A Guide to Using Sydney Airport – Airport transport options.

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.
Check out the airport map for locations of the services above.

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.’

Sydney Airport transport Train stations
Sydney Airport Train Station

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.

Taxis

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.  

Sydney airport transport Bus 400 services the airport
Sydney’s 400 Bus Bondi to Burwood via both airport terminals

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.

Airport Shuttles

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.

 

40 Comments

  1. Great post I have been reading all your posts and they are really great keep up the good work.

    • The single ticket for an adult is $4.60. The ticketing system in Sydney is currently in a change over period from paper tickets to an oyster card type system called Opal and it’s all pretty confusing however tickets for the 400 bus can be purchased on board. It is prepaid route is some areas but at the airport it is not.

  2. Thanks John,

    That certainly is an option for anyone who does not have a lot of luggage or is on a tight budget. Use Wolli Creek for the International Terminal or Mascot for the Domestic. Make sure you check Google maps for the quickest route.

  3. My hubby just went for a job interview at the airport. It cost him $24 to enter and exit!! What will it cost on a weekly basis if you work there??

  4. I am grateful to you for this great content. I am reading your article and its very nice, useful & helpful.
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  5. I have used ASN transfers, which is a shuttle bus company.
    It was easier and much less expensive than a taxi.
    The staff are easy going but professional Aussies and the excellent driver was a local with sound knowledge of the roads.

  6. Can Sydney International terminal workers get a free shuttle bus around the airport area for work purposes ? When do they run ?
    I am sorry Peter I am not sure if there are any special staff buses. I know qantas used to have one for their staff but not sure how many people actually work in both terminals.

  7. The idea is great when one considers the other options but how dare it be called a ‘dedicated airport train service’ and charged accordingly?
    Try getting off a long international flight with young children/ elderly folk and the accompanying baggage then doing battle with commuters to the extent that it is difficult to board the train and unlikely you will get a seat, once in the door.
    Not only is it a challenge to those of us accustomed to this chaos, it is an embarrassment to be associated with this apology of a service where overseas visitors are subjected to it after having read the ‘over- the- top advertising’ so prominently displayed.

    • You are right it should not be called a dedicated airport service. The service can be a shambles during peak hours and I would certainly not recommend it for anyone travelling with young children or the elderly. As long as you move along the platform it is a lot easier to get on the front and back carriages. Every second service is an all stations train lower down the line and usually has a little more room. Hopefully one day they will drop the expensive gate fee.

  8. Hello everyone,
    I am going to an event in Sydney Olympic Park, and I am looking for the FASTEST way to get there from the Airport – the cost doesn’t matter.
    Would jumping into a cab be the best option?
    Thanks!

  9. I have an 11:30am flight on Boxing Day and live on the northern beaches. We were going to drive in but have heard that roads will be closed on Boxing Day. What are the best alternatives?

    • As far as I know, only roads around Pitt St and Elizabeth Street will be closed for the Boxing Day sales. It should be possible to drive to the airport via the western distributor and Botany Road although it may take longer. I would consider the train if you can get to the North shore line. You change at Wynyard to the airport line, it is relatively straightforward. There are lifts at both stations and the trip from Wynyard is about 25 mins.

  10. So if I catch the bus to mascot station and then the train to where I’m going I don’t have to pay the ridiculous $14 to get out of the airport?

    • That’s right Jenni. Take the 400 bus to Mascot ($2.60 without or $2.10 with Opal) then a short walk to the station and $3.38 peak (or $2.36 off peak) to the city by train. Approx total cost to city $5.50 A saving of about $12 – I agree the station access fee is a joke but personally I would not bother doing the bus and train unless I was on a really tight budget.

      • thank you for your help , I am on a tight budget, i’m only coming to syndey for the day from melbourne and the difference will be like $16 in total for my travel compared to close to $40 .

  11. Hi Sydney Expert, Good Day.

    May I know the distance from the aiport to the 400 bus? And if possible, can I know the bus station name?

    Thanks mate

    • Hi Carolyn
      Yes the terminals are linked by train – it takes just a few minutes to travel between the two. Airport Link offers a $6.00 (one way, per person) single transfer ticket for passengers travelling between the T1 International and T2/T3 Domestic terminals.

    • Hi Ian, that is correct! Train from International to Central station, the fare is about $17.76 You can save money by taking the 400 public bus from the international to Mascot Station and then taking the train for about $9 in total but if your budget is not super tight I would just pay the train fare.

  12. So who would have thought it would be so complicated to get from Sydney Airport to the CBD. Too many options. I’m traveling with 2 other adults & 1 child (age 9),so 4 of us in total. Arrive on Thursday 530pm. Need to get to Mantra 2 Bond (next to Wynward Station apparently) Thinking of catching a cab but wondering with the traffic it could cost a fortune. Do you think it would be worth catching the train, even though it’s so expensive. Thanks, TM

    • I am so sorry Tina – your comment ended up in spam. I have just discovered it. I would personally take a rideshare. Uber has a special pickup area at the international airport that is only a few minutes walk from the arrivals doors. I am sure it would cost less than the train.

  13. Would you please give us ( Me,my wife,our daughter)suggestion the cheapest transport,and not so many transfer from Sydney International airport to 428 Pitt street,CBD, thank you

    • For 3 travellers it is probably almost as cheap as the train to catch an Uber/Ola – it depends on the time of day and amount of traffic. The train is very straightforward and will have you at Central Station in 15 mins. It would be probably another 10-15 mins to walk to your accommodation. There are also shuttle services but I have not used any of these and am reluctant to recommend them. Perhaps pop over to our Facebook Community and ask the group for personal recommendations.

  14. Question regarding transferring between T1 and T3: I am asking on behalf of friends who do not speak English well (one is a minor)and have never travelled internationally. They are travelling on Air Canada to Sydney. They then have separate tickets to Perth on Qantas. Everything I have read about getting between the terminals seems confusing: Qantas to Qantas; Oneworld air lines; others.
    Since they fall into the ‘others’ category because they have separate tickets for the Perth leg and are not part of Oneworld, what is the easiest (but not costly) way for them to get to T3.

    • The least confusing way is to take the train – Airport Link offers a $6.40 per person single ticket for passengers travelling between the T1 International and T2/T3 Domestic terminals. The journey takes only two minutes. The train station is well signposted and there are lifts and escalators so it’s really quite easy. The journey takes less than 5 minutes and there are trains very regularly.

      • Thanks for your prompt reply. What level does the train leave from? Once they catch the train, is the stop for Terminal 3 announced or posted? They are very uncomfortable about what happens once they arrive in Sydney. I am hoping to give them very specific instructions.

      • This video is very helpful for giving them a clear idea of what will happen. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUoIzu2Wrkw
        The station for terminal 3 is called the Sydney Domestic Terminal station. They will find the stations in the basements of both the International Terminal (Terminal 1) and the Domestic Terminal. There are signs all the way along as shown in the video

  15. I am arriving by 6-7 am and would need to travel to North Ryde with considerable luggage (Alone/1 person). What would be the safest/convenient way?

    • Hi I would take an rideshare – the traffic at 6 will be fine, by 7am it will be building up but the train will require you to change at Central and by the time you get there it will be peak hour. The train from the city to Ryde will not be too bad as it’s going in the opposite direction but unless you have a tight budget I would do a rideshare (Uber, Ola, Taxify)

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