Tips for Traveling in Sydney
Expect to move more slowly. Not only because of jet lag and the air may be heavier than you are used to but also because the way of life is simply more laid back and ‘go with the flow’.
Use Google Maps to your advantage! Google maps was a life saver for figuring out which platform your train will depart from. It is also fairly up to date with train times and schedules, informing you when trains are early or delayed.
Sydney’s OPAL Card. Sydney uses a metro card called the OPAL pass to board all trains and buses in all of New South Whales, they do not have monthly or weekly passes, but they do have week bonuses. You get a weekly bonus when you use your card more than 8 times in one week; the fare goes down to almost half price! We were given advice from the locals that your first day with an OPAL pass is $2 to go anywhere and to do as much traveling as you can that first day! (We did not do enough traveling on the first day to confirm this.) It is quite inexpensive within Sydney, but when traveling to the Blue Mountains, expect to pay a little extra for the distance (a $1 or 2 more).
There are two sets of transit lines, the Sydney Trains Network and Sydney Intercity Transit lines. To check out a map which contains both, click here. Intercity transit lines are the lines you want to use to get from Sydney west to the Blue Mountains or north to Newcastle and Central Coast. The Sydney transit lines will only get you so far, but not to fear, as I mentioned, all of this transit runs on the OPAL card.
Take full advantage of the bike share programs, download an app of the first bike share you see when walking down your street as that one is likely to be the most popular in your area. Bike shares are a great and inexpensive way to get around the city. My favorite app was the OFO app as there seemed to be lots of them around Sydney and the first half an hour is free. There are other bike apps, but you may have to test them yourself because the only other one I tried was Obike app which charges a $1.99 base fee for the first 30 minutes. Obike comes with the perk of being able to reserve a bike so that they are still there when you want them. As most of my rides were under 30 minutes and we lived in an area with a lot of OFO bikes, I preferred OFO.
Download the app Taxify. During the day the rates are similar to Uber, but during high volume times, Taxify App is cheaper and with the high prices of Sydney, the cheaper the better!
Take the Ferry across to Manly. The views from the ferry of the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge are fantastic and rival any tour or cruises at a fraction of the cost! There are two ways to get across to manly, you can use your OPAL card for both. The first way is on public transit which is the cheapest at about $4 each way. The other option which is much quicker and smoother is the Manly Ferry, but it will run you about $12 on your OPAL card each way. If you are using Google Maps to find your way over there, Google will suggest the platform with the first available ferry, not necessarily the most economic choice. The Manly Ferry only runs about every half to an hour depending on the time of day whereas the public transit ferries go more often such as every 10-15 minutes. Reason for going to Manly? The beautiful beaches, of course! But Manly also has a much more quaint relaxed beach vibe to it in comparison to Sydney itself.
Dry Season does not leave much beauty for waterfalls! If you are traveling to see some waterfalls, be aware that you may be visiting during a dry season (or even drought) and there may not be much to see at the waterfalls except a few streams trickling down.
Australians start their calendars on Mondays, so be careful when booking trips or event tickets that you don’t mistake for the wrong day.