Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport (MEL) is one of Australia’s busiest airports, handling the majority of domestic and international flights to and from Victoria. Situated just 20 kilometers from the central business district, you can step off the plane and quickly immerse yourself in Melbourne’s vibrant arts, café, and entertainment scene. Whether you’re a tourist visiting Melbourne or returning home after a trip, it’s essential to know how to efficiently get from Melbourne Airport to the city.
In this guide, we will outline the quickest and most convenient ways to travel between Melbourne Airport and the city.
Using the Melbourne SkyBus: Quick and Effortless
For a hassle-free journey between the airport and the city center, opt for the SkyBus Melbourne City Express. SkyBus Express Bus Service runs a regular express service from Melbourne Airport to the City Centre every 10 minutes, 24/7. The trip typically takes between 30 to 45 minutes, depending on traffic conditions.
Booking a SkyBus ticket is a breeze. You can purchase one using the electronic ticket machines at the SkyBus stop in the airport or online. Please note that these machines only accept credit cards, not cash.
The fare for a one-way trip is AUD 22, while a roundtrip costs AUD 36. If you plan ahead and book online, you can enjoy a small discount.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to reach Melbourne’s CBD via SkyBus:
- After completing your Immigration and Customs checks, head to the terminal exit on your right.
- Keep going until you spot the unmistakable SkyBus stop outside. It’s hard to miss with all the red SkyBus signs. You’ll know you’re in the right place when you see electronic ticket kiosks and a ticket booth.
- If you haven’t already purchased a ticket, you can do so here or online.
- Join the line and wait for your bus. Make sure it’s the MELBOURNE CITY EXPRESS if your hotel is in the CBD. Please be aware that separate buses for St. Kilda and Southbank/Docklands used to operate, but they are currently disrupted.
- Hop onto the double-decker bus. There’s space on the lower deck for your luggage. The journey typically takes 30-45 minutes.
- Disembark at Southern Cross Station.
- Proceed to your hotel.
The SkyBus bound for Melbourne CBD concludes its route at Southern Cross Station, which is on the outskirts of the CBD. If your hotel is nearby, you can simply walk from the station. This is one of the reasons why the Southern Cross area is a great place to stay in the city.
If your hotel is closer to Central Station, here are your alternatives:
- FREE SkyBus Link Hotel Transfer: If you arrive between 6:30 am and 7:30 pm, you can use the complimentary transfer from Southern Cross Station to a stop near your hotel. This service is free for SkyBus passengers and operates daily from 06:30 to 19:30. You can find the closest stop to your hotel here.
- Tram: Trams are free within the CBD, but as a first-time visitor, you might find the tram system a bit confusing. It’s not ideal if you have luggage because some routes involve walking.
- Uber: Cheaper than a taxi, The aprox fare is about AUD 8.60 for the ride from a Central hotel to Southern Cross.
- Taxi: the aprox fare is AUD 10.60 from Southern Cross to Central.
- Train: Trains run from 5 am to 12 am (midnight) on weekdays and all night on Fridays and weekends. The fare is AUD 4.40 (minimum fare for a 2-hour trip).
Using Public Buses: A Budget-Friendly but Lengthy Option
Surprisingly, not many people are aware that you can access Melbourne CBD from the airport, via public transportation, and it’s quite cost-effective with a fare of only $4.40 AUD. However, the trade-off is that it takes considerably more time compared to the SkyBus.
If you’re considering this route, the first step is to obtain a myki card, an electronic reloadable smart card accepted on all Melbourne public transportation services. Cash payments are not accepted, but don’t fret; you can use this card for your city explorations as well. The card itself costs A$6, and you’ll need to add credit to it. In addition to the card fee, the fare to the CBD is A$4.40.
Once you have your myki card, follow these instructions:
- After passing through the Immigration and Customs area, head to the right toward the terminal exit.
- Exit the terminal building and walk until you reach Terminal 4 (Budget Terminal), where you’ll find the public bus stop.
- Wait for Bus 901. The bus also displays “Frankston” on its sign. Please note that this is not a 24-hour service, with the first bus typically departing around 6:30 am. Check the updated schedule on PTV’s Journey Planner.
- Board Bus 901, and remember to touch your myki card by hovering it in front of the sensor.
- Disembark at Broadmeadows Station, which should take around 15 minutes. Touch off your myki card.
- Walk to Broadmeadows Train Station, approximately a 5-minute walk. Enter the station, touch on your myki card, and wait for your train.
- Take the train to Southern Cross Station, with a travel time of around 30 minutes, not including waiting time. If your hotel is near Southern Cross, touch off, exit the station, and walk to your hotel. If your hotel is closer to Melbourne Central Station, you’ll need to switch platforms and transfer to another train, then alight at Central Station.
The total travel time, including waiting, can amount to 1.5 hours. If you’re arriving in the evening, it’s advisable to avoid this route as buses may be infrequent. For late-night arrivals, it’s better to skip this option and take the SkyBus instead.
Melbourne City Express timetable
The Melbourne City Express operates 7 days per week with frequent departures between Melbourne Airport and Melbourne City. Services starts at 4am and continue to 1am with departures every 10 minutes between 7am and 7pm. Follow this link to see timetable for detailed departure times for your stop.
Melbourne City Express fares
|Adult Single adult fare||$22.00||$36.00|
|Child Children aged 4 – 16 years||$4.00||$6.00|
|Senior Presentation of a valid, Australian state issued Seniors or Carers card is required||$18.00||$30.00|
|10 trip For 10 single trips (available App only)||$160.00|
Taking a Taxi from Melbourne Airport to the City
Taxis are readily available for travel to and from Melbourne Airport, with clearly marked taxi ranks located outside all terminals. Queue times are generally short, and there’s no need to make a prior taxi reservation.
Melbourne Airport imposes a $4.50 access fee for all taxi pickups, while there is no charge for drop-offs. This access fee is included in your final taxi fare.
The typical cost of a taxi ride from Melbourne Airport to the city ranges from $60 to $70, depending on traffic conditions and your ultimate destination within the CBD. If you’re traveling with a group, a one-way taxi fare might turn out to be more economical than purchasing individual SkyBus tickets. Additionally, if you have a significant amount of luggage in tow, taking a taxi from Melbourne Airport to the city is often one of the most convenient options.
Transfer Times and Price comparison
Overview of all airport transfers from Melbourne Airport to the City Center
|40 Min.||AU$ 22|
|Public Bus||60‑90 Min.||AU$ 4.60|
|Taxi||30 Min.||AU$ 40‑50|
|30 Min.||AU$ 90|
|Uber||30 Min.||AU$ 55‑65|
Melbourne Tullamarine FAQs
Ultimately, the choice between the SkyBus and public buses depends on your budget, schedule, and preferences. Regardless of the option you select, Melbourne welcomes you with open arms, promising a memorable experience in this vibrant city. Safe travels!