Top Tips for Getting Around Sydney

Top Tips for Getting Around Sydney

As the largest city in Australia, Sydney operates a fantastic network of public transportation for residents and visitors with access throughout the city and to the surrounding suburbs and greater state of New South Wales.  Navigating a new transportation system, however, can be overwhelming at times, often allowing greater opportunity for getting lost.  This quick guide offers a helpful overview of how to access Sydney's many transportation options, ensuring travelers spend more time exploring than feeling confused and frustrated. Happy travels! 



Often the quickest means of public transportation, train travel costs approximately the same fare as a bus ride.  The Sydney trains are clean, cost effective, fast, and operate on-time.  The downside being, as expected, the limited station options, but it's easy to transfer between busses and trains when accessing a destination that's off route.  Trains are the best option when heading out of the city to regions like Hunter Valley and The Blue Mountains. Train tickets can be purchased in station or travelers can use the Opal card. 



While a taxi may be most convenient, it will also be the most costly.  Unless traveling a minimal distance with a few other passengers, a taxi in Sydney is the least economical option.  Taxis are frequent enough to hail from the street, especially on major through-ways, but when calling in to request a taxi, be warned, cab companies add fees for booking over the phone.  Cash or credit accepted. 


Sydney Australia


Accessible from Circular Quay, ferries churn up and down the Sydney waterways, connecting the city to its northern beaches and suburbs.  The wharfs at Circular Quay are also where to pick up ferries for sightseeing around the Harbor.  Use the Opal card or purchase a ticket upon arrival.  Several screens around the docks direct passengers to their appropriate wharf, with sightseeing ferries located on the west side of the Quay.



Sydney transit operates a major network of busses throughout the city and suburbs, running late into the night   Bus stops are marked with a yellow sign and include a map of the corresponding routes.  Buses offer the greatest number of destination options, but may take a while to arrive due to frequent stops.  Most buses will accept exact change but those marked "Pre-Pay" require a pre-purchased ticket or Opal card to ride.  Check for updated time tables and routes. 


Opal Card

In Sydney for a while?  Save time and money by purchasing the Opal card at any convenience or grocery store.  The card serves as a transportation ticket and can be "topped up" whenever it's running low on funds.  To use, tap the card at the card reader when getting on and off public transportation.  The card reader will flash the current balance, fare price, and new balance when exiting.  Additional perks of the card include a daily travel cap of $15, Sunday $2.50 travel cap, and a weekly travel reward of free travel after 8 paid journeys for the rest of the week.  Be mindful of how much money is on the card; there are no refunds once it's been added.


Helpful Transportation Apps:

  1. Opal Travel - This app will advise on nearby transportation options, approximate cost, and travel time based on current location and desired destination.  Unfortunately, the app does not work offline. 
  2. Google Maps - Another great tool that also does not work offline.  Google maps, when connected to Internet, will use the current location to map out an approximate route via public transportation, taxi, or by foot.
  3. City Maps 2 Go - Finally an app with GPS that also works offline!  Download maps of cities around the world to view current GPS location, save favorite locations, and generally keep from getting lost with this accessible map for your device. 


Sydney Harbour

Our top tips for navigating Sydney's public transportation system was written by Ali Gaffey


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