Sydney is one of the most popular tourist places in the entire country of Australia. Without a doubt the most cosmopolitan of the country’s cities, Sydney’s attractions seem endless. It might therefore seem like there is no need to explore beyond this twinkling city with its internationally-renowned Harbour Bridge, Opera House, and busy side streets.
But when you get tired of the hustle and bustle of the city and the urge arises to explore far and beyond, appease the explorer in you and try one of the five best day trips from Sydney, with less overnight stay commitments and more sightseeing!
With more than 30 kilometres (18.6 miles) of sparkling white pristine beaches, it is no wonder why the blue-water paradise of Port Stephens is Sydney’s best-kept secret. With three regions to explore, the Tomaree Peninsula, the Tilligerry Peninsula, and the Golden Bight, Port Stephens offers many chance for exploration and making new memories.
Nature and wildlife spotting
One of the main reasons for the large number of visitors to Port Stephens is the array of free-roaming and wild native animal and bird life available for viewing. A dolphin-watching cruise is the best way to get up close and personal with these beautiful, graceful creatures.
If whale migration is what you’re after, visit during June and July for the north migration, or the September to November period for the south migration.
You can also visit the Australian Shark and Ray Centre, where kids can learn more about marine life, touch a real 300- kilogram (661-pound) stingray (totally safe!), and hand-feed the sharks, truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
If viewing wildlife isn’t really your thing, take a hike up to Tomaree Headland Lookout to enjoy panoramic views of the offshore islands. Be prepared to hike a good 30 minutes, but is worth the sweat and tears for sure.
For adventure seekers
The Worimi Conservation Lands, or Bight Sand Dunes, is the place to be for adventure seekers. Stretching about 32 kilometres (19.9 miles) across, these are the largest dunes of the Southern Hemisphere. You have the option of exploring the dunes by foot, camel or horse, in your own car, or taking the thrill-seeker option and sandboarding down 40-metre-tall (131-foot-tall) dunes!
Price: from 142 USD
Duration: around 12 hours required
Access: Take the M1 Motorway. At the end of the M1, turn right at the roundabout, following the sign ‘Hexham & Pacific Highway’ (BP service station and Hungry Jacks will be on your next left)
Hunter Valley is Australia’s oldest wine growing region. With more than 150 wineries producing world-class wines, it is no wonder this is the ultimate place for fine wine. The area is also renowned for its fine dining, cooking schools, health spa retreats, and extensive golf ranges.
The area surrounding Hunter Valley is a major tourist destination when considering day trips from Sydney due to its proximity and the constant flow of events that are held in the region. Wine-making competitions and food tasting events are so common that the calendar is constantly filled with entertainment and competition deadlines.
Internationally renowned varieties of grapes including shiraz, chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, and verdelho should sound familiar to wine lovers, all produced right in the Hunter Valley. Sample some locally-produced cheese and olive oils direct from the producers to compliment the exquisite red wines.
Due to its panoramic landscapes, Hunter Valley is also incredibly great for the outdoor explorers who want to play a round of golf at one of the best ranges in Australia. Otherwise, a family hot air balloon trip with your family sounds great as well!
Hunter Valley is approximately two hours away from the north of Sydney. While on the way to Hunter Valley, take a pit stop at the beachside city of Newcastle. It is a town with a rich history, booming culture, and excellent dining and shopping options. While you’re in that region, visit some of the nature parks such as Watagan, Yengo, and Barrington Tops where you can do activities such as fishing, swimming, or even taking a boat and doing some sailing at Lake St Clair, all within the Hunter Region.
Hunter Valley Food and Wine Tasting
Price: from 122.66 USD
Duration: around 10.5 hours required
Located just outside Sydney, the Royal National Park is the perfect day getaway for people looking to take in the sights without having to travel too far. Lying 36 kilometres (22.4 miles) to the south of Sydney and spreading outwards from the sun-kissed beaches of Wattamolla, the 15,000-hectare (37,066-acre) National Park is a beautiful sanctuary within the bustling Sydney area.
There are plenty of other things to do other than just looking at the lush greenery. Opportunities for barbecuing, fishing, bushwalking, and even (if you’re lucky!), whale watching is possible from Royal National Park.
Well-known for its pristine beaches and stretches of wave-filled surf territory, this park is definitely a significant tourist attraction for people visiting Sydney. During the annual migration period of May to November, tourists have reported seeing large groups of whales passing on the way to the migration site. The rocky cliffs and dense forests make it an excellent place for doing some hiking and exploring the natural sites.
There are two tracks, the Bushwalking Trail and the Coast Track, available for walking tours. For people wanting to explore more of the coastline, the marvellous 30-kilometre (18.6-mile) walk is an exciting activity, even if it means turning back to the starting point half way!
If walking isn’t your thing, grab your picnic basket and enjoy some wine and cheese at the most popular picnic spots in the park. Grassy Audley Weir is a hotspot near parkland, where picnics are common under the shade of the willow trees.
Within Royal National Park, the famous but dangerous “Wedding Cake Rock” stands precariously at the edge leading out to the sea. Just north of Marley Beach, these stark white cliffs make the sea look even more iridescent and colourful. Do note that the Wedding Cake Rock is out of bounds and visitors must stay within the enclosed area to take their shots.
Royal National Park
Address: Audley Rd, Audley NSW 2232, Australia
Price: from 115 USD
Duration: around 9.5 hours required
Contact: +61 2 9542 0648
Jervis Bay is the magical unicorn of beaches.
It is truly a wonderful, pristine bayfront that stuns everyone that has visited it. Protected by national parks, it is natural, golden, and glistening. Unlike many other beaches, it has little development around it and the waves appear like they are cheering you on to paddle or waddle in the water.
Located 180 kilometres (111.8 miles) south of Sydney, the nearby town of Huskisson is good for travellers who just want to experience some time away from the hustle and bustle of the Sydney crowd, plus there are plenty of nice, hip cafes ready to be explored.
Visit Mount Bulli where you can enjoy and take in the sights from a wonderful vantage point over the Wollongong coastline. From this place, you can see miles of beaches with their blue-gradient waters and golden sands.
If you’re lucky, some local bottlenose dolphins might be passing by!
Jervis Bay has much to offer in terms of nature sightseeing. For a relaxing day-trip, consider just walking along the White Sands Walk. The flat structure and seemingly short coast makes it an easy task to accomplish, especially for those with little kids.
Otherwise, if it seems too relaxed for you, visit the Scottish Rocks, nearby Green Patch Beach. These interesting rock structures hug the cliff side and jut out into the bay. They are probably some of the most interesting structures around this area. Do remember to wear proper footwear to protect your feet from the sharp rocks that litter the edge. Hang out at the beach like the locals enjoy doing.
On the way back to Sydney, you can drop by Kiama to see the Kiama Blowhole. This natural marvel can spray water up to 25 metres (82 feet) if you’re lucky, so give it a go and you might get one of those Instagram-worthy shots for your feed!
Jervis Bay South Coast
Price: from 120 USD
Duration: around 1 day required
No list of the best day trips from Sydney is complete without the famed Blue Mountains.
About two hours from Sydney, the Blue Mountains can be easily accessed by car, tour bus, or train. The area is scattered with restaurants and retreats, and it has a vibrant arts scene. A blue-hazed beauty of heritage, you can enjoy one million hectares (2.47 million acres) of tall forests, sands, canyons, and waterfalls.
The Three Sisters
The Three Sisters is one of the most famous rock formations in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales. It is located at Echo Point Katoomba and is visited by millions of tourists each year. Named the Three Sisters because of an aboriginal legend of three siblings turned to stone, the character of the rock is constantly changing throughout the day and season.
It is over 3,000 feet (914 metres) above sea level. If you can get to the top of the opposite mountains you’ll be able to get some really good shots! Since they are lit until about 11 pm daily, you can experience the wonders of these mountains against the starry black background of the night sky.
The Jenolan Caves
Open daily, the Jenolan Caves is a must-visit when in the Blue Mountain Region. These cave wonders are the largest and most spectacular caves in Australia. Made of limestone, they are located at the foothills of the Blue Mountains, making them an easy site to tick off when heading back to Sydney after an adventure filled day at the Blue Mountains.
Dating back 340 million yearsd, the age of the clay in the cave makes it the oldest open cave system in the world. It also plays an important role in the heritage of the indigenous people of Australia. Each of the 10 show caves are magnificent and stunning in their own way.
Those who are up for a challenge can even enjoy an “Adventure Cave” experience, where professional guides will bring you through the undeveloped caves with only a headlamp to light to way. You will be crawling, squeezing, and climbing through some of these activities, making them a worthy challenge for those willing to experience first-hand an explorer’s point of view.
Blue Mountains and Jenolan Caves
Price: from 112 USD
Duration: around 1 day required
Pack your bags right now and go!
You’ve seen the list, so now it’s time to pack and go!
For travellers looking to explore something other than George Street in Sydney, take a few days to check out these sites and experience what Sydney, NSW truly has to offer. Sip some wine from the Hunter Valley, chill out along the coastline beaches, or climb up the famed Blue Mountains to feel the rush of wind in your face.
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