Blog & Insights
Getting around in Sydney
Finding your way around a new city can be daunting and totally overwhelming. The possibilities seem endless – and utterly confusing. But whether you are a cyclist, a driver or simply enjoy pounding the walkways, Sydney has something on offer to get you around that will suit everyone’s mode and budget.
Like any other major city Sydney is well endowed on the transport scene, with options ranging from buses and trains to ferries and bikes. What you will absolutely need to do first is arm yourself with an Opal Card. This city is all about the Opal. Easily available online you simply preload your smart card with cash and this little gem will enable you to jump on and off most modes of transport in the cheapest possible way, calculating the cheapest fare across your journey and capping your costs with every tap. An Opal concession card was launched in 2015 especially for fulltime Uni students giving an extra 50% discount off the already reduced Opal fares – as well as ensuring a daily cap of $7.50. In addition to this, all your Sunday travel is capped at $2.50! All you need to remember is that if you are travelling outside of the Opal network, you will still need to evidence your old transport concession sticker (available from your Uni). Don’t forget to keep tapping on the card readers, they’re easy to spot perched on top of the barriers – except on buses where you’ll find them fixed to the vehicle. After eight paid journeys are registered, all additional travel is then costed at half price! Download the free app to plan your trip and top up your balance while on the move. Too easy.
Staying on track
If you’re keen to see what lies beyond the city skyline, you’re in luck. Opal cards are valid on all Sydney Trains and NSW Trainlink Intercity services leaving you totally free to explore the great outdoors. Take a weekend out in the Hunter Valley, experience the stunning Blue Mountains, escape to the South Coast – and know that all services will bring you back to the City Circle Loop. This underground network conveniently circles the CBD from Central Station to Town Hall, Wynyard, Circular Quay, St James’ and Museum. Wherever you are heading don’t forget to take your bike along as the extra wheels travel for free on all trains and ferries – but watch out for the buses as only surf boards are allowed to travel as extras. If you’re taking the train to the airport, the good news is that both the Domestic and International terminals are Opal-enabled. But be warned, they do charge a cheeky $12 ‘station access’ fee that is not included in your daily travel cap.
Whilst the buses might seem incredibly complicated, the system is actually surprisingly simple. With your Opal card you never need to worry about buying a ticket, it’s all about the tapping. Without your Opal card, you will need to remember that between 7am-7pm it’s strictly pre-pay only. Ticket outlets are usually fairly simple to find and should not be too far from the bus stop. Inner city buses run every 10-15 minutes, and if you spy an X or an L in the route title this bus will be an Express service – so don’t be surprised if it doesn’t stop! When your legs need a break from the city streets, don’t overlook the free 555 green shuttle service that runs from Central to Circular Quay via George Street in a continuous loop every 10 minutes between 9.30am-3.30pm. For the wee small hours, there is always the Nightride option to carry you home.
Wave as you go
If you prefer to gaze out to sea dolphin-spotting than stare at the back of a bus, Sydney Ferries has the answer. Over 14 million people travel on Sydney’s ferry services every year with this busy waterway network stretching over 37km from Manly to Parramatta. Hang out with the giraffes at Taronga Zoo, check out the buzz at Darling Harbour, grab fish and chips at Manly Beach or Watsons Bay – the choice is yours. Pick up your ride from Circular Quay and make the most of the weather with this fantastic transport option. Journeys are placed into distance-based bands so be sure to use your Opal journey planner to work out exactly what you will be charged before travelling.
There’s nothing more frustrating than when you set off on your bike ride only to find what looked like a perfectly good cycle-way on paper turns out to be anything but. Cycleway Finder puts an end to all of that by allowing you to access a comprehensive and interactive map detailing exact road surfacing and infrastructure properties, with no surprises along the way. Routes are handily colour-coded: light green is specifically for bikes with a low difficulty rating, followed by dark green, purple, brown, and blue – each time increasing in challenge and difficulty. In other good news, free bike sheds are gradually being built around train stations in NSW each with around 50 spaces available. Link up your Opal card online to gain entry and you can bike and ride to your heart’s content.
Now you have these insider tips, there’s no reason not to get out and explore when your work is done. Getting around in Sydney has never been so easy!