Explore Sydney by public transport
Sydney is a buzzing and vibrant city alive with attractions and events all year round. Explore its rich mix of colonial and indigenous history, incredible variety of cuisine, superb shopping, multicultural festivals, internationally famous beaches, museums, fascinating exhibitions and world-class theatre productions.
Getting to Sydney
NSW TrainLink’s Intercity services connect the city with the greater Sydney surrounds and nearby major cities like Newcastle and the Hunter Valley region to the north, Wollongong to the south and the Blue Mountains to the west.
If you are coming by plane, there are public transport options to get to and from Sydney Airport.
Getting around Sydney
You can explore and experience much of Sydney and surrounding regions on public transport including trains, buses, ferries and light rail services. In addition, there are several sightseeing buses, taxi and car hire companies.
Tickets and Opal
The ticketing system across public transport Sydney is called Opal. You will need an Opal card or alternative such as an Opal single trip ticket or contactless credit card or mobile device to travel. The Opal card can be used on the transport network extending beyond the city to the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Hunter, Illawarra and Southern Highlands regions surrounding Sydney across most train, bus, ferry and light rail services. Contactless payments are not available on any bus service.
Adult and Child/Youth Opal cards are available to purchase over the counter from thousands of Opal card retailers.
If your payment card has the contactless payment symbol or you have a mobile device linked to an accepted contactless payment card, then you can also use it to pay for travel when catching a Sydney Trains or NSW TrainLink Intercity rail service, Sydney light rail or any Sydney Ferries service. The price is usually be equivalent to an Opal adult peak fare and some Opal benefits including daily and weekly fare caps also apply. Check whether contactless payments are the right option for you.
If you don't have a contactless payment card or device then Opal single trip tickets can be purchased from Opal top up and single trip ticket machines located at select stations and wharves. Opal single bus tickets can also be purchased from the driver, except on Opal only buses.
If you are an interstate senior or pensioner, you may be eligible to apply for and use a Gold Opal card. Eligible ACT secondary students can travel with a Child/Youth Opal card or Child Youth Opal single ticket when carrying a valid proof of entitlement card.
Train stations in central Sydney include Central, Museum, St James, Town Hall, Wynyard, Circular Quay, Martin Place and Kings Cross. City Circle services travel via Central, Town Hall, Wynyard, Circular Quay, St James and Museum. Trains to the eastern suburbs, including Kings Cross and Bondi Junction, en route to the famous Bondi Beach leave from Martin Place Station.
Nearest City Circle Stations to main attractions:
- Central – Paddy’s Market, Chinatown and Surry Hills
- Town Hall – QVB, Darling Harbour
- Wynyard – Barangaroo
- Circular Quay – Harbour Bridge, Opera House and The Rocks
- St James – Hyde Park, St Mary’s Cathedral
- Museum – Museum, Hyde Park, William Street to Darlinghurst
Train services run from 4am to around midnight on most lines. Night buses replace Sydney Trains services between midnight and 4am.
Buses travel through the city on major routes almost 24 hours a day. Most of the bus routes within the City of Sydney are Opal only to reduce delays, so you'll need an Opal card before you get on board.
Ferry services across Sydney's world-renowned harbour leave from the terminal at Circular Quay and travel to harbourside destinations including Taronga Zoo and suburbs such as Balmain, Balmain, Kirribilli, Manly and Parramatta.
L1 Dulwich Hill light rail services run frequently between Central Station and Dulwich Hill via many popular tourist destinations including Capitol Square, Paddy's Market, The Star, Sydney Fish Market and the Tram Sheds, a great destination for food lovers. There is a 24 hour service from Central to The Star.
On Demand services
On Demand services are being trialled in some areas of Sydney. On Demand services allow you to book a vehicle to pick you up from home or a nearby convenient location and take you to a local transport hub or point of interest. You can book using an app, online or by phone.
What to do and see in Sydney
Whether you’re here for a weekend or a week, there’s so much to see and do. Here’s just a handful of sightseeing ideas that are all easy to get to on public transport.
World-famous Bondi Beach is just a short bus ride from the centre of the city. And it’s just one of 70 spectacular beaches across Sydney – including Coogee, Tamarama, Palm Beach and Manly Beach – that are easy to reach by public transport.
Seeing the Harbour from the water is a must when visiting Sydney. From Circular Quay you can take the ferry to Kirribilli, Manly, Watsons Bay, Balmain, Parramatta and dozens of other dazzling destinations.
If you haven’t seen any koalas or kangaroos yet, Taronga Zoo is just a short ferry ride from Circular Quay. As well as 4,000 types of animals, it has breathtaking views of Sydney Harbour. Buy your zoo entry ticket at Circular Quay.
With a working harbour nestled among beautiful beaches, Newcastle blends cosmopolitan with relaxation in a uniquely Australian way. Newcastle is easy to reach by train from Sydney, and there’s plenty of stunning scenery to take in along the way. Find out more about Newcastle.
Another idea for a great day trip by train is Kiama, a seaside town on the South Coast. When seas are running from the south-east, great plumes of water erupt from the Blowhole. And with lots of picnic spots and parks, it makes for a memorable day out.
If you’re here for a few days, it’s worth making a trip out to the World Heritage listed Blue Mountains. Regular train services run from Central to Katoomba, and connecting local buses can take you right to the attractions. Find out more about Blue Mountains.