As a former Sydneysider (that dreams of moving back), I have been fortunate enough to go on several day trips from Sydney. I absolutely loved these trips as they allowed me to explore the area close to the city I love and my time in Australia would not have been the same without them.
These Sydney day trips allowed me to explore stunning national parks that I wanted to visit over and over again and charming villages with cozy cafés and other sights. While exploring these places, I fell in love with hikes and saw amazing sunsets. And I cannot wait to visit every single location again.
However, I never got the chance to see everything on my list, so fortunately fellow travelers decided to share everything you need to know about these amazing day trip destinations. Therefore, this list contains all the best destinations that are no more than 3 hours away from Sydney’s Central Business District.
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30 minutes north of Sydney Central Business District
A short 30-minute ferry ride from Circular Quay in the Sydney CBD, Manly might not be far from Sydney in distance, but with its sweeping sandy beach and seaside feel it seems like a world away. If you want an easy day trip from Sydney that doesn’t need a car, then, add Manly to your itinerary.
Manly is all about sand and the sea so start off with a trip to the famous beach – it’s the perfect place to learn to surf. If you prefer to snorkel, a walk east along the seaside path brings you to the sheltered waters of Shelley Beach. You can also explore the area with a kayak.
Head west instead and you’ll find one of Sydney’s most Instagram-friendly sights, the Manly Wormhole, a hidden tunnel in the cliff that brings you to a beautiful sea view.
When you get hungry; the famous Steyne pub on the seafront offers casual dining for the whole family. Or, for something a bit more special, join the beautiful people at Hugo’s on Manly Wharf.
Finish your day at nearby North Head enjoying one of the spooky ghost tours that take place at the old Quarantine Station located high on the cliffs overlooking Sydney. Be sure to read what to expect from a Q Station Ghost Tour!
How to get there: Jump on the ferry at Circular Quay. Choose from the Manly Fast Ferry which will get you there in 20 minutes, or the slightly slower, but cheaper Sydney Ferries service.
Where to stay in Manly: Where to Stay: If you want to prolong your visit, the Q Station hotel offers a stay with a sense of history. The rooms are located in the buildings that made up the old Quarantine Station. Closer to the beach, the Quest Manly comes highly recommended and the apartment-style rooms have gorgeous sea views.
Day Trip from Sydney suggested by Helen at Differentville
2. Royal National Park
50 minutes south of Sydney CBD
One of the best day trips from Sydney is the beautiful Royal National Park. South of the city center and is easily accessible, the Park covers a stunning stretch of coastline and offers beautiful beaches, rainforests, and coastal bushlands.
Sydney’s Royal National Park is great for bushwalking, cycling, surfing, and whale watching during the annual whale migration from May to October. There are scenic walking trails, waterfalls, and a stunning coastal landscape to explore.
The Royal National Park has a selection of lovely picnic areas, and Audley is a favorite. It’s fun to relax on the grass under a gum tree with a picnic and to paddle up the river in a hired canoe to secluded swimming holes.
At Bundeena there’s a lovely beach and a café. Relax on the sand or head off on the Coastal walking track. Visit the aboriginal rock carvings at Jibbon Head or hike to Wedding Cake Rock, Eagle Head Rock, or Curracurrong Falls, a waterfall that plunges straight into the ocean from high on the cliffs.
If you enjoy surfing, head to Garie Beach. It’s a pristine stretch of sand that faces the open ocean and has a reliable swell. Nearby Wattamolla is a lovely scenic spot that offers swimming for all the family. There’s a picnic area, and children can paddle and swim safely in the inlet.
Getting there: It’s easiest to drive into the Royal National Park, but you don’t need a car to visit. Just catch a train from Sydney Central to Cronulla. Take the ferry across to Bundeena, and a shuttle bus will take you to from the ferry to the most popular places inside the Park. If you’re looking for the best things to do in Sydney, consider visiting the Royal National Park. It is one of the top day trips from Sydney and makes a great day out.
Where to stay near Royal National Park: Stay in comfort in Cronulla at Rydges Cronulla Beachside or Quest Cronulla Beach.
Explored by Linda from Muy Linda Travels
3. Palm Beach
1 hour north of Sydney
Palm Beach is a beautiful seaside town, located around an hour’s drive north of Sydney. It is great for surfing and other water sports. You will love the crystal clear waters and the many attractions around the beach.
It is located at the top of the peninsula, so you can enjoy the surf beach which is one of the best beaches on the East Coast of Australia, and the side facing the Pittwater Lagoon, which is more peaceful. It can be crowded in summer, but luckily the beach is large enough that you can always find a place away from the crowds.
One of the best things to do in Palm Beach is to hike to the Barrenjoy Lighthouse. It is located at the very top of the peninsula and has some of the best scenery around. You will be able to enjoy panoramic views of one of the best beaches on the east coast of Australia, and hiking is very easy.
It only takes 30 minutes, although it may be steep in some places, even beginners can easily master it so you do not need exceptional fitness levels. The Barrenjoy Lighthouse is a great place for a picnic and a quick rest before returning and the views are worth the hike.
Hot to get to Palm Beach: If you want to visit this amazing Sydney day trip destination, you can either drive there or take the bus. The L90 bus connects Sydney CBD with Palm Beach and the bis ride takes 1:30 h.
Where to stay near Palm Beach: If you want to stay longer, you should stay at the Palm Beach Bed & Breakfast or rent the Bnb on Burrendong if you are traveling with a bigger group. Another great nearby accommodation is the Refuge Cove on Pittwater.
Recommended by Victoria from Guide Your Travel
4. Stanwell Tops
1 hour south of Sydney
Stanwell Tops is just over an hour’s drive south of Sydney. However, you can get there via train (which will take approximately 1.5 hours). Stanwell Tops is a beautiful coastal suburb in the Wollongong area of New South Wales, Australia. This makes it the perfect day trip from Sydney as the driving distance is not that far.
There is plenty to do around this area, but the main attraction would be Stanwell Tops lookout. If you head towards the Lawrence Hargrave monument, this would be the best view in this area. Here, you can spend hours watching people hang glide.
If you have driven down for the day, you must visit the Sea Cliff Bridge. You can choose to drive over the 665 meters long bridge or park your car and walk across it. However, if you want to take a detour and climb the mountain, the view from the top is worth it.
The best place to eat is the Scarborough Hotel, with clifftop views to die for and a beer garden that is hands down the best part of the trip. Depending on when you plan to travel there, you may get a glimpse of a whale on the horizon. With live music on many afternoons, this is the perfect place to spend your day trip from Sydney. And the food is pretty good too.
Where to stay in Stanwell Tops: Headlands Austinmer Beach is not far from The Scarborough Hotel if you plan to stay overnight. The self-contained apartments with ocean views are ideal for a weekend away at any time of the year.
Sydney Day Trip suggested by Paula from Truly Expat
5. Blue Mountains National Park
1:30 h west of Sydney
The Blue Mountains are located west of the city and are likely the most popular day trip from Sydney. In fact, one could even argue that you have not really been to Sydney if you have yet to visit this National Park. Named after the intense blue haze that covers the area and that is caused by the eucalyptus trees, the Blue Mountains are a natural wonderland.
Here, you have waterfalls like the 187 meters high Wentworth Falls, cliffs, eucalyptus forests, and in some areas even ancient rainforests. And if you have always dreamed of seeing glow worms in caves, you can do so by visiting the abandoned Railway tunnel near Lithgow.
With all these amazing places, you can plan many day trips from Sydney and never run out of new things to do in the Blue Mountains.
If you only have one day and are visiting the area for the first time, you should hike along the Prince Henry Cliff Walk from Katoomba to Leura. There are many scenic viewpoints along the way including Echo Point Lookout, which offers the best view of the Three Sisters.
The walk also takes you past Katoomba Falls and the Leura Cascades and is therefore a perfect combination of what the Blue Mountains have to offer.
Activities to do during a Blue Mountains day trip from Sydney:
How to get to the Blue Mountains: It takes 1:30 hour to drive to Katoomba, but if you want to go hiking, it is best to catch a train from Sydney Central. The train ride is two hours long and also stops in Leura, which makes it perfect for a hiking day trip from Sydney. And if you go on the weekends, you can even save money thanks to the weekend travel cap of the Opal Card.
Where to stay in the Blue Mountains: If you want to turn your day trip from Sydney into a weekend trip, you should stay at the Echoes Boutique Hotel. The rooms have an incredible view over the surrounding area.
1:30 h south of Sydney
Bowral is in the New South Wales Southern Highlands. It is one of those day trips from Sydney that has a bit of something for everyone. Anyone with even a passing interest in sport will know Bowral is home to one of Australia’s greatest sporting heroes, Don Bradman. However, Bowral has a lot to offer beyond cricket.
While the International Cricket Hall of Fame will be on the to-do list for some, these days Bowral is known for its café, shopping, and gallery scene. Green Lane featuring Harry’s on the Green, is full of hip cafes and restaurants.
Dirty Janes is in this precinct. Check out their eclectic range of antiques and finish with a sumptuous high tea. Plantation and The Press Shop are two more of the many cafes to try.
Another feature of the town is its parks and gardens. Each September Bowral bursts into color with the Tulip Festival in Corbett Gardens. The Southern Highlands Botanic Gardens, Cherry Tree Walk, and Mount Gibraltar Lookout are all great spots for walks and picnics.
How to get there: Bowral is 90 minutes southwest of Sydney, take the Hume Highway via Liverpool. Having a car will let you easily get to the sites around the town. If you want a scenic, but longer, drive back to Sydney, you can return along the coast. There are also up to 3 train services a day departing from Central Station. Return fares are about $25, and the trip takes just under 2 hours.
Where to stay in Bowral: If you spend a weekend in Bowral, you must treat yourself to a night or two in one of its country estates. They combine old-world charm with contemporary luxuries and are a hallmark of the area. Peppers Craigieburn, The Coach House, and Manor House are all good accommodation options.
Explored by Natalie & Steve from Curious Campers
1:50 h south of Sydney
The picturesque village of Kiama is 125 km south of Sydney on the Illawarra Coast. With the scenery on the drive down almost as lovely as the destination, this is one prettiest day trips from Sydney.
Situated on a natural harbor, Kiama boasts seven beaches and two beautiful rock pools, so this is the perfect spot for a summer day trip. However, there are plenty of things to do in Kiama year-round, including a popular 20 km hiking trail.
The track follows the coastline past some of the area’s most stunning scenery, notably Cathedral Rocks, and is famous for whale spotting between June and October.
There is a buzzing main street with loads of cafes and restaurants that will have you struggling to choose just one place for lunch. A popular choice is Otis Deli, owned by ex-Ottolenghi head chef Emily Herbert.
Before you head home, be sure to drop by the famous blowhole, which is easy to find right by the Kiama lighthouse. People have been coming to see this natural feature for over 100 years.
How to get there: Kiama is easily reached from Sydney by road or train. From the city center, it is 125 km south via the M1 motorway. The trip usually takes about 1:40 hours but turn off at Stanwell Tops and take the Princes Highway (A1) along the coast so you can experience the stunning SeaCliff Bridge and Illawara Beaches as you make your way south. The train trip takes 2hrs 20 mins and travels via the Royal National Park before following the coast the rest of the way with views equally as lovely as the road trip.
Where to stay in Kiama: You will find plenty of accommodation options in this pretty seaside town, from serviced apartments and holiday rentals to the Surf Beach Holiday Park on the headland. Nova Kiama and the Harbour Cabins are great options.
This day trip from Sydney has been recommended by Paula Morgan from Sydney Expert
2 hours south of Sydney
Located at the Crooked River, this Gerroa is really close to the amazing Seven Mile Beach, which happens to be an amazing spot to watch the sunset. With its natural sights, the area around Gerroa is an ideal city getaway or day trip from Sydney.
The Black Head Reserve at the tip of the Gerroa headland is only a 15-minute drive from the city center and is a must-see as it offers an incredible view of Seven Mile Beach and the coastal area north of Gerroa.
Additionally, it is the perfect place to whale watch when the whales migrate south from September to November and north from May to August. There are rock pools just north of the headland, so be sure to head there for an hour or two. In addition to that, there are some easy walking tracks in the area.
If you are just starting out, Seven Mile Beach beach is the perfect place to surf, as the waves tend to be ideal for surfing newbies and intermediate surfers. The beach is also the location of Surf Camp Australia. Therefore, you can easily book a surfing lesson while there.
After exploring the area, you should grab a bite at the Gerroa Boat Fishermans Club. The atmosphere there is great and so is the food.
All in all, Gerroa is a great place to escape the city for a day or two and one of the best day trips from Sydney if you want to relax in nature while venturing slightly off-the-beaten-path.
How to get to this Sydney day trip destination: If you are driving, it takes two hours to drive to Gerroa. If you do not have a car, you can take the hourly train from Sydneys central station to Kiama Station and then catch a bus or a taxi from Kiama to Gerroa. If you do not want to take the train and do not mind transferring twice, you can take a bus that runs hourly.
Where to stay in Gerroa: The Seven Mile Beach Holiday Park has everything from camping sites to safari tents and cabins right at the beach. If you are looking for a vacation rental and are traveling with a group of friends, you will love Ocean Breeze, Secret Spot, or The Sands.
2 hours south of Sydney
Berry, located approximately two hours’ drive south from the CBD, is the perfect place for a day trip from Sydney. This historic town is a favorite with Sydneysiders as it features fantastic food options, quirky shops, and unique scenery available to be discovered on hikes just outside the town.
Leaving Sydney early will get you into Berry just in time to enjoy a lovely brunch and a coffee at Milkwood Bakery on the main street. After the two-hour drive, it is the perfect stop for a quick pick-me-up before a morning of shopping or hiking commences.
Next up, head ten minutes out of town to the starting point for the Drawing Room Rocks bushwalk. This uphill trek might be tough, but the stunning panoramic views that stretch all the way to the ocean at the top are well worth the climb.
Finally, stop into one of Berry’s many foodie destinations for a late lunch or early dinner. And if you’re on the go, be sure to stock up on fresh cinnamon donuts from the famous Berry Donut Van.
Getting to Berry: The best option to get to Berry from Sydney is to drive through the beautiful scenery of the Royal National Park all the way down the coast. Alternatively, there is a train station in Berry serviced from the CBD if you do not have a car.
Where to stay in Berry: Berry has fantastic accommodation options to suit every budget. The Berry Village Boutique Motel has simple rooms that will definitely suit most tastes for an overnight stay. For something a little more luxe, the Berry Inn has gorgeous apartment-style rooms (some that come equipped with spa baths!).
Explored by Emma Caldwell from Emma Jane Explores
10. Kangaroo Valley
2 hours south of Sydney
With its charming countryside, dramatic sandstone escarpment, epic waterfalls, and quirky cafes, Kangaroo Valley makes for a perfect day trip from Sydney. It lies 150 kilometers south of Sydney, but it makes you feel like you are in a different world entirely. And there are so many things to do in Kangaroo Valley that once you discover it, you’ll keep coming back.
Kangaroo Valley is all about winding mountain roads, epic waterfalls, and sweeping viewpoints. The valley’s three waterfalls: Belmore, Fitzroy, and Carrington Falls are some of the biggest and prettiest in the region, so make sure to check out at least one of them.
For the best views, head to Cambewarra Mountain lookout. It offers one of the longest panoramas in Australia, and there is also a cozy restaurant at the top of the Mountain.
The road to the small village of Kangaroo Valley passes over the incredible Hamden Bridge – a grand Victorian structure with medieval-style towers at each end. Its appearance is all the more striking for the tranquil simplicity of its rural surroundings. You can hire kayaks at Kangaroo Valley Safari, right by the bridge, and spend a couple of hours paddling along Kangaroo River.
And, yes, of course, there are kangaroos in Kangaroo Valley. A good place to see them is Bendeela campground, that’s better known for its large population of wombats.
How to get to Kangaroo Valley: Unfortunately, there is no public transport in this part of the state and the only way to reach Kangaroo Valley from Sydney is by driving 159 km along the Princess Highway. On the plus side, this means that the valley doesn’t get crowded and retains its relaxed laid-back atmosphere.
Where to stay in Kangaroo Valley: Kangaroo Valley has an impressive variety of accommodation options from award-winning luxury villas to farm stays and rustic cottages. For a touch of luxury check out Crystal Creek Meadows; for mid-range country, comfort consider The Laurels B&B; and if you are looking for a budget-friendly option, Quaint & Rustic in The Village is very cute.
Sydney day tour destination suggested by Margarita Steinhardt / The Wildlife Diaries
11. Port Stephens: Nelson Bay & Stockton Sand Dunes
2:30 hours north of Sydney
Based on the fact that Port Stephans is twice as big as Sydney’s Port Jackson, it should not surprise that there are many things to do in Port Stephens. Thanks to this wide range, this Sydney day trip should offer something to suit everyone’s taste.
There are 26 beaches including Zenith Beach and the Stockton Bight Sand Dunes, which happen to be the longest sand dunes of the Southern Hemisphere with a length of 32 km.
They are the ideal place to spend a few hours if you love sandboarding, want to go on a quad tour or explore them with a 4WD. While they are not as high as the Lancelin Sand Dunes, they are definitely worth a visit.
Eat lunch or an early afternoon snack at one of the many restaurants and cafés in Nelson Bay and check out the lighthouse that offers a great view similar to that of the Gan Gan Lookout.
In the afternoon you can go hiking in Mt Tamaree National Park. The most popular hike is the Mount Tamaree Summit hike. Be sure to head to one of the viewpoints or beaches to watch the sunset, as Port Stephens is one of the best sunset spots in the state.
Other great things to do during a Sydney day trip to Port Jackson are animal encounters. If you want to stick to the land, you can go koala spotting in Tilligerry Habitat Reserve.
But if you feel like going on a cruise, you have the chance to meet some of the 140 local bottlenose dolphins that call this port their home. During the whale migration between May and November, you can also go on whale watching cruises.
Book activities in Port Stephens:
And if you are a scuba diver, you will love during here as there are many nudibranchs. Additionally, you can dive off the coast of Broughton Island where you will find a Grey Nurse Shark colony.
Getting there: If you are not driving, you can catch a train to Newcastle and then take the bus to Port Stephens. Alternatively, you can book the Sydney Express Coach Service by Port Stephens Coaches.
Where to stay in Port Stephens: If you are traveling with a camper van or do not want to spend too much money, you should stay at the Halifax Holiday Park, which is close to the Nelson Bay lighthouse. Other great, but more expensive, accommodations are the Ramada Resort, the Port Stephens Koala Sanctuary, and The Retreat.
12. Hunter Valley
3 hours north of Sydney
Roughly 3 hours north of Sydney lies the Hunter Valley wine region. Famous for its Semillon and Chardonnay, it’s one of the most iconic places to visit in Australia. Hunter Valley is home to over 150 cellar doors, each unique in their own way. From sloping hills to lush vineyards, sparse landscapes, and more – Hunter Valley certainly is a bucket list destination.
Spring and Autumn are the best times to visit Hunter Valley, but the region offers a memorable experience no matter the time of year.
Briar Ridge Vineyard offers a relaxed setting under the trees while Glandore Estate Wines is a great place to enjoy a chocolate and wine pairing.
Foodies will love Amanda’s on the Edge and Bistro Molines for their spectacular fine dining experiences while others may prefer to go hot air ballooning or explore the Hunter Valley Gardens.
There are many tour operators that offer day trips from Sydney to Hunter Valley. These include tastings at four wineries as well as a lunch at one of them.
This is a great option for those travelers who have little time in Sydney yet still want to escape the city and discover more of the New South Wales countryside.
Check out these group day trips to Hunter Valley:
Where to stay in Hunter Valley: There are many amazing accommodations in Hunter Valley. If you are looking for a less expensive place to stay, the Wine Country Tourist Park is ideal. Cedars Mount View, Deja Vu Estate, and Winmark Wines are more luxurious places to stay.
Recommended by Carryn Beard at Torn Tackies Travel Blog
Planning a trip?
Check out these useful websites and resources I use to plan my own adventures.
Rental Cars: Discover Cars
Day Trips & Tours: Get Your Guide, Viator —or— Klook
Travel Insurance: SafetyWing
Airport Lounge Access: Priority Pass
The Best Day Trips from Sydney
- Royal National Park
- Palm Beach
- Stanwell Tops
- Blue Mountains National Park
- Kangaroo Valley
- Port Stephens
- Hunter Valley
Roundup: Sydney Day Trips
I loved going on day trips while living in Sydney, and can only encourage you to leave the city for a day or two so you can see what else the area has to offer. There are so many amazing national parks, wine areas, and charming towns, that you are bound to find a destination that you will love. Venture out and find out which one you like the most.
When combined, these day trips from Sydney create an amazing road trip, so you should consider planning a road trip that allows you to visit all of these great destinations!
If you have limited time and want to see a little bit of everything, you book a private tour that visits the highlights of some of these southern day trips from Sydney destinations.
More about Australia
If you are planning day tours around Sydney, you might also be interested in these Australia travel guides:
National Parks in Australia
Australia’s Hidden Gems
Will one of these day trips from Sydney be A part of your itinerary?
Let me know in the comments down below!
Planning A Day Trip from Sydney?
Pin these Sydney Day Tours for later!