How to Navigate Transportation in Sydney
Sydney is a huge city of more than five million people, and finding your way around the Harbor City can be quite the task. Keep reading to learn all the tips and tricks you need to navigate Sydney’s transport system.
The best way to get around Sydney is by Sydney Trains – it is ideal for travelers looking to visit a number of the city’s best things to do. The bus system has routes that criss-cross the city, but beware of Sydney traffic. Rental cars are recommended for driving to and from the city but not in the city, since traffic is heavy. Walking is a wonderful way to explore, but Sydney is much too large to be done on foot alone. And a trip on a ferry is a must-do for the views alone.
The Sydney Train network is made up of eight lines and 178 stations. Central Station at the southern end of the city center is the hub of the rail network; the City Circle line connecting Central with Circular Quay loops through most of Sydney’s major attractions.
Trains generally operate between 5 a.m. and 1 a.m., and NightRide bus services replace train routes during this overnight period. Try to avoid catching the train during the rush hour peak — generally between 7:30 – 9 a.m. in the morning and 5 – 6:30 p.m. in the evening — when crowds are at their busiest.
Local tip: Pick up an Opal card. You actually need one of these tap-on ‘smart cards’ to travel on public transport in Sydney, and there are more than 2,000 Opal retailers around Sydney where you can grab yours. There’s no fee for the card itself, you just need to load it up with at least $10.
About 250 million passengers a year jump on a bus in Sydney, but the Harbour City’s winding roads and the heavy traffic means that visitors should only join them when they really have to. Hundreds of bus routes cover areas that trains don’t — the Northern Beaches and the Eastern Suburbs, for example — but short inner-city journeys are often better tackled on foot than waiting for a bus that’s likely to be late, crowded and choked by traffic.
Local tip: Remember to stick your hand out to hail the bus you want to catch. Sydney’s bus drivers have no qualms sailing right past the stop unless a potential passenger is clearly flagging them down with an arm outstretched, so don’t be coy.
The ferry is the way to get around the Harbour City, and although it’s more expensive than trains and buses, you get what you pay for. Paying $7 one-way might seem steep for a daily commute but that’s a bargain for visitors to Sydney wanting front-row seats to the glistening harbour. One-way fares start at AU$6.20 (or $4.50). Discounts are also available for seniors, students and children.
If you’re planning to visit multiple Aussie cities or want to take a daytrip outside of Sydney, consider renting a car. If you plan on staying within the city, a car will become an expensive. Parking hard to come by, and traffic is a headache.
In Sydney, taxi fare is determined by the number of kilometers traveled, so you might find the fares higher here than in the U.S. During peak hours (10 p.m. to 6 a.m.) and on weekends, additional charges may apply. To hail a taxi, signal for one on the street or make an advance reservation by phone. Expect to pay about AU$2 per kilometer (or roughly $3 per mile) when traveling during regular hours.
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