Melbourne Transport | Airport to City Transport Guide

When you plan to have independent travel in Melbourne, the first question after arriving at the airport must be, how to get to the Melbourne City from the airport? What transport options do you have? Which one is cheaper or faster?

So, this article will be your ultimate guide introducing everything you need to know about the transport from the airport to the Melbourne City. I will talk about the transport options, booking methods, cost, travel time, and other useful information to help everyone arrange the trip more conveniently.

Melbourne-Airport-City-Transport-SkyBus-Bus-Car Rental-Guide-Introduction-Teaching

1. What airports are there in Melbourne?

There are two main airports serving the Melbourne area, the Melbourne airport (MEL), locally known as the Tullamarine Airport, and the Avalon airport (AVV).

The Melbourne Airport is the main international airport located 25 kilometres away from the city. It takes about 30 minutes to arrive here if you drive from the city. Most international flights will land at the Melbourne Airport. The other one, the Avalon Airport, is located 50 kilometres away from the CBD. It is also an international airport but serves more domestic flights. The Avalon Airport is about 1-hour drive from the city.


2. Transport from Melbourne Airport to the City

If you are coming from other countries, most possibly you will land at the Melbourne Airport. There are 6 transport options that can take you to the city. They are the SkyBus, taxi, shuttle bus, public Bus, private airport transfer, and car rental.

1. Airport Express Bus (SkyBus)

SkyBus operates all day and every day all year round with frequent and affordable services. It is the most popular choice for tourists. They offer 4 different routes. The differences in fares, contents, maps, and timetables are as follows:

Operating & driving time
Melbourne City Express
One way $19.75
Return $36.5*
Operate 24/7, offer services every 10-20 minutes, take about 22 minutes to the city
Southbank Docklands Express
One way $19.75
Return $36.5*
Operate between 6am and 7:45pm daily, offer services every 30 minutes on weekdays and every 60 minutes on holidays, take about 40-80 minutes to the city
St Kilda Express
One way $20.5
Return $38*
Operate between 5:28am and 7:23pm daily, offer services every 30 minutes on weekdays and every 60 minutes on holidays, take about 60-70 minutes to the city
Peninsula Express
Fares vary from location to location
Operate between 4:15am and 8:20pm daily, services vary according to locations, click here for details
※All amounts are in Australian dollars.
※The discounted Return fare is for single adult traveller. Family travelling with children are allowed to bring up to 4 children (under 16 years old) with no extra cost but the Return fare for the adult will have no discount. For example, the Return fare for single adult is AUD$36.5, but if you are family with one adult travelling with children, the Return fare will be the double of the One Way fare, which is AUD$39.5 (AUD$19.75x2=AUD$39.5). If you are family with two adults travelling with children, then the Return fare will be AUD$79. This rule applies to all routes.


SkyBus has 3 pick-up and drop-off points located respectively at Terminal 1 (T1), Terminal 3 (T3), and Terminal 4 (T4) of the Melbourne Airport. T1 point serves mainly passengers taking Qantas domestic flights. T3 point mainly handles passengers from Virgin Australia, Regional Express and all international airlines. T4 point is dedicated to passengers from budget airlines like Jetstar and Tigerair.

If you fly from other countries and land at T2, it is recommended to go to T3 to take the SkyBus. SkyBus will pick up passengers in an order of T4, T3, T1. Taking the bus at T3 gives you higher chance to secure a seat.

Finally, if you want to book a ticket in advance, you can go check SkyBus official website or other booking service provider before your trip.


(All SkyBus pick-up kerbsides and ticket booths are located in a place easy to find outside the terminal. There are many ticket kiosks on the spot as well.)


(There are two types of SkyBus randomly serving customers, the general bus and the double-decker bus. All seats are non-reserved. Passengers are seated on a first-come, first-served basis. Both two types of buses offer places for luggage and free wi-fi. Personally, I prefer double-decker bus because you get to enjoy the scenery more, ha.)

Melbourne-Airport-City-Transport-SkyBus-Southern Cross Station-Guide-Introduction-Teaching

(Most people will choose the Melbourne City Express if they are heading to the city. The bus will take you to the Southern Cross Station, which is a transport hub for buses and trains. Once you arrive at the Southern Cross Station, you can get free city hotel shuttle service from SkyBus using your SkyBus tickets. On your return trip to the airport, take the SkyBus at the Southern Cross Station as well.)

2. Taxi

Taxi is a common transport method you can find at the airport, which exists long before those ride sharing services appear. The advantage of taxi is its high mobility and flexibility. The journey time is about 30 minutes and the fare is between AUD$65 and AUD$90. I would not recommend taxi if you are a solo traveller. It would be too expensive compared with other transport methods. Taxi would be a better option when you are travelling with more people.


(Taxi boarding point)

3. Shuttle Bus

There are also a number of private shuttle bus companies providing services at the airport, which are all boarded from the forecourt opposite Terminal 2 (T2) and Terminal 4 (T4). The fares vary from company to company, generally around AUD$20-27 per person. Price will be higher if longer distances are covered. You can find StarBus Shuttle Bus , CON X ION (Book with Klook | Book with KKday), Bluebird and other companies. It will take about 30 minutes to the city.

The biggest feature of the airport shuttle bus is the "door to door" service. That is, it will take you to any destination you like. What is more, shuttle bus is much larger than a taxi or a general car in terms of space, so it is more suitable for people with a lot of luggages, people travelling with a large group, or people with limited mobility.

Melbourne-Airport-City-Transport-Bus-Shuttle Bus-Map-Guide-Introduction-Teaching

(Shuttle Bus boarding point)

4. Public Bus and Transfer to Train

This is the cheapest way, yet it takes the longest time. To take a bus, you need to go to the Transport Hub next to Terminal 4 (T4), and then take bus 901 to the Broadmeadows Station. From there, you transfer to train and head to the city. If you use Melbourne myki card, the return fare is only AUD$9, but it takes about 1-1.5 hours to arrive. For more information about Melbourne buses, trains and myki cards, please refer to Melbourne Public Transport & Myki Card Guide.

※Note: Bus 478 and 479 used to arrive at the Essendon Station as well, but the route has been updated. They no longer stop by the train station. Currently bus 901 is the only choice.


(General bus boarding point)

5. Private Airport Transfer

Similar to taxi and shuttle bus, private airport transfer services will take you to any destination, which is quite convenient and fast. The difference is that this kind of services are usually operated by privately own companies or individuals. Service price varies from AUD$75 to AUD$200 depending on the car models. Private transfers are available for booking on many websites, such as Private Melbourne Airport (MEL) Transfers for Melbourne (Chinese Driver), Hasslde-Free Private Airport Transfers, etc.

6. Car rental

The last option is to rent a car and drive by yourself. If you plan to have a self-drive tour around Melbourne, you can pick up the car directly from the airport. Large companies, such as Budget, Hertz, and Avis, all have rental services at the airport. The price will vary significantly depending whether it's peak season or not. The car model you choose will also affect the final price. I would recommend you to use beforehand to find the best value price.

Melbourne-Airport-City-Transport-Car Rental-Self Driving-Map-Guide-Introduction-Teaching

(Location map of car rental company)

In summary, unless you plan to rent a car and self drive to the city, the most cost-effective way would be taking public bus and transferring to train, suitable for people who are more flexible with time. If you want to save both money and time, SkyBus is your best choice. If you have a lot of luggages or want the fastest way, and you are willing to pay a bit more, either taxi, shuttle bus or private airport transfer would be a good option.

3. Transportation from Avalon Airport to downtown

Next, I want to talk about the transport from the Avalon Airport (AVV) to the city. Compared with the Melbourne Airport, the air traffic here is not that busy, thus less tourists as well. Most of the passengers arriving here are mainly from domestic flights. The transport options to the city are also much simpler. There are only four ways: SkyBus, taxi, car rental, and airport private transfer.

As Avalon Airport is farther away from Melbourne City, taxis, ride sharing services, or airport private transfers are really not cheap. One-way trip costs about AUD$120-140. Even if you are travelling with a group of people, the shared fare is still rather expensive. I would not recommend these options.

So the most affordable choice is either renting a car or taking the SkyBus. I have talked about information about the car rental in the previous sections, so I will skip it for now. You can find cheap car rental companies through price comparison websites such

Therefore, I will focus more on the Airport Express Bus (SkyBus). Like SkyBus at the Melbourne Airport, there are also several routes from the Avalon Airport to the city through. The fares and times are detailed as follows:

Operating & driving time
Avalon City Express
One way $24
Return $45*
Operate between 9:10am-01:00am, run services according to the flight timetable, take about 70 minutes to the city
Avalon AirAsia Express
One way $24
Return $45*
Operate between 9:10am-01:00am, run services in conjunction with AirAsia flight schedules, take about 70 minutes to the city
※All amounts are in Australian dollars.
※Avalon City Express can be booked in advance through Klook.
※The discounted Return fare is for single adult traveller. Family travelling with children are allowed to bring up to 4 children (under 16 years old) with no extra cost but the Return fare for the adult will have no discount. For example, the Return fare for single adult is AUD$45, but if you are family with one adult travelling with children, the Return fare will be the double of the One Way fare, which is AUD$48 (AUD$24x2=AUD$48). If you are family with two adults travelling with children, then the Return fare will be AUD$96. This rule applies to all routes.


(The SkyBus pick-up and drop-off points of Avalon Airport are easy to locate. Similar to those points at the Melbourne Airport, you can see it right after you come out of the terminal.)

The above is the overall introduction of the transport methods from the two main airports in Melbourne to the city. Of course, each method has its unique benefits and targets for different types of travellers. When choosing the transport, eventually it all come to one question: what are your needs? Save money? Save time? But no matter what your needs are, you can always find a method that suits you. Melbourne City is a highly developed tour city, and the transport methods are actually very convenient. With this introduction, I believe everyone can find a suitable means of transport for themselves.


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