Arriving to Sydney airport and wondering how does it look like? Here is information and tips for you on arrivals and departures, location, what to do, how to get your taxes back and other things you need to know about Sydney international airport Kingsford Smith in one post.
Even though Sydney is the largest city in Australia, Sydney Airport is not that big, and you can not really compare Sydney Airport to some other big cities airports. However, Sydney airport is modern, clean and it’s location is pretty convenient.
Time. The airport is closed from 11 PM to 3 AM and immigration counters reopen at 4 AM. Duty free shops are open since 5 AM.
In general, the airport is very organised and customer service is great.
When you arrive in Sydney airport, you do not find a large Duty Free shop with a big choice of shopping. It is quite small and honestly a little bit boring. But, you can find lots of alcohol and some beauty products. Honestly, I often can not find there what am I looking for.
Nevertheless, the Duty Free at the departures is bigger, there are more shops, including souvenirs, fashion, luxury brands and sports/surf apparel, a couple of jewelry brands stores. It is still not that big, but you can easily spend there an hour or two and do not even feel like time flies.
In the arrival area there is McDonalds and a few Coffee Shops, so if you are hungry and want to grab a bite, you can do so before approx. 9 PM.
Transport. How to get to the city from Sydney airport.
Download ‘Trip View’ app to plan your trip. Alternatively, you can use Google Maps, where you can select a destination and tick ‘Public Transport’ to see the route.
Trip View app is easier to use, there is a free version (‘Trip View Light’) if you do not want to pay for the app. Nevertheless, I would recommend investing a few dollars to the paid one. If you still haven’t got Uber app, make sure to download it and register your credit card before you arrive in Australia. You will save time and energy when you arrive (believe me, last thing you can do after a long distance flight is to follow the registrations and confirmations steps).
Sydney Airport has easy access to the train station (‘International airport’).
Walk towards McDonalds to your right before you exit the building. Then take the stairs or a lift provided. Traveling from the airport is pretty expensive, even one stop which normally costs about $3, will cost you about $15 ! A bit of a rip off, it is probably due to the airport taxes.
If you travel to the other part of the city, for example, Bondi, the train will be significantly cheaper. Get an Opal card, it is free to get it and you save so much money on travels with Opal, some of the trips you will even get for free. The card is prepaid and for a week you will need about $30, you always can recharge it if necessary. Make sure you tap in and tap off the card to get the best fares.
Taxi at Sydney Airport.
You can also get one of the taxis, which are queueing when you exit. Taxi in Sydney is probably the most expensive in the world. They do have eftpos, so even if you have foreign credit card, it will work.
Sometimes you will have to queue with all your luggage to get that taxi, as some travelers say that line might take up to two hours depending on a time of the day! I never get taxi there.
In my opinion, the best way to live the airport is to get an Uber driver.
Phone calls. Get a Pre-Paid Sim card.
If you are afraid that your roaming might not work or would be too expensive – get yourself a prepaid SIM at the Vodafone or Optus branch at the exit. It will be on your right as soon as you exit the luggage claim and immigration.
To stay connected in Sydney and Australia, you can get Vodafone $30 cap sim card with 1 MB data, $40 with 2 MB, or $50 with 3 MD data. I normally take the second or the third option, depends on how heavily do you use your mobile internet. If you are only staying for a few days – get Optus prepaid sim card then, where you do not have to pay for the entire month.
There is 15 minutes free car park for drop off. If you need more time – simply drive out and in again.
Complimentary, but limited access to wi-fi, which currently works better at the departures.
Arrivals, greeting &waiting area.
There are a few cafe’s are open during the day, where you can have a coffee and some food. Moreover, there is a flower shop, so if you want to greet someone properly you can get flowers and gifts there. If you are waiting for someone who’ll pick you up if you arrived late – there is not really so much space and people stay at McDonalds or the few seats provided in the lobby.
Additional information you might need.
There is a flower shop in the arrival area, so if you meet your loved one – grab a small surprise.
There is a drinking water provided at departures, so get your bottle and feel free to refill it.
Tax refund on departure at Sydney Airport.
- Make sure you feel in all the documents before claiming back your taxes.
- You can only get back your taxes for the goods that you are not taking back to Australia.
- The receipt amount should be more than 300 USD, including GST.
- You MUST carry the goods with you in your hand carry luggage (you can not claim taxes back for those goods that you have in your check-in luggage).
- Arrive in the airport well in advance of your departure time (approx 3 hours), as far as you might face a long queue at the tax return office.
- If you claim taxes for the online purchase – you must have a printed receipt with the seller’s Australian ABN number and address (I’ve got refused with Nexus phone bought from Google, as far as they do not accept that kind of Receipts. In this case, you’ll need to contact seller’s customer service in advance to get a proper receipt with a purchase and receipt number).
- Get an app TRS, fill out the form to get QR code for the faster procedure. Here is Google play app for your Android. And here is an iTunes store app for your iPhone.
- Here is more information about getting your taxes back.
Post Office at Sydney Airport.
If you want to get rid of some spare weight or just to send a postcard at the last minute – there is a Post office next to check in ‘J’.
Sydney Airport official website: http://www.sydneyairport.com.au/
If you would like to share your tips or to ask something, please, do not hesitate to talk to me in the comments below.
Cheers and bon voyage!