Sydney Travel Guide: Tourists most frequently asked questions

The Sydney Life

Navigating any city for the first time can be very tricky – different tipping customs, foreign public transport systems and many false preconceptions to battle - that’s why our in the know Concierge have designed the ultimate guide to allow you to explore the Harbour City seamlessly. We’re answering your most frequently asked questions about Sydney travel right here, right now.

When is the best time to visit Sydney?

While Sydney shines all year-long, its peak season is from Christmas until the end of January, which coincides with summer school holidays and balmy summer heat. Spring, which falls from September to November, is usually dry and warm.

How do I get from Sydney Airport to the hotel?

You can travel from the airport to the hotel by taxi or Uber (25-40 mins), airport shuttle (1 hour), train (22 mins) or you can organize a private chauffeur through our Concierge. Taxis to the city cost approximately $50-60 and depart from the front of the terminals. Trains depart from beneath the terminal, take the train to Circular Quay and the hotel is a short 5 minute walk.

Please note that there are no luggage racks available on trains, and the approximate five minute walk from Circular Quay station to InterContinental Sydney is uphill on Phillip Street.

What’s the tipping policy for restaurants in Sydney?

Tipping can often be a minefield of etiquette with each country having different expectations and customs, however Sydney is quite simple in this regard. Unlike in the USA where it’s expected you leave a tip everywhere, in Australia you don’t have to tip but of course you can if you wish to. The average tip is approximately 10% of the total bill. Also, splitting restaurant bills is standard practice in Sydney restaurants.

Can my children play at the beach without fear of sharks in the water?

While Sydney Harbour is home to sharks, most beaches are patrolled by lifeguards who monitor rips, currents and of course, our big fish, in order to keep you safe from harm. If you are especially concerned, there are plenty of Harbour beaches that are great for children. You can head to the netted areas at Chowder Bay, Balmoral and Clontarf or stick to the saltwater ocean pools at famous surf beaches including Bondi, Dee Why and Shelly Beach.

We also remind you to always swim between the flags when at the beach in Australia.

Do I need to get any vaccinations before coming to Sydney?

No, there are currently no recommended vaccinations required before you enter Sydney.  

Which hospitals in Sydney offer 24-hour emergency service?

Hospitals with 24-hour accident and emergency departments include Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney Children’s Hospital, Sydney Hospital. Please call Concierge or our Instant Service department within the hotel on ext. #9 if you require assistance urgently.

Is it safe to drink tap water in Sydney?

Yes, Sydney’s water is from natural sources. It’s filtered to the high standards set by the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines. This ensures it’s safe to drink straight from the tap. You can follow Sydney’s drinking waters journey to your tap here:

How do I travel on public transport in Sydney, what is Opal?

To travel anywhere in Sydney all you need is an Opal card. Opal cards are smartcard tickets that you keep, reload and reuse to pay for travel on public transport. Very similar to the Oyster Card model in London, simply add value to your Opal card then tap on and tap off to pay your fares on trains, buses, ferries and light rail – anywhere within the Opal network.

How much will it cost for my children to travel on public transport?

There are Youth Opal cards for four to 15 year olds available, this means you pay half fare on public transport. Children under the age of 4 travel for free.

Where do I get an Opal card?

There is a Transport Customer Service Centre at Circular Quay between ferry wharf 6 and 5, just a few minutes’ walk from the hotel. To top your Opal card up, you can go online to or you can access one of the may Opal top up stations located near major transport hubs including Circular Quay, Central Station, Wynyard and Bondi.

What currency is used in Australia?

The Australian Dollar. Notes are made plastic and washing-machine-proof in denominations of $100, $50, $20, $10 and $5 while coins come in $2, $1, 50c, 20c, 10c and 5c.

How do I get money out?

There are 24-hour ATMs everywhere in Sydney and major credit cards are widely accepted, though there's often a surcharge of approx. $2-3 (Aus. Dollars) per transaction. There is often a withdrawal limit of $1000 at most ATMS, you will need to go into a bank to withdraw larger amounts.

Many shops and supermarkets offer ‘cash out’ as an option, and most support contactless ‘tap’ payment for purchases made with debit or credit cards.

Where can I exchange foreign currency?

There are plenty of Exchange Bureaux’s located around Sydney CBD, the closest one to the hotel is Travel Money Oz at 300 George St. You can also exchange currency at the hotel.

Can I bargain while shopping in Sydney?

Gentle haggling is definitely common when frequenting weekend markets, however when it comes to general shopping outside of the marketplace, prices are usually fixed and not up for negotiation.

Remember to stay sun safe and ‘slip, slop, slap’ on the sunscreen when you’re out and about.

The sun is very strong in Sydney so you need to remember to be sun safe while out and about – wear brimmed hats, rash vests at the beach, wear sunglasses, slop on lots of sunscreen and sit in the shade when you can. 

Are we missing something? Please let us know, or ask or friendly Concierge located on the Ground Floor Lobby.


March 20, 2018