Getting Around Sydney


Australia’s largest city has a reputation of being one of the most beautiful of all cities, brimming with historical associations yet remaining vastly globally influential in culture, art, fashion, cuisine, and design.

Don’t forget its famous Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, two of the world’s iconic structures. If you are about to traveling around in Australia’s version of New York and you are not planning to get around by car, these are some pointers that you would consider.

Public transport efficiency varies

Sydney has a good transport system, especially in areas closer to the city area where many of the attractions are located. However, if you are planning to travel farther away from the city, such as the suburbs, public transportation system tends to be less reliable.

Public transport help line

You can find out timetables, fares, and routes around the city by calling 131500 within Australia (note local call rates apply), or by visiting

Travel cards

The cheapest way to travel around Sydney is by purchasing various travel cards. These discounted commuter and leisure tickets vary between buses, trains, and ferries, as well as how long you intend to stay in Sydney.

More information about travel cards are available at Cityrail (Sydney’s suburban rail network), or a quick visit to the TransitShops in Circular Quay (at the corner of Loftus and Alfred Streets); outside the Queen Victoria Building; or on the information booth at Central Station. However, there are private buses and ferries away from the city that do not accept travel cards and will require you to purchase cash tickets instead.

Taxis are convenient, but check the meters

If you don’t know your way around Sydney, taxis are the way to go. They are also convenient late at night when the trains and buses stop. However, bear in mind that taxis here have two meter rates: the day rate 1 and the more expensive night rate 2 (which is applicable between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.). You should make sure to check the taxi meter if it’s set at the right rating system. If the driver makes a wrong rate setting, remind the driver to switch it.

Also, taxi drivers take toll roads, such as the Harbour Bridge’s southbound lane, without asking you and will simply add the toll amounts before quoting the fare. Do ask if you are unsure why they are asking for an amount that differs from the one shown on the meter.

Tipping is never expected anywhere in Australia, but it would be nice if you round a taxi fare up to the next dollar.

Do not rely too much on its trains

Sydney’s suburban rail network, called CityRail, is rather patchy. This complex rail network frequently experiences delays, especially during rains, trackwork, and crowded peak hours, but at other times a CityRail train is the fastest way to get to the city’s center.

Choose public buses

Sydney has an extensive bus network, where most of the inner city and inner suburb buses (that usually come in blue and white) are run by government. Meanwhile, the red Sydney Explorer loop bus is recommended for those who want to navigate the city. If you reside far from the suburbs, you would resort to taking a private bus to the city, which has a varying degree of frequency and reliability, but the single fares cost the same as public buses.

When you are waiting at a bus stop, you must raise your arm and wave to the bus to tell the driver to stop.

The cost of a bus ride around Sydney depends on how far you are traveling. Simply tell the driver the destination you are going and he will calculate how much far you will have to pay. You don’t have to pay exact fare, but the bus driver may not be able to give you change for a A$50 or even a A$20 note. It is advisable to bring a good supply of coins and smaller notes when riding a bus.

Take the ferry to see Sydney’s pride

The ferries is more than just a utilitarian means of transport, they are a great way to see the harborside. Recommended route for visitors is from Circular Quay to Manly. Be sure to prepare to take a stunning photograph of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge as you leave Circular Quay.

The Metro and the Monorail

The Metro Light Rail recently opened and operates within the city’s central district to its western suburbs, while the Sydney Monorail runs through the central business district to Darling Harbor. Both lines are short but reliable.

Sydney is not a biker’s city

A bicycle may be suitable, but Sydney is a reasonably hilly city and many parts of it are not cyclist-friendly. It is illegal for adults to ride bicycles on unmarked footpaths not designated for bikes (which children can ride on). Bicycle helmets are required by law, as well as lights and reflectors at night.

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