Sydney, resplendent day or night, is easy to love. Built around a spectacular harbour and fringed by glorious beaches and bays, the city pulsates with energy and bustles with activity. But when you need to step away from all the hubbub, there’s plenty of quiet, tranquil escapes — hinterlands, mountains, beaches, vineyards — just an hour or two from the city. This is our list of the best locations for a weekend getaway from Sydney.
Style: Summer Playground
Distance: 1-1.5 hours from Sydney CBD
Attractions: Palm Beach, Barrenjoey Lighthouse, Palm Beach Golf Course, Hawkesbury River Cruises, Home and Away Tour
Popularly known as the set of iconic Australian television soap Home and Away, Palm Beach is a long and lovely paradise at the exclusive end of Sydney’s Northern Beaches, fringed by the surf on one side and a tranquil strip on the other, where the calmer strands are perfect for young kids. This amazing area offers plenty of activities and unique experiences that will keep couples and families entertained, such as kayaking, river cruising, and whale watching.
The Blue Mountains
Style: Mountain Adventure
Distance: 1.5 hours from Sydney CBD
Attractions: Three Sisters Rock Formation, Jenolan Caves, Scenic World, Waradah Aboriginal Centre, National Parks
Surrounded by spectacular scenery and fresh mountain air, the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains are perfect for those who want to relax and unwind in tranquility. This idyllic destination also offers numerous exhilarating activities, including rock climbing and abseiling, guided walks to waterfalls and cliff top lookouts, and even learning about the region’s ancient Indigenous heritage.
Style: Seaside Sojourn
Distance: 1.5 hours from Sydney CBD
Attractions: Gosford Classic Car Museum, Bouddi National Park Coastal Walk, Glenworth Valley, Beachfront Cafés
Drive an hour and a half north of Sydney and you’ll discover a great destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers. The NSW Central Coast is a region brimming with picturesque landscapes, pristine beaches, and exciting outdoor activities. Coastal towns such as Terrigal and Avoca are the places to go for those looking to relax by the seaside, enjoy scenic coastal walks, and explore the vibrant food scene.
Style: Scenic Coastal Retreat
Distance: 1.5-2 hours from Sydney
Attractions: Montague Island, Jervis Bay, Royal National Park, Kangaroo Valley, Ben Boyd National Park, Eden, Mystery Bay, Kiama Blowhole
Drive down the coast south of Sydney and you’ll find some of the most amazing scenery and white-sand beaches in the country. The South Coast boasts plenty of activities that will keep you busy for days, including swimming with seals, dolphin and whale watching, as well as ziplining and surfing. If you’re not the adventurous type, you’ll enjoy visiting the region’s national parks, and the excellent food and wine scene. Tour the microbreweries, gourmet restaurants, and feast on fresh local produce or catch of the day.
Style: Food and Adventure Weekender
Distance: 2.5 hours from Sydney
Attractions: Barrington Tops, Devil’s Hole, Thunderbolt Lookout, Hunter Valley Gardens, Hunter Valley Golf and Country Club, Tyrell’s Vineyard
Just 2 hours north of Sydney is one of Australia’s premier wine and food destinations. Featuring more than 150 excellent wineries and cellar doors you can tour, as well as upscale restaurants, the Hunter Valley attracts more visitors than any other wine region in the country. That’s probably because it also offers a myriad of other activities, including hot air ballooning, open-air concerts and festivals, golfing, and spa treatments. It’s a fabulous weekend getaway for couples and even families.
Style: Relaxing Hinterland Escape and Seaside Adventure
Distance: 4.5 Hours from Sydney
Attractions: Nelson Bay, Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour, Myall Lakes National Park, Crowdy Bay National Park, Dorrigo National Park, Port Stephens
If you don’t mind driving a bit further, you will love what the Mid-North Coast of NSW has to offer. Explore its lush river valleys, uncrowded beaches, and dramatic hinterlands. Join a cruise to see the whales and dolphins, or snorkel and dive to view the region’s teeming marine life. Drive down the Legendary Pacific Coast route, through national parks, verdant forests, and quaint towns and villages. Or try something new like sand-boarding on the largest moving sand dunes in the Southern Hemisphere.
Style: City Staycation
Distance: 0-30 Minutes from Sydney CBD
Attractions: Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, The Royal Botanic Garden, Word-Class Dining, Theatre & Entertainment
Sometimes, there’s no need to head far just to enjoy a weekend getaway. Surrounded by breathtaking landscapes and stunning attractions, Sydney offers a myriad of delightful activities that will certainly excite just about everyone throughout the year. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing time on the beach, craving for exceptional cuisines and world-class wines, or getting a taste of the local attractions, you can have it all in your own backyard.
Looking For More Options?
If you’re happy to drive a bit further, we have some of the best boutique hotels, holiday homes and luxury retreats available across New South Wales. Each of these amazing retreats promises a perfect weekend escape from Sydney.
Images Credit: Tourism Australia