A scenic day trip to the Blue Mountains from Sydney
The Blue Mountains has everything you need for a perfect day trip: fresh air, good food and spectacular scenery for the ultimate selfie.
A day in the Blue Mountains region, just a short drive from Sydney CBD, is one of the best antidotes to bustling city life, with forested valleys unfolding under the famed blue haze and storybook villages to explore. Climb mountain trails to spy cascading waterfalls and iconic sandstone formations. Fuel up in countryside bakeries or sit and dine with a backdrop of flourishing wilderness, eucalypt forests and rocky inclines. Take the time to browse quaint towns rich in heritage and stop in local galleries, chocolate shops and more. The World Heritage Blue Mountains National Park is also home to the much-photographed sandstone formation, The Three Sisters – so don’t drive home without taking the time to marvel at this fascinating work of nature.
- Stop at an organic bakery for fresh pastries
- Hike along a bushland trail at night to see The Three Sisters illuminated
- Savour handmade chocolates in Leura
- Admire local art and take a treasure home
- Dine inside restored heritage eateries
The drive from Sydney to Katoomba is just 90min and trains regularly depart from Central Station. There are also local buses in the Blue Mountains that stop at some of the country’s most spectacular attractions. Trains depart from Central Station every hour and take about two hours to get to Katoomba.
As you drive out of Sydney towards the Blue Mountains, the Great Western Highway climbs beyond Penrith and into the mountains past charming towns including Springwood, Faulconbridge, Wentworth Falls and Leura. Make a stop at Lawson’s Black Cockatoo Bakery, which crafts artisan bread with organic stoneground flour, filtered water, sea salt and wild live cultures. Try the pastries with Pepe Saya butter and leave with extra treats for the road.
From Lawson, it's just a 10min drive past pristine bushland to Wentworth Falls Picnic Area, where you can walk to Wentworth Falls. Start at Jamison Lookout, which boasts a sweeping vista of Jamison Valley. Head along to the Wentworth Falls Track and down some log steps to Wentworth Lookout for waterfall glimpses, then seek out the sidetrack and descend the steps to Fletchers Lookout to get a view of the waterfall from up close.
The town of Leura is one of the prettiest in the area, with heritage homes and cool climate gardens. Pop into Josophan’s Fine Chocolates for pure Belgian drinking chocolate and handmade truffles, then visit Kate Soady Gallery in Leura Mall, a relaxing space where the Sydney-born artist shows her playful paintings and hand-crafted candles. Kate finds inspiration in the abundant bushland surrounding Leura and her paintings come to life with vibrant banksias, cockatoos and the natural spirit of the Blue Mountains.
From Leura, drive to Medlow Bath for a scrumptious lunch of comfort food with a seasonal twist at hip eatery, Tournament. Buy locally made produce off the shelves and indulge in specialty coffee inside this beautifully reimagined heritage space. After lunch, it’s time to take in the panoramic view from nearby Evans Lookout. Breath in the refreshing mountain air as you peer out towards the sandstone cliff wall of Grose Valley with Govetts Creek winding across the forested floor. From Evans Lookout, it’s easy to set out on the Grand Canyon Track, a magical trail past waterfalls, rock walls and pristine rainforest brimming with native plants.
If you have time, another top vantage point is Govetts Leap Lookout near Blackheath: one of the highest towns above sea level in the Blue Mountains. Govetts Leap is an impressive spot with breathtaking views of the blue gum forested valley, with bottlebrush, acacia and myrtle flowers dotted around. The Bridal Veil Falls is to the right and Pulpit Rock to the front.
One of the first breweries in the Blue Mountains — and now one of the top breweries in Australia — Mountain Culture Beer Co. in Katoomba is the perfect place to fuel up on gourmet burgers with award-winning small-batch beers for dinner. Chill out inside the restored heritage building, which has housed everything from a dance saloon to a local newspaper, and sip a flight of their much-loved beer with a classic beef burger or a tender buttermilk fried chicken burger.
Once the sun sets, explore the natural beauty of Katoomba with the new Katoomba Falls Reserve Night-lit Walk. At dusk, follow the trail of LED lights along the 1.3km walk and see illuminated cascades, rock walls and natural formations such as Orphan Rock. At certain vantage points you can spy the Three Sisters lit up under the night sky.