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Photograph: Brian Kyed / Unsplash / Creative Commons

The best free (and cheap) dates you can go on across Sydney

Being a cheap date is seriously underrated

Written by
Maya Skidmore
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For the young folk, the poor folk and the folk who just like to run free, love in this economy can tend to be tricky. It’s common folklore that living in Sydney generally means that (unless you’re a multi-bazillionaire with eight private islands) taking your squeeze out on the town can mean a significant dent to your superfund and the possible loss of an arm and leg to the capitalist gods. So to all you lovers out there whose weekly budget doesn't stretch to chartering a seaplane (or even just one exotic cocktail at any CBD bar), we hear you and we see you. That’s why we have put together an ultimate list of the coolest cheap and totally free dates available to lovers in the Emerald City. Each of these options is guaranteed to set you back either nothing or next to nothing.

So grab your current cutie, leave your hundred-dolla bills at home and hit the road. Free love, folks, is where it's at. 

Best free and cheap dates to go in Sydney

  • Bars
  • Restaurants

Slinging back boozy bevs is more often than not the key to Sydneysiders' hearts, but in a city where a cocktail can set you back $26, getting blitzed in the name of love can be a luxury reserved only for the biggest ballers on the block. Now, with our list of the city's best happy hours, you can snuggle yourself into a nifty bar establishment, feeling just bubbly enough to keep the evening swingin'. 

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  • Bars

Oysters have a reputation for being an aphrodisiac generally reserved for the very rich. But we are here to tell you that when in Sydney, this is not so. We have found all the best oyster happy hours in Sydney, where you can snag yourself a bargain bivalve for $1 to $2 a pop. You're welcome.  

  • Things to do
  • Lavender Bay

When Wendy Whiteley lost her husband, Australian artist Brett Whiteley, in 1992, she funnelled her love and grief into transforming a disused, derelict train yard space into a garden of epic proportions. This testament to love in Lavender Bay has been nurtured by Whiteley and two gardeners over the past 25 years. Explore this secret paradise in Lavender Bay with your lover, finding time to sit on hidden twisted benches, gaze out at the water, and snuggle in the shade of twisted fig trees. 

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Head to the gallery for a Wednesday night date at Art After Hours
  • Art
  • Paintings
  • Sydney

This night out on the art town is one of the best dates Sydney honestly has to offer. It's free. It's intimate. It's cool. And you will almost always walk away feeling both refreshed and surprised. Head to the Art Gallery of NSW for an epic mid-week art date filled with cheap wines, free guided tours, celebrity talks and mind-blowing exhibitions that are all perfect for a first, or five-hundredth, date. Plus, if conversation ain't flowing, there are plenty of distractions. You're welcome. 

  • Shopping
  • Op shops

Everyone knows that those movie montages where a cute couple go to a vintage shop and pose in various 'adorable' and 'ridiculous' outfits to a boppy backing track are some of the best moments in cinematic history. Period. That's why, for all lovers who want to frolic with their beaus in ambient op shops (while possibly nailing some epic bargains in the process) we have compiled a list of the best op shops in Sydney, so that you can do exactly that. 

 

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Go for a sensual splash under one of the best waterfalls in Sydney and NSW
  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens

Honestly – is there anything more romantic than finding a waterfall in an isolated oasis? No. There isn't. Thankfully for all Sydneysiders who understand this irrefutable love truth, our city is very able to deliver. Grab your significant other, a picnic basket (and tell TLC where to go) as you chase down one of our chosen best waterfall locations, in Sydney and beyond.

 

  • Attractions
  • Beaches
  • Manly

A tiny cove that you can only find by following a beaten bush track from Manly, Collins Flat is a well-known lovers' escape. With its glassy flat water, lush rainforest foliage and resident waterfall, this secluded beach is a perfect date spot, both for its epic views across the harbour and for its natural seclusion. Keep your eyes peeled for fairy penguins.

 

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  • Sport and fitness
  • Coogee

Australia's last women-only saltwater swimming spot, this perfect swimming hole has been a haven away from the patriarchal gaze for hundreds of years. You can go hang out there in various states of undress with a lover for only $2.50, for as long as you want. Even if it's too chilly to go for a swim in the resident ocean pool's crystalline waters, the epic views of the sea and the dappled grassy sitting spots all provide the perfect backdrop to any budding or established romance between women. 

  • Museums
  • Camperdown

For all those culture lovers who want their history with a considerable side of spice, we recommend you head to this little-known gem deep within Sydney Uni. Art, science, history and ancient cultures meet under one roof at the purpose-built Chau Chak Wing Museum, whose collections are 150 years in the making. The museum has Egyptian mummies, a Tasmanian Tiger and an exhibition of love, sex and death all in one space. Plus, it's totally free. That's hot. 

 

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  • Things to do
  • Millers Point

A gentle rounded hill with jaw-dropping views across the harbour, this perfect lookout is within easy walking distance of the Sydney Harbour foreshore and surrounds, with its sweeping views over the city allowing you to feel like you are both in and above all the action. With a romantic gondola and consistently beautiful light, this place is one of the most popular wedding photo and proposal spots in town for good reason. This is free Sydney romance at its absolute finest. 

  • Art
  • Chippendale

White Rabbit is a a state-of-the-art, four-floor temple to 21st-century Chinese art hidden on a back street in Chippendale. Showcasing groundbreaking contemporary Chinese art, this totally free museum also has a gift shop full of cheap, cheerful and colourful gifts, and a ground-floor tea house that also serves dumplings. That's a date. 

 

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  • Things to do

Sydney's Royal National Park is less than an hour's drive from the CBD, yet so many Sydneysiders haven't stepped foot in the pristine 15,091 hectares of bushland that lines the coast south of Sydney. Whether you want to swim, trek, picnic, swim, bike ride or just GTFO of Sydney for the day, the Royal National Park will provide an outdoors, adventure-filled day out that will turn you off the ol' movie number for good.  

  • Shopping
  • Markets

With the plethora of deliciously cheap street foods, bargain finds, free live music and all-round good times on offer, a weekend jaunt to one of the many market stalwarts across Sydneytown is a solid-gold date option that always ticks the affordable box. Have a geeze at our list of the very best ones our city has to offer. You and your date will thank us.

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  • Bars
  • Pubs

Do you and your lover possess freakishly accurate knowledge of the Simpsons oeuvre? Do you know your Australian cricket captains better than you know your own uncles? Are you totally up to date on current affairs and '90s pop culture? Use all the weird, wonderful and utterly useless facts in your arsenal to win cash, booze and glory at one of Sydney's best pub trivia nights, where knowledge really is power. 

 

  • Things to do

Long walks on the beach are so 2007. Nowdays, all the coolest daters on the block take to secret coastal cliff walks, where the views are better and the pathways less congested with seaweed and hysterical Nippers. Here, you'll find a list of the best secluded coastal cliff walks on offer in Sydney, so you can take your sugar on a wild stroll that you're both (probably) guaranteed to remember. 

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  • Things to do
  • Walks and tours

For an ultimate night of starry-eyed passion that doesn't cost you your left arm, there's only one thing to do: look up. Stargazing should be easy, but light pollution and high rises make it less so. For an ultimate cheap date that sings with romance, bundle yourselves up in 16 scarves and take off to one of these excellent stargazing spots around and beyond Sydney. 

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  • Things to do
  • Sydney

Strolling through the Royal Botanic Gardens takes all walk-through-the-park dates to a whole other level. With the wilderness of lush mammoth trees, water features, fruit bats, art deco glass houses and brilliant flowers, this totally free experience screams romance. You can walk, you can sit, you can canoodle – the possibilities are endless, and the best bit? It doesn't cost a dime. 

  • Things to do
  • Walks and tours

For most of the world, getting to sail across a glittering expanse of ocean for under 10 bucks is pretty much unheard of. Here in Sydney, we are spoiled with how very easy that is. A jaunt across the high seas (pref: at sunset, or night – or anytime really) is both highly doable and extremely cheap. If you're after a low-cost and high-reward moment of lovin', we recommend you check out our list of the best ferry trips available to everyone in the Emerald City.

 

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