SYD: Sydney Airport - Guide, Terminal map, lounges, bars & restaurants
Sydney Airport GuideFor many tourists to Australia, Sydney IS Australia - and Sydney will be their first port of call. This isn't such a bad idea - Sydney Airport is situated approximately 9 kilometres (just 5 miles) south of the city, and transport is good. Indeed it is one of the closest airports to a major city, and if you land from the north, the view of the harbour is amazing. However, ground transport is really not great, with either an expensive taxi, or train. The one bus service to the airport goes nowhere near the city.
Sydney Airport was upgraded for the 2000 Sydney Olympics with a view to improving services and accessibility, however, security and border control restrictions have also increased, with the potential for long delays. Ensure that you have left plenty of time to meet your flight, particularly if you are making a transfer between the international and domestic terminals.
Sydney Airport is the longest continuously operated commercial airport in the world, and the busiest airport in Australia (with 35 million passengers a year), and yet all three terminals are large clean and modern, with good facilities. No planes arrive or depart between 11pm and 5:30am, due to noise restrictions, and the airport terminals are firmly closed.
Sydney Airport has three passenger terminals.
Transfer between domestic terminals T2 and T3 is on foot: it is an easy short walk across the car park.
However, the Domestic and International terminals at Sydney Airport are located in separate buildings on opposite sides of the runway, 4km apart. Sydney Airport transfer International to Domestic is a well coordinated nightmare. From International you have to clear immigration and customs, and then transfer between Sydney International T1 and T2/T3 by road, using the T-bus ($6) which takes about 10 minutes, and runs every 20 minute. A marginally better option is the train, which takes 2 minute journey between Domestic and International stations, and runs every 10 minutes. However, if you are Airside at Terminal 3 (Qantas Domestic) there is an airside shuttle is available if you are connecting through with a through ticket. Head to the shuttle seating area near the airside museum, and look for the Qantas Seamless Transfer signs.
Sydney Airport International Terminal - T1NEWS: Sydney International has changed: there are no long two separate halved to the terminal. Instead, there is just one entrance through security, and if you need to get to the 'non-Qantas' side, you have a long walk up internal corridors, and a second Duty Free to get to it
Sydney Airport International Terminal 1 handles all international flights, and now it has gone through a mid-life revamp, it isn't quite the zoo it used to be. Alas, many of the seating areas airside have made way for shops, but it still has a pleasant atmosphere inside. However, there is no getting away from it being two terminals merged into one, with a long walk from the 'Qantas' side to get to the old 'Star Alliance' pier C.
A major problem with the Sydney International Terminal is that there are only two bars airside, and both of these shut early in the evening. If you are after a beer at the airport, it is much better to get a beer landside, in the open air beer garden and bistro by check-in Bay A on the departure level.
There is also a better and cheaper choice of food before going through security.
If you are on one of the few very rare domestic flights from Sydney Terminal 1, that connect to international destinations, you will need photo ID, and you will need to check in at a desk. Your boarding card is then stamped 'D', and you can enter the international terminal, without exiting Australia.
Sydney Airport Domestic Terminal 2The old Ansett terminal, Sydney Terminal 2 is now very firmly the home of Virgin Australia, plus a few Regional Express (Rex), Jetstar, Tiger and even Aeropelican (shuttling Sydney to Newcastle) services.
There are two 'wings' to the terminal, connected by a food court and shopping area. There are vastly more bars in Terminal 2 than in T3 or the International terminal - which could reflect the differing nature of patronage.
Sydney Airport Domestic Terminal 3Sydney Airport Domestic Terminal 3 handles Qantas domestic flights, including the intense shuttle services to Brisbane and Melbourne (with a wide body departing every half hour in the morning), plus the long domestic haul flights to Perth. The airport terminal is long and thin, with just a small food court to one side.
First & Business Class lounges at Sydney AirportNote that there are no arrivals lounges at Sydney airport, and no international lounges can be accessed on arrival. If you arrive internationally and have an ongoing domestic flight, you must access the domestic lounge.
Sydney Airport transportationTransport between Sydney airport and the city centre can be expensive, thanks to heavy restrictions on what services companies can offer. In particular, it is very hard to get a bus.
Travellers should know that many bus, limousine and shuttle bus services operating to and from Sydney Airport usually require pre-booking.
Sydney Airport trainThere is a fast, efficient and modern suburban train service between Sydney Airport and the city. It is however very expensive.
CityRail trains leave every 10 minutes from the Domestic and International rail stations, which are connected to the airline terminals via lifts and pedestrian subways.
A single ticket to the city is $15.40 (day-return ticket $25.80), which includes an airport station surcharge (GatePass) of $12 ($19 for a day-return GatePass).
Sydney Airport suburban bus servicesThere is just one, single, suburban bus service to the airport, which is pretty useless unless you want to get to UNSW or Bondi.
Sydney Airport taxi servicesGetting a taxi to and from Sydney Airport is usually trouble free, but expensive.
A taxi from the airport to the city centre costs about $40. You have to pay a $3.80 airport taxi levy and a $6 Eastern Distributor toll on top of the metered fare. On a Friday evening there are long queues for taxis, of over an hour.
Car Hire at Sydney AirportMajor car hire operators are located in the Arrivals Halls. To save time and ensure you get the car you want, book your rental in advance. Rental car operators from Sydney Airport include: Europcar, Thrifty, Avis and Budget.
Sydney Airport HotelsThere is a grand total of one Sydney airport hotel which is in walking distance of the international terminal. Rydges Sydney Airport Hotel is just over the road from the terminal and check in area. There are 318 rooms, good views over the runway, and an OK bar. It also has a free shuttle to domestic.
There are no hotels at either domestic terminals, but it is only a 15 minute walk along O'Riordan Street to the nearest hotel, the Stamford Plaza (which has the La Boca Argentine Restaurant), or the Quest Mascot. Another 10 minutes up the road is the Ibis Sydney Airport.
Sydney Airport Bars and RestaurantsIfg you want to eat or drink - Sydney is the place for you. That is, unless you are on a late evening flight, when many outlets close.
Sydney International Bars & RestaurantsWoe betide you if you are on a late night flight out of Sydney International. Most of the restaurants and bars close by about 8.30pm: if you are on the 10pm Cathay flight for example, you won't find anywhere to eat or drink before the flight. Also beware that drinking oppotunities are poor airside: if you want a beer, have it before you go through passport control.
However, things are changing, with the opening of a new Heineken bar in departures, and a Coopers Alehouse in arrivals.
Terrace BarLandside, Terminal 1, Sydney Airport
The Terrace Bar at Sydney Airport is one of the best places to drink at the airport. It is before security, and perhaps because of that it has a nice vibe, with a contemporary style offering. The beer selection is remarkable, with 12 on draft and a further 15 in bottles.
It also has a large outdoor area - near the observation deck. If you have time and want to wander, you can take a beer up in the lift, and watch the planes take off and land.
Food is pretty good here too, with a general Asian influenced style, plus some (rather expensive) pizzas.
Heineken HouseAirside, Terminal 1, Sydney Airport
The brand new Heineken House at Sydney International Airport is the brand's very first flagship venue in Australia, hot on the heels of the similar bars in Dublin, Dubai, Hong Kong, and Amsterdam.
The Sydney Airport Heineken bar has as you would expect all the beers, including Extra Cold and Heineken 3 (86 calories per bottle, 3.3% ABV).
The new venue, which features an eight metre high bottle wall and floor-to-ceiling window, also sells food, including wood-fired gourmet pizzas.
As the name suggests, this is a modern and achingly trendy drinking and dining experience, right in the centre of the concourse. Main products are martinis, G&T, & champagne. Downside is service, which is curt to the point of being direct.
Food is pretty good, with ham and eggs benedict a delight. The club sandwiches are pretty good too, and make a decent breakfast.
Slipstream Café Bar
Not one of my favourites, but it has an amazing view over the runway with the city beyond.
Melt-in-the-mouth cakes, Turkish pockets and a salad bar which is ok. A choice of bistro style hot meals, plus a good selection of Aussie beers.
Decent food with New York style pizza, and a full cooked breakfast.
Santos coffee BarPier B, Terminal 1 International.
A pretty standard airport coffee bar with gourmet sandwiches, focaccias and baguettes.
Sydney Domestic Terminal 2 Bars & RestaurantsThere are some very good bars around the food court for the main Virgin Australia Terminal.
Terminal 2 TaphouseOpen: 0600-2200 Airside, Terminal 2 domestic
One of the best airside pubs at Sydney feels just like a real, decent, local pub.
The taphouse advertises it's wine store - with pretty good bottles of plonk to buy post security - but it also has a very comfy lounge bar, and the only tap beer in Terminal 2.
Decent pub grub too with burgers and pies.
VeloceOpen: 0400-2200 Airside, Terminal 2 domestic
The earliest opening coffee shop in Terminal 2 is around the corner from the Rex lounge, and has a striking wall of tea and coffee.
Describing itself at 'The Espresso Taste of Life' Schibello's Coffee uses the best Arabica beans plus Italian biscottis, friands, slices, muffins, cookies, cakes, pastries, wraps, focaccias and salads.
Movida BarOpen: 0500-2100 Airside, Terminal 2 domestic
The Movida is a bit of an institution in Sydney, with Australian / Spanish fusion.
The airport bar serves a selection of Spanish tapas, including 'Bomba', a Catalan potato and chorizo dish; 'Carrillera de Buey', slow braised beef cheek in Pedro Ximenez on cauliflower puree; and Jamon and Manchego Bocadillo.
The design of the bar is also striking, with solid Blackwood bar tops, chunky steel footrests, terracotta tiles and rustic steelwork stamping MoVida's Melbourne laneway heritage. You won't be able to keep your eyes off the eye-jolting LED scrolling signage over the bar and a vast TV screen.
It serves Spanish beers and Spanish & Australian wines. Early in the morning it does a decent coffee too.
Bistro Bar 2020Open: 0600-2200 Airside, Terminal 2 domestic
Not one of my favourites as it is right in the busiest part of the terminal, but Bar 2020 is a bit of an institution and it has an amazing view over the runway with the city beyond.
There is what the bar says is 'up-market pub dining' including a decent fry up, and fish and chips. The wine list is worthy of note, with a decent drop or two.
Sydney Domestic Terminal 3 Bars & RestaurantsWith so many passengers having QantasClub access, there aren't as many bars as you would expect airside in the main Qantas domestic terminal at Sydney airport.
Velocity BarOpen: 0600-2200 Airside, Terminal 3 Domestic
Velocity's sleek design and stainless steel furnishing is the trademark of ARE's flagship brand.
There's an Oyster bar, plus loads of different coffees, and a tolerable bar service.
Toby's EstateOpen: 0500-2100 Airside, Terminal 3 Domestic
Toby's Estate is not a bar, but a premium coffee roaster, and tea and chocolate merchant, which source its beans from the best plantations and estates all over the world.
Cometto BarOpen: 0600-2200 Airside, Terminal 3 Domestic
At the end of the domestic terminal, in the 'circle' area by the museum is a small coffee shop, which also offers a bar with beer, wine and spirits in front of large TV screens. It does some snacks too.
Coopers AlehouseOpen: 0500-2200 Airside, Terminal 2 domestic
In the middle of the southern arm of the terminal is a real Coopers Ale House, and pretty good it is too. It may seem a little odd tucking in a decent beer or two at 5 in the morning, but when you are there the nicely atmospheric bar takes away the tedium of the Virgin gates.
The bespoke bar features the full range of Coopers brews, together with an assortment of local and imported beers, fine wines, pre-mixed drinks and a bar snacks and meals menu.