National Parks in and Around Sydney (Complete Guide)

One of the perks of living in Sydney is that it is surrounded by various National Parks. It’s very easy to escape the hustle and bustle of Sydney and discover the natural beauty that these parks have to offer.

From picnic sites, reserves and campgrounds, to walking tracks, waterfalls and lookout points, you can find all this and so much more in our national parks surrounding the city.

There are currently more than 200 registered National Parks in Sydney and New South Wales, some very small and others the size of a country. Each park has its own unique characteristics so that you will never run out of new things to discover.

Below is a list of 8 of the most popular National Parks in the Greater Sydney area, complete with various guides for walking tracks, lookout points, and waterfalls.

Top 8 Sydney National Parks

In no particular order, here is our top 8 national parks in and around Sydney.

1. Sydney Harbour National Park

One of the most beautiful National Parks in the Greater Sydney area is located in the city’s backyard: the incredible Sydney Harbour.

Many Sydney-siders as well as tourists visiting Australia’s most beautiful city don’t always realise that the magnificent and unique Sydney Harbour, including its islands, bays and foreshore, is in fact officially a National Park.

Managed by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, the Sydney Harbour National Park was established in 1975 to protect islands, landforms and foreshore areas that exist in the Sydney Harbour, primarily east of the Harbour Bridge.

Walking Tracks in Sydney Harbour

Home to a great variety of bushwalking tracks, picnic areas, secluded beaches, lookout points and historic sites, Sydney Harbour National Park truly has something for everyone.

We have shortlisted the best walking tracks in Sydney Harbour National Park that you should try. Some of these walks are quite challenging, while others are much easier and more relaxing.

Walks in Sydney Harbour National Park

Islands in Sydney Harbour

Did you know that Sydney Harbour is home to 8 islands and 5 peninsulas that used to be islands?

All these islands have a very interesting history, and in our guide to the islands of Sydney Harbour you can read all about it.

Islands in Sydney Harbour

2. Royal National Park

Established in 1879, the Royal National Park is the world’s second oldest and Australia’s oldest national park. Originally named National Park, it was officially renamed in 1955 after Queen Elizabeth II passed through on her way to Wollongong during her famous 1954 Australia tour.

From coastal heath, lookout points and waterfalls, to bushland, beaches and natural swimming pools, this 15,000 hectares large park has so much to offer.

Walking Tracks in Royal National Park

It’s no surprise that the Royal National Park has lots of different walking tracks on offer. To make choosing a suitable walk easier, we have compiled a list of the best walking tracks in Royal National Park.

Walks in Royal National Park

Beaches in Royal National Park

Because the Royal National Park faces the ocean, it’s only logical that there lots of great beaches to be found. Most of these beaches are quite isolated, which adds to the experience.

We have listed the best beaches in the Royal National Park, including detailed information on how to find them and get to them.

Beaches in Royal National Park

3. Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park

Established in 1894, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park is Australia’s second oldest national park, 15 years younger than the Royal National Park. Located only 25km north of the Sydney CBD, Ku-ring-gai Chase is a popular weekend recreation destination for Sydney residents as well as for tourists.

Measuring a generous 15,000 hectares, the park is characterised by thriving rainforest, Aboriginal sites, rocky cliffs, lookout points, mangroves, picnic areas, secluded beaches, mountain biking trails and various walking tracks.

Walking Tracks in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park

With so many exciting bushwalking tracks available throughout the park, hiking is probably the best way to explore this beautiful part of Sydney. Check out our list of great walking tracks in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.

Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park walks

4. Bouddi National Park

The 15 km2 large Bouddi National Park is home to some very pretty and unique bush and coastal walks. Lots of these walking tracks include some of the most beautiful secluded beaches you can find in New South Wales.

Located on the southern point of the New South Wales Central Coast near Gosford and Woy Woy, Bouddi National Park is an excellent weekend getaway destination, with lots of opportunities for not only hiking but also swimming, fishing, camping and cycling.

Walking Tracks in Bouddi National Park

Bouddi National Park has a very distinct landscape, with thriving bushland, sandstone cliffs, beautiful coastal paths and isolated beaches. What’s great is that some of these beaches can only be reached via walking tracks.

We have compiled a list of great walking tracks in Bouddi National Park, ranging from an easy 1.5 km to a more challenging 8 km in length.

Walks in Bouddi National Park

5. Morton National Park

Not as well-known as the Royal National Park or the Blue Mountains, Morton National Park in the Southern Highlands deserves a lot more attention. Remote wilderness, scenic waterfalls, steep gorges, beautiful walking tracks and panoramic lookout points, Morton National Park has something for everyone.

Located around 170km south of Sydney, Morton National Park is easily accessible from Wollongong, Nowra, Canberra and Moss Vale. A popular destination for birdwatchers and photographers, the park is a great sanctuary for a variety of wildlife.

Walking Tracks in Morton National Park

Morton National Park is home to lots of exciting walking tracks, from short and easy trails, to longer overnight hikes. Check out our list of the best walking tracks in Morton National Park.

Walks in Morton National Park

6. Lane Cove National Park

Located only 20 minutes north-west of the Sydney CBD, Lane Cove National Park is a large pocket of scenic bushland surrounding the banks of the Lane Cove River which flows into Sydney Harbour.

The central part of Lane Cove National Park is home to the Riverside Walking Track and the Lane Cove Valley Walk, that together from a moderately challenging yet pleasant 10km circuit trail. Several picnic areas, camping sites and cycle paths can also be found in this part of Lane Cove National Park.

Walking Tracks in Lane Cove National Park

The 10km riverside circuit walk in Lane Cove National Park consists of the family-friendly Riverside Walking Track along the west bank of the Lane Cove River, and the slightly more challenging Lane Cove Valley Walk along the east bank.

The two tracks connect at the Lane Cove Weir in the east and at the De Burghs Bridge on the other side. Check out our guide to hiking in Lane Cove National Park to read more about this circuit walk.

Lane Cove riverside circuit walk

7. Dharawal National Park

Dharawal National Park is located around 50 km south of Sydney, not too far from the Royal National Park, and is a rather unspoiled and not-so-well known protected park.

The park is characterised by an extensive network of creeks, swamp areas and heath vegetation, and is home to various walking tracks, waterfalls, and waterholes.

Highlights in Dharawal National Park

We have listed the best highlights in Dharawal National Park, from exciting bushwalks and cycling trails, to beautiful natural waterholes and lookout points.

Dharawal National Park

8. Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains region is arguably one of the most popular tourist and weekend-getaway destinations in New South Wales.

Just over an hour away from Sydney, this World Heritage listed area is home to a great variety of bushwalking tracks, waterfalls, deep valleys and canyons and numerous lookout points with breathtaking views.

Things to Do in the Blue Mountains

To help you decide where to go and how best to spend your time in this beautiful national park west of Sydney, we have come up with an extensive list of best things to do in the Blue Mountains.

Things to do in the Blue Mountains

Walking Tracks in the Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains is a true paradise for bushwalkers with hundreds of exciting walking tracks to choose from. Some of these hikes have been around for more than a century while others have only been opened to the public in recent years.

Check out our list of the best walking tracks in the Blue Mountains. Some of them are short and easy trails, others are much harder tracks that require some level of preparation.

Walks in the Blue Mountains

Lookout Points in the Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains has no shortage of impressive lookout points that offer breathtaking views of valleys, mountains, waterfalls and canyons. Some of these lookouts are easy to get to, while others are far away from civilization.

Check out our list of the best lookouts in the Blue Mountains that offer incredible views.

Lookouts in the Blue Mountains

Waterfalls in the Blue Mountains

With so many creeks and rivers flowing through the Blue Mountains, it’s not a surprise that there are quite a few waterfalls here and there. Some of these waterfalls even have natural swimming holes, which makes for a great outdoor adventure.

We have listed the most scenic waterfalls in the Blue Mountains, some easy to access and others much more challenging to get to.

Waterfalls in the Blue Mountains

Wentworth Falls

Wentworth Falls is one of the most popular bushwalking destinations in the Blue Mountains region. The name Wentworth Falls refers to the famous 3-tiered, 187m high waterfall, but it is also the name of the town where the waterfall is located.

Deciding where to go and which walking track to conquer in Wentworth Falls can be quite a challenge in itself. Our Wentworth Falls hiking guide provides more clarity around the walks and lookouts in and around Wentworth Falls to help you plan your day out in the Blue Mountains.

Walks and lookouts in Wentworth Falls

Blue Mountains Tours

One way to experience the true beauty of the Blue Mountains is by booking a professional day tour from Sydney. A tour to the Blue Mountains is an excellent way to see all the highlights in comfort and style. This is especially true if you’ve never been there before and you don’t have your own transport.

We have shortlisted some of the best Blue Mountains tours departing from Sydney. This selection is based on value for money, destinations along the way, duration, transport, inclusions and general quality and reputation of the tour operator.

Blue Mountains day tours


National Parks in and around Sydney