Sydney is one of the most iconic cities in Australia and perhaps in the world, but it's hard to spend all your time in the city when you're surrounded by jaw-dropping natural beauty and charming seaside towns. Head up into the Blue Mountains for a day of hiking, drive down to the coast to relax on gorgeous white sand beach, or immerse yourself in the area's history by talking a walk down an aboriginal heritage trail in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. No matter how you feel like spending the day, you have plenty of great options to choose from, and here are 25 of the best. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
One of the most popular spots on the gorgeous Central Coast, Avoca Beach is a family-friendly stretch of golden sand framed by two rocky headlands. It's a popular surf spot, but it's also an excellent beach for recreational swimming, stand-up paddleboarding, fishing, and strolling along the sand. There's also a peaceful lagoon right behind the beach, and kayaks and peddle boats can be rented on-site. A market takes places in a park just behind the beach on the fourth Sunday of every month, but there are also plenty of wonderful restaurants and shops for visitors to enjoy when the market isn't on.
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Nestled in the countryside of the Southern Highlands, Berrima is an incredibly well-preserved Georgian village that was established in the 1830s. It's known for its charming atmosphere and its historical colonial buildings, many of which now house boutique shops, art galleries, and upscale restaurants. One of these buildings is the Surveyor General Inn, which was built in 1834 by a group of convicts and is recognized as one of the oldest pubs in the country. After you're done wandering through the town's charming streets, head up the hill to visit Harper's Mansion, a historic brick house with beautifully landscaped grounds that include a hedge maze.
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If you want to get out of Sydney but you're not in the mood to give up sophisticated city amenities, Berry is the perfect place to go. This stylish little village is one of the most charming country getaways in the region, and for good reason. It's surrounded by wineries and award-winning restaurants, making it particularly popular with culinary enthusiasts, but there are also plenty of boutique shops selling unique finds. If you come on the first Sunday of the month, you can also browse the stalls at the Berry Country Fair for antiques and local, handcrafted products.
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4.Blue Mountains National Park
Named for the blue eucalyptus trees that cover the mountain slopes, Blue Mountains National Park is home to some of the country's most spectacular natural attractions, including the iconic Three Sisters rock formation. The park is made up of six distinct areas; the Katoomba area is the most popular, particularly with first-time visitors, but every area of the park boasts spectacular hiking trails that wind through forested valleys, past sparkling creeks and waterfalls, and along sheer cliff faces. Aside from hiking, visitors can ride the gondola at Scenic World, explore the awe-inspiring Jenolan Caves, and visit the beautiful Botanic Garden.
New South Wales, Australia, Phone: +61-2-47-87-88-77
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Created in the 1960s by Thomas and Charlotte Breen, the Breenhold Gardens are one of the most impressive privately-owned gardens in the country. The 110-acre property consists of both landscaped gardens and native bushland, and it's home to thousands of different species of exotic and native plants, which are divided into sections like the Daffodil Lawn, the Compass Garden, and the Cypress Meadow. The park is open to the public during the spring and autumn when the plants are particularly spectacular, but it can be booked for weddings and private events throughout the rest of the year.
29 The Avenue, Mount Wilson NSW 2786, Australia, Phone: +61-2-99-68-12-32
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As the capital of Australia, Canberra is an excellent place to get a taste of the country's history and culture. Free guided tours of the Parliament House are available every day of the week, and art lovers are in luck as well; the city boasts some of the best art galleries in the country, including the National Portrait Gallery and the National Gallery of Australia. If you want to incorporate a bit of nature into your trip, visit the National Arboretum or rent a kayak and spend some time paddling around on the beautiful Lake Burley Griffin.
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Family owned and operated since 1972, Glenworth Valley is an adventure center dedicated to providing visitors with exciting, unforgettable experiences. The 3,000-acre property offers the perfect blend of unspoiled nature and modern attractions; immerse yourself in natural beauty by taking a self-guided tour of the trails on horseback or on foot, or bring a group of friends to challenge at the state-of-the-art laser tag facility. Visitors can also choose from an excellent selection of guided tours, including kayak tours, rock climbing and abseiling tours, and quad biking tours that take riders across the property and through a purpose-built circuit.
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8.Hawkesbury River Valley
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Sitting right on Sydney's doorstep, the Hawkesbury River Valley is a barely touched piece of wilderness dotted with charming historic towns. There are plenty of opportunities to hike and mountain bike, but if you'd prefer to spend the day in a more leisurely way, you can simply drive through the hinterlands to admire the scenery, stopping at sandstone pubs along the way. The river that runs through the valley provides endless opportunities for fishing and swimming, and if you'd like to spend the day out on the water, you can rent a houseboat in the riverside village of Brooklyn.
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Thanks to its powdery white sand and turquoise blue waters, Jervis Bay is easily one of the most popular seaside destinations in the entire country. There's something here for everyone; families with children will appreciate the calm waters of Hyams Beach and Huskisson Beach, while scuba divers and snorkelers will find themselves mesmerized by the clear water and marine life of Jervis Bay Marine Park. If you want to stretch your legs rather than lay on the beach, you can take the White Sands Walk along the coastline or check out the trails in Booderee National Park.
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Tucked in between the Barrengarry and Cambewarra mountain ranges, Kangaroo Valley is a wonderful place to visit if you're looking for some peace and quiet with a healthy dose of natural beauty. The valley is filled with vineyards and rainforests, and there are several pleasant walking and cycling trails for visitors to use, although many people choose to kayak or canoe down the Kangaroo River instead. If you need something to eat or drink, the village of Kangaroo Valley offers excellent tea rooms and pie shops as well as a historic pub that boasts an incredible view of the surrounding valley.
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Located approximately 75 miles south of Sydney, Kiama is a gorgeous seaside town with plenty of things for visitors to see and do. The biggest attractions here are the two blowholes in the cliffs, one of which sends seawater soaring as far as 20 meters high. The blowholes are a must-see while you're in the area, but make sure you leave some time to enjoy the area's other attractions as well. Depending where your interests lie, you can stroll along a section of the Kiama Coast Walk, visit the Historic Terrace Houses on Collins Street, or browse the boutique shops downtown.
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12.Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park
Created in 1894, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park is the second oldest national park in Australia, and it's still an incredible place to explore Australia's wilderness and learn about the country's Aboriginal history. The area was formerly inhabited by the Guringai Aboriginal people, and it's still home to over 350 fascinating Aboriginal sites, including burial sites and rock engravings. Many of these sites can be seen while walking along the park's well-kept hiking trails, which also lead to beautiful waterfront picnic spots and lookouts where visitors can admire views of the water and the Barrenjoey Lighthouse.
Bobbin Head Rd, New South Wales, Australia, Phone: +61-2-94-72-89-49
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If you're a skilled surfer, you've almost certainly heard of Manly Beach — this is where the annual Australian Open of Surfing takes place. It boasts some of the best waves around Sydney, but it's still well worth coming here even if you aren't much of a surfer. The soft golden sand is perfect for sunbathing, and there are plenty of waterfront restaurants and cafes. If you want to explore the surrounding area as well, rent a bike and cycle along the coast to Freshwater Beach or pop over to the neighboring Shelly Beach to enjoy the calm waters.
Found at the beginning of the Tahmoor Gorge, the Mermaid Pools are a beautiful natural swimming hole that can be reached via an hour-long hiking trail that starts at the Rockford Road Bridge. People often come here simply to swim and sunbathe on the rocks, but if you're in the mood for a more challenging hike, there's also a loop trail around Tahmoor Gorge that takes approximately six hours to complete. Visitors should be aware that the only way to swim in the pool itself is to jump off a fairly high cliff, but there are plenty of other swimming spots along the trail.
Fondly known to locals as "Newie", Newcastle is a lovely port city that can be reached by driving for two hours along the legendary Pacific Highway. The downtown streets are filled with artisan shops and wonderful restaurants, but the city is also known for its natural beauty. If you want to swim, surf, or sunbathe, no fewer than eight beaches can be found around the city center. Many of these beaches are connected by a beautiful three-mile walking trail known as Bathers Way, which also leads to the historic Fort Scratchley and a historic sea bath known as the Bogey Hole.
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Set on a sandy peninsula at the end of Sydney's Northern Beaches, Palm Beach is famous as the setting of the popular Australian TV show Home and Away. Guided tours are available for fans of the show, but don't make the mistake of thinking there's no reason to visit unless you've seen it. The peninsula's beaches are wonderful for swimming and sunbathing, and there are a handful of photogenic restaurants that draw big crowds on weekends. Before you head back to Sydney, be sure to hike up to the top of Barrenjoey Head to see the lighthouse and admire the stunning views of the water.
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Port Stephens is approximately three hours away from Sydney, but it's well worth the drive, particularly if you're interested in swimming or kayaking with dolphins. Home to approximately 150 bottle nose dolphins, the area is informally known as Australia's "dolphin capital", but visitors who love animals can also take a whale watching tour, scuba dive with a grey shark nurse colony, or see a koala in the wild at the Tilligerry Habitat State Reserve. Other popular activities in the area include hiking up Mount Tomaree, sandboarding down the Stockton Bight Sand Dunes, and surfing at One Mile Beach.
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18.Royal National Park
Less than 20 miles outside Sydney, Royal National Park is the world's second oldest national park after Yellowstone in America. Despite its proximity to the city, it gives visitors the chance to immerse themselves in unspoiled nature whether they want to spend the day in the bush or on the beach. There are more than 60 miles of hiking trails in the park, including the popular Curra Moors Loop Track, and some of these trails are open to mountain bikers as well. If you climb up to the Governor Game lookout between May and November, you might be lucky enough to spot migrating humpback whales.
Sir Bertram Stevens Dr, Royal National Park NSW 2233, Australia, Phone: +61-2-95-42-06-48
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Situated at the northernmost end of Wollongong, Stanwell Park is a picturesque little village best known as a mecca for paragliding and hang-gliding. The best place to watch hang-gliders and paragliders soar through the air is from the top of Bald Hill lookout, but if you're feeling particularly daring, you can even go for a tandem flight yourself with one of the companies in town. There are plenty of wonderful things to do on solid ground as well; feed kangaroos at the Symbio Wildlife Park, enjoy a picnic at Stanwell Park Beach, or go for a horseback trail road at one of the local ranches.
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Surrounded by water on three sides, the Entrance is a beautiful seaside playground with plenty of activities for visitors of all ages. , Take a dip in one of the ocean baths at the beach, stop by Vera's Water Garden so your kids can splash around in the pool and admire the whimsical fountains, or rent a bike and cycle along the trail that surrounds Tuggerah Lake. Many visitors also plan their schedule around the daily Pelican Feed that takes place every afternoon on the waterfront; watching these enormous water birds gulp down whole fish is a truly unique experience.
21.The Hunter Valley
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As one of the biggest wine regions in the country, the Hunter Valley is a wonderful place to visit if you love wine and good food. You'll find more than 120 wineries here, many of which boast tasting rooms and in-depth masterclasses. When you're ready for a break from all the wine, stop by the Hunter Valley Cheese Factory or book an indulgent treatment at one of the area's many day spas. If you can arrange to stay the night and you want to make your visit extra-special, you can book a sunrise hot air balloon ride complete with a gourmet breakfast after you land.
22.The Southern Highlands
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With their rolling green hills and charming heritage towns, the Southern Highlands are distinctly reminiscent of Old England, so it's not hard to understand why they're one of the most popular Sydney day trips. You could easily spend the entire day wandering through the streets of quaint towns like Bowral and Berrima, but other popular activities include visiting the area's many wineries, hiking through the ancient forests, and making a trip to the impressive Fitzroy Falls. The scenery changes from season to season, but it's perhaps most spectacular in September, when Bowral's annual tulip festival is held.
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23.Tobruk Sheep Station
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Perched on a plateau overlooking the Hawkesbury River, Tobruk Sheep Station is the perfect place to experience life on a working Australian outback farm. All visitors will be guided through their experience by one of the farm's friendly stockmen, and depending on how much time you have, you can book a two-hour tour or a four-hour tour. Both options offer the opportunity to watch exciting demonstrations of farm activities like sheep shearing and mustering the sheep with working dogs, and guests who opt for the longer tour will be served lunch and have the opportunity to try boomerang throwing and whip cracking.
5050 Old Northern Rd, Maroota NSW 2756, Australia, Phone: +61-2-45-66-82-23
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Found in the Wombeyan Karst Conservation Reserve, the Wombeyan Caves offers the opportunity to take guided tours of spectacular limestone caves filled with colorful rock formations. Guided tours are only offered once a day, but if you miss them, you can still take a leisurely self-guided walk through the spectacular Figtree Cave. Visitors who want to see even more of the caves can come on a public holiday when several of the smaller caves are open or take the Heritage Tour, which leads through sections of the cave system that have remained untouched since the candlelight tours of the 1920s.
25.Kanangra-Boyd National Park
Part of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, the Kanangra-Boyd National Park is made up of untouched forests punctuated by sheer rock cliffs. The park is an excellent hiking spot for people of all fitness levels; the Kanangra-Boyd lookout offers breathtaking views and is only a ten-minute walk from the parking lot, but there are plenty of more challenging trails in the park as well, including a popular track that leads to the stunning Kanangra and Kalang Falls. Cyclists will enjoy the Boyd river loop, and if you like fishing, bring your gear and spend some time on the Kowmung River.
Kanangra NSW 2787, Australia
25 Best Weekend Getaways and Day Trips from Sydney, Australia
- Avoca Beach, Photo: Daniela/stock.adobe.com
- Berrima, Photo: Phillip Minnis/stock.adobe.com
- Berry, Photo: Ilia Torlin/stock.adobe.com
- Blue Mountains National Park, Photo: doom.ko/stock.adobe.com
- Breenhold Gardens, Photo: gitusik/stock.adobe.com
- Canberra, Photo: esmehelit/stock.adobe.com
- Glenworth Valley, Photo: AlexandraDaryl/stock.adobe.com
- Hawkesbury River Valley, Photo: Phillip Minnis/stock.adobe.com
- Jervis Bay, Photo: Juergen Wallstabe/stock.adobe.com
- Kangaroo Valley, Photo: leelakajonkij/stock.adobe.com
- Kiama, Photo: Alizada Studios/stock.adobe.com
- Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, Photo: Camila/stock.adobe.com
- Manly Beach, Photo: Aleksandar Todorovic/stock.adobe.com
- Mermaid Pools, Photo: bakalaeroZz/stock.adobe.com
- Newcastle, Photo: s_porter/stock.adobe.com
- Palm Beach, Photo: taki_o/stock.adobe.com
- Port Stephens, Photo: Michael Kühl/stock.adobe.com
- Royal National Park, Photo: irisphoto1/stock.adobe.com
- Stanwell Park, Photo: Hermosa Drones/stock.adobe.com
- The Entrance, Photo: lifeofriley/stock.adobe.com
- The Hunter Valley, Photo: Arnab Maity/stock.adobe.com
- The Southern Highlands, Photo: Csák István/stock.adobe.com
- Tobruk Sheep Station, Photo: Dmitry Pichugin/stock.adobe.com
- Wombeyan Caves, Photo: Greg Brave/stock.adobe.com
- Kanangra-Boyd National Park, Photo: katacarix/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: katacarix/stock.adobe.com
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