Manly Lagoon to North Head Walk

One of Sydney's most spectacular walking tracks, follow the Manly Lagoon to North Head Walk to discover beaches, cliffs, magnificent headlands and historic sites all on one stunning 10km loop. Linger longer in the area to make a day or weekend of it, enjoying pretty swimming spots and funky bars and restaurants. 



Fast facts

  • Distance and time: about 10km loop, allow 2.5 to 3 hours with lots of stops to take photographs. Note: There are more than 10km of easy walking tracks to explore once you arrive at North Head. 
  • Level: Grade 2 (easy to moderate). Suitable for most ages and fitness levels with occasional steep sections. Some segments are not suitable for prams or wheelchair users. 
  • Top attractions: Manly Beach, Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve, Fairfax Lookout, North Head Sanctuary Visitor's Centre, remnants of fortification at North Fort, Third Quarantine Cemetery and Spring Wildflower Walks. 
  • Do not bring pets. 
  • There are drinking fountains between Manly Beach and Shelly Beach. There is one fountain at North Head.   
Crowds enjoying a Summer's day at Manly Beach, Manly

Manly Beach, Manly

In a nutshell 

A walk along Sydney's headlands is a great way to take in the city's riches. Start the Manly Lagoon to North Head Walk at the placid lagoon near Queenscliff, which surrenders its waters to the Pacific. This coastal track includes towering cliffs, magnificent headlands and historic military sites and is one of Sydney's most spectacular. 

Queenscliff Tunnel (also known as The Wormhole) at sunrise, Manly

Queenscliff Tunnel, Queenscliff

Start exploring 

Start at the northern Queenscliff end of Manly Beach by Manly Lagoon and walk along this arc of beach towards the pretty inlet of Shelly Beach. Start your ascent to North Head on the path that starts from Shelly Beach parking lot and slices through the grey-green bushland of Sydney Harbour National Park

The Fairfax Walk at North Head offers spectacular views over Sydney Harbour Heads, which are rendered even more beautiful in the dramatic blush of dawn and dusk. This paved track starts at the end of North Head Scenic Drive and then loops around the top of North Head, passing by the historic Q Station

Q Station, Manly

Q Station, Manly

There are three lookouts here that provide idyllic views of Sydney's waterways and cityscape. Bring binoculars as it is also a popular whale-watching location during the migration seasons (from June to July and August to October). Look out for long-nosed bandicoots, New Holland honeyeaters and rainbow lorikeets. 

After completing the Fairfax Walk, you can continue on through North Head Sanctuary. The North Head Sanctuary Foundation offers Spring Wildflower Walks or you can take a tour of North Fort. Make your way back down to Manly and join the Manly Scenic Walkway, or take the Bluefish Track near Bluefish Point back to Shelly Beach. 

North Head Sanctuary, Manly

North Head Sanctuary, Manly - Credit: Mark Merton

Download a free map of the walking trail and local information. Public transport is readily available at regular intervals along the way, including the Manly Ferry, which takes you back to the city centre.

Places to eat & drink in Manly

Refuel before or after your hike at one of these fantastic restaurants, breweries or bars. 


Accommodation in Manly

Make a trip of your Manly adventure by staying overnight. 


Unexpected things to do in Manly

While in the area, be sure to check out these other fun experiences, including swimming spots and guided tours.