Looking for suggestions for day trips from Sydney?
Sydney has some fantastic nearby destinations both along the coast and when you head inland, and below are some of the best day trips from Sydney.
We’re also sharing a few destinations a bit further away that would be more suited for a Sydney weekend getaway.
- 1. Blue Mountains
- 2. Royal National Park
- 3. The Central Coast
- 4. The Hunter Valley
- 5. Kangaroo Valley
- 6. Jervis Bay
- 7. Newcastle
- 8. Bathurst
- 9. Mudgee
- 10. Wollongong
- More Sydney Travel Tips
1. Blue Mountains
At less than two hours west of Sydney, the Blue Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in Australia.
With over one million hectares of World Heritage-listed bushland and more than 140 kilometres of walking trails, the Blue Mountains is one of the most popular day trips from Sydney for nature lovers.
Whilst the Blue Mountains is most famous for the Three Sisters at Echo Point Lookout and doesn’t need much of your time, but you should go hiking down amongst the rainforest covered valleys below and you’ll feel like you’re a million miles away.
Other things to do include riding the Scenic Railway (steepest passenger railway in the world) and the Skyway,Govetts Leap Lookout and Wentworth Falls – take the walking track from Wentworth Falls Reserve to the Princes Lookout for a great view of the Wentworth Falls and the Jamison Valley.
There is relaxation, adventure and rejuvenation in the Blue Mountains. Besides getting amongst nature, I was impressed by the good local produce, cafes, cosy pubs, and restaurants. It’s a foodie’s paradise.
A local friend told us about the ‘Blue Mountains Chocolate Cafe’ on Lurline St, where to find the best beer (Carrington Hotel), and to have a long-lunch at the Ambermere Rose Inn – the signature dish “rabbit pie” was a hit for me!
And the nearby town of Leura has a nice main street with cosy cafes.
Where to stay in the Blue Mountains:
- Booking.com has 47 properties in Katoomba (the main town of the Blue Mountains) and 33 properties in the Leura.
- Trains regularly depart Sydney’s Central Station for Katoomba Station.
- Book a rental car and self-drive.
2. Royal National Park
I wouldn’t say it’s a complete hidden gem, but it doesn’t seem to get the recognition it deserves. The beauty and the park’s diversity is in its coastal cliffs surrounded by sandy beaches and mountainous sandstone ridges with deep river valleys.
It offers great coastal and bush walks, picnic spots, camping, cycling, swimming, drives, fishing and whale watching in season.
Park entry fees are $12 per vehicle per day. Seasonal ticket booths at Bonnie Vale, Wattamolla and Garie Beach are cash only, as there is no power or mobile connection. Please bring correct change.
Where to stay:
You cannot stay within the Royal National Park so check out our list of the 5 best accommodation options in Sydney from budget to luxury.
- Royal National Park’s main entry points are along the Princes Highway.
- Turn off the highway at either Farnell Avenue, just south of Loftus, or at McKell Avenue at Waterfall.
3. The Central Coast
One hour north of Sydney is our home town region of the Central Coast. Most travellers tend to remain on the main freeway when heading north and by-pass this beautiful region. But I believe it;s well worth adding in as one of the top 10 day trips from Sydney.
Popular destinations include Terrigal which is a trendy and upmarket beach area with tons of cafes, restaurants, fishing, diving, whale watching and one of the best beer gardens in Australia at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.
For the nature buffs, don’t miss a walk in Bouddi National Park which has dramatic coastal views as well as secluded beaches and camping opportunities.
Other places to check out:
- MacMasters Beach
- Copacabana Beach
- The Entrance
- Toowoon Bay
Where to stay on the Central Coast:
- Booking.com has 54 properties in Terrigal. Another popular place to stay for Sydneysiders is Mantra Ettalong Beach at the southern end of the Central Coast, about 20 minutes from Terrigal.
4. The Hunter Valley
It’s hard not to relax and enjoy yourself in this infamous wine region, only a two-hour drive north of Sydney.
The wine and food trail known as the Hunter Valley is one of our favourite regions in Australia. With over 140 wineries this is the place you want to go to sample some of Australia’s best wines.
But it’s not just about the wineries. There is also an abundance of great restaurants and cafes for the foodies. There’s fine dining, gourmet chocolate, adventures like hot air ballooning, and relaxing spa treatments and massages.
Don’t miss the Lovedale Road Trail, it’s quiet and unhurried with many boutique wineries, the chocolate factory, and fine restaurants. I also recommend the Mountain View Trail, driving up to Bimbadeen Lookout for spectacular views of the valley and the Brokenback Range.
And believe it or not, there is also something in the Hunter Valley for families – mini golf, playgrounds, beautiful gardens,
Where to stay in the Hunter Valley:
- Booking.com has 53 properties in Lovedale which is right in the heart of the Hunter Valley.
5. Kangaroo Valley
When we asked you guys for suggestions on where to go in Southern NSW, so many of you suggested Kangaroo Valley so we just couldn’t ignore it. And we’re glad you did.
If you haven’t been to Kangaroo Valley yet, you should. The valley is as green as Ireland with Australian bush escarpments and wildlife (they have lots of wombats).
Throw in a charming town centre, historic bridges, waterfalls, nature walks and country pubs, Kangaroo Valley makes for a great detour from the coast.
Where to stay in Kangaroo Valley:
- Booking.com has 20 properties in the Kangaroo Valley region.
6. Jervis Bay
The Jervis Bay region, three hours south of Sydney, is magical. I wouldn’t classify it as one of the day trips from Sydney, more of a weekend getaway, but it’s been the highlight of my travels down the south coast of NSW.
The beaches in this region are as good as anywhere in NSW, if not Australia. The only downside is they don’t offer the surfing opportunities you’ll find on the north coast of NSW, and the water temperature is a little cooler.
But the great thing about Jervis Bay is it’s not overdeveloped with high rises and tourist gimmicks, the sand is white and pure, and they aren’t heavily populated like Sydney and north coast beaches.
Jervis Bay is also a popular spot for whale watching, kayaking, canoeing, and walks.
Where to stay in Jervis Bay:
- Booking.com has 12 properties in Huskisson, the main town in Jervis Bay.
Newcastle, a two and a half hours drive north of Sydney, is Australia’s 7th biggest city and has undergone a transformation in recent years, especially the CBD.
Whilst it has always been a great beach town with lively pubs and a big University, it has moved on from its primary industry of steel and has implemented a few creative programs to bring back the culture and arts to the city.
With great beaches, inner city pubs with live music, and a thriving restaurant scene such as Derby street and along the waterfront, Newcastle is a happening place. There is richness, a relaxed vibe, and it is exciting to see Newcastle offering much more for travellers these days.
At nearby Stockton Beach, there are the massive Stockton sand dunes offering 4WD tours, sand boarding, and quad biking.
And just north of Newcastle is Port Stephens, a destination with fantastic fishing, beautiful beaches, opportunities for snorkelling and diving and for whale and dolphin watching. Nelsons Bay is the main town in this area.
Where to stay in Newcastle:
- Booking.com has 64 properties in Newcastle.
Bathurst, three hours west of Sydney, is probably most well known for motor racing and it’s big University, but there’s much more to it than that and can be a perfect country getaway from the hustle and bustle of Sydney for a family, or even just for couples.
In 2015 Bathurst celebrated its Bicentenary as Australia’s oldest inland settlement. The town itself has enough going on to occupy you for a weekend, and the drive in from the surrounding region offers gorgeous natural landscapes.
I recommend Bathurst as a weekend getaway and not one of the day trips from Sydney, you could even stay more than one night and not get bored.
Highlights include a tour of the 52 room heritage mansion Abercrombie House, doing a lap of the famous 6.2 kilometre Mount Panorama racing circuit and a visit to the National Motor Racing Museum, Annies Ice cream Parlour which is an institution in Bathurst, dinner and drinks at the Church Bar + Woodfired Pizza, and brunch and coffee at The Hub Cafe.
Where to stay in Bathurst:
- Booking.com has 30 properties in Bathurst.
I love the town of Mudgee. I still can’t believe I grew up only 4 hours from this town and it took me 40 years to visit. It’s now my new favourite country town in NSW.
If you’re a lover of wine, Mudgee is a great alternative to the famous Hunter Valley. I love how you can cycle between the wineries, and it doesn’t have the tourist buses like the Hunter, yet.
And you’ll fall in love with its heritage buildings, wide streets, parks and country charm. I know it’s a cliche, but Mudgee is a hidden gem, only 3.5 hours drive north-west from Sydney and another place suited to a weekend getaway.
Where to stay in Mudgee:
- Booking.com has 28 properties in Mudgee
I’m not the biggest fan of Wollongong as a destination, but the 1.5 hour drive south from Sydney is worth it as one of the best day trips from Sydney.
Heading south from Sydney, drive through the Royal National Park and make you way down the Grand Pacific Drive, stopping at Bald Head Lookout, the Scarborough Hotel for lunch, then over the famous Sea Cliff Bridge to Wollongong.
Once in Wollongong, cycle along the Wollongong foreshore, check out North Wollongong Beach, visit the Nan Tien Temple and Science Centre & Planetarium.
Grab a bite to eat and drink at the Illawarra Brewery and Diggies Beach Cafe.
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Where to Stay in Wollongong:
- Booking.com has 24 properties in Wollongong
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Can you recommend any day trips from Sydney?