Sydney is an adventure playground. There are so many things to do in Sydney, I could spend weeks there! Sometimes, a change of scenery is needed though, and there are so many beautiful areas outside of Sydney to explore. In this blog post we’re going to look at the best day trips from Sydney, so that you can explore some of the areas outside of this wonderful Australian city.
Personally, Sydney is one of my favourite cities in the world. It has an amazing food and coffee scene (if you know about Australian coffee, you know what I mean), as well as chilled vibes by day and hustle and bustle by night. The beaches in and around Sydney are stunning; of course there’s the famous Bondi beach, but there are many more areas of beautiful coastline to discover too. Check out my complete guide to Sydney here.
But there is so much more to Sydney than the city centre itself. One of my favourite areas just outside Sydney is Manly, a beach side suburb. It’s perfect for a day trip to get out of Sydney city centre, but personally, I’d stay longer! Other amazing day trips include wine tasting in Hunter Valley, visiting the kangaroos in Morisset, marvelling at the views in the famous Blue Mountains.
If you’re looking for things to do outside of Sydney for a day or two, then look no further…
The best day trips from Sydney, Australia…
1. The Blue Mountains National Park
The Blue Mountains National Park is a valley full of ancient rock formations, waterfalls, rainforest, across a vast 11,400km². Wentworth Falls, Leura, Katoomba and of course the Three Sisters are must sees on your trip! Get your trainers out for this one, as there’s a lot of walking involved! Check out my beginner’s guide to hiking here.
As one of the most popular day trips from Sydney, the Blue Mountains can be visited as part of a group tour, if you have the budget and want an expert guide, or you can go yourself either by train or car, if you prefer a money-saving, more independent version! Check out my self-guided trip to the Blue Mountains with everything you need to know here.
For a luxury day in the Blue Mountains, try ‘Sparadise’ – a Japanese outdoor spa with panoramic views. Get more information on the website here.
2. Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park
The second oldest national park lies around 45 minutes outside the city centre. Enjoy a walk around the lush greenery and see Lion Island and Barrenjoey Lighthouse. Take a picnic to Bobbin Head for lunch, and head to Upper Gledhill Falls on McCarrs Creek for an afternoon swim. If you like more of an active adventure, there are plenty of cycling and bushwalking trails to take on!
This quaint seaside town is about two hours north of Sydney. Take a walk along the coast with an ice-cream before spending some time on an active adventure such as kayaking or rock climbing. Don’t forget to visit the Kiama blowhole at the top of the cliffs, and play in the natural, salty, water fountain!
4. Glenworth Valley
Glenworth Valley is a must-do day trip from Sydney if you love an active holiday! Just an hour from Sydney’s CBD, experience the wilderness in the Central Coast’s hinterland region and try horse-riding, quad-biking, kayaking, abseiling and more. If you have time, camp overnight; there’s enough to do here to have a mini-holiday in itself! For more information on Glenworth outdoor adventures, check out the website here.
5. Hunter Valley
The Hunter Valley is one of my favourite Sydney day trips to date. If you drive about 2 hours out of Sydney, you reach one of Australia’s most famous wine regions. Here, not only can you do wine tasting, but you can also experience beer, chocolate and cheese tasting, as well as seeing koalas and kangaroos.
6. Royal National Park
The Royal National Park is one of Sydney’s most popular day trips, but it’s easy to see why. Locally known as ‘Nasho’ or just ‘the Royal’, the world’s second-oldest national park is about one hour south of Sydney, and is home to cycling paths, bushwalking trails, and even the opportunity to go whale-watching. When you’re here, don’t miss the opportunity to hike up to the Figure Eight pools for a spectacular view. Be careful though: it’s a steep, rocky, 6km hike, and you need to be wary of the tide before you visit (for your own safety). Get the tide info here.
7. Palm Beach
Palm Beach covers 2.3km of the Northern Beaches coastline, and is the perfect place for sun, sand and surf! It’s only an hour out of Sydney, and is also a filming location for Home and Away, so you never know who you might see while you’re here!
Said to be one of NSW’s best kept secrets, Wollongong is about 90 minutes south of Sydney and offers something for everyone, from chilling on the beautiful beach to skydiving with a soft, beach landing! I’d love to try hang gliding from Stanwell Park!
9. Mermaid Pools, Tahmoor Gorge
The Mermaid Pools at Tahmoor Gorge on the Bargo River are a really popular day trip outside of Sydney. About 75 minutes south west of the city centre, you canget up close and personal with nature as you hike, wild swim and chase waterfalls. While it’s not recommended to swim in the Mermaid Pools themselves (getting in and out of the pools is extremely dangerous), you can swim in several other water holes in the area. Don’t forget to venture out past the Mermaid Pools to explore the rest of the Tahmoor Gorge area!
Honestly, I think Manly might be one of my favourite places in the whole world. If you’re able to spend more than a day here, do it. I spent a week here and then came back for more later in my trip! There’s something about the laid back lifestyle that collides with the city hustle and bustle (Sydney’s CBD is a 20-minute ferry away) that makes for a magical day. If you don’t want to get the ferry or drive all the way there, you could do the Spit to Manly walk, followed by some well-deserved coffee and beach time.
11. Kangaroo Valley, Southern Highlands
It’s worth spending some time exploring all of the Southern Highlands if you can… it’s a beautiful, green area. The highlight for me for a day trip from Sydney would be Kangaroo Valley. Two hours south of Sydney you can see kangaroos, kayak down the river and even take on a ‘foodie trail’ with a cooking class!
12. Hawkesbury River
Less than an hour from Sydney, you wouldn’t know this rural area of tranquility is so close to Australia’s largest city. Take a river cruise down the Hawkesbury, pick your own fruit from one of the many farms in the area, or do a kayak river tour, stopping for a picnic lunch on the river bank.
13. Stockton sand dunes
If you want to drive along the beach in a 4×4, this is the Sydney day trip for you! Most people think of Fraser Island when it comes to driving on the beach, but that’s not the only place you can do it. Stockton sand dunes are about 2 hours from Sydney. You’ll need a permit and slightly deflated tyres to drive on the sand dunes, but this is inexpensive. Once you’re sorted, drive along the beach, venture into the sand dunes, and take in the views that go for miles and miles.
14. Wombeyan Caves
If you want a taste of the underworld, take on the underground passages, streams and caverns of the limestone Wombeyan Caves. Wollondilly, Junction, Kooringa, and Mulwaree caves are best seen on a guided tour, but the Figtree Cave is one of the best self-guided cave experiences. In the local area there are also bush walks and waterfalls.
Some say there’s too much to do here for it to be just a one-day trip from Sydney, so you might want to stay overnight and really explore the area in detail. If you camp in the area, you might find an inquisitive kangaroo joins you for breakfast!
15. Lake Macquarie
Lake Macquarie is another one of NSW’s secrets that you can discover on a day trip from Sydney. Small lively towns meet beautiful beaches, caves and rock pools, as you share your lunch with the pelicans at the side of the lake. The nearby Watagan Mountains are home to an array of walking trails that you can take on if you prefer to get active. The relaxed attitude here will make you never want to leave!
One of my first Aussie road trips, seeing the wild kangaroos in Morisset is a must-do day trip from Sydney. Driving an hour and a half was well worth it for the kanga-selfies we got with the very friendly roos!
17. Port Stephens
2.5 hours north of Sydney lies Port Stephens, an area made up of 26 beautiful beaches and sparkling blue water. Beaches to choose from include Shoal Bay and Nelson Bay. Kick back and relax on the sand and look out for the resident dolphins and whales!
18. Tomaree Head
The Tomaree Head summit walk is about 2 hours in total, so perfect for a beginner hiker! When you get to the top, enjoy the views of Port Stephens before you come back down for a swim. If you fancy it in the afternoon, head into the nearby city of Newcastle for some city adrenaline and a few cocktails.
This area just south of Sydney is certainly worth exploring on a day trip if you have time. With wineries and waterfalls to visit, whales and dolphins to watch, and beaches and hinterland to enjoy, this area of NSW is a great holiday destination. It’s known for its fun surf culture, so be sure to catch a wave while you’re there!
20. Jervis Bay
Technically part of Shoalhaven, but worth its own special mention. With white sands that rival Australia’s very best beaches in the Whitsundays, Jervis Bay is a day trip from Sydney that you don’t want to miss. Hyams beach is renowned for having ‘the whitest sand in the world’, winning the Guinness World Record in 2006. the 3-hour drive south of Sydney might be a long one, but the Grand Pacific Drive is worth it for the views along the way and the warm, clear water and soft, white sand when you get to Hyams beach.