Sydney, Australia. Photo by Dan Freeman, Unsplash

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Sydney boasts an efficient public transport system, which includes trains, buses, ferries, and trams (light rail) making it easy to explore the city and its surrounding areas.

Most of Sydney’s attractions can be easily covered using the means above with the Opal Card being the key to easy access of the city’s public transport network.

How to Use an Opal Card in Sydney

The Opal Card can be used across the transport network and provides multiple benefits including daily weekday and weekend caps, off-peak hour travel concessions, pensioner discounts as well as concessions if you change your mode of transport and switch between metro/train, ferry, bus, or light rail within 60 minutes of tapping out of one network and getting into the next.

The Opal card is a physical card you will need to procure from retailer shops near most railway stations and needs to be topped up before use.

Topping is easy and can be done at the same retail shops, at vending machines at the station or even on the Opal App. The card does not cost anything but needs to be topped up before use.

Best Tips & Tools to Plan Your Trip

The single card will allow you to travel across trains, buses, ferries and the light rail. Alternately, the transport network also accepts international Visa and Mastercard-enabled Debit and Credit cards if you cannot avail an Opal card.

Or you can resort to paper tickets from automated vending machines at all stations though this will not help with the benefits of using the Opal Card.

The Trip-view app provides real-time information and is very useful in planning your journey (the lite version is free) while the Opal card app also helps in tracking spending, topping your card or even adding your credit card to track your journeys.

Google Maps is also a useful tool to have in handy especially if you want to download and use offline maps.

Read More: Sydney, Australia’s Top 10 Coastal Walks

Travelling by Train in Sydney

Sydney Opera House, Sydney, Australia. Photo by Tyler Duston, Unsplash
Sydney Opera House, Sydney, Australia. Photo by Tyler Duston, Unsplash

Sydney’s train network connects key suburbs and attractions. The City Circle loop is a great starting point, providing access to major landmarks like Circular Quay (for the Royal Botanic Garden, and Opera House) Central Station, and Darling Harbour.

Around the CBD: All of the attractions in the City Business District (CBD) including the Australian Museum, Hyde Park, Sydney Sealife, Sydney Wildlife, Madame Tussauds, the Sydney Tower, and Haymarket among others can be easily accessed within walking distance of the key train stations around Central station – Museum, Wynyard, Town Hall, and Circular Quay.

On the other side of the Harbour Bridge, key stations include Milsons Point (for Luna Park, Lavender Bay), Waverton (for Balls Head Reserve), Wollstonecraft (for Berry Island) and Chatswood.

Western Line: If you would like to travel west to Parramatta (for the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Old Government House and other attractions around Parramatta Park), take a fast train from Central Station to Parramatta.

Even the Blue Mountains are very well connected on this same line further westward with stops at most important villages such as Glenbrook (Aboriginal Red Hands cave, Jellybean Pool), Wentworth Falls (for the eponymous waterfall, the largest in the Blue Mountains), Katoomba (Three Sisters, Scenic World and a smorgasbord of lookouts that will keep you wanting for even more), and the heritage towns of Blackheath and Lithgow.

There are innumerable walks around these mountains, but some of these may be quite a walking distance from the railway stations, in which case do check for local buses when you are planning your journey.

Southern Line: Do note that the International and National Airports are very easily connected by train, but this is a separate line that traverses Sydney’s south and south-west.

You will need to take this same route for bushwalks in the Heathcote National Park or to reach Cronulla (then by ferry to Bundeena and the Royal National Park, Australia’s oldest and the world’s second oldest National Park)

Read More: Sydney’s Best Gardens

The Sydney Metro

Sydney NSW, Australia. Photo by Luke White, Unsplash
Sydney NSW, Australia. Photo by Luke White, Unsplash

A new addition to the city’s transportation arteries is the underground Sydney Metro that connects Chatswood to Sydney’s north west, particularly the Hills suburbs (for the Powerhouse Museum extension, Castle Hill, Kellyville, and Rouse Hill).

The Light Rail

Yet another addition in the inner CBD in recent years has been the cute, almost toy-ish red-coloured, delectable Light Rail, or the tram. It provides a good, light-mile reach within the CBD.

Outside, it chugs along the University campus area of Randwick on one side and Dulwich on the other side. A new Light Rail is also being developed for last-mile reach in the Parramatta CBD.

Read More: 10 of the Best Places to Visit in Sydney, Australia

Travelling by Bus

Buses cover areas not serviced by trains, offering a comprehensive network, particularly for Sydney’s lavish northern beaches. The attractions beyond Sydney’s North Head can be accessed by buses from the CBD using the B-Line services (which often include double-decker buses).

Attractions beyond Manly such as those in Freshwater, Collaroy, Narrabeen, and Palm Beach particularly their stunning beaches, dams, and lagoons, can all be accessed by buses.

The concentration of zoos in Sydney’s west such as the Sydney Zoo, the Koala Park and the Featherdale Park can also be accessed by buses from the CBD or by a combination of bus and train.

Other important landmarks that can be reached by bus include Bondi and the string of beaches to its south including Coogee, and then Maroubra, Malabar, and La Perouse.

Travelling by Ferry in Sydney

Sydney, Australia. Photo by Lachlan Dempsey, Unsplash
Sydney, Australia. Photo by Lachlan Dempsey, Unsplash

If you would prefer to explore the corrugated shoreline of the captivating Sydney Harbour, then the iconic Cream and Green ferry is your best bet. Ferries depart from Circular Quay, a stone’s throw’s distance from the Railway Station.

The ferry from Circular Quay to Manly is considered amongst the most scenic ferries in the world, providing a very different, expansive, and graceful view of the Opera House with the towers of the CBD in the backdrop.

The long list of places to check around the Harbour, all within easy reach of a ferry from the Quay includes the following:

· North Head region – Manly and its surrounds including Manly Beach, Collins Beach, Shelley Beach, and the lookouts in the North Head such as the Fairfax Lookout. All of these require a bit of walking from the Manly Ferry or can be accessed using the Bus.

· Middle Head region – Taronga Zoo and the walks around Bradley Head, Clifton Gardens, Chowder Bay, Georges Head Lookout, Cremorne Point

· Around North Sydney – Milson’s Point, Blues Point, Greenwich

· South Head region – Rose Bay, Watsons Bay

The whale-watching and dolphin-watching private tours around the Harbour also depart from the Quay. The other interesting and scenic option of reaching Parramatta is taking the ferry and passing by the historic Cockatoo Island and the scenic reserves around Hunters Hill and Breakfast Point.

Travelling by Bike in Sydney

Sydney, Australia. Photo by Unsplash Plus
Sydney, Australia. Photo by Unsplash Plus

For the more adventurous traveller, Sydney provides an extensive network of cycling paths and bike-sharing cycleways.

Exploring the city on two wheels allows you to discover hidden gems, parks, and scenic routes while promoting a healthy and eco-friendly mode of transportation.

Look out for bike-sharing options (such as Lime and Beam) with bikes on easy hire, parked by the roads in the CBD. You can also bike along the three bridges in Sydney’s Heart including the Harbour Bridge, Pyrmont Bridge, and the ANZAC Bridge.

Most roads outside the bustling CBD are biker-friendly though there may not be distinct cycleways and the road has to be shared with four-wheelers.

Getting Around by Taxi or Uber in Sydney

Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia. Photo by Martyna Bober, Unsplash
Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia. Photo by Martyna Bober, Unsplash

Finally, there are always car-sharing and car-hailing apps such as Uber while cars can be rented from Hertz, Thrifty, Budget Car and many other options provided you have a driving licence and insurance.

Otherwise, you can even walk around the CBD and explore its jewels at your own pace.

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Author Bio: Ayan Adak is a consultant by profession and loves traveling, writing and photography. He has traveled to over 30 countries and has published multiple books on travel and poetry.

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