Sydney is one of those Aussie cities a lot of flights tend to go through. If you’re planning an international trip there’s a chance you may find yourself transiting through Sydney or, like us, you may find yourself catching an overseas flight that only departs from Sydney, meaning you gotta get ya butt there! A layover can be a tricky thing, trying to navigate how to make yourself as comfortable as possible in the time you have while still making the most of the time. To help you navigate all this and more, here’s my guide to surviving an overnight layover at Sydney Airport.
Things to know before you go
A few essential tips and things to know before visiting Sydney:
- If you’re an international traveller you may be eligible for a free Transit Visa allowing you 72 hours to explore Sydney
- Need a place to store your luggage? Check out Smart Carte in the arrivals halls of both the domestic and international terminals at Sydney Airport
- While this guide is aimed at those with an overnight layover, as a general guide, I wouldn’t leave the airport unless I had at least 6-7 hours in-between my flights
- You can catch the train into Sydney’s CBD, which may be a better option if you plan to be travelling during peak hour
- Uber is another easy way to get around and a great option for getting from place to place
- If you have a solid 6-7 hours of free time during your overnight layover, you will definitely have time to visit Circular Quay and see all of Sydney’s top attractions
- Sydney weather can change on a dime so be sure to have an umbrella and jumper with you, just in case, it’s also important to wear sunscreen – never, ever underestimate the Australian sun
- Check the hashtag #ilovesydney on Instagram for some serious Sydney travel inspo
- You’ll find credit cards are widely accepted so if you don’t fancy having money changed, don’t stress.
Where to stay
We found ourselves with an overnight layover in Sydney while on our way to Vietnam. Rather than risking delays and potentially missing our departing flight we opted to play it safe, flying to Sydney the night before our long-haul flight. If you’re cautious like us, I really recommend this as a great option. It made our preparation for the 9-hour flight much easier, took the stress out of it and meant we were fresh, comfortable and less tired.
We were also very lucky to find ourselves with a media stay at Pullman Sydney Airport and, you guys, I honestly cannot recommend this place enough. When we were looking at hotels surrounding the airport there were a number of budget options which seemed tempting at first, but when we checked into our room at the Pullman, I quickly realised how grateful I was for the extra space, comfort, care and luxury it offered. It allowed us to get a really good rest and we left feeling like we’d had a pre-holiday holiday! If you’re doing the same research and wondering if Pullman is worth it, I can confirm, it is.
Pullman Sydney Airport is located nearby to the Domestic Terminal of Sydney Airport. When we arrived Sydney Airport was really busy and while we planned to take an Uber or Taxi to the hotel we decided to walk, not wanting to stand in a queue. It took us around 10 minutes to get there and the walk was really easy. If you have a lot of heavy luggage or are older you may prefer to catch transport but if like us, you don’t mind a walk and only have a suitcase and backpack, you should find the walk quite easy. There is also a shuttle service available, which you will need to pre-book and pay for. The next day, returning to the International Airport, we opted to catch an Uber.
We stayed in a Deluxe Corner Room and absolutely loved it! The two huge windows offered us fantastic views looking over the area and beyond, we even got to see planes buzzing back and forth, which is really cool for any other airport nerds out there. Surprisingly, the hotel was nice and quiet, especially given how close it is to the airport and planes flying past. We both got a really good sleep, which set us up perfectly for the following long day of travel.
Our room was incredibly spacious, offering a huge, king-size bed with really comfortable pillows. Seriously, the bed was so comfortable – I slept like a log. The open-plan feel of the room was ideal, it really made the most of the space and made me feel like I wasn’t cooped up in a tiny room. The room is also equipped with a big, 48-inch flat screen television and plenty of channels to choose from, so you can nestle down in bed and watch movies. The wifi was included and top-quality (yasss!). There’s also a work desk and chair, additional seating (so you aren’t confined to the bed), safe deposit box, reasonably priced mini-bar (I know! Amazing, right?!) and all the other essential trimmings you expect from a good hotel. There’s also a 24-hour gym on-site and you can grab a delicious meal from on-site restaurant Mobius Bar & Grill, to save you going out looking for food.
Most importantly, the room has a fantastic bathroom. There’s plenty of space to spread out all your toiletries and a huge mirror to do your makeup. There’s a generous-size bath-tub perfect for relaxing your tired, jet-lagged body and, amazingly, you can fill up the tub and watch the tv while you’re in it! The shower is no slouch, either. With a rainforest head and regular one too (if you don’t fancy getting your hair wet) it also has amazing water pressure, which you may need to help relax tense shoulders or a tight back from sitting on a plane and carrying luggage.
We loved the morning breakfast, where you’re offered a real coffee. The buffet is generous but also carefully curated, offering a wide selection of options that are tasty and top-quality. We tucked into fresh pastries, individual servings of yoghurt gorgeously presented in glass tubs, fresh juices and fruit, granola, pancakes, eggs and more! Another great thing to note, you can extend your check-out time if needed. Just speak with the front desk staff when you arrive and they’ll let you know availability and rates.
If you have an overnight layover (or multiple nights) in Sydney and need a great recommendation on a place to stay, I wholeheartedly recommend Pullman Sydney Airport. We found it to be convenient and comfortable, offering us much-needed space and all the things you need to help you rest, recharge and recover while you’re in transit. Like I said, it took the stress out of our transit and allowed us to properly unwind and prepare for our next flight.
Best things to see and do
If you haven’t been to Sydney before or just want to make the most of your time, there are some great things to see and do close to Sydney Airport. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- If you have a little bit of time up your sleeve, it’s a 30-minute drive each way to Bondi Beach. Take a stroll along the coastline, get your feet in the sand then grab a bite to eat and a drink at Bondi’s iconic spot, Icebergs.
- For something a little closer, take the 15-minute drive to Brighton-Le-Sands where you can wander along the esplanade, sit on the beach or go for a quick dip, soaking in some of the famous Sydney beachsides.
- If the beach isn’t quite your bag, you’ll find Marrickville a 13-minute drive away. Explore the local area on foot, grab a great cup of coffee or lunch and soak in Sydney life.
- Is the Sydney Opera House on your bucket list? Well, you’re in luck! It should take around 20 minutes to get from the hotel to the Opera House by car, just be sure to allow extra time if you’re trying to drive during peak-hour (in fact, just avoid peak hour altogether if possible).
- Keen to do a spot of shopping? You’ll find Westfield Eastgardens a 10-minute drive from the hotel. There’s a Chi-Link in there for anyone in need of a massage or acupuncture in-between flights.
- It’ll take less than 20 minutes to walk to Manhattan Superbowl where you can spend a few hours bowling strikes and kick back
- In desperate need of a massage? You’ll find Sang’s Thai Massage & Spa a 10-minute walk away
Must try food
- As I said above, the on-site restaurant at Pullman, Mobius Bar & Grill, serve up a great range of absolutely delicious meals
- If you love gorgeous cafes, be sure to check out The Grounds of Alexandria, serving up delicious food in a beautiful setting
- Get your Italian fix by chowing on pizza and pasta at Tavolino Italian Kitchen & Woodfired Pizza
- For Japanese eats, try Ichiro’s Sushi Bar for sushi, donburi, bento boxes, noodles and more
- If simple and delicious pub grub and cold beers are more your bag, the Newmarket Hotel is a great spot
- For gorgeous little cakes, matcha lattes and a cosy cafe feel check out Cuppa Flower Florist & Cafe
- In the mood for something a bit different? Visit La Boca Bar and Grill for Argentinian cuisine
Phoebe is a travel writer and photographer with a love for storytelling and making people laugh. Matt is a videographer and photographer with a passion for the great outdoors and big adventures. Together we inspire big adventures through our guides, videos, vlogs and photographs. Find out more about us here.