How to Ride the Ferries in Sydney

Manly Ferry and Opera House
Manly Ferry and Opera House | © Ed Dunens/Flickr
Paris Donnatella Callan

Sydney is synonymous with bad traffic. In fact, congestion has become such an issue that Sydney’s roads have been said to be slower than in New York City. Luckily, there is a steady stream of transport options at the ready.

Ferries are a popular choice, and thanks to the New South Wales transport system overhaul in November 2017, passengers are thrilled to welcome 140 extra weekly ferries, as well as the harbour’s newest vessel: Ferry McFerryface. Here’s our top tips for riding Sydney ferries.

Ride Smart

Ferries are one of the most efficient ways to get around the city. They are frequent, fast, reliable, punctual and cost effective. Not only are people doing their part to reduce congestion in Sydney by hopping on board one of these beauties, but a trip from A to B will fall far below the AUD $10 line (USD $7.62), and get you there in record time.

Sydney ferries

Remember to pick up an Opal card; this is Sydney’s transport card and can be used on buses, trains and ferries. The card is reusable and can be ‘topped up’ with money and used on transport as a payment method for your fare. Remember that Sunday’s hold ounces of possibility, especially with an Opal card. The card is capped at a maximum fare of $2.60 (USD $1.98), regardless of distance covered or the number of ferries, trains or buses taken.

Opal card

Consider Safety

Always arrive ahead of time to allow for queuing at the wharf. Ferries are a popular mode of transport, and although some vessels can hold up to 400 passengers, the wharves can get busy. Consider safety and be alert; remember to let passengers off before boarding, and always listen for instructions as directed by members of the crew. Sit or hold onto a rail when in transit. It is not permitted to sit on the bow or side of the vessel, to lean out the windows or to stand on seats.

Sydney ferry

Go Sightsee

Sydney is expensive, no doubt. Sightseeing in particular can pose a massive threat to any cost-conscious budget. One effective way to save whilst making the most of Sydney sightseeing is via ferries. Be it an adventure to Cockatoo Island or just tracing the harbour from Circular Quay to Darling Harbour, seeking a thrill at Luna Park or a splash in the surfer’s suburb of Manly, ferries are a spectacular way to gain undisturbed views of the city skyline.

Departing Circular Quay on a Sydney ferry

See the Sunset

Seeing the sunset on board a Sydney ferry is one of the most cheap and coveted things to do in Sydney. Whether it is a winter sky or summer sunset, watching the last glimmer of light as night falls on Sydney is certainly a sight for sore eyes. Arrive early to ensure a prime spot on the hull of the boat, and remember your camera; this is sure to be the best shot of the Sydney Opera House you’ll take!

Sydney Opera House and ferry
landscape with balloons floating in the air


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