9 Sydney coastal walks to take your breath away

Travel alert: Clifftop Walkway upgrade works

From April 2023, Waverley Council is upgrading sections of the boardwalk along the Clifftop Walkway at Dover Heights and Vaucluse to make it safer and more enjoyable for all users. This area forms part of the Federation Cliff Walk. The Diamond Bay Boardwalk will be upgraded first, followed by Eastern Reserve. These areas will be completely closed to the public during construction.

Nothing quite soothes the mind, body and soul like the fresh ocean breeze. One of the greatest pleasures of living in Sydney is our world-famous beaches, beautiful weather and amazing views of the Pacific. Luckily for us, there are so many spectacular coastal walks that traverse this beautiful coastline to take advantage of.

Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk

Region: Eastern Suburbs         

Perhaps one of the most iconic and popular attractions in Sydney is the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk. This is one of the top coastal walks Sydney has to offer, taking in the best of the city’s beaches, clifftops and uninterrupted views of the ocean. Begin your walk at Bondi Icebergs swimming club, one of Sydney’s most Instagrammed locations, overlooking the beloved Bondi Beach. Continue along the coastline, passing by Tamarama Beach, Bronte Beach, Clovelly Beach, Gordon’s Bay and finally Coogee, all the while surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery you can imagine.

  • Highlights: The golden sand and vibrant blue waters of the many beaches along this walk are not to be missed. With breathtaking views whichever way you look, there’s no better place for a coastal walk.
  • Distance: 6km one way
  • Duration: Two to three hours
  • Difficulty: Easy

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Family enjoying the Bondi to Coogee walk in Sydney East

Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk, Sydney East

Federation Cliff Walk

Region: Dover Heights

The Federation Cliff Walk is a 5km coastal trail between Dover Heights and Watsons Bay, and it’s the perfect walk for anyone looking for uninterrupted, panoramic views of the ocean. This coastal walk boasts dramatic views of Sydney’s sandstone cliffs as well as Sydney icons such as Macquarie Lighthouse and The Gap – a remarkable lookout sitting high on the ocean cliff with roaring waves crashing underneath.

You can begin this walk in Dover Heights at Raleigh Reserve, strolling through the grassy park until you reach a wooden boardwalk that follows the coastline. Continue along to Diamond Bay Reserve, an Instagrammer’s paradise with picturesque views. End your walk at Watsons Bay in time for lunch by the water at Watson's Bay Boutique Hotel or Doyle's on the Beach.

  • Highlights: Make sure to keep your eyes peeled as whales are known to pass by this spot during migration season in June and July.
  • Distance: 5km one way
  • Duration: 1.5 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy

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The Gap, Watsons Bay

The Gap, Watsons Bay

Spit Bridge to Manly Walk

Region: Manly

This 10km coast walk runs between Manly Wharf and Spit Bridge at Middle Harbour. There’s something for everyone along the way as it offers not only spectacular views of the harbour and ocean but ventures through pockets of subtropical rainforest and native bush habitat plus the Sydney Harbour National Park. While many choose to end their walk at Spit Bridge to make the most of the usually uncrowded nearby beaches, others finish at Manly where there’s an endless array of food and drinks to choose from (and a ferry to catch back to the CBD).

Whichever direction you decide to take, you’ll be greeted with sweeping views of the ocean and Sydney Harbour. Other notable sites along this coastal walk include Grotto Point Lighthouse, Clontarf Beach, Reef Beach and Crater Crove, as well as the Aboriginal rock carvings at Castle Rock Beach.

  • Highlights: If you fancy a quick dip to cool off during your walk, stop by Fairlight Rock Pool. This family-friendly rock pool is tucked away at Fairlight Beach, sheltered from the harbour swell and is a great spot to relax in the clear, calm waters.
  • Distance: 10km one way
  • Duration: Three to four hours
  • Difficulty: Medium – some short steep hills

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Friends enjoying a walk along Forty Baskets Beach, Balgowlah

Friends enjoying a walk along Forty Baskets Beach, Balgowlah

Hermitage Foreshore Walk

Region: Rose Bay and Vaucluse

The Hermitage Foreshore Track is a beautiful coastal walk that can be found right on Sydney Harbour and offers stunning views of the water and Sydney’s biggest landmarks. This walk is a hidden gem compared to more popular Sydney coastal walks like Bondi to Coogee, usually with much less foot traffic.

Here you’ll find a unique perspective of the harbour and catch views of Shark Island and the heritage-listed Strickland House, a gorgeous Victorian Italianate style mansion dating back to the 1850s. Discover a number of hidden beaches along the way such as Milk Beach, Queens Beach, Hermit Beach, Tingara Beach and Shark Bay as well as Steele Point Lookout and Ralph Newboult Lookout. These treasures are well worth the hike!

  • Highlights: Stop off at Nielsen Park and enjoy a waterside picnic at this netted beach with lots of grass to spread out a picnic blanket. If you forgot to pack snacks, don’t fret... Nielsen Park Cafe is open daily and offers a wide range of meals and hot food.
  • Distance: 1.8km one way
  • Duration: 30 minutes to one hour
  • Difficulty: Easy – the path is mostly covered by a flat boardwalk with some stairs

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Friends enjoying walk along Milk Beach on the Hermitage Foreshore Track, Vaucluse

Milk Beach, Vaucluse

Bradley's Head to Chowder Bay Walk

Region: Bradley’s Head

This pleasant coastal walk is one of Sydney’s hidden gems and offers picture-perfect views of the city’s most famous landmarks – the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House. The walk follows the coast, starting from Taronga Zoo and ending at the beautiful beach and cafes of Chowder Bay, weaving around the harbour headlands and offering unparalleled views of the harbour, including South Head, Shark Island, Bradley's Head and Rose Bay.

If that’s not enough, you’ll also see Bradley’s Head Amphitheatre, a terraced amphitheatre with breathtaking views of the water, as well as the 19th-century convict-built military relics that still lay there today.

  • Highlights: Clifton Gardens Reserve and Chowder Bay are great places to stop for a picnic and make the most of the netted swimming enclosure, fenced playground, change rooms and excellent barbecue facilities. If picnics aren’t your thing, you can always stop by Ripples Chowder Bay, Athol Hall Cafe or the kiosk at Clifton Gardens for refreshments.
  • Distance: 4km one way
  • Duration: 1.5 to 2.5 hours
  • Difficulty: Medium

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Bundeena to Wedding Cake Rock (The Coast Track)

Region: Royal National Park

The Bundeena to Wedding Cake Rock coastal walk is truly a slice of paradise. This walk makes up just one section of the 26km Coast Track that runs along the sandstone cliffs of the Royal National Park. Starting at Beachcomber Avenue in Bundeena, the trail traverses over sand, rock and bush as it hugs the ocean coastline. The trail is full of stunning scenery, flowers and wildlife. Make sure to pack water, snacks and sun protection as the trail is quite isolated with little shade and no facilities.

  • Highlight: The obvious highlight of this walk is none other than Wedding Cake Rock itself, a white sandstone formation that stands out against the coastal cliffs. It owes its name to the unique colour and sharp edges, which resemble a slice of white wedding cake. Though it may be tempting to wander to its edge for a snap, please remain behind the fence for your own safety due to the high risk of collapse.
  • Distance: 3.5km one way
  • Duration: One hour
  • Difficulty: Medium/difficult
  • Cost: Park entry fee is $12 per vehicle

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People walking the Bundeena to Wedding Cake Rock coastal walk, Royal National Park

Bundeena to Wedding Cake Rock walk, Royal National Park - Credit: DPE

Cape Baily Walking Track

Region: Cronulla

If you love exploring cliff tops, rock formations, and ocean views but you’ve already tried most of the harbour and beach walks, try the Cape Baily Walking Track. Start at Cape Solander in the Kurnell area of Kamay Botany Bay National Park, and enjoy spectacular views of the ocean from the dramatic sandstone cliffs, before reaching Cape Baily Lighthouse. Afterwards, head to Cronulla to refuel at one of its many cafes and restaurants, or take a swim at the beach.

  • Highlights: Cape Baily Lighthouse and whale watching opportunities.
  • Distance: 8km return
  • Duration: Depending on how much time you’ve got, either do the shorter 4km one-way walk finishing at Potter Point, or the 8km return walk, which takes about three hours.
  • Difficulty: Easy/medium – this peaceful walk is great for most visitors, especially those who love the great outdoors.

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Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk

Region: Northern Beaches

The views along Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk are so unbelievable, it’s hard to fathom that you’re only an hour away from Sydney’s CBD. Barrenjoey Lighthouse is set 91m above sea level at Sydney’s famous Palm Beach, which also happens to be where they film Home and Away. It's no wonder they chose this spot with its unforgettable views of Broken Bay, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and the Central Coast.

It’s a short but steep walk to the very top but what awaits you at the end is well worth it. The walk starts at the carpark on Station Beach and you can either take the Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk to the top or, if you’re after a harder workout, try the Smuggler’s Track.

  • Highlights: There’s no doubt the scenery at the top of this walk is the cherry on top. The views of the peninsula are nothing short of spectacular.
  • Distance: 1km one way
  • Duration: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: Moderate – steep track
  • Cost: Parking fees apply at the carpark

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Couple enjoying a scenic coastal hike on the Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk in Palm Beach, Sydney

Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk in Palm Beach, Sydney

South Head Heritage Trail

Region: Watsons Bay

If views of the harbour, beaches, migrating whales and historical landmarks are what you’re after, then you’ll find just that and plenty more along South Head Heritage Trail. This coastal walk explores the tip of Sydney’s South Head and combines the leafy green nature with dazzling water views.

Starting at Camp Cove, make your way along the 1870s cobbled sandstone path towards the historical cannon and gun emplacements dating back to the 1800’s. Continue your way down to Lady Bay Beach, one of the very few legal nudist beaches left in Sydney and home to some fantastic views of the harbour and the city skyline. Next stop is the Hornby Lighthouse. This distinct, candy-striped lighthouse offers 180-degree views of Sydney and is a picture-perfect spot.

  • Highlights: Stop off at Doyle’s on the Beach or Watsons Bay Hotel for lunch and really sit back and enjoy the scenery.
  • Distance: 1km loop
  • Duration: 30 minutes to one hour
  • Difficulty: Easy

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Camp Cove, Watsons Bay

Camp Cove, Watsons Bay