I answer questions about Sydney airport almost weekly as part of my day job so I have put together this page to help anyone planning a visit and to save me time writing emails.
Where is Sydney Airport?
Sydney Airport, also known as Kingsford Smith Airport, is located in the south-eastern Sydney suburb of Mascot about 7km-9km from the city depending on which terminal you are at. The International and Domestic terminals are adjacent to each other but will require a bus or train transfer.
Facts about Sydney Airport
- Sydney Airport is one of the oldest, continually operating airports in the world
- Sydney airport operates on a curfew – no flights can land or take off between 11 pm and 5.30am.
- Over 29 million passengers movements per year
- There are three terminals known as T1 – International and T2 and T3 – domestic
Facilities at Sydney Airport
- Internet – Free Internet kiosks are available throughout Terminal 1. Free wi-fi is available throughout the terminal 2 and at Terminal 1 everywhere except at the gates. Usually, connections and speed are pretty good.
- Showers – Free but no towels or soap. Available in both departures (airside) near Gate 24, 25, 31, 51 and arrivals (landside) near check-in counter B
- Baggage storage – available in T1 near MacDonald’s in near Gate 42 in T2
- Currency Exchange – Travelex and ANZ Bank both offer currency exchange in T1
- Chemist/Pharmacy – Both T1 and T2 have pharmacies
- Medical Centre – Terminal 1 landside – open 8-5pm Monday to Friday
- Post Office – In T1 landside near
- Food and Shopping – Plenty of both at T1 and a decent sized food court at T2.
Travelling from the airport to the city
Trains, buses, shuttles and taxis operate from Sydney airport. Choosing the best transfer option will vary depending on the size or your group, where you are heading and how much comfort you need.
Assuming you are going to the centre of the city (CBD)
- The fastest journey will be on the train – particularly in peak hour but it is expensive
- The cheapest trip will be on the bus or shuttle (but it’s certainly not for the faint hearted)
- The easiest journey will be in a taxi – but it could cost you a fortune if you travel in peak hour or need to head across the Bridge.
Airport Train – ‘AirportLink.’
The airport train will get you to Central Station in 15 minutes and to Circular Quay in 20 minutes. It’s just a few minutes closer from the Domestic terminal. Trains run every 10-15 minutes with the last train leaving at 11.45pm.
How much does it cost?
As these stations are privately owned tickets are quite expensive. On top of the usual CityRail fare, there is a station access fee of $13.40 for adults and $12.00 for children. If you have purchased an Opal Card for your visit, you can use this. The only time I would avoid the train is the early morning peak – say 7.45-8.45am when trains are usually really crowded and you may find it difficult to enter with your luggage. Head to the front of the train for your best chance at some space.
I wrote a separate article with tips for taking the airport train.
Taking a cab from the airport is the cheapest option for groups of 3 (and sometimes couples). The average fare to the city is $45 add another $10 if you are heading to the Rocks or midtown. Fares could be higher in the early morning and late afternoon when peak traffic hits. On top of your fare, there is a $3.00 airport taxi levy and a $5.50 Eastern Distributor toll if you travel to the city via the toll. road. Between 10 pm and 6 am a surcharge is added to your fare. This trip should take about 20-30 minutes.
The budget travellers public transport option.
Warning This is really only for true frugal travellers.
Two public bus routes, the 400 and the 410, go via the airport. Either of these buses will get you to a train station on the city rail network. The preferred option is the eastbound bus, ask the driver to let you off at Mascot station and change to a city train. The bus will cost $3.80 from T1 or $2.40 from T2/3. The train will cost $4.00. Total travel time will be about 30 minutes from T1 or 15 minutes from T2/3.
From the international terminal, the westbound bus is slightly quicker. Get off at the 3rd stop, Rockdale and then join the train to the city. Do not get off at the station before this (Banksia) as this station has limited service and does not have a lift. The bus will cost $3.80 from T1 or $2.40 from T2. The train will cost $4.80. Travel time from T1 is approx. 30 minutes or T2/3 50 minutes.
If you are spending more than two days in Sydney, it is a good deal to buy an Opal Card from a convenience store at the airport before you take the bus. This will save you a little on each of the ticket prices mentioned and counted towards your eight journeys for the week. After eight journeys you can travel for free for the rest of the week. Learn how the Opal system works on this comprehensive post.
Airport transfer minibuses.
These are great if you have to head into the northern suburbs or any of Sydney outer suburbs really. We use these for booking students transfers sometimes and have had no problems with Manly Express for the Northern Beaches and Airport North Shuttle, which confusingly also goes west! Both of these services list their pricing on their websites.
These shuttles fill with passengers and then travel to city hotels and hostels stopping in a seemingly random order. You can end up stuck on these for ages. Tickets cost between $10-15. I am not a fan of most of these but at least you get door to door transfers.
But wait there’s more
- An option I have not tried is the airport limo.
- You can also hire a car; almost all the main companies have desks. Try the comparison site Drive now for your options.
Transferring between terminals
Some airlines, such as Qantas and Virgin offer free transfers for some of their connecting customers. Otherwise, I suggest you take the train between terminals. There is also a bus but they are the same price, $6 and the bus can sometimes get stuck in traffic. A taxi can cost as much as $15-20.