Darwin Esplanade and CBD, Northern Territory © Tourism NT
Getting around Darwin
Getting around Darwin is quick and easy, with clean, efficient and affordable public transport.
By Mark Sariban
While Darwin is the smallest of Australia’s major cities, it still has plenty of transport options for visitors, including buses, driving, cycling and walking. Here’s how to move around Darwin like a local.
Transport in Darwin
- Airport Transfers
To use the extensive public bus network in Darwin, you can purchase a Tap and Ride card or buy single tickets on board (cash only).
- Tap and Ride cards are available for purchase as you board the bus (cash only) or from bus interchanges. To start your ride, tap your card on the card reader when you board.
- Buy a Multi-trip Tap and Ride card to take 10 bus trips of up to three hours each.
- Purchase a Weekly Tap and Ride card for seven consecutive days of unlimited travel.
- You can purchase single paper tickets, valid for three hours, or a daily paper ticket, which gives you one full day of unlimited bus travel.
Darwin is serviced by Darwin International Airport (DRW), just outside the city centre. There are several options for reaching the city from the airport.
- You can travel between Darwin Airport and Casuarina Bus Interchange in the city by public bus. Bus services do not go all the way to the airport terminal; you’ll need to walk approximately eight minutes from the airport to the nearest bus stop on the main road. You can use a Tap and Ride card or buy a single ticket to pay for this airport service.
- You’ll find taxi ranks and rideshare pick-up areas at the front of each terminal – simply follow the signage. The journey from the airport to the city takes around 15 minutes.
- Shuttle buses to the city centre operate from the airport terminal – purchase your ticket from the Blue Taxi Company shuttle booth near the baggage carousels.
- You can also book a private airport shuttle or limousine service to reach your hotel.
In Australia, airlines, trains, buses and ferries have accessible options for people using a wheelchair or mobility device.
- Darwin Airport provides special assistance for people with disabilities and can help with baggage, getting around the airport, and getting on and off the plane.
- Public buses in Darwin have low floors: the driver can also lower the bus and extend a ramp to the kerb.
Getting around Darwin on public transport
Most buses in Darwin travel between bus interchanges. Use the Journey Planner tool to plan your trip, or download the official bus network map.
- The most useful bus for visitors is the route 4 bus, which travels from Darwin Bus Interchange to Casuarina Bus Interchange via the waterfront. This bus stops by popular attractions such as Crocosaurus Cove, Mindil Beach Sunset Market, Museum and Art Gallery Northern Territory, and Fannie Bay Gaol. Services run every 10-35 minutes throughout the day.
- There’s also a free Waterfront Shuttle linking Stokes Hill Wharf, the Waterfront precinct and the Cruise Ship Terminal.
Getting around Darwin by car
Darwin is a compact city with a good network of public buses, so you may find it’s easier to explore the Northern Territory capital’s attractions without a car. If you do opt to rent a vehicle at the airport or in the city, you may want to check whether your hotel charges a daily parking fee.
- Darwin City has 10 off-street car parks providing more than 1,700 spaces and charging modest fees.
- If you plan to explore the Territory on a self-drive adventure, there are plenty of vehicle rental options, from campervans and motorhomes to four-wheel-drive cars.
Darwin is served by several taxi companies, including Blue Taxi Company and Darwin Radio Taxi.
- You can hail a taxi on the street or at taxi ranks in the city centre around Smith Street Mall.
- You can also book a taxi by phoning individual companies, downloading their apps or using the 13cabs or GoCatch app.
Tip: Female travellers can also book a ride with Shebah, a rideshare service with all-women drivers catering to women. (Adult men can use the service if they need to transport a child who requires an approved child safety seat.)
Other forms of transport in Darwin
- Cycling & scooting
The Big Bus Tours hop-on, hop-off bus is another great way to see Darwin’s city attractions. You can purchase a one-day or two-day ticket. The bus will take you from the Tourist Information Centre to all the major sights, including Cullen Bay Marina, Darwin Military Museum, and the Waterfront precinct.
SeaLink operates two ferry services from Darwin’s Cullen Bay.
- Explore Mandorah, on the western side of Darwin Harbour. The ferry ride takes 15 minutes one-way.
- There’s also a ferry to the Tiwi Islands, which takes around 2.5 hours one-way.
Tip: A Tiwi Islands tour booking is required if you want to venture beyond the ferry’s destination of Wurrumiyanga on Bathurst Island.
Join a Darwin Harbour cruise to see this tropical city in all its splendour – sunset cruises are always popular.
- Cruise operators offer cruises departing from Stokes Hill Wharf in the Waterfront precinct and Cullen Bay Marina.
With an extensive network of shared bike and walking paths and mostly flat terrain, cycling around Darwin is easy.
- Download the Neuron app to hire an approved e-bike or e-scooter, with key e-scooter parking hubs on the Darwin waterfront and in the city centre.
- Secure bicycle parking is available at most major bus interchanges.