Want to know where to stay in Sydney? As Australia’s largest city, Sydney is divided into several neighborhoods and it can be overwhelming trying to decide where to stay while you’re on vacation. Location and budget are big considerations, especially for backpackers, but you also need to choose a neighborhood that fits your personality, interests, and needs. Luckily, we’ve done the hard work for you (you’re welcome) by compiling the top 10 Sydney neighborhoods for budget travelers and backpackers. All you need to do now is book your flight, pack your bags, and choose an area that’s perfect for you. Here’s our guide on where to stay in Sydney:
Tourist Areas to Stay in Sydney: Bondi
Bondi represents the iconic Aussie beachside culture every visitor is craving. The long stretch of golden fine sand and big white waves make it the perfect home base for surfers and beach lovers. But there’s more to Bondi than the sun, sand, and sea. It’s a place where active tourists and fitness enthusiasts can jog, bike and hike. The Bondi to Coogee coastal walk is a must for everyone who visits the area.
It also features indie clothing boutiques along Gould Street, trendy cafes, restaurants, and bars along Campbell Parade. Make sure to stop by the locals’ favorite – Bondi Sunday Market, where you can find anything your heart desires including fresh and organic produce, leather goods, fashion items and even homemade pastries.
Noah’s Bondi Beach and Bondi Beachhouse YHA are two hostels in the area that can provide cozy accommodations at bargain prices.
Cool places to Stay in Sydney: Coogee
Crowds flock to Bondi every single day and crowd the sand. This is where Coogee has its edge over Bondi – it’s the underrated yet equally beautiful and cool neighbor you can always depend on. When other beaches become packed and hectic, Coogee Beach remains calm and collected.
There’s nothing Bondi can do that Coogee can’t. Along with having an equally gorgeous beach, there are also amazing saltwater bath pools that surround the area. Its streets are also lined with cute and quirky cafes where brunch and strong coffee are the norms and beachside bars with glorious views are crowd favorites. It’s also easily accessible to public transport so you can get to the city center quickly and conveniently.
Accommodations in Coogee are not difficult to find. For fun and social backpackers, the newly-opened Mad Monkey Hostel in Coogee is a really good choice. It has dorm rooms and private rooms for big groups, a communal kitchen, and a lounge area. It also offers discounted tours and fun group activities that allow visitors to meet other travelers.
Coogee has become a much trendier area due to its proximity to UNWI in Randwick and its hipster vibe. There are lots of bars and sexy little eateries to tickle your taste buds and if that wasn’t enough, there are lots of sports venues, a large cinema and easy access to all of the secret bays on the Bondi walk. If you are looking for a beach stay with easy access to the CBD, Coogee Beach is an excellent choice.
Where to Stay in Sydney CBD: Darling Harbour
Shaped like a horseshoe, Darling Harbour is located smack dab in the middle of Sydney’s Central Business District. This central location makes visiting tourist sites and attractions in CBD a cinch. The SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo, National Maritime Museum and The Chinese Garden of Friendship are all a short stroll away. For good food and drinks with a view, head off to Cockle Bay and King Street Wharf. These waterfront restaurants and bars offer lunch specials starting at $18 and happy hour drinks for only $5.
Because the location is central, accommodations in Darling Harbour are plentiful but tagged with high prices. Popular hotel chains such as Sofitel, Novotel, ibis, and Hyatt surround Darling Harbour and provide excellent views while Base Backpackers on Kent Street is an affordable option.
Where to Stay in Sydney for Shopping: The Rocks
This area is one of the most beautiful sites in the city. It’s surrounded by cobblestone streets and is home to over 100 heritage sites and buildings including Camden Cottage, one of the oldest houses in Sydney. If you choose to stay here, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney Harbour Bridge, and The Rocks Discovery Museum are all outside your doorstep. On weekends, you shouldn’t miss The Rock Markets with over a hundred stalls selling unique and eclectic finds. After some shopping, create your own pub crawl and visit old, charming drinking holes that are all just a hop and skip away from each other.
For accommodations, there’s Shangri-la Hotel for those looking for a luxurious stay, The Mercantile Hotel for mid-range options, and the Sydney Harbour YHA for the budget-conscious.
Where to Stay in Sydney LBGT: Darlinghurst
Darlo, as locals call it, is a brightly-lit neighborhood that’s buzzing with life and energy 24/7. It’s the heart of the LGBTQ scene and home to Sydney’s annual Mardi Gras Festival. The famous Oxford Street is filled with gay- and lesbian-friendly bars with parties that could last until the wee hours of the morning. If you catch yourself fist-pumping into the night and hungover in the morning, no need to worry because Darlinghurst also has an amazing café culture. Outdoor tables and chairs line the street and you see people do brunch and coffee like how they run a marathon—slow and steady.
As for reasonably-priced dorms, you can check out Nate’s Place Backpackers on William Street.
Where to Stay in Sydney for Nightlife: Kings Cross
The imposition of lock outlaws in the city center has caused disappointment among locals and tourists. This has led them to flock to Kings Cross whenever they feel the need to drink and dance the night away. Known as Sydney’s very own Red Light District, this area might seem rough at first sight, but hidden within the streets are bars and clubs that offer different types of entertainment. Whether you’re into theatre, live music, karaoke or comedy bars, you’ll find something in The Cross, as locals call it, to excite you.
Since travelers love this area for its lively atmosphere, there are plenty of accommodations to choose from. Budget travelers can pick among the many hostels in the area such as The Jackaroo Hostel, Jolly Swagman Backpackers, and Kings Cross Backpackers.
Best Suburbs to stay in Sydney: Manly
The scenic 30-minute ferry ride from CBD to Manly is, on its own, enough to convince any traveler to stay in this centrally-located beachfront area. Your mornings could be spent surfing or just lounging on the sand to achieve the perfect sun-kissed glow, while the rest of your day can be spent exploring other parts of Sydney.
If you’re tired of the beach, you can do the SPIT to Manly walk, with scenic water views. The route may take around four hours to finish. Once you’re done, it’s time to reward yourself with a big meal from the Pantry Manly while looking over the beautiful beach or some afternoon drinks from the well-known 4 Pines Brew Pub. Their full flavored Extra Special Bitter (ESB) craft beer is definitely a must-try!
Where to Stay in Sydney Artsy: Newtown
Newtown is home to trendy, artsy, alternative and fashionably-chic Sydneysiders. The area is surrounded by and filled with evocative and sometimes controversial street murals, second-hand vintage stores, local designer boutiques, tattoo parlors, and eclectic bars. For a unique and cool experience, you can try the quirky cafes in the area including Brewtown Newtown and Black Star Pastry or visit a few of its popular hipster bars such as Earl’s Juke Joint and Mary’s.
There aren’t many hotels in the area but the modern Urban Newtown is perfect for those who want a premium room and the Billabong Gardens is a good option for those looking to save on accommodations.
Where to Stay in Sydney: Surry Hills
Unapologetically stylish, this neighborhood is Sydney’s shopping mecca. It has stores featuring streetwear, bohemian-themed clothing, and classic tailored pieces. Apart from being a fashionista’s destination, it’s also where artists live and hang out day in and day out. Like most areas in Sydney, café culture in Surry Hills is also prominent. They take their breakfast and coffee very seriously which is why you should give it a try by checking out one of these highly rated cafes: Reuben Hills, Suzie Q Coffee & Records, and Paramount Coffee Project.
Despite being a bit of a posh area, backpackers can find affordable accommodations with Bounce Sydney, Big Hostel, and Sinclair’s City Hostel.
Where to Stay in Sydney on a budget: Redfern
Next to Surry Hills is this historically and culturally significant neighborhood of Redfern. Tourists who stay here enjoy the great location and are just a few minutes’ train ride away from CBD.
The establishments here are charming and teeming with personality. They range from tea shops, barbershops, and boot repair stores and alternate with the neighborhood’s hole-in-the-wall cafes, curbside restaurants and hidden bars. CarriageWorks Farmers Market can also be found within the area. It’s where you can shop for fresh and organic produce and eat a piping hot bowl of pho or a delicious pork bun every Saturday morning.
For those looking for budget accommodations, the Secret Garden Backpackers offers comfortable beds that won’t break the bank.
Planning a trip to Sydney?
Let us assist you! Check out these other articles about where to stay in Sydney, along with how you can spend your holiday in the land down unda!
- Where to Stay in Sydney: hotels by district by Ariela Bard from The Telegraph
- Where to Stay in Sydney by Alyx Gorman from Timeout
- Where to Stay on a Budget in Sydney by Hannah Lewis from The Culture Trip
- Where to Stay in Sydney and the Surrounding Areas from Travelling King
- Places to Stay in Sydney for Tourists and Locals: The Top 10 Spots For a Staycation by Mal Chenu from Traveller