Sydney, Australia is a popular stopover destination, and while the airport is well-equipped with a shopping centre inside and cafes aplenty, you should get out and see the sights if you have some hours to spare! If you are passionate about travel and sightseeing then this article is for you!
If you have a lengthy stopover here, plan ahead and check visa requirements. If you have a connecting flight where your luggage will be checked in through to your final destination, it will be extra easy for you to get around. If this isn’t the case, there is a luggage storage area that you can pay for at the airport, making it a whole lot easier to go sightseeing!
Just make sure you keep an eye on your watch and plan well ahead, allocating time for different places! The following suggestions are great for those who have at 8 hours to spare.
Getting to Sydney from the airport
The Sydney Airport Link Train Station is conveniently located a short walk from the main entry of Sydney International Airport. It is well signposted and should only take you about 5 minutes to get there.
There is a ticket booth in the train station and I was able to purchase my ticket here. Using your credit card or Australian dollars, purchase a “My Mulit Ticket” which costs 25 AUD (17 USD) for a full-day ticket.
Trains into Sydney run every 5-10 minutes so allow for this in your schedule! Find the platform headed for the city centre, the platforms provide very detailed information for stop offs. As my destination was was Sydney Harbour, I took a train from the platform headed to the city or ‘Circular Quay’.
Riding on the trains is a neat experience in itself, they are double decker trains with a cab below and a cab on the top. Sit in the top section for a better view!
First stop Circular Quay, get your camera ready for iconic sites!
After travelling through the suburbs for around 13 minutes you will find yourself in a covered area, under a bridge. You will know this is your stop off as you can see the harbour from the train, but if you’re in doubt the stop off is called Circular Quay.
I would suggest heading here first as this is where majority of major tourist sights are located. Here you’ll find the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Sydney Opera House and a walkway to the Royal Botanic Gardens. It is where the ferries come and go to different places, so if you have time you can even hop on a half hour cruise around the harbour! This way you get to see these iconic places framed by the city skyline!
Walking from the station here is easy and takes only a few minutes! There are plenty of cafes and shops on the way to the Harbour’s edge where the iconic Sydney Opera House is located. Spend about an hour or two here exploring these iconic sites before venturing on to your next stop! This is probably the busiest and most lively place with plenty of tourists sightseeing.
See the Cathedral or Museum on your return
Now it’s time to make a decision. If you have enough time you can continue on the train into the city centre to the final stop for this line, the Town Hall Station, which takes you right into the heart of Sydney. There is plenty of shopping, food, and many sites to see, so definitely allocate an hour to explore here!
If you’re running short on time, then you can choose to head back towards the airport but don’t worry there are still a few things to see on the way back.
There are two key stations that you’ll pass through on your return to the airport. If you have the time, you can also choose to get off and have a look around Museum Station and St. James Station. At St. James Station, there is the beautiful Saint Mary’s Cathedral just across the road for you to explore. The interior is truly amazing and the outside and is well worth visiting if you have the time! It takes only minutes to walk to and from the station so you can easily spend 20-30 minutes here (or even less if you are in a hurry).
If you have a little more time, you can walk to what is known as the Sydney Eye, a viewing platform located about a 5 minute walk from the St. James Station. From here you get 360 degree views of the city and is well worth stopping at! Allocate plenty of time to walk, get up to the top, back down and then back to the train station - so at least an hour!
Museum Station brings you out at Hyde Park in the central city business district, and yes, the Australian Museum is located here! Walking through the park will bring you to the museum entrance located on the opposite side of the road from Hyde Park. General admission is 15 AUD (10.50 USD). Of course like most museums there is so much to see and do here, you may only see a quarter of what is available, but give it at least an hour to wander through.
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Ready, Set, Go!
Catching a lot of Sydney’s top tourist attractions is very do-able in a short amount of time! Rather than sit in the airport for several hours, I would recommend getting out and seeing what you can while you’re here and have the time!
My top tips would be plan ahead if you can, although to be completely honest, I only made my decision to venture out within 30 minutes of my arrival! These eight hours were crammed and rushed, but it was worth doing!
Just make sure you do take a watch, water and food for on the go! Even grab something at the airport to take with you as you as you may not have enough time to stop - unless you’re a super fast eater! So be prepared to eat on the go!
Also keep in mind you will have to recheck into your flight and most international flights require you to be there 90 minutes prior to departure, so allow for this too!
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