6 incredible road trips from Sydney
Looking to get out of the city for the day on a scenic road trip? From beautiful beaches to charming country towns, world-renowned wine regions to World Heritage-listed national parks, we have you covered.
For families: Blue Mountains
Travelling with young children in tow? We know what that’s like. To save you the grumbling, complaints and “are-we-there-yets” that arise from long car rides with active critters, we recommend driving up to the Blue Mountains – just 90min from Sydney. Replete with dramatic scenery, lookouts and nature trails, the Blue Mountains will take your breath away.
Head to Scenic World in Katoomba to admire the iconic Three Sisters rock formation, and kids will absolutely love riding the Scenic Cableway. For a good dose of ecotherapy for the whole family, head to the Grand Canyon Track – easily the most impressive walking trail in all of the Blue Mountains where you’ll be fully immersed within lush rainforests and tumbling waterfalls. You can also visit the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden at Mount Tomah, nestled within a UNESCO World Heritage site with walking trails suitable for all ages, and home to more than 400 different plant species.
For adventure seekers: Port Stephens
Fans of the great outdoors must have Port Stephens on their list. A 2.5hr drive from the centre of Sydney, this destination is known for having the largest moving coastal sand dunes in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s also the dolphin capital of Australia – home to over 140 bottlenose dolphins! A requisite experience is with Sand Dune Adventures, where thrill-seekers go quad biking on the Stockton Sand Dunes, you’ll also have the opportunity to learn about Australia’s indigenous history and traditional foods.
If that’s not enough, you can also take a kayak out to explore the pristine waters of Shoal Bay and enjoy diverse marine life as well as get up close and personal with wild dolphins. Make the trek to Tomaree Head Summit, where between April to November, it’s the perfect lookout as majestic whales migrate along Port Stephens’ beautiful coastline.
For gourmands: Hunter Valley
Did you know that the ultimate foodie paradise is just 2.5hr away from Sydney? The Hunter Valley is Australia’s oldest wine-producing region, and is also renowned for being a gastronome’s haven. Leogate Estate is a must-see, boasting 50 hectares of vineyard that produce some of the finest chardonnay, semillon and shiraz in New South Wales. Oenophiles would also appreciate a trip down to Audrey Wilkinson for a wine-tasting session or even spend the night at The Mulberry Cottage for a lovely B&B experience.
New-age drinkers should stop by Tamburlaine Organic Wines, Australia's largest independent organic wine producer. We also recommend making a reservation at two-hatted Muse Restaurant located at the entrance to Pokolbin for a curiously delicious combination of indigenous-Asian cuisine – you want gourmet? You got it.
For nature lovers: Grand Pacific Drive
If you’re keen to see and experience Australian wildlife and scenic coastal views like no other, the Grand Pacific Drive is perfect for you. This is a great route to follow for a day trip out of Sydney if you’re looking to maximise on time spent in the great land Down Under. Start your adventure at the Royal National Park – home to coastal cliffs, secluded beaches and bushland. You can get a slice of NSW’s sweeping coastline at the Wedding Cake Rock, which – as its name describes – looks just like a slice of wedding cake. (Make sure to stay behind the fence for your own safety). If you’re there a little later in the evening, we recommend making the trek to Eagle Rock to catch the sunset and soak in its magical views.
Snaking along the majestic waters of the Pacific is the world-famous Sea Cliff Bridge, another worthy stop to take for a photogenic road trip to remember. This bridge is an amazing vantage point to observe startling sea life below including massive manta rays and an array of water birds. Other fantastic stops along the Grand Pacific Drive include the Kiama Blowhole, one of the world’s largest blowholes written about by British explorer George Bass in the year 1797. And don’t miss Jervis Bay, great for observing whale and dolphin migrations, snorkelling, scuba-diving and paddle boarding on crystal blue waters.
For happy campers: Glenworth Valley
There’s no better way to connect with the great outdoors than camping in unspoilt nature. For camping enthusiasts, we suggest taking an easy hour’s drive north of Sydney down to the lush Glenworth Valley. From glamping in style in luxurious, spacious tents to reconnecting in secluded cabins with spectacular views of the valley or pitching a tent by gorgeous rivers the true blue camper’s way, Glenworth Valley is the quintessential camping ground for families and groups of friends.
This destination is also one of Australia’s largest horse riding and outdoor adventure centres, replete with many activities such as quad biking and kayaking for a truly memorable camping experience. Make sure not to miss the running of the horses – an iconic moment where you can observe a whopping 200 horses rush across the valley’s horse-riding yards every afternoon.
For a local secret: Wollondilly Shire
Locals wanting to escape Sydney for a day have perhaps never considered a scenic drive to the Wollondilly Shire. But this hidden gem is brimming with fun – think hot air balloon rides, bushwalks, boutique stores and plenty of baked goods. Add the charming small towns of Picton, Thirlmere, The Oaks, Appin and Wilton – all just an hour's drive from the CBD – to your road trip itinerary and start exploring.
Highlights include stopping in classic country bakeries for a handmade pie or sausage roll, such as Appin Bakery, DeliciousLeigh Cakes in Thirlmere and Picton's La Crema Cafe; enjoying a beer and a schnitty in the sunshine at George IV Inn, one of Australia's oldest pubs; marvel at the feat of engineering that is Cataract Dam and the heritage-listed Stonequarry Creek Railway Viaduct; embark on a nature hike at Thirlmere Lakes National Park; and embrace your inner adrenaline junkie by getting a bird's-eye view of the region either with Balloon Aloft Camden or Sydney Skydivers.