Last updated: October 20, 2023
A guide to the best national parks in Sydney, offering exciting walking tracks, scenic lookout points, beautiful waterfalls, and so much more.
One of the perks of living in Sydney is that it is surrounded by various National Parks, making it easy to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and discover the natural beauty these parks offer.
There are currently more than 200 registered National Parks in Sydney and New South Wales, some relatively small and others the size of a country, and each park has its unique characteristics.
In this article, we’ll guide you through eight of the most popular National Parks in the Greater Sydney area, complete with guides for walking tracks, waterfalls, and lookouts.
1. Sydney Harbour National Park
One of Sydney’s most beautiful National Parks is located in the city’s backyard: the incredible Sydney Harbour.
Many Sydney-siders and tourists visiting Australia’s most beautiful city often don’t realise that the magnificent and unique Sydney Harbour, including its islands, bays, and foreshore, is officially a National Park.
Managed by NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Sydney Harbour National Park was established in 1975 to protect islands, landforms, and foreshore areas in the Harbour, primarily east of the Harbour Bridge.
Discover Sydney Harbour National Park:
- Best walks in Sydney Harboour National Park
- Taronga Zoo to Balmoral Beach Walk
- North Head Walk in Manly
2. Blue Mountains
The Blue Mountains region is arguably one of the most popular tourist and weekend getaway destinations in Sydney and New South Wales.
Just over an hour west of Sydney, this World Heritage-listed area is home to many bushwalking tracks, waterfalls, deep valleys and canyons, and numerous lookout points with breathtaking views.
The Blue Mountains region is popular not just because it’s so pretty but also because the area is so easily accessible by car and train. It takes 90 minutes from Sydney to get to Katoomba by car and less than two hours by train.
The Blue Mountains is a paradise for bushwalkers with hundreds of exciting walking tracks. Some of these hikes have been around for more than a century, while others have been opened to the public more recently.
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3. Royal National Park
Situated only 30 km south of the Sydney CBD, the Royal National Park is a popular recreational weekend destination for local Sydney-siders.
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.
The park was included in the Australian National Heritage List in December 2006, to acknowledge the rich concentrations of various plant species that support a wide array of birds, reptiles and butterflies.
From coastal heath, panoramic lookouts, and hidden waterfalls to scenic bushland, isolated beaches, and natural swimming pools, this 15,000-hectare large park has so much to offer.
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4. 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 25 km north of the Sydney CBD, Ku-ring-gai Chase is a popular weekend recreation destination for Sydney residents and tourists.
Measuring a generous 15,000 hectares, the park is characterised by thriving rainforests, Aboriginal sites, rocky cliffs, lookout points, mangroves, picnic areas, secluded beaches, mountain biking trails, and various walking trails.
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5. Lane Cove National Park
Situated 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, which together form a moderately challenging yet pleasant 10 km circuit trail.
Several picnic areas, camping sites and cycle paths can also be found in this part of Lane Cove National Park.
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6. Dharawal National Park
Dharawal National Park is located around 50 km south of Sydney, not too far from the Royal National Park, and is still quite an 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 trails, waterfalls, and waterholes.
One of the most popular highlights in Dharawal National Park is Maddens Falls, which is included on our list of Sydney’s prettiest waterfalls.
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7. Bouddi National Park
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 many opportunities for hiking, swimming, fishing, camping, and cycling.
The 15 km2 large Bouddi National Park is home to some very pretty and unique bush and coastal walks. Many of these walking tracks include some of the most beautiful secluded beaches in New South Wales.
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.
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8. Morton National Park
With remote wilderness, scenic waterfalls, steep gorges, beautiful walking tracks and panoramic lookout points, Morton National Park in the Southern Highlands has something for everyone.
Located approximately 170 km south of Sydney, Morton National Park is easily accessible from Wollongong, Nowra, Canberra, and Moss Vale.
Morton National Park is also a large sanctuary for various wildlife, making it a popular destination for birdwatchers and photographers.
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