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One of the best things about living in Sydney is the amount of beautiful places to visit in the surrounding areas of NSW. Even during winter, you can escape to a choice of beaches, cities and national parks for a change of scenery at the weekend. But now that springtime is upon us, it’s the perfect time to start planning some day trips from Sydney to fill those long, warm summer days.

As you regular readers will know, I like to get out and about a lot, as I’m still full of expat excitement when it comes to exploring Australia. My international friends here are always asking me for recommendations of places to go around Sydney, and if there’s anywhere they can visit without a car.

To help those of you looking for similar inspiration, I’ve compiled a list of my top ten Sydney day trips, along with information on how long it takes to drive there, and how to get there using public transport. Enjoy!

Discover 10 scenic day trips from Sydney on this list of beautiful places in NSW, all within two hours of Sydney.

1. Blue Mountains

A visit to the Blue Mountains National Park is classic day trip from Sydney that all visitors should pencil in. The unique sandstone cliffs and soft blankets of eucalyptus trees will transport you a world away from the city.

With the option to peruse the quaint shops and cafes of villages such as Katoomba and Leura, view the Three Sisters rock formation from the accessible Echo Point lookout, or embark on a choice of easy or challenging hikes from Wentworth Falls, there’s plenty in the Blue Mountains to keep you occupied for a day or longer.

The Blue Mountains, one of the best day trips from Sydney.
The beautiful Blue Mountains National Park

How to get there:

2 hours to Katoomba by car from Sydney CBD (102km)

2  hours by train from Central Station

Further reading:

How to Visit the Blue Mountains for Under $10: Day Trip Itinerary by Train


2. Palm Beach

Palm Beach is another hotspot for a classic Sydney day trip, and a must-visit destination for beaches lovers. It’s also the filming location of popular soap opera Home and Away, for any fans out there.

Lying at the northern tip of Sydney, at the end of a narrow, tree-covered peninsula, you not only have the choice of the ocean beach to the west, the Pittwater beach to the east, and a number of cafes, but a great hike up to Barrenjoey Lighthouse to look down on the isthmus and Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park.

Explore beautiful Palm Beach on a Sydney day trip.
The Pittwater side of Palm Beach

How to get there:

Just over 1 hour by car from Sydney CBD (44km)

1 hour 30 mins by bus from Wynyard Station

Further reading:

How to Enjoy Palm Beach, Sydney Like a Local


3. Watsons Bay

Even though Watsons Bay is only half an hour from the city, I’m including it as a day trip as it has a real seaside, holiday feel that’s different to most of the other beach suburbs in Sydney.

Like Palm Beach, it lies at the tip of a peninsula, and has a choice of beaches, a walk through South Head National Park to Hornby Lighthouse, city and ocean views from The Gap cliffs, and a choice of places to eat and drink at.

You can easily spend the day here and feel like you’ve been on a mini-break!

What to do on a Sydney day trip to Watsons Bay: beautiful beaches, waterside restaurants and cafes, walking trails to Hornby Lighthouse and superb city views from The Gap.
Enjoying a summer’s day at Watsons Bay Baths

How to get there:

35 minutes by car from Sydney CBD (12km)

1 hour by bus from Wynyard Station (number 324)

25 minutes by ferry from Circular Quay

Further reading:

How to Spend a Day in Watsons Bay: Sand, Sea and City Views


4. Bundeena

This picturesque, little-known village at the tip of the Royal National Park is one of my absolute favourite day trips from Sydney. Once you disembark the ferry from Cronulla, you’ll feel like you’re in another world with the leafy streets, beautiful beaches and tiny row of cafes and shops.

You can either enjoy the beaches such as Horderns and Jibbons, walk the Royal Coast Track to The Balconies or Wedding Cake Rock, or if you visit on the first Sunday of the month, follow the Bundeena Art Trail and have a nose at the local artists’ work inside their homes.

A guide to Bundeena, Maianbar & Bonnie Vale campground in the Royal National Park, Australia. Enjoy a beautiful Sydney day trip taking the Bundeena ferry from Cronulla to Bundeena Beach.
Arriving in Bundeena on the vintage ferry from Cronulla

How to get there:

1 hour 20 minutes by car from Sydney CBD (56km)

1 hour 30 minutes from Town Hall Station via train and ferry (changing at Cronulla)

Further reading:

Bundeena Art Trail, Markets and Royal Coast Track


5. Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park: Resolute Beach & West Head Lookout

This forested national park across the water from Palm Beach makes an amazing day trip from Sydney if you’re into beaches and nature. Just catch the ferry from Palm Beach to Mackerel, and from there you can hike to the beautiful Resolute Beach and onwards to West Head Lookout.

This is one of my favourite places to visit near Sydney as the scenery is absolutely stunning, with turquoise water, tree-lined tracks, and if you visit on a weekday, hardly anyone around.

Enjoy a beautiful Sydney day trip on the stunning walk to West Head Lookout in Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park. Includes a scenic ferry ride from Palm Beach, secluded Great Mackerel Beach, Resolute Beach & West Head Beach, Pittwater views & ancient Aboriginal art.
Looking down at Resolute Beach in Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park

How to get there:

1 hour by car from Sydney CBD to Palm Beach Wharf (44km)

1 hour 30 minutes by bus from Wynyard Station to Palm Beach Wharf

Then 30 minutes on the Fantasea ferry from Palm Beach to Mackerel

Alternatively, it’s 1 hour by car from Sydney CBD to West Head Lookout (44km)

Further reading:

Stunning Walk to West Head Lookout in Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park


6. Grand Pacific Drive via Sea Cliff Bridge

This is the NSW version of the Great Ocean Road and the stuff that coastal drives are made of. It has to be one of the best short drives around Sydney. Just detour off the highway at Helensburgh and stop off at Bald Hill lookout at Stanwell Tops before crossing the legendary Sea Cliff Bridge.

The northern Wollongong seaside suburbs such as Thirroul, Austinmer and Bulli that lie beyond have beautiful beaches, ocean pools, the mountainous backdrop of the Illawarra escarpment, and a very holiday-like feel.

One of the most scenic short drives from Sydney along the Grand Pacific Drive via Sea Cliff Bridge.
View of the Sea Cliff Bridge from Bald Hill Lookout

How to get there:

1 hour 20 minutes by car from Sydney CBD to Stanwell Tops (69km)

1 hour 20 minutes by train from Town Hall Station to Stanwell Park

Further reading:

Exploring the Grand Pacific Drive via Sea Cliff Bridge


7. Southern Highlands

Leave the hustle and bustle behind and go back in time with a day trip to the quaint, historical towns of the Southern Highlands, NSW.

Peruse antiques stores and sip great coffee in olde-worlde cafes in Bowral and Mittagong; hike your way through Morton National Park at Fitzroy Falls; or head down to Kangaroo Valley, where the heritage buildings are backed by lush greenery.

Explore the Southern HIghlands NSW on one of the best day trips from Sydney.
Historical town of Bundanoon in the Southern Highlands

How to get there:

1 hour 30 minutes by car from Sydney CBD to Mittagong (130km)

Between 1 hour 40 mins and 2 hours 25 minutes by train from Town Hall to Mittagong

Further reading:

Guide to the Southern Highlands: Historical Towns, Fitzroy Falls & Kangaroo Valley


8. La Perouse

With numerous white beaches, historic Bare Island Fort, nearby coastal walking trails in Kamay Botany Bay National Park and great snorkelling opportunities, there’s plenty to do on a day trip to La Perouse.

Situated at the southern end of Sydney’s eastern suburbs, at the entrance to Botany Bay, La Perouse is easily reached from the city, yet feels like a whole separate entity to Sydney.

Discover La Perouse Sydney, a fun-filled Sydney day trip. Visit Bre Island Fort, La Perouse Beach and La Perouse Museum and more.
The 130-year-old wooden bridge leading to historic Bare Island Fort

How to get there:

30 minutes by car from Sydney CBD (18km)

50 minutes by bus from Central Station

Further reading:

La Perouse: Beaches, Aboriginal Markets & Bare Fort Island


9. Royal National Park: Wattamolla Beach

Situated between Sydney and Wollongong, “The Royal” is a popular day trip from Sydney for those looking to get back to nature. Wattamolla Beach is easy to reach by car and passes by the beautifully located café at Audley Dance Centre.

As well as a lovely beach, you’ll find Wattomolla Lagoon, a picnic area and walks along the Royal Coast Track.

Wattamolla beach in the Royal National Park, a fantastic Sydney day trip.
Swimmers at Wattamolla Beach

How to get there:

1 hour 20 minutes by car from Sydney CBD

No public transport

Further reading:

Guide to Wattamolla Beach in the Royal National Park


10. Central Coast: Woy Woy Peninsula & Bouddi National Park

Lying north of Sydney, visible from Palm Beach across Broken Bay, the southern end of the NSW Central Coast is close enough for an easy day trip from the city.

Visit the busier tropical-looking seaside suburbs such as Umina Beach and Ettalong Beach; laze on the more isolated Pearl Beach and Patonga Beach; or drive to Bouddi National Park for a choice of coastal walks.

A guide on what to see and do around Umina Beach, Central Coast NSW. Explore beautiful beaches, quirky weekend markets and Bouddi National Park camping and hiking. One of the best day trips around Sydney, Australia.
Umina Beach

How to get there:

1 hour 30 minutes by car from Sydney CBD to Umina Beach (92km)

1 hour 15 mins from Central Station to Woy Woy Station

Then a D550 on-demand bus service from Woy Woy to the surrounding areas

Further reading:

What to See at Umina Beach and the Woy Woy Peninsula


If you’re looking for a longer break than these day trips from Sydney, here are some more great ideas:

10 Best Weekend Getaways from Sydney

Happy exploring!