9 Coastal Walks in Sydney to Take Your Breath Away
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.
If you’re after a coastal walk in Sydney, check out our list of some of the very best this city has to offer.
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.
- Highlight: 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: 2-3hr
- Difficulty: Easy
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: 1hr 30min
- Difficulty: Easy
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: 3hr 45min
- Difficulty: Medium – some short steep hills
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: 30min-1hr
- Difficulty: Easy – the path is mostly covered by a flat boardwalk with some stairs
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: 1hr 30min-2hr 30min
- Difficulty: Medium
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: 1hr
- Difficulty: Medium/Difficult
- Cost: Park entry fee is $12 per vehicle
Botany Bay Coastal Walk
For those looking to explore the southern coastlines of Sydney, there’s no better place to start than in The Shire. The Botany Bay Coastal Walk is a 12.7km track in Kurnell within the Kamay Botany Bay National Park. The walk follows the coastline on the service trail, beginning at the end of Polo Street and following the clifftops in Kurnell all the way to Cronulla, where you can dive straight into its beautiful ocean pools.
Along the way you’ll encounter some incredible views of the ocean and coastal cliffs from sandy bush track, as well as Cape Baily Lighthouse. Built in 1950, this lighthouse is still active today and is the beacon of Botany Bay, guiding northbound ships along this beautiful stretch of coastline.
- Highlights: Explore the hanging swamps of Botany Bay, which are home to a number of different native plants and wildlife. These swamps are formed when rainfall from surrounding hills accumulates and forms a swamp on high ground, often covered by reeds and other plant life.
- Distance: 12.7km one way
- Duration: 4hr 15min
- Difficulty: Difficult – sandy bush trails, some sections unmarked and rugged
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: 30min
- Difficulty: Moderate – steep track
- Cost: Parking fees apply at the carpark
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.