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Sure, Australia’s chock full of spectacular places, urban and wild both, but when it comes to cities it’s pretty hard to go past Sydney. Other cities have their charms, but do they really have anything that lives up to the Sydney Opera House? The Sydney Harbour Bridge? Bondi Beach? I think we all know the answer. Picking up a car hire in Sydney gives you the freedom to roam the city to your heart’s content, and even set out on road trips around the surrounding country. Planning your Sydney trip will be less a matter of finding things to do and more deciding what to leave out, as there’s so much to see and do in Sydney.
Of course, before you go zipping off around the city, you’ll need a vehicle to do that in. Trying to look through all the different rental car rental brands at Sydney Airport one by one is a real pain, but there is a much less boring way to hunt out the best car hire deal. AirportRentals.com.au shows you all your options in one place, meaning you don’t have to go scouring the internet and labouriously comparing everything. Don’t faff about with the booking process longer than you have to - get it done and dusted so you can go back to doing something more fun.
It’s pretty simple to book a car rental on AirportRentals.com.au. Just chuck in a handful of details about your trip and click the big yellow Search button. From there you’ll get to pick between a bunch of vehicles from a range of suppliers, and narrow down your options by vehicle type, rental brand and so on. Once you’ve settled on the best one, you’ll be over and done with the whole process in a matter of minutes.
There’s certainly a lot to pick from when it comes to car hire brands at Sydney Airport. You’ve probably heard of a bunch of the brands before, like Hertz, Budget and Avis, but there’s a few smaller names which are worth keeping an eye out for like Redspot and Keddy.
Sydney Airport has three different terminals, but only two are used for domestic flights.
● Terminal 1 is known as the International Terminal and deals with all flights coming in from overseas.
● Terminal 2 is dedicated to domestic flights from a range of different airlines including Virgin, Jetstar and Tigerair.
● Terminal 3 handles Qantas flights, though unlike many other Qantas terminals around the country, it’s owned not by Qantas but by the airport itself.
You can find free WiFi throughout the airport no matter which terminal you’re in, and if you need to withdraw some cash, you should be be able to find ATMs in Terminal 1 and 2.
Driving in Sydney isn’t too different to what you’d expect from any other big Aussie city - thankfully you don’t have to muck around with anything like Melbourne’s hook turns, so it’s just the usual story of navigating inner city traffic. One thing you’ll want to be aware of is the fact that most of Sydney’s CBD has a 40 km/h speed limit, as opposed to the usual 50 km/h in built up areas. If by any chance you’re reading this from outside Australia, don’t forget that Aussies drive on the left hand side of the road unlike most of the rest of the world. It isn’t too hard to get used to though, just take some care at intersections and you’ll be fine. If you need a little more advice on hitting the road in Australia, check out our Australia driving guide.
Sydney Airport is 9 kilometres from the city centre and, depending on traffic, it should take around 20 minutes to get into the city. The easiest way to get from airport to CBD is heading southeast down Joyce and General Holmes Drives, before jumping on the M1 which will take you pretty much all the way into the city.
There’s nothing too far out of the ordinary in terms of Sydney’s road rules. As I mentioned before, most of the inner city has a 40 km/h speed limit, so don’t get caught out driving 50 just because you’re used to it. There are plenty of watchful cops around the Sydney CBD too, so it doesn’t pay to take any chances. The legal blood alcohol limit in New South Wales is set at 0.05, which pretty much means that if you’ve been drinking at all it’s safest not to get behind the wheel.
Don’t worry about finding a petrol station on your way out of the airport - you’ll almost certainly have a full tank of petrol in any car rental you pick up from Sydney Airport - but on the way back it’s definitely something you’ll need to take into account. Unless there’s something unusual in your rental agreement that says otherwise (there probably isn’t) you’ll need to return your car rental with full fuel tank. The closest station is probably BP Connect Runway at the southern end of the airport, but it can get a little hectic because of how near it is to the terminals. Budget Petrol Mascot on Botany Road be a good alternative option just east of the airport and Budget Petrol Eastlakes on Maloney Street isn’t much further away.
It’s no secret that this city is packed with cool stuff to do and see but don’t forget that once you rent a car in Sydney, a whole swathe of the country lies open to you. A road trip from Sydney can treat you to all sorts of exhilarating experiences, so don’t miss the chance to use the city as a launchpad for all kinds of adventures!
Victoria might have the Great Ocean Drive, but New South Wales certainly gives them a run for their money with the Grand Pacific Drive. Starting out in the gorgeous Royal National Park south of Sydney, the Grand Pacific covers 140 kilometres of breathtaking coastline. Beautiful beaches, tiny towns, ocean views… this is one hell of a journey, best enjoyed with the family or a few friends along for the ride.
This is a bit of a choose-your-own-adventure route: you see, branching out from the main loop of the Greater Blue Mountains Drive are 18 Discovery Trails to choose from - each with its own distinct character and unique attractions. This also makes the Drive really easy to fit into your schedule, because you can cover as much or as little of it as you like and still come away with experiences that will stick with you for years.
You’ll want to set aside about a week for this one. The first part of the trip follows the Grand Pacific Drive, but you’ll be continuing on down the coast to discover spots like the Oyster Coast, Mogo Zoo, and Mimosa Rocks National Park before turning west into Victoria toward the cultural capital of Australia.
If you fancy heading for surf and sunshine, this is the road trip for you. It’s not a short trip but every bit of it has something for you to savour. Whether you’re exploring the idyllic wilderness of Hat Head National Park, whale watching in Byron Bay, partying on the Gold Coast or delving into any of mindblowing attractions in between, this trip is is chock full of opportunities for fun and leisure.
I know you’re gonna be tempted to skip over this section - after all, pick up depots aren’t going to win any prizes for best travel destination - but hang in there because you might need some of this info when you land in Sydney. Most of the car hire brands near Sydney Airport are based directly in-terminal, but there are a handful which have rental depots a short drive away from the airport. Don’t worry though, if your depot isn’t right on the airport, there will be a free shuttle which can whisk you straight from the terminal to the pick up point. Rental suppliers with depots inside Sydney Domestic Airport include Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz, Redspot, Thrifty, AutoEurope and Apollo. Firefly can be found at the Hertz desk, and Keddy by Europcar is serviced at the Europcar desk.
● East Coast Car Rentals can be found near the airport on O’Riordan Street.
● Atlas Car Rentals also has a pick up depot on O’Riordan Street.
● Alpha Car Rental is located on Parramatta Road, Auburn.
● Ace Rental Cars has a rental depot on O’Riordan Street.
The four off airport suppliers above can all be reached with a free shuttle trip from your Sydney Airport terminal.
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Driving off into the sunset is amazing if you have the time but sometimes all you’re after is a way to get around the city and somewhere to stay near the airport. Ibis Budget Sydney Airport isn’t known for its luxury, but the convenience factor will be a clincher for some folks who aren’t too fussy about the finer things in life. Stamford Plaza Sydney Airport is also very convenient to the airport but offers a decent step up from Ibis’ bare basics approach. Pullman Sydney Airport is a newer option that has been garnering very positive reviews but it is a little more on the expensive side.
One of the best things about travelling to another city is the fact that you get to jump into all sorts of events you’d never be able to be part of otherwise - this is a guaranteed shortcut to adding some life to your trip. Sydney’s certainly no slouch when it comes to entertaining and intriguing events to delve into. Vivid Sydney, for example is one of the most popular events in the city, transforming the city into a living canvas of light, creativity and colour. Light projections and installations hijack the cityscape, turning ordinary buildings into something totally extraordinary.
If you’re hunting for the weird and wonderful side of the city, see if you can time your trip to line up with The Sydney Fringe. This is the biggest visual and performing arts event in New South Wales, and the perfect place to catch something fresh, edgy, fun and new. From stand-up comedy to cabaret, visual arts to indie video game events, The Sydney Fringe always serves up bizarre, innovative and entertaining events.
Film festivals are almost always a dazzling display of culture, entertainment and spectacle but if you’re after a twist on the film fest experience, Tropfest is a great place to start. This is the world’s largest short film festival, with each film lasting no longer than 7 minutes. Each film is created for the Tropfest and has to include a certain element (which changes from year to year) and has to premiere at the festival, so every year viewers are treated to a kaleidoscope of previously unseen creativity.
Of all Sydney’s cultural events, the city’s Chinese New Year Festival is by far the most popular. Drawing over a million people into the festivities, the Sydney Chinese New Year Festival includes dozens of different events across the city. Mark this on your calendar, cause there’s something here for just about everyone, from dragon boat racing to lunar lantern displays and delicious Chinese cuisine. The Chinese New Year Fest really is spectacular - catch it if you can!
If Sydney can lay claim to one dish it’s the tasty fusion of Middle-Eastern and Aussie cuisine that is the Halal Snack Pack. Halal-certified doner kebab meat with chips and sauces has now become a fast food staple across the country, but of course this is only a tiny part of the picture when it comes to Sydney’s food scene.
One of the best things for foodies visiting Sydney is chance to travel the world with their tastebuds while remaining in one city. Sydney’s Korean fried chicken is off the hook, the Asian foodcourts contain an entire world of authentically tasty flavours and Surrey Hills is the place to go for Middle Eastern food that will leave you happily waddling your way back to the car.
To get to the source of the New South Wales wine scene, you’ll have to travel a little to the north. Hunter Valley is an idyllic escape from it all, and a heaven for vintners and wine-lovers alike since the early 1800’s. Boasting long established wineries and innovative young growers, Hunter Valley is the perfect wine tour region if you’re in the Sydney area and are fond of a vino or two.
In a lot of ways Sydney is defined by its relationship to water. The Sydney Harbour Bridge is one of the most iconic spans in the world, the Sydney Opera House is right next to the water, and Bondi Beach arguably the most popular stretch of sand in Australasia.
Sydney is a haven for culture and art, with a thriving theatre scene, top notch music and a yearly lineup of festivals of all stripes. It’s also an ethnically diverse city, with substantial minority communities including Chinese, Italian, Lebanese and Greek.
If you can plan your trip around a few of Sydney’s amazing events that’s great, but this city has plenty to see and do no matter what time of year you fly in. For example, if it’s a family holiday you’re on, Taronga Zoo is a must. This zoo, which has a strong focus on education and wildlife conservation, is home to more than 4000 animals and features shows, zookeeper talks, animal interaction - even a high ropes course! Ditch your Sydney car rental for the day and take a 12 minute ferry trip from the city to Taronga Zoo for day full of family fun.
If there’s one bit of Sydney that most folks around the world will recognise, it has to be the Sydney Opera House. Its wildly inventive architecture catches your eye from ages away, but it’s not just the outside of the building that’s impressive. If you can catch a show at the Opera House (which puts on a lot more than just opera) that’s best way to find out what makes this place so special, otherwise you can take a tour which will let you have a nosy around some of the parts of the Opera House that not many people ever get to see.
If you’re keen to soak up some rays by the sea, Bondi Beach has you covered. This isn’t a secluded spot at all - in fact it’s a wildly popular hang out spot - but it’s popular for a reason, and a great place to see and be seen. It’s not just about golden sands and bronzed bods though. There’s also a thriving cafe and restaurant scene on Campbell Parade, so you can continue the good times even when the sun’s not out.
Finding a bit of peace in a busy city isn’t always easy, but the Royal Botanic Garden in Sydney will have you unwinding in no time. It’s always open and entry is free, so there’s nothing barring you from this haven of green calm. There are over a dozen different distinct areas each with their own focus and feel, so no matter what kind of vibe you’re going for, you’ll find a spot to suit you.
Aside from the Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge is arguably the most distinctive piece of architecture in the city but you can do a lot more than just admire it from afar. In fact one of the most popular ways to enjoy the Harbour Bridge is the BridgeClimb. This adrenaline pumping experience will have you ascending the arches to the highest point of the bridge where you can take in a spectacular 360 degree panorama of the city and harbour laid out below you.
Public transport probably won’t be a huge concern if you’re going to hire a car in Sydney but occasionally it can be better to opt for a different way of getting around, especially in the inner city where parking is limited and pricey. Trains and buses run throughout the city - be aware that most bus services are prepaid only, so you’ll need to buy a ticket before you get onboard. If you think you’ll be sticking around for a while, it might be worth picking up a free Opal card that you can load funds onto then use on public transport all around the wider Sydney area.
Overall Sydney has pretty mild weather all year round, though it can get a bit toasty in the inland western suburbs during the height of summer. With more than 100 clear days on average every year, you’re pretty likely to run into some stunner days no matter what season you’re visiting in.
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