10 Sydney Day Trips That You’ll Love
If you’re looking for the best Sydney day trips, here are 10 that you’ll love. For a taste of suburban life, head to Sydney’s most famous surf beach at Bondi. It’s easy to escape from the busy city centre to the laidback beachside suburbs. Just catch a ferry on Sydney Harbour to Manly or Watson’s Bay to relax on the beach or at the outdoor cafés.
Further away from the city, there are beautiful National Parks with coastal walks and lonely stretches of sand to explore. And to the west of the city, the Blue Mountains offer stunning scenery and some great bush walks. The Blue Mountains are one of many great Sydney day trips and are easily accessible by car and train.
Visitors from Australia and around the globe come to Sydney to see the famous Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. But there’s so much more to see beyond the main attractions. So take the time to explore a fit further afield.
I’ve lived in Sydney most of my life and these are some of my favourite Sydney Day Trips.
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The 10 Best Sydney Day Trips
Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs
About 5 kilometres to the east of the city is the iconic Bondi Beach and it’s one of the most popular day trips from Sydney. Next to Bondi are some of Sydney’s most exclusive suburbs. Rose Bay, Double Bay, Watson’s Bay and Vaucluse have some of the best harbour views in Sydney and a relaxed, upmarket vibe. The Eastern Suburbs are easily accessible by public transport and are a great place to visit.
For an easy ride take the Hop on Hop Off Bus Bondi and Bays tour to the Eastern suburbs.
Choose a sunny day and jump on a ferry at Circular Quay. It’s a scenic half-hour trip across Sydney Harbour to Watson’s Bay and one of the best Sydney day trips.
#1 Watsons Bay
From the ferry wharf at Watsons Bay, stroll along the South Head Heritage Trail. You’ll pass Camp Cove beach as you walk to the colourful Hornby Lighthouse at the mouth of Sydney Harbour. On the way, you’ll see the sandstone lighthouse keeper’s cottage and enjoy sweeping ocean and city views.
Make sure you stop off at “The Gap” opposite Robinson’s Park and watch the waves crashing against the rocky cliffs. The Gap was the site of a shipwreck in 1857 and is now a famous suicide spot. The scenery here is wild, beautiful and quite mesmerising.
You can swim at Camp Cove Beach, grab a coffee at the kiosk, or enjoy fish & chips by the ferry wharf. Or, if you prefer you can dine in style at Doyles, one of Sydney’s oldest seafood restaurants. You could happily spend a day relaxing in Watsons Bay. But if you’re keen to keep moving, hop on a local bus to Bondi Beach. Across the road from the Gap, the 380 bus stops on Military Road, opposite Robinson’s Park. It takes about 40 minutes from Watsons Bay to the famous Bondi Beach.
Watsons Bay is a lovely place to base yourself for a more relaxed stay in Sydney. There’s easy access to the city by ferry.
Where to Stay in Watsons Bay
Upper Mid Range: Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel
#2 Bondi Beach
If the weather is hot join the locals and head to the beach. Visitors flock to Sydney’s iconic Bondi Beach for surf, sun and leisure. Bondi is loved for its golden sand and reliable surf and it’s one of the most popular Sydney day trips. There’s a young, vibrant atmosphere at Bondi Beach with bikini-clad sun worshipers, surfers and backpackers relaxing on the sand.
You can swim in the surf at Bondi Beach but make sure you swim between the flags. This is the patrolled area of the beach so it’s safer. The Bondi Icebergs Club is another great place to swim at Bondi. The seawater rock pools here fill up regularly at high tide and there’s a lovely view of Bondi Beach from the entrance to the Icebergs Club.
Behind the beach is a selection of cafés, ice cream shops and pubs with a young, traveller and surf scene. But locals prefer the relaxed cafes around Hall Street and love to exercise on the cliff tops on the walking track.
The Bondi to Coogee coastal track is one of the most loved Sydney day trips. There are stunning ocean views and the track winds its way along the coastline for 6 kilometres. It takes about 2 hours to complete on foot and you can catch a bus on the return journey. Along the way, there are lots of parks, seats and places to rest and enjoy the beautiful view.
From Bondi, the fastest way back to the CBD is to catch the 380 bus to Bondi Junction and a train to the city. Alternatively, you can take the scenic route via Watsons Bay and the ferry back to Circular Quay.
If you love the hip vibe at Bondi Beach there are some great accommodation options.
Where to Stay at Bondi Beach
Budget: Wake Up! Bondi Beach hostel
Mid Range: Hotel Bondi
Luxury: QT Bondi
While the famous Bondi Beach is very popular, there are lots of other beaches around Sydney that are even more beautiful and less crowded than Bondi. For a taste of life in the outer suburbs of Sydney make your way to the gorgeous Northern Beaches.
Sydney’s Northern Beaches
On the north side of Sydney Harbour from Manly to Palm Beach, there are more enticing beaches along the Pacific coastline. On this day trip from Sydney, it’s easiest to explore by car. But if you don’t have transport, the Northern Beaches are well served by buses from the city centre and from Manly.
If you have only a day to spend in the Northern Beaches consider booking a Northern Beaches and Ku-Ring-Gai Chase tour as you’ll see a lot more than you’ll be able to by public transport. To get to gorgeous Palm Beach takes about an hour and a half by bus from the city, and about an hour from Manly.
Manly attracts visitors from around the world and is one of the most popular day trips from Sydney. The famous Manly beach has a lovely stretch of sand and reliable waves. There’s a laidback surf scene and an upmarket, relaxed vibe with lots of cafes and restaurants to choose from. Visit for the day or stay awhile and enjoy the beach and the local attractions with easy access to the city by ferry.
The coastline here is beautiful! Enjoy the surf at Manly Beach, Snorkel the clear, calm waters of nearby Shelly Beach or paddle around Manly Cov in a kayak.
There’s a selection of beachside cafes and a lookout with superb city and ocean views at North Head, the entrance to Sydney Harbour. From Manly Wharf to North Head lookout is a steep, 45-minute walk. There’s an 8km track that starts above Shelly Beach and loops up and around North Head.
If you have a car you can drive into North Head and take the short Fairfax track to the lookout.
Where to stay in Manly
If you’ve fallen in love with the surf scene at Manly Beach, here are a few places to stay:
Budget: Boardrider Backpackers & Budget Motel / Collaroy Beach House YHA
Mid Range: Manly Paradise Motel and Apartments
Upper Mid Range: Quest Manly
#4 Palm Beach & Barrenjoey Head
For another of Sydney’s great day trips, travel further north to delightful Palm Beach. Around Pittwater, you’ll find leafy green landscapes with serene water views and more gorgeous surf beaches.
Sydney’s Northern Beaches are simply stunning and have been made famous by the long-running TV drama “Home and Away”. If you watch “Home and Away” you may recognise the lighthouse, the beach and the Summer Bay surf club. Book the Home and Away location tour for full immersion.
Relax on beautiful Palm Beach or climb to the top of Barrenjoey Headland for sweeping views of Pittwater, Broken Bay, and Palm Beach. Look out for colourful rainbow lorikeets in the bush and, if you’re lucky you might also catch sight of a sea eagle or a black cockatoo. From May to September you can spot migrating whales from the headland as they swim by close to the coast.
Consider staying for a few days to relax in beautiful Palm Beach and take your time in this stunning area. More fabulous beaches are nearby at Avalon, Whale Beach and Narrabeen. And there are some great Sydney day trips from Barrenjoey to West Head Lookout and Ettalong.
Where to Stay at Palm Beach
Upper Mid Range: Barrenjoey house
#5 West Head Lookout & Ettalong
Take the ferry from Barrenjoey wharf across Pittwater and hike through Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park to the West Head lookout. You’ll get a different perspective of the Headland from there. The views are absolutely breathtaking! If you don’t feel like walking, West Head lookout is also accessible by car.
If you have time, catch a ferry from Barrenjoey wharf for a picturesque journey past Barrenjoey headland and around the coast to Ettalong.
#6 The Blue Mountains
West of the city, the Beautiful Blue Mountains are one of the most popular Sydney day trips. Here you’ll find stunning cliff views, deep green valleys and waterfalls. The scenery is truly breathtaking!
Visit the Three Sisters at Echo Point in Katoomba, and ride the cable car across the valley. Take the Scenic Railway to the bottom of the cliff and explore the walking tracks in the Jamieson Valley and along the rugged cliff tops.
The Blue Mountains can easily be accessed by train. From Central Station in Sydney, it takes about 2 hours to travel to Katoomba, high in the mountains. At Katoomba station, you can catch a local bus to Echo Point or take the Hop-on-hop-off bus and visit the many amazing lookout points on Cliff Drive.
There’s so much to see in the Blue Mountains on a day trip from Sydney To make the most of your time, book an all-inclusive tour for easy access to the best sights and activities.
But consider staying a couple of days as you’re sure to fall in love with the stunning escarpment views, the fresh mountain air and the quaint cafes and antique shops.
Where to stay in the Blue Mountains
Budget: Blue Mountains YHA / Blue Mountains Heritage Motel
Upper Mid Range: The Carrington Hotel
Luxury: Lilianfels Blue Mountains Resort & Spa
Sydney’s Southern Suburbs
#7 La Perouse – Botany Bay
Discover Sydney’s historical past on a day trip to La Perouse on the northern headland of Botany Bay. It’s the site of the first landing in Australia by the French navigator La Perouse, in 1788. La Perouse landed a few days after Captain Arthur Philip and the first fleet arrived in Australia.
There’s an old military post at Bare Island and a museum to visit. You can swim at the beach, explore the scenic walking trails and grab a bite to eat at the “Boatshed”. La Perouse has sweeping views over Botany Bay and the sunsets there are pretty amazing!
La Perouse is 14km southeast of the city. The easiest way to get there is to drive. But you can catch a bus from Circular Quay(route 394) and from Railway square (route 393).
Further south of the city is Cronulla Beach, another of my favourite Sydney day trips but less explored by tourists. Cronulla has a laid-back surf scene, breathtaking coastal scenery and stunning beaches. It’s also just a ferry ride away from the beautiful Royal National Park.
Join the Sydney wildlife waterfalls and Wine small group tour to see the best of Sydney’s southern coastline in a day and experience some of Australia’s unique wildlife up close.
#8 Cronulla Beach
An hour by train from the city, Cronulla has a relaxed suburban surf vibe and boasts several of Sydney’s best surf beaches. You can swim in the saltwater rock pools that fill up at high tide, and enjoy a stroll on the esplanade and around the point. There are swimming baths, sailing & kayaking on the calm waters of Gunnamatta Bay on the other side of the shops near the ferry pier.
To Get there catch a train from Central Station in the city. From Cronulla station, it’s just a short walk to the beach. Follow the signs to Gunnamatta Bay and the wharf where the ferries leave for Bundeena.
Visit Cronulla Beach on a day trip from Sydney or base yourself here for a couple of days. Get a taste of life in Sydney’s southern beachside suburbs and explore The Royal National Park.
Where to Stay in Cronulla
Budget: Cronulla Motor Inn
Mid Range: Rydges Cronulla Beachside / Quest Cronulla Beach
#9 Bundeena & the Royal National Park
This is one of my favourite Sydney day trips! Catch a ferry from Cronulla across the water to Bundeena in Sydney’s Royal National Park. Enjoy the magnificent coastal scenery and relax on an uncrowded beach. If you feel more energetic there are bushwalking tracks to explore inside the National Park.
- Walk to Jibbon Beach to see ancient Aboriginal rock carvings and a 3000-year-old shell midden (5km return – 2 hours)
- or hike to Wedding Cake Rock an unusual rock formation on the coast (7 km return – 3 hours)
At Bundeena there are a couple of cafes where you can buy lunch and an ice cream and enjoy the view while you wait for the ferry.
A more flexible way to see the Royal National Park is to book a private tour. You’ll see more and be able to arrange your itinerary to suit your interests.
The wildlife, waterfalls and wine tour will take you to Royal National Park and you’ll also hand-feed kangaroos and koalas at the Symbio wildlife park. This tour includes wine tasting at a boutique winery and a scenic bushwalk.
Quaint Kiama is one of the best Sydney day trips for surfers. Kiama is a seaside town on the Illawarra coast famous for its blowhole and its beautiful sandy beaches.
There are excellent surf breaks near Kiama and Mystics at Minnamurra Beach is one of the best surfing spots in Australia. There are more good breaks at Bombo Beach, Jones Beach and Boneyard Beach. Kiama makes a great day trip from Sydney and is an easy drive that takes around 2 hours from Sydney and a bit longer by train.
Don’t Miss the phenomenal coastal views from the lookouts at Sublime Point and Mount Pleasant if you’re driving. These picnic areas make a great pit stop on the trip south to Kiama on the Grand Pacific Drive.
Alternatively, you can catch an express train from Central Station but you’ll need to leave early as the train takes around two and a half hours each way.
Tip: Seat yourself on the left side of the train for the best views.
A great way to see the beautiful Kiama coast is to book a South Coast small group tour. You’ll see more than if you catch the train and stop off at panoramic viewpoints and clifftop lookouts. You’ll spot wildlife, walk across secluded beaches and discover aboriginal rock paintings. There are some lovely coastal walks to explore and some great places to swim.
Where to Stay in Kiama
Lower Mid Range: Motel 617 Kiama
Upper Mid Range: Nova Kiama
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Lots of great places to visit outside of Sydney. I grew up in the Sutherland Shire and spent many a day at Cronulla Beach – so of course, that was my favourite of all the places you mention.
I love Cronulla Beach too & have fond childhood memories of swimming at Wanda Beach & getting sunburnt!
Love Sydney and the time I spent around there! Hope to go back one day. Some great suggestions there.
I haven’t been to Australia yet so I’ve only heard of a couple of these locations. I will definitely keep your list in mind though for when I travel to Sydney!
We’ve only been in Sydney once, for 4 days, definitely not enough! Wish we’d had more time looking at this!
There’s never enough time & always more to see….maybe next time?
Sydney looks like a good base for day trips! Would loooove to see Bondi Beach and also the Blue Mountains. They look so impressive! Great post 🙂
Such great day trips. I have to take lots of time for Sydney, when I visit. So I can not only visit the city itself, but also have time for day trips. The beaches look super, but the Blue Mountains are also attractive.
Love these day trip ideas! I’ve always wanted to go to Sydney, so it’s nice to know there’s so much to do around there! I’ve pinned for later 🙂
Great post! So much to see and do in the area, this is a great guide for planning a trip. I’ve never been to Australia but it’s on my list… hopefully soon!
Oh my gosh, this is such a comprehensive guide and your photos are so gorgeous. I’m definitely pinning this for future travel inspiration.
Pinning so many of these on my map for a future visit to Sydney! Thank you for sharing them 🙂
Never been to Australia! But want to visit, saving this for the future!
Sydney is super high on my bucket list – I can’t wait to visit these places when I go someday soon! Thank you so much for such a great list!
So many wonderful places to visit! I hope I’ll be able to make it to Australia one day.
There are so many good options! Those beaches all look fabulous, but the Blue Mountains have to be the best possible day trip. What a gorgeous area!
Your post just came at the right time! I am moving to Australia in less than a week and I was looking for trip days as I will be working many days during the week and cannot spend to much time traveling, at least at the beginning. I really like your blog and will definitely follow your recommendations! Thanks ?
Thanks Francesca, I’m glad to hear you’ve found my blog helpful & I think you’ll love Sydney. It’s a beautiful city & a great place to live!
I hope that I can travel to Australia in the near future. I would love to explore these beautiful places around Sydney. Your photo of Barrenjoey Head reminded me a lot of St Kitts and Nevis. Thanks for sharing.
These day trips from Sydney look magical! Hornby Lighthouse at Watsons Bay looks absolutely enchanting! That spot would be at the top of my list! Thanks for the great guide!
I’ll need to make sure I have lots of time for day trips from Sidney when I visit!