Sydney Harbour Bridge to South Head

Fast Facts

  • Distance and time: 18km one-way, eight hours
  • Level: Grade 3, Intermediate track. Bushwalking experience recommended. Not suitable for prams or wheelchair users. Track is long and there are gentle hills and some stairs.
  • Top attractions: Royal Botanic Garden, Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, Neilsen Park, Vaucluse House, Hornby Lighthouse
  • Pets and domestic animals are prohibited
  • Carry your own water bottle as there are not many drink stations and water fountains along the way
View of Sydney Harbour from Hornby Lighthouse, South Head, Sydney Harbour

The 18km walk to South Head is as much a celebration of Sydney as it is of the natural harbour, hugging the foreshore from the bridge through to the Royal Botanic Garden and the swanky suburbs of Double Bay and Vaucluse. The walk slices through Sydney Harbour National Park to Watsons Bay and South Head, the entrance to the harbour.

Start the Sydney Harbour Bridge to South Head walk under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the iconic landmark that looms over the harbour and lights up on New Year's Eve. The route snaking south includes elevated walkways, secret bush tracks, historic sites and secluded inlets with harbour views. 

Couple enjoying a morning of stand up paddleboarding at Watsons Bay in Sydney's eastern suburbs

Take a seat and enjoy the panoramic views from Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, a sandstone bench carved by convicts in 1810 in the Royal Botanic Garden for Governor Macquarie's wife Elizabeth. Refuel in Rose Bay at Ministry of Coffee at the ferry wharf or the family-friendly Sugar + Spoon Cafe overlooking picturesque Lyne Park.

Join the Hermitage Foreshore Walk in Vaucluse for more fresh air and great views. The foreshore walk, which winds through Sydney Harbour National Park, is where the bush meets the sea. Spot native wildlife in pristine pockets of bushland with great views of the harbour and nearby Shark Island.

Round the headland at Nielsen Park and take a dip in the swimming pool enclosure at Shark Beach or rest in the shade on the promenade. It's also worth veering to Vaucluse House, the 19th century home of colonial explorer William Wentworth. The mansion, with its original gardens and wooded grounds, is now a museum open daily.

Vaucluse house in Watsons Bay

Stop for a seafood lunch at legendary Doyles on the Beach at Watsons Bay, where a regular ferry service runs to and from Circular Quay. From here, follow the scenic South Head Heritage Trail as it loops around the headland, past light keepers’ cottages and historic 19th century gun placement sites that hug the cliffs.

The distinctive red and white Hornby Lighthouse at the tip of South Head was built in 1858 after the wrecking of The Dunbar, and marks the end of the epic coastal walk. It’s also the perfect vantage spot for whale watching in Sydney, with sweeping views across to North Head and over the Pacific.

Enjoy These Great Walks in Sydney