Besides the world-famous iconic landmarks such as the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, Sydney has so many other things to offer. There is something for everyone, starting from calm, peaceful, turquoise waters, to murmuring waterfalls and blowholes, white sand beaches, irresistible wine regions, scenic bus or train rides, hiking trails, national parks and wildlife native to Australia all the way to riding vehicles on sand dunes. Sydney is a perfect spot for doing extreme sports, tasting some of the best dishes of Australian cuisine and getting to know the culture. If your next trip takes you to Australia, read on to learn about what to do when you’re in the land down under.
1. The breathtaking Blue Mountains
One of the best day trips from Sydney takes you to the breathtaking Blue Mountains. You can take a train to the mountains and enjoy some ravishing lookouts such as the Echo Point. Enjoy the amazing scenery around you while wandering the tracks which offer insights into the Australian rich indigenous history. If you choose to go trekking along the scenic trail of the Grand Canyon track, you’ll see some of the most beautiful heritage-listed waterfalls, sandstone walls and plants native to this amazing land. You can get more familiar with Australia’s vibrant flora by entering the Botanic Garden in Mount Tomah. An amusing thing to see along the way is a truly unique Glow Worm Tunnel in Lithgow, where you can see the bioluminescent glow of the fungus gnat covering the whole tunnel. And for those spa lovers, there’s also the Echoes Day Spa where you can enjoy relaxing massages, recovering facials, soak therapies and body wraps. All in all, it’s a spot you shouldn’t miss when in Sydney.
2. The stunning Hunter Valley
Hunter Valley is one of the most famous and prestigious wine regions in the world and it is located on a 2.5-hour drive from Sydney. It is an area rich in vines, but it is not as boring as you might think. It offers plenty of exciting and adventurous things to do, such as riding a hot air balloon to enjoy some of the most amazing and scenic views from a clear sky, horse-riding through the vineyards and, of course, tasting some excellent food and great wines. You can taste fresh local produce here as well as some succulent cheese. There are plenty of restaurants in these regions and lots of wineries, both old ones and some more modern ones. And for those hiking lovers, Hunter Valley is also considered to be a prime hiking destination. You can embark on World Heritage-listed nature trails like Wollemi National Parks or the Hunter Valley Gardens, where you can see eucalyptus fields and kangaroos. However, a day in the valley might not be enough to explore all its beauties, so it would be a good idea to perhaps find Hunter Valley accommodation and spend a few days to grasp its charm to the full.
3. The versatile Royal National Park
The second oldest national park in the world, a 15-hectare Royal National Park is simply a must-see. It is versatile in the wildlife and plants living there, the geological formations and natural features it has. You can take a coastal walk, enjoy the natural rock pools and rock formations, which are sure to provide you with insta-worthy shots. It is a place where you can do all kinds of things, besides admiring the wildlife and scenery, of course. You can swim in the calm waters of the National Park, you can trek, you can have a romantic picnic there, you can ride a bike through the park or go whale-watching. The possibilities are endless for all the people, especially nature lovers and eager sightseers. Expansive coastal cliffs, eucalyptus bushlands, amazing waterfalls and vivid forests are just some of the things you see and enjoy here. What’s interesting is that the Coast Track used to be a spot for a gathering of the Dharawal people, so you can see some of their artwork and engravings, that are more than a thousand years old.
4. The sunny Palm Beach
The ideal sunny spot for relaxing is definitely the Palm Beach, located an hour away from Sydney, on the Northern Beaches. This spot offers both calm waters for paddle boarding and kayaking on one side and big waves perfect for surfing on the other side. You can also walk to the lighthouse on the hill and enjoy some whale-watching. It is 91-meters above sea level and it enables you to watch the sand dunes from a bird’s-eye perspective. Plus, it features some of the most beautiful panoramic coastal views. You can take a boat charter and cruise the waters there, play some relaxing golf, grab a bite at some local beach restaurants and perhaps join a kayaking tour. A spot you definitely shouldn’t miss is a wooden cottage right on the water, the Boathouse, where you can have a fresh cup of coffee and a famous buttermilk scones with fresh strawberries on top.
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5. The secluded, crystal-clear Mermaid Pools
The magnificent Mermaid Pools are located near the Tahmoor Gorge. These crystal-clear pools are surrounded by beautiful nature, bushes, steep steps, rocky platforms and murmuring waterfalls. Even though the Mermaid Pools themselves are not the safest place to swim, there are many spots along the way where you can take a splash and cool off on a hot day. For example, the See-Through Pools are an ideal place for a swim as well as underwater rock formation observation. These pools are a unique combination of both tranquility and adrenaline. Reaching these pools is quite an adventure since you need to walk through some bushes and climb down some rocks, but the series of idyllic pools and springs are well worth the while once reached. You should devote one day to visit this stunning Australian spot, when in Sydney – you won’t regret it.
6. A UNESCO World Heritage Site – The Cockatoo Island
The largest island in the Sydney’s Harbour, set at the junction of the Parramatta and Lane Cove rivers is the Cockatoo Island. This famous island has been a film set, a shipping yard and a place for art and culture festivals. It has so much history. Long-time ago, it was a prison and an Aboriginal fishing spot. For a short time, it hosted an industrial school for girls and a naval training ship for boys. All in all, it was mostly used for shipbuilding and repairs. The island features campsites, apartments and heritage holiday houses, among other things. Your trip to the island starts by a ferry ride from Circular Quay, you go past the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge and after a 30-minute ride you end up on a World Heritage Site, i.e. the Cockatoo Island. You can explore the docks on the island or you can relax in a beach bar sipping on a cool cocktail.
7. The fascinating Port Stephens
Even though Port Stephens is a two-hour drive from Sydney, it is well worth the while as it offers adventure and scenic views. You can embark on a camel ride at Oakfield Ranch or you can swim with the dolphins. You can also sandboard the largest dunes on the beach or enjoy a romantic picnic at the sunset. And for adventure lovers, there’s the option of the outdoor rock climbing at Port Stephens’ sea cliffs, which will take you to some unimaginable heights and most stunning views of the ocean. It is home to more than 20 beautiful beaches and the bay is referred to as the marine playground, which is twice the size of the Sydney Harbour. Imagine that! Golden sand, bushy coastlines and magnificent lookout spots are all characteristics of Port Stephens. Besides the mentioned activities, you can also go on a whale-watching cruise, snorkel, participate in watersports and head to the viewpoints such as Gan Gan Lookout or Tomaree Headland lookout, which will provide amazing views and even more stunning photos.
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As you can see, there are so many things to see and explore a huge city such as Sydney. However, the places mentioned are just the tip of the iceberg. This beautiful country offers many other notable stops worth the visit.