Sydney, Australia’s largest city, is an important stop on most traveler’s Australia itinerary. Like any large metropolitan city, there are important travel tips to know for both making your time there a smooth visit, but also plenty of ways for even the most budget conscious traveler to enjoy exploring this potentially pricey city. I’ve compiled the below list of tips on visiting Sydney. You get to benefit from my mistakes and also my great finds throughout my numerous visits to Sydney.
Arrival in Sydney
You either arrive in Sydney by plane, train, bus or boat (unless you drive into the city).
* Boats: The boats dock at the main downtown pier.
* Plane: The airport is an easy 40 minute train ride into the city center.
* Bus: Buses arrive at the Central Station, which is also a metro stop.
* Train: Trains also arrive at Central Station.
A taxi from the airport to downtown will cost roughly $30 AUD (no traffic). If you’re budget conscious, or even just want to get to downtown faster, take the train.
Webjet is the best website to research in-country flights. Kayak and other typically good flight search engines fall short in Australia of delivering information on all flights. Use Webjet to look up flights, but book the flight on the carrier’s website – Webjet charges a heap of ridiculous fees to book a flight.
If you’re in Sydney for a few days it’s worth getting the week-long train pass. It’s $25 AUD and will save you quite a bit if you’re taking the train/metro throughout the week.
Sydney has a great train system. It’s usually the easiest way to get around the city. Use http://www.cityrail.info/ to plan your trips around the city and into the suburbs, even as far as the Blue Mountains.
The airport has a plethora of atms. It’s easy to change money when you land. You’ll get a much better exchange rate at atms over using a money changing service.
A number of cell carriers operate in Australia – Vodophone, Telstra, and Optus are three of the best. Telstra is by far my favorite and is the only carrier with coverage outside of the cities. You can get a sim card, $20 worth of credit and 100mb of data for a little over $20. Telstra’s prepaid plans go in $10 increments and include quite a few minutes and data.
Wireless internet is not quite as prevalent as in the US. Not all cafes automatically have wireless. But usually a handful do in each major city, as well as the Starbucks (and it’s free). Often, the backpacker hostels and cheaper hotels have free wireless while high-end hotels charge for internet usage. All metro stations and public libraries also have free wireless internet.
Tipping is not common at restaurants. You can do it, but it is not expected. If you eat out with Auzzies you’ll see they almost never tip. This can be a bit weird for Americans at first to get used to.
Backpacker tour companies are a dim-a-dozen in Sydney. Some are good, some are not. A few reputable tour companies that often excellent single day and multi-day trips from Sydney to other parts of Australia and New Zealand are: G Adventures, Intrepid, Oz Tours, Kimberley Wilderness,and Contiki. STA Travel can also arrange tours and help you book segments of your itinerary.
Sydney is a safe city, especially compared to major American cities such as New York or Chicago. Women – traveling in the city by yourself is safe. Use common sense and your usual precautions. Always trust your “spidey sense” in any situation.
What To See and Do
See the post: Top 10 Most Memorable Travel Experiences in Sydney