Are you planning a short holiday or looking for one of the best weekend trips from Sydney? Are you looking for a relaxing beach break, adventure, a romantic getaway, or an escape to the country?
Sydney, the capital city of the state of New South Wales, is a beautiful harbourside city filled with lots of exciting things to see and do. But if you are looking to escape the city, there are so many beautiful getaway destinations and things to see and do that are easily accessible from Sydney. Even just a couple of nights away and a break from your routine can feel like a ‘real’ holiday, and leave you feeling refreshed and reinvigorated.
So, if are looking to get away for a couple of days and escape the city, look no further as below we have listed 14 of the best weekend trips from Sydney.
“The traveller sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.”– Gilbert K. Chesterton –
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Best Weekend Trips from Sydney
Sydney City Staycation
Recommended by Ingrid at Christmas Time Made Easy
One of my family’s favourite weekend trips from Sydney is actually to leave our home in the suburbs for the weekend and travel into the heart of the city for a Sydney staycation. The advantage of a staycation like this is that you don’t lose hours of time travelling long distances.
Sydney has so many amazing central attractions you would never run out of activities to do in the city. There are also numerous hotels to choose to stay in depending on your budget. We usually choose one in the Darling Harbour area of the city.
Darling Harbour is a vibrant food precinct with plenty of waterside restaurants and cafes to choose from on both the Cockle Bay side and Harbourside of Darling Harbour depending on your budget. The food court inside Harbourside Shopping Centre offers the most affordable food options.
There is also an amazing outdoor children’s playground in Darling Harbour which will occupy your children for hours.
Other Darling Harbour attractions well worth visiting:
- Sea Life Sydney Aquarium
- Wildlife Park
- Madame Tussauds
- Chinese Garden of Friendship
On our recent staycation in Sydney we went on a Captain Cook High Tea Cruise around Sydney Harbour. We marvelled at the spectacular Sydney Harbour sights of the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, while indulging in delicious food.
We then wandered around the Rocks area popping into various art galleries and browsing the Rocks markets. It was the best weekend trip from Sydney without having to travel out of Sydney at all.
Newcastle – 170km, 2 hour drive
Recommended by Emma at My Rig Adventures
For a fantastic jam-packed weekend trip from Sydney, head north to the portside town of Newcastle. Being right by the ocean, you’ll find many water-themed activities, but don’t feel like you have to get your togs out if you don’t want to!
If you’re interested in some local history, make your way to Fort Scratchley, which overlooks the mouth of the harbor leading into the city of Newcastle. You can do the Tunnel Tour if you want to wander the fort like the soldiers once did.
There are multiple opportunities for swimming with plenty of beaches and two different ocean baths. One in Newcastle itself, plus another just down the road in Mereweather. For more of an adrenaline-rush swim, you should definitely visit the Bogey Hole. It’s a large ocean pool which was cut out of the rocks in 1819 for the Commandant at the time. Get ready for waves crashing into the rocks and a very unique swim!
Hidden out near Swansea is the popular Caves Beach. Check the local tide times and you’ll be able to wander through the seaside caves at low tide with no trouble. Take your camera for this one – they’re just gorgeous!
Other Newcastle sights to see:
- Nobbys Lighthouse
- Shipwreck Walk
- Mereweather Aquarium Walk
- Newcastle Museum
Newcastle is an easy 170km and 2 hour drive up the highway, north of Sydney. Check out these 12 free things to do in Newcastle for your weekend trip from Sydney.
Jervis Bay – 200km, 2 hour 30 minute drive
Recommended by Chris Fry, the Aquarius Traveller
Spend your next weekend trip from Sydney with a trip south to the beachside location of Jervis Bay. It’s only 200 kilometres and roughly 2.5 hours to get to this peaceful paradise, passing by several seaside towns along the way.
Getting there is easier with your own transport while giving you more flexibility to explore the surrounding areas. This means driving yourself or hiring a car for the weekend. However, there are options for bus transfers from Sydney, which take about 5 hours but limits how much you will be exploring.
There are about 100 square kilometres included in the Jervis Bay area and more than 10 different beaches. Additionally, you have many small towns to enjoy your own space and discover on your own. You’ll enjoy the many options for cafes and restaurants, which means you will never need to eat at the same place twice.
Jervis Bay’s accommodations options are available to suit the budget and style of every type of visitor. Anything from Bed and Breakfasts, cute little cottages, seaside houses, or waterfront resorts. Look out for special deals and surprise your family with this fantastic trip away.
Enjoy a romantic walk on the white sandy beaches, hike the surrounding bushland, visit a winery or spend your days swimming in the clear turquoise waters. Whatever the activity, you’ll enjoy your time away, as well as being excited and busy deciding on the options you have to discover Jervis Bay.
Hyams Beach – 190km, 2 hour 45 minute drive
Recommended by Luke at Wild About BC
There aren’t many things more enjoyable than a beach getaway for a couple of days, and there are few better places to do this than Hyams Beach. Hyams Beach is home to some of the whitest sand and bluest water that you will find anywhere in the world. It is an amazing beach to spend a couple of days relaxing on and you’ll want to make a trip down to Jervis Bay a regular thing.
Hyams Beach is 190 kilometres from Sydney and the drive should take 2 hours and 45 minutes, depending on the traffic. It is a small and quaint coastal community with not much in the way of shops or restaurants, but that is all part of the charm.
The highlight of any trip here is definitely time spent at the beach. It is incredible to walk along the white sand and look out into crystal clear blue water. While Hyams Beach is the main attraction, you can also take a walk along the White Sands Walk. This trail through the bush will take you along Chinamans Beach and to one of the hidden gems in the area, Greenfield Beach. There is a small area of reef along the rocky shoreline at the edge of the beach which is great for snorkelling.
The entire area of Jervis Bay is worth exploring, but Hyams Beach is definitely the most incredible beach in the area and where you will want to spend the majority of your time. The only downside of a trip here is that you’ll never look at another beach quite the same.
Kiama – 120km, 2 hour drive
Recommended by Paula at Sydney Expert
A two hour scenic drive south of Sydney is the National Trust listed town of Kiama. Visitors flock here to see the famous blowholes that shoot water high into the sky, and Cathedral Rocks, a stunning formation just north of the town centre. However, there are plenty more things to do in Kiama to make this pretty seaside town worthy of a day trip.
The fun starts on the journey down. Take the coast road from Sydney, also known as the Grand Pacific Drive, and enjoy ocean views and the stunning Sea Cliff Bridge.
A 21 kilometre coastal path starts just north of Kiama at Minnamurra and goes through town. You can tackle the full walk or choose to do just one of the three sections, allowing time to enjoy the cafes, galleries and small shops in town.
When hunger strikes, I recommend you pop into Otis Deli. The owner and head chef, Emily Herbert, worked at the award winning restaurant Ottolenghi in London. They have a great selection of salads and picnic-style food that is perfect for eating in the park. There is also a small dine-in area if you prefer to eat indoors. Alternatively, Penny Whistler is a lovely spot with stunning harbour views.
Port Stephens – 210km, 2 hour 30 minute drive
Recommended by Michael at Time Travel Turtle
Just on the other side of Newcastle, about 2.5 hours’ drive from Sydney, Port Stephens is easy to reach, but feels like a remote coastal escape. As a peninsula with a calm river on one side and rough ocean on the other, it offers plenty of variety. And the small communities spread along the stretch of land give it a relaxed village feel.
There are lots of things to do in Port Stephens, but much of it involves the water which surrounds the peninsula. There’s swimming, snorkelling, kayaking, and stand-up paddle boarding. You can also rent a boat and potter around to different beaches or go fishing. During the right season, there are tours to go whale-watching.
One of the most important parts of Port Stephens is Tomaree National Park, a nature reserve with a series of peaks along the coast with small beaches between them. There are some great hikes here up to the viewpoints.
Stockton Sand Dunes, stretching out for more than 30 kilometres, is another highlight. If you have a 4WD, you can get a pass to drive along the sand, but one of the most popular activities is a tour to go sandboarding down the dunes.
There are lots of great places to eat around Port Stephens. The Shoal Bay Country Club is good for every meal, while the Little Beach Boathouse is a bit more upmarket for lunch or dinner. Murray’s is known for its award winning craft beer but has an excellent food menu as well.
Wollongong – 95km, 1 hour 30 minute drive
Recommended by Christina at Travel2Next
One of the most accessible weekend trips from Sydney is a drive to the coastal city of Wollongong, which is the third-largest city in New South Wales. Wollongong is about an hour and a half’s drive south of Sydney (94 kilometres), and you can easily visit as a day trip, but there’s enough to see and do here to spend the weekend. It’s also known as “The Gong” or “The Steel City”. The name Wollongong comes from the Aboriginal word ‘woolyungah’, which means five islands.
It may be a smaller city than Sydney, but there are plenty of things to do in Wollongong for a fabulous weekend away. History lovers will want to visit the Illawarra Museum or the Illawarra Military Heritage Museum, offering glimpses of how life has changed over time. The Illawarra Performing Arts Centre is a fantastic venue for live theatre, music performances and dance classes.
“The Gong” is also known to be home to some excellent restaurants. Some favourites include Debutant for French soufflé, frites and excellent steak, Night Parrot Bar and Kitchen for an Asian-inspired menu and The Throsby.
This outdoor city has plenty of beaches and cafes where you can sit and enjoy water views. Wollongong is an excellent place to go if you love the beach as there are beaches right in the city, such as Wollongong City Beach and North Wollongong Beach.
For beachfront accommodation, try Novotel Wollongong Northbeach. If you love the water, Lake Illawarra is a fantastic place to go kayaking, sailing and stand-up paddle boarding. There are also trails around the lake for cycling or walking.
Blue Mountains – 62km, 1 hour drive
Recommended by Danielle from Stuff It Go Travelling.
After a stunningly scenic weekend trip from Sydney full of natural attractions, sights, outdoor activities, gorgeous guesthouses and galleries? Then you need to visit the Blue Mountains. Located west of Sydney, this charming country escape only takes an hour drive to get there (62 kilometres) via the M4.
Being so close to the ‘Harbour City’, it’s a popular weekend trip from Sydney for families and tourists as there are so many amazing things to do in the Blue Mountains. The moment you arrive, you’ll instantly feel recharged as you take in its relaxed atmosphere, gorgeous views, sights and natural offerings.
There are plenty of things to do in Blue Mountains covering everything from adventure and outdoor, spa and wellness, food and wine, shopping, art and culture to sightseeing.
Some of our top activities include soaking up the breathtaking views from the Three Sisters Lookout, exploring the Jenolan Caves, going hiking and waterfall chasing at Wentworth Falls. Embrace your inner-child at the Leuralla Toy and Railway Museum, or sample delicious wine and cheese platters at Dryridge Estate.
Also during your weekend trip, a popular cafe to visit is the Yellow Deli in Katoomba. It’s like stepping into The Hobbit movie, as it features beautifully handcrafted wooden decor, treehouse-style seating booths and a magnificent fireplace. It not only serves up a cosy and whimsical atmosphere, but you can sample their delicious sandwiches, soups, salads, breakfast dishes and juices / smoothies.
We know once you visit the Blue Mountains, it’ll have you itching to book another weekend trip away from Sydney in no time.
Kangaroo Valley – 160km, 2 hour 30 minute drive
Recommended by Natalie from Curious Campers.
Kangaroo Valley is 160 kilometres south of Sydney. It’s an ideal weekend trip from Sydney because it lends itself to as much activity or relaxing as you like. The drive takes 2 hours inland or 2.5 hours along the coast through Kiama. Accommodation options range from the lovely Bendeela campground and a couple of caravan parks, to any number of cute and cosy cottages.
If you are after a low key weekend, stroll along the historic main street with its many craft and food shops. The Friendly Inn is a great spot for lunch and we loved our dinner at the Valley Curry House. Drive into the valley through farmland to Yarrawa Estate Winery. Taste some wine and take in the views of the towering sandstone cliffs surrounding Kangaroo Valley.
Cambewarra Lookout is 15 minutes from Kangaroo Valley. There are breathtaking views to the south coast. There is a great café there with indoor / outdoor dining. It is the perfect place to take in the views. You might also meet the King Parrots that visit area.
For something more active, kayak down the Kangaroo River and immerse yourself in the bush and wildlife. Keep an eye out for the water dragons along the bank. If you want to stretch your legs, the West Rim Walk at Fitzroy Falls in Morton National Park has spectacular cliff and waterfall views. For something more leisurely, pack your clubs and play a round at the beautiful Kangaroo Valley Golf Resort.
Bowral – 120km, 1 hour 30 minute drive
Recommended by Emma from Emma Jane Explores.
The town of Bowral is one of the many jewels in the gorgeous Southern Highlands region of New South Wales, just under two hour’s drive from Sydney. Bowral is located 117 kilometres southwest of the CBD and is an easy weekend getaway to take at any time of year.
Bowral has so much to offer visitors. It is a foodie haven and is home to one of the best brunch spots in Australia, The Press Shop, which serves up incredible creations all day. The rhubarb waffles with honeycomb are definitely a must try. Bowral is also a key stop on the famous Southern Highlands Pie Trail, with several stores in town featured on the list of the best pies in the region.
Bowral is also home to the Don Bradman Museum as this is the town the cricketing great grew up in. If cricket is not your thing, a short drive up to Mount Gibraltar to get a view of the beautiful Southern Highlands landscape from above is a great idea instead.
Waterfall lovers will rejoice at the knowledge that there are fantastic waterfalls a short drive from Bowral to explore. In particular, Fitzroy Falls is a spectacular wall of water that gushes into the valley below with lovely walking trails around the perimeter.
Gerroa – 130km, 2 hour drive
Recommended by Sharyn from Live Work and Play in Australia.
Gerroa is a quiet little seaside village about 130 kilometres south of Sydney’s CBD. The drive can take around 2 hours to reach, but this does depend on which part of Sydney you are coming from. Often overshadowed by the local South Coast towns of Kiama, Gerringong and Nowra, Gerroa has a lot to offer those seeking a weekend, or longer, escape from city madness.
Gerroa sits at the north end of Seven Mile Beach that seems to stretch forever. The beach is great for swimming, surfing, fishing and all sorts of water sports. Behind the beach is an inlet and river for those with small kids and who do not want to jump in the surf, but want to kayak or stand-up paddle.
And here, at Seven Mile Beach, unbeknown to many, the beach is steeped in aviation history. It was along this stretch of the beach Sir Charles Kingsford Smith took off in his aircraft, the Southern Cross on January 11, 1933 bound for New Zealand. This history making Trans-Tasman crossing is commemorated at the Sir Charles Kingsford Smith Memorial Lookout which can be found across the road from the Fishermans Club, which, by the way, offers great meals and views over Gerroa. The memorial lookout at 1 Headland Drive has the shape of the Southern Cross on the ground in concrete and offers fabulous views over Gerroa, Seven Mile Beach and over to Mount Cambewarra.
Food is limited in Gerroa. There is a coffee shop, the Blue Swimmer, that is only open at certain times. There is also the Fisherman’s Club on Crooked River Road and the take-away shop at the local caravan park. For a nice meal, head into either Gerringong, Berry or Nowra.
If you are looking for a quiet beach weekend away from Sydney, Gerroa is probably the place for you.
Wollemi National Park – 280km, 4 hour 30 minute drive
Recommended by Cassie from Cassie The Hag Solo Travel Blog.
For a unique and nature-filled escape from Sydney, there are many outdoor activities and unique things to do in Wollemi National Park. This expansive park (it is over 500 thousand hectares to be exact) is around a 3 hour drive from Sydney. The distance is worth it to visit the largest wilderness area in New South Wales. Think canyons and valleys, hiking and canoeing, forests and mountains. However, 4WDs are recommended!
Fun activities here include the Glow-worm Tunnel Walking Track. At 400 meters long, you’ll need to take a torch, but be sure to switch your torch off and stay quiet once you’re inside the cave so you can see the glow worms. The one hour hike down from Wolgen Valley Carpark is also beautiful.
My favourite thing to do in Wollemi National Park was the fantastic Pagoda Lookout walk. This hike is only 1.25 kilometres each way but does mostly involve clambering up rocks so good shoes (and balance) are required. The walk begins at the Ganguddy-Dunns Swamp Campground which is also a fantastic place to stay in the area, with many hikes nearby, cool rock formations, and the chance to see wild platypus in the lake.
Canberra – 285km, 3 hour drive
Recommended by Clara from Petite Capsule.
Canberra is a fantastic destination for a weekend trip from Sydney. It is located 285 kilometres away and is an easy 3 hour drive. There is so much to do whether you are travelling with a baby and toddler, older kids, solo or as a couple.
There are many fantastic nature walks in Canberra. For a beautiful panoramic view of Canberra, nothing beats the Mount Ainslie Summit Trail. It is a moderate hike, with some steep parts. If you are walking around dawn or dusk, you may spot some kangaroos and wallabies. For an easy walk with possible Australian animal sightings, head to Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary. If you’re lucky you may see echidnas, shingleback lizards, kangaroos, and wallabies. Another easy walk is the bridge to bridge path around Lake Burley Griffin. Though instead of walking, you also have the option to hire a segway or bike.
Other key attractions in Canberra include Questacon, the National and Science Technology Centre. It has over eight interactive galleries and 200 science exhibitions. Great for adults and kids. Also, the Australian War Memorial should not be missed. It commemorates Australians who died in war or service. You can learn about World War One, World War Two, and other conflicts.
If you are looking for the best burger, locals love Brodburger. Flame grilled burgers with juicy patties, soft bread, and the best homemade aioli and tomato relish.
Palm Beach – 45km, 1 hour drive
Recommended by Victoria from Guide Your Travel.
Palm Beach is a little beach town located around 45 kilometres, or one hour by car, north of Sydney. It’s located at the tip of a peninsula so you can enjoy the stunning surf beach as well as the calm waters of the Pittwater Lagoon.
Palm Beach is a popular weekend getaway from Sydney and is the perfect escape from the city. There are lots of things to see and do, and plenty of little guest houses or hotels to choose from. There is also a camp ground if your budget is tight.
Take a ferry over to Great Mackerel Beach for a nice day-trip to the other side of the lagoon. Surfing is also an absolute must do and Palm Beach is the perfect spot to try.
One of the best things to do in Palm Beach is to go on a hike to the Barrenjoey Lighthouse. This is a beautiful lookout point at the tip of the peninsula with stunning views over one of the best beaches on the East Coast of Australia and lagoon. The hike is easy to manage and takes less than an hour.
If water sports aren’t your thing, why not relax by the beach, or have a snack at the Dunes Palm Beach. This is a beautiful restaurant which is also a great dinner spot.
In Summary – Best Weekend Trips from Sydney
There are so many places within a couple of hours drive from Sydney that are perfect for weekend getaways. No matter what your interests i.e. an outdoor lover who enjoys hiking, beach days, snorkelling, canoeing, and swimming in waterfalls, or if you prefer a city break where you can shop to your hearts delight, you should be able to find a weekend escape from the 14 best weekend trips from Sydney listed above.
Are you planning a weekend trip from Sydney? Have you visited one of the places listed above, or have we missed a place you love to visit? Post your tips and questions below.
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