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A family day out in Sydney for under $100

A family day out in Sydney for under $100
Manly Ferry approaching Manly Wharf

Let me start this post by saying this isn't an imagined day out, one dreamed up on paper but a real day out I experienced with my family in the school holidays. There are four of us, Kim, my wife and my two boys who are 11 & 12.  They are at the age that they eat like adults, although for all transport except air travel they are still considered children, fare wise.

So lets start with the numbers and then I will walk through the day.

Transport $45 - Opal card 2 adults and 2 children. Max fare is $15 for adults and $7.50 for kids making a total of $45 for transport.

Lunch $25 - Fish and chips at Manly Ocean Foods on The Corso. We got 2 fish and chip meals which were $12.50 and split them. Honestly it was enough for the four of us. We got takeaway and ate them overlooking the beach.

Walking off the fish and chips on our way to earning the gelato. Free. This walk from Manly Wharf to North Head and back is detailed in full in another blog 6 cheap things to do in Sydney - travel tips.

Ice creams $23.20 (single scoops) or $31.20 (double scoops) - Our family has a serious weakness for Gelato. Our boys will actually say this isn't ice cream dad, it's gelato. Gelato is in all ways superior to ice cream. 

So there you go, 2 adults and 2 kids who love to eat for under $100, $93.20 in fact.

We're not always this thrifty, the day before we managed to blow nearly $550 after hitting Yum Cha in Chinatown, the Egyptian Mummies exhibition at The Powerhouse Museum and finishing with the boys hitting the rides at Luna Park.

What did we get up to?

This day trip was one of three we did during the January School holidays of 2017. My middle brother lives in Sydney and was overseas so we were able to use his family home as a base and save on the accommodation.

A family day out in Sydney for under $100  selfie
The obligatory pre-walk selfie

Transport - $45

They live in near Dural in northern suburbs, so we drove to the best bus stop for an express service to the city less than 5 mins drive away. We could have caught a local service as well but the 5 minute drive saved us about 1 hour on the buses and connections each day.

If you haven't cottoned on yet, I am a huge fan of the Opal Card. Especially with the max spend of $15 per day for adults ($7.50 for kids). Our plan was to seriously max out our Opal limit each day. For these examples I will just focus on the adult fares, children are half price.

Dural to Barangaroo on express bus $4.50 each way

Barangaroo (Darling Harbour) to Circular Quay ferry $5.74 each way

Circular Quay to Manly ferry $7.18 each way

So if we paid for each of the fares separately, as it was before Opal and most fares were more before Opal we would have paid $34.84 per adult and $17.42 per child totalling $104.52 for the day. So in travel alone the Opal saves at least $60 a day for a family, incredible value and far more scenic especially when you catch the ferry.

Our bus dropped us off near Barangaroo so with a light rain falling we elected to head to the Darling Harbour ferry rather than crossing over the city to the Quay or catching a train from Wynyard.

The ferry to the Quay is a great start to the day and then we changed to the Manly ferry for the trip up the harbour.

Lunch - $25

Once in Manly we head up The Corso to the beach. Just before the end of The Corso is a little hole in the wall fish and chip store Manly Ocean Foods. The standard fish and chips serve is a good portion and we all had our fill after sharing two serves. All for only $25.

We sat on the esplanade overlooking the beach and enjoyed our lunch.


When heading out on a family outing, it's usually the snacks and drinks that really tip the budget over the edge. We headed to the supermarket first and got a mix of lunchbox snacks and fruit to carry. We also took our own water as drinks.


Walking off the fish and chips 

We had actually planned to do the Manly to Spit walk on this day but the weather was a bit questionable still, the light rain was hanging around and we decided to stick closer to Manly.

As it was we walked from Manly to Shelly beach and then on to the North Head Lookouts. I detailed this walk in another blog 6 Cheap things to do in Sydney so I wont repeat it here but if you want the details get them HERE.

Its a scenic walk of moderate difficulty that takes 3-4 hours. I highly recommend it. 


If you wanted to minimise the walking, you can use your Opal card to catch the bus up to the key North Head lookouts (remember it wont cost any more). The 135 Bus will take you up close to the carpark and best lookouts.

Apart from the North Head Lookouts, Collins Beach was a highlight for me, a hideaway beach in the middle of Sydney, a real delight.

We finished our walk back at Manly Pier and caught the ferry back to Circular Quay.

Ice-cream (Gelato really) - $23.20

We love gelato and headed to Gelatissimo - while it may not be the best gelato available, it is bloody good and highly accessible. There are Gelatissimo's everywhere. We fell in love with a summer special recipe Peach and blood orange, OMG! Other favourites include coconut, banoffee WOW!!! and hazelnut.

Get a cup and take your time while enjoying one of the many street performers that make this part of town their stage. Even with the $5 tip to the performer we still stayed under our budget for the day.


It is possible to have a great day in Sydney for under $100, enjoy lunch and treats doing so, but the reality is that if you're not careful, $100 can double very very quickly.

We finished the day in Chinatown indulging in another of my favourite things to do on the cheap in Sydney. In Chinatown there are lots of places where you can get a fantastic feed for under $15 each.

We hit the Eating World food court on the corner of Dixon & Goulburn Streets. In fact you can get a very big noodle dish for under $10 so if you can spare an extra $50-$60 you can finish your day in the city with a wonderful dinner.


This is Chinatown, when you ask for hot they mean Chinese hot, not Aussie hot. Sadly Kim worked this out the hard way and paid for it. Be warned it can be really hot. Personally I loved it but have a much higher tolerance for chilli.

I hope you enjoyed this blog, if you did, please share it with your friends on your favourite social media.

If you want to get more tips for a cheap day out in Sydney head to my blog 6 cheap things to do in Sydney - travel tips.

Have an awesome day


Inspire | Travel | Live Life

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