Escaping Sydney might sound like a strange desire – she’s such a beautiful city. But like anywhere, the need to get away from it all is still there. Here are our top 9 easy Sydney weekend getaways.
Christina and I love a road trip. We love Sydney too, but thankfully the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive. There are a host of destinations just up the road from the Harbour City that lure us out of our day-to-day regularly.
So if you’re looking for somewhere to get away from the busy life of Australia’s biggest city, or if you just want to see a bit more of New South Wales, here are our top tips that won’t take you a lifetime to get to.
9 easy Sydney weekend getaways
1. Bundeena: beaches, national parks and plenty of space
55km – 1hr 20min from Sydney
Credit: Andrew Beeston
This little-known gem of Sydney’s south is a must if you’re in Sydney for the summer. The drive there is beautiful through the Royal National Park. Or you can catch the ferry from Cronulla.
This is a very chilled out little tucked-away town. The little string of shops and cafes has all you need to stock up for a weekend away.
There are two beaches in Bundeena. Visitors all head to Main Beach near the town, but score a spot round the corner on Jibbons Beach and you’ll be in with the locals. Alternatively, there are surf beaches further round, amazing bushwalks and some fascinating indigenous art close by.
Credit: Ken K
2. Pearl Beach: beach life and peace
90km – 1hr 30min from Sydney
Credit: Peter Gawthrop
Secreted away at the southern end of the Central Coast, Pearl Beach is another great beach suburb that not many know about.
There are lots of BnBs here, a few beachfront shops – one of which turns out pretty good coffee, and then of course there’s Pearls on the Beach. If you’re after a romantic dinner somewhere nice, this is the place.
Here’s what we’ve said about Pearls on the Beach previously.
Credit: Peter Gawthrop
3. Blue Mountains: altitude without attitude.
115km – 1hr 40min from Sydney
Heading west of Sydney, the famous Blue Mountains has so much to offer it’s hard to know where to start.
This is Sydney’s own little bit of the Great Dividing Range that runs all the way down the east coast of Australia.
There’s so much to do in this region – whether it’s a winter retreat to the pretty town of Leura, checking out Katoomba and exploring the secrets to the towns beyond, fine dining with a view at Echoes or getting out and about for views out over the valleys.
Our top tip for places to stay would be Parklands Mountain Retreat.
4. Kangaroo Valley: get back to nature
155km – 2hrs 20min from Sydney
This was the destination of one of our very first road trips together. Only a couple of hours south of Sydney, Kangaroo Valley feels like you’re a lot further from the big smoke.
You are indeed in a valley though there are more wombats and wallabies here than kangaroos. We did spot an echidna here too.
The river that runs through the valley (Kangaroo River in fact) feeds the trees and plants to make this a beautiful green oasis in country New South Wales. The little town here is very quaint – the pub and the pies are worth it on their own.
You’re also not far from some of New South Wales’ most beautiful beaches.
5. Hunter Valley: wine for the win
160km – 2 hours from Sydney
New South Wales’ premier wine region, the Hunter – northwest of Sydney – is full of great family-run wineries worth visiting. Our favourite is Scarborough Wines for their excellent Chardonnay and Pinot Noir – and their hospitality of course!
The Scarboroughs also gave us some great tips for other wineries typical to the Hunter.
There are some excellent places to stay in this stunning part of the country. We really enjoyed our time at Spicers Vineyards Estate Hotel in Pokolbin, but for a beautiful private cottage escape, check out our review and video walkthrough of Aldora Cottage also in Pokolbin.
As for dinner, Restaurant Botanica is excellent, but Esca – part of Bimbadgen winery’s cellar door experience – is amazing!
If you want to know more about what you can do in the Hunter Valley, check out our Ultimate Hunter Valley Experience!
6. Hyams Beach: the whitest sand in the world
190km – 3 hours from Sydney
Part of the Shoalhaven and Jervis Bay, Hyams Beach is famous for having the whitest sand in the world. It’s even in the Guinness Book of Records!
This little seaside village is the perfect spot to get away from it all. The snorkelling and fishing here are excellent, and there are plenty of places to stay.
As for food, there aren’t too many places in Hyams Beach apart from the store and café, but Jervis Bay just round the corner has everything from fish and chips and pubs to restaurants and bistros.
But a quick drive south will have you in Mollymook. There you’ll find the famed Rick Stein’s at Bannisters, as well as hosts of dining options in Milton and surrounding towns.
7. Port Stephens: relaxing beach town.
210km – 2hrs 30min from Sydney
We’ve been going to Port Stephens for a long time and we still love it. Adjacent to the Hunter Valley and Newcastle, this coastal community is home to some great little local secrets.
The marina at Nelson Bay is the big draw card with lots of places to eat and drink at, and also the whale and dolphin watching cruises go from here. There’s also Bannisters Port Stephens, which offers good food and drink right near the marina.
We also love going a bit further round the bay to Corlette. Here the beaches are usually quieter and Bagnalls Beach is one of the very few off-leash dog-friendly beaches.
There’s also the deliciously sinful chips and gravy at the Corlette Store! A bit further out, there’s the Murray’s Brewery for ace beer and a superb burger.
Check out our other stories and guides to Port Stephens here.
8. Orange: country town with all the food!
255km – 3hrs 40min from Sydney
Ever since our friend moved to Orange, west of Sydney and the Blue Mountains, we like to visit this growing country town as much as possible.
There are a few places to stay here – especially on AirBnB or Stayz – but a real hatful of places to eat at. Check out our essential guide to Orange and our Whirlwind Guide to Orange for more details.
And if you want somewhere really different, we absolutely loved our Sunday brunch at the Old Convent.
As for bars, we can’t recommend Percy’s Bar & Kitchen enough, and the Union Bank Wine Bar is a local institution.
Best of all, there are some excellent wineries in Orange. Here are our top 7.
9. Mudgee: the friendliest place on earth
270km – 3hrs 45min from Sydney
Mudgee is one of those towns – about 90km north of Orange – that makes you wonder why everyone’s so nice. I started getting quite suspicious while we were there because everyone was just so bloody friendly.
Perhaps it’s because of Mudgee’s amazing food and wine, and some of the most beautiful Australian landscapes you’ll find.
We stayed at the Mudgee Homestead while we were there, and it was absolutely stunning. If you want to see kangaroos, this place has them on its front lawn! Here’s more about the Homestead.
For food and drink, the Pipeclay Pumphouse is your dinner plans and your lunch has to be at the Zin House.
And if it’s wine you’re after, Mudgee is right on point. Here are 3 Mudgee cellar doors you’ll love.
With so many places outside the city to visit, it’s amazing we spend any time in Sydney at all!
Do you have a favourite getaway outside Sydney? Where do you go to escape from it all? Tell us in the comments!
Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid
What a great round up! I’ve been lucky enough to visit all of these places and although I love them all, I think the Blue Mountains is my all time favourite! The scenery is amazing, the wining and dining is fantastic and it’s easily accessible by car or train in a couple of hours! Plus, I think the Three Sisters is my spirit place!
Thank you, Sammie! Yes, the Blue Mountains are awesome, aren’t they? You just get such a sense of space when you’re there. It’s really easy to understand how big this country is when you look out over the valleys and the ranges. And yes, gotta love the Three Sisters!
Lyn (aka) The Travelling Lindfields
I think D and I have been to or at least driven through them all. Great places!
Got to love how good Australia – especially New South Wales – is for driving, Lyn… once you finally break free of Sydney’s gravitational pull anyway!
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