The Best Places to Visit in New South Wales, Australia

The 10 Best Places to Visit in New South Wales

New South Wales in Australia has some unique and beautiful places to visit. When flying internationally into Australia, most visitors fly to Sydney. Sydney and the surrounding area is the easiest place in Australia to travel around and explore. After a few days of visiting Sydney, our suggestion is to rent a car and take a road trip.

Attractions are super accessible. Within a couple of hours, you can hike in the mountains or explore desolate beaches. We found the coastline stunning, from insane rock formations to picture-perfect white-sand beaches. 

So for all those of you who are thinking of bolting up to Queensland or elsewhere, here are our top places to visit in New South Wales and suggested itineraries.

Content and photographs provided by Yana Kogan and Timon.

Best Time to Visit Sydney & NSW

The best time to visit New South Wales is during the summer season between November and April when it has perfect beach weather. Average temperatures during the summer range between 23 °C and 26 °C.

If swimming is not in your plans and you don’t mind cooler temperatures, the winter months have way fewer crowds. Temperatures get around 17 °C between June and August with lows possibly around 10 °C.


Getting Around New South Wales

Places to Visit in New South Wales: Blue Mountains Waterfall
Waterfalls in the Blue Mountains, New South Wales

The easiest way to get around New South Wales is by renting or buying a campervan, depending on your length of stay. Below are several companies to book with and typical costs to get around NSW.

Car Rental

Sixt Car Rentals has compact car rentals starting from $55/day. They are the lowest-priced rentals we could find. Jucy has affordable campervans for rent, with their budget campervans costing $80 – $100 per day. This is good for two people to sleep and includes cooking equipment, chairs, and plenty of accessories.

Bus

Several bus companies offer direct routes or stop at cities located nearby major sights. Greyhound has some pricey rates. For example, a ticket from Sydney to Byron Bay is $90. If you intend to travel throughout parts of Australia by bus, they also have an Oz Experience package which covers different routes and itineraries. This is a young backpacker sort of experience which is alright if it’s your cup of tea.

Train

Trains are a great way to get around Sydney, with local tickets costing between $3 and $7 depending on the destination. There is a train from Sydney to the Blue Mountains for $8.50 each way, and there are also long-haul regional trains from Sydney to Byron Bay for $85 each way.

Plane

There are some great deals to be had on domestic travel in Australia if you book in advance. Tickets are as cheap as $40 AUS for a flight from Sydney to Brisbane. Good airlines to check are Jetstar, Tigerair, and Virgin Australia.

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Apps for Australia

New South Wales Attractions: Mona Vale Rock Pool
Mona Vale rock pool, Sydney

If renting or buying a campervan, there are two apps that we recommend you download before heading to Australia. Campermate is a free app that provides information on campsites, things to see, petrol, and lots more. 

WikiCamps Australia is a paid app that has tons of information and user comments. You can download the comments so everything is available offline. We preferred WikiCamps for its extensive list of campsites and the comments provide information and suggestions. It is a one-time cost of $7.99 AUD.


10 Best Places to Visit in New South Wales

1. Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge

Best Places in NSW to Visit: Sydney Opera House
Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge at Sunset, New South Wales

Budget Stay:  790 on George Backpackers has dorm beds.

Mid-Range Stay: The Rendezvous Hotel Sydney The Rocks is just a 15-minute walk from the world-famous Sydney Opera House and Sydney’s city center.

High-End Stay: The West Hotel Sydney is a boutique hotel nearby restaurants, cafes, bars, and shops and a 5-minute walk to Darling Harbour.


2. Sydney Beaches

New South Wales Attractions: Bondi Beach
Catching surf at Bondi Beach

Sydney has some exceptional beaches, several are in close proximity to the CBD. Manly, a short ferry ride from CBD (Circular Quay), is an upscale beach town that has some good surf and trendy shops and restaurants. North coast Sydney has some of my favorite rock pools, such as North Curl Curl and Mona Vale.

The more popular south coast beaches are centered around the iconic Bondi Beach. Filled with surfers and backpackers in the summer, this beach is lined up with hostels and pubs. Coogee Beach was one of my favorites, a blend of Bondi and Manly, but not as crowded. The coastal walk from Bondi Beach to Coogee is a short between the two beaches with nice coastal views.

Best Places in NSW to Visit: North Curl Curl Beach
Sydney is known for all of its rock pools, including this one at North Curl Curl Beach.

To read more about our favorite rock pools in Sydney, check out our article on our top 10 Sydney rock pools.

Budget StayNoah’s Bondi Beach has dorms perfect for backpackers.

Mid-to-High Range Stay: There are many apartments for rent with beautiful views of the ocean like Bondi Cloud Surf House at Sydney Dreams Serviced Apartments. It is just minutes away from Tamarama and Bondi Beach.

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3. Jervis Bay

Attractions in NSW: Hyams Beach
Seeking solitude at Hyams Beach, Jervis Bay

Jervis Bay, located three hours south of Sydney (200 km), has some of the whitest sand in the world. Yup, whiter than the Whitsunday Islands, the Maldives, the Caribbean, or any other exotic place you can think of. Hyams Beach is outstanding. There is a nice coastal walk between four different beaches which is a good way to explore the area.

Aside from the White Sands Walk, popular destinations are Steamers Beach, Honeymoon Bay, and the Point Perpendicular lighthouse. Just south of Hyams Beach is Booderee National Park. Park highlights include Murrays Beach, Cape St George Lighthouse, Steamers Beach, and Caves Beach.

Places to Visit in New South Wales: Kangaroos, Jervis Bay
Kangaroo and baby at Jervis Bay

Distance from Sydney: three hours south.

Budget Stay: Camping in Booderee National Park starts from $16 AUD, plus entry fees.

Mid-Range Stay: The Jervis Bay Motel is less than a 10-minute to the beach and a 15-minute drive to Booderee National Park.

Entry Fee: Access to Booderee National Park is $13 AUD per vehicle for a 48-hour period.


4. Bombo Quarry and Cathedral Rock, Kiama

New South Wales Attractions: Bombo Quarry
Bombo Quarry, Kiama

One of the places that most surprised us was the Kiama area. For photographers, it is a must to stop here. We spent four days in the area trying to capture as many sunrises and sunsets as possible. This is a little long for the average tourist, but there are several incredible landscapes in the area to explore. 

The Bombo Quarry and Headlands just north of town are one of the most bizarre landscapes in Australia. Come during high tide when the waves are crashing against the massive rock formations. Views from the top of the headlands are worth the track past the giant sewage treatment plant. Trust me, the views get better!

Cathedral Rock is a remarkable rock formation at the south end of the beach in Kiama Downs. Access to the rocks is only available during low tide. If careful, you can reach the cave which is a perfect spot for photography. In addition to these two spots, it is worth a visit to the Kiama Lighthouse and blowhole.

Distance from Sydney: two hours south.

Budget Stay: The Kiama Hampton Cottage is a home with a garden, BBQ facilities, and a short distance from Kiama Surf Beach.

Mid-Range Stay: The Nova Kiama property is only a 2-minute walk to the beach.

Entry Fee: None.

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5. Figure 8 Pools, Royal National Park

New South Wales Attractions: Figure 8 Pools
Figure 8 Pools, Royal National Park

Royal National Park is located just a short hour drive south of Sydney. I was stunned by the coastline and its beauty in such close proximity to the city. It is a perfect place to watch whales migrating to Southern Australia, and there are several short hikes with nice coastal scenery. 

There is a 3-4 hour (6 km) hike to the Figure 8 Pools at the south end from the Garrawarra Farm car park. The hike is a descent from the car park down to Burning Palms Beach. The trail continues along the rocky coastline and ends with the tide pools.

The walk can only be done at low tide, or it can be extremely dangerous. Rogue waves crash over the side of the tide pools that have been known to cause deaths.  The figure 8 Pools cannot be seen if the tide is not low.

Distance from Sydney: One and half hours south.

Mid-Range Stay: The Nightcap at Caringbah Hotel for around $110.

Entry Fee: Entry to Royal National Park is $12 per vehicle per day. There is a self-payment station at the car park.

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6. Wedding Cake Rock, Royal National Park

Best Places in NSW to Visit: Wedding Cake Rocks
Wedding Cake Rocks, Royal National Park

The Wedding Cake Rock, or White Rock, is a famous rock/cliff that has now been fenced off due to erosion. It is expected to collapse from the cliff wall in the next 10-20 years. The stacked rocks are pure white and have layers like a wedding cake.

On this easy one-hour walk, there are spectacular coastal views and several areas that are excellent for whale watching during the migration season.

Distance from Sydney: One and half hours south.

Mid-Range Stay: The Nightcap at Caringbah Hotel for around $110.

Entry Fee: Entry to Royal National Park is $12 per vehicle per day.


7. Sea Cliff Bridge

Attractions in NSW: Sea Cliff Bridge
Sea Cliff Bridge, an hour and a half south of Sydney

Built in 2005, Sea Cliff Bridge is one of seven off-shore coastal parallel bridges in the world. It is located thirty minutes south of Royal National Park. For the best views pull over on the southern end of the bridge.

There’s also a large car park after the bridge in Coalcliff. At the most southern point of the bridge, there is a short but steep hike up over to a precarious viewpoint. There are no signs, but it’s possible to see a small trail in the bush.

Places to Visit in New South Wales: Sea Cliff Bridge
Aerial view of the Sea Cliff Bridge

Distance from Sydney: two hours south.

Mid-Range Stay: This stunning coastal home is only a few minutes from the Sea Cliff Bridge.

Entry Fee: None.


8. Old Helensburgh Train Station

New South Wales Attractions: Abandoned Helensburgh Train Station
Abandoned Helensburgh Train Station

The Old Helensburgh Station is an abandoned train station that has been taken over by the lush foliage in the area. Just after it rains, water runs down the entryway to the tunnel which is nice for long exposure photography. This is just a quick stop, but a cool one to add to the trip.

Distance from Sydney: One and half hours south.

Where to Stay: This is a common day trip from Sydney combined with a visit to Royal National Park and the Sea Cliff Bridge.

Entry Fee: None.

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9. Hike in the Blue Mountains

Best Places in NSW to Visit: Thress Sisters, Blue Mountains
Three Sisters, Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains, or the Blueys as the Aussies like to call it, was our favorite mountain range in Australia outside of Tasmania. There are incredible hiking opportunities for impressive viewpoints, waterfalls, gorges, as well as a few overnight hikes. The Three Sisters is probably the most famous and recognizable landmark in the Blue Mountains.

It is worth a visit, but we recommend going to places where the tour buses don’t go. For the best hikes, check out the Grand Canyon Track, the Ruined Castle, Wentworth Falls, and the National Pass track. For the best lookouts, stop at Govetts Leap, Pulpit Rock, Evans Lookout, the Three Sisters lookout, and Echo Point.

If you do not have a car, hitchhiking is quite easy to most major spots, otherwise, Blue Mountains Explorer Bus has a $50 3-day pass to nearly all major places in the Blueys.

For more on the Blue Mountains, check out our articles on Top 5 Hikes in the Blue Mountains and Best Overlooks in the Blue Mountains.

Distance from Sydney: two hours west.

Budget Stay: Bulls Camp Reserve is a free roadside campsite. Flying Fox Backpackers is centrally located in Katoomba with dorm beds from $27.

Mid-Range Stay: The Metropole Guest House Katoomba is a 1930s-style guesthouse with a Katoomba central location.

Entry Fee: None, $8 if entering the Glenbrook area (which we did not do).


10. Cape Byron

Best Places in NSW to Visit: Byron Bay Lighthouse
The scenic Byron Bay Lighthouse, a landmark in this hippy coastal community

Byron Bay is a tourist hotspot that is a perfect blend of Aussie hippy culture, great food, and really nice scenery. Cape Byron and the Byron Bay Lighthouse are beautiful areas with several small beaches and coves to explore. Tallows Beach is a massive beach where you can easily find solitude.

Just south of Byron Bay are two very picturesque beaches, Shelly Beach and Boulder Beach, both near Lennox Head. The laid-back coastal vibe has delicious cuisine with a variety of price points. Be sure to check out some of the yummy eats in town!

While it is a pretty chilled-out vibe, there are also lots of places to grab a drink and party into the night. Some favorites included Byron Bay Brewery, La La Land, Cheeky Monkeys, or Woody’s Surf Shack.

Distance from Sydney: nine hours north.

Budget StayBackpackers Inn on the Beach has dorm beds for $32.

Mid-Range Stay: The Wategos Surf Shack is a great beachfront and within walking distance from the Cape Byron Lighthouse.

Entry Fee: None.

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3-Day Sydney Itinerary

New South Wales Attractions: Royal National Park
The coastal trail in Royal National Park
  • Day 1: Spend the day exploring what Sydney has to offer. Check out the Opera House, Harbor Bridge, and the surrounding CBD area. Make sure to eat lots of delicious food and go out for a cocktail.
  • Day 2: This day will be all about the beaches. Start early and head for the Bondi to Coogee Beach walk. Stop along the way for lunch and some drinks at one of the local cafes.
  • Day 3: Rent a car and drive to Royal National Park. If you’re fit, you can hike to both the Figure 8 Pools and pancake rock in one day. If it’s the season, bring a picnic and try to spot some migrating whales. Before heading back to Sydney, take a 30-minute detour to the Sea Cliff Bridge to marvel at the precariously perched wonder. Stop by the Old Helensburgh Station if you have time.
Best Places in NSW to Visit: National Pass
Walking on the National Pass trail in the Blue Mountains, only a 2-hour drive from Sydney

7-Day Itinerary to Sydney and New South Wales

Attractions in NSW: Boulder Beach
A colorful sunset at Boulder Beach in Lennox Head, New South Wales.
  • Days 1-3: follow the above itinerary
  • Day 4: Keep the rental and head down to Jervis Bay.  Spend the day exploring the area and its beautiful beaches. On the way back north, stop by Kiama and watch the sunset at the Bombo Quarry.
  • Day 5: Head towards the Blue Mountains. If you have time, do a short walk to the Valley of the Waters. Watch the sunset at Echo Point.
  • Day 6: Spend the day hiking and going to the different overlooks in the Blue Mountains. The Grand Canyon Walk and National Pass are good options. Watch the sunset at one of the many overlooks.
  • Day 7: Spend the morning visiting other sites in the area or head towards Sydney for your flight out.

Other Suggested Places to Visit in New South Wales

  • Kaziosucko National Park – On the border of Victoria, the Snowy Mountains are the tallest peaks in mainland Australia with an abundance of hiking trails and skiing during the winter.
  • Kanangra-Boyd National Park – Little crowds and large valleys with similar scenery as the Blue Mountains.
  • Stockton Sand Dunes – A large coastal area two hours north of Sydney with sand dunes.
  • Port Macquarie – A sleepy coastal fishing village with scenic beaches and coastline.
  • Nambucca Heads – Another sleepy coastal fishing village with nice beaches.
  • Wollomombi Falls and Ebor Falls – Two impressive waterfalls two hours inland from Coffs Harbour.
  • Nimbin – One hour from Byron Bay in the rolling hills is the bizarre hippy town of Nimbin. It also is known for its cannabis counterculture.
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That’s it – 10 of The Best Places to visit in New South Wales! We hope you get the chance to enjoy all of them!


Planning a trip to Australia? Check out our favorite books and travel guides!


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