After many years Canberra International Airport become and international airport again in mid September 2016 when Singapore Airlines started services to Singapore and Wellington, in New Zealand. Via a combination of direct or indirect flights it is relatively easy to get to anywhere in Australia. Be warned though that domestic flights into and out of Canberra are expensive and no discount airlines fly here.
As with most places in Australia, cheap transport options to/from the airport are limited. The airport is approximately 10kms from the city centre (Civic).
Airport Express bus
Departs from just outside the arrivals hall – less than 100m walk straight ahead when you exit the arrivals hall. The service is limited in early morning, over lunchtime and non-existent post 6.50pm (Mon-Fri) or 6.12pm (Sat – Sun) with a very restricted service at weekends. Transfers cost A$12 per person each way - A$20 return.
Canberra Airport Express operates every day except for Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Christmas Day, Boxing Day & New Years Day
Further details including timetables can be found at:
ACTION Bus – Local Canberra bus service
Local buses do not service the airport though do service the nearby Brindabella Business Park – about 500 metres walk. This might be an option if you have no luggage – check:
https://www.action.act.gov.au/routes_by_suburb.html and look at Brindabella Business Par (Mon-Friday only excl public holidays). Cash fare $4.70 – various passes, etc available – check my separate tip on Canberra buses.
To the Airport
When traveling to the airport you should always book a standard taxi in advance and allow yourself enough time to get another taxi should the first one not arrive – not an infrequent occurrence in Canberra.
I have not yet tested the Uber service in Canberra though friends indicate it is much more reliable than normal taxis.
From the Airport
A standard taxi rank is located just outside the arrivals hall. Delays regularly occur at peak times or when a few flights arrive close to each other. To speed things up you may be invited to share a taxi with others – there is no compulsion to do this (though it gets you to the top of the line quicker and works out marginally cheaper).
In addition to the metered fare an airport charge will be added ( to cover the cost of “taxi commissioners” who provide no service whatsoever).
There is an airconditioned Uber pick-up lounge where customers can wait for their Uber vehicle. This is signposted and close to the standard taxi rank.
A standard taxi fare from the Airport to the City centre will cost upwards of $40. I don't have details on Uber costs.
Hire cars and limousines
All services must be pre-booked and your driver will meet you inside the terminal. Details : http://www.canberraairport.com.au/travellers/parking-transport/hire-cars-and-limousines/
Seven car rental companies are represented at the airport offices just outside the terminal building). Details : http://www.canberraairport.com.au/travellers/parking-transport/rental-cars/
They are all much of a much. I recommend you book in advance.
Canberra is well serviced by airline flights by Virgin Blue and Qantas to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, with somewhat fewer flights to Adelaide. Tiger Airlines announced in August 2016 that they intend to commence services to Melbourne.
Although the airport bills itself as 'Canberra International' but technical limitations would confine any international flights to relatively close destinations, to date the "International" part of the title has been a hollow joke, as there have been no such regular services. That is about to change with Singapore Airlines commencing regular services to connect Canberra with Singapore and Wellington in New Zealand from September 2016. I will be surprised if other airlines do not follow.
Over recent years, Canberra's airport terminals have been totally rebuilt (which leads to the thought that I now need a new photo for this tip), They now are very spacious, modern, and of a standard matching the best anywhere. There is ample capacity for international flights to be handled effectively there - i know that I for one will be delighted to use this as my departure point when travelling overseas.
Updated 2 September 2016
Unfortunately, because of a combination of its position in a valley and the temperature inversions which develop inland in calm conditions, Canberra is prone to fogs on winter mornings: sometimes lasting until noon. This can cause havoc with airline services to and from Canberra, and is most likely in the period from May to August, on up to one day in three or four depending on the weather conditions.
The weather criteria for aircraft to land are somewhat more stringent than for departures, so often the aircraft which have overnighted at Canberra are able to depart when the fog lifts a little, while other aircraft remain unable to land. If the fog persists as low stratus cloud, flights can be considerably delayed.
This means that when you are planning airline travel to and from Canberra, it is wise to avoid bookings on morning flights and, in any case, discount seats are usually more readily available on mid-afternoon flights. If you must make a morning departure, try for the earliest flight because it is probable the aircraft will at least be on the ground and able to go when any fog lifts.
We Canberrans love to laugh at our city's weaknesses. Our airport is "international" in name only. You cannot fly directly into Canberra on an international flight, unless you are Bill Clinton, in which case they will clean up the extreme ends of the runway to ensure Airforce 1 can land safely.
To get into the city from the airport you have three choices: airporter bus (15 min trip departing hourly, stops at city hotels, $7 one-way $12 return); taxi ($20); or get collected by your friends (priceless). Canberrans generally choose to get collected.
There is no train network in Canberra. Local buses operate to all suburbs, but not the airport. You can connect to the buses from the airporter stop in the city.
Funny that Canberra Airport is labelled as International Airport. You would at least expect a good selection of international flights, direct domestic flights from many airports and shuttle buses that also operate on the weekend... Anyway...
If you do not travel by car or campervan I highly recommend to take the airplane to get to Canberra. It does not only take much longer to get to Canberra by train or bus, it is also more complicated and expensive.
Domestic flights from Sydney and Melbourne take about one hour and cost about AU$ 100. With Virgin Blue you get direct flights only from Melbourne (from AU$ 75). You cannot makes changes to those cheap flights. If you do not book well in advance or want flexible tickets you pay a lot more (about AU$ 250).
Online bookings on:
If you plan to visit Canberra, I suggest you travel right from the Sydney Airport. This is how to save your time and money instead traveling to Sydney City Central to get a bus.
You can book the bus ticket online:
The earlier you book your bus ticket, the cheaper ticket you get. One month in advance is good.
I got my ticket for A$15 Nett, 3.5 hours bus ride to Jolimont Centre.
Canberra is by design a little isolated from the rest of the world in terms of air travel. Whether by design or not, it is not a publically international airport, meaning there are not flights landing here from the US or mainland Asia.
Connections to Canberra can be made through Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane to most other countries. Internal Australian flights travel throughout most of the country however.
The airport is basic and utiliatarian, but then again when in Canberra, you probably are not going to be staying for a long layover, so there is not much to it by design.
You can fly to the Capital city, I just got a train (well, they say 'catch' a train), from Sydney. You also may get a bus or drive on your own, but train lets you watch the sights more comfortably (although you can't stop to get pictures :)
Caberra is pretty compact: you can walk around Civic (main 'live' centre) to see shops, bars and the like. For the rest, I recommend hiring a bike: it will allow you to visit all the city, parks and main spots in a day of riding. They have very good bike paths for that and you can park for free everywhere.
Plane services from all major cities in Australia. Qantas and Ansett.
Regular buses from Melbourne and Sydney.
Train from Sydney.
Because Canberra is a small place, most of the major attractions can be accessed by walking. Good public transport is available as well