Growing up outside Sydney, I thought I had seen all the best places to visit in NSW. But that was a bit premature because we’d only ever really visited Sydney and the North Coast.
After we spent 18 months road-tripping around Australia, we covered more of NSW and finally visited the South Coast NSW, the Hinterland, and Country NSW.
I now realize that NSW is not just about east coast beach towns and Sydney. There are so many more places to visit in New South Wales that are off the beaten path, that are just as beautiful, if not more beautiful, than the places I knew growing up.
New South Wales has some of the best beaches in Australia, the highest mountain, the most relaxed beach towns, and one of the best cities in the world.
If you’re planning a trip around New South Wales and want some incredible places to add to your itinerary, then keep reading for some inspiration…
- The Best Places To Visit in NSW
- Before You Go to New South Wales
- More NSW Travel Tips
The Best Places To Visit in NSW
Whether you want to visit country towns, wine regions, mountain areas, and of course beach towns, you will find all this and more in our favourite places to visit in NSW below…
1. Jervis Bay
Jervis Bay is magical. Definitely the highlight of our visit down the South Coast and a place we’d like to explore more.
The beaches in this region are as good as anywhere in NSW, if not Australia. Hyams Beach has the Guinness World Record for the whitest sand in the world, and there is a thriving coral reef not too far from the shoreline.
The only downside is they don’t offer the surfing opportunities you’ll find on the north coast, and the water temperature is 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 the north coast beaches.
Jervis Bay is also a popular spot for whale watching, kayaking, canoeing, and walks.
2. The Snowy Mountains & Mount Kosciuszko
On our road trip was the first time Caz and I had visited the Snowy Mountains in Kosciuszko National Park.
We’ve never been into skiing, and have only done it once in the States, but visiting the Snowies in the summer months really opened up our eyes to how much there is to do there.
From driving the Alpine Way, to exploring Yarrangobilly Caves and Jenolan Caves, to climbing part of Australia’s highest peak (Mount Kosciusko), to seeing wild brumbies and bike riding the trails – all this got us excited to return for a winter at the Thredbo ski fields.
If you’re looking for a place to hike, this is the ideal place to visit in NSW.
How good is Mudgee? Damn good!
We still can’t believe we grew up only 4 hours from this town and have never visited. It’s our new favourite country town in NSW.
If you’re a lover of wine, Mudgee is a great alternative to the famous Hunter Valley. We loved how you could 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 from Sydney.
4. 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 plenty of wombats).
Throw in a charming town centre, historic bridges, waterfalls, nature walks, and country pubs, and Kangaroo Valley makes for a great detour from the coastlines.
5. The Blue Mountains
Caz had never visited the Blue Mountains, and it’s been 30 years since I last visited, and we both wondered what all this fuss was about as a must-see day trip from Sydney?
Turns out, the Blue Mountains is more than just the Three Sisters and you should stay longer than one day!
The Blue Mountains have a depth greater than the infamous Three Sisters. We snapped our I was here photo and then went down, 900 steps into the valley below into a forested fern bower
Go hiking down amongst the rainforest-covered valleys into the valley below and you’ll feel like you’re a million miles away.
A local friend Dave 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!
There is relaxation, adventure, and rejuvenation in the Blue Mountains, and we were impressed by the unbelievably good local produce, cafes, cosy pubs, and restaurants. It’s a foodie’s paradise.
6. Byron Bay
Our favourite place in Northern NSW, Byron Bay is that legendary beach town that has been attracting thousands of surfers from around the world for years.
But it’s not just for surfers.
All types of people come for the National Parks, the arts and culture, the markets, the festivals, the food, the shopping, the health retreats, to hang with hippies, to be seen, and the vibe.
And you will see the most spectacular sunsets and sunrises. Byron Bay has a lot going for it. So many people come, and many never leave.
7. The Hunter Valley
It’s hard not to relax and enjoy yourself in this infamous wine region only a two hours drive north of Sydney.
The Hunter Valley is one of Australia’s most famous wine-growing regions and a place we have visited many times.
But it’s not just about the wineries. 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.
And believe it or not, there is also something in the Hunter Valley for families – mini golf, playgrounds, beautiful gardens, and family singing time driving through the vineyards.
So taste some wine and take a drive.
I recommend the Mountain View Trail, driving up to Bimbadeen Lookout for spectacular views of the valley and the Brokenback Range.
8. Coffs Harbour
Coffs Harbour is roughly half-way along the Sydney to Brisbane road trip route and a popular stop for road trippers.
For us, the town of Coffs doesn’t do much for us (unless you want to take a selfie with a Big Banana), but what we do really like is the surrounding region. So when we talk of Coffs, we’re thinking about the Coffs Coast Region!
The nearby beaches are great, especially Red Rocks Beach to the north, and the town of Sawtell is charming and where we choose to base ourselves.
Dorrigo National Park makes for a great day trip (visit Dangar Falls on the way up), then once in the park enjoy the rainforest and tree-top canopy walks.
If you can time your visit right, don’t miss the Bellingen Markets held every third Saturday of the month in the lovely town of Bellingen.
There’s something about University towns, as we discovered living in the USA, and the University town of Armidale located in the picturesque New England region is my kind of town.
We only had two days to explore, our stay was kind of cut short due to Kalyra breaking her arm in the playground, but we really enjoyed the history, the heritage buildings, the tree-lined streets, and the nearby waterfalls and gorges.
Armidale is also a lovely place to visit for its reputation for good food and wine, and we can see ourselves returning for another stay.
Newcastle 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, plus a lively cafe and restaurant scene, particularly along the waterfront.
It’s not just about pubs and industry anymore. There is richness, and a relaxed vibe, and it is exciting to see Newcastle offering much more for travellers these days.
Just under an hour away is the sand dunes of Port Stephens which are excellent for sand boarding on.
The town of Kingscliff is high up on the NSW North Coast (you’re almost in Queensland) and it’s one of those great beachy towns with a relaxed vibe that’s just enough off the beaten track that it doesn’t lose its appeal.
It’s a very liveable kinda place with a nice beach and cafe strip, friendly locals, and the pretty Cudgen Creek is a top spot for the kids to enjoy some water activities.
If Byron is too much for you, consider staying here to explore the rest of the North Coast region, and just down the road you have Cabaritta Beach and Fingal Head.
Last, but certainly not least, is the big smoke. Sydney sits high on any international destination hit list, let alone being the draw card and gateway to NSW.
If you are going to visit Australia, then you can’t miss Sydney.
It has something for everyone: stunning harbour side location, the iconic beaches (such as the famous Bondi Beach), excellent restaurants, fantastic cafes and pubs, world heritage sites, terrific shopping, incredible festivals, a multicultural population, and good year-round weather.
Not to mention the most iconic attractions in the country, the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. The Rocks District near the Circular Quay is one of our favorite destinations in Sydney to explore because it’s not only historic but has a chilled vibe.
But don’t just use Sydney as a gateway to NSW and Oz, give it at least 3 days.
13. Lord Howe Island Marine Park
Take a ferry over to Lord Howe Island which is famous for its natural beauty, incredible beaches, and thriving wildlife.
It’s one of the most untouched and unspoiled places in New South Wales, but because it’s 600km off the mainland of New South Wales, not many people visit here.
This makes it a remarkable hidden gem.
It’s most famous for its Seven Peaks walk, which takes you past places known for featuring in David Attenborough documentaries.
The trail is long but it’s not extremely tough but takes several days to complete. It’s one of the best multi-day walks in Australia.
14. Broken Hill Outback
Broken Hill is an old mining town that has a history dating back to the 1880s, making it Australia’s oldest mining town.
As well as being a place to discover precious metals, it’s also an area of outstanding natural beauty.
Being in the outback, you can find expanses of vast desert plains that shimmer in the sunlight. There is also the Living Desert State Park where you will find impressive rock formations and sculptures.
If you’re looking for places to visit in NSW where you can switch off and enjoy being in seclusion and solitude, this is the place to be.
15. Mungo National Park
Another popular place to see the NSW outback is Mungo National Park, which is famous for its prehistoric history.
This is where archaeologists found the remains of a Mungo Man and Woman that date over 40,000 years old. This makes it the oldest known area where humans have inhabited, in the entire southern hemisphere.
It also has amazing rock formations.
Before You Go to New South Wales
There you have it, those are our favourite places to visit in New South Wales for any visitor to Australia.
Whether you’re looking for some of the most popular destinations or hidden gems, you will find something for everyone on this list.
I hope that this list gave you some inspiration for places to add to your NSW itinerary and helped you plan your Aussie trip.
Tours of New South Wales
More NSW Travel Tips
Are you looking for more inspiration for visiting NSW? Then you may find the below resources useful…
- 15 things to do in Sydney with kids
- 10 day trips from Sydney (or weekend getaways)
- 22 Things to Do in Port Macquarie
- 14 Awesome Things to Do in Bathurst, NSW with kids
- 11 of the Best NSW Beaches to visit
- North Coast NSW Road Trip – Lennox Head to Gold Coast
- Things to do in Wollongong – the Gong gets us into the groove!
- Things to do on the Central Coast of NSW
- Yamba NSW: Is this Australia’s best kept secret?
- South West Rocks NSW and the Big 4 Caravan Park
- Sydney to Brisbane Road Trip Highlights
- Weekend Getaway in a Historic Lighthouse Cottage – Seal Rocks, NSW
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What are your favourite places in NSW? Share in the comments.