Getting Around Sydney – How to Get Around Sydney for Tourists

Planning a trip to Sydney? We put together a comprehensive guide with information for getting around the city and beyond, including getting to and from the Sydney airport.

Downtown Sydney is easy to navigate and made up of 6 “neighborhoods” that people refer to: City West, City South, Darling Harbour, The Rocks, City Centre, and City East. Most attractions, restaurants, shopping, and landmarks you’ll visit are located in City Centre and its surrounding areas.

With lots of transportation options, getting around Sydney is easy. Most major attractions and things to do in Sydney are centrally located and easily walkable from one to another – plus, Sydney is known for having a great public transportation system and lots of taxi/rideshare options.

Planning to do lots of Sydney attractions? Check out The Sydney Explorer Pass, the more you do the more you save.

getting around sydney for tourists

Taxis & Rideshares (recommended)

Taxis are one of the most popular ways to get around the city and can be found outside most major hotels, near train stops, and popular attractions. Taxis in Sydney are metered and usually charge by the mile.

Ride share services, such as Uber or Lyft, are also available in the Land Down Under. Depending on where you need to go, these could be cheaper than taxis. Make sure to download your preferred service to your phone prior to your trip.

Car Rentals

There are lots of car rental options in Sydney (referred to as ‘car hires’ by the locals). Keep in mind, Australians drive on the left side of the road and most cars have the steering wheel on the right side. You can arrange for car rentals straight from the airport, or find a local service once you’ve reached your destination.

If you’re planning on traveling outside of Sydney often during your stay – maybe a weekend in Byron Bay? – this is the best and most flexible choice.

Parking Downtown

Like any major city, parking downtown can be either pricey or time-consuming (or, eventually, both) – but there are many options for parking, including car parks (parking lots) and metered parking that accepts coins, credit cards, and mobile phone payments.

Please be aware, spots fill up fast so give yourself some extra time to find a parking spot.

Hop On Hop Off Bus

While it may not be your main form of transportation during your trip, it’s a great way to combine getting around with a sightseeing tour.

On this open-air double decker, you’ll learn more about the history of Sydney as your expert guide narrates the ride. Drive past or hop off at landmarks like the Sydney Opera House, Darling Harbour, Bondi Beach, the Sydney Tower Eye, and much more.

You’ll be able to get on and off as you please, which makes completing your Sydney bucket list that much easier.

Getting in: Hop On Hop Off Big Bus Sydney 1 Day Classic Tour tickets are included on Sydney Explorer Pass.

Public Transportation

Sydney Public Transportation is easy to use and serves lots of popular areas within Sydney and beyond.  You can explore downtown, the Blue Mountains, Southern Highlands, or Newcastle on trains, buses, ferries, and light rail. Made up of seven lines, the Sydney Train Network is your ticket to exploring all of the Sydney area’s most popular destinations.

Sydney Trains

These stations are located in the most popular tourist spots: Central, Musuem, St James, Town Hall, Wynyard, Circular Quay, Martin Place, and Kings Cross. They are extremely easy to travel between and connect the city to the northern, southern, and western suburbs of Sydney.

You can get from the center of the city to Bondi in no time aboard one of these trains. The trains run from 4AM – midnight daily, with ticketing machines operating 24 hours a day.

NSW Train Link

This metropolitan train network services all of the districts within Sydney, as well as many popular cities nearby, like Newcastle and the Blue Mountains.

You can hop on a regional train and travel far outside the borders of Sydney.

Sydney Buses

These buses run through the city and beyond nearly 24 hours a day.

You can hop aboard at any bus stop sign, just consult their daily schedule and figure out which bus line is best for you!

Please be aware, most buses required a pre-paid card to board. Make sure you get your Opal Card prior to operating on the public transportation systems.

Airport Link

Traveling to and from Sydney airport has never been easier.

This line operates from all City Circle stations to both domestic (T2 & T3) and international (T1) terminals. The train runs every 10 minutes or so and goes directly between the airport and the station.

Light Rail

Similar to a subway system, the Light Rail operates by zone and connects the inner city to the outter city.

These trains run every 15 minutes from Central, Capital Square, Paddy’s Market, Exhibition Centre, and Convention Stations to the suburbs of Sydney.

You’ll be able to get to Darling Harbour, the famed Fish Market, Rozelle Bay, and more using the Light Rail.

Harbour City Ferries

Ferries run in and out of Circular Quay all day long, connecting mainland Sydney to Taronga Zoo, Manly, and other destinations across the harbor.

Even if you aren’t going anywhere in particular, a ride on one of Sydney’s ferries is a must! It’s the best way to get acquainted with the gorgeous harbor.

Planning & Purchasing Tickets

Fare can be purchased and stored on Opal Cards. Fare is determined by how far you travel, so you will need to tap your card on the readers upon exiting stations, buses, etc. Opal Cards are reusable and almost all stations have Opal Card machines that will allow you to add extra value to your card.

Plan ahead to take advantage of discounted public transportation fares. Opal fares are up to 30% off on weekends, public holidays, and off-peak hours on weekdays. The Sydney Trains and NSW TrainLink networks are often discounted during non-commuter travel times.

Tip: download the Moovit mobile app (free) or the TripView Lite App for helpful trip planning, real-time public transportation updates, service timetables, and more. You can also consult City of Sydney Public Transportation to determine your best route.


Biking around Sydney

Sydney is known for it’s great weather, especially in the spring and summer months. Take advantage of it and explore the city by bike!

Whether you want to embark on a guided tour, or just rent a bike and guide yourself for the day, it’s really simple. Sydney Public Transportation offers many bike rental stations throughout the city. You can quickly and easily rent a bike for your desired amount of time and get to pedaling.

Another option is going on a guided tour. These are great because it gives you the chance to get outdoors and really immerse yourself in the Sydney scenery while learning about the city’s history and landmarks. With expert guides, there’s no way you’ll miss a single thing.

Getting in: Harbour Bridge Electric Bike Tour tickets are included on Sydney Explorer Pass.

Getting to Sydney from the Airport

Sydney’s main airport, Sydney Kingsford-Smith, is conveniently located less than 5 miles from Sydney CBD (Central Business District, aka “Downtown”) which makes getting there from the airport easy (and fast).

Taxi: you can find taxis ready to take you wherever you need to go at the ground level transportation area.

Shuttle: you can find shuttle options at the ground level transportation travel desks – shuttles will conveniently take you to where you need to go and because they are a shared service, they are usually significantly more affordable than taxis. Tip: pre-book a shuttle from the Sydney Airport through Redy2Go online.

Train: the Airport Link T2 (Green) airport train line stops at both the Domestic and International Terminals and goes right to downtown and intersects with most other major lines. Tip: grab a free Opal Card, a smartcard used to store public transportation fare, at the ticket windows located at the Domestic and International Airport stations – you can load it with fare which is cheaper than paying for fare on the train.

Planning to Sightsee?

Remember, the Sydney Pass is one of the best choices for maximum savings and flexibility. Choose from 15 included popular Sydney area attractions.

Save up to 45% on top sightseeing tours, and popular activities vs. paying at the gate. Visit multiple attractions for one low price with The Sydney Pass.

The information contained in this post, to the best of the author's knowledge, was accurate at time of publishing. We do our best to ensure and maintain the accuracy of this information.

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