Sydney’s Kingsford Smith Airport (SYD) is a major international hub and the busiest airport in Australia. The airport is a short hop away from the CBD – a mere eight kilometres, to be exact – so you can be strolling down Pitt Street or sipping cocktails along Circular Quay in no time. But first, you’ll need to make your way there from the airport – and we’ll show you how.

Read on to discover the best ways to travel from Sydney Airport to the CBD, including by train, taxi and rideshare.

Train from Sydney Airport to the City

The easiest and fastest way to travel from Sydney Airport to the CBD is with the aptly named Airport Link train. Operating from the domestic and international terminals, the train stops at Mascot and Green Square stations, before whizzing you to Sydney’s Central station in just 13 minutes. If you’re bound elsewhere in the city, the line continues to Museum, St James, Circular Quay, Wynyard and Town Hall stations.

When travelling from Sydney CBD back to the airport, you can jump on the Airport Link from any of the stations above.

Frequent services operate between Sydney Airport and the CBD from 5 am until midnight, seven days a week.

One-way and return tickets can be purchased at the train station. Alternatively, you can use an Opal card, which is valid on trains, buses, ferries and light rail services in Sydney, or touch on using an Amex, Mastercard or Visa card.

When you take the Airport Link train to or from Sydney Airport, a station access fee or ‘gate pass’ fee is added on top of the rail component. To break it down, a one-way adult ticket from the airport will set you back $20.60 – $4.60 as the rail component, plus the $16 gate pass fee. For a child, the total is $16.40, including a gate pass fee of $14.10.

To save a fraction of the cost, use an Opal card or contactless payment instead of purchasing a physical ticket. An adult trip costs $19.53 one-way during peak time or $15.98 for a child. During off-peak periods, the cost reduces a fraction more for Opal or contactless card users. Expect to pay $18.39 for an adult, or $15.41 for a child.

The Airport Link is the fastest way to travel from Sydney Airport to the CBD, and also the cheapest for individual travellers. However, due to the short distance between Sydney Airport and the city centre, a taxi or rideshare may be more cost-effective if you’re travelling in a group of two or more. Plus, if you’ve got luggage in tow, there’s the extra convenience of travelling directly to your accommodation.

Sydney Airport link train
Sydney’s Airport Link train is the fastest way to get to the city centre. [Photo: Kamrul Arifin, Shutterstock]

How to avoid Sydney Airport’s station access fee

The pesky gate fee for the train from Sydney Airport to the City certainly elevates the price. But did you know that there’s a way to avoid paying this fee?

The trick is to make your way to Mascot station, the next station after Sydney’s domestic terminal. Mascot station is also serviced by the Airport Link train. This hack is best executed if you’re travelling light and have a bit of time up your sleeve. And, of course, if you want a cheaper way to get to Sydney CBD.

Walk to Mascot station from Sydney Airport

Mascot station is located just under two kilometres from Sydney domestic terminal and walking there takes roughly 20-25 minutes. The journey itself is relatively easy, with flat, luggage-friendly paths and traffic lights. The only con? You’re not protected from the elements – so it pays to double-check the weather!

From Mascot station, jump on the Airport Link train bound for the City. You’ll pay just $2.65 when using an Opal card or contactless payment option during off-peak, or $3.79 during peak time. And even if you’re purchasing a one-way physical ticket, you’ll pay just $4.60 for an adult – saving yourself $16.

Catch a bus to Mascot station from Sydney Airport

If you don’t feel like walking to Mascot station, you can also take a bus. Route 420 services both the domestic and international terminals at Sydney Airport, then continue direct to Mascot station. If travelling from the international terminal, the bus trip takes just 17 minutes – less from the domestic terminal.

Opal card holders travelling on multiple modes of transport within a 60-minute timeframe will be charged for a single journey. Again, you’ll save on the station access fee and just pay for the bus and train journeys. That’s an extra $16 in your pocket.

Taxi from Sydney Airport to the City

There are taxi ranks in front of all terminals at Sydney Airport. There’s no need to pre-book a taxi, though it’s entirely possible if you prefer. You can simply join the (often fast-moving) line. Taxis are metred, so there’s no need to negotiate on price.

A taxi from Sydney Airport takes around 20-25 minutes to reach the City in light traffic. Expect to pay around $45-$55 for a one-way trip, with the cost depending on traffic and your destination.

For two adults, the price of a taxi is comparable to taking the train from Sydney Airport. If you’re travelling as a group or with plenty of luggage, a taxi can alleviate the hassle of trudging through train stations and may be a more cost-effective solution.

Sydney Airport taxi
Taxi ranks are located outside all terminals at Sydney Airport. [Photo: Tooykrub, Shutterstock]

Sydney Airport rideshare pickup zone

Various rideshare services operate to and from Sydney Airport with dedicated rideshare pickup zones at both domestic and international terminals. Uber, DiDi and Ola service Sydney Airport, and you can even earn frequent flyer points with Uber and Ola on eligible trips to and from Australian airports.

Uber from Sydney Airport to the City

The cost of an Uber from Sydney Airport to the CBD is roughly $30-$55, depending on your final destination in the city centre and the time of day. If you’re a Qantas Frequent Flyer member, you can earn one Qantas Point per $1 on eligible rides to and from airports in Australia. Though you’ll need to request an Uber via the Qantas mobile app or link your Qantas Frequent Flyer account to your Uber account to receive points.

Ola from Sydney Airport to the City

Similarly, you can take an Ola from Sydney Airport to the city centre at a cost of around $30-$55. As of May 2023, the Ola and Velocity Frequent Flyer partnership has ended, meaning Ola passengers can no longer earn Velocity Points on their trips.

Bus from Sydney Airport to the City

The 420 bus services Sydney Airport, but this doesn’t run to or from the CBD. The 420 operates up to Mascot, or Burwood in the opposite direction. You can take a bus from Sydney Airport to Mascot and connect to the City via train as we’ve outlined above, but there are no public buses that service the CBD. However, there are several shuttle bus services from Sydney Airport with routes to the City and various suburbs.

Summing up

When flying into Sydney Airport, it’s handy to know that there are several transport options that can get you to the City. Whether you’re travelling by train, taxi or rideshare, it’s important to plan ahead to ensure a smooth journey.

The next time you fly out of Sydney, here’s what you can expect when you visit the SkyTeam Lounge, Singapore Airlines’ SilverKris First Class Lounge or Qantas Domestic Business Lounge.

Featured image: Lewis Cheng, Shutterstock


What is the distance from Sydney Airport to Sydney CBD?

Sydney’s Kingsford Smith Airport is located just eight kilometres from the Sydney city centre.

What is the best way to get from Sydney Airport to the City?

The fastest way to get from Sydney Airport to the CBD is with the Airport Link train. The trip takes just 13 minutes from the airport to Central station, with regular services operating daily from 5 am.

How much does it cost to use a rideshare from Sydney Airport to the City?

An Uber, Ola or DiDi from Sydney Airport to the CBD costs around $30-$55, but this can vary depending on traffic conditions, fare surges, and where you’re staying in the city. Most rideshare apps allow you to enter your departure point and destination to acquire a fare estimate.

Are there any hotels close to Sydney Airport?

There are several hotels surrounding Sydney Airport that are suitable for transit passengers or those staying overnight before a flight. Some of the closest hotels are the ibis Budget Sydney Airport, Mantra on Sydney Airport and Rydges Sydney Airport. And if you’re a member of a hotel loyalty program, you can enjoy extra perks during your stay.

What is the cheapest way to get from Sydney Airport to the City?

For an individual traveller, the cheapest way to travel to the CBD from Sydney Airport is by train. If you’re travelling in a group, it can be more cost-effective to take a taxi or rideshare from the airport.

Is it worth walking from Sydney Airport to Mascot station?

To avoid paying Sydney Airport’s $16 ‘station access fee’, you can walk to Mascot station and board the Airport Link train from there. The walk is about 20-25 minutes, or you can take a bus from Sydney Airport to Mascot station.

How to get from Sydney Airport to the City was last modified: October 19th, 2023 by Victoria Kyriakopoulos