a city harbour with restaurants and tall buildings

The Best Places to Stay in Sydney Before a Cruise 2024

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Searching for a hotel to stay in Sydney before a cruise from the Overseas Passenger Terminal? I researched for a hotel before our New Zealand cruise thoroughly and ended up staying at The Holiday Inn Old Sydney (now Sydney Harbour Hotel) in The Rocks but there are a few options.

Where is the Cruise Ship Terminal in Sydney?

Sydney has two dedicated cruise passenger terminals: the White Bay Cruise Terminal at Rozelle and the Overseas Passenger Terminal at Circular Quay.

White Bay is mainly used by smaller ships and many of Sydney’s home ported ships are based here whereas the Overseas Passenger Terminal can accommodate some of the largest cruise ships in the world.

view of ferries and a cruise ship in a harbour with the sydney opera house
Ovation of the Seas docked at Overseas Passenger Terminal Sydney

How to get to the Cruise Terminals in Sydney

White Bay Cruise Terminal

Most cruise lines offer transfers from Sydney Airport to White Bay Cruise Terminal. On ship port days, Captain Cook Cruises run a direct ferry service between White Bay and Barangaroo. As this terminal is further into the harbour, you get to sail right under the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Overseas Passenger Terminal

To get to the Overseas Passenger Terminal from Sydney airport, you can take the train to Circular Quay (17 minutes) or take a taxi which takes about 30 minutes depending on traffic. It’s a short and easy walk from Circular Quay train station to the terminal.

Taxis and cars can drop off or pick up passengers right in front of the terminal but parking is not permitted.

Find out the cost of private transfers and shared shuttle services here.

Where to Stay in Sydney Before a Cruise – Overseas Passenger Terminal

HotelStarsCostPoolDistance from
Family RoomsBookings
Park Hyatt5$$$Y400mNBook Here
Four Seasons5$$$Y600mNBook Here
The Russell (closed)3.5$$N500mNBook Here
Sydney Harbour Hotel4$$Y200mYBook Here
Sydney Harbour YHA5$N700mYBook Here

Holiday Inn Old Sydney – Now Sydney Harbour Hotel


Rydges Sydney Harbour is located in George Street, The Rocks, a stones throw from the Overseas Passenger Terminal. It is literally across the road, down a pathway and then you are there. It took us less than 5 minutes with all our luggage and children. It’s also a great place to explore and has plenty of restaurants to choose from. This guide on Things To Do in The Rocks has plenty of information.

Sydney is an expensive place and that includes accommodation. Rydges Sydney Harbour is mid-range and provides good value for where it is located.

The rooms are bright and airy with a comfortable bed and your choice of pillows. The hotel is in an historic building dating back to 1926 and has a bit of a dated feel to it.

The roof top has wonderful views of the Harbour Bridge but we couldn’t see the Opera House as a cruise ship was in port. The pool is small and unheated but there’s a hot tub for the cooler weather. There aren’t many sun loungers around the pool but plenty of tables and chairs to sit on.

The Playfair Terrace Restaurant overlooks the atrium lobby and is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We had dinner there, which was tasty and good value as we had the deal of the day. The buffet breakfast was great and included espresso coffee, fresh juice, eggs cooked to order, and a great selection of hot and cold foods.

All the staff were friendly and helpful, especially those on the front desk and in the restaurant.

The Russell Hotel

Still closed for renovations in February 2024

The Russell Hotel is also in George Street and less than a five minute walk to the Overseas Passenger Terminal. They offer luggage storage and may be able to let you check-in early if they have availability. This historic hotel dates back to 1887 with the oldest pub in Sydney, Fortune of War, offering a 10% discount to guests.

The cost is quite cheap if you choose a room with a shared bathroom but they also have rooms with ensuite facilities. Each room is different in this boutique hotel but note that not all of the rooms do not have air conditioning so it could get hot in the summer. Room amenities include free wi-fi, room service, tea/coffee making facilities, bathrobes and hairdryers.

The rooftop garden terrace is a wonderful place to take in the surrounding views or you can relax in the Sitting Room which features a library and games.

A daily continental breakfast is included in the price of your room.

Park Hyatt Sydney


The Overseas Passenger Terminal is 400m from the Park Hyatt Sydney which is about a 5-minute walk. This luxury 5-star hotel has a heated outdoor swimming pool, fitness centre, spa, and room service.

Park Hyatt Sydney’s guest rooms are residential in style, offering contemporary luxury with natural interiors, luxurious furnishings & fittings, plush carpets, designer lighting and the latest technology throughout.

If your budget allows it, The Park Hyatt is my top choice for a hotel close to the Overseas Passenger Terminal.

interior of luxury hotel room overlooking the opera house sydney
The luxurious Park Hyatt Sydney

Sydney Harbour YHA


Sydney Harbour YHA is an award-winning hostel situated 700m from the Overseas Passenger Terminal, less than a ten minute walk. However, if you have a lot of luggage, it could take a lot longer.

This budget accommodation has air-conditioned family, private and shared rooms, some with private bathrooms, and the use of a communal full kitchen.

The rooftop has views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Opera House, and harbour. The lounge is available for all guests and free wi-fi is throughout the property.

This is a sustainable property with solar-powered hot water, rainwater tanks and a commitment to protecting the environment.

Four Seasons Hotel Sydney


The Four Seasons Hotel Sydney is in George Street, about 600m from the Overseas Passenger Terminal. The property features a swimming pool, spa, wellness centre, sauna, and fitness centre.

Their luxurious rooms have panoramic views over the Sydney Opera House and Circular Quay and have been designed and furnished with the highest quality amenities. Each room features rich silk fabrics, mahogany wood details, and spacious marble bathrooms with an LCD TV, slippers, complimentary wi-fi and free Christian Lacroix toiletries.

Where to Stay in Sydney Before a Cruise – White Bay Cruise Terminal

White Bay Cruise Terminal is in Balmain, which is about 6 km or a 10-15 minute taxi ride (depending on traffic) to Sydney city centre.

As Balmain is a residential area, there aren’t any hotels close by. Therefore, it may be better to base yourself in Darling Harbour, The Rocks, or Circular Quay so you are close to the tourist attractions.

HotelStarsCostPoolDistance from
King St Wharf
Family RoomsBookings
Adina Apt Hotel4.5$$-$$$Y100mYBook Here
ibis Sydney3$$N200mNBook Here
West Hotel Sydney, Curio Collection by Hilton4.5$$-$$$N200mNBook Here
Hyatt Regency Sydney5$$$N300mNBook Here
Meriton Suites Sussex 5$$Y500mYBook Here

The Rocks

All of the hotels recommended for the Overseas Passenger Terminal are in The Rocks, which is close to the major attractions and Circular Quay.

Darling Harbour

The Captain Cook White Bay ferry departs from King Street Wharf, Barangaroo, which is close to Darling Harbour. There are plenty of restaurants around this area and ferries run between Darling Harbour and Circular Quay or you can take the train or light railway. The area is close to Chinatown and the CBD.

Adina Apartment Hotel Sydney, Darling Harbour is right in King Street Wharf entertainment precinct and features a swimming pool, fitness centre and a sauna. All the air-conditioned apartments have elegant Italian furniture and a kitchenette or kitchen and some rooms have harbour views.

ibis Sydney Barangaroo is also in the King Street Wharf precinct and all the air-conditioned rooms have a refrigerator, tea and coffee making facilities, a safety deposit box, and a private bathroom with a hairdryer and toiletries.

West Hotel Sydney, Curio Collection by Hilton is located within a 5-minute walk from Barangaroo and features an open air garden and bar. The contemporary designed hotel also has an on-site gym. Guest rooms include complimentary WiFi, a 49-inch TV, Bluetooth speaker system and suites offer a separate lounge area and a luxurious bathroom with a large bathtub and slippers.

Hyatt Regency Sydney is a newly renovated hotel close to Darling Harbour in Sydney’s CBD. The guestrooms feature modern décor and deluxe amenities, including bathrooms with walk-in showers and comfortable workstations. You can relax in one of the hotel’s bars and restaurants including Zephyr sky bar, which has breathtaking views of Darling Harbour.

Meriton Suites Sussex provides 5-star luxury accommodation that has a range of facilities including a 24-hour fitness centre, indoor heated pool, hot tub and sauna, and free WiFi. The spacious suites feature a gourmet kitchen or kitchenette with a Nespresso coffee machine, designer bathrooms, a dining area and a living area with a flat-screen TV with cable channels. They are located in Sydney’s CBD and a short walk away from Barangaroo.

What to do in Sydney

Sydney has so much to offer and it can feel overwhelming to know what to do. This guide on the most interesting things to do in Sydney will help you make the most of your time in this wonderful city.

Flights ✈️

We usually fly Virgin Australia domestically due to their competitive prices and fantastic customer service and fly with Qatar Airways to Europe.

virgin australia cabin crew

Accommodation 🏩

We mainly use Booking.com for accommodation as they consistently have the lowest rates with free cancellation on most properties. We also book through Stayz for private accommodation as they are usually cheaper than Airbnb.

Car Rental 🚘

To compare rental car company prices, we use Discover Cars, an award winning car rental comparison website. They offer competitive pricing in over 10,000 locations worldwide and are highly-rated.

Campervan/RV Rental 🚐

Drivenow is a good resource to compare campervan hire in Western Australia as it includes all the large companies like Britz, Maui, Jucy as well as smaller ones.

DiscoverCars.comThe Best Places to Stay in Sydney Before a Cruise 2024

Tours & Attractions 🎢

We book direct and use a mixture of third-party sites ViatorGet Your Guide & Klook due to their free cancellation policies, instant confirmation, price guarantees, and mobile ticketing.

Accessing Money 💵

We recently started using Wise to access funds internationally, including trips to Bali and Malaysia. They offer a debit card in 50 currencies and transfers are fast and free from hidden fees and exchange rate markups. Funds can be accessed through ATMs too. Wise has saved us a lot of money compared to our usual credit card and debit card.

Find out more from Wise here.

Travel Insurance 🌏

Cover-More and Travel Insurance Direct are our preferred travel insurance companies for domestic and international travel.

See this Travel Insurance for Australia guide for more information.