. The cafe and restaurant also remain open for a nighttime bite to eat, as does the gallery shop.

5. Admire the views from North Head Lookout

Aside from the Sydney Harbour Bridge (which you’ve already conquered), one of the city’s best vantage points is North Head Lookout, which stays open until 8 pm every day. Part of Murramarang National Park, it’s just a five-minute drive from Manly and offers incredible panoramic views of the Sydney cityscape, Manly Cove and across to South Head. 

There’s a scenic one-kilometre walking track that weaves through the surrounding bushland, and if you happen to be visiting between June and July or August and October, it’s the perfect platform for whale watching. Another option is to pack a picnic and head up to North Head for an amazing sunset-viewing session. Here, you’ll have uninterrupted front-row seats as golden hour descends upon the city and the stars begin to blanket the sky. You’ll want to bring your camera along for this excursion.

6. Night Noodle Markets

One of Sydney’s favourite foodie extravaganzas is back, with the Night Noodle Markets returning during March 2022. The festivities will be held in Prince Alfred Park, and hungry market-goers can expect to see stallholders with the likes of Hoy Pinoy, Flying Noodles and Teppanyaki Noodles, while perennial favourites Wonderbao (their roast pork belly bao are legendary) are also expected to attend. 

For the dessert fiends, the legendary team at Gelato Messina are almost guaranteed to be there with some kind of ridiculously good sweet treat. The perfect family-friendly activity in Sydney, entry to the market is free, but you will need your credit card on hand to purchase food as the markets are an entirely cashless event. One of the best cheap things to do in Sydney at night? You bet. And the tastiest? Absolutely. If you’re not visiting Sydney March, worry not: there are other food markets happening after hours, including Paddy’s Night Food Markets and Blacktown Night Market.

7. Go On a Walking Tour of The Rocks

True crime enthusiasts, this one is for you. What’s better than wandering the cobblestone laneways of The Rocks, learning about its convict past, uncovering gruesome secrets of murders and muggings, and visiting Sydney’s oldest pubs and breweries? Doing it at night! On a free walking tour of the historic Rocks precinct with I’m Free Tours, you’ll discover all this and more as the sun sets around you. 

There’s just something extra eerie about hearing stories of some of Australia’s most notorious crimes with only a street lamp lighting your way. Kicking off at 6 pm, the tours last 90 minutes and won’t cost you a cent. Plus, The Rocks is home to a few of the coolest bars open late in Sydney, so your night doesn’t have to end once the tour is over.

8. Watch the sunset at Queens Avenue

Providing some of the best views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Queens Avenue is a prime spot for watching the day turn into night. Plus, it’s a bit of a hidden gem, so you know you’ll have your privacy while sitting down and unwinding on the grassy surroundings. Bring some snacks for a late-night picnic and have your camera at the ready, as you’ll want to capture the gorgeous pink, orange and blue tones in the sky.

The sunset at Queens Avenue is a spectacular backdrop for a date in Sydney, and why not continue your romantic night with a walk by the ocean at Queens Beach? A short drive away from Queens Avenue, you’ll find an impressive lineup of restaurants and bars, some of them which a budget-friendly menu, perfect for a cheap night out in Sydney.

With so many after-hours activities you can join, exploring Sydney at night doesn’t have to be expensive. Whether you’re with the kids, your partner or travelling solo, complete your itinerary with any of our top picks of things to do in Sydney after the sun goes down. Get your flights at the best price with Webjet and book your accommodation today. Travelling to other states as well? Make your dollar go even further with the best free things to do in Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane.

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