Melbourne to Adelaide: Train, Flight or a beautiful drive 

  • There are direct trains (12 hours), buses (10 hours) or flights (1h20m). Every mean has the own advantage and drawback.
  • Book your ticket well in advance, especially for flights. They tend to be booked out on school holidays and Christmas time.
  • Flights are available from the Melbourne Tullamarine Airport to Adelaide Airport, just 6km from the city centre
  • Train and buses depart from the centre of both cities. You can check-in just a few minutes before departure.

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Melbourne to Adelaide

  • Melbourne-Adelaide Trains: they depart twice a week, from Adelaide on Monday and Friday, from Melbourne Tuesday and Saturday. In both cases, the departure time is in the early morning. The trip takes 12 hours
  • Melbourne-Adelaide Buses: there are two departures each day from both the cities, one in the early morning and the one in the evening. The trip takes around 10 hours and there are a few stops where you can have a quick break.
  • Melbourne-Adelaide Flights: daily flights are available from the Melbourne Tullamarine Airport to the Adelaide Airport. There are over 20  flights per day. The main airlines are Tigerair, Jetstar, Virgin Australia and Qantas. Buy your tickets in advance during School Holidays and the Christmas break.

Flights from Melbourne to Adelaide

There are a number of airlines that fly from Melbourne to Adelaide, including Virgin Australia, Qantas, Jetstar, and Tigerair Australia.

A flight from Melbourne to Adelaide will cost you at least $60. The price can go as high as $250. 

Just like most domestic flights, it is necessary to check in at least 45 minutes before your flight.

It’s advisable, however, to be at the airport one hour before departure if not even more.

There are more than 20 flights every day leaving Melbourne for Adelaide.

The earliest flight departs at 0610 hours. The last flight of the day departs at 2120 hours.

A flight from Melbourne to Adelaide takes averagely one hour and twenty minutes.

How to get from Melbourne to Adelaide: all the options
How to get from Melbourne to Adelaide: all the options

Qantas is the most popular airline on this route. It has an average of five flights per day spread at intervals of about two to three hours.

There is a flight available in the morning, mid-morning, noon, afternoon and in the evening.

This makes it such a flexible and convenient airline to travel with. 

The Qantas airline has also been praised for its topnotch hospitality as it provides free snacks and drinks for its passengers even for the one and a half hour flight which is not as long.

However, as you may expect, a Qantas ticket for a flight from Melbourne to Adelaide is way more expensive than the rest of the airlines.

Last Qantas flight at night
Last Qantas flight at night

Tigerair does beat everyone when it comes to prices. It has amazing offers starting as low as $74 for this season (sometimes even lower). 

If you are looking for luxury and comfort, Tigerair should not be on top of your list.

It is known to have low in-flight service; which is just alright to bear if you would like to fly on a budget.

Tigerair at the Melbourne Airport
Tigerair at the Melbourne Airport

Jetstar is a good low-cost alternative to TigerAir. The ticket price is just a tag more expensive however it does provide a better experience.

Jetstar is actually owned by Qantas and you can see the nice touch here and there.

Jetstar flight
Jetstar flight

Virgin Australia is one of the best choices. It’s not a low-cost airline and it costs less than Qantas, however, you do not get any complimentary food or drink.

You can even think to book a business class ticket, at a very reasonable price, just for that special day.

Virgin Australia landing at the airport
Virgin Australia landing at the airport

Should I book my tickets in advance?

You can book your flight on the same day you are flying, but it is advisable to book much earlier for a cheaper price.

You can even book your ticket at the airport but again expect a steeper price for this last second option.

The easiest and cheapest option is to book directly on the airline websites.

In addition to that, you can also check the price of the flights on a travel distribution website as Google Flights. It compares all the airlines’ departures and prices, very handy

How do I get to the airport?

To get to the Melbourne Airport, you can take a bus at the Skybus Coach Terminal on Spencer Street (Southern Cross station).

Skybus in Melbourne
Skybus in Melbourne

The bus is available every 10 minutes. It should take at most thirty minutes to get to the airport (budget a bit more in case of heavy traffic).

It will cost you $20 during peak hours. You can save a couple of dollars if you buy a return ticket.

You can also take a Jayride shuttle which will cost you also $20.

However, the great thing about Jayride is that it is a door-to-door service, so much more practical than carrying around your bag in the city

Uber is obviously another alternative.

Or simply take a taxi. This will cost you $50 for a trip from Melbourne’s central business district to the airport.

If you have someone who can drop you at the airport in a personal vehicle, that would be great. You will have, however, to bear the stringent airport parking and drop-off policies.

If you are in Adelaide, at the airport you can catch a bus organised by JetExpress, running every 30 minutes and taking you to over 20 drop-off points in the city, including many hotels.

There are also other cheaper options listed on the Adelaide Metro page.

From Melbourne to Adelaide by train

Rail is also an option to consider if you would like to travel from Melbourne to Adelaide, or the opposite way.

Train in Australia
Train in Australia

The train runs twice every week.

If your departure point is Adelaide, you can catch the train every Monday and Friday at 07:45 am.

It leaves Melbourne for Adelaide every Tuesday and Saturday at 08:05 am.

How long does it take the train from Melbourne to Adelaide

The train journey takes about 10 hours including the check-in time and factoring any delays that may come up.

As you have obviously realized, a train journey won’t be the best choice if you are travelling for an urgent business matter.

Should I book my tickets in advance?

You definitely have to book your tickets earlier and check in at least half an hour before the scheduled departure time.

It should cost you somewhere between $63 and $189 depending on the ticket you are purchasing.

If you opt for a ready rail ticket, the charges will be $63 for a child and $79 for an adult.

A red Seat ticket cost $71 for a child and $139 for an adult.

The fancied red premium seat would force you to dig deeper into your pockets. You will have to part with $189 for an adult and $121 for a child.

The train is certainly not the most economical mean of travelling in this case.

How do I get to the train station?

It is pretty easy to get to the Southern Cross station in Melbourne.

Most of the trams in Melbourne pass by either the station or a street nearby, like Collins Street (stop #1). 

Tram in Melbourne
Tram in Melbourne

You will find plenty of trams from La Trobe Reading room, QV street, and David Jones Women Store. 

Adelaide has a pretty developed metro train system.

It makes it easier to connect to the Central Train Station in Adelaide from metro stations such as West Croydon and Mawson Lakes.

From Glenelg, you can take a direct tram/light-rail to the Adelaide CBD and get off at the Rundle Mall. the station is a few meters from the tram stop.

Just ensure you make it in time to check in.

Buses from Melbourne to Adelaide

Most buses that operate on this route are owned by Firefly Express.

There are two buses each day. The first departs at 07:30 in the morning. The second bus departs at 20:15 in the evening.

If you are travelling from Adelaide to Melbourne, you can catch the first bus at 06:50 in the morning or the evening bus at 20:15.

A one-way bus ticket will cost you between $60 and $75 if you are travelling with Firefly Express.

It is pretty cheap as compared to other means of transport.

How long does it take the bus from Melbourne to Adelaide

The journey from Melbourne to Adelaide takes a bit more than ten hours during the day.

If you are travelling overnight, you may have to withstand an extra hour (buses drive a bit slower at night due to the possible encounter of wildlife on the road).

How do I get to the bus station?

The Firefly bus terminal in Melbourne is situated at the Southern Cross Station (same station already mentioned above). Look for the sign Firefly or Skybus.

In Adelaide, the bus terminal is situated in the CBD, not too far from the train station. You can view the location on this map.

The tram in Adelaide going to Glenelg
The tram in Adelaide going to Glenelg

The Melbourne to Adelaide drive

If you enjoy a good road trip, this is probably the best choice for you.

It’s actually very popular to rent your car in Melbourne and leave it in Adelaide. It will not cost that much more. Sometimes it’s cheaper from Adelaide to Melbourne (check both ways)

My recommended website for renting a car is RentalCars.com. This is an Expedia aggregator that compares all the rental companies providing the best price for you. They do offer also some special deals which are hard to get on the direct website.

Best deal at RentalCars today

Remember that we drive on the left side of the road (the British way).

If you suddenly feel unsure you are on the right side of the road, then stop immediately and wait for other cars to get a reference. You are probably on the wrong side.

Do not drive at night, especially in the countryside. There is plenty of wildlife around.

Stopovers on the Melbourne to Adelaide direct drive

If you are looking to complete the journey in a day, you can choose the shortest route that passes through Horsham ad Border town. It is pretty dry and not quite appealing.

You won’t enjoy the scenery as much. Horsham, which is sort of midway, is a good place to stop for lunch.

You can do it in a minimum of 12 hours with a few stopovers. This is the direct way.

Melbourne to Adelaide – Great Ocean Road and coastal drive in 3 days 

The best way to take if you are looking to enjoy a long scenic drive is the Great Ocean Road.

It is much longer than the former route, but the scenery is worth it. You will definitely love every moment of it.

A road trip that is three days long on this route to Adelaide will go a long way to satisfy your spirit for adventure.

For your first night, I would recommend Apollo Bay. It has really nice dining places especially if you are into seafood.

You can get cheap but quality accommodation for the night. The prices are fair considering it is not really a big town.

The icing on the cape is that you get to enjoy the early morning sunrise view over the marinas on the bay. It is such a beautiful town.

You can read more about the Great Ocean Road Drive on my popular post describing the full drive and attractions.  And this is another guide for places to stay on the GOR I wrote this year

To have the best view of the 12 Apostles walk up 50 metres of the main path
To have the best view of the 12 Apostles on the Great Ocean Road walk up 50 metres of the main path

You can spend the second night at Mount Gambier.

It is probably not the most popular stopover, however, it does offers a few attractions that should not be missed.

The Blue Lake is absolutely a not-to-be-missed place to visit, you can have a walk around if you want. There are a few interesting viewpoints for your best photos.

Another unusual place is also the Umpherston Sinkhole, a Cenote almost in the middle of the town with a tropical garden inside it.

The cheapest way of getting from Melbourne to Adelaide?

The cheapest way to get to Adelaide is by bus. It can cost you as little as $60 which is pretty affordable.

A drive would cost you much more as you have to factor in accommodation and fuel costs.

Flying to Adelaide is pretty affordable as well depending on your choice of flight.

The cheapest flight on offer cost about $20 to $30 more than the cheapest bus or the train.

However, all the airlines have special deals from time to time and tickets can be actually cheaper than by bus.

You should, however, consider also how much it would cost you to get to the airport.

It all comes down to your taste and choice.

Southern Cross Station in Melbourne
Southern Cross Station in Melbourne

Summary on the Melbourne to Adelaide trip

What is the best way to travel from Melbourne to Adelaide?

Each means has its own pros and cons. Air transport is relatively affordable when flying economy class. But it limits you from enjoying the beautiful scenery.

if you are after a green way of transportation, of course, flights are not the best choice.

This is, however, the quickest way from Melbourne to Adelaide

The train seems to be more expensive than a flight in some cases. It does offer you the opportunity to enjoy the scenery.

It is very eco-friendly as well as it cuts down emissions that would otherwise be emitted by planes.

The solution in the middle is the bus.

A bus ticket costs less than a train ticket. A bus is also faster than the train, but not as fast as the flight (remember also to factor in the transportation to the airport and the check-in time)

And you still get to enjoy the beautiful scenery.

Ultimately, if you are travelling from Melbourne to Adelaide for leisure, a drive is the best choice.

Gibson Steps
Gibson Steps on the Great Ocean Road
Photo credits on a few photos in this post

16 thoughts on “How To Get from Melbourne to Adelaide [with photos – train, flight and on the road]”

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