TO / FROM THE AIRPORT
Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport (SYD)
Terminal 1: international flights. Terminal 2: domestic flights on Virgin Blue, Jetstar, and smaller regional airlines. Terminal 3: domestic Qantas flights. Shuttle or train transfers between terminals cost $3. There's an information desk in Terminal 1, as well as gold-suited roaming ambassadors who answer questions. Some hotels have free airport pickup, so ask when booking. Rail: The Airport Link (011-61-2/8337-8417, airportlink.com.au) connects terminals with city train stations. Single fares to central Sydney cost $6.30 and the ride takes 13 minutes, but the service isn't particularly useful unless you're staying near a station. Bus: The KST Airporter shuttle (011-61-2/9666-9988, kst.com.au) takes passengers to any one of about 240 hotels in the City, Kings Cross, and Darling Harbour. Maximum trip times are 45 minutes by bus or minivan. Reservations not required; bus stops are outside each terminal. Fares are $7 one way, $11 round trip. Taxi: The most convenient option, with stands outside each terminal. Expect to pay $22-$27 for the 30-minute ride to the city center.
13-1500 within Australia, 011-61-2/8202-2000, 131500.com.au
Rail: Use CityRail trains to get around Sydney or out to the north shore (from $9.50). Bus: The Sydney Bus system covers more than 300 routes around the city (from $1.25/ride, printable maps available online). Ferry: Old wooden ferries and speedy new catamarans ply the harbor from Watsons Bay and Manly in the east to Parramatta in the west (from $3.60). Note: If you plan on combining modes of transport, buy a Daytripper ticket from your bus driver, CityRail stations, or ferry ticket offices for unlimited travel on trains, buses, and ferries ($11.60). Three-, five-, and seven-day Sydney Passes are even more comprehensive, allowing travel on the Manly JetCat hydrofoil, harbor cruises, and the airport train, in addition to standard trains, buses, and ferries. From $68.
Taxis come in all shapes and colors, each with a distinctive roof bar that's lit when the car is available. Hailing cabs on the street is perfectly safe, but driver knowledge can be frustratingly limited. Avoid needing a cab at 3 p.m. and 3 a.m., when drivers change shifts. Silver Service Cabs (133-100 from within Australia only, silverservice.com.au) are a cut above but cost the same as other taxis. $2.80 initial charge, then $1.62 each kilometer; 20 percent surcharge from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
011-61-2/9555-8888, watertaxis.com.au or 011-61-2/9299-0199, yellowwatertaxis.com.au
The glamorous alternative for those who want to arrive at their waterfront restaurant in style, or prefer a private harbor tour. Fares start at $46 for four people (plus $7.70 per extra passenger) for short trips.
WHAT'S GOING ON AROUND TOWN
The Sydney Morning Herald has a metro entertainment section on Fridays and a Weekend Planner on Saturdays. Free rags like Brag and Drum (available in music stores) are good for finding concerts. Useful websites include whatsoninsydney.com, sydney.citysearch.com.au, and you.com.au.
Matilda Cruises 011-61-2/9264-7377, matilda.com.au
The most experienced tour operator on the harbor, with a fleet of catamarans both large and small. It offers everything from Manly jaunts ($11-$18, $41/family of four) to two-hour dinner cruises (from $75 per person). Departs from Circular Quay and King Street Wharf.
Local food expert and TV personality Maeve O'Meara designs each of these high-energy tours. They depart from various points (typically Central Station) and delve into diverse ethnic enclaves in search of authentic food and fun. Regular outings include visits to the Vietnamese neighborhood of Cabramatta, Little Italy in Haberfield, Little Greece in Marrickville, and World in a Day bus trips to sample everything from Iraqi to Cypriot cuisine. Tours tend to last six to eight hours. From $63, including food.