First Time Visitor? Here's How to Get Around Sydney

Navigate Sydney like a local. Discover the best ways to get around the city with this comprehensive guide to Sydney transport options.

If you're visiting Sydney for the first time, there's no doubt you'll have a long list of attractions, activities, and events on your itinerary to tick off during your holiday.


Once you have your Sydney accommodation booked, the next thing you'll want to do is figure out how you're going to get around. Whether you're looking for the best way to travel from Sydney Airport to your hotel, or how to get from your hotel to all the places you want to experience while in the city, we've got you sorted.


Let's take a look at how to get around Sydney, like a local.

How to Get Around Sydney on Public Transport

There's plenty of ways to travel around Sydney and one of the very best is via Sydney's public transport network. Public transport options in Sydney include ferries, trains, light rails, and buses. The type of public transport you choose will depend on where in Sydney you'd like to travel.


The best way to plan your trip when travelling by public transport in Sydney is to use the Transport NSW Trip Planner website. You can put in your where you're travelling from and where you're travelling to, as well as when you'd like to depart or arrive, and you'll find out the best options available including which type of transport to take and how much it'll cost you. 


Speaking of the cost of public transport in Sydney, the best way to pay for your public transport trips is with an Opal Card. You can purchase an Opal Card at retailers throughout Sydney (find your nearest Opal Card retailer). The Opal Card is a reusable card that can be topped up online, via the app, or at selected public transport stations and stops. You then use it to tap on and off as you travel. You can also use your credit card to tap on and off, however if you are using an overseas credit card you may incur additional transaction fees.


Now, let's take a look at Sydney's public transport options in more detail so you can choose how you'll get around Sydney during your visit.

Travel Sydney by Ferry

A crowd-pleaser for visitors and locals alike. A ride on a Sydney Ferry is a great way to travel and experience Sydney at its best. Afterall, relaxing ferry ride on Sydney Harbour is more than a way to get around - it's also an experience in itself.


Sydney Ferries depart from various points around the harbour's edge, including Darling Harbour, Barangaroo, Circular Quay, Taronga Zoo, Manly, and Watsons Bay.


Whether you have a particular destination in mind or you simply want to enjoy a ride around Sydney Harbour with a view of the city skyline, travelling on a Sydney Ferry is a great way to get around Sydney.

Travel Sydney by Train

The Sydney Train network is extensive with trains throughout the city, suburbs, and further afield to destinations including the Blue Mountains, Newcastle, Wollongong, and the Southern Highlands. You can also travel on regional train services from Sydney's Central Station to destinations throughout NSW as well as to Canberra and Melbourne.


If you're looking to travel around Sydney's CBD, the City Circle trains are a great way to get around. City Circle trains travel underground in a loop via city stations including Sydney Central, Town Hall, Wynyard, Circular Quay, St James, and Museum.


Other Sydney destinations you can travel to by train include Milsons Point near Luna Park on the north side of Sydney Harbour, Cronulla where you can visit the beach, Newtown where you can experience shopping and dining, and Olympic Park where you can attend an event at nearby Accor Stadium.


You can also travel to and from Sydney Airport's Domestic and International terminals by train. The fare for train trips to Sydney Airport include a station access fee which makes them more costly than regular public transport trips in Sydney. Regardless, travelling by train to Sydney airport remains a convenient choice. You can learn more and calculate your fare on the Transport NSW website.

Travel Sydney by Light Rail

While much of the train network in central Sydney is underground, the Sydney Light Rail operates above ground throughout the Sydney CBD.


There are several different Sydney Light Rail lines and you can take the Sydney Light Rail to and from various locations around central Sydney including Central Station, Chinatown, Darling Harbour, Pyrmont, Town Hall, and Circular Quay. The light rail also travels to Moore Park and Randwick, as well as Dulwich Hill via Glebe.


Just like on Sydney's other public transport options, you can use your Opal Card to pay for your travel on the light rail.

Travel Sydney by Bus

Travelling around Sydney by bus is a great way to reach destinations that don't have a train, light rail, or ferry stop. One example is Bondi Beach.


While you can take the train to Bondi Junction, you need to change onto a bus to complete your journey down to the beach. You can also take a bus directly to Bondi Beach from Circular Quay or other locations in Sydney CBD.


The Sydney bus network is extensive and you can travel by bus to many other destinations throughout suburban Sydney. The best way to plan your bus trip is via the Transport NSW Trip Planner website.

Travel Sydney by Bike

Another way to travel around Sydney is by bike. If you're new to Sydney, it's important to be aware of the road rules for bicycle riders in Sydney to keep yourself and those around you safe.


The City of Sydney have produced a Sydney cycling map that provides useful information about shared paths, bike lanes, and typical traffic conditions in the city.


If you'd prefer to go on a bike ride as an activity in itself, rather than simply as transport from one point to another, you might enjoy a ride on one of Sydney's many shared paths and cycleways. Try The Bay Run in the inner west, Centennial Park in the inner east, or along the Parramatta River in western Sydney.

Travel Sydney by Taxi or Ride Share

Taxis and ride share services are available throughout Sydney including from the airport, around the CBD, and in the suburbs. 


Taking a taxi or ride share is a convenient and viable option when you need to get somewhere really specific or out of reach of Sydney's public transport options.


To take a taxi you can simply hail one in the street, call a company to book one in advance, or find one at a designated taxi stand around the city. If the light on top of the taxi is on, it's available for you to use. You can also ask the concierge or reception team at your Sydney hotel to book you a taxi.


To take a ride share you'll need to book via your ride share app of choice, such as Uber.


Keep in mind taxis and ride shares are generally more expensive than public transport. Depending on the size of your group, you may be able to find a way to reach your destination via more affordable public transport.

Travel Sydney in a Rental Car

If you'd prefer the freedom to go where you want, when you want, a rental car might just be the option for you. Having your own vehicle is handy in the sense that you don't have to work around a timetable and can leave at your leisure.


However, this mode of transport is definitely more costly than the others, and there may be certain restrictions in place according to the rental company you deal with based on criteria such as your age and the type of license you hold.


Another important consideration if you're renting a car in Sydney is traffic and parking. Sydney CBD can be very busy for both pedestrians and drivers. It's important to leave sufficient time to navigate Sydney CBD in car, particularly during morning and evening weekday peak hours and when major events are on. 


For parking in Sydney CBD, there are various options included on street (much of which is metered) and paid parking stations. The most convenient option is to get in touch with your Sydney hotel to inquire about parking onsite. Many Accor hotels in Sydney have parking available to guests for a fee.

Travel Sydney by Foot

If you choose a hotel in the heart of the city, within close reach of most of the attractions you're planning to see, walking can be a great way to get around Sydney. 


Walking is a more leisurely way to travel around Sydney, offering you a perspective you may not have when passing by on public transport. You could discover secret spots to stop in and visit along the way.


If you're staying at a hotel in Sydney CBD, some of the major attractions you may choose to walk to include Darling Harbour, Chinatown, Barangaroo, Queen Victoria Building, Sydney Westfield, Sydney Tower, State Theatre, Circular Quay, the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, Surry Hills, NSW Parliament, the State Library, Museum of Contemporary Art, The Art Gallery of NSW, and of course the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge.

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