Sydney one of the largest cities in Australia has a plenty of attractions to offer. The gorgeous coastline, the iconic Sydney Opera House, and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, great museums, amazing architecture, plenty of shopping opportunities and much more have made Sydney a top tourist destination. It easy to fall in love with Sydney. Not only is it a fantastic city to visit, but it also offers exciting day trips to discover more about Australia.
If your time is limited or if you like the comfort of staying at the same place during your holidays, here’s a selection of the best day trips from Sydney to enjoy different experiences and landscapes when visiting Sydney.
A Guest Post by Eloise from My Favourite Escapes
Blue Mountains Day Trip
A visit to the Blue Mountains is the most popular day trip from Sydney, and it’s easy to understand why. First, it’s easy to reach. The train takes you from the Sydney city center to Katoomba, the main town in the Blue Mountains National Park. Or it’s an easy 1-hour and 40-minute drive.
From Katoomba, you have many different options to discover the beauty of the surrounding nature. You can take it easy and stick to the lookout and the Scenic Railway. But if you want to be more active, many beautiful hikes leave from there too. And if you feel adventurous, you can opt for abseiling or canyoning: it will give you a real sense of the immensity of the Blue Mountains.
The Royal National Park
The Royal National Park is Australia’s #1 National Park as it was the first one to be declared. But it could be a great competitor for the #1 position in the best national parks list. Its popularity has increased in the past few years as two spots became Instagram famous: the Figure 8 pools and the Wedding Cake.
Eagle Rock Lookout
The Royal National Park is best explored by hiking along the Coastal Walk to admire the dramatic landscape created by the cliffs and the immensity of the surrounding nature. But if you’re not into hiking, you can still enjoy a visit to Wattamolla Beach, where a waterfall meets the sea.
Although it is preferable to spend two days in this region as there are many things to do in Port Stephens, it is feasible as a day trip. It takes 2.5 hours to drive there from Sydney.
And there are many reasons why Port Stephens is worth a visit. Sometimes referred to as the Dolphin Capital of Australia, local cruise operators have a 99% success rate as spotting them. They sometimes come close to the beach so you can spot them from the shore. If you’re very lucky, you may even see them as you snorkel or dive one of the best shore dive sites in Australia. Scuba divers will also love exploring the islands nearby to look for sharks.
View from Mount Tomaree
You’ll also find Australia’s largest dune in Port Stephens.
Stockton Beach in Worimi National Park can be accessed via Anna Bay, where you can hire a sandboard or join a tour to explore the dunes on a quad or a camel.
The Hunter Valley
Sydney does not only have fantastic beaches and beautiful mountains nearby. You can also do a day trip to one of Australia’s most reputed wine region, the Hunter Valley.
If you can manage to organize lunch in a vineyard, wine tasting and a horse race in the afternoon, you’ll have a fantastic overview of all the activities in the region.
Palm Beach & the Northern Beaches
Sydney has fantastic beaches, but the northern-most beach Palm beach may be the one that offers the best views. The short walk up to the Barrenjoey lighthouse on the peninsula is a must-do for 360-degree views of the surroundings, with whale watching opportunities during winter.
Only one hour away from Sydney, the atmosphere is entirely different, and you’ll really leave the city behind you. Palm Beach has the ocean on one side and the calm Pittwater Bay on the other, with Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and the Hawkesbury River just a bit further. If you want to explore further, you can take a ferry across Pittwater Bay to the Basin to reach Ku-ring-gay Chase National Park.
Ku-ring-gay Chase National Park
The previous two national parks on this list were inland with the Blue Mountains and on the coast with the Royal National Park. The third national park close to Sydney is again different: Ku-ring-gay Chase National Park is more focused on the beautiful Hawkesbury River, and a lot less touristy.
You can hire a boat or a kayak to go up the picturesque bays and river; it’s the best way to explore the national park. It’s also lovely to bushwalk there.
Central Coast, Norah Head
The Norah Head Lighthouse is a lovely stop on Australia’s Central Coast, only 1h45 minutes north of Sydney. We discovered it during our road trip from Brisbane to Sydney but it actually is a lovely day trip to escape from the big city and visit a different coast.
Norah Head Lighthouse
There are many gems on the Central Coast to explore. Norah Head Lighthouse is a must-do, especially if you manage to be there during visiting hours (10 am – 1.30 pm). The rocky head at the bottom of the lighthouse is remarkable and a lovely short walk.
Wollongong is less than 100km south of Sydney, just after the Royal National Park. It is the first stop on the famous Grand Pacific Drive, but you can also reach it by train from Sydney.
Thrill seekers will be pleased to try a skydiving, a hang gliding or a paragliding experience above the sea and the beautiful beaches that are often named as one of the best coastal views in Australia.
One of the main landmarks of the area is the Sea Cliff Bridge that gives an opportunity to drive or walk above the Pacific Ocean.
Further down the coast, Killalea Beach is a National Surfing reserve with beautiful estuarine wetlands and bird viewing opportunities nearby.
Kiama is next on your way south. It’s 40 minutes away by train from Wollongong. It is famous for its blowholes: two natural rock formations that push the water into the air with an intimidating sound.
Shoalhaven Coast Wine Region
The Shoalhaven Coast stretches from Kiama to Durras on the coast, and to the Kangaroo Valley on the west. It’s a two-hour drive from Sydney.
If the wineries are less famous than in the Hunter Valley, the idea of having vineyard next to pristine beaches is seducing enough to be worth a trip. There are 11 cellar doors for you to find your favorite wine, and some cellars organize tours during weekends if you want to learn more about wine-making.
Still, in the south but more inland, Kangaroo Valley is sometimes described as Australia’s most beautiful valley. It is a lovely getaway for a countryside experience and – if not the most beautiful – probably Australia’s most accessible valley, only two hours away from Sydney.
Morton National Park is nearby and there are many nature-based activities such as horse-riding and canoeing safaris to explore the beautiful countryside. But it’s also a region where you can stay put, watch beautiful sunsets and enjoy small cafes.