The Best Day Trips from Sydney

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA, 26 APRIL 2017 - HDR Image - Sydney harbour bridge and opera house. Iconic and world famous landmarks of Australia

Full of smiling “Sydneysiders”, Sydney is the largest city in Australia. Surrounded by Port Jackson, the greatest natural harbour in the world, Sydney offers you beautiful beaches, lush, green parks, art and heritage museums, cultural spots and loads of interesting events throughout the year.

Made up of small urban suburbs, the city has something for every taste, but don’t forget the amazing attractions waiting for you out of town. In this guide, we are listing the best day trips from Sydney – have fun exploring!

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Day trip from Sydney to Royal National Park

Often referred to as “The Royal” or “Nasho” (as the locals call it), Sydney’s Royal National Park established in 1879, is the second oldest national park in the world! The park is filled with fascinating fauna and flora and features unique heritage attractions.

In its vastness, the park offers everything from beaches to rock pools and rainforests and it is great for bushwalking, surfing, cycling, even whale watching! The National Park is a beautiful place for picnicking, and hence very popular for day trips from Sydney for families.

The park highlights include Eagle Rock: a big rock that, when viewed from the side, resembles an eagle’s head, Wattamolla Beach: a vast, calm lagoon, perfect for families and Audley: a broad, very peaceful area, originally developed as a picnicking area for people from Sydney who longed for a getaway in the nature.

With the Illawarra Line, you can easily reach the Royal National Park by train. If you disembark in Loftus, you can jump on a public tram (“Park link tramway”) on Sundays and public holidays, otherwise, you can follow the walking tracks to get to the park.

Day trip from Sydney to Royal National Park

Path through a tree tunnel in Royal National Park in Sydney

Day trip from Sydney to Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park

If you enjoy walking in nature, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park will blow your mind away. It is one of the best destinations for day trips around Sydney for a reason.

Only 15 years younger than “Nasho”, this park offers various walking track and mountain biking trails, but it is also filled with charming picnic spots (Bobbin Head is especially popular one), beaches, and lookout points. There is a thriving rainforest too!

Passionate hikers will for sure like the challenge of paths like the 13 kilometers long walking track from Cowan Train Station to Brooklyn (on this track it is common to stop in Jerusalem Bay for a refreshing swim) or the 10 kilometers long walk from Berowra to Mount Kuring-Gai (on this path, one can visit the Apple Tree Bay as a side-track).

For those interested in a calmer stroll, we can recommend a fairly easy, but still very scenic bush walk, starting at West Head Lookout, going towards the Great Mackerel Beach.

A very popular destination for half-day trips from Sydney, the park is located only 25 kilometres north of the city. If you do not feel like going on your own, it is very easy to book a tour from Sydney (with hotel pick-up included).

Those will often cover your meals too and provide you with a local guide, so you are sure to be brought to all the good lookout points and hear every story and legend about the area!

Day trip from Sydney to Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park

Coastal views near Sydney, Australia on a sunny day.

Day trip from Sydney to Blue Mountains National Park

If you want to explore New South Wales further, you should check out Blue Mountains National Park. Its name comes from the blueish mist that raises when, due to the heat, the oil from the Eucalyptus plants evaporates into the air.

Situated approx. 80 kilometres from Sydney, the park is a part of the Greater Blue Mountains Area, and one of the most popular spots for day trips from Sydney by train!

After a 2-hour long (direct) train journey from Sydney, you will reach Katoomba, the old mining town, where tourists who decide to stay in the area overnight, would usually find accommodation. The train fare for a return journey (off-peak) is 16.80 AUS.

Most of the walking tours in the park start from Echo Point near Katoomba. From Echo Point, you are also guaranteed a stunning view of “The Three Sisters”, a very unusual rock formation, and probably the most spectacular landmark of the Blue Mountains National Park.

Notice how the view changes as the sunlight vary throughout the day and bring out the gorgeous colours!

The formation is said to represent three sisters: ‘Meehni’, ‘Wimlah’ and ‘Gunnedoo’ that, according to an Aboriginal legend, were turned to stone to protect them from being captured by three brothers from a neighbouring tribe who fell in love with the three girls.

You are also guaranteed an impressive Blue Mountain experience if you try The Scenic World Railway!

It is the world’s steepest passenger railway with glass-roofed carriages from where you get a far-reaching view of the forest setting and the astonishing Jamison Valley.

Day trip from Sydney to Blue Mountains National Park

The Three Sisters Katoomba Blue Mountains Sydney Australia. Taken just after sunset. You can see why they're called the Blue Mountains!

Day trip from Sydney to Jenolan Caves

West of the Blue Mountains National Park, yet still within the Blue Mountains World Heritage area, you will find Jenolan Caves.

They are regarded as Australia’s most spectacular cave system. The caves have incredible underground rivers and you will for sure enjoy the view of the limestone crystal formations!

There are eleven show caves, and all are open for public viewing all year round. Each guided tour would be from 1 to 2 hours, and different caves suit different levels of activity; you can choose an adventurous cave path or opt for a more moderate, family-friendly experience (do note that some of the cave tours have a minimum age of 6 or 10).

You can also look into “Night Tours” to add even more mystery to an already unique experience!

Do not forget that the caves are located in a very scenic area, perfect for bushwalking and wildlife watching, which is why many tourists decide to stay in the region overnight.

Spending the night in the area might be a good choice for travellers who wish to go to the caves on their own. There are no direct public transport connections between Sydney and the caves, but coaches from Katoomba town run regularly.

You just have to note the extended travelling time. It is also possible to book Jenolan Caves tours online, but make sure to double-check whether transportation is included to avoid unpleasant surprises!

Sometimes the booking from home simply allows you to skip the line but doesn’t provide transportation to the caves.

Day trip from Sydney to Jenolan Caves

Woman looks at the water pool in River Cave at the Jenolan Caves at the Blue Mountains of New South Wales Australia.

Day trip from Sydney to Port Stephens

It is a popular vacation spot among locals, but the good reputation of the vibrant Port Stephens Area is growing with international travellers and tourists too!

Not only does Port Stephens give you beautiful beaches (like the pristine Zenith Beach), but it is a great place to do sports and activities like the Tomaree Head Summit walk in Tomaree National Park (from the summit you will see a breathtaking view over Port Stephens).

Curious to see Australia’s largest dunes? Visit Worimi National Park and try a real camel ride or sandboarding!

Port Stephens is located approx. 200 kilometres from Sydney, hence the tour is among popular day trips from Sydney by car.

Especially if you want to return to Sydney on the same day, we recommend you to rent a car and drive on your own.

However, reaching Port Stephens with public transportation is also possible; you have to look into Port Stephens Coaches that depart daily from Sydney (interchanging in Newcastle).

Bear in mind that the buses make frequent stops, and the journey can become over 5 hours long. Taking the bus is a good budget option though, as the cost is only 9 AUS for a one-way single journey.

Day trip from Sydney to Port Stephens

Beautiful colours of the sunrise and waves flow onto the beach and around rocks. Location: Zenith Beach, Port Stephens Australia

Day trip from Sydney to Hunter Valley

One of the more relaxed Sydney day trips is a tour to the Hunter Valley, a very well known (Australia’s oldest, actually) wine region in New South Wales.

It is home to various wineries and gourmet restaurants, but you can also find beautiful spa retreats there.

Make sure to visit the Hunter Valley Gardens, created by Bill Roche and a team of more than 40 landscape gardeners!

The site is divided into smaller, themed sub-gardens like “Indian Mosaic Garden”, “Chinese Moongate Garden” or “Sunken Garden” with a waterfall. Check out the “Lakes Walk” too! Hunter Valley Gardens are open seven days a week except for Christmas Day.

It takes around 2 hours to drive to the Hunter Valley, so the trip is easiest done by car, but you can also join a tour from Sydney to make sure you don’t miss delicious spots like the Hunter Valley Cheese Factory and get a proper taste of the phenomenal Hunter Valley wine.

When driving on your own, choose the “Tourist Drive 33” through the beautiful countryside of New South Wales. The drive is the most scenic path to Hunter Valley and experience of its own!

Day trip from Sydney to Hunter Valley

An aerial view of a lush green vineyard

Day Trip from Sydney to the Hawkesbury River

The Hawkesbury River runs through the Hawkesbury Valley that stretches from the gateway of the river around Brooklyn to the highlands at the foot of the Blue Mountains.

Meandering for a total length of approx. 120 kilometres, the riverbank offers many scenic spots and the experience of the surrounding nature with the wildlife (great chance to spot and hear the Kookaburras or Sea Eagles) will be different from location to location.

The Hawkesbury River is great for activities like kayaking, but the sites and attractions around the river itself are of big interest of tourists’ too!

You will find many amazing spots for your weekend picnic (like the grounds by Somersby Falls), and not far from the Hawkesbury River, there is the famous Walkabout Wildlife Park.

A very popular destination for half-day trips from Sydney, it is a wildlife refuge and the only wildlife sanctuary in New South Wales.

It is open to the public every day of the year, and if you decide to go, make sure you also keep an eye out for the Aboriginal rock art sites!

This day tour is one of the most popular day trips from Sydney by train. You can also reach the Hawkesbury River station by bus, but we recommend the rail, as the journey will only take about one hour, compared to 2 hours by coach. Train fares start at 7 AUS (one-way, off-peak fare).

Day Trip from Sydney to the Hawkesbury River

Female standis on the edge of the cliff with clear views out over the snaking river and mountain scenery

Day trip from Sydney to Canberra

Curious to see the Australian capital on your trip? Canberra is also just a day trip away from Sydney.

Get ready to explore art galleries and museums (we recommend a visit to either the National Gallery of Australia or the National Portrait Gallery) and check out the popular local craft markets (like the stands in Lonsdale Street in Braddon, where new, hips brands and independent makers exhibit and sell their goods).

With the abundant cultural events calendar, you might be lucky to catch one of the city’s many festivals that take place all year round, like the annual ”Enlighten Festival”, “Canberra Moon Festival” in September or, the very popular, Canberra Design!

With the emerging cool climate wine region, Canberra is also becoming an interesting destination for food and wine lovers, so before going on your day trip, have a look if there are any specific food places you would like to try, Canberra’s dining scene will for sure not disappoint.

Almost 300 kilometres between the two cities may seem like a lot, but with a direct bus connection, travelling from Sydney, you can easily reach Canberra in less than 4 hours. The bus departs from Sydney Central station but also stops at the airport.

The buses (that provide the passengers with Wi-Fi and charging plugs for your electronic devices) go frequently, and with the first departure from Sydney at 7.30 AM and the last departure from Canberra at 8.20 PM, a day tour from Sydney to Canberra is easy to arrange. The fees for the coach services start at 14 AUS for a single journey ticket.

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  • Samantha King

    Sam, a seasoned traveler across four continents and 49 countries, is a leading authority in travel planning. Her website, Travelling King, offers tailored itineraries and expert guides for seamless trips. Sam's expertise in luxury travel, fast travel, and destination guides keeps her at the forefront of the travel community.

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