We were in Sydney for less than 12 hours in 2018 and wanted to make the lost of it. How that came about was we wanted to treat my mom on a vacation for her birthday and when we asked her where she wanted to go, she chose New Zealand. Although there were direct flights to New Zealand from SF, we thought of doing a stopover in Sydney, see an old friend who I hadn’t seen in like 12 years. Although we didn’t end up seeing the said friend due to her work schedule, at least we were able to see a new country and check it off the list!

Footbridge to Wolli Creek from Sydney International Airport
Footbridge to Wolli Creek from Sydney International Airport

We flew Qantas from SF and arrived in Sydney a little after 6 AM. We got a “free” breakfast at Mach2 in the Food Court courtesy of Priority Pass (we usually get lounge access in airports but Priority Pass had restaurants/cafe in Sydney on their list instead of lounges) and the kind Virgin America agents let us check our check-in bag to New Zealand (10hrs before our flight!) which left us with just two carry-on bags. We wanted to go see the Opera house and the rest of the jazz. Based on some research prior to the trip, we found that there were trains from the airport that’d get you to the Circular Quay (where the Opera house is). One-way train ticket for each person is almost $20 (call it airport tax!) Not wanting to spend $80 on round-trip train tickets for two and not wanting to travel by road due to possible traffic delays, we found that we could catch the same train at Wolli Creek station (which is the next stop) where the ticket price was only like $5 each (one-way)!

Sydney airport to Wolli Creek Station
Sign to Wolli Creek

We also stored our two carry-ons in a luggage locker at the airport and went down to Circular Quay. We saw the Opera House, the Harbor Bridge, walked thru the Royal Botanic Gardens, saw interesting birds, flora, and fauna, walked down to Hyde Park, got some yum ice cream at Aqua S, walked along the streets and took the train back to Wolli Creek from the Town Hall station. We got back to the airport a little after 3:30PM with almost 2 hours to spare. We ate at the airport before catching our flight to Auckland where we were meeting my mom.

Sydney Harbor Bridge
Sydney Harbor Bridge

How to get to the Opera House from Sydney International Airport by metro?

The walk to Wolli Creek station from the Arrivals hall in Sydney International Airport takes 10-15min. Its a good way to stretch out your legs after a long plane ride.


Departure Station: Wolli Creek
Arrival Station: Circular Quay
Train Operator: Local train
Ticket cost: $5.10 each
Duration: ~40min


Departure Station: Town Hall
Arrival Station: Wolli Creek
Train Operator: Local train
Ticket cost: $5.10 each
Duration: ~20min

  1. From Arrivals, cross the street to go towards the car parking/rental cars building.
  2. Luggage lockers (by Smartecarte) are behind the first “wall” you see as you enter the building. The lockers are self check-in type and come in small, medium, and large sizes with a rental period of 24 hours. A small locker was $10, medium was $12, and large was $14 at the time we visited. The medium size locker was big enough for two carry-ons. Just note that your luggage is not attended, so use at your own risk. The lockers are secured with a six digit code which you’ll need to open the locker and retrieve your items. The locker can only be opened once at which point, the rental ends. If you don’t have any luggage to store, skip this step and go to #3.
  3.  You then go up the moving walkway/escalator. When you get to the top, you’ll see bike storage on your right. If you turn left, there should be a sign on the wall showing arrows to the footbridge. The footbridge is outside the glass doors. 
  4. Walk on the footbridge for a couple of minutes. Once you get down, the path splits off. Go up the path that says “Arncliffe Wolli creek”.
  5. Now you’ll walk on the sidewalk along the Princes Highway with the Cook river on the right.  Once you pass the river, you’ll see a path to Cahill Park with apartment buildings on the left. Go thru the park (keep left). If you stand in the Park (with your back to the park), you should see a Woolsworth Supermarket across the street. 
  6. Cross the street (there are pedestrian lights) and walk up it (with the supermarket to your left). You’ll reach a main plaza of sorts. Go across the plaza and you’ll see the Wolli creek station. Ticket machines take Credit cards.
  7. Get off at Circular Quay and walk to the Opera house (short walk along the water).
  8. Do the loop thru the Royal Botanic Gardens and Hyde Park and take the train back to Wolli Creek from Town Hall.
Wildlife at the Royal Botanical Gardens
Wildlife at the Royal Botanical Gardens

Places to see (walking distance from Circular Quay): Museum of Contemporary Art, Opera House, Royal Botanic Gardens, Art Gallery of New South Wales, St.Mary’s Cathedral, Hyde Park, Chinatown

Apartment buildings across the Sydney Opera House
Views of North Sydney across the Opera House

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