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Where to stay in Sydney: The best areas for hostels, hotels + airbnbs

Circular Quay, Sydney

Sydney is my favourite city. I know that’s a big claim, but once you see it for yourself, you might understand why.

It’s a big city with beach town vibes. It’s historic, but also modern. It’s beautiful, and diverse, and has some of the best food in the world. The weather is generally pleasant, and the people are pretty damn nice. I really can’t get enough of it.

In the 2.5 years that I’ve spent living in Sydney, many of my friends and family members have asked me where they should stay when they come to visit. To answer this, it really does depend on the type of accommodation you want and how you’ll be getting around.

I’ve always been an advocate of travelling on a budget, so I’m going to break it down into the best areas for hostels, basic hotels, and Airbnbs in Sydney. No luxury accommodation will be included in this list!

Here’s a few things to note before we get started on my recommendations for where to stay in Sydney:

  • Sydney is not a cheap city. Generally speaking, the closer your accommodation is to the area around Circular Quay, the Opera House, and The Rocks, the more expensive it will be.
  • If you’re renting a car, keep in mind that parking downtown is fairly difficult. If you think you’ll need parking, I’d suggest staying in one of the Airbnb areas as the local streets will have more space for cars.
  • If you plan to use public transport, then staying in or near downtown is probably going to be the best option for you. The easiest way to get around is via the trains that go around the city center in a loop.

Where to stay in Sydney: Hostels

Hostels in Sydney:

Central – The area around Central Station is great for backpackers looking for cheap but nice accommodation. Not only is it fairly affordable, it’s also super easy to get around from there as the train station has links to everywhere in the city.

World Square – World Square is a shopping district in downtown, and the streets surrounding it have a few basic hostels that are ultra cheap. This area is very close to Chinatown which is a great place for cheap eats, so you’ll save money on both accommodation and food if you stay around here!

(Prices are in AUD and are per person, per night for a bed in a dorm room)

Where to stay in Sydney: Hotels

Hotels in Sydney:

Darling Harbour – Darling Harbour is on the west side of downtown and is a popular place for tourists who want a mid-range hotel. There’s plenty to see and do around Darling Harbour in the daytime, and at night there are loads of restaurants and bars that keep the area feeling lively.

Hyde Park – Hyde Park sits beside downtown on the east side. The north end is fairly pricey, but the south end has some affordable hotels. This area is a little quieter than Darling Harbour, but it’s just as central with nearby train stations (St James and Museum) to take you around the city.

Circular Quay and The Rocks are the places to be if you want to go fancy! Here’s some Sydney 5 star hotels to splurge on.

(Prices are in AUD and are per room, per night)

Where to stay in Sydney: Airbnbs

Airbnbs in Sydney:

Surry Hills – Surry Hills currently takes the title of the bougiest spot in Sydney. It’s where you’ll find a bunch of fancy coffee shops and restaurants that you’ll love but will probably burn a hole in your pocket. Still, it’s a great choice for Airbnbs as it’s super close to downtown without actually being inside it. Stay somewhere around Crown Street or Foveaux Street.

NewtownNewtown is the heart of Sydney’s ‘Inner West’ which is pretty much the most hipster part of Sydney. This area has been my hood ever since I first moved to Sydney in 2012! King Street is the main strip through Newtown, but there are plenty of cute apartments for rent in nearby suburbs (Enmore, Erskineville, and Camperdown) as well. Staying around here should be much cheaper than anything in the city center.

Bondi Beach – Many people who come to Sydney want to stay near the beach, which is totally understandable. Bondi is the most popular beach in Sydney, and it’s fairly easy to get to from the city via bus. The Airbnbs around here will usually be small houses or apartments, and they get more expensive the closer you are to the beach.

If you haven’t used Airbnb before, I definitely recommend trying it out. The places available for rent on Airbnb are often cheaper than a hotel, but you’ll probably get more space and a more genuine experience of what it’s like to live in the city!

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6 Responses to “Where to stay in Sydney: The best areas for hostels, hotels + airbnbs”

  1. Linda Dee

    Thank you for this post! I am traveling to Sydney in July and booked an Airbnb in Surry Hills. I’m looking forward to my stay more than ever!

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      That’s great, Linda! I’m sure you will love Surry Hills, it’s a great area to stay. Enjoy your time in Sydney!

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      That’s so wonderful, Charmaine! You will love Sydney – it’s such a fabulous city 😀

  2. Joanne

    Hi Ashlea, I love reading your article, It was really fantastic guide and tips.

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Thanks Joanne! I hope you enjoy your trip to Sydney.


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