This post lists 10 ideas for weekend getaways from Sydney. All the locations listed are a 3 hour drive or less and include a short summary of things to do while you are in the area.
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Contributed by Raksha from Solo Passport
Pristine blue beaches, blowholes and delicious food is what defines the town of Kiama. Kiama is a coastal town located in the state of New South Wales of Australia. Just around 120 kilometres from Sydney, Kiama is one such gem that is easily accessible from Sydney and takes only 2 hours by road down south. Kiama is also accessible by public transport from Sydney Central train station.
Even though Kiama is a small town, it has plenty of things to do. The number one thing to do and the main attraction is to go watch the two blowholes called Kiama and Little blowholes. The blowhole is where the
water shoots up into the air between two cliffs, making a huge roaring noise. It is fascinating to watch the water and hear the sound when the water gushes into the air. Sometimes the water goes up to 20 metres in the air.
Located very close to the blowhole is an active lighthouse called Kiama lighthouse that was founded in 1887. It is also a popular spot to watch spectacular sunsets and whales during the whale migratory season. The coast near the lighthouse also offers some pretty walks and a relaxed and easy walk along the coast is an awesome way to enjoy the beaches of Kiama.
Being a great hangout town, it has plenty of restaurants and cafes with sea views. The restaurants and cafes cater for all kinds of cuisines ranging from Australian to Thai. The most popular food is the fish and chips served at a local shop along the ocean. One can also enjoy a nice and lazy picnic on a sunny afternoon in one of the parks where the local musicians play music.
Kiama is one of the best weekend getaways from Sydney, where one can unwind from the busy city life. It is a place to explore and soak into the vibes of a local small town of Australia.
Contributed by Paula from Truly Expat
Stanwell Tops is just over an hours drive south of Sydney CBD. It is a beautiful coastal suburb in the Wollongong region of New South Wales, Australia, making it the perfect day trip from Sydney or one of the best weekend getaways from Sydney.
There are many things to keep you busy in the area, but you can not go by without visiting some of the major attractions.
Stanwell Tops Lookout is a must on your list of things to see in this region. Apart from the Lawrence Hargrave monument and the beautiful scenery that comes with it, it is also one of the best places to hang glide in New South Wales. Bald Hill is a great place to visit as you watch the many hang gliders take off over the cliff.
Sea Cliff Bridge opened in 2005 and is not far from Bald Hill. You can choose to drive over the 665metre bridge or park your car and walk across it. There is a (makeshift) look out from across the road. You will see a small parking lot for two cars only, just beside there you will find some bushes that have moved away, walk through there and climb up to the top for the most magnificent view. Not safe for little kids, and the path is newly formed.
The Scarborough Hotel is ideally located at 383 Lawrence Hargrave Drive Scarborough NSW 2515. This hotel sits high on the cliff overlooking the water’s edge; the views are to die for, and its chilled atmosphere makes you instantly feel like you are on vacation. Weekends are for bands, a chilled atmosphere and a fabulous beer garden.
If you are lucky, you might see a whale or two frolicking while enjoying the seafood pasta I highly recommend. Other things you might like are Symbio wildlife park, Sri Venkateswara Temple, Kellys Falls Stanwell Tops and Stanwell Park Beach.
Contributed by Victoria from Guide Your Travel
Palm Beach is a little town located about an hours drive north of Sydney. You can easily reach it via the coastal drive which is quite beautiful so it won’t be a boring road trip. If you’re looking for perfect weekend getaways from Sydney to one of the best beaches on the East Coast of Australia then Palm Beach is the perfect choice.
Palm Beach is located on the very end of a peninsula with the open ocean on one side and the Pittwater Lagoon on the other. This means you’ll always have the choice between a beautiful surf beach and the much calmer lagoon which is perfect for boat trips and water sports. This is an incredible spot for swimming, relaxing and spending an entire day by the beach. Palm Beach is a very popular weekend spot and has a lot of vacation homes. Make sure to book your stay in advance especially during the high season as accommodation tends to sell out quickly.
One of the best things to do in Palm Beach is definitely hiking and exploring the beautiful scenery. The Barrenjoey Lighthouse which is located at the very end of the peninsula is a must-see while you’re in the area. You’ll hike up to the top of the hill which is fairly manageable although steep in some parts. The views are absolutely worth it though and you’ll get to overlook both Palm Beach and the Pittwater Lagoon. This is a beautiful spot for taking pictures and will leave you breathless.
Afterward, you should have dinner at the Boathouse in Palm Beach. This is one of the best restaurants in the area and known for its incredible menu and beautiful setting. A walk at the beach during sunset is of course also highly recommended.
The Blue Mountains
Contributed by Paula from Sydney Expert
The UNESCO World Heritage listed Blue Mountains are just a 90-minute drive west of Sydney and are considered by many as one of the best weekend getaways when you are looking for a break from Sydney.
A year-round destination it offers plenty for lovers of the outdoors with fabulous hiking tracks, spectacular waterfalls and over 30 lookouts. If you are the adventurous type you may like the Canyon adventure where you can choose to abseil down a waterfall.
You don’t have to be an experienced hiker to enjoy the mountain trails. There are plenty of short, simple walks that are suitable for families or those out of practice. Pop into the visitor’s centre for advice on the best tracks for your ability.
The Three Sisters, a famous rock formation at Katoomba, is the most popular attraction here and they are impossible to miss. You can view them from one of three platforms or take a walk down to the rock and even inside the first “sister”.
We also recommended you take a short walk to Katoomba Falls and Cascades. Part of the Prince Henry Cliff Walk, it’s easily accessed from Katoomba Falls car park. Although it’s one of the smaller waterfalls in the
mountains, it is quite beautiful, and the walk provides an excellent introduction to Blue Mountains hiking.
If you are not into serious hiking, don’t worry, there is much to see and do in the charming mountain villages with boutique shopping, art galleries and plenty of great dining. You could also choose to use the Hop On Hop Off Bus Service to get around.
Another popular attraction here is Scenic World, which offers a glass bottom skyway across the valley, and a cable car or scenic railway ride down to the valley floor. This is a brilliant choice for families or anyone who has trouble hiking. By riding down to the valley, you can still experience the rainforest without too much effort.
Finally, take some time to explore the villages themselves, particularly Leura and Blackheath that are famous for their beautiful gardens. We recommend you try to time your trip with the changing autumn colours in April or the famous spring festival in October. Both times of year see the mountains awash with colour.
There is a vast array of accommodation no matter what you budget from free camps to heritage hotels and modern five-star resorts. If you are visiting during one of the annual festivals, be sure to book early!
Contributed by Danielle from Stuff It Go Travelling
If you are after a scenically beautiful and rejuvenating weekend getaway close to Sydney? A visit to Kangaroo Valley, NSW delivers a delightful weekend.
Only a two-hour (159kms) drive south of Sydney via the Hume Motorway/M31, this delightful country escape will have you unwinding in no time, as you soak up the fresh air and roaring valley landscape.
What’s great about Kangaroo Valley is it offers something for everyone. You can embark on a nature-based adventure; visit a gallery; explore the historic village’s shops and sites; sample local wine and produce and more.
A visit to Kangaroo Valley isn’t complete without immersing yourself in nature by experiencing a variety of wildlife including kangaroos, black cockatoos, echidnas, and even wombats, or exploring the nearby Kangaroo River. Many locals and visitors enjoy jumping in a kayak or canoe to see its idyllic waters, impressive scenery, plentiful flora and fauna, and active wildlife.
There are a few operators providing tours, self-guided experiences and equipment hire to get visitors experiencing such paddling adventures as exploring the rivers and gorges in/around Morton National Park, as well as, gliding from Hampden Bridge to Bendeela Recreation Area and Beehive Point to Yarrunga Creek.
Another must-do is to head to the Kangaroo Valley Historic Village, which features a variety of contemporary and vintage shops, eateries, and key sites. A great way to explore the village is by doing the Historic Pioneer Walk, where you’ll stumble upon heritage-listed buildings, interesting cultural and geological sites and various scenic spots to enjoy a picnic.
Also, one of the best photo opportunities on this walk is getting up and close to the town’s much-loved Hampden Bridge. An impressive medieval-style suspension bridge, which is also Australia’s oldest suspension bridge.
Other notable things to do in Kangaroo Valley on weekend getaways from Sydney include bushwalking and horse riding in Morton National Park, visiting Fitzroy Falls, and wine tasting at Yarrawa Estate.
Contributed by James Ian from Parks Collecting
Jervis Bay is in Shoalhaven, about 3 hours south of Sydney. It is one of the most beautiful places on the NSW coast and is one of the most perfect weekend getaways from Sydney.
First and foremost, the area is jammed packed with some of the best beaches in Australia. A good place to start is the White Sands Walk. This five-kilometer (each way) walk takes you to five of the most gorgeous white sand beaches you will ever see. Starting from Nelson Bay Beach, the path wanders through bushland to Blenheim Beach and on to Greenfield Beach and Chinaman’s Beach, before finishing at Hyam’s Beach, officially the whitest sand beach in the world! Stop off for a flat white or an ice cream at the Hyams Beach Store & Café, or go straight back and spend the day relaxing on any of these beautiful beaches.
For some more variety, there are several other stunning beaches in the area, including the surf beach Cave Beach and stunning Murray’s Beach in Booderee National Park. Have a look at some of these Beachfront Accommodation options, or other hotels in the area.
The area also has great hiking for those who like to be more active. A popular hike is the 5-km trail in Currarong to Gosangs Tunnel, a 20-meter-long natural tunnel you can crawl through. Another fun hike is the
16-km Steamers Beach loop through the Booderee bush to a secluded beach you may just have all to yourself. There is a very good chance you will see kangaroos or wallabies in the park – even on the beach! The national park is also home to the charming Booderee Botanical Gardens, which are fun to explore.
If you like being out on the water, you will love Jervis Bay. The calm waters are perfect conditions for stand up paddle boarding (SUP) and this is a great place to learn if you are new to this fun activity. Currabene Creek is also a popular place for kayaking.
Between May and November, be sure to take a whale watching tour. This is one of the best places on the NSW coast to see humpback whales as they swim past (and even into) the bay on their annual migration. There is a good chance you will see dolphins too, and there are even special dolphin watching cruises available. There are many other boat cruise and tour options in the area.
If you like to dive or snorkel, the area has great SCUBA diving and snorkeling too. There are trips for all levels, but it’s hard to beat the chance to dive with whales and seals!
No matter what you like to do, Jervis Bay will enchant you with its incredible beauty and variety of activities on offer.
The Hunter Valley
Contributed by Holly from Globeblogging
If you’re looking for weekend getaways to escape the hustle and bustle of Sydney, getaway destinations don’t come much more picturesque and interesting than spending a weekend in the Hunter Valley. As one of Australia’s oldest and renowned wine regions, you could be forgiven for thinking this destination is all about the wine. However this tranquil location offers both seclusion and plenty of choice for activity.
Stretching from about 120km North of Sydney to the NSW coast, it is an easy 3 hour drive to the rolling green hills and fields of the Hunter region. Wine-lovers will find vineyard after vineyard, including some notable producers, but the true delight comes in finding the hidden gems, small boutique wineries off the beaten track.
While a visit or tour of the wineries will rank highly on the itinerary of most visitors, it is far from all that the Hunter region has to offer. Foodies will relish the options for quality restaurants and cafes offering a range of local produce, along with specialty cheeses and chocolate.
The region has also become a burgeoning destination for big local and international music acts to take the stage on the grounds of one of a number of wineries, offering patrons a great day out in the sunshine serviced by specially run bus routes throughout the region.
Every year in October the Hunter Valley hosts a hot air balloon festival which is a drawcard for ballooners from all over the country. Dawn finds hundreds of colourful balloons launching into the sky. Visitors can
organise their own hot air balloon trip all year round, a short helicopter scenic flight, or perhaps a romantic champagne breakfast package.
A range of accommodation options are available, from cabins on properties and boutique wineries for those that prefer some solitude and quiet, to larger resort style accommodation to be in the thick of things.
Contributed by Helen from Differentville
An easy two-hour drive north on the M1 from Sydney, Newcastle is full of fun things to do for a weekend. It’s the perfect size to explore for 2-3 days by foot, or using the Light Rail that runs through town.
Newcastle is surrounded by water with the Hunter River on one side and the ocean on the other and so many of its attractions are based around the water. Take a walk down Nobby’s Beach to visit the lighthouse or go for a swim in the beautiful art deco Ocean Baths.
If you prefer to just look at the water, there are plenty of waterfront bars and restaurants. A casual lunch at the Queens Wharf Hotel is the perfect start to your trip (and kids are welcome), Saturday brunch at the
Café at the Merewether Surfhouse is a great reward for the 4km stroll from the town along the Newcastle Memorial Walk or in the evening, head to Honeysuckle where a seat at the Honeysuckle Hotel will provide a front-row seat for the sunset – and the huge container ships that come in and out of the harbour. It can get very busy so you might want to book.
Newcastle also has a thriving street art scene and you shouldn’t miss the fun works by local artist Trevor Dickinson outside the Newcastle Museum (another must-see as it’s definitely a hands-on experience ). The museum is located in the Civic District which is also home to a number of the cute Pillar People, one of the more unique things to see in Newcastle.
If you do want to take a trip out of town, the Blackbutt Reserve is free to enter and offers the chance to feed emus or, head out to the Stockton Sand Dunes where beautiful views and the opportunity to sandboard down the huge slopes awaits.
Contributed by Christina from Travel 2 Next
New South Wales’ third largest city is only a one hour and 20-minute drive from Sydney. Wollongong is 85km away in the Illawarra region and is easily doable as a weekend getaway from Sydney. This stunning coastal city is to the south of Sydney and getting to Wollongong along the Grand Pacific Drive is a fantastic trip. Fantastic surf beaches, a stunning coastline, forests and city delights make Wollongong a top choice for weekend getaways from Sydney. If you’re visiting with the family, Wollongong offers attractions for kids of all ages. It’s an adventure hub and has plenty of cultural and artistic attractions too.
There are plenty of things to do in Wollongong but one of the reasons that Wollongong is a drawcard for Sydneysiders is because its beaches are less crowded but just as beautiful. Wollongong City Beach stretches for three kilometres and is a famous beach to go swimming, surfing and picnics. If you’re travelling with kids, this beach is an excellent choice as it’s near Lang Park, which has a kid’s playground, cycling paths, picnic tables and outdoor exercise gear. If you’re keen on beach hopping, another beach to tick off your list is Bulli Beach, a dog-friendly beach.
Besides beautiful beaches, Wollongong is also home to the Southern Hemisphere’s largest Buddhist temple. Nan Tien Temple offers an educational experience to learn about Buddhism and healthy lifestyles. The temple is interesting to visit and hosts Buddhist festivals. You can join a Buddhist retreat and stay at the temple.
Contributed by Monique from Trip Anthropologist
One of the best weekend getaways from Sydney is the capital of Australia, Canberra. Located in the Australian Capital Territory, Canberra can be reached from Sydney by plane, train, bus and car.
The 286 km journey is most convenient by car and takes about 3 hours depending upon the day, time of day, and which area of Sydney you are departing from. The drive is an easy one, with a national highway connecting the two cities.
The train takes approximately 4 hours. Flying is a quick and easy way to travel between the two, with flight times between 30 and 55 minutes.
Canberra is home to the nation’s cultural museums and institutions. The National Gallery, Australian War Memorial, National Museum, National Science Museum (Questacon), Portrait Gallery, the Royal Australian Mint and the Museum of Democracy are just some of the significant national and local museums in Canberra.
The parliamentary triangle contains many of the national institutions such as the National Library, as well as Old and New Parliament Houses. It reaches to the foreshores of Lake Burley Griffin and a walking track extends around the lake, through the wetlands, the Carillon, and the Kingston Foreshore.
Hourly-hire scooters are increasingly popular as a means of getting around the Parliamentary triangle.
The best weekends to escape to Canberra are in Spring and Autumn. The Floriade festival in Spring and the balloon festival with Canberra beautiful autumn foliage are two times of year to plan your trip.
In recent years Canberra has evolved a hidden bar and speakeasy culture and new breakfast eateries have sprung up, especially in inner city Braddon and New Acton. The Kingston Foreshore development has allowed pubs and restaurants to open at the lake’s edge and it is possible to hire boats from
the Kingston Foreshore to explore the sites of Canberra from Lake Burley Griffin.