30 Best Day Trips From Sydney You’ll Love 2023 Guide
Looking for the best day trips from Sydney? If you simply want to escape the city for the day or find new places to visit in New South Wales, we’ve got the perfect Sydney day trip ideas for you to choose from! Expect the second oldest national park in the world, road trips down to the beautiful Grand Pacific Drive, wine tasting in Hunter Valley and so much more.
Whether you’re looking for new places to visit in Sydney, or just looking to get out of the city, we’re here to help you.
We’re including day trips from Sydney by train and bus, so if you’re new to Sydney or don’t have a car, you can use this article as your go to Sydney weekend guide.
DAY TRIPS NORTH OF SYDNEY WITHIN 2 HOURS
1. spend the day at avalon beach.
North Sydney / 50 mins drive from Sydney
After living in the nearby Warriewood for a few months, we spent a lot of time exploring the area so you might like to check out our huge Northern Beaches in Sydney Guide .
While most people skip Avalon Beach in Sydney and head straight to Palm Beach, there’s so many reasons why Avalon easily makes it onto our best day trips from Sydney list. Spend the day exploring the beautiful Avalon shops as well as the many cafes and restaurants to choose from. You can check out our full guide on where to eat in Avalon Beach .
Pro tip – drive over to the Pittwater side in Clareville, you’ll have access to the gorgeous Clareville Beach which is popular with families. Drive on a little further an explore the stunning Paradise Beach which we randomly found on Google Maps. This slice of heaven feels remote, like you’ve found a real hidden gem. You can read more about Paradise Beach in our guide here.
How to get to Avalon Beach By Car: It’s a 50m drive north of Sydney By Bus: You’ll have to take two busses to get to Avalon Beach which will take 1h30m.
2. Take A Ferry Over To Beautiful Scotland Island In Sydney
North Sydney / 40 minute drive from Sydney
If you fancy going on a boat on your day trip from Sydney then we recommend getting the ferry over to Scotland Island from Church Point in Pittwater. The boat ride itself is gorgeous and we highly recommend it even if it doesn’t take very long. Read our complete Scotland Island Guide for logistics on how to get there and things to do.
When you return from your ferry ride either opt for the beautiful Church Point Waterfront Store & Cafe or pop next door to Pasadena. If you’re unsure which one is better, Pasadena has a great beer garden on the water and they do a cracking fish & chips which is slightly cheaper than the Waterfront Store & Cafe. The latter is beautiful though and definitely worth eating at even if you just want to pop into the store to pick a few snacks up.
How to get to Scotland Island By Car: It’s a 40m drive north of Sydney By Bus: You’ll have to take two busses to get to Church Point Wharf to get the ferry over which will take 1h30m.
3. Spend The Day At Palm Beach
North Sydney / 1h drive from Sydney
While Palm Beach is a popular day trip from Sydney, this one hour drive from Sydney Harbour Bridge is worth every single minute because it truly is beautiful.
I have been known to stalk the Home & Away set locations from time to time up here and even found them filming outside The Boathouse once! Check out our complete guide for the Best Things To Do In Palm Beach Sydney for all details on how to spend the day or weekend getaway here.
How to get to Palm Beach By Car: It’s a 1 hour drive north of Sydney By Bus: The L90 will take you directly to Palm Beach which takes about 1h30m.
4. Go On A Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park Walk
North Sydney / 1 hour drive from Sydney
As we mentioned above about our secret hike we do from Palm Beach, you can get to the beautiful Resolute Beach from Palm Beach Wharf . We tend to jump on the ferry to Great Mackerel Beach which is stunning in itself, then walk 40 minutes or so around to Resolute Beach in Ku Ring Gai Chase National Park. I wouldn’t take young kids as it’s hiking in the bush next to the water on a not so well trodden on track, not on a boardwalk.
If you’re driving over to Ku-ring-gai National Park, you can head down the Resolute Beach track from the beautiful West Head Lookout. West Head Lookout is stunning and has a great perspective of the famous Barrenjoey Lighthouse in Palm Beach.
How to get to Ku-ring-gai National Park By Car: It’s a 1 hour drive to America Bay Track By Bus: Sorry there’s no public transport to Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park
5. Go On The Riverboat Postman Cruise On The Hawkesbury River
North Sydney / 45min drive from Sydney
We loved our experience on the River Boat Postman Cruise which is located in Brooklyn on the Hawkesbury River. That’s right, you can join the postman on his run around the islands in the Hawkesbury for a fun boat trip which lasts for 3 hours. At the time of writing, it was just $58 for adults and $18 for kids.
This is also a really easy day trip from Sydney by train. You just need to jump on one train from Central and it will take just over an hour to get there. Best of all, the train station at Brookyln is directly opposite the Riverboat Postman Cruise!
How to get to Brooklyn By Car: It takes 1hr from Sydney By Public Transport: 1h15m train from Central station
6. Spend The Day At An Aussie Sheep Farm
North Sydney / 1h20m from Sydney
If you’re looking an authentic taste of Aussie culture then we recommend heading over to Tobruk Sheep Station for a bit of a different Sydney day trip. You’ll see demonstrations in whip cracking, sheep-sheering and even boomerang throwing to keep you entertained.
How to get to Tobruk Sheep Station from Sydney By Car: It takes 1h20m from Sydney By Public Transport: It takes 2h45m with a combo of a train and bus
7. Relax At Patonga & Pearl Beach
A bit further north of the Hawkesbury River and you’ll come to the beautiful Patonga Beach and Pearl Beach. You can actually get a ferry from Palm Beach over to Patonga so it’s up to you how you decide to do your day trip from Sydney.
There’s a campground at Patonga Beach which we always said we’d love to stay at one day because it’s right on the water and looks beautiful. Plus, it’s just a short walk down the road to The Boathouse at Patonga.
8. Check Out The Beautiful Avoca Beach
North Sydney / Between 1h30m – 2h drive
Avoca Beach is a beautiful little coastal town, perfect for a day out of the city or weekend getaway. We recommend Aqua Fun for the family, a visit to one of the BBC’s best cinema’s in the world – the Avoca Beach Picture Theatre and the Gin Distillery for some gin tasting and walks around the beautiful gardens.
How to get to Avoca Beach By Car: Between 1h30m – 2h By Bus: Takes 2 hours from Sydney with a combo of train and bus
9. Go Horse Riding Or Abseiling At Glenworth Valley
North Sydney / 1h20m drive from Sydney
A great family day trip from Sydney or anyone really is spending the day at Glenworth Valley . Just an hour north of Sydney will bring you to an adventurers paradise (especially for kids). Expect quad biking, horse riding, abseiling and a whole lot more.
How to get to Glenworth Valley By Car: It takes 1h20m to get there from Sydney By Bus: There’s no public transport to Glenworth Valley unfortunately
10. Spend The Day At The Hippest Town On The Central Coast, Long Jetty
North Sydney / 1h30m
Known as being the Central Coast version of Newtown, expect some cool cafes, antique shops, fab street art and much more at Long Jetty, a hidden gem nestled right next door to The Entrance. Find out more about it in our guide, Best Things To Do In Long Jetty .
How to get to Long Jetty By Car: It should take 1h30m to drive from Sydney to Long Jetty By Public Transport: You’ll need to take the Newcastle train to Gosford, then take the B21 or B22 bus to Long Jetty which will take 2h30m total.
11. Spend The Day In Newcastle
North Sydney / 2h by car
Just a two drive north of Sydney, Newcastle has many incredible beaches you’ll find not nearly as busy as any Sydney beach. We lived there for about a year and have loads of guides for you to check out including:
Best Things To Do In Newcastle – discover everything from the best restaurants, shops and hidden gems.
Best Beaches In Newcastle – check out our favourite hidden beaches only locals would know about.
How to get to Newcastle By Car: It’s just a 2hr drive north of Sydney By Train: It takes 2h30m to get there with a combo of train and the newly built tram line into the centre of Newcastle
12. Spend The Day At Hunter Valley
North Sydney / 2h10m drive from Sydney
The Hunter Valley is known as NSW’s wine country, and it can be on the pricey side too. But, we’ve done our research and found some great gems when it comes to exploring this area. We recommend eating at Cafe Enzo and going on a DIY wine tasting tour. Also, how could we forget, visit the Hunter Valley Gardens for a great family day out – there’s a couple of fairground rides as well.
HOW TO GET TO HUNTER VALLEY By Car: 2h30m drive from Sydney By Bus: There’s no public transport but there’s loads of tours to Hunter Valley from Sydney.
13. Something For Everyone At Port Stephens
North Sydney / 2h30m drive from Sydney
Just an hour’s drive north of Newcastle is the beautiful Port Stephens. It’s one of those places that has something for everyone. There’s loads of activities to keep the family entertained like going sandboarding on the dunes , as well as exploring the set location of the Mad Max movies, camel rides and swimming with wild dolphins (the only place you can do this in NSW).
How to get to Port Stephens By Car: It’s a three hour drive north of Sydney, past the city of Newcastle By Bus: It takes an hour from Newcastle on the bus.
DAY TRIPS WEST OF SYDNEY
14. get some space in blue mountains.
Western Sydney / 1h30m drive from Sydney
The Blue Mountains National Park is one of the most popular day trips from Sydney. There’s loads of hikes to tackle with our favourites being Hanging Rock and Wentworth Falls , as well as Insta famed lookout points that you can drive right to such as: Lincolns Rock and our favourites, Hargraves Lookout and Blackheath Lookout. Check out our Blue Mountains guides which include visiting scenic world, outdoor rock climbing and so much more:
Best Things To Do In Blue Mountains
Best Blue Mountains Hikes
Best Lookouts In Blue Mountains
Ultimate Guide For A Romantic Weekend In Blue Mountains
Everything You Need To Know About Camping In Blue Mountains
Best Places To Stay In Blue Mountains
How to get to Blue Mountains National Park from Sydney By Car: It’s a 2h drive from Sydney By Train: One of the easiest places to get to from Sydney via public transport is Blue Mountains. It’s a 2h20m on the train.
15. Experience A Slice Of England At Breenhold Gardens
Western Sydney / 1h50m drive from Sydney
Right near to Blue Mountains National Park you’ll find Mount Wilson and the beautiful Breenhold Gardens . It’s only open during a few weeks in the year during Spring and Autumn but we reckon these gardens are the best to see the autumn and spring colours in Sydney. If you’re British, these gardens will certainly remind you of home being one of the most amazing day trips from Sydney.
It’s no wonder Mount Wilson is often used as the set location for many movies including The Great Gatsby which you can read about int our 18 Hollywood movies filmed in Sydney guide.
How to get to Breenhold Gardens from Sydney By Car: It takes 2h10m to get to Breenhold Gardens By Public Transport: Unfortunately there’s no public transport to Breenhold Gardens
16. Relax In The Best Hot Baths In NSW At Sparadise Japanese Bath House
West Sydney / 2h30m drive from Sydney
Another amazing day trip from Sydney is Sparadise Japanese Bath House in the middle of the Blue Mountains. We absolutely love this gem where you’ll be sitting in 30C+ water, looking out to magnificent views and wondering how on earth you didn’t know anything about it before.
How to get to Sparadise By Car: Approx. 2h30m from Sydney By Train: Unfortunately there’s no public transport to Sparadise
17. Visit The Less Touristy Caves Near Sydney
Western Sydney / 3hr drive from Sydney
Our another awesome day trip from Sydney without the crowds is at Wombeyan Caves which is just a stones throw from Blue Mountains National Park. You might have heard of Jenolan Caves but if you drive just an hour longer, you’ll come to Wombeyan Caves. You can do a tour or a self guided tour into the caves just like we did! If visiting in Summer, trek into the Mares Forest Creek Canyon for a hike and swim, it’s one of the best things we’ve ever done in Australia.
How to get to Wombeyan Caves By Car: It takes around 3hr to drive there By Bus: Unfortunately there’s no public transport to Wombeyan Caves
18. Be Totally Wowed By The Views At Kanangra-Boyd National Park
Western Sydney / 2h45m drive from Sydney
Very few know about Kanangra-Boyd National Park and although it’s a bit of a drive to get there, you’ll be in complete amazement of the beauty of this part of the Blue Mountains National Park. You’ll honestly think you’re in somewhere like Borneo when you see the views from this stunning day trip from Sydney. There are campsites here too if you want to make a weekend of it!
How to get to Kanangra-Boyd National Park By Car: It takes around 2hr45m to drive there By Bus: Unfortunately there’s no public transport to Kanangra-Boyd National Park
19. Visit The Secret Glow Worm Tunnel In Newnes
Western Sydney / approximately 3h30m drive from Sydney
Newnes is one of the proper gems to visit near Sydney. It might take a while to get there but it’s totally worth it. Even the scenery on the way to Newnes is exceptional. We recommend going on the glow worm tunnel hike (good for families too) where you have to walk through a very black tunnel along the old railway tracks to see the glow worms.
If you fancy staying for a few days, there’s an awesome free campsite there too. We want to head back to see the old zig zag railway bridge too!
How to get to Newnes from Sydney By Car: It can take up to 3h30m to drive to Newnes By Bus: Unfortunately there’s no public transport options to get to Newnes
DAY TRIPS SOUTH OF SYDNEY
20. spend the day at royal national park.
South Sydney / 1 hour from Sydney
This is clearly one of our favourite day trips from Sydney! As the second oldest national park in THE WORLD, you’ll find plenty of incredible beaches and hikes to go on. You can read our full list of the 15 Best Royal National Park Walks if you want to know all of our favourite places to visit.
Some of our favourite hikes include the Wedding Cake Rock walk which leads onto the stunning Big Marley Beach as well as the Palona Cave walk.
2. Hike To The Insta Phenomenon Figure 8 Pools
Southern Sydney / 1hr drive from Sydney
Although it is part of The Royal National Park, we felt it was only right to give the Figure 8 Pools hike a section of its own which is just an hours south of Sydney. Make sure you check the tides before going there otherwise you might have wasted your day as it would be too dangerous at high tide. We recommend reading our full blog post about Figure 8 Pools first before you go on this amazing coastal walk along beautiful beaches.
How to get to Figure 8 Pools from Sydney By Car: It’s a 1 hour drive from Sydney By Bus: It’s a 1 hour train ride to Otford, then hike from there
22. Find The Famous Sea Cliff Bridge Lookout
Continue on your drive on the south coast and you’ll find the beautiful lookout point at Stanwell Tops which reaches over to the famous Sea Cliff Bridge in the distance.
We loved the short hike up to the view point ( read our Sea cliff Bridge Guide first ), but just be careful if you do attempt it. Please don’t take children up there and if you go be super careful and always wear hiking boots as thongs or trainers won’t cut it.
How to get to Sea Cliff Bridge Lookout By Car: It’s a 1 hour drive from Sydney By Bus: It’s also a 1 hour train ride from Central to Stanwell Park Station
23. Have A Fun Packed Day In Wollongong & Kiama
Southern Sydney / 1h30m to drive from Sydney
You’ll find not one but two incredible temples to visit in Wollongong being the beautiful Nan Tien Temple and Sri Venkateswara Temple, a couple of awesome lookout points, brilliant hikes and zip lining for the family.
Obviously don’t forget to visit the biggest blowhole in THE WORLD down at Kiama as well. Read our full guide for the Best Things To Do In Wollongong before you go which is full of hidden gems!
How to get to Wollongong from Sydney By Car: It takes 1h30m to drive from Sydney By Bus: It takes 1h30m to get the train from Sydney – Wollongong.
24. Bring Out Your Inner Child At Jamberoo
Southern Sydney / 1h30m-2h drive from Sydney
Jamberoo Action Park is a brilliant day trip from Sydney during the summer. Set in the country on the outskirts of Kangaroo Valley, this water slide park is a great day trip for the whole family.
How to get to Jamberoo from Sydney By Car: It takes between 1h30m-2h to drive there By Bus: It takes about 3hr with a combo of bus and train
25. Visit The Beautiful Southern Highlands
Southern Sydney / 1h30m drive from Sydney
Southern Highlands is one of our favourite weekend getaways from Sydney. We also love mooching around the shops in Bowral, driving around the stunning Kangaroo Valley and Kangaroo River, as well as appreciating the hiking trails and secret gardens in the area. Check out our guides for weekend trips or a day trip below:
The Ultimate Guide For Visiting Southern Highlands
42 Things To Do In Kangaroo Valley
15 Best Things To Do In Robertson
28 Best Things To Do In Bowral
The Best Kangaroo Valley Waterfalls You Need To Visit
How to get to Southern Highlands By Car: It takes about 1h30 to drive there. By Public Transport: Catch a direct train from Sydney and you’ll be in Bowral in 1h30m.
26. Visit A Thai Buddhist Monastery
Southern Sydney / 2hr drive from Sydney
We absolutely love Sunnataram Thai Buddhist Monastery in Bundanoon which is west of Kangaroo Valley. If you’re not up for doing one of their donation based weekend retreats, you can visit every Sunday from 11-4pm. Just make sure you cover your shoulders, arms and below the knees for respect for the monks.
How to get to Sunnataram Forest Monastery By Car: It takes about 2 hours to drive there. By Public Transport: It takes between 2-3 hours to get there with a combo of buses and trains.
27. Discover The Whitest Sand Beach In The World At Jervis Bay
Southern Sydney / 3hour drive from Sydney
Just a three hour drive south of Sydney sits the beautiful Jervis Bay. With the title known as the world’s whitest sand beach, we recommend going on the White Sands Walk which is one of the most beautiful coastal walks in Australia.
When visiting, make sure you jump on the legendary dolphin cruise , Jervis Bay Passage Tour and check out our review of the whale watching tour in Jervis Bay too!
Jervis Bay is a fantastic day trip from Sydney, you’ll be coming back time and time again! Just make sure you check out our popular Jervis Bay Guide before visiting!
How to get to Jervis Bay from Sydney By Car: It takes 3 hours to drive there. By Public Transport: Unfortunately there’s no public transport to Jervis Bay from Sydney
28. Discover The Hidden Gems In Canberra
Southern Sydney / 3hr drive from Sydney
We were blown away by the amazing things to do in Canberra. Although everyone we spoke to always said ‘we weren’t missing out on much’, we were really surprised about how cool the city actually is. Expect amazing art galleries, some of the best we’ve seen, fantastic wine bars and great places to eat.
Check out our guide to the best things to do in Canberra and our Floriade Review as well before visiting.
29. Find The Best Waterfalls To Swim In Sydney
Various Sydney Spots
If you’re looking for some day trips from Sydney which involve finding some of the best wild swimming spots around, check out our 16 Best Waterfalls In Sydney To Swim guide.
We’ve also found some of the best secluded beaches in Sydney as well that won’t have many or anyone else on them. You can thank us later for this!
30. Explore some of the best hikes in Sydney
If you’re looking to get out and explore more hidden gems in Sydney, you’ll find some of them in our 18 best hikes in Sydney guide. These hikes are some of the best secluded places near Sydney and if we mentioned them all in this post, it would go on forever!
We hope our best day trips from Sydney has helped you plan your future getaways!
Looking for Weekend Getaways From Sydney?
Check out these articles to help you plan your weekends away.
45 Best Weekend Getaways From Sydney
15 Best Hiking & Camping Weekend Itineries In Sydney
How To Spend The Weekend Hiking In Blue Mountains
22 Romantic Getaways From Sydney
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As someone who came to Australia from the UK, 20 years ago – this is a great list of day trips and recommendations, I will be using some of your research to plan trips when my relatives next visit – I love the fact that you look beyond the obvious, Bondi beach etc, which I never visit as a local – the list of walks you have are some of my favourite places and some new ones for me to try out too – thanks for the research and hard work pulling the VLOG and website together.
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Wattamolla, Royal National Park Sydney, New South Wales © Filippo Rivetti, Destination NSW
The best day trips from Sydney
Drive a few hours out of Sydney to find fresh produce, world-class wines and beautiful beaches and coastline.
By Paul Chai
Take a break for the day and head out of Sydney . You can take a beach break along the South Coast and learn to surf, you can walk in the footsteps of the first Aboriginals at the Royal National Park or you can taste wine at one of the oldest wine regions in the country.
Palm Beach, Sydney, New South Wales © Adam Krowitz
Did you know?
Palm Beach is the setting for Summer Bay, the fictional beach in the television show Home and Away .
Where: Just over an hour drive from the city centre.
At the apex of Sydney's stunning Northern Beaches is Palm Beach , which sits on a narrow peninsula surrounded by golden sand and sparkling water. Take a coffee stop on the way up at The Boathouse , a wooden cottage right on the water where you can try the buttermilk scones with fresh strawberries with your caffeine hit. Once at “Palmy”, as the locals know it, take a swim at the beach or climb to Barrenjoey Lighthouse. The Barrenjoey Head Aquatic Reserve walk to the lighthouse starts with a stroll along a small patch of beach, where jet skis create swirls of whitewash in Pittwater. When the track curls inland you can choose to go straight ahead on the Service Road or take the steeper, shorter Smugglers Track. Halfway up you get an amazing view back along the twin crescents of Palm Beach and Pittwater that bracket the lush headland.
Royal National Park
Curracurrong Falls, Royal National Park, New South Wales © Destination NSW
Where: A one-hour drive south of the city centre.
The Royal National Park offers 15 hectares (37 acres) of thick bush, clifftop walks and hidden swimming spots. Walk the beginning section of the 26-kilometre (16-mile) Coast Track, where the traditional owners – the Dharawal people – used to gather on rocks and create art. Nearby you can see engravings that are more than 1000 years old, find shell middens and discover Depression-era cave dwellings where hard-up locals used to live. In whale watching season (May to November) the cliffs are a great places from which to spot humpback whales as they head along the coast. You can finish off with a dip at Garie Beach.
Where: Just under a two-hour drive west of the city.
The Blue Mountains offer forest walks through ancient trees and ferns, the famous Three Sisters rock formations at Echo Point Lookout , and fabulous food. Stop in Medlow Bath for a high tea at the opulent Hydro Majestic Hotel , which underwent a massive makeover in 2015 and now offers excellent tea and cakes in its Art Deco surrounds. Have lunch at historic Lochiel House , a fine diner in a historic coach house where you can lunch on steak tartare or grilled octopus. On the way back to Sydney, take the back road, the Bells Line of Road, and call in at Bilpin Cider Co , where you can sample the local brew made from fruit grown in the surrounding valley.
Centennial Vineyards, Bowral, New South Wales © Kramer Photography
The Southern Highlands is also home to a number of wineries where you can enjoy a flight of cool-climate wines or a long lunch overlooking the vineyards.
Where: A one-hour drive south-west of the city.
The New South Wales Southern Highlands is a region of rural townships set among rolling hills and state forest. At Bowral visit the Bradman Centre , a cricket museum in honour of Australia's most famous player, Sir Donald Bradman. Shop for antiques at Dirty Janes , a vintage market, or grab a bite at the Mill Café in a huge old building with a giant cockatoo mural on the wall. Dine on delicious modern Thai food at Paste in Mittagong, or head to Berrima, to browse the shops and enjoy a drink at the historic sandstone Surveyor General Inn , built in 1834.
The South Coast
Blowhole Point Rock Pool, Kiama, New South Wales © Destination NSW
Where: Just over an hour south of Sydney when you pass the Royal National Park.
Take the Grand Pacific Drive , which heads out over the water on the spectacular Sea Cliff Bridge then on to the seaside towns of Wollongong and Kiama. Wollongong and surrounds are full of beaches, small coastal towns and coastal walks and cycleways. At Kiama visit the famous Kiama Blowhole, where the crashing waves are forced up through a hole in the cliff, forming a huge fountain. Play golf at the rural golf course with great views and kangaroos for company, or walk parts of the Kiama Coast Walk , which weaves through stunning headland, rivers and secluded beaches.
The Hunter Valley
Tyrrell's, Pokolbin, New South Wales © Destination NSW
Where: About a 2.5-hour drive north of Sydney.
The Hunter Valley , one of Australia's premier wine regions, offers a range of adventurous ways to explore the region, from an early morning hot air balloon to horseriding through the vineyards. But most people come for the food and wine. Have lunch at Muse in Pokolbin, considered the best restaurant in the valley, or try nearby Restaurant Botanica , that has its own kitchen garden. Taste wine at Tyrrell's , a winery that dates back to 1858, try the more modern Tempus Two with its striking cellar door, or sip local bubbles at Peterson House .
Where: About 2.5 hours south of Sydney.
The Shoalhaven Region has white sand beaches, an emerging foodie scene based around the area's amazing fresh produce, and quaint coastal towns. At Berry, a country town with heritage buildings set among lush farmland, you can get freshly baked bread at the Berry Sourdough Bakery & Café , piping hot treats from the Berry Donut Van and an old-school pub beer at the Great Southern Hotel . Work off your foodie binge at Murrays Beach, where the clear blue waters are ideal for snorkelling. Spot dolphins in the water and kangaroos on the beach in Jervis Bay, or head to Mollymook to stay and dine in luxury at Bannisters .
3 days in Sydney
Where: 1.5 hours south from Sydney
The beachy suburb of Wollongong can be as relaxing or adrenaline-fuelled as you like. Along the way, be sure to take a detour for the Symbio Wildlife Park (just off the Princes Highway) to meet the local mammal population of native and exotic wildlife. Continue along the scenic route via the Sea Cliff Bridge and stop for lunch at the Scarborough Hotel . This casual pub has some of the best views of the sweeping coastline. Beachgoers are spoilt for choice in “The Gong” (as it’s affectionately known to locals), with picturesque soft sand beaches, great surfing waves, ocean pools and picnic areas. The most popular option is the swimmer-friendly North Beach, though City Beach in the city centre tends to get wilder waves. Book a private lesson with the Illawarra Surf Academy and learn how to surf with the locals at Thirroul and Corrimal (just north of Wollongong). With more than 40 kilometres (25 miles) of shared paths threaded across the Wollongong coast, cycling is on par with surfing as the local pastime. Rent a set of wheels from South Coast Bike Hire and hit the waterfront cycleway, or for the thrill-seekers, Skydive Sydney-Wollongong will take you on a scenic plane ride over the coast before you make the crucial jump from 14,000 feet up. Largely considered one of the most spectacular skydives in Australia, you’ll get to take in the dramatic views over Wollongong before landing on North Beach.
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20 of the best day trips from Sydney
Updated On 30th January, 2022
Sydney is an adventure playground. There are so many things to do in Sydney , I could spend weeks there! Sometimes, a change of scenery is needed though, and there are so many beautiful areas outside of Sydney to explore. In this blog post we’re going to look at the best day trips from Sydney , so that you can explore some of the areas outside of this wonderful Australian city.
Personally, Sydney is one of my favourite cities in the world. It has an amazing food and coffee scene (if you know about Australian coffee, you know what I mean), as well as chilled vibes by day and hustle and bustle by night. The beaches in and around Sydney are stunning; of course there’s the famous Bondi beach, but there are many more areas of beautiful coastline to discover too.
- Check out my complete guide to Sydney here.
- The best things to do in Australia
But there is so much more to Sydney than the city centre itself. One of my favourite areas just outside Sydney is Manly , a beach side suburb. It’s perfect for a day trip to get out of Sydney city centre, but personally, I’d stay longer! Other amazing day trips include wine tasting in Hunter Valley , visiting the kangaroos in Morisset , marvelling at the views in the famous Blue Mountains .
If you’re looking for things to do outside of Sydney for a day or two, then look no further…
- Farm work in Australia: How to find work, top tips and advice
- A complete guide to Australia
- A complete guide to Sydney
- A complete guide to solo travel in Australia
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- Planning your transport in Australia
On a backpacker budget? Here’s my complete guide to budgeting for backpacking Australia.
The best day trips from Sydney, Australia…
1. the blue mountains national park.
The Blue Mountains National Park is a valley full of ancient rock formations, waterfalls, rainforest, across a vast 11,400km². Wentworth Falls, Leura, Katoomba and of course the Three Sisters are must sees on your trip! Get your trainers out for this one, as there’s a lot of walking involved! Check out my beginner’s guide to hiking here.
As one of the most popular day trips from Sydney, the Blue Mountains can be visited as part of a group tour , if you have the budget and want an expert guide, or you can go yourself either by train or car, if you prefer a money-saving, more independent version! Check out my self-guided trip to the Blue Mountains with everything you need to know here.
For a luxury day in the Blue Mountains, try ‘Sparadise’ – a Japanese outdoor spa with panoramic views. Get more information on the website here.
To see how I did my self-guided Blue Mountains trip, check out this post.
For my take on a group tour to the Blue Mountains, check out this post.
My good friend Sammy owns RatPack Travel (a discounted booking platform). The team at RatPack are ready to help you plan and book all your trips and transport for your adventure down under, including a group tour to the Blue Mountains with Coast Warriors . Check out the tour here. Don’t forget you can use my code MOLLIE10 for 10% off any trip or transport booking you make.
2. Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park
The second oldest national park lies around 45 minutes outside the city centre. Enjoy a walk around the lush greenery and see Lion Island and Barrenjoey Lighthouse. Take a picnic to Bobbin Head for lunch, and head to Upper Gledhill Falls on McCarrs Creek for an afternoon swim. If you like more of an active adventure, there are plenty of cycling and bushwalking trails to take on!
If you’re looking to save some money on accommodation, check out this guide to freedom camping in Australia.
This quaint seaside town is about two hours north of Sydney. Take a walk along the coast with an ice-cream before spending some time on an active adventure such as kayaking or rock climbing. Don’t forget to visit the Kiama blowhole at the top of the cliffs, and play in the natural, salty, water fountain!
If you don’t know where to stay in Sydney, check out my Sydney hostel guide here.
4. Glenworth Valley
Glenworth Valley is a must-do day trip from Sydney if you love an active holiday! Just an hour from Sydney’s CBD, experience the wilderness in the Central Coast’s hinterland region and try horse-riding, quad-biking, kayaking, abseiling and more. If you have time, camp overnight; there’s enough to do here to have a mini-holiday in itself! For more information on Glenworth outdoor adventures, check out the website here.
If you want a calming, retreat-like day trip but don’t want to splash the cash on an actual retreat, check out my DIY retreat in the hinterland here.
5. Hunter Valley
The Hunter Valley is one of my favourite Sydney day trips to date. If you drive about 2 hours out of Sydney, you reach one of Australia’s most famous wine regions. Here, not only can you do wine tasting, but you can also experience beer, chocolate and cheese tasting, as well as seeing koalas and kangaroos.
Check out my guide to a day trip to the Hunter Valley in this blog post.
If you want to spend a day exploring one of the many wonderful Sydney suburbs, check out my guide to Surry Hills here.
6. Royal National Park
The Royal National Park is one of Sydney’s most popular day trips, but it’s easy to see why. Locally known as ‘Nasho’ or just ‘the Royal’, the world’s second-oldest national park is about one hour south of Sydney, and is home to cycling paths, bushwalking trails, and even the opportunity to go whale-watching. When you’re here, don’t miss the opportunity to hike up to the Figure Eight pools for a spectacular view. Be careful though: it’s a steep, rocky, 6km hike, and you need to be wary of the tide before you visit (for your own safety). Get the tide info here.
Wanting coffee or brunch before you head out on your day trip from Sydney? Here’s my coffee and brunch guide to Sydney.
7. Palm Beach
Palm Beach covers 2.3km of the Northern Beaches coastline, and is the perfect place for sun, sand and surf! It’s only an hour out of Sydney, and is also a filming location for Home and Away, so you never know who you might see while you’re here!
For more Sydney inspiration, check out the 25 best things to do in Sydney here!
Said to be one of NSW’s best kept secrets, Wollongong is about 90 minutes south of Sydney and offers something for everyone, from chilling on the beautiful beach to skydiving with a soft, beach landing! I’d love to try hang gliding from Stanwell Park!
Wanting to add some adventure to your Australian adventure? Here’s my guide to skydiving in Australia!
Don’t forget, you can get 10% off and trips and tours with RatPack Travel with my discount code MOLLIE10 . Click here to WhatsApp them now and ask about the Sydney-Wollongong skydive trip !
9. Mermaid Pools, Tahmoor Gorge
The Mermaid Pools at Tahmoor Gorge on the Bargo River are a really popular day trip outside of Sydney. About 75 minutes south west of the city centre, you canget up close and personal with nature as you hike, wild swim and chase waterfalls. While it’s not recommended to swim in the Mermaid Pools themselves (getting in and out of the pools is extremely dangerous), you can swim in several other water holes in the area. Don’t forget to venture out past the Mermaid Pools to explore the rest of the Tahmoor Gorge area!
If you’re backpacking Australia solo and feeling a little apprehensive, here’s my guide to solo travel in Australia!
Honestly, I think Manly might be one of my favourite places in the whole world. If you’re able to spend more than a day here, do it. I spent a week here and then came back for more later in my trip! There’s something about the laid back lifestyle that collides with the city hustle and bustle (Sydney’s CBD is a 20-minute ferry away) that makes for a magical day. If you don’t want to get the ferry or drive all the way there, you could do the Spit to Manly walk , followed by some well-deserved coffee and beach time.
Check out my complete guide to Manly here.
Looking for an active day out in the Sydney area? Here are 6 walks to go on in Sydney!
11. Kangaroo Valley, Southern Highlands
It’s worth spending some time exploring all of the Southern Highlands if you can… it’s a beautiful, green area. The highlight for me for a day trip from Sydney would be Kangaroo Valley. Two hours south of Sydney you can see kangaroos, kayak down the river and even take on a ‘foodie trail’ with a cooking class!
Looking for the ultimate backpacker transport? Here’s what to expect from travelling in Australia with Greyhound.
12. Hawkesbury River
Less than an hour from Sydney, you wouldn’t know this rural area of tranquility is so close to Australia’s largest city. Take a river cruise down the Hawkesbury, pick your own fruit from one of the many farms in the area, or do a kayak river tour, stopping for a picnic lunch on the river bank.
On a backpacker budget? Here are 25 top tips for saving money and travelling on a budget!
13. Stockton sand dunes
If you want to drive along the beach in a 4×4, this is the Sydney day trip for you! Most people think of Fraser Island when it comes to driving on the beach, but that’s not the only place you can do it. Stockton sand dunes are about 2 hours from Sydney. You’ll need a permit and slightly deflated tyres to drive on the sand dunes, but this is inexpensive. Once you’re sorted, drive along the beach, venture into the sand dunes, and take in the views that go for miles and miles.
Check out my experience of visiting Stockton sand dunes here.
Wanting to drive yourself around Australia? Here’s a complete guide to planning your travel and transport in Australia!
14. Wombeyan Caves
If you want a taste of the underworld, take on the underground passages, streams and caverns of the limestone Wombeyan Caves. Wollondilly, Junction, Kooringa, and Mulwaree caves are best seen on a guided tour, but the Figtree Cave is one of the best self-guided cave experiences. In the local area there are also bush walks and waterfalls.
Some say there’s too much to do here for it to be just a one-day trip from Sydney, so you might want to stay overnight and really explore the area in detail. If you camp in the area, you might find an inquisitive kangaroo joins you for breakfast!
Don’t know much about hiring a camper van in Australia? I’ve answered all your questions in this blog post!
15. Lake Macquarie
Lake Macquarie is another one of NSW’s secrets that you can discover on a day trip from Sydney. Small lively towns meet beautiful beaches, caves and rock pools, as you share your lunch with the pelicans at the side of the lake. The nearby Watagan Mountains are home to an array of walking trails that you can take on if you prefer to get active. The relaxed attitude here will make you never want to leave!
For a nature filled day out in Sydney itself, check out this Coogee to Bondi coastal walk!
One of my first Aussie road trips, seeing the wild kangaroos in Morisset is a must-do day trip from Sydney. Driving an hour and a half was well worth it for the kanga-selfies we got with the very friendly roos!
Check out my day trip to see the kangaroos here.
Short on time? Here’s a 3-day itinerary for Sydney.
17. Port Stephens
2.5 hours north of Sydney lies Port Stephens, an area made up of 26 beautiful beaches and sparkling blue water. Beaches to choose from include Shoal Bay and Nelson Bay. Kick back and relax on the sand and look out for the resident dolphins and whales!
For the ultimate East Coast Australia bucket list, check out this post.
18. Tomaree Head
The Tomaree Head summit walk is about 2 hours in total, so perfect for a beginner hiker ! When you get to the top, enjoy the views of Port Stephens before you come back down for a swim. If you fancy it in the afternoon, head into the nearby city of Newcastle for some city adrenaline and a few cocktails.
Check out my experience of hiking Tomaree Head in this post.
For an alternative East Coast Australia bucket list, check out this post.
This area just south of Sydney is certainly worth exploring on a day trip if you have time. With wineries and waterfalls to visit, whales and dolphins to watch, and beaches and hinterland to enjoy, this area of NSW is a great holiday destination. It’s known for its fun surf culture, so be sure to catch a wave while you’re there!
Short on time? Here’s a 4-day itinerary for Sydney.
20. Jervis Bay
Technically part of Shoalhaven, but worth its own special mention. With white sands that rival Australia’s very best beaches in the Whitsundays , Jervis Bay is a day trip from Sydney that you don’t want to miss. Hyams beach is renowned for having ‘the whitest sand in the world’, winning the Guinness World Record in 2006. the 3-hour drive south of Sydney might be a long one, but the Grand Pacific Drive is worth it for the views along the way and the warm, clear water and soft, white sand when you get to Hyams beach.
Check out my guide for your road trip to Jervis Bay here.
For everything you need to know about your trip to Sydney, including where to stay, things to do, and all my top tips, check out my complete guide to Sydney here!
Have you been on any day trips from Sydney?
Where did you go? I’d love to know!
Love as always and happy adventuring,
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IT’S LOVELY TO MEET YOU
I’M MOLLIE AND I STARTED THIS BLOG BACK IN 2013 WHEN I HEADED OUT ON MY FIRST BACKPACKING ADVENTURE.
I’D LOVE TO SHARE THE JOURNEY WITH YOU, WE’VE GROWN A LOT SINCE THEN!
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Top 5 easy day trips from Sydney
Oct 7, 2023 • 7 min read
Hiking to Wentworth Falls in the Blue Mountains National Park © Olga Kashubin / Getty Images
Sure, Sydney has enough going on to make even the most hardened traveler consider selling up and sticking down roots here, but step out a little further and you’ll soon discover that this entire region of Australia brims with breathtaking natural beauty, Aboriginal and colonial history and plenty of domestic critters to spot.
The Blue Mountains draw walkers for their epic bush-clad vistas and hidden valleys with prehistoric forests. You'll find the Hawkesbury River region and Sydney's south Royal National Park both offer spectacular walking with water views. The Central Coast stretches north with uncrowded surf beaches and inlets rich with sea birds. And the Hunter Valley is blessed with leafy country roads dotted with producers of fine wine, chocolates and cheese.
These are the best day trips from Sydney.
Hike rainforests and waterfalls in the Blue Mountains
Travel time: 1.5-2 hours by car, 2 hours by train
The cool haze that gives the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains their name comes from a fine mist of oil exuded by huge eucalyptuses. There are eight connected conservation areas here rising to 1100m (3609ft), with lush rainforests and epic waterfalls that can be explored on well-marked hikes (of varying lengths).
You’ll also have the opportunity to gain insights into the mountains' importance to their traditional Aboriginal custodians by taking a guided tour. These are the homelands of six Aboriginal groups: the Darug, Gundungurra, Wiradjuri, Wanaruah, Darkinjung and Tharawal. You’ll see one of the best showcases of Aboriginal rock art in the region at Red Hand Caves near Glenbook.
Trees form a dense canopy across a landscape of deep, and sometimes inaccessible, valleys and chiseled sandstone outcrops. In fact, some valleys are so hard to reach, a species of tree once considered extinct, the Wollemi pine, was rediscovered in a valley here in 1994.
The three most popular walking areas for day trippers are the Jamison Valley, south of Katoomba , the Grose Valley, north of Blackheath, and the Wentworth Falls area. Some top choices include the Giant Stairway and the Grand Canyon Walk. Do take note: these ravines can be surprisingly cool throughout the year, so bring a warm layer.
How to get to the Blue Mountains from Sydney: Hourly trains to Katoomba take two hours from Sydney's Central Station. You can then walk from here, or catch the Blue Mountains Explorer Bus to tour the region, with options ranging from one-hour tours to all-day hop-on-hop-off tickets to see it all.
Get hiking, canoeing and photographing Royal National Park
Travel time: 1 hour by car, two hours via train and ferry
To Sydney's south, the Royal National Park protects 15,091 hectares (3,7290 acres) over a 32km (20 miles) stretch of beautiful coast. It is also one of the world's oldest national parks – declared in 1879. As well as secluded beaches, sea cliffs, heathlands and forest, the park protects a cornucopia of Australian animals including wallabies, lyrebirds and raucous flocks of yellow-tailed black cockatoos.
Audley, at the junction of Kangaroo Creek and the Hacking River, is home to the main visitors center and is the perfect place to pick up park maps, have a picnic or hire a canoe to get out on the river. There are a number of walks to tackle in the park including the fabulous 26km (16 miles) Coast Track, but unless you’re Usain Bolt, you will only have time to complete one of the shorter marked trails during a day trip.
The park is also home to the Insta-famous Figure Eight Pools , a series of figure of eight-shaped tidal pools near Burning Palms Beach. Visible only at low tide, it’s a two-hour hike to the rock shelf so try to arrive in the morning and only visit when it’s safe to do so – freak waves can (and do!) wipe out visitors. Check the National Park website for details.
How to get to the Royal National Park from Sydney: The easiest way to visit is by car ($12 per vehicle per day). For public transport take the train to Cronulla (45-60 minutes) Sydney's Central Station, where Cronulla Ferries travel hourly to Bundeena (45 mins).
See Aboriginal rock art and birdlife in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park
Travel time: 1 hour by car, 2 hours by bus
The majestic Hawkesbury River flows to the ocean past honeycomb-colored cliffs, historic townships and into quiet bays and inlets. It passes through a series of national parks, including the spectacular Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park . Declared in 1894, its name comes from its original inhabitants, the Guringai people. Remnants of pre-colonial Aboriginal life are visible today thanks to the preservation of more than 800 sites, including rock paintings, middens and cave art.
For information about Ku-ring-gai and walks in the area stop by the NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service information center at Bobbin Head (accessible by car). There’s also a marina, picnic areas, a cafe and a boardwalk leading through mangroves here.
Further inland, the riverside hamlet of Wisemans Ferry (yes that’s the town’s name) spills over a bow of the Hawkesbury River. It’s another perfect spot to access the Hawkesbury, and its natural environs rich with bird life like kookaburras and sea eagles.
The surrounding area retains remnants of the convict-built Great North Road, originally constructed to link Sydney with the Hunter Valley and now part of UNESCO's Australian Convict Sites World Heritage listing . As well as walks, consider booking a boat tour or hire a kayak and get out on the river. Even better if you have the time, do as Sydney locals love to do and stay longer on a houseboat.
How to get to Hawkesbury River from Sydney: Take the train from Central Station to Hawkesbury River Station and explore the river by boat. Buses also run from central Sydney’s Wynyard to Mona Vale and then on to Church Point where you can get a ferry across to the park. The journey there takes approximately 1-2 hours.
Discover secret beaches and forests along the Central Coast
Travel time: a full-day return driving tour
The Central Coast runs between Sydney and Newcastle and includes some gorgeous beaches, swathes of national park and a series of inlets and saltwater lagoons. Closer to Sydney, the southern end of the Central Coast near Ettalong can be accessed by ferry from Sydney's Palm Beach. On the north side of the mouth of the Hawkesbury are the enticing Killcare Beach, Pearl Beach and Bouddi National Park .
Beyond this, you’ll need a car and there are many epic spots to stop off on a day trip north to Newcastle, including the pelican-packed town of The Entrance and deep, placid Lake Macquarie. Popular beaches to take a dip along the way include Avoca or Terrigal.
The more industrial Newcastle is blessed with an eclectic mix of historic architecture, as well as a much-loved beach and ocean baths. South of Newcastle Beach, below King Edward Park, is Australia’s oldest ocean bath, the convict-carved Bogey Hole . It’s an atmospheric place to splash about in when the surf’s crashing over its edge. The most popular surfing breaks are at Bar Beach and Merewether Beach, two ends of the same beach a bit further south. Merewether has huge ocean baths of its own.
How to get to the Central Coast from Sydney: If driving, take the M1 Pacific Motorway north towards Newcastle from Sydney where the Gosford exit will take you along the coast.
Go food and wine touring around the Hunter Valley
Travel time: a full-day return drive, or coach tour
Picturesque roads criss-cross this verdant valley, but a country drive isn’t the main reason to visit. Over two hours' drive from Sydney, the Hunter Valley is famous as Australia’s oldest wine region, with vines dating from the 1860s. It’s the perfect spot for a day trip from Sydney for fine wine, gourmet restaurants, boutique beer, chocolate, cheese, olives, you name it. It’s also a beautiful spot to go hot-air ballooning while in Australia.
You’ll probably recognize some of Australia’s biggest names in new world wines, especially for semillon, shiraz and chardonnay. The valley’s 150-plus wineries range from small-scale, family-run affairs to massive commercial operations so let your nose guide you. Most offer cellar door tastings either free or for a small fee. You can get a copy of the free touring map from the Hunter Valley visitor center and use it to hunt out the tucked-away small producers.
If no one’s volunteering to stay sober, there are plenty of guided coach tours available, ranging from mini buses that just do basic hop-on-hop-off transport between wineries to full-on gourmet extravaganzas, some on bicycle, horseback or chauffeured in a classic car.
How to get to the Hunter Valley from Sydney: If driving, take the M1 Pacific Motorway north to Newcastle from Sydney where the Hunter Expressway will lead you into the valley.
This article was first published July 2021 and updated October 2023
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Top Things to Do
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Day Trips From Sydney
The 13 Best Day Trips from Sydney
Sydney has more than enough beautiful beaches, iconic landmarks, and hip restaurants and bars to keep you occupied for weeks. However, if you're looking to escape the city for a day or two, you can't go wrong heading up or down the coast for tiny, chilled-out beach towns and flourishing small cities.
If nature is more your style, drive west to the mountains or explore the wine regions of New South Wales. Even Australia's capital city, Canberra, is only a three-hour drive away. Despite Australia's size, Sydney is in the perfect location for travelers looking to make the most of nearby cities, coastal towns, the countryside, and everything in between.
Palm Beach: Seaside Luxury
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Sydney's Northern Beaches are famously gorgeous and secluded, and Palm Beach is the best of the bunch. An easy drive from the city center, this stretch of golden sand and clear blue water features exclusive vacation homes and appears as the backdrop for the iconic Australian soap opera "Home and Away." Hike up to Barrenjoey Lighthouse for the best views.
Getting There: Palm Beach is around an hour's drive by car from the center of Sydney. Buses depart from Circular Quay and Central Station to Palm Beach via all of Sydney’s Northern Beaches. You can also take a 20-minute scenic flight with Sydney By Seaplane from the eastern suburb of Rose Bay.
Travel Tip: Beloved waterside café The Boathouse is perfect for a casual breakfast. If you're a serious foodie, make a lunch or dinner reservation at contemporary Australian restaurant Jonah's , which overlooks nearby Whale Beach.
Wollongong: A Relaxed Beachside City
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Over the past decade, Wollongong has transformed from a dreary industrial port into a thriving cultural hub. With great beaches, good food, and a quirky small bar scene, this little city is an affordable, laid-back escape south of Sydney .
Symbio Wildlife Park is a popular local attraction for those interested in getting up close and personal with native animals, while Stanwell Park offers ideal hang-gliding conditions.
Getting There: If possible, rent a car and take the coastal road to soak up the stunning views offered by Sea Cliff Bridge; this over-ocean engineering marvel runs parallel to the cliffs north of Wollongong. The city can also be reached by train. Whether driving or using public transport, the trip will take around 1.5 hours.
Travel Tip: One of Wollongong's more off-beat attractions is Nan Tien Temple , the largest Buddhist temple in the southern hemisphere. It is open Tuesday through Sunday and features an excellent vegetarian cafe.
The Hunter Valley: Aussie Wine Country
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North of Sydney , the Hunter Valley offers travelers over 150 wineries and a slew of award-winning restaurants. The most plentiful grapes in the Hunter are Chardonnay, Semillon, Verdelho, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot.
With farmlands populated by grazing cattle and kangaroos, the Hunter is not your typical wine region: Its attractions are best explored by bike, horseback, or hot air balloon. Excellent local eateries include Bistro Molines , Muse , and Cafe Enzo , while the best vinos can be tasted at Usher Tinkler , Brokenwood , and Tempus Two .
Getting There: The Hunter Valley is just over a two-hour drive from Sydney. Public transport options are limited.
Travel Tip: Many cellar doors recommend booking in advance or are only open on weekends, so be sure to confirm ahead of time.
The Blue Mountains: Natural Wonders
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Sydney is surrounded by national parks, including the impressive Blue Mountains World Heritage Area , which rises out of the eucalyptus haze to the west. Most visitors use the small towns of Leura or Katoomba—dotted with galleries, pubs and cafés—as a base to explore the surrounding bushland, waterfalls, and valleys. Don't miss the Three Sisters rock formation.
Getting There: Katoomba is around a 1.5-hour drive from Sydney. It can also be reached by train (just over two hours) or tour bus.
Travel Tip: If you're interested in some more intense hiking, there are plenty of adventure tour companies that can show you the area.
Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park: From the Bush to the Beach
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Known for its Aboriginal cultural heritage, hidden beaches, and many hiking trails, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park is located on Sydney's northern outskirts. Measuring over 3,700 acres, the park's highlights include Resolute Beach, West Head Lookout, Bobbin Head picnic area, and the Red Hands Cave rock art site—all set among lush rainforest, rocky cliffs, and mangroves.
Getting There: Ku-ring-gai Chase is an hour's drive north of the city center. Keen hikers can take the train to Mount Ku-ring-gai or Cowan Station and walk the couple of miles into the park via well-marked trails.
Travel Tip: Check the National Parks website for details about specific trails and park-wide safety alerts.
The Hawkesbury RIver: Historic Towns and Water Activities
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Just outside the city, the charming Hawkesbury River—and the area surrounding it—feels a whole world away. A popular weekend escape, the historic town of Windsor is home to one of Australia’s oldest pubs, the Macquarie Arms Hotel , as well as the Hawkesbury Paddlewheeler cruise ship. In Windsor and other towns along the river, visitors can enjoy bushwalking, horseback riding, biking, fishing, boating, kayaking, and waterskiing.
Getting There: Windsor is a 50-minute drive northwest of Sydney center and an hour by train.
Travel Tip: The treetop adventure course at Grose River Park will keep the whole family entertained, with obstacles for kids ages four and up.
Port Stephens: Dolphins, Sand Dunes and Surf
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Port Stephens and the neighboring villages of Nelson Bay and Shoal Bay offer the quintessential Aussie beach experience. It's all about the sand and surf, with duneboarding, whale watching, surfing, and kayaking available . Port Stephens is also the best spot to see dolphins in Australia, as over 150 resident bottlenose dolphins live here. Once you've had your fill of the beach, head to Tomaree National Park and hike up the mountain for 360-degree views of the area.
Getting There: Port Stephens is a 2.5-hour drive north of Sydney , or 4.5 hours via train or bus.
Travel Tip: Because of the shape of the bay, Port Stephens is one of the few places on Australia's east coast where you can see the sun set over the water, making for some pretty perfect photos.
Royal National Park: Hiking and swimming
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In between Sydney and Wollongong, Royal National Park is a sprawling playground for nature lovers. The beach at Wattamolla is one of the park's most popular attractions, with a thin strip of sand that backs onto a calm lagoon—waterfall included. For a relaxing coastal walk, try the Jibbon Beach loop track from Bundeena.
Getting There: Royal National Park is under an hour's drive south of Sydney. It is also possible to take the train, as the three-mile Karloo Walking Track starts from Heathcote Station and ends at Uloola Falls. Alternatively, you can catch the ferry from the Sydney suburb of Cronulla to Bundeena for a more scenic trip.
Travel Tip: Wedding Cake Rock and Figure-Eight Pools are popular spots in Royal National Park. However, park authorities discourage all but the most experienced hikers from visiting these fragile natural areas due to safety concerns.
Newcastle: History, Food, and Culture
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If you're looking for something a little more cosmopolitan, take a trip to Newcastle, the second largest city in New South Wales (after Sydney.) There are plenty of beaches, including surfers' paradise Mereweather and family-friendly Bar Beach. For trendy food and boutiques, head to the Darby Street precinct or the open-air Hunter Street Mall. Because Newcastle was a center of industry in Australia's early years, history buffs will find relics like the old Convict Lumber Yard and the impressive Newcastle Museum worth a visit.
Getting There: The journey from Sydney north to Newcastle takes 2.5 hours on the train, and a little less by car.
Travel Tip: While Newcastle's beaches are world-class, the city's ocean baths are a tranquil and unusual alternative. The art deco Newcastle Ocean Baths is always refreshingly cool, while the Mereweather Baths holds the distinction of being the largest ocean baths complex in the Southern Hemisphere.
Canberra: Australia's capital city
TripSavvy / Alisha McDarris
A quick visit to Canberra will allow you to hit all the major landmarks, with a little time left over for some local food and wine. As the nation's capital, Canberra was designed in the early 20 th century to house institutions like Australia's Parliament House , National Gallery , War Memorial , and National Museum .
Head to the inner north suburb of Braddon for the best coffee and all-day breakfast, then hike up Mount Ainslie or walk around Lake Burley Griffin to check out Canberra's unique geometric layout. The city is also surrounded by one of Australia's best cool-climate wine regions .
Getting There: Canberra is a three-hour drive from Sydney. It can be reached by train or an hourly bus service.
Travel Tip: Canberra's many museums and galleries have activities to keep kids of all ages occupied, making it a great choice for families.
The Southern Highlands: Quaint Small Towns
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Located between Sydney and Canberra, the Southern Highlands region—made up of adorable towns like Bowral, Mittagong, Moss Vale, and Berrima—is perfect for those who crave a slower pace. The highlands are known for their fall colors and blooming gardens in the spring. The region's cool temperatures also offer a lovely respite from Sydney's summer heat.
Visitors flock to the 260-foot-high Fitzroy Falls at Morton National Park, a twenty minute drive from Bowral. The Bradman Museum and International Cricket Hall of Fame , dedicated to Bowral-born cricketing legend Donald Bradman, is a must for sports fans.
Getting There: The Southern Highlands region is only an hour's drive from Sydney, and can also be reached by bus or train.
Travel Tip: Events like the Tulip Time floral festival are an ideal time to visit. Check the NSW tourism website for dates and details.
Kangaroo Valley: A Haven for Wildlife Lovers
As the name implies, Kangaroo Valley is all about wildlife. You can spot kangaroos and wombats at the Tallowa Dam picnic area and Bendeela campground , go trail riding , or visit a working farm . Kayaking on the Kangaroo River and hiking in Budderoo National Park are also great ways to explore this region's natural beauty.
Stop by Hampden Deli to grab the best of the region's produce, including meats, cheeses, bread, and cold-pressed juices for your picnic.
Getting There: Kangaroo Valley is a two-hour drive southwest of Sydney. Public transport options are limited.
Travel Tip: Keep an eye out for Hampden Bridge. The only surviving suspension bridge from the colonial period in New South Wales, this bridge still carries traffic across the Kangaroo River.
Jenolan Caves: An Underground Wonderland
Jeremy Bartlett / Getty Images
Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Mountains, the Jenolan Caves system is made up of 11 enormous limestone caverns, dotted along ancient rivers and filled with marine fossils and crystal formations. The cave complex is approximately 340 million years old, making it the world's oldest known and dated open cave system. It holds spiritual significance to the local Gundungurra and Wiradjuri indigenous peoples.
Getting There: The Jenolan Caves are located just under a three-hour drive from Sydney. There are no public transport options.
Travel Tip: There are a variety of cave tours available, with tickets starting at AU$42 for adults. Night tours run every day of the week except Sundays, and several undeveloped caves are available for adventure caving.
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The 9 Best Day Trips from Sydney (2023 Guide)
From roaming through the wilderness of the Blue Mountains or the Royal National Park to tasting world-class wines in the Hunter Valley, these are the best day trips from Sydney.
If you are lucky enough to have already visited Sydney before and are out of new ideas on what to see and do – don’t stress, because I’m here to help!
Even though Sydney is an epicentre of culture, there is also an abundance of interesting sights and things to do outside of Sydney too.
Table of Contents
What To Do In The Blue Mountains
What to do in wollongong and kiama, what to do in newcastle, what to do in the hunter valley, what to do in the southern highlands, 6) royal national park, 7) ku ring gai chase national park, 8) port stephens, 9) palm beach, the best day trips from sydney.
After you’ve seen all the Sydney highlights, including the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge, the National Portrait Gallery, and Sydney Opera House, it’s time to get out and explore the surrounding areas.
Here is my list of the best Sydney day trips, most of which are easily accessible by public transport. Many of these could be weekend trips as well if you have time.
While on your epic Australian journey, make sure you get out of the city and check out these amazing spots too.
The best way to get around is to rent a car and explore on your own! We recommend Rental Cars , which has the largest range of vehicles for the best value on the market.
1) The Blue Mountains National Park
I think it is only fair to start the list with the Blue Mountains, one of Sydney’s most iconic and picturesque locations.
The intense blue colour of the mountains is due to the native eucalyptus trees dispersing their oil in the atmosphere.
Droplets of oil mixed with water vapour scatter long rays of light, which are predominantly blue in colour.
READ MORE: Check out our detailed guide on the best things to do in the Blue Mountains .
A World Heritage site, Blue Mountains National Park is located 130 km South West of Sydney. It takes about 1.5 – 2 hours to reach the mountains from the Sydney CBD, depending upon whether you are driving or using public transport.
If using public transport from the city, take a train ride from Central Station to Katoomba. From Katoomba, you can either walk to some of the great attractions or take a hop-on hop-off bus to Echo Point, a great launching point for adventures.
Famous for its dramatic scenery, stunning mountains, beautiful valleys, towering waterfalls, rock formations, art galleries, Aboriginal art centres, and eucalyptus forests, there is a huge array of amazing things to see and do in the area. It is easy to see why it is a World Heritage site!
The Three Sisters , Echo Point, Scenic World (offering rides on the railway, skyway, and cable car) & Wentworth Falls are the major attractions, and they will all fill up your time in the area quickly.
There are also quite a few single-day & multi-day hikes in the area which can help extend your time up there. If you’re not a big hiker, consider strolling through the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden.
And if you love local festivals, this is the place to be, with the Blue Mountains Music Festival happening in March, The Winter Magic Festival in June, the fun ‘Christmas in July’ event, and the Leura Garden Festival in October.
Speaking of Leura, this nearby village is a good detour about one hour drive on your way out of Sydney.
If you’re lucky enough to be visiting during the months of July and August, you will even get the chance to witness stunning cherry blooms.
Though the Blue Mountains is a year-round day trip destination, summers can get really hot and winters can get real cold (sometimes even snow!). So having appropriate gear is very important (and a lot of sunscreen!).
If you’re looking to book a day tour including transport from Sydney, lunch and all the best activities to do, the best one available is on Get Your Guide .
2) Wollongong & Kiama
Just an hour’s drive south of Sydney lies the beautiful coastal suburb of Wollongong . And a bit further south from there is Kiama .
If you haven’t already added these spots to your list of day trips from Sydney, add it now!
You can easily travel to Wollongong via public transport. But since the ‘ Grand Pacific Drive ‘ is one of the ‘must-dos’ of Sydney, driving would be a better option.
We recommend renting a car from Rental Cars , the largest and most affordable platform on the net.
While driving along the Grand Pacific Drive, make sure to stop at the Sea Cliff Bridge to get a panoramic view of the bridge and the coastline. Bald Hill is another amazing lookout spot on the route.
Don’t worry, there will be no difficulty in spotting this as you will see many cars parked along it. The only problem will be to find a parking spot!
Not comfortable with driving? No worries – you can book a Grand Pacific Drive day trip from Sydney here .
READ MORE: We’ve just published a complete travel guide to Australia ! Don’t miss it.
Port Kembla beach makes a fantastic day trip, only 10km from Wollongong and one of the most stunning beaches in the region.
If surfing is your thing you’ll be in heaven. Wollongong is home to many surf schools, offering everything from one-hour lessons to four-week intensive classes.
If you are interested in Chinese culture & Buddhism, Nan Tien temple is another interesting stop. You can take the bus from the Unanderra Station, and conveniently enough the bus stops just outside the temple.
Into cycling? The bike trail from Wollongong to Thirroul is another attraction.
The most exciting out of all for me was the Tandem Sky Diving , where I had my very first (and only) skydiving experience.
It is such an incredible sight to behold the coastal line from above and I highly recommend it.
About 30km south of Wollongong lies Kiama , a real gem on the south coast of New South Wales.
The main attraction of Kiama is the natural blowhole which keeps blowing high depending upon the tides. Also, there is a lighthouse located just a short walk away.
Kiama is quite a busy area – the beautiful beaches and the coastal walk are the reason why.
With plenty of food options along the coast, Kiama is an ideal place for a perfect afternoon on the beach.
If you’re planning on making Kiama a day trip from Sydney, we recommend driving though so you can get out to the best spots and back in time for dinner.
Hanging out in Sydney longer? Check out our to have the perfect 3-5 day itinerary here !
Newcastle is located across the Hawkesbury River about two hours north of Sydney and 100 km from Central Coast.
There are regular trains departing from Sydney, or you can drive north as well. Both will take approximately 2:30 – 3 hours and make for a long day trip.
If you are driving and want to explore some beautiful beaches, stop by Pearl Beach near Gosford on the way up. There is a nice walking track that makes for a good place to stretch the legs while driving up to Newcastle.
If you decide to drive, The Entrance is a nice pit stop along the way where you’ll find you can have a cup of coffee or brunch at the wharf.
Newcastle is famous for its beers, beaches & food scene, so make sure you set some time aside to hit up places like Merriweather Beach and try some fish and chips!
Blackbutt Reserve is a nature park that has a lot of wildlife and a few picnic areas. A great spot to hit in case the waves are too rough at the beach.
There is no entry fee, and you get to see peacocks & kangaroos roaming freely.
Fort Scratchley boasts over one hundred years of history of protecting the land from invading naval vessels and is also a great spot for whale watching during winters. There is no entry fee and the guided tour is only $12.50!
Merriweather Ocean Baths are popular sea baths/swimming pools, where locals and tourists enjoy their summer (similar to Bondi Iceberg Pool).
Bogey Hole is a rock pool and another brilliant spot for swimming. The view of the Newcastle coastal line from here is spectacular.
Nobby’s Light House and Newcastle Memorial walk are other interesting things to do.
4) Hunter Valley
Hunter Valley is a bit of a long day trip as it’s 4 hours north of Sydney past Central Coast and Newcastle. But it’s a great destination for all wine aficionados.
The region is the most proclaimed wine region in NSW and showcases dozens of different vineyards.
This is an ideal opportunity to learn about winemaking, the impact of the Australian weather and soil on the winemaking process, and of course to taste world-class wines!
If you don’t know much about wines, the best way to pick and choose a bottle for yourself is to consult the information centre or ask the experts in the cellar doors.
There are other things to see/do in the Hunter region in addition to wine tasting, such as biking through the vineyards, enjoying a romantic stay in one of the boutique vineyards, etc.
Hot Air Balloon Safaris over the wineries is another amazing activity that you don’t want to miss.
Hunter Valley Gardens situated in the heart of the region are a beautiful and serene spot to visit. You will feel like you are in a whole new world compared to the city life you left behind.
5) The Southern Highlands
If you want to relax and enjoy some of the best countryside in NSW, drive south down to the Southern Highlands, located just 2 hours south of Sydney.
This region is for those who would love to see rolling mountains, countryside living, charming village markets, and beautiful wineries.
You’ll find the Southern Highlands is also famous for the beautiful spring colours, and a visit during the month of April will take your breath away!
Day trips to Bowral will bring you to the birthplace of Don Bradman, the greatest cricketer the world has ever seen.
Here you can visit the Bradman Museum and the International Cricket Hall of Fame. Learn all about Bradman’s milestones in his private life as well as in the world of cricket.
Also worth mentioning is that Bowral hosts the Tulip Time Festival in the month of September at Corbett Gardens.
Berrima has a Court House, Heritage Walk, Harper’s Mansion (Gregorian Style mansion), Art Galleries and lots of food shopping centres to keep you engaged.
Also to be found is one of the oldest licensed pubs in Australia, the Surveyor General Inn.
Fitzroy Falls & Mittagong (famous for its stunning wineries and countryside living) are two other places worth paying a visit.
Kangaroo Valley is another great stop in the Southern Highlands about two hours along the south coast from Sydney. It’s wedged between Bowral and Kiama.
A most notable reason to visit Kangaroo Valley is that it is a jumping-off point to explore Fitzroy Falls.
Also when you’re in Kangaroo Valley be sure to walk over the Hampden Bridge Victorian-era suspension bridge over the Kangaroo River.
If you have the time, continue exploring further south into Morton National Park for more hiking trails and wildlife.
Royal National Park is perhaps the most famous national park in all of Australia. It is the oldest national park in Australia and the second oldest in the world behind Yellowstone National Park in the US.
The park is full of stunning coastal scenery and home to many great walks, including the epic Royal Coast Track.
Some other highlights of Royal National Park include Wedding Cake Rock, Wattamolla Beach, Marley Beach, Garie Beach, Jibbon Point, and Eagle Rock. Keep an eye peeled for several places where you can view Aboriginal rock carvings indicating the historical and cultural importance of this park.
You can reach the Royal National Park by public transportation from Central Station as it is only around a 45-minute ride. Of course, if you have your own vehicle this is an easy day trip to make.
READ MORE: Love to hike? Check out our guide to all of the great Royal National Park walks !
Ku Ring Gai Chase National Park is located just over an hour north of Sydney in the Northern Beaches region along the Hawkesbury River. As the second oldest national park in Australia, Ku Ring Gai Chase National Park hosts a variety of wildlife and history.
Whether you want to explore the coastland, rainforest or bush Ku Ring Gai Chase offers it all. The West Head lookout is one of the more popular vistas within the national park.
Where cultural sites such as ancient Aboriginal rock art meet European exploration, the national park gives you the chance to hike, picnic, and explore trails that run through the tributaries and along the Hawkesbury River.
With Royal National Park being the oldest, closest and most popular national park for day trips from Sydney, Ku Ring Gai Chase National Park is the second oldest national park and is well worth your time.
Another nearby option for hiking and exploring the wilderness is Brisbane Water National Park, also on the Hawkesbury River. So for more Sydney day trip ideas, this national park is just in between Ku Ring Gai Chase National Park and Newcastle on the Central Coast. It’s also near the lovely Pearl Beach is you fancy a swim in the ocean.
Port Stephens is another great day trip just over two hours from Sydney to the north. A hot destination among Aussie travellers, Port Stephens offers enough to attract visitors from all over the world.
With many epic beaches , a handful of gorgeous bays and plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy, Port Stephens is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts.
The Stockton sand dunes are a unique attraction to the area. Here you can quad bike through the sand dunes, try sandboarding down the slopes or even ride a camel through the sand.
Port Stephens is also recognized as the dolphin capital of Australia as you are all but guaranteed to see them when you visit. The waters around the area make up Great Lakes Marine Park, so there is lots of marine life. Take a dolphin tour, watch from the beach or cliffs or even go for a swim with the adorable mammals .
If you really want to see some wildlife, koalas are abundant in the area if you can spot them. And you can also spot humpback whales between May to October.
Or hedge your bets and check out dingos, wombats, snakes, koalas, and other native Australian animals at the Oakvale Wildlife Park.
READ MORE: Stay a few extra days in Port Stephens with this itinerary !
Palm Beach is one of the easiest Sydney day trips ideas, as it is just under an hour north of the city on the coastal side of Ku Ring Gai Chase National Park. Known by locals as “Palmy,” Palm Beach is one of the wealthiest suburbs in Australia and part of the northern beaches region of Sydney.
The most popular attraction at Palm Beach is the Barrenjoey Lighthouse at the end of the narrow peninsula.
If you climb to the top of the Barrenjoey Lighthouse you can look out over Ku Rung Gai Chase National Park at the famous West Head beach and rock formations or stare off over the seemingly never-ending Tasman Sea.
But gold sandy beaches and crystal clear water of Palm Beach also attract visitors looking for a beautiful getaway from the city. Dine at some fantastic restaurants and sip your favorite cocktails on the beach.
If you’re interested in hiking there are some great walks around Palm Beach.
There is also great paddleboarding and kayaking around Palm Beach as it is surrounded by plenty of salt water and sunshine!
That’s it for our list of the best day trips from Sydney! What would you add? Let us know in the comments below!
DISCLAIMER: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, which means if you book accommodation, tours or buy a product, we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. These commissions help us keep creating more free travel content to help people plan their holidays and adventures. We only recommend the best accommodations, tours and products that ourselves or our fantastic editorial team have personally experienced, and regularly review these. Thanks for your support, kind friend!
About the Author - Rohini Nair
A techie by profession, travel writer by choice. Born & brought up in India but had the real taste of travel after moving to Australia & then to New Zealand for work. Currently living in Sydney & travelling around the globe. While juggling work & travel, I created Why You Wander as an initiative to help & inspire people to plan short term travel effectively. Strongly believe in Travel being inclusive, and hence constantly exploring ways to travel without compromising on work & family. My key focus for now is Australian Travel & Solo Woman Travel .
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3 thoughts on “The 9 Best Day Trips from Sydney (2023 Guide)”
These are absolutely stunning places! I have yet to really explore Wollongong and Kiama but I’m looking forward to it now after reading this article. Awesome read!
Thank you. Glad you liked the article. 🙂
Hi, Nice blog. Thanks for sharing. Sydney is a nice place for the holiday.
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11 Top-Rated Day Trips from Sydney
Written by Karen Hastings Updated Sep 24, 2021 We may earn a commission from affiliate links ( )
Surrounded by sparkling waterways and World Heritage-listed wilderness areas, Sydney brims with alluring day trip destinations. A short hop from the city, you can see the raw beauty of the Blue Mountains, cruise up the bush-fringed Hawkesbury River, or bask on one of Sydney's golden beaches.
Sydney day trip ideas cover all interests - from sand boarding and fishing at Port Stephens to whale watching along the coast, and wildlife viewing in pristine national parks. Scenic road trips take you to other rewarding places to visit near Sydney - on a Wollongong day trip, you can cruise along the cliff-hugging ocean-view Grand Pacific Drive.
Cultural experiences are just as appealing. Spend a day exploring the galleries, museums, and memorials of Canberra, the nation's capital. Stroll along an Aboriginal heritage trail in beautiful Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, or for something completely different, watch Aussie stockmen round up the sheep on a classic country farm, and sample traditional bush tucker.
Foodies will also be happy. Farm-fresh produce and gourmet restaurants await at some of the quaint country towns in the Southern Highlands and Hunter Valley. Plan your adventures with our list of the best day trips from Sydney.
1. Blue Mountains National Park
2. the hunter valley, 3. manly beach, 4. hawkesbury river cruise, 5. ku-ring-gai chase national park, west head, and the northern beaches, 6. royal national park, 7. port stephens, 8. wollongong & the grand pacific drive, 9. canberra: australia's capital, 10. the southern highlands, 11. tobruk sheep station, map of day trips from sydney.
A UNESCO World Heritage Area of breathtaking beauty, the Blue Mountains is one of the most popular day trips from Sydney. The oil in the eucalyptus leaves scents the air and imbues a blue haze over the park, inspiring its evocative name. When it comes to scenic places around Sydney, it's hard to beat the Blue Mountains.
Tourists and locals alike come here to immerse themselves in the 664,000 acres of unspoiled wilderness. Dense eucalyptus forests, rugged gorges, waterfalls, Aboriginal rock paintings, and more than 140 kilometers of hiking trails are waiting to be explored.
Among the many highlights of the Blue Mountains are the massive rock formations called the Three Sisters , a photographer's favorite; Bridal Veil Falls ; and the hair-raising ride down the Jamison Valley on the Katoomba Scenic Railway . Heart-stopping lookout points abound throughout the park.
Popular things to do here include abseiling, rock climbing, mountain biking, horseback riding, and hiking.
You can access the Blue Mountains by car from the city via the M4 Motorway. This is also one of the most popular day trips from Sydney by train - you can travel from Central Station in Sydney to Blackheath or Katoomba.
Better still, let someone else do the driving and join the Blue Mountains Nature and Wildlife Day Tour from Sydney . On this full-day tour, you can visit the quaint mountain towns of Leura, see kangaroos and koalas at Sydney Zoo, and enjoy spectacular views over the park. Your guide will also share Aboriginal legends behind some of the park's top landmarks. For a different perspective of the park, the optional upgrade includes a ride on the railway or cableway at Scenic World.
About 250 kilometers from Sydney, the Hunter Valley is a popular city escape and a hot spot for foodies. This beautiful, fertile valley is one of Australia's oldest grape-growing regions and is also known for its fresh produce and artisan foods, such as cheeses, chutneys, chocolate, aromatic oils, olives, and luscious golden honey. The region's superb restaurants spotlight this gastronomic bounty in mouthwatering tasting menus.
After sampling all the scrumptious foods, you can work off the calories outdoors. Popular things to do in the Hunter Valley include hiking the nature trails at World Heritage-listed Barrington Tops and Wollemi National Parks , and exploring the region's elegant architecture on heritage trails. You can also soar over the bucolic landscapes in a hot air balloon.
In the 19th century, the Hunter Valley was a prosperous coal mining center, and many of the old mansions in the area reflect this wealth. Stop by the regional museums to learn more about the area's rich history, and save time to admire the exhibitions at Maitland Regional Art Gallery and Newcastle Art Gallery .
Another popular attraction is the Hunter Valley Gardens , with more than 60 acres of horticultural treasures and themed gardens. For travelers on a tight timeline, hot air balloon rides or helicopter rides are a great way to soak up the scenery.
Feasting on fish and chips at the beach is a favorite Aussie dining experience, and Manly is a top spot to indulge. When it comes to Sydney day trip ideas, this is an easy one to organize, and the journey can be just as rewarding as the destination. From Circular Quay, this famous beachfront suburb is a scenic 30-minute ferry ride, with plenty of photo opportunities en-route.
Once here, you can soak up a classic dose of Aussie beach culture. Bask on the golden sands; take a dip in the ocean; surf some fantastic breaks; or head to the Corso, a sunny pedestrian mall, lined with shops, restaurants, and cafés.
At Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary , you can view sea turtles, tropical fish, and sharks, and even organize a dive with these razor-toothed predators.
And yes, there are plenty of fish 'n' chip shops in Manly. So, hop on a ferry and bring your camera for great photo ops of the Sydney Opera House along the way.
About an hour northwest of Sydney, the Hawkesbury is one of the most beautiful rivers in Australia. It played an important part in the early days of the colony of New South Wales. The first settlers arrived in the area in 1794 and established farms that helped feed the colony. Today, farms still dot the surrounding area, and pockets of unspoiled bush flank the river.
The small villages in the region and the main towns of Windsor and Richmond offer tourist attractions, such as heritage buildings, galleries, gardens, museums, and markets.
On the river, water sports abound, particularly in its lower wide reaches between Brooklyn and Pittwater. Waterskiing, wakeboarding, tubing, and fishing are all popular things to do.
The best way to explore these beautiful waterways is by boat. Brooklyn, Bobbin Head, Berowra Waters, and Wisemans Ferry all offer boat rentals, and you can also join a guided cruise, or hop aboard The Riverboat Postman cruise, which delivers mail to settlements along the river that are only accessible by water.
The Hawkesbury River is surrounded by four national parks. It forms a boundary of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park to the north of Sydney, and the southern boundary of Brisbane Water National Park . To the northwest is Dharug National Park , famed for its Aboriginal rock drawings, and to the north of Broken Bay is Bouddi National Park . All offer excellent hiking opportunities and a slice of nature not far from the city.
About 45 minutes north of Sydney's CBD, you can escape to nature at Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, the second oldest national park in Australia. Named for the Guringai aboriginal people who originally lived in this area, the park features beautiful scenery: tranquil bays, bushland creeks, rainforests, eucalyptus forests, and sparkling views along the coast from West Head. From here, you can gaze down upon the blue waters of Pittwater, as well as Broken Bay, Barrenjoey Headland, Lion Island Nature Reserve, and the Central Coast.
You'll find plenty of things to do in Ku-ring-gai National Park. Rewarding activities include hiking the many nature trails, Aboriginal heritage walks, wildlife viewing, birding, and boating on the beautiful bush-fringed waterways. You can rent a boat from Akuna Bay and pull up for a snack or refreshment at one of the cute waterfront cafés or restaurants.
Farther north from here, Palm Beach is a lovely spot to bask on the golden sands, swim, surf, enjoy a picnic, or dine at a beachside café.
The small-group Sydney's Northern Beaches and Ku-ring-gai National Park bus tour covers all the top things to see and do in the area. See Aboriginal rock art in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, soak up the views from The Spit, Narrabeen, and North Head, and glide past the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House on a ferry during the return trip.
Official site: http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/visit-a-park/parks/Kuringgai-Chase-National-Park
Rimmed by 21 kilometers of surfing beaches and cliff-fringed coast, Royal National Park is a haven for nature buffs and beach lovers. Established in 1879, it is the second oldest national park in the world and lies about an hour's drive south of Sydney's central business district, near Cronulla.
The park sits on a sandstone plateau with deeply indented valleys and a covering of heathland. The Hacking River flows through almost its entire length, creating fantastic opportunities for fishing and boating . On the upper course of the river, patches of forest offer prime bushwalking and picnic spots. Along the coast, swimming, snorkeling, surfing, fishing, and whale watching are popular pursuits.
Other attractions in the park include Aboriginal rock art and a vast array of wildlife, including more than 241 species of birds.
To access the park, you can drive or catch a ferry from Cronulla, and some walking trails are accessible from nearby railway stations. A visitor center at Audley provides rest areas, informative exhibits, and a café.
If you want to immerse yourself in this stunning wilderness area, the Day Trip To Cronulla & The Royal National Park takes you to some of the park's hard-to-access areas with an expert guide. On this eight-hour private tour, you can customize your itinerary depending on your interests, from visiting beautiful Garie Beach and the Dharawal Aboriginal Engravings Site to a refreshing soak in the rock pools.
Official site: http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/visit-a-park/parks/Royal-National-Park
Sparkling Port Stephens Bay is a haven for water sports thanks to its Great Lakes Marine Park . This long slice of beautiful bushy coastline lies about 200 kilometers from Sydney's CBD and is more than twice the size of Sydney Harbour, providing plenty of space to get out on the water.
Your biggest dilemma is deciding what to do first. Take your pick: Swim at one of more than 20 pristine beaches, snorkel and dive at Fly Point , surf the swells, go sailing, paddle a kayak, or take a boat cruise. Port Stephens is also one of the top fishing destinations in Australia .
For a breathtaking overview of the region, take the short walk to Gan Gan Lookout, or hike to the top of Tomaree Headland Lookout to admire beautiful views over the bay and islands.
Marine life is also a top draw here. You can swim with wild dolphins, hop aboard a dolphin-watching cruise, or look for migrating humpback whales from November to May.
While you're in the area, stop by Nelson Bay , one of the main towns. Explore the cute shops and fabulous restaurants or stroll along the seaside promenade.
Another fun adventure in the area is sand boarding down the Stockton Bight Sand Dunes , Australia's largest system of dunes. Some rise up to 30 meters in height. You can also explore them on horseback or camelback, or venture in via 4WD.
Port Stephens is also known for its fresh local produce, such as avocados, figs, olives, and macadamia nuts. Sample them at the local farmers markets.
To experience all the region's highlights, the Port Stephens Private Bus Tour from Sydney is a great option. On this exhilarating full-day excursion, you'll explore all the region's natural highlights with an optional dolphin or whale watching cruise, depending on the season. Another optional add-on is a sand-boarding adventure at Anna Bay.
Sun-drenched beaches, bike trails, botanic gardens, and museums - you'll find all this and more in Wollongong. About 80 kilometers south of Sydney, Wollongong ("The Gong") is the state's third largest city, and it's a great spot for a scenic day road trip along the Grand Pacific Drive .
Stretching from the Royal National Park to Nowra, this 140-kilometer scenic drive snakes along the rugged and rocky coast, past surf-washed beaches and over the iconic Sea Cliff Bridge, which juts out over the sea, tracing the contours of the wind-weathered cliffs. From the viewing platform on the bridge, you can gaze out over mesmerizing views of the Pacific Ocean and look for migrating whales, in season.
Foodies will also find a diverse array of cafés in the city. Seafood features prominently on Wollongong menus, but you'll find everything here, from vegan food to Vietnamese.
Students from the University of Wollongong fuel the bubbly nightlife , and the city's vibrant arts and culture lure loads of day-trippers and weekend wanderers. Admire Aboriginal art at Wollongong Art Gallery . Stroll through the floral wonders at Wollongong Botanic Garden . See a live Bubbleology show at the Science Space Museum, or chill out at the Nan Tien Temple, the Southern Hemisphere's largest Buddhist shrine .
Prefer outdoor fun? Surf, swim, or paddle along a string of glorious beaches - Austinmer is a favorite, and Belmore Basin offers calm waters for paddling. Or head to the bush. Hike through rainforest, or bike along more than 42 kilometers of trails. Are adrenaline-fueled sports more your style? Hang-glide at Stanwell Park, or sign up for a skydiving adventure. With all these things to do, you might have to turn your Wollongong day trip into a weekend.
Packed with cultural attractions, Canberra in the ACT (Australian Capital Territory) is home to fabulous museums, art galleries, and memorials. This consciously crafted capital of Australia lies about three hours' drive from Sydney and a similar distance from Melbourne. The site was chosen in 1908 as a compromise between these two competing cities.
Designed by award-winning American architects Walter Burley Griffin and his wife, Marion Mahony Griffin, Canberra features expansive parklands, colorful gardens, and a quirky geometric layout. Most of the prime tourist attractions fan out from Lake Burley Griffin , the artificial lake that is the city's centerpiece.
While you're there, be sure to visit New Parliament House, which opened in 1988 after an extensive facelift, and try to time your visit when parliament is in session. Old Parliament House is now home to the excellent Museum of Australian Democracy.
Other highlights include the National Museum of Australia, Questacon - the National Science and Technology Center , the National Library , the National Gallery of Australia, the National Portrait Gallery, and the poignant Australian War Memorial .
To appreciate the city's design, visit the summit of 843-meter-high Mount Ainslie . You can drive to the lookout or wander along the two-kilometer trail from the Australian War Memorial.
To see all the top attractions in one day, sign up for the Canberra Full Day Private Tour . This customizable full-day tour from Sydney will take you to your choice of attractions with an expert guide.
Gorgeous gardens, wildlife-rich wilderness areas, and cute country towns are some of the many attractions of the Southern Highlands. About a 90-minute drive from Sydney, this is a great place to see native Australian animals in their natural habitat.
Morton National Park , near Fitzroy Falls , is home to the town's namesake 81-meter-high waterfalls, as well as scenic walking trails through rainforest-cloaked gorges; wildflowers; panoramic lookouts; and many species of birds and animals, including kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, echidnas, platypuses, and possums. Lying mostly within the park, the Kangaroo Valley is among Australia's prettiest valleys.
Thanks to the Southern Highland's fertile soils, fresh produce is abundant. And you can sample some of the local specialties at the cozy cafés and restaurants in the small towns and heritage villages.
The region's main towns of Berrima, Bowral, Bundanoon, Mittagong, and Moss Vale are worth exploring. The main attractions here range from historic buildings, art galleries, and local craft studios to boutiques, spas, antique shops, and gardens.
The Southern Highlands are usually cooler than the city with less humidity, so this is a popular country escape on sweltering summer days.
Tobruk Sheep Station offers an authentic taste of Aussie culture. The journey here is scenic in itself. The station lies in the beautiful Hawkesbury River Valley, 70 minutes from downtown Sydney . Along the way, you can admire views of the Hawkesbury River and the Blue Mountains.
Whip-cracking, boomerang throwing, and sheep-shearing demonstrations provide a feel for the life of a typical Aussie stockman, and you can watch them skillfully mustering the sheep with the help of well-trained sheepdogs.
Another favorite activity here is learning how to bake damper (traditional Australian bread) over a crackling fire, and make billy tea. You can also enjoy a classic Aussie BBQ complete with traditional lamington cakes (vanilla sponge cakes smothered in chocolate and coconut) for dessert. This is one of the best day trips from Sydney for families.
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15 Best Day Trips from Sydney
Sydney has long been one of Australia’s most iconic cities and many would argue its merit as the nation’s cultural capital is thanks to instantly recognisable sights like the beautiful Sydney Opera House.
However, a trip here also means a world of possibilities outside the city limits and you’ll be hard pressed to find a region with more to offer than the area surrounding Sydney.
With genuinely unparalleled beauty in every direction, you can head up into the mountains or relax on one of the countless gorgeous beaches.
You can take river cruises and marvel at Australia’s famed wildlife or you can immerse yourself in culture on aboriginal heritage trails.
You can partake in every extreme sport imaginable or you can sample some of the finest cuisine in the country.
Sydney truly is a gateway to endless possibilities – so check out this handy guide to find out where to start.
1. Palm Beach
Famous nationwide and indeed, around the globe, for its stunning golden sand, sweeping coastal views and world-class surf, Palm Beach is an ideal and convenient city escape to unwind in the sun.
Thanks to its location on the popular Northern Beaches, the area also happens to be a hotbed of activity.
You can hire a boat to whisk you round the turquoise waters, hike around the sand dunes near the Barrenjoey Lighthouse or play a relaxing game of golf.
If you work up an appetite, there are countless places to whet your appetite, including the highly recommended Boathouse where you can indulge in the freshest of seafood.
2. Royal National Park
Boasting the title of the second oldest National Park in the world, the Royal National Park combines pristine beaches with cliff-fringe forest peppered with valleys and rivers – creating a veritable haven for nature lovers and adventurers.
If you want to push into the heathland, then hiring a canoe and heading up the Hacking River is a favourite option, or if you want to stick to the coast, you can hike the expansive cliff network.
Whether you travel with a guide on The Royal National Park Coastal Tour or you explore by yourself, the attractions are truly endless, with everything on offer from whale-watching to bushwalking to snorkelling, fishing and surfing.
3. Hunter Valley
A couple of hours away from Sydney, you’ll find not only an area of gastronomic prowess and a unanimously agreed upon foodie haven, but also a prime hiking destination popular with nature lovers.
Hunter Valley is a fertile valley famous for its fresh produce such as cheeses and oils and is full of excellent restaurants offering succulent tasting menus.
To work up your appetite however, you can embark on World Heritage-listed nature trails like Wollemi National Parks or the Hunter Valley Gardens.
Here you can find eucalyptus fields, kangaroo populations and much more.
4. Blue Mountains National Park
A beautifully surreal destination for a day trip, the Blue Mountains National Park gets its name from the blue haze that lies over the mountains as a result of the hundreds of thousands of eucalyptus plants gently releasing their scented oil into the air.
The area is a vast expanse of unspoiled wilderness, packed with gorges, hiking trails, eucalyptus forest and aboriginal rock paintings.
A guided tour will teach you all about the various flora and fauna as well as the legendary aboriginal stories whereas an unguided tour will give you the chance to explore the various attractions and breathtaking viewpoints at your own pace.
5. Manly Beach
A mere 30 minutes by ferry from Circular Quay, you’ll find the beloved beachfront suburb of Manly Beach, where the water is deep blue and feasting yourself on fish and chips is mandatory.
This coastal community offers everything you could want when it comes to classic Australian beach culture, including excellent waves to surf, beachfront shops, malls and restaurants, not to mention a gorgeous beach to bask on.
A veritable hotbed of beach activity that is irresistibly close to Sydney, you’ll be tempted to come back to Many Beach over and over again.
6. Hawkesbury River
Forming the boundary of the Ku-ring-gai National Park, the Hawkesbury River was one of the first settled rivers in Australia and to this day still has some original farms dotted along its banks.
A tour along the river will take you past various small villages and its highly recommended to explore the towns of Richmond or Windsor to explore their markets, galleries, listed buildings and rich histories.
7. Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park
Incredibly, less than an hour away from Sydney lies one of the Australia’s most historically significant national parks, on account of its Aboriginal heritage.
The deep-rooted cultural roots here can be experienced as you trek through the bush on the Aboriginal Heritage Walk where you’ll discover ancient rock paintings, engravings and handprints at numerous indigenous sites.
As well as this, the area is without a doubt, stunningly beautiful and you can soak up the panoramic views from places like West Head Lookout.
8. Port Stephens
Home to more than 20 beaches, Port Stephens Bay is a marine playground twice the size of Sydney Harbour, comprising of an enormous stretch of golden sands and bushy coastline.
Whether you want to swim with dolphins, go on a whale-watching cruise, snorkel or partake in watersports, it’s all possible thanks to the Great Lakes Marine Park that resides in the Port Stephens area.
If you’re looking for photo opportunities, then head up to one of the famed viewpoints such as Gan Gan Lookout or Tomaree Headland lookout where you’ll be rewarded with incredible panoramic views off the beautiful coastline.
Beloved capital of the nation and filled to the brim with cultural attractions, Canberra is a meticulously designed city with quirky aesthetics in mind and countless activities to keep you entertained.
From fantastic museums, galleries and gardens, Canberra exhibits all the characteristics of a popular and prospering capital.
You can actually view its deliberate design from the summit of Mount Ainslie, where you’ll notice the geometric array of colorful parkland fanning out from Lake Burley Griffin at the center.
At three hours from Sydney, an overnight stay might be in order but it’s also a wonderful place just to spend the day.
10. The Southern Highlands
A vast area containing a great many popular destinations, The Southern Highlands are known for their incomparable beauty full of spectacular waterfalls, gorges swathed in lush green rainforests and valleys teeming with native Australian wildlife.
In fact, this is one of the area’s highlights as you can find everything from kangaroos to wombats to platypuses and possums here.
A great way to truly appreciate the breathtaking majesty of the area is to head up to Morton National Park, which contains some of the region’s best lookout points.
11. Tobruk Sheep Station
One for either sheep lovers or those looking to get a rare insight into traditional rural Aussie culture, Tobruk Sheep Station is located in the picturesque Hawkesbury River Valley and once you arrive, you’ll be treated to a day filled with boomerang throwing, sheep-shearing and herding and a host of other activities that demonstrate the life of an Australian ranch hand.
Ideal for families, you can also enjoy an Australian barbecue and learn how to bake traditional bread over a crackling fire.
12. Kangaroo Valley
Though kangaroos can be found here, the name is a slight misnomer owing to the fact that the highlight of this region a couple of hours south of Sydney isn’t in fact kangaroos, but the rich gastronomic culture that exists here.
From wine tasting at the Yarrawa Estate Winery to the Flavours of the Valley Foodie Trail where you can sample or learn gourmet cooking, the fertile lands perfectly lend themselves to a number of mouthwatering experiences.
For something a little more active, you can also kayak down Kangaroo River or embark on a horseback ride through rainforests and open plains.
The verdant green coastal cliffs of Kiama provide the perfect place to escape from the city for a few hours and provide a wonderfully picturesque backdrop to the many rocky shores, private beaches and rivers below.
Though you can keep yourself entertained wandering around this beautiful region, you can also partake in a number of activities like kayaking tours, outdoor rock climbing and dolphin watching cruises.
One of the highlights of the area however, is the Kiama Blowhole, which creates a majestic fountain of water propelled out of a blowhole in the side of the cliff.
14. Mermaid Pools
The Mermaid Pools are a series of idyllic pools and springs fed by rivers from the Tahmoor Gorge deep in the Australian bush.
Reaching them is an adventure in itself as you need to navigate steep rocky platforms and steps to get there, but it’s well worth the effort once you arrive.
An undisputed highlight is the stop at The See Through Pools which are ideal for swimming in due to the clarity of the water and the unobstructed views of the underwater rock formations.
15. Stanwell Park
Most famously known for being the location of the first box kite flight, Stanwell Park is now a hotbed of paragliding and hang gliding activity, concentrated around Bald Hill.
It’s a wonderful place to spend the day and enjoy lunch outdoors while watching the various aeronautical enthusiasts float around.
The moderately light hike along the Wodi Wodi walking track is also an ideal option for those looking to enjoy some coastal views and if you’re tempted, you can also make your way down to one of the golden beaches for a swim.
15 Best Day Trips from Sydney:
- Royal National Park
- Hunter Valley
- Blue Mountains National Park
- Manly Beach
- Hawkesbury River
- Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park
- Port Stephens
- The Southern Highlands
- Tobruk Sheep Station
- Kangaroo Valley
- Mermaid Pools
- Stanwell Park
The Best Day Trips From Sydney
Today we have listed the best day trips from Sydney that can be reached in less than 2.5 hours. There is an abundance of beautiful places to visit right on the city’s doorstep, so how do you decide which ones to visit? Well, that’s where we come in, read on for the places we think are perfect for a day out of the city.
Day trips from Sydney you can make in under two hours
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Surrounding the city of Sydney, we have beautiful national parks, picturesque country towns, and hundreds of pristine beaches. So it’s time to leave Sydney Harbour behind and jump in the car.
While it was tempting to include some great places an hour further down the road, we feel driving any longer than two and a half hours each way requires an overnight stop or a day tour where someone else is doing the driving. If you are happy to drive 3 hours each way, then check out our full list of places to visit from Sydney in our Getaways Section where we share lots more ideas for weekend trips from the harbour city.
Many of these day trips are best visited by car but when there are public transport options or guided tours available we will point them out in case you don’t have a car or prefer not to drive in Australia .
Let’s start with the obvious and work our way through this list of Sydney day trips to discover some hidden gems.
Whether you are a local looking for a day out or a visitor on a mission to see more than the city sights, I am sure one of these ideas will appeal.
In this article we focus on day trips, what’s the difference you ask? Well, we are going with day trips being trips you can do by car or public transport. Day tours we define as run by tour operators.
We have written about the best day tours from Sydney here and here . We have added a couple of day tours below where they are a good fit and to give you a choice if public transport is not straightforward.
This post contains affiliate links. Our full disclosure policy is here .
The Blue Mountains
If you have spent any time on this site, you probably already know we are huge fans of the Blue Mountains . Only 90 minutes west of the city the area is full of lovely small towns and lookouts over some of Australia’s most stunning landscapes. If you have never been, make The Blue Mountains National Park one of the first day trips you take. Why visit: Its World Heritage status puts it on the top of many visitors lists, but it’s also a must-do for hikers and photographers who will be spoilt for choice with the lookouts, waterfalls and Blue Mountains National Park walking tracks .
Key spots to see:
- Three Sisters – The
- Wentworth Falls – home of the Blue Mountains National Parks’ most popular waterfall
- Scenic World – ride the cable car, skyway and Scenic Railway.
- Leura Village – cute shops and beautiful gardens
- Katoomba Town Centre with its art galleries and adventure stores
- Govert’s Leap and Blackheath
- Mount Tomah Botanic Gardens
- Breenhold Gardens – stunning in autumn and spring
- The art deco gem – the Hydro Majestic Hotel complex
Check out our guide of the top 50 things to do art do in the Blue Mountains for more ideas.
How to get there
- Train from Central to any of the Blue Mountain towns, Katoomba or Leura is the easiest. Public buses service the mountains’ main villages.
- Take the train and then the Blue Mountains HOHO bus .
- Drive from Sydney along the M4 and the Great Western Highway. We have written some easy to follow itineraries here.
- Take one of the excellent Blue Mountains Day tours we have written about.
Read more: Our Blue Mountains by train itinerary might be helpful.
The Hunter Valley wine region
The Hunter Valley is Australia’s oldest wine-producing region and the perfect spot for food lovers to visit for a day out of Sydney. The towns of Pokolbin, Rothbury, and Broke all offer pretty vineyards and cellar doors and excellent restaurants.
Why visit: The Hunter is a wine region that produces a lot of Australia’s high-quality Shiraz and Semillon, perfect for trying at one of the many cellar door wine tastings. Add to this, lots of fantastic dining choices and interesting landscapes, and you have the makings of a great day out.
- Hunter Valley Gardens – if you are a garden lover then Hunter Valley Gardens is a must.
- Binorie Dairy – because it has THE best Cheese
- Drive – Take the M1 Pacific Motorway from Sydney to Cessnock, then follow signs to the Visitors Centre, which should be your first stop!
- Public transport to the vineyards is not a good idea, there are no direct services from Sydney and will take more time than it’s worth for a day trip
- Join a tour from Sydney let someone else drive.
Read more: Check out our review of iHop Hunter Valley .
If you have more than a few days’ to spare you could easily string these next few day tours together for a fantastic weekend out of Sydney. To make the easier for you, we have listed them in order from north to south along the coast and then heading back to Sydney via the Southern Highlands.
The Royal National Park
The Royal National Park is the second oldest national park in the world and right on Sydney’s doorstep at less than an hour’s drive from the centre of town. The park has plenty to offer day-trippers with rock engraving sites, waterfalls, and iconic hiking tracks like the Coast Walk. Being less well known than the Blue Mountains is another bonus when it comes to crowds and parking.
Why visit: Great hiking trails and fantastic coastal scenery make this a perfect stop for outdoor types.
- Wattamolla Beach and waterfall
- Bundeena Rock art
- Figure 8 Pools and Wedding Cake Rock
- Audley rowboats
How to get there:
- Drive south from the city along the Princes Highway to Loftus and the park entry signs.
- Take the train to Cronulla and then the ferry to Bundeena
- Take the train to Loftus and the tram from the Tram Museum into the park.
- Walk into the park from Otford or Heathcote stations. Several walking trails begin from these points.
If you want to see the Instagram famous Figure 8 Pools , we really do recommend you join a tour. This spot can be quite dangerous if you don’t know what you are doing. There is only one operator licensed for tours , and they do a fantastic job.
Related: Check out our easy bush walks for families for more ideas
Stanwell Tops and Sea Cliff Bridge
Just the other side of the Royal National Park, Stanwell Point is a popular hang gliding spot and offers fantastic views down the coast to Wollongong. It’s an easy drive through the Royal National Park and a lovely day away from the city.
Why visit: Along with the stunning views, Stanwell Tops has a place in Australian aviation history was the place that Lawrence Hargrave, who invented the box kite, flew his creation. There is a memorial commemorating his achievements.
- Bald Hill lookout to watch the hang gliders
- Symbio Wildlife Park
- Seacliff Bridge
- Austinmer Hotel beer garden
- Thirroul Village – DH Lawrence spent a few months here in 1922 writing the novel Kangaroo.
- Drive through the national park for the scenic route
- Drive via the M1/A1 for a quicker, more direct journey – turn off at Sublime Point and head back north for Stanwell Tops.
- One hour train to Otford and 30 minutes walk to Stanwell Tops. There are also buses to Symbio Wildlife Park. You can also continue by train to Thirroul.
If you prefer, someone else worries about the logistics we like this tour that includes Symbio Wildlife Park, Sea Cliff Bridge, and a local winery.
Read more: Check out our guide to exploring the Grand Pacific Tourist Drive .
Wollongong and Nan Tien Temple
Wollongong is New South Wales third biggest city and home to the Southern Hemisphere’s largest Buddhist Temple. Once referred to as “steel city” because of the large steelworks in the region was its best-known feature. In recent years locals have discovered it has much to offer.
Why visit: Beaches, street art, lunch by the ocean.
- Wollongong Botanic Gardens – lovely indigenous plant collection
- North Wollongong Beach
- Wollongong Harbour and twin lighthouses
- Wollongong street art
- The Nan Tien Temple complex
- Popular skydiving spot
- Drive down the Southern Freeway from Sydney, about 90 minutes
- Take the train from Central – it’s a scenic 1.5 hour trip along the coast for much of the way. You can reach the temple via bus from Unanderra Station.
Kiama and Berry
Less than 40km down the road from Wollongong finds you firmly in dairy country with lush green hills running down to the ocean. Cattle farming, which began here in 1803, is still a vital industry in these parts. These two south coast towns provide the perfect contrast for a day trip. Kiama is a typical seaside village, nearby Jamberoo is also worth a stop for its amusement park , particularly if you are travelling with kids. Berry a pretty village full of historic buildings, cafes and gift and homeware shops.
Why visit: Rolling green hills and classic golden sand beaches are reason enough, but the area also boasts vineyards, great seafood and is just so darn pretty. We have shared 15 reasons to visit Kiama if you need more convincing.
- Cathedral Rocks – a photographers’ delight
- The famous Kiama Blowhole
- Minnamurra Rainforest
- Gerroa and Seven Mile Beach lookout
- Gerringong Beach
- Berry main street shops
- An easy 2 hr drive along the M1 and onto the Princes Highway to Kiama.
- Train from Central to Kiama will allow you to see many of the sights on the list, but you will need a car to reach Gerringong, Gerroa and Berry.
Southern Highlands, Berrima and Bowral
Bowral is the largest town in the Southern Highlands region of NSW. Berrima is a small village just 10km to the southwest. Together, they provide a lovely glimpse of an area that was a popular summer retreat for the upper classes in the 1930s and 1940s.
Why visit: Cute country villages and several waterfalls make this a lovely day trip. It is particularly pretty in spring when Sydneysiders flock down for the Tulip Festival held from late September and to early October.
Many people mistakenly think Australian cricket great Don Bradman was born in Bowral; however, Cootamundra holds that honour. Bradman did however live here as a child, and this is where he learned to play cricket. Drop into the visitor’s centre, and they can fill you in.
- Don Bradman Oval and the International Cricket Hall of Fame at Bowral
- Bowral Bookshops
- Fitzroy Falls, Belmore Falls and Carrington Falls – visit one or all
- Berrima Village with its 15 heritage buildings
- The Surveyor General Inn at Berrima – the oldest continuously licensed inn in Australia.
- Southern Highlands vineyards – Centennial Vineyards is particularly picturesque
- 2 hrs north of Sydney by car along the M31.
- Buses and trains run from Sydney to Bowral, but beyond Bowral township, this area is best toured by car.
- Want a tour? This Walking with the Wombats tour includes wildlife and the Southern Highlands waterfalls in one day. Alternatively, food lovers will enjoy this Taste of the Highlands experience.
Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park
It’s hard to beat this National Park only 40km north of the CBD for a day immersed in nature. In less than 50 minutes you can be exploring this bushland and its water views.
Why visit? So many reasons! Aboriginal heritage, wildflowers, beaches, stunning lookouts, and fantastic hiking tracks.
- Aboriginal Walk aka the Resolute Loop Trail
- America Bay Track
- West Head Lookout
- Red Hands Cave
- Bobbin Head picnic grounds
- 50 minutes north of Sydney by car along the Pacific Highway
- The only way in via public transport is via Palm Beach ferry to Mackerel.
Fancy someone else does the hard work? There are a couple of tours to this area one of our favourites is the Ku-ring-gai National Park Aboriginal Explorer tour . We highly recommend this tour for anyone wanting to get a bit off the beaten track and learn more about Aboriginal Australians. You can also book a tour inside the park with Guringai Aboriginal Tours , but you will need a car to get there.
Palm Beach and Pittwater
Palm Beach is the setting of Australia’s longest-running soap opera Home and Away. It is also a spot wealthy Sydneysiders head for summer breaks. It’s pretty easy to see why from the image below. The Pacific Ocean on one side and the pristine Pittwater Basin on the other make Palm Beach hard to resist.
Sitting on the tip of the Barrenjoey Headland and technically still part of Sydney, Palm Beach is the northernmost suburb of the city.
- Barrenjoey Lighthouse and the walking track
- Eat fish and chips on the beach
- Splurge on lunch at the Boathouse
- Visit the Bible Garden – for the views – no need to be a bible reader 😉
- Take one of the local Palm Beach ferry rides
- Drive from Sydney along the M1 and then Barrenjoey Road. Traffic can be a challenge and parking is $20 per car.
- The bus from Wynyard Station is an easy and leisurely way to arrive.
- You can also take a special Home and Away focused tour which may appeal to fans!
Related: Our guide to visiting and walking in Palm Beach
Hawkesbury River and Dangar Island
The Hawkesbury River region is extensive, but today we are focused on the riverside town of Brooklyn . The big drawcards to the area are its easy access to the waterway and the very lovely Dangar Island.
Why visit: Four national parks surround the Hawkesbury River making it a hot stop for fishing and boating.
- Brooklyn – rent your own boat for the day
- The Riverboat Postman
- Dangar Island Ferry and Island walk
- Berowra Waters
- One hour drive up the M1 Freeway from Sydney.
- 75 minutes on the train from Central and then a ferry ride to Dangar Island.
Related: Get an insider’s view of Dangar Island with the article from island local Joanne.
Woy Woy and the Central Coast
Just 90 minutes drive from Sydney the suburbs of the lower Central Coast are almost an extension of the Sydney suburbs. We like this area so much we have purchased a property here to move to one day.
Why visit? Fresh seafood, quiet bushwalks, and uncrowded beaches make this a perfect day out of Sydney.
- Ettalong Beach
- Pearl Beach
- Australian Reptile Park
- Brisbane Water National Park has some great walks
- Somersby Falls
- Distillery Botanica and Six Strings Brewing
- Bouddi National Park
- A 70-minute drive up the M1 from Sydney to the Reptile Park. Then continue on 10 mins or so to the Woy Woy or Gosford exits for other attractions.
- You can take the train to Woy Woy and use local transport to Ettalong Beach, Umina Beach or Pearl Beach.
Related: Our weekend in Ettalgong might give you more ideas .
The second-largest city in New South Wales has a lot to offer visitors but often gets overlooked due to its history as a coal-mining town but times have changed, and so has Newcastle.
Why visit: Newcastle’s gem is its beaches, but it also has a thriving art scene and a free wildlife park!
- Explore Hunter Street cafes and shops
- Visit Fort Scratchley
- See how many of Newcastles Beaches you can visit in one weekend
- Newcastle ANZAC Memorial Walk
- Blackbutt Reserve – Native Australian animals and free entry
- Caves Beach at Lake Macquarie
- Nobbys Lighthouse
- 2.5 hours north of Sydney on the M1
- 2.5 hour train ride from Central – choose an express train, or it will take longer
Related: Check out our Newcastle weekend getaway for more ideas
We are pushing the time limit a little here but if you are up for it a visit to Port Stephens is well worth your effort. Know upfront though this is a big day of driving and best with 2 of you sharing the load. A water wonderland with its own dolphin pod living in the surrounding waters. Port Stephens is off most international visitors radars, and that’s a shame because its beaches are stunning and it offers a fantastic range of adventure activities.
Why visit: Port Stephens is twice the size of Sydney Habour and every bit as beautiful with more than 25 beaches to keep you busy it’s a top pick for water lovers.
- Tomaree Headland Lookout
- Gan Gan Lookout (less strenuous than Tomaree)
- Stockton Sand Dunes
- Dolphin Watching from Nelson Bay
- Zenith and Wreck Beaches
- 2 hours 20 minutes along the M1 Motorway
- Port Stephens Express Bus from Central Station suitable for an overnight trip only
- Without a car, we highly recommend you take a day trip like this one that includes the sand dunes and Port Stephens waterways and dolphins.
Related: See how The Boy Eats World team spend their day getting adventurous in Port Stephens
Too many choices and not enough time? Let us help you decide…
Best day trip from Sydney by car?
A day at Kur-Ring-Gai National Park swimming, walking, discovering wildflowers and aboriginal rock engravings and taking in all the lookouts is a perfect day out of Sydney. At less than 50km from the centre of town, it’s not too long in the car either.
The best Sydney day trip from without a car?
The day trip to Palm Beach is an excellent public transport trip. Ride the bus along the beautiful northern beaches is lovely and once you get there, an easy bushwalk to the lighthouse and a ride on the ferry across Pittwater make a great day out any time of the year.
Best day trip from Sydney by train?
One of the easiest is the Hawkesbury River/Dangar Island combination. It’s a comfortable train ride, a short walk to the ferry terminal and then a pleasant ride over to Dangar Island. Once there you can do a circular walk around the island, visit the local club or have some lunch at the general store. My friend Joanne lives on the island and has a great article about exploring Dangar Island . Every time I visit, I feel like I have travelled a million miles from Sydney in just over an hour.
Which best day trip is best made with a tour operator?
Visits to Port Stephens and the Hunter Valley are both great options for letting the professionals organise your day for you if you don’t have a car. In the Hunter you will be free to drink all the wine and the Port Stephens day is a long one with a bit of work required to synchronise the sites and attractions into a one day visit.
Best day trip from Sydney for families?
Heading south to Stanwell Tops and the Grand Pacific Drive is a great day out for families. Symbio Wildlife Park is fantastic, and kids will love spending time here. Follow this with a swim at Cronulla beaches or a stop at the Loftus Tram Museum for a full day out.
Well, we hope you have found something you like among these places to go 2 hours from Sydney but if you need more ideas, check out more things to do here .
Featured image: Zenith Beach Port Stephens
4 thoughts on “The Best Day Trips From Sydney”
Hunter Valley sure looks like a place I would enjoy visiting 🙂 Merry christmas from Stockholm Sweden!
Great post. Super informative. I was just in Australia for the first time in November. I didn’t get to Sydney but was in Adelaide, Brisbane, and Melbourne. If I go back I am putting Nobby’s Lighthouse on my list. WOW.
Hey ! where the photo at the very top was taken? Looks amazing and exactly where I want to head today ! Thank you for all your info!
The photo at the very top was taken at Zenith Beach in Port Stephens. The first photo in the article itself is from Mount Ettalong Lookout between Umina and Pearl Beach on the Central Coast. Hope you have a great day!
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3 Best Day Trips from Sydney
By Sophie Davies
It’s tough to tear yourself away from Sydney’s embrace, but these three dreamy day trips offer more than enough temptation. A 90-minute drive west of NSW’s epicenter, the Blue Mountain region is heaven for hikers, with colorful views from wilderness lookouts hinging on every turn. Up north, Palm Beach and its fellow Northern Beaches offer surf-lapped shores and waterfront dining. For a grape escape, there’s the rolling Hunter Valley, where cellar doors beckon for tastings. Who knows? You might even find a new weeknight vino to replace that C+ merlot you’ve been swigging.
Click the link to read our complete Sydney guide .
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Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley Arrow
Darwin stopped off at this pine-shrouded valley, three hours west of Sydney , on his journey through Australia in the early 1800s. The steep cliffs, lush forests and waterfalls, and countless Aussie critters are thoroughly captivating. Kangaroos dart into view, unconcerned by the human activity on this eco-retreat’s 7,000 acres, which were fortunately spared from the bushfires that ravaged the area late last year. The homestead where Darwin stayed is now a museum. At the rest of the custom-built property, furniture is made from upcycled eucalyptus, while the showers in the 40 villas run on rainwater. The house gin, 1832 Wolgan, is second only to all that surrounding nature. It’s best drunk veranda-side in a G&T, where the classic juniper notes are boosted with a herb-y dose of local tea tree. From here, plot out the next day’s hike around the reserve. And keep an eye out for a grove of trees that even Darwin didn’t notice. These Wollemi pines were thought to be extinct, until a bushwalker chanced upon them in the 1990s. The hotel has since nurtured new plantings—this place was eco-conscious from inception. Doubles from $1,295.
Spicers Sangoma Retreat Arrow
Named after the Zulu word for ‘healer,’ Spicers Sangoma Retreat plays the part—the cocooning sanctuary sits in the foothills of the Blue Mountains, just an 80-minute drive from Sydney (but oh, how far away it feels). The eco-certified luxury escape is also over an hour away from regional hub Katoomba's tourist-flocked trails, so you (and the rest of Spicers' typically trendy guest set) will enjoy a tranquil getaway, surrounded by lofty views of verdant bush and Bowen Mountain.
Lilianfels Resort & Spa Arrow
Situated on the edge of a dramatic escarpment above Jamison Valley, Lilianfels Resort & Spa has one of—if not the—best vantage points from which to appreciate the Blue Mountains’ natural charms. It's also just a short stroll from Katoomba’s Echo Point and iconic rock stacks The Three Sisters. Traditionalists will appreciate the genteel decor in the hotel’s 89 guest rooms and suites, which team Wedgwood wallpaper in pink, lilac, or green with pretty patterned curtains and canopies over wrought-iron—though make sure to opt for a room with a view of the valley below. That's something to wake up to.
Blue Mountains National Park Arrow
Blue Mountains National Park is one of Sydney's best known scapes, and for good reason: the refuge promises epic escarpments and bush walks west of town. Founded in 1959, it sprawls over 156,000 acres and is part of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, popular with locals and international visitors. Tracks are fairly well signposted, but you'll want to check difficulty levels on the website first (and keep a watch for any alerts, which the Park also posts there). To experience nature's charms without breaking too much of a sweat, board Scenic World’s Skyway or Cableway for a smooth ride above the hills.
Echoes Boutique Hotel & Restaurant Arrow
With an enviable position right at the edge of the Jamison Valley escarpment at Echo Point, the rooms at Echoes have pretty fantastic set-ups; you can gaze from your bed straight out over the rugged valleys of the Blue Mountains . (Common spaces, like the dining terrace, also have pretty spectacular views.)
Valley Bar & Terrace Lounge Arrow
The bar may be intimate and cosy, but the views are epic and sweeping at Valley Bar & Terrace Lounge, part of the stylish modern-rustic Main Homestead at Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley. Skip the cocktails and go straight for any of the 150 Aussie-centric bottles from house the wine cellar. In cooler months, curl up in an armchair by the fireplace and play a game of chess or backgammon; when it warms up, unwind outside on the expansive veranda, where you'll have jaw-dropping panoramas of the verdant valley below.
The Lookout Echo Point Arrow
This three-in-one dining venue above the Blue Mountains is all about options: for breathtaking views, there's the casual Restaurant 1128, where blonde wood and pastel-pretty chairs create a retro Fifties mood (though, we like to sit out on the wraparound terrace when the weather cooperates). For a bit of grab-and-go, there's Milkbar, offering up breakfast, lunch, tea, and treats, as well as the copper- and wood-clad Bar NSW, serving local wine, beer, cider and cocktails. Drop in for a relaxed meal pre- or post-trekking, or after you've fully admired The Three Sisters.
Three Sisters Arrow
Rising up from the northern escarpment of the Jamison Valley, this massive, iconic rock formation is arguably the most famous site in all the Blue Mountains. Formed by thousands of years of erosion, the peaks—named Meehni (3,024 feet), Wimlah (3,011 feet) and Gunnedoo (2,972 feet)—feature prominently in Aboriginal folklore; legend has it they were once three sisters, turned to stone to protect them from danger. You can easily view the formation from the Echo Point lookout in Katoomba, the region’s rustic hub town, around a 90-minute drive from Sydney.
Prince Henry Cliff Walk Arrow
One of the trails located in Blue Mountains National Park, Prince Henry Cliff Walk offers dreamy views of valleys, waterfalls, and rock formations, including the Three Sisters. Marked with over 20 staggering lookout points and alive with birds and wildflowers, the walk makes for an inspiring introduction to this wildly beautiful region. (And if you're not into exercise or fresh air, there's always high tea in one of the town’s fancy hotels).
Scenic World Arrow
Sitting atop the escarpment at Katoomba, Scenic World offers four memorable ticketed experiences for accessing the Blue Mountains’ natural wonders. While there, you can ride the steepest passenger incline railway in the world (Scenic Railway); take a turn on the Southern Hemisphere’s steepest aerial cable car (Scenic Cableway); float on air between two clifftops (Scenic Skyway); or stroll through a Jurassic rainforest (Scenic Walkway). Its sky-high hub also includes indoor restaurant EATS270 and the alfresco Terrace Café, which has fab views of the Three Sisters, Mount Solitary, and Jamison Valley.
Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Arrow
The only botanic garden in a UNESCO World Heritage Area, the lush Blue Mountains Botanic Garden conserves the cool-climate plants of lofty Mount Tomah. Covering 622 acres, with 70 open to the public, the grounds are home to around 900 global species spread over diverse gardens, though they especially champion Southern Hemisphere plants. Don’t miss the famous Wollemi Pines along the Gondwana Walk—you'll see plant groups that stretch all the way back to Gondwana, the super-continent dating back 80 million years.
Jonah's, Whale Beach Arrow
Just an hour’s drive north of Sydney, ocean retreat Jonah’s is a dreamy hilltop getaway above dramatic Whale Beach. For a small thrill, approach by air with a 20-minute scenic flight from the city’s Rose Bay Water Airport , landing on nearby Pittwater, where a courtesy vehicle will sweep you away from the jetty. Book well in advance for The Restaurant at Jonah's, a breezy, light space serving contemporary Australian cuisine with an Italian kick, and make sure to check in with the waiter about the restaurant's 1,600-bottle-strong wine cellar—there's probably something there for you.
Bells at Killcare Arrow
Take the ferry from Palm Beach, up at the tip of the Northern Beaches, across the water to this blissful boutique hotel on the Bouddi Peninsula. You'll immediately pick up on the Hamptons vibe at the pretty white-and-blue property, which is flanked by manicured lawns and an outdoor pool. Reserve in advance for a five-course degustation menu tasting at award-winning Bells Restaurant & Bar, and absolutely book a sunrise yoga session on the beach with the hotel's on-site teacher.
The Newport Arrow
This iconic Northern Beaches spot began as a humble pub—now, after a stylish conversion by the Merivale group, it's a sprawling indoor-outdoor restaurant with an embarrassment of dining options. Head here for a leisurely lunch after a swim at nearby Newport Beach (about a 15-minute walk away). There's no better way to recover than on the sunny terrace, tangy watermelon marg in hand—and the food is optimal for grazing, with a few 'food zones' to choose from (try Vinnie's wood-fired pizza, or the freshly-shucked oysters from the seafood market).
Barrenjoey Lighthouse Arrow
The scenic walk up to historic Barrenjoey Lighthouse is a Palm Beach must-do, with paths winding through natural bushland offering stunning sea views. It’s a fairly easy, occasionally steep one-kilometre trek to the top, but rewards the effort. Built in 1881, the hunk of sandstone occupies the most northerly point of Sydney’s Northern Beaches, 91 metres above sea level. Once at the top, you’ll get breathtaking views of oceanfront Palm Beach, sparkling Pittwater inlet, and the hammerhead shark-shaped peninsula; walk beyond the lighthouse to gaze north to the Central Coast across Broken Bay, and west to Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park . Take note: you can only check out the inside of the lighthouse on Sundays through a paid, 30-minute guided tour.
Whale Beach Arrow
East-facing oceanfront Whale Beach is a pretty 650-yard strip of golden sand that's sandwiched between two verdant headlands, fringed by trees, and backed by steep slopes. One of Sydney’s Northern Beaches, it’s located north of Newport, Bilgola, and Avalon beaches, and just south of Palm Beach.You’ll find changing rooms, showers, and toilets at the south end of Whale Beach, which is patrolled by lifeguards on weekends. Whale Beach Deli serves breakfast and lunch on a stylish, airy terrace.
Spicers Vineyards Estate Arrow
Set among rolling grape vines and native bush, boutique hotel Spicers Vineyards Estate is about a two hours’ drive north of Sydney in the Hunter Valley wine region— just far enough for a long weekend away. Not content to be a secluded, gourmet getaway (the regionally-focused dining program here is top-notch), the retreat is also a pampering destination: detox in style at Spa Anise, then retox with a sampling of the hotel's wines. We especially like the small-harvest Chardonnay—the grapes are grown right in the hotel's own paddock out front.
Château Élan at The Vintage Hunter Valley Arrow
This large-scale luxury resort in the heart of Hunter Valley wine country is the kind of place where you can land your helicopter on the front lawn. With 100 rooms, top-notch golf course The Vintage, a day spa, and conference spaces, virtually every leisure and business pursuit is covered. Book a lesson on the green with Richard Mercer, a pro golfer, then plan for some winery-hopping around Hunter Valley (nearby Bimbadgen and Brokenwood both offer cellar door tastings, and fine dining resto Esca Bimbadgen's wine pairings are on point).
The Convent Hunter Valley Arrow
Wine-happy couples mix with families and foodies at this reconstructed former convent in the countryside (just don't expect to see any nuns). It’s in Pokolbin, the epicenter of vineyards and produce trails in the Hunter Valley area, around two hours’ drive from Sydney—making it an ideal base for a weekend of wine tastings. The 19 guest rooms are traditional, but not stuffy: think high headboards, chandeliers, generous curtains, scatter cushions, and splashes of mirror. Splurge on a Garden Suite for a private lounge area and a sun room with views of manicured gardens below.
Muse Restaurant Arrow
Housed in a striking industrial building in the Hungerford Hill Winery, Muse is a destination restaurant at the entrance to Pokolbin, at the heart of the Hunter Valley. Not only is the restaurant well-known for its locally sourced produce and seasonally-driven menu—it's also a sure bet for a pretty plate of food. Quality ingredients meet simplicity and finesse at this regional favorite, where heirloom vegetables and edible flowers and herbs from the kitchen gardens are married together in burl wood bowls, and indigenous and Asian flavors combine in innovative ways—think pan-fried Murray Gold cod with heirloom tomato, wombok, saltbush, katsuobushi, and kimchi dressing.
Circa 1876 Arrow
A farm-to-fork philosophy rules at Circa 1876, the rustic-romantic restaurant at the Convent Hunter Valley Hotel; the prettily plated Modern Australian menu draws on goodies from the organic kitchen garden, which Executive chef Trent Barrett helps to tend (he's even the resident beekeeper). You can opt for a two- or three-course meal, or go whole hog with a five- or seven-course tasting menu—but whatever you do, make sure the crispy skin jumbo quail or cherry-glazed duck breast lands in front of you.
Small Winemakers Centre Arrow
Set in the heart of Pokolbin, the Small Winemakers Centre showcases the largest range of premium wines in the Hunter Valley, largely from boutique wineries like Little Wine Company, Silkman Wines, and Hart & Hunter. Relax at the cellar door’s tasting bar, where you can sample more than 45 wines—shiraz, semillon, and barbera, among them. Read the tasting notes, decide your favourites, and discover new varietals. Who knows? You might even discover a new weeknight favorite to replace that C+ merlot you've been swigging.
Spa Anise at Spicers Vineyards Estate Arrow
You're probably already unwinding at Spicers—but a trip to the spa never hurt. Spend a day at the on-site Spa Anise for some seriously indulgent pampering, where expert therapists tailor treatments to your specific needs. We espcially like the Vineyards signature vino spa ritual, a two-hour combination of body therapies and a facial applied with Champagne sorbet, pressed grapes, and pure Shiraz to replenish—expect to feel refreshed and rejuvenated (and maybe even a little buzzy) afterwards.
Margan Wines & Restaurant Arrow
Ringed by more than 240 acres of vineyards, the family-owned Margan winery isn't just satisfying to look at—though the rammed earth restaurant does make one hell of a backdrop. Established in 1996 by Andrew and Lisa Margan, it’s in the Hunter Valley’s Broke Fordwich region, known for its richer, softer wines. Swing by for an afternoon wine tasting or tour, or settle in for a long lunch on the patio for views of the vines and the Brokenback mountain range.
Tyrrell's Wines Arrow
Founded in 1858, family-owned Pokolbin stalwart Tyrrell’s Wines produces some of Australia’s most respected—and tastiest—bottles. You'd expect that from a winery with 160 years of winemaking experience. Join a one-hour, once-daily winery tour at 10:30 a.m. sharp to hear the Tyrell's wild family story—allegedly, King William II, son of William the Conqueror, was killed by an arrow shot by Sir Walter Tyrell, about 700 years before the family relocated to Hunter Valley.
Audrey Wilkinson Arrow
The first vineyard established in the Parish of Pokolbin, Audrey Wilkinson winery (so named for a man named Audrey, who took over the family business at just 15 years old) was planted in 1866. Not only does it offer sweeping views across Hunter Valley, but its wines—its supple shiraz, in particular—are total standouts. Spend a good hour or two pouring back samples at the Cellar Door, and enjoy the bar-none views of Hunter Valley while you're at it.
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Best Day Trips from Sydney for Families
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Are you looking for the very best day trips from Sydney NSW for families? If yes – then read on, because in this guide we have listed all the best Sydney day trips.
Whether you’re a Sydney local, looking for weekend or school holiday ideas or visiting from out of town, we can help! After reading this detailed guide, you’ll have plenty of inspiration for some one-day Sydney excursions the whole family will love.
20 of the Best Day Trips from Sydney for Families
With most of our suggestions for day trips from Sydney, Australia, you can choose to make it a DIY and drive yourself or sit back and relax by booking one of the awesome Sydney day tours.
If you are looking for where kids eat free in Sydney or the best kid friendly pubs in Sydney , well you are in luck because we have those lists for you too!
1. Blue Mountains Day Trip
A Blue Mountains tour is one of the most well known day trips out of Sydney and for good reason! With lush green rainforests and steep ravines, the scenery is spectacular.
With attractions as close as a 2 hour drive away, it’s easy to take a self drive Blue Mountains day trip from Sydney. The best way to see everything on your Blue Mountains trip is to get a scenic pass that bundles together entry to the skywalk, cableways, railway and walkways. With this pass you can see all the best attractions, plus you can even up grade to the hop on hop off bus pass so you don’t have to worry about parking at all the different attractions.
If you don’t have a vehicle in Sydney, there are some great Blue Mountains bus tours available which let you hop on and off at your own leisure. You can also keep the kids entertained, and make the most of your Blue Mountains one day trip, with a tour of the Jenolan caves, or a wildlife day tour.
If you’re looking for extra special Blue Mountains excursions, take the Parramatta River cruise from Sydney. Or even go for the all-inclusive Blue Mountains day tour that includes the railway, river cruise, cableways, walkways, skywalk and even a delicious two course lunch!
2. Hunter Valley Tours from Sydney
A Hunter Valley day trip from Sydney is a great way to get out of the city and see some of the surrounding countryside. Take a drive around and stop at some of the great wineries the region has to offer.
The easiest way to find the best spots to visit is on one of the many guided Hunter Valley tours from Sydney. A wine experience tour is one of the top Sydney day trip ideas for adults but the kids are welcome to tag along too. Better still, why not take the kids on a gourmet food tour and let a professional chef guide you around some of the best spots to eat in the Hunter Valley.
3. One Day in Sydney City Tour
If you only have one day in Sydney – don’t panic – you can still see the highlights of Sydney in a day. If you only have one day in Sydney a Sydney bus tour is a great way to see some of the most popular sights. Take one of the jam packed Sydney sightseeing tours and you’ll see things like the Opera House, North Head lookout, Milsons Point, Bondi beach and much more.
Treat yourself to an all inclusive Sydney city tour and you’ll even get entry into the Sea Life Aquarium and Wildlife Zoo.
4. Taronga Zoo
One of the best Sydney day trips for kids has to be a visit to Taronga Zoo. With over 350 animal species there is something for the whole family at this iconic Sydney attraction. The kids will love seeing all the animals as well as the various shows on offer.
Taronga Zoo is only a 12 minute ferry ride from the CBD, making it a super easy one day trip from Sydney CBD. Make sure to book an all inclusive ticket to bundle your admission, ferry pass and sky safari tickets to get the best deal.
If you’re an animal lover and are on the lookout for more zoos, check out our article detailing the best kid-friendly zoos in Australia.
5. Illawara Fly Zip Line
The Illawara walkway makes for a great stop on self drive day trips around Sydney. It’s just 2 hours from the CBD and easy to find. The walkway is 30 meters above the ground and has impressive views over the rainforest canopy.
If you’re feeling a little adventurous the zipline tour will have you soaring through the treetops for over 2 hours of adrenaline filled fun.
If you’re in Sydney for a while you could even take the kids to Canberra for a day trip. At 3.5 hours from Sydney, while it does make for a long day trip, Canberra is still an achievable 1 day trip from Sydney.
While you could take a leisurely drive yourself, given it is such a long day trip why not sit back and let someone else do the hard work for you. Taking one of the guided day tours from Sydney means you will get to see all the main attractions like the Australian War Museum, National Museum, Parliament House and more.
See the best museums in Canberra for kids here!
7. Port Stephens
Port Stephens shouldn’t be overlooked when planning your self-drive day tours from Sydney. Things to do in Port Stephens include a visit to the Australian reptile park, a dolphin watching cruise, sandboarding and just enjoying the sites of the picturesque coastal town.
For the adventurous family, be sure to try the sandboarding experience. No need to be an expert as the staff here will teach you everything you need to know.
You’re sure to have one of your top day trips from Sydney when you book a guided Port Stephens tour. This guided tour includes all the best attractions in Port Stephens as well as transfers from Sydney.
8. Jervis Bay South Coast Cruise
A Jervis Bay coastal cruise is one of the best trips from Sydney for families that love being out on the water. Take in the beautiful coastline, unspoilt beaches and clear waters on your cruise down the southern coast.
Kids love animals and an eco dolphin tour is a great chance for them to keep a keen eye out for the hundreds of bottle nose dolphins living in the bay. During the months of May to November you may even be lucky enough to sot migrating humpback whales.
9. Worimi Sand Dune Quad Bike Adventure Tour
If you’re a thrill seeking family, a Worimi sand dune quad bike tour will make one of the greatest family day trips from Sydney. It’s just a 2.5 hour drive from the CBD and is totally family friendly (kids from the age of 7 can join) with an expert guide and child sized quad bikes available.
When cruising along on the quad bikes you will learn about the local landscape and the aboriginal culture in the area. The kids will love getting to use aboriginal tools to dig for fresh water as well as learn about bush medicine and food.
The tour also includes sandboarding too!
10. Australian Reptile Park
Another good day trip from Sydney for kids who love animals, that’s only an hours drive away, is the Australian Reptile Park.
Kids will love learning all about the exotic reptiles at the park and enjoy the chance to hand feed the resident kangaroos. With an adventure playground, café and BBQ facilities onsite, it’s one of the great places around Sydney for day trips with the kids.
11. Featherdale Wildlife Park
If you’re looking for a wildlife park that’s committed to conservation, Featherdale Wildlife Park is another one of the fun day trips Sydney has to offer.
Have a fun filled day watching native Australian animals and why not treat the kids to an up close encounter while you’re at it.
12. Symbio Wildlife Park
If you’re looking for attractions that are only short trips from Sydney, Symbio Wildlife Park is less than 50 minutes from the airport and has some of the best Australian and exotic wildlife.
The kids will love getting up close with the native species during one of the live presentations and the splash park is sure to be a hit with kids of all ages.
13. Snow Tour
From June to September, Thredbo Ski and Snowboard park can be reached by bus trips from Sydney. Leave the night before and arrive early in the morning in order to make the most of the one day tours from Sydney.
The park is perfect for beginners and equipment can be rented onsite. The whole family can take to the slopes to try their hand and skiing or snowboarding.
If you wanted to drive yourself to the park we would advise spending the night at a nearby hotel as you’re sure to be exhausted after a big day on the slopes.
14. Ku-ring-Gai Chase National Park
Fun day trips from Sydney should be jam packed with things to see and the Ku-ring-Gai Chase tour is just that. The national park is about an hour drive from Sydney. When you arrive you’ll take a 2.5 hour cruise to beaches only accessible by boat.
Enjoy exploring aboriginal heritage sights and learning about the culture and arts of the arks traditional people.
It’s one of the great day trips from Sydney for families who want to see something unique.
15. Whale Watching
A whale watching cruise is one of the easiest short day trips from Sydney. This cruise begins just a 5 minute walk from Circular Quay station. For instance, even if you just have 1 day in Sydney, this cruise is easy to fit into your itinerary.
Indoor and outdoor viewing areas are offered on this comfortable catamaran, therefore it’s a great all weather option.
16. Horse Riding in the Snowy Mountains
If you have slightly older kids, a full days guided horse riding tour in the Snowy Mountains is one of the more unique day excursions from Sydney.
Spend a day exploring the rugged mountain terrain with an exert guide to show you around the many beautiful trails in the area.
17. Royal National Park
Royal National Park is the second oldest national park in the world and, if you’re looking for trips out of Sydney surrounded by nature, it’s a great option.
You could take a self drive tour along the Grand Pacific Drive or, better yet, take the pressure off and a guided day trip. You’ll get an expert guide who can take you on a 6km hike and show you some of the best waterfalls and native species.
18. Dangar Island
Just 55 minutes north of the city is Dangar Island, in the Hawkesbury River, where you can spend the day swimming, kayaking and hiking.
Days out from Sydney don’t get much better and you’ll feel like the city is a million miles away.
If the kids can manage a longer car trip, Kiama is a 2 hour drive south of the city and one of the lesser known day trips outside Sydney.
With treetop walks, quiet uncrowded beaches and lush rainforest it’s a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.
Only 45kms south of Sydney is the small, friendly community of Helensburgh. This tiny town is surrounded by National Parks and a great spot for walks and getting back to nature.
The nearby Stanwell Park (10km away) is a great spot to enjoy a swim on one of the many beautiful beaches set against steep cliffs.
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15 Best Day Trips From Sydney
15 of the best day trips from Sydney, Australia.
Sydney may be the most famous city in Australia.
From the Sydney Opera House and the Harbor Bridge, to the fun beaches of Bondi and Manly, Sydney has so much to offer.
But if you’re staying in Sydney for longer than a few days, you may want to take some day trips outside the city.
The areas of NSW that surround Sydney are packed with natural beauty and fun activities like hiking, camping, wine-tasting, and more.
There are some stunning sights to see, from the famous Sea Cliff Bridge , to the rich green hills of the Southern Highlands , to the chalky white cliffs of the Royal National Park .
Enjoy these 15 amazing day trips from Sydney!
Read next: 21 Non Touristy Things To Do In Sydney
All of these destinations around New South Wales are 2 hours away from Sydney or less.
At the end I’ll include my two favorite weekend trips from Sydney. They are 2.5 hours away, which is a bit much to do in one day.
All of these day trips I’ve done myself, and can highly recommend them to all other travelers in Australia !
Find more travel tips in my Ultimate Guide to Traveling Australia On A Budget !
1. The Blue Mountains National Park
The rugged mountain range of Blue Mountains National Park is one of the most popular day trips from the city.
It’s only an hour west of central Sydney, so it makes a quick and easy excursion.
For those without a car, you can also catch the train to Katoomba (one of the main towns in the Blue Mountains).
Once you arrive is this beautiful area, there are so many fun things to do.
Go hiking , swim in waterfalls, and hit some of the viewpoints that overlook majestic mountains and valleys. Also, check out the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden or visit Scenic World.
Pulpit Rock Walking Track and Empress Falls are two of my favorite spots in the Blue Mountains.
If you would prefer to book a tour, there are lots of highly-rated Blue Mountains day tours on Get Your Guide.
2. The Southern Highlands
This lush area of natural beauty and rural charm is one of my favorite day trips from Sydney.
Rolling green hills, vineyards, waterfalls , and small towns are scattered all over the area.
Some of the best things to do in the Southern Highlands are wine-tasting , wading in the natural pools on top of the massive Carrington Falls , and enjoying the view from the Hindmarsh Lookout near Belmore Falls .
Be sure to stop by the towns of Bowral and Robertson as well. They have some nice quiet and adorable local shops and cafes.
The Southern Highlands are a 2 hour drive south of Sydney.
Also nearby is Kangaroo Valley , a similarly lush and beautiful area. It’s a bit further south from the Highlands, but it also has lots of waterfalls and hikes, and you can kayak on the Kangaroo River. If you have time, definitely consider checking out Kangaroo Valley as well.
Read next: 23 Stunning Waterfalls Near Sydney
3. Symbio Wildlife Park
For travelers in Sydney who want to see some Australian wildlife , this is an amazing place to go.
Symbio Wildlife Park is just over an hour south of the city.
This family-owned business is home to lots of native Australian animals, including koalas, kangaroos, wombats, and more.
Animals are all treated with the highest level of respect and care.
- Address: 7-11 Lawrence Hargrave Drive, Helensburgh, NSW
- Hours: Open daily from 9:30 am to 5 pm
- Website : https://symbiozoo.com.au
Kiama is a truly gorgeous town at the end of the Grand Pacific Drive .
Aside from stunning coastal walks and a quaint town center, Kiama is best known for its two blowholes.
The Kiama Blowhole is a cavern of jagged coastal rock. When water rushes into the hole at high tide, it then shoots upwards out of the rocks like an erupting volcano.
The Little Blowhole is the same, just a bit smaller.
Both are cool natural phenomenons to witness. Try to visit during stormy weather when there’s lots of swell so you can see the blowholes in all their glory!
5. Royal National Park
As one of the most common day trips from Sydney, this huge national park is located directly south of the city.
From central Sydney, it’s only about a 20 minute drive to get to the Royal National Park.
Once you reach the park, the opportunities for adventure are endless.
Complete the Royal Coast Walking Track and admire the dramatic white cliffs. Or float in the naturally symmetrical Figure 8 Pools .
Surf at Garie Beach or cliff-jump at Wattamolla . Go camping, hiking, swimming, and more!
6. Bouddi National Park
This beautiful and peaceful national park is a great way to escape the crowds of Sydney.
Drive north of the city about 2 hours and you’ll reach the Central Coast Region . Then head towards the coast and you’ll reach Bouddi National Park.
There are 3 beachside campgrounds in the area that make for an enriching stay in nature.
The highlight of the park is the Bouddi Coastal Walk . It crosses over beaches and bush, and you’ll get to see some amazing coastal views.
7. Wine Tasting in the Hunter Valley
Going wine tasting is a super fun day trip from Sydney.
You can either visit an urban winery in the city for a more local experience, or take a day trip out to the Hunter Valley.
Hunter Valley is one of the most famous wine making areas of Australia, and it’s about a 2.5 hour drive from Sydney.
So it’s quite a hike to get out there, but it can be done in a day. You can book an organized tour that covers your transport and ensures you have an amazing experience in the Hunter Valley!
8. Kelly’s Falls
Located near Symbio Wildlife Park, this majestic woodland paradise is hidden from most tourists.
It’s all rather difficult to find, but worth the adventure.
If you leave Symbio Wildlife Park and head east on Lawrence Hargrave Drive , you’ll see a small sign on the side of the road indicating Kelly’s Falls.
There is a small picnic area, and a walking track that leads to the top of the main waterfall.
You can venture off the walkway and climb down a steep and difficult-to-find trail that will lead you to the bottom of the falls.
Here you get the best view, and you can even walk through the woods to a second waterfall.
This is the type of place you should visit with someone who knows the way, as it is a bit obscure and not well marked!
Read next: 1 Week In Sydney – Itinerary For The Outdoorsy Traveler
This small city about an hour south of Sydney is incredible.
Wollongong is home to lots of university students, young working adults, and travelers. So it has a very multicultural and vibrant community.
You can check out the art gallery , browse through the local street markets on Thursdays and Fridays, or indulge in the nightlife .
In addition to the culture and cuisine of Wollongong, you can visit the beaches , hike the nearby Mount Kiera , relax in the Botanic Gardens , or go for a bike ride along the coastal path.
Also consider driving just 15 minutes away to visit Nan Tien Temple, the largest Buddhist temple in the southern hemisphere .
- Address: 180 Berkeley Rd, Berkeley NSW 2506
- Hours: 11am – 3pm Tuesday – Friday, 10am – 4pm on weekends
- Website: https://www.nantien.org.au/en/
Read more: 15 Best Things To Do In Wollongong
10. Ku Ring Gai Chase National Park and Palm Beach
This is the second oldest national park in Australia , after the Royal National Park.
Here you’ll find lots of hiking trails, wildlife, aboriginal art, and beautiful nature. Situated on the Hawkesbury River , there are lots of natural attractions in the area.
Go for a swim at Pearl Beach , kayak down the Hawkesbury River, or visit the nearby Brisbane Water National Park for more waterfalls and hikes.
Ku Ring Gai Chase National Park is just an hour north of the city, so it’s one of the easiest Sydney day trips.
Also nearby is Palm Beach , an affluent coastal town of Sydney just west of the park. Here you can embark on a short walk to the Barrenjoey Lighthouse and enjoy some incredible views. After the hike, spend the day walking around the scenic Palm Beach.
Combining the second oldest national park in Australia with the beautiful Palm Beach is one of the best Sydney day trip ideas!
11. Killalea State Park
For a fun day of surfing, swimming, and sunbathing, Killalea State Park is a fantastic day trip.
Also known as The Farm , this local surfing reserve consists of a gorgeous beach with golden sand and turquoise water.
Soft green hills surround the beach, and small tide pools sit at the edges of the sand.
The long beach has small, easy waves for beginner surfers and bigger waves for more advanced surfers.
Killalea State Park is about 1.5 hours south of Sydney.
Read next: NSW South Coast Road Trip Guide
This quaint, historic town 2 hours south of Sydney is incredibly charming.
If you’re taking a day trip to Killalea State Park or Kiama, Berry isn’t too far away so you could stop here as well.
There isn’t tons to do in Berry besides walk through the small town, admire the adorable shops, and chill out in one of the rustic cafes.
The highlight of Berry is the famous Berry Donut Van . This little takeaway shop sells delicious, fluffy cinnamon donuts that are well-loved on the South Coast of NSW.
It’s worth stopping in Berry just for the donuts!
- Berry Donut Van Address : 73 Queen St, Berry NSW 2535
- Hours: 8:30am – 4:45pm every day
13. Dharawal National Park
For forests, waterfalls, wildlife, and untouched natural beauty, visit Dharawal National Park.
It’s only about an hour drive southwest of the city so it’s one of the quickest and easiest day trips from Sydney.
This park is home to the traditional land of the Dharawal Aboriginal people , and there are still some remnants of the land’s ancestors, like drawings.
My favorite thing to do in Dharawal National Park is visit on a hot summer day and hike to a swimming hole.
The Jingga Walking Track and Minerva Pool Walking Track both reward hikers with large natural freshwater swimming holes.
14. Grand Pacific Drive
If I had to recommend just one day trip from Sydney, it would be this one.
If you drive south of Sydney along the coastal route, you’ll find yourself on the Grand Pacific Drive.
This road actually stretches all the way to Kiama, but you can follow it for as long as you like.
The most popular sight on this route is the Sea Cliff Bridge ; a huge cliffside bridge that sticks out over the ocean.
There are also a few hikes through the Illawarra Escarpment where you can get a good workout and enjoy beautiful views over the coastline. My favorite is the Sublime Hiking Trail in Thirroul.
Gorgeous beaches, nice cafes, and coastal walking and biking trains line this whole coastline.
So spend a day exploring along the Grand Pacific Drive. It’s one of the best trips from Sydney as it’s just over an hour away and it’s packed with beauty.
15. Stanwell Park
At the northern end of the Grand Pacific Drive lies Stanwell Park, another one of the best day trips from Sydney.
This quiet town is most well known for its large beach that is fun for swimming, surfing, and relaxing.
Just north of Stanwell Park is Bald Hill , an amazing lookout point that provides sweeping views of Stanwell Park beach and the surrounding hills.
You can also head just south of Stanwell Park to Coalcliff and hike the Wodi Wodi Trail . This bushwalk only takes about 30 minutes and offers incredible views from the summit.
Bonus: 2 Best Weekend Trips From Sydney
(can also be day trips from sydney).
These next two destinations in NSW are about 2.5 hours away from Sydney. So it is possible to visit them as day trips, though that’s about 5 hours of driving to do in one day.
These are two of the most beautiful places in NSW in my opinion. If you’re short on time, you can see them in one day if you start early!
But I recommend spending at least 1 night and 2 days in these spots so you can really enjoy everything without rushing.
#1 Best Weekend Trip From Sydney: Port Stephens
Port Stephens is quiet and peaceful, and it’s 2.5 hours north of Sydney.
The coastline here is surprisingly rugged. There are many mountains, hills, inlets, bays, sand dunes, and islands, making it an incredibly scenic spot.
Visit one of the many beaches, including Fingal Bay, Zenith Beach, and Wreck Beach.
The best thing to do in Port Stephens is hike Tomaree Mountain . It’s only a 30-minute climb and provides an amazing view of the hilly coastline.
I recommend going at sunrise for beautiful lighting!
Also consider a boat tour or snorkeling in the waters of Great Lakes Marine Park or going sandboarding down the Stockton Sand Dunes.
Read more: 12 Fun Things To Do In Port Stephens, NSW
#2 Best Weekend Trip From Sydney: Jervis Bay
Jervis Bay is 2.5 hours south of Sydney. This coastal area is also very peaceful and relaxing and is packed with picturesque beaches.
Completing the White Sands Coastal Walk is the best way to see all the best spots; you’ll weave in and out of the bush and stop at amazing beaches.
Be sure to visit the famous Hyams Beach , known for having some of the world’s whitest sand!
Jervis Bay and Port Stephens are both famous for whale watching in winter as well!
Read next: 18 Best Beaches In Jervis Bay
Thanks for reading about these 15 day trips from Sydney!
After you’ve checked out the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Sydney Opera House, and all the other classic city landmarks, I highly recommend trying one of these Sydney day trip ideas.
Spend the day exploring a less touristy part of New South Wales, as there is so much beauty and culture to see.
If you’re interested in applying for a Working Holiday Visa so you can spend more time in Australia, check out my Ultimate Guide to the Australian Working Holiday Visa !
If you’re just visiting Australia, I recommend visiting iVisa.com to check visa requirements .
For more travel articles about Australia, check out:
22 Fun Things To Do In Brisbane
10 Amazing Things To Do In Tropical North Queensland
Sydney to Melbourne Road Trip: The Ultimate Travel Guide
The Best Time To Visit Australia – A Complete Guide
Travel Guide to the Great Ocean Road, Victoria
East Coast Australia Road Trip Guide (Noosa To Sydney)
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The Best Day Trips from Sydney to Take This Summer
Blowholes, bush walks, cycle trails and vineyard picnics are only a short drive away.
You've got two days off and the weather is set to be stunning — clearly, the travel gods are calling you away for an epic day trip from Sydney.
And when your starting location is Sydney, you've got a wealth of places to visit within a few hours' drive. Whether you fancy lounging the afternoon away at a pool, working up an appetite on a countryside cycle trail or seeking out the freshest seafood on the coast, there are plenty of spots calling out. It's time to load up the car, book a GoGet or hop on the train and escape the big city.
Read on to find ten of the best outposts that deliver everything you want from a day trip out of Sydney.
Recommended reads: The Best Out-of-Town Ocean Pools Near Sydney The Best Glamping Spots in NSW The Best Places to Stay on the Central Coast A Weekender's Guide to Jervis Bay
ANZAC Memorial Walk, Destination NSW
FOR ART AND SURFING: NEWCASTLE
Downtown Newcastle is brimming with culture and it's only a stone's throw from the sea. The CBD has independent retailers, small bars and restaurants that rival the likes of most Australian capital cities. If you arrive early, settle among the bright tiles, artworks and plants of Ground Up Espresso in Carrington, a waterfront suburb on Newcastle Harbour's north shore — or save yourself for a five-course meal at hatted restaurant Subo . Booze your afternoon away at Newie's local brewery, The Foghorn , or soak up some sun at one of the beachside pubs, like Mereweather Surfhouse .
Or if you want to experience spectacular locally sourced produce with an unbeatable view over Newcastle, try the Roundhouse . Wherever you end up during your day trip, the waterfront is never more than a nip away, with the tranquil stillness of Newcastle Harbour on one side and surf beaches on the other. Go for a dip at the famed Newcastle Ocean Baths and, if you're able to hang around until sunset, finish your day with a stroll along the spectacular ANZAC Memorial Walk .
Newcastle is two hours drive or three hours by train north of Sydney.
FOR SEAFOOD AND SWIMS: WOY WOY
When you want to get out of Sydney for a coastal day trip — but don't want to drive too far — the Central Coast is your best bet. And, just 75 minutes in a car or the train will get you to the quaint seaside town of Woy Woy. Here, you can have a seaside feast at Woy Woy Fisherman's Wharf then head over to Frankie's Rooftop for a spritz. Or, if you're more into pasta than seafood, you can head to Young Barons for lunch — it's an absolute win.
If you've got a car, make a detour to the nearby Bouddi Coastal Trail — the eight-kilometre hike winds past plenty of lookouts and beaches. Pack your snorkelling gear, too — we recommend heading to the sheltered Lobster Beach, keeping an eye out for dolphins.
Woy Woy is a 75-minute drive or 80-minute train ride from Sydney.
Bannisters Port Stephens
FOR POOLSIDE RELAXING: PORT STEPHENS
Port Stephens lucked out when Bannisters arrived back in 2018, bringing a luxurious hotel and, most importantly, a Rick Stein restaurant . And what better way to shake off the big smoke than by sitting in a breezy space, overlooking still water, and working your way through Coffs Harbour prawns, or Singapore chilli blue swimmer crab?
Beyond that, Port Stephens offers plenty of outdoor escapades, from its 26 beaches to camel riding and sandboarding down the Southern Hemisphere's biggest sand dunes. We also highly recommend a stay at the Hampton-style boutique hotel, Anchorage Port Stephens , where waterfront decadence is the name of the game.
Port Stephens is a three-hour drive north of Sydney.
FOR BOATING AND BUSHWALKING: BEROWRA
The stunning hamlet of Berowra is literally encircled by natural beauty — it's within Berowra Valley National Park, with Cowan Creek and Berowra Creek running either side of the suburb. If you're driving, get your bearings with a stop at Barnetts Lookout . After a wander around Berowra Village, head to Berowra Waters for ferry rides, a spot of kayaking, nature walks and some lazy riverside reading. If you're looking to add a dose of luxury to your stay, make a booking for a hatted feast at Berowra Waters Inn .
Berowra is a 45-minute drive or an hour-long train journey from Sydney CBD.
The Boathouse Hotel Patonga
FOR HIKES AND BRUNCH: PEARL BEACH AND PATONGA
Unlike so many coastal areas, Pearl Beach is fiercely protected from development. Just 500 or so residents live here and, because the village is National Trust-listed, further construction is banned. It truly is a world of its own, perched on a picturesque beach and surrounded by bushland. You can spend your days dissolving into sand and sea, or, if you want a work out, take on the Pearl Beach to Patonga walk .
At the other end, you'll find the Boathouse Hotel , where you can tuck into seafood plates, crumbed dory burgers and buckets of prawns (and even stay the night if you don't feel like driving home after all that). Meanwhile, back in Pearl Beach, there's hatted restaurant Pearls on the Beach and, for more casual fare, the Pearl Beach Cafe and General Store .
Pearl Beach is a 90-minute drive north of Sydney.
FOR CASCADES AND BLOSSOMS: LEURA AND KATOOMBA
If Katoomba is the busiest village in the Blue Mountains, Leura is the prettiest — making the neighbouring towns the perfect places to visit on a day trip out of Sydney. For great coffee, head to Frankly My Dear on Katoomba's main drag.
A little later on, you can treat yourself at 8 Things — a small restaurant with a capacity of just 10 people and just eight dishes on the menu, each one representing a different country. You've got to see the sights, too — the fairy-like Leura Cascades are lovely for cooling off on a warm day, and be sure to take a final peek of the Three Sisters at sunset.
Leura is a 90-minute drive or two-hour train ride from Sydney.
FOR A COOL COUNTRY CHANGE: BOWRAL
When you fancy a cooler climate, jump on the highway to Bowral . Found in the Southern Highlands — 600 metres above sea level — this pretty country town is usually a few degrees cooler than Sydney. Over the past few years, several new eateries have opened up, including The Mill Cafe , set inside an 1885 building shared with start-ups and small businesses; and Harry's on Green Lane , a welcoming bar, where you can sit in a citrus grove, while sipping on local cool-climate wines and sharing fancy plates.
Another culinary highlight of the town is idyllic cafe The Press Shop , which is located right next to the mega antique store Dirty Janes . This expansive warehouse is an emporium of vintage fashion, homewares and collectables. You'll discover something new-to-you on every visit.
Bowral is a 90-minute drive southwest of Sydney.
FOR LOOKOUTS AND CYCLING: WOLLONGONG
If diverse, sandy adventures are crucial to your day-tripping joy, Wollongong 's your destination. No fewer than 17 beaches line the coast. To get some invigorating perspective, visit one or all of the six local lookouts. If you're keen to work up a sweat, the waterfront Thirroul to Port Kembla cycle path will keep you busy (and you can have a swim at the end), or take on the Mount Kembla hike .
When you're ready to eat and drink, head to the North Wollongong Hotel 's leafy beer garden or Five Barrel Brewing for a cold one, Babyface Kitchen for a fancy feed and finish your night at one of the city's many live music venues like La La La's . Novotel Wollongong Northbeach is a great place to stay, too.
Wollongong is a 90-minute drive or a two-hour train ride directly south of Sydney.
FOR BLOWHOLES AND ROCK POOLS: KIAMA
When the southeast wind is blowing strong, Kiama's blowhole is at its most powerful. The wind sends waves into the rock aperture, compressing air and sending a spectacular spout into the air. Few people know there's a second, albeit smaller, blowhole found a few minutes drive south, in Tingira Crescent, aptly named Little Blowhole . Swimmers and surfers, you have your decision-making cut out for you, from one of Kiama's ocean pools or pick a spot along the long, wild stretch of Bombo Beach .
Kiama's main street is laden with cafes, ice creameries and restaurants and, if you have enough time, side trips to the satellite villages of Gerringong (to the south) and Jamberoo (inland) are worthwhile. Kiama is clearly one of our favourite day trip destinations out of Sydney, but we recommend you stay longer — if you can get the time off.
Kiama is a two-hour drive or a nearly three hour train ride from Sydney .
Tinkler Wines by Destination NSW
FOR WINE AND RIVERSIDE PICNICS: POKOLBIN
For a day trip that involves wine tasting, rolling paddocks and maybe some cycling, make tracks to Pokolbin in the Hunter Valley . The locality is dotted with cellar doors, vineyards and restaurants. If you're keen to get on two wheels as soon as possible, hire an e-bike from Sutton Estate and conquer the Hunter Valley Cycleway , which tours a dozen wineries and a microbrewery. Alternatively, just settle in for a long lunch at the wine lover's playground, Brokenwood Wines , or linger over a salumi and cheese platter in a converted church at Usher Tinkler Wines .
Pokolbin is a two-hour drive northwest of Sydney.
Next time you're looking to head out of Sydney, head to Concrete Playground Trips to explore a range of holidays curated by our editorial team. We've teamed up with all the best providers of flights , stays and experiences to bring you a series of unforgettable trips in destinations all over the world.
Top image: Patonga Boathouse.
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The best weekend getaways from Sydney to explore NSW
We've tried and tested these weekend escapes in New South Wales
In NSW, you don’t need to travel far to make a couple of nights away feel like a proper holiday. Whether you’re in the mood for a beach break, a hike in the mountains, or an escape to the country, we’ve found a host of getaway destinations that are easily accessible from Sydney.
Need to squeeze your excursion into a day? These are the best day trips from Sydney .
Or have an in-tents city break at one of the best camping spots near sydney ..
An email you’ll actually love
Short getaways from Sydney within NSW
While you may only know Lake Macquarie for its expansive body of water, this unassuming region sandwiched between Sydney and Newcastle has a lot to offer city folk looking to slow down and get back to nature.
The Blue Mountains
- Boutique hotels
For some, a trip to the Blue Mountains holds the promise of seclusion and serenity among the gum trees. For others, it’s about conquering mountain trails and spontaneously teaming up with other avid adventurers to explore the bush waterfalls, scenic vistas and swimming holes.
The South Coast
Drive only two short hours south of Sydney and you’re in an adventure playground. Destination surfing spots, climbing cliffs, and coastal treks draw in those who relax by doing, but if you prefer to recline and dine, there’s fresh seafood, local produce and a burgeoning dining scene to ensure all your relaxation goals are met.
Drive through cherry blossoms, lurid wattle and gold mine adjacent creeks (that still yield a nugget or two) to find some of Australia’s most interesting wines and meet the passionate makers.
While Byron Bay’s town centre has succumbed to a backpackers-meet-the-one-per-cent influx, the lifetime fire twirlers and queer communes haven’t been completely expunged from the Byron Bay region.
The Hunter Valley
Ah, wine country. Proud growers, wine makers and vintners from this region have been squeezing the good stuff out of grapes for close to 180 years, and it has earned the Hunter solid street cred on both Australian and international vinous scenes. With plentiful hot air ballooning, cheese and crazy good food on offer, this idyllic green corner of NSW deserves our attention.
Thredbo, Perisher, Charlotte Pass
New South Wales has some spectacular ski resorts and snow fields. You can hire all your gear at any of these spots (think skis, snow jackets, helmets – anything) and transfers are available.
‘Mudgee’ comes from the Wiradjuri word ‘Moothi’ which means, romantically, ‘Nest in the Hills’. It has a climate several degrees warmer than the surrounding high country, which, along with sandy loam soil, makes the area attractive to viticulturalists.
Here you can walk a World Heritage convict road, sample locally brewed cider or go horseriding. Winding through it all is the river, a place for fishing, watersports or a lazy cruise amid stunning scenery.
The Central Coast
The dining scene across the Central Coast is really hitting its stride. Thanks to some seriously talented young chefs, excellent refurbs and creative spaces, there are restaurants and cafés in Long Jetty, Avoca, Terrigal and Woy Woy that are well worth a road trip.
Hit the road
The best road trips around New South Wales
Pack the boot, roll down your windows and let gorgeous scenery whizz past – be that soaring coastal cliffs, native bushland, or towering alpine forests. Trust us, no one will be asking if you're nearly there yet.
Small, but perfectly formed
The best tiny houses and cosy cabins to rent near Sydney
We’ve rounded up some of the best tiny house escapes across New South Wales that you can knock over in a weekend getaway from Sydney. Most are perfect for a romantic escape for two adults or are the ideal retreat for solo travelers looking for the ultimate me-time. Others have a little more room so you can vaycay with friends, the kids, and even the dog.
The best caravans and campervans to hire in NSW
Does the idea of a road trip summon nostalgia for childhood summers spent in a caravan by the sea, or the fantasy of hitting the wide-open road in an all-in-one van and getting a break from it all with that nomad lifestyle? Try on the nomad life for size with these great rental options.
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