The city of Sydney draws crowds from around the world thanks to its iconic landmarks and once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
However, there’s so much more to discover just a short journey from the city centre. Our picks for the best day trips from Sydney will leave you wanting more, with so many incredible attractions and towns to explore.
With world-heritage landscapes and panoramic views, it doesn’t get much better than the Blue Mountains. This iconic Aussie destination is only an hour’s drive from Sydney, or 90 minutes by public transport.
While here, visitors can gaze at the famous Three Sisters rock formation, which was formed thousands of years ago and remains a part of Aboriginal Dreamtime Stories. There’s plenty of walks and hiking trails nearby that immerse you in the natural beauty of the Mountains and offer 360 degree views of the valley below.
At Scenic World, families can ride the world’s steepest passenger train, before wandering through the Jamison Valley rainforest. To experience the forest from above, the Scenic Skyway is a cable car suspended 270 metres above, with glass floors that make you feel like you’re floating.
After an exciting morning, head into Katoomba for high tea overlooking the Megalong Valley. Hydro Majestic Hotel is a great place to rest your feet and enjoy a delicious treat.
Found in the Shoalhaven region on the NSW coast, Berry is only a 2 hour drive from Sydney.
This small country town is a haven of delicious restaurants and boutique shops, including the famous Berry Donut Van. This local institution cooks their donuts fresh to order, and serves some of the best milkshakes we’ve ever tried. Kids will also love The Treat Factory, where you can indulge in a selection of delicious homemade treats, or even join a workshop and make your own chocolate.
Afterwards, make sure to stroll along the main strip. It’s packed with boutiques and homeware shops that capture Australia’s country charm, guaranteeing you won’t be leaving empty handed.
On the first Sunday of the month, visitors can also wander through the Berry Markets, which showcase the best produce and goods made locally. If you’re planning on staying a while longer, cellar door tours of the Shoalhaven coast often depart from Berry. They provide tasting opportunities at some of the best wineries around, such as Silos Estate and Two Figs Winery.
The perfect place for a quintessential beach trip away from the Sydney crowds, Palm Beach is only 90 minutes by public transport.
Of course, all trips to Palm Beach must include a swim at the 2.3km long stretch of ocean and sand that gives the town its name. You can also join a Pittwater Kayak Tour for the chance to paddle through crystal clear waters and soak up the sun.
Or, you can walk a trail from the beach that will take you to Sydney’s most northern point – Barrenjoey Head. Here you’ll find the heritage listed Barrenjoey Lighthouse, built in 1881 and still boasting its original stone finish. The lighthouse offers unparalleled views across the coast. Plus, TV buffs will recognise it from Home & Away.
In fact, many Home & Away sets can be found in the Palm Beach area, and there are several tour experiences dedicated to the iconic Aussie show.
To finish off your beach-side retreat, head to Boathouse Palm Beach for some classic fish and chips, before walking along the sand with an ice cream.
Royal National Park
Just south of Sydney is the stunning Royal National Park. The gorgeous rainforest is perfect for those wanting to immerse themselves in nature, with plenty of opportunities for fishing, bushwalking, birdwatching and whale watching.
Hire a paddle boat from Audley boatshed and discover Kangaroo Creek at your own pace, or join a guided kayaking tour if you’re feeling adventurous.
Spanning 15,000 hectares, there’s so many great walks and hikes available for all levels of ability. For those seeking an adventure like no other, you can join Emu Trekkers for a guided tour of the Figure Eight Pools. On this trek, you’ll take in gorgeous views, learn about local Indigenous culture, and experience the stunning Figure Eight Rock Pools for yourself. Plus, all money raised on the tour goes towards the Indigenous Literacy Foundation and UNICEF Australia. Touring the park with an Aboriginal Discovery ranger will also offer the chance to learn more about a range of Indigenous sites and artefacts, including rock paintings.
Royal National Park has plenty of locations for picnics and barbeques, so don’t forget to pack some snacks.
Bowral is a classic mix of country charm, scenery and heritage just 90 minutes from Sydney. Located in the Southern Highlands, it’s known for its gourmet delicacies. Visitors can enjoy a wine tasting at Centennial Vineyards, which is set on 80 acres of land. The winery hosts daily tastings at their cellar door, as well as afternoon high tea in the nearby restaurant.
Walking Bowral’s main strip, you will discover many quaint shops such as Dirty Janes – a family-run vintage and antiques market. Bowral is also the home of the Corbett Gardens, which hosts the award-winning Tulip Time Festival each year. The festival includes the planting of more than 75,000 tulip bulbs, resulting in an explosion of colour and beauty.
Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park
While technically still in Sydney, we couldn’t resist adding Ku-Ring-gai Chase National Park to this list. This site is a perfect blend of scenery and culture, with opportunities to try cycling, fishing and bushwalking.
To make the most of your time at Ku-Ring-gai, we recommend attempting the Aboriginal Heritage Walk. Spanning a 4.4 km loop, this hike should take around 3 hours, meaning you’ll be back in time for a delicious lunch at one of the many picnic spots on site. While walking the trail, visitors will spot Aboriginal rock art and engravings that carry great cultural and historical significance. One such spot is the Red Hands Cave, which provides physical evidence of tribal ancestors.
On your walk, you’ll also pass Resolute Beach, a 60 metre wide beach with calm waters and amazing ocean views. On your return, you will have gained a deeper appreciation for Australia’s Indigenous culture, and fully understand the beauty of the bush.
Loving these fantastic day trips from Sydney? To discover the city’s best hidden beaches, click here.
And make sure to check out our guide to the best nature and wildlife experiences in the country!
Travel to Sydney
Rex flies directly to Sydney. To book your flights, head to their website or check out the route map below.