Travel from London to Sydney
This is the mother of all Kangaroo Routes. There is more that unites Australia and the UK than the 10570mi (17000km) distance that separate them. They are bound together by a common language, shared history, sporting events and much more. This makes it one of the most sought after routes in the world. It is precisely for that reason that so many airlines have tried (and some failed) to provide a service connecting both London and Sydney. Here we will describe what to look out for when booking a flight and also offer some alternatives.
The best way to travel from London to Sydney is by airplane, of course. That said, it is not the only way. Most people believe there is no other way to travel because the UK and Australia are so far apart. They are wrong. In fact it was not until the 1960's that flying started to become affordable. There are plenty of alternatives, even today. We describe a few routes that will keep you grounded.
1. Travel by Air
Air China, Air India, All Nippon Airways, American Airlines, British Airways*, Cathay Pacific*, China Southern, Emirates*, Etihad*, Garuda Indonesia, Korean Air, Malaysia Airlines, Philippine Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways*, Singapore Airlines*, Thai Airways… and more.
As this is quite a long flight and there are so many possible combinations we sincerely recommend that you use a travel agency, such as Flight Centre (click here for Australia). Speak to an agent over the telephone or in person. They are long-haul specialists and will be best placed to advise you on a flight that meets your requirements. If you want to do it yourself use our flight price comparison tool.
Do not bring food with you! Australia in particular is very strict with this (Did you never watch Border Security on TV??) You cannot bring fruit, vegetables or meat, even cured meat or sausages into the country. For further information please visit the UK’s and Australia’s customs websites.
The first thing you need to understand is that there aren’t any non-stop flights between London and Sydney. This is partly because it is technically very difficult, and partly because it is not economically viable. The situation may change in the future, but at the moment if you want to fly between Australia and Europe you will have to stop somewhere in between. And this makes it fun and frustrating at the same time. That is because you can easily visit other cities as part of your ticket -many people will stop over somewhere for a couple of days- but the number of booking options, stopovers, flight changes, airline meals, crying babies and guaranteed jet lag can easily turn the trip into an ordeal.
Here are six things to consider during your decision-making process:
- If you can afford to fly business class or at least get an upgrade to premium economy, do so. You will appreciate the additional space on such a long journey. You may want to seek inspiration from Sam Huang’s story, as he managed to travel the world for peanuts thanks to air miles.
- Do not base your purchase decision on price alone. One hundred dollars or pounds difference is not a lot of money when flying between the UK and Australia but it can make a big difference to the comfort of the trip.
- Consider the actual route, number of stopovers and waiting time. Also, know whether you will need to change airports during your stopover, enquire about luggage allowance, leg room (Use SeatGuru to find out), acquiring or using air miles, meal options and other specificities of the airline such as inflight entertainment, travel insurance, hotels, etc.
- Try to stick to one airline or airline group if you can. There are many wild combinations out there but it is best to keep it as simple as possible. One booking is preferable.
- Generally one stopover is better than two or more. In alphabetical order, here is a selection of airlines best capable of flying between Sydney and London in under 24h: Air India, BA, Cathay Pacific, China Southern, Emirates, Etihad, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways. Several of these airlines have codesharing agreements with each other. For example, you may book a flight with Qantas but the flight is operated by Emirates.
- If you have the time and money to visit somewhere for a few days go ahead! The top five layover cities are Bangkok, Dubai, Hong Kong, Los Angeles and Singapore.
It is highly likely you will be travelling into or out of London’s Heathrow Airport, with Gatwick also being a possibility. Both airports are well connected to central London (read more about this here for LHR and here for LGW) but it can be a complicated and expensive affair, even with public transport. The key to save money is often to book early. Our personal favourite is to book a shared taxi* in advance on the internet.
At Sydney you will fly to and from Kingsford Smith International Airport (SYD). It is just 8km (5mi) away from the centre, and travelling between the airport and Sydney is significantly cheaper than London. There are several options available, such as the Airport Link train, local buses, and our preferred door-to-door shuttle buses*. Taxis are inexpensive but you do have to pay an additional airport toll on top of your fare.
2. Travel by Boat
Sydney Port (Consider Brisbane)
Several freighter companies
43 days from Tilbury to Sydney, 47 days from Sydney to Tilbury.
4320GBP/7400AUD/5650USD Tilbury to Sydney and 4715GBP/8070AUD/6160USD for Sydney to Tilbury
The first Europeans to reach Australia were not British. Theories abound that the first explorers to sight Australia were Portuguese, but we know for sure that Dutch navigator Willem Janszoon arrived to Oz in 1606.
You can travel between London and Sydney by ship. It is very expensive but the fact that it is still possible in the 21st century is a great testimony to the shipping routes that built Australia as the nation we know it today.
Sailings take place once a month and you will be travelling with a freighter ship so do not expect luxurious cabins. Don’t worry though, it is not the Titanic’s third class either. There are a number of stops along the way and you will cross the Suez canal. It is important to note you will have to comply with a number of requirements such as visas and vaccinations.
Anything other than flying from London to Sydney is guaranteed to be an adventure. A backpacker’s dream.
If you want to completely discard flying, you can do so by taking trains, buses and boats across Europe, Asia or the America’s. One of the most complicated parts about travelling from Europe to Australia without flying is that there are no scheduled passenger ships between Asia and Australia so your only choice is to find a cargo ship. The best port options are Hong Kong and Singapore, but do consult sites such as CargoShipVoyages or Slow Travel for alternatives.
What route you take will depend on the countries and cities you would like to visit. We have selected three routes that are safe (following the Foreign Office travel advice) and can be booked online for the most part. In cases where it is not possible to do this, we provide you with a link to instructions in English on how to continue your journey.
Option 1: London-Paris-Moscow-Beijing-Hanoi-Ho Chi Minh City-Phnom Penh-Bangkok-Butterworth-Kuala Lumpur-Singapore-Sydney
Step 1: Take the train from London to Moscow via Paris. Book with RealRussia
Step 2: Travel from Moscow to Beijing with the TransManchurian train. Book with TransiberianExpress
Step 3: Take a sleeper train from Beijing to Hanoi and book with ChinaHighlights*
Step 4: Travel north to south with the Reunification Express train from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City and book with Vietnam Railway
Step 5: Take a bus from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh. Book online with Giantibis
Step 6: From Cambodia, use a bus to get to Bangkok. Book with 2world Travel
Step 7: Take the sleeper train from Sin City to Butterworth. Book with 12goasia*
Step 8: Change trains and continue down to Kuala Lumpur Sentral. Use 12goasia*
Step 9: From KL catch a train or a bus to Singapore. Simply book with 12goasia*
Step 10: Join the cargo ship and sail to Sydney. Book with Freighter Expeditions
Option 2: London-Bucharest-Istanbul-Baku-Aktau-Almaty-Urumqi-Shenzhen-Hong Kong-Brisbane-Sydney
Step 2: Take another bus from Romania to Istanbul. Again use Eurolines*
Step 3: Use another bus to reach the Azeri capital. Book at Alpar
Step 4: Cross the Caspian Sea with a ferry from Baku to Aktau (Mangyshlak) in Kazakhstan. Find out more at Azerbaijan24
Step 5: Follow the silk route and head to the former Kazakh capital by train. Book at RealRussia
Step 6: From Almaty, enter Chinese territory aboard a bus direct to the diverse city of Urumqi. Click here to read more about it.
Step 7: Hop on another train along China’s longest train route until the southern city of Shenzhen. Book with ChinaHighlights
Step 9: Cross over from mainland China into Hong Kong with public transport. Use the MTR site to navigate through the network
Step 10: From Hong Kong, board the freighter ship to Brisbane. Book with CargoShipVoyages
Step 11: Almost there! Get a bus from Brisbane to Sydney. Travel with Greyhound
Option 3: Sydney-Los Angeles-Philadelphia-Antwerp-Brussels-London
Step 1: Cross the Pacific Ocean and set course to California. Book with CargoShipVoyages
Step 2: From LA, stop by Hollywood and travel by train to Philly. Book with Amtrak
Step 3: Run like Rocky for 30mi (48km) or take a taxi to the Port of Wilmington where you board a freighter ship to Europe. Book with CargoShipVoyages
Compare travel insurance
Find the best travel insurance package with Squaremouth*
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Get a travel insurance quote with DUinsure*
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