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Sydney is the most visited and bustling city in Australia and many travellers use it as a gateway to explore the rest of Oz, so it’s no surprise you’d be looking for ideas for day trips from Sydney.
Fortunately for you, there are loads of trips you can take within a couple of hours outside the city.
Whether you’re looking for historical landmarks, impressive beaches, or incredible natural landscapes, there’s so much to explore on a day trip in Sydney.
In this guide, we’ll be sharing our favourite spots for a Sydney day trip, as well as a few destinations a bit further away that would be more suited for a Sydney weekend getaway.
Go take a look!
Day Trips from Sydney, NSW
Once you’ve seen all the attractions in Sydney such as Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge, you shouldn’t just move on to the next stop. Be sure to spend a few days exploring the surrounding towns and regions in NSW. Here are some of our favourite spots…
1. Blue Mountains
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 rock formations at Echo Point Lookout and doesn’t need much of your time, 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 (the 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.
If you have more time to spend and you want to make your Sydney day trip a weekend visit, include a river cruise down Hawkesbury River on the foothills of the blue mountains. Hawkesbury is a great place to see authentic Aussie traditions such as boomerang throwing and sheep sheering.
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 the nearby town of Leura has a nice main street with cosy cafes.
2. Royal National Park
Less than an hour’s drive south of the Sydney CBD is the Royal National Park, Australia’s oldest and the world’s second-oldest National Park, behind Yellowstone.
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 are 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. You can also paddle a canoe up the stunning Hacking River, which offers great views of the natural landscape.
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 the correct change.
3. The Central Coast
One hour north of Sydney is our home town region of the Central Coast. This gorgeous coastline connects with the Pacific Ocean and is home to some of the best beaches in Aus.
Most travellers tend to remain on the main freeway when heading north and bypass 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
How to get there:
- Drive for 51 miles north via the M1.
- Take a train, but it takes 4 hours so not really convenient for a day trip from Sydney.
Watch Our Video on the Central Coast:
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 wineregions 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, as well as the stunning Hunter Valley Gardens. 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, and beautiful gardens.
How to get there:
- Drive 251km north via the M1. It takes around 3 hours so you should get up early, or book accommodation for one night and make it a weekend getaway!
- There is one train that departs from Central Station at 9.29am and it takes 3 hours.
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 mentioned it!.
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 koalas, wombats and kangaroos).
Throw in a charming town centre, historic bridges, waterfalls, nature walks and country pubs, and Kangaroo Valley makes for a great detour from the coast.
And if you do like to be near the water, make sure to take a river cruise down the Kangaroo River.
Just a short drive from Kangeroo Valley is the coastal town of Kiama, which would make for a great place to stay if you want to make a weekend trip to Kangaroo Valley. Kiama has lots of attractions of its own, including the Kiama Blowhole and Kendalls Beach.
How to get there:
- Drive 156km South via the Hume Motorway and M31. It takes around 2 hours 15 minutes so you should get up early, or book accommodation for one night and make it a weekend getaway!
- It’s possible to get there by train but there are four trains to catch and it takes 4.5 hours, so not ideal for a day trip.
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 the north coast beaches.
Jervis Bay is also a popular spot for whale watching, kayaking, canoeing, and walks.
Watch Our Video of Jervis Bay
Newcastle, a two and a half hour’s 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 a richness and a relaxed vibe, and it is exciting to see Newcastle offering much more for travellers these days.
At nearby Stockton Beach, there are 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.
How to get there:
- Drive 170km North via the M1. It takes around 2 hours each way.
- There are trains running from Sydney Central Station to Newcastle and it takes around 2.5 hours, but the views are gorgeous all the way!
Watch Our Video of Stockton Sand Dunes:
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 kilometres Mount Panorama racing circuit and a visit to the National Motor Racing Museum.
How to get there:
- Drive 200km West via the Great Western Highway. It takes around 3 hours each way, so you might want to get up early or stay the night and make it a weekend getaway from Sydney.
- There are trains running from Sydney Central Station to Bathurst every 4 hours and it takes around 3.5 hours.
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 hour drive north-west from Sydney and another place suited to a weekend getaway.
How to get there:
- Drive 266km North via the Great Western Highway, A32, and Castlereagh Highway. It takes around 3 hours and 40 minutes so it’s better to make it a weekend getaway from Sydney.
- There are trains running from Sydney Central Station to Mudgee with one change over. It takes around 4.5 – 5.5 hours depending on which route you take.
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 your way down the Grand Pacific Drive, stopping at Bald Head Lookout, the Scarborough Hotel for lunch, and then over the famous Sea Cliff Bridge to Wollongong.
Once in Wollongong, cycle along the Wollongong foreshore, check out North Wollongong Beach, and visit the Nan Tien Temple and Science Centre & Planetarium.
Grab a bite to eat and drink at the Illawarra Brewery and Diggies Beach Cafe.
How to get there:
- Drive 94km South via the M1. It takes around 1.5 hours each way.
- There are trains running from Sydney Central Station to Wollongong and it takes around 90 minutes to 2.5 hours depending on the route you take.
Although most people think Sydney is the capital of Australia, it is in fact Canberra. This city is located 3.5 hours South of Sydney and is well worth a visit for a Sydney weekend getaway.
Canberra is home to many incredible museums and historic landmarks, such as the National Museum of Australia, the Australian War Memorial, the National Gallery of Australia, the Australian Parliament House and the Mount Ainslie Lookout.
If you’re interested in learning more about Aussie history and culture, be sure to spend a day exploring all the museums here.
12. Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park
Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park is famous for its Aboriginal heritage. Head out on a bush walk through the Aboriginal Heritage Walk to find ancient red ochre rock paintings and rock engravings left at the indigenous sites.
The park is also an area of outstanding natural beauty, spanning across the coastline, rainforest, bushland and the Pittwater estuary.
Be sure to check out the hand prints on the Red Hands Cave track. Another popular attraction in the park is the West Head lookout which offers incredible views. You can also see some great open bay views across Pittwater and the 19th-century Barrenjoey Lighthouse.
The Pittwater area is another reason to visit the national park. It’s the area that separates Sydney from the Central Coast and is known for being a great place to go boating, fishing, and sailing.
Head over to Palm Beach for a relaxing day on the beach, or rent a kayak and paddle around the northern beaches.
How to get there:
- Drive 27km North via Forest Way. It takes around 45 minutes each way.
- There are trains running from Sydney Central Station to Mount Colah Station and it takes around 1 hour. From here it’s another 30 minute walk to the entrance of the park, or you can take a taxi.
- Alternatively, you can take a tour from Sydney, which includes a trip to the National Park and stops at the Northern Beaches.
13. Morton National Park
Another stunning national park outside of Sydney is Morton, which is a great place to go hiking, mountain biking or just enjoying time in the woodlands.
It’s most famous for its waterfalls, including Fitzroy Falls which plunges for 80 meters over a dramatic sandstone cliff. The waterfall can be seen from a boardwalk which is accessible for those with mobility issues or families with strollers.
Another waterfall to check out Belmore Falls, which is accessible via a moderate to difficult hiking trail. The hike takes you along a path with magnificent views of Kangaroo Valley from several lookouts, the last is of the waterfall.
The national park is a great place to visit if you want to stretch your legs, do a spot of bird watching and just enjoy being in nature.
How to get there:
- Drive 228km South via the M1. It takes around 3.5 hours each way.
- There aren’t any trains that run to the park, and it’s still a good hour’s drive from the nearest train station, so we don’t recommend this way.
Before You Go
So there you have it, those are the best day trips from Sydney for a weekend getaway. As you can see, there are a lot of places to explore and things to see.
Before you go, remember to book your car rental in advance for cheaper prices. This is the best way to get around Aus and the most convenient way to get to these day trips.
More Sydney Travel Tips
Are you looking for more travel tips for Sydney? Take a look at the following guides:
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Can you recommend any day trips from Sydney? Let us know in the comments!