Katoomba

With its roller coaster hills, main street lined with art deco buildings and jawdropping views of the mist-filled Jamison Valley, it’s little wonder Katoomba has been luring tourists for more than a century.  

Katoomba highlights

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Arguably the beating heart of the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains, Katoomba offers endless attractions, and a great way to get an overview is by jumping aboard the red double-decker Explorer Bus to visit the sights dotted along the escarpment – it departs from Katoomba every hour, and takes you to some of the region’s most dreamy destinations. Alternatively, travel in style in a chauffeured vintage car with Blue Mountains Vintage Cadillacs

One of the sights along your route will be the Three Sisters, a trio of weathered sandstone peaks formed thousands of years ago through erosion. Head to the Echo Point lookout for stunning views over the cliffs, towering over the Jamison Valley. From the lookout, you’ll be able to see the Ruined Castle and Mount Solitary. 

Family enjoying views across Blue Mountains National Park to the Three Sisters and Mount Solitary from Echo Point Lookout, Katoomba

Three Sisters, Blue Mountains

 

You’ll also glimpse the Sisters when you visit Scenic World. Jump aboard the world’s steepest passenger train, travelling from the escarpment down 310 metres into the forest on a 52-degree rail incline. At the base, a web of hiking trails explore the Jamison Valley rainforest. Take the train’s return trip, or catch the 510-metre Scenic Cableway back to the top. For an even more vertiginous experience, sign up for the Scenic Skyway, which glides between clifftops 270 metres above the valley floor. If you want to set your heart racing, try the Beyond Skyway experience: you clip in to a harness, open a hatch, and climb onto the roof of the Skyway to enjoy sunset colours over a mug of hot chocolate. On the return voyage, there’s champagne (for mum and dad) to toast your bravery.   

Cable car at Scenic World, Katoomba

Scenic World, Katoomba

Get back to nature on a hike 

Lace up your hiking shoes for the Charles Darwin walk, an easy 2.4-kilometre track that famous naturalist Charles Darwin once graced back in 1836. There’s plenty of opportunity to view wildlife like honeyeaters, wrens and black cockatoos, as well as beautiful rock pools and cascades.  

Experienced walkers will enjoy the challenge of walking down and back up Golden Stairs track. The 200m descent through multiple cliff bands offers fantastic views of Dogface Landslide and the Three Sisters, as well as Jamison Valley and Mount Solitary. If you have stamina, the 34km Mount Solitary walking track promises scenic mountain views, historic ruins and bush camping. On day one you’ll descend to the floor of Jamison Valley, where you can watch the sunset from atop the Ruined Castle rock formation and camp amid mining ruins from 1882.   

The Katoomba Falls Reserve Night-lit Walk offers a truly unique Blue Mountains bushwalking experience that’s suitable for all ages and abilities. At dusk until 11:00pm, floodlights and path lights illuminate this 1.5-kilometre track to give hikers a night-time viewing experience.  

You’ll take in views of amazing natural landmarks like Orphan Rock, Witches Leap, Katoomba Falls and Katoomba Cascades. At certain points you can also see the Three Sisters in full glow.  

Adrenaline junkies can sign up with companies like High and Wild Australian Adventures to explore the Katoomba countryside on thrilling abseiling, rock climbing and canyoning experiences. 

Art & culture 

With outstanding views of the valley, the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre is home to an interactive exhibit of local history as well as the Blue Mountains Art Gallery and Into the Blue, an interactive exhibition that explores the history and natural landscape of the Blue Mountains. 

The Street Art Walk reveals an edgier taste of local artistry, with colourful murals adorning Katoomba’s hidden laneways of Beverly Place. It’s a constantly evolving streetscape with works by the likes of Melbourne-based Matt Adnate, known for his graffiti portraits of global Indigenous peoples. 

Katoomba is also home to some of the mountains’ most vibrant festivals. The Winter Magic Festival packs out the main street as it celebrates winter and a quirky counterculture; while the Blue Mountains Music Festival features roots, blues and folk music from around the world. Check the events calendar for dates. 

Friends exploring the street art in Katoomba, Blue Mountains

Street Art, Katoomba


Restaurants, cafes and bars 

The restaurant and cafe scene in Katoomba has evolved into one celebrating not only fresh local produce, but also multi-cultural influences. Miss Lilian Teahouse serves Asian comfort food with a modern twist, while 8Things showcases street food from all around the world – it only serves eight dishes, each from a different country.  

Friends beer tasting at Anderson's Tours, Mountain Culture Beer Co., Blue Mountains

Anderson's Tours at Mountain Culture Beer Co., Blue Mountains - Credit: Mountain Culture Beer Co.

Cool bars such as Bootlegger Bar, Aunty Ed’s and the Mountain Culture Beer Co. craft brewery offer Sydney-worthy surrounds, each serving up creative cocktails as well as local beers and cider. For a beverage with a view, grab a seat in the alfresco courtyard at The Lookout near Echo Point. 

Friends watching a bartender create a cocktail at Bootlegger Bar, Katoomba

Bootlegger Bar, Katoomba

Browse the shops along Katoomba Street for fashion, local handicrafts, antiques and collectibles. Sample handcrafted Blue Mountains treats at the Blue Mountains Chocolate Company, or pop into the Carrington Cellars and Deli to taste the bounty of the Central Ranges region.  

Where to stay 

Looming regally over Katoomba’s main street is the grand Carrington Hotel, built in 1883 and dazzling with its stain glass Art Nouveau features – there are a host of restaurants and bars within, including Katoomba Brewing Co. Elegant Lilianfels Resort & Spa is another gracious historic building that offers luxury accommodation with spectacular views across the densely-carpeted valley. Check in to Kurrara, an historic guesthouse that capture’s the town’s golden years of travel. There are plenty of other accommodation options as well, from self-contained cottages to tourist parks and campgrounds.  

Exterior view of Lilianfels Resort & Spa, Katoomba in the Blue Mountains

Lilianfels Resort & Spa, Katoomba in the Blue Mountains

Getting there  

Katoomba is a 90min drive from Sydney via the M4 and the Great Western Highway, or a 2hr train ride from Central if you prefer to leave the car at home.  

Friends waiting for a train at Katoomba railway station, Katoomba

Katoomba railway station, Katoomba

Plan your trip

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