Travel Hacker: The Cheapest Ways Into The City From Each Major Australian Airport

Travel Hacker: The Cheapest Ways Into The City From Each Major Australian Airport

Uber? Cabs? Train? Pickups aren’t always an option, either. So to streamline your next trip, we’ve researched the cheapest ways to get from the runway to the CBD at each Australian state capital airport. Here’s what you need to know.

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One might assume that trains would automatically be the cheapest option, but that’s not necessarily the case in Sydney. The airport line is privately owned, so it can cost a full adult fare of $16.16 to go between domestic/international and Central station.

That’s why, if you’re travelling with a friend, you can go close to breaking even if you split an Uber or even a taxi. According to the Sydney Airport website, ride share pick-ups are now available at Sydney Airport. Domestic: drop your pin in the Priority Pick-up Zone. International: meet your ride in the Express Pick-Up zone.

Depending on the time of day (and traffic), a taxi fare costs roughly $45-55 (including airport rank fee) and takes about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, if you have an Opal Card and are willing to rock a bus/train combo — the 400 bus picks up at both the T1 and T3 terminals. It’s $2.10 and about 10 minutes to Mascot station (which is on the airport line but won’t charge you the crazy fee) and take the train the couple of stops into the city. From Mascot train station, it should cost another $2.36 and take about 8 minutes to Central station. Pro tip: You may need a pre-paid bus ticket during peak week day times.

If you’re staying in a major hotel — check if it offers a complimentary airport shuttle service. There are also now US-style third-party shuttle vans, like Redy2Go ($22 from the airport to Central), that seat up to 10 people plus luggage and pick-up/drop-off to your hotel door.


Image: Lifehacker Australia

Anyone who has flown into Tullamarine should be familiar with the SkyBus by now. And this is because it’s really your own public transport option straight into the city.

At $18 for a one-way adult ticket, it’s probably going to be your cheapest option. You can also buy return tickets, but they only save $1.

The SkyBus runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week and stops at T1, T2 and T4.

If you’re happy to sacrifice a little convenience, the Route 901 SmartBus may be a good option also. The 901 runs between Melbourne airport and Broadmeadows and there are trains into the city from there.

It requires a bit more planning and logistics, but unlike the SkyBus, you can use Myki. If this sounds like a good plan, it runs 7 days a week and leaves from the bus terminal outside of T4.

For those wondering about Uber, you still can’t get an UberX ride from Tullamarine. According to their website you can only request UberBLACK and you need to get picked up from the car park. It will also cost between $104-134 so ride sharing will the only way to make this affordable.

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Image: iStock

The Brisbane Airtrain goes from the airport to Brisbane Central for $18 or $17.10 if you book online.

Con-X-ion private bus transfers are also available for as low as $15 one-way from centrally located accomodation locations. Return trips can be booked for as low as $27.

For the under $5-10 option, catch a train from the city to Toombul and then transfer to the 590 bus heading towards Garden City. Get off at the Skygate Shopping Centre and catch one of the free TBus Shuttles to the airport next door.

This isn’t a particularly convenient route and the shuttle only runs during the day. But you will save a decent chunk of change.

Brisbane Airport does allowed UberX, and it will cost around $29-37, depending on traffic and time of day.


Image: Tourism Australia

With no train link or airport shuttle, the bus is the cheapest option in Perth.

If you’re leaving from Terminal 1 or 2 you can jump on the 380 bus that goes into the city centre. You also have the option of catching the 40 bus if you’re exiting from Terminal 3 or 4. These buses take Perth’s SmartCard and should cost well under $10 one-way. They both operate seven days a week.

If you would prefer Uber, Perth airport does have dedicated rideshare meeting points, and you’re only looking at $33-44 depending on the time of day.


Image: Experience Oz

Adelaide has quite a comprehensive bus offering, so you shouldn’t have a problem getting into the city on the cheap.

The Jetexpress goes directly into the city. Alternatively, there is the JetBus that is an all stops route between Glenelg, West Beach and the city.

Both of these options will take a Metro Card, which should cost under $5 each way. Single and day trip tickets can be purchased on board for a little bit extra.

If you’re only in Adelaide for a few days, consider the Adelaide Metro Visitors Pass. It’s only $25.60 for 3 consecutive days and grants unlimited access to all trains, buses and trams. That’s cheaper than what most return trips to and from each Australian airport are.

If you prefer a door-to-door service, Adelaide’s Airport City Shuttle is only $10 each way. This is probably the cheapest public shuttle bus in any of the major cities, outside of hotels that offer complimentary services, etc.

Feeling fancy? UberX may not be allowed at Adelaide Airport, but UberBLACK is. And because the CBD is so close it will probably only set you back $31-$39, time of day depending of course.

Don’t want to spend anything at all? the Adelaide CBD is only 5km from the airport so if you’re travelling light you could conceivably just leg it.


Image: iStock

Darwin airport is unique in that the city is practically built around it. It’s only a 15 minute drive to the CBD

If you don’t want to take a taxi or hire a car the Darwin Airport Shuttle Service may be your best bet. It runs 24/7 and will cost about $18 one-way.

For the best possible deal, take the Number 3 bus from Casuarina to Charles Eaton Drive for less than $5. It drops passengers around 500 metres from the airport itself, which may be a pain with luggage. The other downside here is that the service is quite infrequent — only running five to seven times a day.

There is no Uber option in Darwin as yet.


Image: Tourism Australia

There aren’t a whole lot of public transport options in Hobart. Your best bet is the Airporter which is $19 one-way or $35 return. Being a cool 20-minutes out of the city, you may be able to just get an Uber at that rate, depending on the time. Especially if you have travel companions.

When it comes to super budget travelling, the only option includes a mandatory 5km walk. But if you’re keen to spend less than $5 (or even more with a Greencard) — catch the 665 or 668 bus from the city to Cambridge Road.

For an UberX it will cost roughly $31-41.


Image: NCCC

Coming in at $12 one-way and $20 return, Canberra’s Airport Express Bus is one of the cheaper shuttle bus options on the list. But we can do better.

Route 11/11A of the Action Bus is less than $5 for a single fare, and is even cheaper with a MyWay card.

If you do plan on getting a taxi, you can save a few dollars by getting pickled up at the nearby Majura Park shopping centre rather than at the terminal. There is also an Uber lounge that you could use to find other travellers heading your way.

Do you have any of your own hot airport-to-CBD money saving tips? Let us know in the comments below!

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  • Perth bus fare from the airport(s) to the city is $4.60 (although that will very likely rise by a few cents in July)

  • Majura Park Shopping Centre is “nearby” the Canberra airport as the crow flies, but it’s only a short trip if you somehow manage to hop over the fence from the runway.

    By road, from the airport terminal it’s close to 2.5km of not-very-pedestrian-friendly roads.

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