Sydney by Car: A Visitor’s Guide

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Sydney by Car: A Visitor’s Guide

One of the most exciting cities in the Southern hemisphere, also known as the “Harbor City”, Sydney, the capital of New South Wales, offers vast cultural heritage, rich historical background and a popular art scene that would make any visitor jump for joy. It’s well worth visiting this southern pearl and discovering its wide avenues and narrow streets, by any means desirable, on foot, by bicycle or public transport.

However, due to the city’s huge population of around 5 million residents, intricate infrastructure and vast area of over 12,000km2, the sightseeing is best done from a car. Millions of tourists come each year to see its famous landmarks, so the best advice is to come prepared so you can reach your destination quickly and safely.

On the road

Since World War II, the pattern of Sydney’s urban development has been determined mostly by motor vehicles. The percentage of car travel and commuting has risen from 13% in 1947 to 70% in 1971. Today, although Sydney has the highest utilization of public transport in Australia of all its capitals, there can still be up to 350,000 cars on its roads at the same time during rush hour.

This might seem overwhelming, but once you get the basic information and traffic rules, getting around is easy. First of all, Australians drive on the left side and 50kmph is the speed limit in urban areas, while out on the country roads and freeways, the limit is 100kmph. On a multi-lane road, always drive in the left-most lane and exchange lanes only when turning right. Give right of way to traffic incoming from your right side at intersections and at T-junctions, the right of way goes to cars going straight.

Sydney Harbour Bridge with Opera House in the background

In the car

One of the basic driving requirements is having your seatbelt on. Fines go up to$325 and 3 demerit points. It’s even higher if you have three unrestrained passengers in the vehicle: the fine increases to $1047 and 6 demerit points. Therefore, your rental car must come with rear seatbelts. The minimum driving age in Sydney is 16, unlike in the state of Victoria, where you must be 18 to legally drive.

This city also has very strict drinking and driving regulations. The maximum legal driving limit is 50mg per 100ml of blood.

One side view of Darling Harbour

Tolls and parking

There are several Toll Way Roads in Sydney, including Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Harbour Tunnel. But beware, many of the major roads in and out of the city do not accept change or cash and do not have clearly stated what the charges are. Therefore, the best course of action, to avoid congestion and frustration, is to make sure your rental comes fitted with the electronic sensor that allows you to be charged from your credit card.

The city is divided into strict parking zones, so make sure you feed the meter to avoid fines and towing. The price of a parking ticket varies depending on the time of the day. It’s $7 during working hours and $3 at other times.

George St. Congestion

Emergency Situations

Overall, Sydney is a well-regulated city and numerous safety laws ensure the traffic efficiency. However, you can never be too cautious, especially if you’re coming from a different background, culture and a right-hand side driving country. It’s a good idea to have a plan for emergencies. The universal number for first responders in Australia is 000, if you ever find yourself in a car collision, witness one or end up with your having been car stolen. Another number to always have at hand is a local 24-hour car key locksmith in case you lose your car key or get locked out of your car.

Due to Sydney’s size and a rich offer of amazing landmarks, gorgeous beaches and popular attractions, it would be impossible to cover it all on foot. In order not to miss out on all the wonders of the city, the best way to go around is by car. All nearby locations also provide great rental services, so all you need to do is hop in the car and hit the road!


If one thing is true about Lillian Connors, her mind is utterly curious. As a seasoned lifestyle blogger, she constantly explores fresh trends and spreads the word about them.

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