Public Transportation in Sydney. 54 Hours In Sydney

Thanks for stopping by to read about my quick trip to Sydney.  I’m trying to do a better job of wrapping these up more quickly so I’m hoping to bang this one out in between family vacations.  Here’s roughly what I expect to cover:

Using public transportation in Sydney is easy and should absolutely be considered as a primary option for getting around the downtown area.  During my two days in Sydney I used the train and ferry system.

There were plenty of signs in the airport encouraging folks to use the train to get downtown.  I followed the directional signs through the terminal and arrived at the station in less than 10 minutes.


I was headed to the Park Hyatt Sydney.  The closest station was Circular Quay, about a 15-minute ride from the airport.  The ticket machines were easy to navigate and purchase a ticket to Circular Quay.





I wasn’t sure if I was going to use the train for other trips so bought just the one-day pass and headed downstairs to wait for the train.  The turnstiles all appeared to use a multi-colored contact terminal to open the gates, similar to the NFC locks that have started to pop up in some hotels.  A few minutes later, I was aboard a train headed downtown.




The trains are double-deckers with plenty of seats and standing area.  While a few trains here and there had numerous passengers, none were full or crowded.




It’s important to note that Google Maps showed the route by train to downtown taking about 40 minutes.  For whatever reason, if you plug in “Sydney Airport” as your destination or departure point, Google Maps sometimes refers to a station located off the airport grounds that requires you to walk to/from the airport.  The trick here is to key in “International” or “Domestic” terminal instead of the airport.

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Both have their own station.  Once I figured that out, it made complete sense to take the train.  The cost was 17.40 AUD one-way, but you can purchase a full day pass for only 15 UAD for the majority of other routes downtown.

Once I got downtown and checked in to my hotel, I went back to the Circular Quay train station and bought a day pass.  The machines at Circular Quay wouldn’t take my chip and signature card (even though the airport station would), so I had to swing by the customer service office to pay for the ticket.  Chip and pin cards are fine at the ticket machines as well as cash.  Pretty much all the stations I visited had video monitors that broadcast the arrival time and stops for the next train per track, along with other helpful information like which track had the next train headed to Central station.  Very intuitive, and a nice mix of old world and new technology.


A transit employee explained that I would be charged for each ride up until I hit the daily maximum of 15 AUD, then the rest of my rides would be free.  I didn’t keep track of how much a ride was, but I suspect I was pretty close to breaking even on the 15 AUD daily cap.  You can use Opal cards for the ferry boats as well, located adjacent to Circular Quay.  There’s a number of ferry landings around the area and, as suggested by my friend Yvonne, a short ferry ride is a great way to get a different perspective of the city.




If you’re riding the ferry on the weekends, all ferry routes are 1 AUD, making this a super value for both getting around and sightseeing.  While I stayed at Circular Quay my first night, one of the big tourist areas is Darling Harbour.  I rode the ferry from Circular Quay to Darling Harbour in the early morning and caught a magnificent view of many parts of the city.  Given more time, I would absolutely ride a full loop around the harbor.



The city is also expanding the use of light rail.  I walked by one line already in operation and there’s currently construction on one of the main thoroughfares (George Street) to expand light rail, an even quicker option than the train system.

Train Yourself For Public Transportation

Although Uber is an option to/from Sydney airport I found the train exceptionally easy to use.  Throughout my 2-day stay I found the trains clean, quiet and efficient.  Ditto for the ferry system.  The ferry employees were especially helpful in pointing out landmarks and answering questions.

While I’m not much of a fan of buses, trains and ferry boats are some of my favorite modes of transportation when I travel to new cities.  I always feel a bit more connected to the city by traveling that way.  In some cases, the systems are better maintained than others.  Sydney is at the top of the list for ease of use.

The post Public Transportation in Sydney.  54 Hours In Sydney was published first on Pizza in Motion


  1. I’m curious. Is it 17.40 one way from the airport and then an additional 15 for the all day pass? Or will the 15 suffice for everything?

    1. Dave, I didn’t use the system that specific way, since my trip to the airport on my final morning was my one and only trip of the day. But, it was explained to me that once you hit the $15 cap on the Opal card each day you stop getting charged. So, you can get charged less than the max. I’m pretty sure I had 17.40 left on my card that final day but not sure how much it charged me. If I had to guess, the airport may be “zoned out” of the daily pass.

  2. Last February we took the train to the airport after hearing horror stories of people missing planes while stuck in traffic watching taxi meters rolling on. An easy walk from the Hyatt to Circular Quay station. If you’re in Brisbane, it’s also a pleasant, easy trip to/from downtown and its domestic or international terminal.

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