Day Trips from Sydney Australia

Sydney Harbor Bridge

Sydney is undoubtedly the city people think of when they think of Australia. I’ve lived here my entire life, but I still love to act as a tourist in the city. I love the historic Rocks area where First Fleet immigrants settled and Circular Quay, with its stunning vistas encompassing the world-heritage-listed Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge.

The Best Day Trips From Sydney, Australia

Sydney Opera House in Sydney Australia.
Image Credit: Richie Chan / Shutterstock.

However, this Great Southern Land is so vast and full of varying landscapes that it can be challenging to know what to do next. If you make Sydney your base for your entire trip, you don’t have to go too far to enjoy some of what Australia has to offer. Here’s a list of some of my favorite day trips from Sydney.

1. Hunter Valley

Hunter Valley Australia
Image Credit: Michael – CC BY 2.0/Wiki Commons.

Do you like wine and cheese? The Hunter Valley is three hours from Sydney and Australia’s oldest wine region. You can explore beautiful countryside winding roads and stop and sample various wines, such as local varieties that include crisp Semillions or some dark and oaky Shiraz.�

The region is a foodie’s delight with award-winning restaurants, accommodations, and events in a luxury picturesque setting. If you’ve only got a short time, stop at the Hunter Valley Gardens, which is your one-stop shop for shops, entertainment on the weekends, eateries, wine tastings at McGuigan Wines Cellar Door, or cheese platters at the Hunter Valley Cheese Factory. Once you’ve done all that, you can explore the 25 acres of stunning gardens. There are ten unique feature gardens, each a sensory delight with colorful blooms and fragrant surprises at every turn.

2. Blue Mountains

Blue Mountains National Park, Australia
Image Credit: Visions of Domino – CC BY 2.0/Wiki Commons.

About a 90-minute drive from Sydney, the Blue Mountains are a nature lover’s haven. Take one of the many walking trails and discover amazing landscapes�you might even see some famous Aussie wildlife. Walk the Giant Stairway to the bottom, or if you want to challenge yourself, climb up it, but be warned�there are over a thousand steps. 

You can also enjoy Scenic World, which offers the ultimate Blue Mountains adventure with stunning views of the Three Sisters, Katoomba Falls, and Jamison Valley. Enjoy thrilling attractions like the steepest railway and glass-floored Skyway, and explore the rainforest on the longest Southern Hemisphere boardwalk. You can get a Discovery Pass for unlimited rides and enjoy free parking, dining, and shopping. If you don’t plan on driving, you can take a train from Central Station in the city.

3. Canberra

Australian War Memorial Canberra, Australia
Image Credit: Thennicke – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0/Wiki Commons.

Many people don’t realize that Sydney is not Australia’s capital. When the Australian Commonwealth was formed in 1901, the government realized it needed a neutral city to govern from, so Canberra was founded in 1913. 

The top attraction here is the National War Memorial, commemorating those who sacrificed themselves in war. There are guided tours and a Last Post Ceremony at 4.45 pm. You can also visit the Australian Parliament and the National Mint for a fascinating look at how our money is made. It’s about a three-hour drive from Sydney or a four-hour train trip. 

4. Jervis Bay

Jervis Bay, Australia
Image Credit: JD8001 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0/Wiki Commons.

A bit farther south, Jervis Bay is famous for its crystal-clear waters and white sandy beaches. One of the most popular activities is whale watching, as the magnificent creatures migrate north through these waters between the winter months of May, June, and July. You can see them migrating south from September to November, and you might spot a whale calf or two! Visit the Jervis Bay Maritime Museum for a fascinating history of the area and its past activities. The town is about a three-hour drive, so you might consider it one of the full-day trips from Sydney.

5. Port Stephens

Port Stephens Australia
Image Credit: Bernard Spragg, CC0/Wiki Commons.

This coastal area is about two and a half hours north of Sydney. It’s known for being a haven for water activities. Choose from diving with sharks and stingrays, cruising, swimming with dolphins, whale watching, and various beaches. Non-water activities include visits to Oakvale Wildlife Park, camel riding at Oakfield Ranch, or surfing the Stockton Sand Dunes via learning the art of sandboarding.

6. Kiama

Kiama, Australia
Image Credit: Steven Foster, CC0/Wiki Commons.

Known for its blowhole, Kiama is a coastal town south of Sydney. This is one of the shorter day trips from Sydney, being only a two-hour drive or train trip. The little maritime town boasts the famous Kiama Blowhole and Little Blowhole, where seawater spurts into the air from cliffside caverns. 

The Kiama Coast Walk trail connects these blowholes to the stunning Cathedral Rocks, offering whale-watching opportunities. Surf Beach, known for its tranquil waters, is perfect for swimming. Dive into the town’s maritime history at the Pilot’s Cottage Museum.

7. Newcastle

Newcastle, Australia
Image Credit: Gharouni – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0/Wiki Commons.

This is my home town, renowned for its surf beaches and hosting Australia’s largest surfing festival, Surfest. HBO viewers might recognize it from the comedy series Frayed, set in the area during the late 1980s. The show is a trip down memory lane for me. 

Apart from various stunning beaches, swimming, and walks to Nobby’s Lighthouse, you can explore some history at Fort Scratchley’s Maritime Museum or take a true crime tour around the city. You can also find great eateries and entertainment around The Foreshore and Honeysuckle Drive. Newcastle is located via a two-hour drive from Sydney or a three-hour train trip. 

8. Yengo National Park

Yengo National Park
Image Credit: NSW Government.

For day trips from Sydney that center around Aboriginal culture, you’ll find the Wollombi Aboriginal Cultural Experiences and Consultancy offers guided tours and immersive camps around Mount Yengo, a sacred site located just a two-hour drive north. These experiences provide a deep dive into the rich culture and history of the Eastern Indigenous peoples, showcasing sacred locations, rock engravings, cultural practices, and storytelling. It’s a unique opportunity to learn about the area’s Aboriginal heritage in an engaging and informative way.

9. Royal National Park

Royal National Park Australia
Image Credit: Kytabu – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0/Wiki Commons.

Established in 1879, the Royal National Park (known as ‘Nasho’ to locals) is the world’s second-oldest national park. It features unique heritage sites, diverse flora and fauna, and various activities like barbecues, picnic grounds, fishing, bushwalking, birdwatching, and whale watching. Located an hour’s drive from Sydney, this 16,000-hectare park offers something new to discover.

10. Kangaroo Valley

Kangaroo Valley Australia
Image Credit: Sardaka – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0/Wiki Commons.

If you’re interested in stepping back in time to Australia’s colonial past, paying a visit to the historic Kangaroo Valley is a must. The village is at the region’s heart, featuring charming buildings, local shops, and cultural events. The Pioneer Village Museum on the outskirts of town offers a glimpse into colonial history.

The valley sits between mountain ranges and offers diverse outdoor activities, from hiking through lush rainforests to spotting kangaroos and wallabies in open fields. Visitors can also explore the Kangaroo River by canoe or kayak and enjoy the region’s fine food and wine at local wineries and restaurants. Kangaroo Valley is a two-hour drive south, which makes it one of the easiest day trips from Sydney.

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