February 15, 2019 / By The Weekender Travel
Need a break from the city? Planning a special weekend away with the family or a special someone? Here are our favourite weekend getaways out of Sydney where you'll be sure to find fantastic food, wine and nature a plenty!
Palm Beach (above)
There’s always been a friendly rivalry between Bondi and Palm Beach to be crowned ‘best seaside gem in Sydney’ although when it comes to a relaxing seaside weekend away, Palm Beach wins by a mile. The Queen Bee of the Northern Beaches boasts stunning scenery and the kind of exclusivity that’s missing from the other super famous beach. But that’s not why we love the place.
The distinct lack of city-life craziness is what makes Palm Beach so gorgeous, its unique laid-back vibe and the sheer number of walks that are ideal whether you come alone, with your kids or with your elderly mum: there’s a walk in Palm Beach for everyone. There are simply more chances to get away from the crowds here, because this area, along with the South Coast, boasts some of the most spectacular coastal wilderness in NSW.
The bits you shouldn’t miss? Enjoying a leisurely breakfast at the Boathouse is reason alone to plan an overnight stay. In truth, Palm Beach is a true foodie’s paradise, home to some of the best and most scenic restaurants in all of Sydney. Read more about our top choices for foodies, right here. Take a sneaky mid-week trip away if you want to dodge the biggest crowds! Where to stay? Hmmm … have you seen our latest selection of Palm Beach properties?! Just one word: DIVINE!
Sydney’s Blue Mountains are world-renowned, and an easy choice for a short and sweet road-trip out of the city, especially in the heart of summer. There’s so much to do in this incredible UNESCO-listed wilderness area - tackle bush-walking trails and hikes to waterfalls, enjoy the scenery on stellar viewpoints, explore all the cute little country towns, shops, art galleries and wonderful cafés.
The mountains are home to award-winning Scenic World which boasts the second-steepest passenger train on the planet, and a Skyway that offers head-spinning views and the chance to immerse yourself in a pristine rainforest. You’ll see unique Australian wildlife and no-doubt be overawed by the dramatic rocky landscapes covered in prime eucalyptus forests.
The bits you shouldn’t miss? The Echo Point Lookout to the Three Sisters rock formations, the walk to Wentworth Falls and the Leura Cascades, the Sublime Point Lookout (which really is sublime) and, last but not least, the orgasmic hand-made delights of Josophan’s Fine Chocolates, where the sweet works of art are as delectable as they look. And when it comes to where to stay, see our selection of great Blue Mountains accommodation.
Central Coast (above)
If you have time to soak up the wonders of NSW’s northern coastline then head towards idyllic Avoca Beach. From here, you’ll have all the splendours of the Central Coast to discover. Stretching all the way to Lake Macquarie in the north and as far as the Watagan Mountains in the west, the Central Coast is Sydney’s fastest-growing region and it’s certainly not hard to see why everyone wants to move here.
Life is blissfully laid-back in the Central Coast, a spot that is easy to get to and easy to enjoy, whether you’re with family, your sea-obsessed fur-baby or just want to stretch your legs on some great coastal walks. There is literally something here for everyone and the lack of hectic pace, coupled with an abundance of sunshine, makes it an absolute paradise for a rewarding weekender.
The bits you shouldn’t miss? A visit to the Central Coast is as much about the journey as the destinations, with the drive from Sydney - following the coastal road and ditching the highway - a relaxing and visually rewarding affair. You really must take in the daily pelican feeding at The Entrance (pure fun), kayaking in the Glenworth Valley or hiking in the Bouddi National Park. Or you could simply take a book and enjoying a totally chilled day out on Pearl Beach, a real gem of a spot. Where to stay? Just one look at the amazing beachside properties we have on offer on the Central Coast and you’ll soon see why everyone’s making a beeline for this place.
A wonderful competitor to the Central Coast as a top weekender spot, with fewer people, more wilderness and even more remote beaches, the South Coast really is one of the most exciting places to visit near Sydney. As you’d expect, this stretch of coast boasts many dog-friendly beaches, exceptional surfing spots and delectable food. Yet the South Coast has that little extra spark thanks to its abundance of nature reserves, where you can chase waterfalls and meet wild kangaroos on a stretch of deserted national park beach.
The bits you shouldn’t miss? Dolphin spotting at Jervis Bay is a bucket-list highlight as is meeting the resident seals and sting rays in Kiama. Scour one of the many (over 40!) markets held on weekends in every town or tackle a hike with resplendent views in the Royal National Park. Feeling peckish? It’s no secret that we’re in love with Mollymook and rate it one of the most delectable gastronomic hubs of all. And where to stay? Our spectacular holiday properties on the South Coast beautifully reflect its diversity: all being gorgeous in their own right with an eclectic mix of highlights and something to suit every taste and budget.
Orange & surrounds (above)
The hinterland of NSW usually plays second-fiddle to seaside destinations, but if you’ve had your fill of sapphire seas and sparkling sands, or simply prefer the countryside, do yourself a favour and visit Orange. Just 250km due west of Sydney, it's the capital of the Central West Region, and a hub that’s revered for its excellent wines, outstanding fresh produce and gold-rush heritage, all bundled up in abundant country charm.
The town hosts Australia’s longest-running food festival (F.O.O.D. Week held in April) and is less than 90km south of Mudgee, another of inner NSW’s hidden gems. Mudgee is undoubtedly one of the prettiest towns in all of Australia and its historic centre is replete with colonial-era architecture and a most vibrant atmosphere, especially every 3rd weekend when its famous farmers’ markets are in full swing. A foodie destination for Sydney-siders, Mudgee is mostly about great food and wine although you can also go sky-diving, hot-air ballooning and hiking in the heritage-listed Wollemi National Park.
The bits you shouldn’t miss? A wine-tasting tour is an absolute must in this region and you should also plan to stop at the Jenolan Caves (half-way between Sydney and Orange) to take a 2-hour tour in some of the world’s most astonishing karst caves. Where to stay? Nothing beats a charming cottage for a countryside getaway – take a look at our ridiculously enticing Orange accommodation options.
Another epic getaway region in NSW and one that’s defined by its postcard-pretty heritage towns overflowing with antique shops, the Southern Highlands are in a charming league of their own. The main hubs of Bowral, Berrima and Bundanoon (among several others) act as great bases for day-long explorations of nearby reserves where treetop walks, bushwalking trails and waterfalls abound. The diverse landscapes offer splendid scenery and what we adore is that this region offers the most vibrant Autumn rainbow of colours close to Sydney.
As you may well know, foliage-watching is totally a thing, especially in Australia where it’s not so common. Verdant rolling hills are framed by dramatic limestone escarpments and aside from the sheer visual feasting, there’s actually a lot to do here, if you’re feeling particularly energetic. Pick up a map at the visitor centre in Mittagong and you can plan your days’ exploration with ease.
The bits you shouldn’t miss? The yearly Bowral Tulip Festival (usually held in September) has won international awards and is an awesome time to visit as many of the private gardens are open to the public. Head up to the Morton National Park to see the magnificent Fitzroy Falls and book a table for dinner at Biota – the region’s most acclaimed restaurant that’s worth its weight in locally-grown fresh produce. Where to stay? For an unforgettable Southern Highlands experience, we have a magnificent estate up for grabs. One look at Arafel Park and we know you’ll be sold.
We think you should know: Whilst we proudly work with the accommodation properties referred to in this travel guide, we do not receive any money from, or have a sponsorship arrangement with, any of the business or other entities listed in, or referred to in this guide.