21 Great Day Trips from Sydney

Last updated: May 24, 2024

This guide shares 21 of the best day trips from Sydney to help you find new and exciting one-day road trip destinations outside our city.

No matter how beautiful Sydney is, sometimes we just want to escape the city for a nice day trip, discovering beautiful destinations we have never been to.

With a beautiful coastline and so many national parks surrounding the city, there is certainly no shortage of fun and exciting day trips from Sydney.

In a somewhat geographical order, from north to west to south, here are 21 day trip ideas, all within driving distance from Sydney.

1. Visit Somersby Falls

Bottom of Somersby Falls
Bottom of Somersby Falls

Brisbane Water National Park is a relatively small protected national park in the Central Coast region, just north of the Hawkesbury River.

One of its highlights is Somersby Falls, a series of small waterfalls with a 500m walking path following Floods Creek to the bottom of the falls.

There is also a nice picnic ground at the start of the walk, offering excellent facilities, such as barbeques, picnic tables, toilets, garbage bins, and information boards.

2. Beach Hopping on the Central Coast

Ettalong Beach on the Central Coast
Ettalong Beach on the Central Coast

Sydney’s famous beaches, such as Manly, Bondi, and Coogee, are great, but they also get busy during weekends. Very busy.

So why not escape these crowds and head north to visit Ettalong, Umina, and Pearl Beach on the Central Coast instead!

Overlooking Brisbane Water and Broken Bay, these three family-friendly strips of sand are perfect for swimming and other water-based activities. They are neighbouring beaches, all within easy driving distance, so it’s easy to visit all three in one nice day trip.

3. Hike to Box Head Lookout

Box Head Lookout
Box Head Lookout

The Box Head Lookout in Bouddi National Park offers breathtaking views of Broken Bay, the Barrenjoey Headland, and Lion Island.

Because the Box Head Lookout isn’t very well known, chances are, you’ll have the comfortable bench at the lookout all to yourself, soaking in the beautiful scenery of the surrounding area.

to get there, follow a short walking track through bushland, heading towards this lookout point, with the option to extend the walk by doing a short detour to beautiful Lobster Beach via the Flannel Flower walking track.

4. Discover Dangar Island

Dangar Island on the Hawkesbury River
Dangar Island on the Hawkesbury River

Dangar Island is a charming, traffic-free, natural hideaway on the Hawkesbury River, rich in European and Indigenous history.

The journey to get there is just as exciting. Catch a ferry from the Brooklyn marina and discover the natural beauty of this very unique and remote island.

Quietly tucked away on the Hawkesbury River between Little Wobby and Brooklyn, Dangar Island has a small and friendly population of only a few hundred residents. The island covers an area of 29 hectares and has about 3 kilometres of shoreline.

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5. Visit West Head Lookout

West Head Lookout
West Head Lookout

The West Head Lookout in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park is one of Sydney’s most impressive lookouts, offering breathtaking views of Pittwater, Broken Bay, Palm Beach, Barrenjoey Headland, and the Central Coast.

After visiting the lookout, you can go on an adventure and do some of the bushwalking trails past beautiful secluded beaches and even more lookouts.

One popular track we recommend is the Resolute Loop Trail, a 6km circuit walk with Resolute Beach as the highlight, a small piece of paradise with incredible views of Pittwater and the Barrenjoey Headland.

6. Spend a Day in Bobbin Head

Bobbin Head
Bobbin Head

Bobbin Head is a family-friendly Sydney day trip destination situated along Cowan Creek in the western section of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.

Surrounded by beautiful scenery, Bobbin Head offers excellent facilities such as playgrounds, picnic areas, and barbecues. And with so many hiking trails, Bobbin Head is also the perfect spot for bushwalking.

Bobbin Head is surrounded by water, making it an excellent spot for water activities such as canoeing, kayaking and fishing. Paddle boats and kayaks can be hired to explore Cowan Creek and Apple Tree Creek.

7. Swim in Jerusalem Bay

Jerusalem Bay
Swim in Jerusalem Bay

Hop on a train and head north to Cowan, from where you can commence an exciting one-hour bushwalk to Jerusalem Bay on Cowan Creek, which flows into the Hawkesbury River.

Go for a refreshing swim in the bay if the weather is nice. Some flat, rocky surfaces surround the bay, where you can settle in and dry up afterwards.

The 2.4 km trail between Cowan train station and Jerusalem Bay is part of the Great North Walk, a 250 km long track between Sydney and Newcastle that consists of several shorter walking trails.

8. Spend a Day in Palm Beach

Views from the Barrenjoey Lighthouse in Palm Beach
Views from the Barrenjoey Lighthouse in Palm Beach

Just an hour’s drive from the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Palm Beach feels like a tropical paradise far away from the city.

With several beautiful beaches, numerous cafes and restaurants, and many picnic spots for an outdoor feast, it’s not hard to spend a day in Palm Beach.

One of the must-do highlights in Sydney’s northernmost suburb is the hike up to the Barrenjoey Lighthouse, from where you can enjoy panoramic views of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, Broken Bay, and the ocean.

9. Visit the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden

Blue Mountains Botanic Garden
Blue Mountains Botanic Garden

Situated in Mount Tomah, the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden is a 28ha public botanic garden that features thousands of plants from the southern hemisphere and around the world.

The Blue Mountains Botanic Garden was established in 1972 and specialises in cool-climate plants that would not grow well in Sydney’s warmer conditions.

The garden is managed by Botanic Gardens Trust, which also looks after the Royal Botanic Garden in the Sydney CBD and the Australian Botanic Garden at Mount Annan.

10. Explore the Bells Line of Road

Walls Lookout
Walls Lookout

The Bells Line of Road area in the Blue Mountains is much quieter than the Katoomba and Wentworth Falls region, and makes for an enjoyable day trip.

Bells Line of Road is a 60 km tourist drive between North Richmond and Bell, and provides access to fantastic walking tracks and beautiful sights, such as Walls Lookout and Mount Banks.

The town of Bilpin is the most popular village in this area, home to several fruit orchards and beautiful gardens, and also famous for its apple pies and cider tasting.

11. Hike to Hanging Rock

Hanging Rock in the Blue Mountains
Hanging Rock in the Blue Mountains

A great day trip from Sydney, which involves a bit of hiking and exploring, is the walking track to Hanging Rock near Blackheath, one of the most iconic landmarks in the Blue Mountains.

The walking track to Hanging Rock (and the Baltzer Lookout) is a 5 km management trail that meanders through bushland with a few viewing points along the way.

Popular with bushwalkers, runners and cyclists alike, the fire trail itself isn’t super exciting, but the views at the end of the trail are incredible.

12. Visit Mount York

Mount York Pavilion
Mount York Pavilion

Have you ever been to Mount York in the Blue Mountains?

The summit of Mount York is home to various monuments and plaques related to the first crossing of the Blue Mountains in 1813 and subsequent attempts to build roads to the plains west of the mountains.

A visit to Mount York is a day well spent, with so much to learn and discover about the history of the Blue Mountains and lots to see from the various scenic lookouts in the area.

13. Discover the Megalong Valley

Mermaids Cave waterfall
Mermaids Cave waterfall in the Megalong Valley

The Megalong Valley, west of Katoomba, is not the most well-known destination in the Blue Mountains, but it has a lot to offer.

For an adventurous day trip, we suggest the following itinerary:

  1. Mermaids Cave:
    This is a short walk, with a steep staircase with over 100 steps leading to a large sandstone rock with a small waterfall. The start of this walk is on Megalong Road, the road that feeds into the Megalong Valley.
  2. Coachwood Glen Nature Trail:
    This is another short bushwalking trail, not too far away from the Mermaids Cave, through a scenic forest of Coachwood and Sassafras trees.
  3. Mount Blackheath:
    Drive to the Shipley Plateau, where you will find two lookouts that offer panoramic views of the Megalong Valley: Mount Blackheath and Hargraves Lookout.

14. Explore Kanangra Walls

Kanangra Plateau in Kanangra-Boyd National Park
Kanangra Plateau in Kanangra-Boyd National Park

Kanangra-Boyd National Park is a beautiful remote wilderness area just under 200 km from Sydney.

The most famous sight in this unique area is the Kanangra Walls lookout point, with various other highlights nearby to make a day of it, such as Kalang Falls and Kanangra Plateau.

It will take between 3 and 4 hours to drive there from Sydney, and the two walking tracks to visit the most popular highlights will take around 2.5 hours to complete.

All this can easily be done in a day trip, but if you prefer to stay overnight, the Boyd River Campground on Kanangra Walls Road is not too far away.

15. Visit Warragamba Dam

Warragamba Dam lookout
Warragamba Dam lookout

With construction completed in 1960, Warragamba Dam is Australia’s largest concrete dam that is responsible for the creation of Lake Burragorang, Sydney’s largest water reservoir.

A visit to this fantastic piece of engineering is well worth your time, as you discover the dam’s fascinating history and significance. The dam has created a reservoir capacity of more than 2K gigalitres of water, with the lake’s surface area covering 75 square kilometres.

Located around 40 km south of the dam, the Burragorang Lookout is a must, offering beautiful views of the lake and surrounding mountains.

Check out our list of Sydney dams for more dams you can visit in the Greater Sydney region.

16. Discover Maddens Falls

Maddens Falls in Dharawal National Park
Maddens Falls in Dharawal National Park

Maddens Falls is a stunning cascade waterfall in the rural locality of Darkes Forest in Dharawal National Park, located 50 km south of Sydney.

An easy 1 km bushwalk through upland swamp communities leads to a scenic viewing platform with views of the waterfall and the surrounding landscape.

Keen to discover more waterfalls? Check out our list of the most beautiful waterfalls in and close to Sydney.

17. Hike to Eagle Head Rock

Eagle Rock in Royal National Park
Eagle Rock

One of the best hikes in Royal National Park is the scenic coastal walk from Wattamolla to Eagle Rock, an iconic landmark that looks like an eagle’s beak.

The 8 km return hike to Eagle Rock (and Curracurrong Falls) starts at Wattamolla Beach and forms part of the 26 km long Coast Track between Bundeena in the north and Otford in the south.

Once you’ve completed the walk, why not go for a refreshing swim at Wattamolla, one of the many scenic beaches in the Royal National Park.

18. Hike to Minnamurra Falls

Minnamurra Falls
Minnamurra Falls

Tucked away in a thriving rainforest environment inside Budderoo National Park is Minnamurra Falls, a stunning two-tiered waterfall on the Minnamurra River.

A scenic 4.2 km paved walking track, starting at the Minnamurra Rainforest Centre, leads to this waterfall, with a large viewing platform right in front of it to enjoy magnificent views.

Be mindful that this is quite a steep walk, so be sure to bring some water and good hiking shoes. The waterfall at the end of the walk makes it all worthwhile, as it’s a beautiful spectacle.

19. Discover Waterfalls in Morton National Park

Belmore Falls
Belmore Falls

Planning a day trip to Morton National Park means you will get to enjoy two stunning waterfalls that are located close to one another.

The largest of the two, Belmore Falls, is a stunning plunge waterfall with two drops on the Barrengarry Creek. A short walking track passes several lookouts, including the Hindmarsh Lookout, from where you can enjoy panoramic views of Kangaroo Valley.

The second waterfall, Fitzroy Falls, carries the same name as the village in the Southern Highlands where it is located. A boardwalk at the visitor centre leads to a lookout that offers spectacular views of the 81-metre waterfall.

20. Spend a Day in Kiama

Cathedral Rocks in Kiama
Cathedral Rocks in Kiama

One of our favourite day trips from Sydney is the road trip down south to Kiama, a scenic coastal town just south of Wollongong.

Kiama is mainly known for the famous Blowhole, but there is so much more to see and do in Kiama than just looking at ocean water being pushed into the air through a hole in the rocks.

With beautiful coastal cliffs, scenic beaches, and panoramic vantage points, there is so much to see and do in Kiama that it makes for a great day trip destination.

Read our guide with the top things to do in Kiama and surrounds for a complete list of the most popular attractions and activities.

21. Spend a Day in Canberra

Parliament House in Canberra
Parliament House in Canberra

While some would prefer to stay overnight to visit all the highlights, Canberra is small enough to turn it into an exciting day trip from Sydney.

Our nation’s capital is a different kind of city; some hate it, and others love it. But one thing is for sure: Canberra is a unique city that has become somewhat trendy in recent years.

Not only is Canberra home to some excellent cafés and great dining venues, but you will also find some of the country’s best museums and galleries in Australia’s largest inland city. Some of the highlights in Canberra include the Australian War Memorial, Lake Burley Griffin, the old and new Parliament Houses, and the National Art Gallery.

Check out our guide to things to do in Canberra, so you know exactly where you need to go when you have one or two days to spend in this city.

 

21 Day trips from Sydney

 

AJ Mens

AJ Mens is a digital publisher based in Sydney, Australia, and the editor-in-chief of Sydney Uncovered and Blue Mountains Uncovered.

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