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The best day trips outside of Sydney

Set upon a spectacular harbour, under the bright and bountiful Australian sunshine, Sydney offers a unique lifestyle envied the world over. Residents here enjoy the buzz and benefits of living in a bustling world city, while never being too far from the tranquillity and beauty of nature. Within a two-hour driving radius of Sydney are a whole array of natural wonders—perfect spots for escaping the intensity of city life, relaxing and exploring. Here are just some of the awesome day trips you can take when based in Sydney.

Northern beaches
(30 minute drive north of Sydney CBD)

If you feel like immersing yourself in beach culture and roaming along white sands, coastal tracks, cliffs and lookouts, then spend some time on the Northern Beaches. Stretching along the coastline from Manly to Palm Beach, these beaches offer some of Australia’s best surfing spots and a relaxing seaside vibe.

The most famous of the Northern Beaches is Manly and regular ferries operate between Sydney’s Circular Quay and Manly Wharf making it an easy day out. Manly features a lovely assortment of beachside cafés and restaurants along its beautiful shoreline. Hire a bike and pedal to nearby Freshwater Beach or follow the walking trails to spectacular panoramic views. The secluded shores of Shelly Beach or the impressive North Head are also worth a look.

Further up the coastline you’ll find Palm Beach, the place to head if you’re a fan of the popular soapie, Home and Away. The show’s outdoor scenes are filmed here—it’s the fictional town of Summer Bay! Even if you’re not a fan, it’s a beautiful spot and worth visiting.

Many of the seaside neighbourhoods along the Northern Beaches offer delicious food. One of the most notable restaurants is the multi-award winning Jonah’s at Whale Beach, where you’ll be served up excellent modern Australian cuisine along with fantastic ocean views.

For a pleasant day trip with a bit of everything, you could start at Manly and drive (or cycle!) along the 30 kilometres of coast to Palm Beach, stopping wherever takes your fancy along the way for a bite to eat and a dip.

Jervis Bay
(2.5 hour drive south of Sydney)

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A natural wonderland, Jervis Bay is a coastal paradise and the perfect seaside escape from Sydney with its pristine white beaches, crystal-aqua waters, frolicking dolphins and fun activities. You could easily spend a weekend here or longer but if you only have a day, set off early, enjoy the beautiful drive down, and spend your day relaxing on the beach.

This area is home to the Jervis Bay Marine Park, a haven for bottlenose dolphins, fur seals, penguins, sea dragons and migrating whales. If you feel like getting up close to the marine life, dolphin and whale-watching cruises depart from Huskisson and there are facilities for diving, kayaking, paddle boarding, sailing and fishing.

Two national parks hug the coastline offering walks with spectacular views. You might even spot a kangaroo or two! Stroll on some of the whitest sands in the world on the White Sands Walk, which starts in Vincentia.

Hunter Valley
(2 hour drive north of Sydney)

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The Hunter Valley is Australia’s oldest wine region and the perfect place for indulgence. Discover sensational tipples as you taste your way through acclaimed wineries, roam through majestic vineyards and enjoy exceptional gourmet fare. With the Broken Back Range as a spectacular backdrop to the rolling fields of green, this is an exceptionally picturesque region to explore.

The Hunter Valley’s rich soils produce some of the world’s best wines and the Sémillon produced here is internationally acclaimed. You can join one of the many wine-tasting tours or visit the wineries directly—there are more cellar doors here than any other wine region in Australia. 

For a day trip, recruit a friend to chauffeur you for the day, or, even better, hop on one of the many day tours leaving the Sydney CBD each morning.

Blue Mountains
(2 hour drive north-west of Sydney)

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The Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area is one of Australia's most spectacular natural parks and offers a great variety of activities. There are numerous bushwalks for exploring and taking in the natural beauty of the area, with trails to suit all ages and levels of experience.

At Scenic World in Katoomba, you can view panoramas of the wilderness by cable car or on the local railway, famous for being the world’s steepest! Be sure to visit the Three Sisters, a rock formation at Echo Point. The ancient Jenolan Caves nearby are also a must see with their limestone crystal and underground rivers deep within.

Royal National Park
(1 hour drive south of Sydney)

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Experience the expanse of beaches, bush and waterfalls in this heritage-listed national park, which spans 16,000 hectares from the coastline to the spectacular Hacking River. With a great range of scenic walking trails that weave through the diverse bush-to-beach landscape, this is an ideal spot for strolling, hiking or mountain biking while taking in some breathtaking scenery.

From Governor Game lookout, visitors can view humpback whales during migration season (May to November) or even catch a glimpse of one of the many bird species that frequent the area. The Bungoona lookout and Marley walk offer fantastic views across the Hacking River.

Garie Beach, Deer Pool and the picnic areas of Currawong Flat and Wattamolla  are popular spots. The calm waters of the Wattamolla lagoon are ideal for swimming, snorkelling and fishing and bird watching.

Kangaroo Valley
(2 hour drive south of Sydney)

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One of Australia’s hidden gems, the beautiful Kangaroo Valley is nestled between the Cambewarra and Barrengarry mountains south of Sydney. Here you can roam through the enchanting wilderness, uncover waterfalls, kayak down the river, taste delicious wines, take a swing on a golfing green and shop for fine foods in the delightful local village.

Yarrawa Estate, in Upper Kangaroo River, is a great stop for wine tasting. Nearby at Kangaroo Valley Olives, you can sample delicious local olives and olive oil. Flavours of the Valley, a local cooking school, offers classes to perfect your culinary skills using local produce.

Be sure to stop in at the Kangaroo Valley Pie Shop at Barrengarry Old Store. The pies are made fresh daily in the shop and are said to be the world’s best!

Enjoy the vistas on the great bushwalks around the spectacular Fitzroy Falls and Gerringong Falls, less than 20km from Kangaroo Valley.

Grand Pacific Drive
(Starts 1 hour drive south of Sydney)

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Nothing beats a great road trip and the Grand Pacific Drive is one of Australia's most spectacular. This seriously scenic drive south of Sydney has it all with perfect picnic spots, beaches, lookouts and breathtaking views. It starts in the Royal National Park on Sydney's southern edge and continues for a 140km roller coaster ride through rainforests, over the Sea Cliff Bridge and past the coastal townships of Wollongong, Shellharbour, Kiama and Shoalhaven.

Highlights along the way include Stanwell Tops and Bald Hill Lookout as well as the iconic Sea Cliff Bridge, an engineering marvel that swerves out from the cliffs over the ocean. Also along this stretch is Kiama’s famous blowhole, the largest in the world.

Seaside drives don't get much better than this and you’re in for a treat on the way home since the views are even better heading north!

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