Whether you are new to Sydney or not, getting around could be problematic. Sydney is full of so many public transit and other options that you can become easily overwhelmed. While a lot of travelers just opt for calling a taxi and letting the driver figure it all out, others embrace the adventure. This guide will help you better understand Sydney’s public transit system so that you can get where you need to go.
Go by Train
If you are in central Sydney, you will want to acquaint yourself with the City Circle train stations. Most of the trains in the area stop here and connect to other train systems - so getting to know these stations it the most important.
Most of the City Circle stops are located underground, except Circular Quay Station. The stops travel clockwise from Central Station, while the City Circle train stops in at Town Hall, St. James, Wynyard and more. There are trains that go in the opposite direction too, stopping at Central and working their way back.
You can buy a map to find the entrances to the stations or just ask someone. Most locals in Sydney take the trains daily and can point you to the nearest entrance. If you are not close to a City Circle station, look at your route and see which transfer train you need to get there. The station masters are also very helpful and can help you find the right train for where you need to go.
Using the Manned Ticket Windows
At the ticket windows you will see destination boards showing you which stations a train will stop at. Each train has their own special route, and not all trains stop at the same stations. So, be aware which train you are getting on.
Automatic ticket machines are hard to come by, so you are best to buy your tickets at the manned ticket windows. The person at the window can also help you find the appropriate train, while the automatic ticket dispensers only list the train number - not the destination or stops.
“Single” and “Return” Tickets
One-way tickets are called “single” tickets, while a round trip is called “return”. If you want a roundtrip ticket, you will ask the teller for a “Sydney return” which would take you from your current location, to Sydney and then back.
Hold onto your tickets, because even when you arrive at your destination you will need to use the ticket to get out of the station.
Go by Tram or Monorail
The main trains for Sydney are difficult, but then you also have the tram and monorail to figure out. Sydney’s light rail system takes you to all of the hotspots in Sydney, including the Darling Harbour and The Star. If you are traveling by monorail, you will have limited links around town. But, it will stop at points of interest, such as the Wild Life Sydney, Sydney Aquarium and the Pyrmont Bridge.
Take a Bus through Sydney
Sydney has an extensive network of buses that stop at Central Station, Circular Quay, and prime spots on main streets. You can identify the busses and their routes by the numbers on their exterior. If you want to know which bus to take, ask the concierge at your hotel or pick up a bus route map - which are free at the airport and most hotels.
Take a Ferry
As long as you know where you want to go and the area accepts ferry transport, you may want to try the Sydney Ferry. It leaves from Circular Quay throughout the day and you will see clearly marked jetties on the Quay where the ferries will dock. The destinations are marked on the ferry sites as well.
Some of the ferries feature non-stop travel, while there are other ferries that do multiple stops. It is important to read the potential stops if you are in a hurry.
Ferries are a little slower, but a great way to experience the water and land. Most make beach stops, so you can sit on the beach and relax. Just make sure you know when the last ferry leaves so you are not stranded.
Renting a Car
Driving around Sydney will give you a lot more options and you won’t be at the mercy of public transport. You can rent a car at the airport or order it as part of your flight package. But, before you venture out on the roads, you will want to acquaint yourself with a few facts about driving in Sydney.
The road network in the city is extensive. The Sydney Orbital Network is what moves traffic in and out of the downtown area, which consists of 10 motorways, freeways and expressways. Each is owned by a private company and you will experience a toll charge for driving on them. Most of the toll ways now exclusively deal with electronic tolling, so you need to purchase an electronic tag at the car rental place before you take any of these routes.
Be aware of the speed limits - they can change rapidly. Police do not tolerate speeding or any reckless driving - so do not drink and drive.
You will need a valid driver’s license to rent a car and proof of insurance.