The Best Summer Day Trips Out of Sydney
Blowholes, bush walks, cycle trails and vineyard picnics are only a short drive away.
February 03, 2023
You've got two days off and the weather is set to be stunning — clearly, the travel gods are calling you away for an epic day trip out of Sydney.
And when your starting location is Sydney, you've got a wealth of places to visit within a few hours' drive. Whether you fancy lounging the afternoon away at a pool, working up an appetite on a countryside cycle trail or seeking out the freshest seafood on the coast, there are plenty of spots calling out. It's time to load up the car, book a GoGet or hop on the train and escape the big city.
Read on to find ten of the best outposts that deliver everything you want from a day trip out of Sydney.
Next time you're looking to head out of Sydney, head to Concrete Playground Trips to explore a range of holidays curated by our editorial team. We've teamed up with all the best providers of flights, stays and experiences to bring you a series of unforgettable trips in destinations all over the world.
FOR ART AND SURFING: NEWCASTLE
Downtown Newcastle is brimming with culture and it's only a stone's throw from the sea. The CBD has independent retailers, small bars and restaurants that rival the likes of most Australian capital cities. If you arrive early, settle among the bright tiles, artworks and plants of Ground Up Espresso in Carrington, a waterfront suburb on Newcastle Harbour's north shore — or save yourself for a five-course meal at hatted restaurant Subo. Booze your afternoon away at Newie's local brewery, The Foghorn, or soak up some sun at one of the beachside pubs, like Mereweather Surfhouse.
Or if you want to experience spectacular locally sourced produce with an unbeatable view over Newcastle, try the Roundhouse. Wherever you end up during your day trip, the waterfront is never more than a nip away, with the tranquil stillness of Newcastle Harbour on one side and surf beaches on the other. Go for a dip at the famed Newcastle Ocean Baths and, if you're able to hang around until sunset, finish your day with a stroll along the spectacular ANZAC Memorial Walk.
Newcastle is two hours drive or three hours by train north of Sydney.
FOR SEAFOOD AND SWIMS: WOY WOY
When you want to get out of Sydney for a coastal day trip — but don't want to drive too far — the Central Coast is your best bet. And, just 75 minutes in a car or the train will get you to the quaint seaside town of Woy Woy. Here, you can have a seaside feast at Woy Woy Fisherman's Wharf then head over to Frankie's Rooftop for a spritz. Or, if you're more into pasta than seafood, you can head to Young Barons for lunch — it's an absolute win.
If you've got a car, make a detour to the nearby Bouddi Coastal Trail — the eight-kilometre hike winds past plenty of lookouts and beaches. Pack your snorkelling gear, too — we recommend heading to the sheltered Lobster Beach, keeping an eye out for dolphins.
Woy Woy is a 75-minute drive or 80-minute train ride from Sydney.
FOR POOLSIDE RELAXING: PORT STEPHENS
Port Stephens lucked out when Bannisters arrived back in 2018, bringing a luxurious hotel and, most importantly, a Rick Stein restaurant. And what better way to shake off the big smoke than by sitting in a breezy space, overlooking still water, and working your way through Coffs Harbour prawns, or Singapore chilli blue swimmer crab?
Beyond that, Port Stephens offers plenty of outdoor escapades, from its 26 beaches to camel riding and sandboarding down the Southern Hemisphere's biggest sand dunes. We also highly recommend a stay at the Hampton-style boutique hotel, Anchorage Port Stephens, where waterfront decadence is the name of the game.
Port Stephens is a three-hour drive north of Sydney.
FOR BOATING AND BUSHWALKING: BEROWRA
The stunning hamlet of Berowra is literally encircled by natural beauty — it's within Berowra Valley National Park, with Cowan Creek and Berowra Creek running either side of the suburb. If you're driving, get your bearings with a stop at Barnetts Lookout. After a wander around Berowra Village, head to Berowra Waters for ferry rides, a spot of kayaking, nature walks and some lazy riverside reading. If you're looking to add a dose of luxury to your stay, make a booking for a hatted feast at Berowra Waters Inn.
Berowra is a 45-minute drive or an hour-long train journey from Sydney CBD.
FOR HIKES AND BRUNCH: PEARL BEACH AND PATONGA
Unlike so many coastal areas, Pearl Beach is fiercely protected from development. Just 500 or so residents live here and, because the village is National Trust-listed, further construction is banned. It truly is a world of its own, perched on a picturesque beach and surrounded by bushland. You can spend your days dissolving into sand and sea, or, if you want a work out, take on the Pearl Beach to Patonga walk.
At the other end, you'll find the Boathouse Hotel, where you can tuck into seafood plates, crumbed dory burgers and buckets of prawns (and even stay the night if you don't feel like driving home after all that). Meanwhile, back in Pearl Beach, there's hatted restaurant Pearls on the Beach and, for more casual fare, the Pearl Beach Cafe and General Store.
Pearl Beach is a 90-minute drive north of Sydney.
FOR CASCADES AND BLOSSOMS: LEURA AND KATOOMBA
If Katoomba is the busiest village in the Blue Mountains, Leura is the prettiest — making the neighbouring towns the perfect places to visit on a day trip out of Sydney. For great coffee, head to Frankly My Dear on Katoomba's main drag.
A little later on, you can treat yourself at 8 Things — a small restaurant with a capacity of just 10 people and just eight dishes on the menu, each one representing a different country. You've got to see the sights, too — the fairy-like Leura Cascades are lovely for cooling off on a warm day, and be sure to take a final peek of the Three Sisters at sunset.
Leura is a 90-minute drive or two-hour train ride from Sydney.
FOR A COOL COUNTRY CHANGE: BOWRAL
When you fancy a cooler climate, jump on the highway to Bowral. Found in the Southern Highlands — 600 metres above sea level — this pretty country town is usually a few degrees cooler than Sydney. Over the past few years, several new eateries have opened up, including The Mill Cafe, set inside an 1885 building shared with start-ups and small businesses; and Harry's on Green Lane, a welcoming bar, where you can sit in a citrus grove, while sipping on local cool-climate wines and sharing fancy plates.
Another culinary highlight of the town is idyllic cafe The Press Shop, which is located right next to the mega antique store Dirty Janes. This expansive warehouse is an emporium of vintage fashion, homewares and collectables. You'll discover something new-to-you on every visit.
Bowral is a 90-minute drive southwest of Sydney.
FOR LOOKOUTS AND CYCLING: WOLLONGONG
If diverse, sandy adventures are crucial to your day-tripping joy, Wollongong's your destination. No fewer than 17 beaches line the coast. To get some invigorating perspective, visit one or all of the six local lookouts. If you're keen to work up a sweat, the waterfront Thirroul to Port Kembla cycle path will keep you busy (and you can have a swim at the end), or take on the Mount Kembla hike.
When you're ready to eat and drink, head to the North Wollongong Hotel's leafy beer garden or Five Barrel Brewing for a cold one, Babyface Kitchen for a fancy feed and finish your night at one of the city's many live music venues like La La La's. Novotel Wollongong Northbeach is a great place to stay, too.
Wollongong is a 90-minute drive or a two-hour train ride directly south of Sydney.
FOR BLOWHOLES AND ROCK POOLS: KIAMA
When the southeast wind is blowing strong, Kiama's blowhole is at its most powerful. The wind sends waves into the rock aperture, compressing air and sending a spectacular spout into the air. Few people know there's a second, albeit smaller, blowhole found a few minutes drive south, in Tingira Crescent, aptly named Little Blowhole. Swimmers and surfers, you have your decision-making cut out for you, from one of Kiama's ocean pools or pick a spot along the long, wild stretch of Bombo Beach.
Kiama's main street is laden with cafes, ice creameries and restaurants and, if you have enough time, side trips to the satellite villages of Gerringong (to the south) and Jamberoo (inland) are worthwhile. Kiama is clearly one of our favourite day trip destinations out of Sydney, but we recommend you stay longer — if you can get the time off.
Kiama is a two-hour drive or a nearly three hour train ride from Sydney.
FOR WINE AND RIVERSIDE PICNICS: POKOLBIN
For a day trip that involves wine tasting, rolling paddocks and maybe some cycling, make tracks to Pokolbin in the Hunter Valley. The locality is dotted with cellar doors, vineyards and restaurants. If you're keen to get on two wheels as soon as possible, hire an e-bike from Sutton Estate and conquer the Hunter Valley Cycleway, which tours a dozen wineries and a microbrewery. Alternatively, just settle in for a long lunch at the wine lover's playground, Brokenwood Wines, or linger over a salumi and cheese platter in a converted church at Usher Tinkler Wines.
Pokolbin is a two-hour drive northwest of Sydney.
Top image: Patonga Boathouse.
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