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A student's guide to Sydney

With a city that has so much to offer, sometimes it’s hard to decipher what’s worth your buck and what’s not

By Rebecca Zhuang

When you’re working with a tight budget, it’s frustrating when you’re forced to blow half your pay cheque on necessities. We’ve put together a guide to cheap, student-friendly picks that won’t put a dent in your wallet but are a guaranteed day or night around town.

A line of five glasses of beer on a table
Photograph: Anna Kucera

1. Sink a jug (or two) at the Royal

Bars Darlington

Gather some mates and head over to the Royal for what’s quite possibly the cheapest jug in town. For $10, you’ll get a jug of Toohey’s New, Boags or cider at any hour of the day. So if you’re in need of a post-lecture beverage, the Royal has you covered.

2. Free live music four days a week

Bars Manly
If you can’t get enough of live music head to Moonshine at Manly’s Hotel Steyne on Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday (or all four) and you can boogie down to sensational local bands. Located right next to the beautiful Manly Beach, the Steyne offers something different every week so there’s bound to be a band you’ll love.
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Photograph: MTA / Patrick Cashin

3. Make trivia your Plan A

Clubs Sydney
Reserve a space at Plan B for a night of good-old pub trivia. Round up a team and battle it out in three rounds of challenges. There’s no fee to play, but there are prizes up for grabs, including a feed from resident kitchen whizzes, Belly Bao – a fusion of American fast food with Taiwanese street eats.

4. Delicious (as anything)

Restaurants Newtown
Away from the main drag of King Street, Lentil as Anything is a not-for-profit eatery that has all your vegetarian and vegan needs. Run by volunteers and operating under a pay-as-you-feel pricing model, these guys understand the pain of being a struggling student. Although these guys are more than happy to provide you with a wholesome and nutritious meal, don’t abuse their kindness as $15 is the recommended donation.  

5. Want to see a flick for just $7?

Film Newtown
Head to Dendy Newtown or Dendy Opera Quays on a Wednesday and flash your student card to see any film of your choice for just $7. Better yet, Newtown favourites, the Italian Bowl are right next door for a guaranteed pre- or post-cinema feed.

6. Keep the coffee flowing

Restaurants Marrickville
If you’re looking for a quiet place to study, or finish off last-minute assignments, look no further than Cornersmith. Located on the corner of Illawarra and Petersham Roads, Cornersmith boasts a locally sourced menu and coffee that hits the spot. Our advice? Hit this café up during the week to avoid killer lines.

7. Venture down the rabbit hole

Clubs Newtown
Tucked underneath the Marly lies Tokyo Sing Song – a spectacular extravaganza of all things wacky but wonderful (and safe from the city’s lockout laws), this quirky basement bar is open until the wee hours of the morning – we’re talking till 6am. Go on a Saturday night to avoid a hangover on a uni day, and feel smug knowing you’ll be out late enough to be first in line at the best cafés in Sydney on Sunday morning.

Freshen up on the cheap

Meals that won't break the bank


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