A Guide to Visiting the Blue Mountains: One Day-Trip from Sydney
A one-day trip from Sydney to the Blue Mountains is a must-do activity for everyone traveling in Australia. The Blue Mountains are the perfect place for hiking, rock climbing, or simply soaking up the views. If you plan on visiting the Blue Mountains, read our travel guide including tips on the best things to do, up-to-date information on how to get to the mountains from Sydney, how much things cost, where to stay and what to pack.
Australian Blue Mountains are a world-known notion. We can document it with our experience and a story one guy told us when we were in the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia. On a tour around tea plantations, our guide stopped abruptly and with dreamy expression and a smile on his face, he stared to the valley and said, it looks exactly like the Blue Mountains. He asked us if we had visited it, so we were like hell yes, it was beautiful (hoping a bit to share our experience). Have you been there we asked him, expecting an approving answer. But he simply answered no, but I believe it looks like this. Anyway.
The Blue Mountains are one of the must-visit places every traveler has on an itinerary.
What makes the Blue Mountains so popular?
One of the main reasons is the proximity from Sydney, another Australia's must-see destination, and another, maybe even more important reason is that the World Heritage-listed national park offers absolutely amazing views no one wants to miss. The Blue Mountains National Park offers so many best things to see and do, that visiting it only on a one-day trip from Sydney can seem almost impossible. Although you won't be able to squeeze everything on your day-itinerary, you will for sure have time to explore the top attractions.
Are you wondering how the Blue Mountains got their name?
The name comes from a blue-grayish haze which hovers over the range particularly during hot days.
This natural phenomenon can be seen thanks to the rare species of eucalyptus growing in the area, and the evaporation of oil from their leaves causes the iconic haze.
The significant eucalyptus forest is also the reason why the Blue Mountains are on the UNESCO list since 2000.
BEST THINGS TO DO IN THE BLUE MOUNTAINS
The Blue Mountains are all about the views, although the vistas can be from time to time spoiled by rain or haze we sincerely hope your one-day trip from Sydney will be a sunny one.
Except for the scenic landscape the Blue Mountains are famous for sheer cliffs inviting climbers from all around the world, short and long multi-day trails, waterfalls, spectacular viewpoints from where you can take those amazing bluish photos and cable cars which allow you to see the mountains and eucalyptus trees from above.
Here's the list of the best things to do in the Blue Mountains you can't by no means miss when traveling to the park from Sydney.
Echo Point | There is not more famous viewpoint in the Blue Mountains than this one, and even if you are only passing by, this is a place you must stop for a while. Often rated among the best viewpoints in Australia, Echo Point provides travelers with an amazing vista of the iconic Three Sisters rock formation and Jamison Valley. It is not possible to climb the Three Sisters as those rocks are significant for Aboriginal people living in the area (you can read an interesting story about the creation of Three Sisters near the Visitor Center), but it is possible to get closer via one of many trails in the park.
Giant Stairway | If you want to get to the base of Three Sisters, take the trail called the Giant Stairway, but we do not recommend it to anyone with knee problems, because there are more than 800 steps before you get to the floor of the valley. You do not need to return the same way, but it is possible to get to the Echo Point via Federal Pass, Furber Steps and Prince Henry Cliff Walk.
Scenic World Blue Mountains | After Echo Point, the most touristy place in the Blue Mountains is the Scenic World. After buying an admission, you can either take a Scenic Skyway cable car. The cabins are made of glass, so you can get amazing views of the mountains from above, and another attraction is the world's steepest passenger railway which will take you to the bottom of the valley, where a series of boardwalks will walk you through the native rainforest.
Govetts Leap | Easily accessible Govetts Leap lookout is yet another place you should not miss when traveling to the Blue Mountains from Sydney. Although the viewpoint offers similarly spectacular vistas as Echo Point, it is a bit less crowded. From here you can see the deep eucalyptus-forested valley lined with high walls of sandstone cliffs and Bridal Veil Falls.
Wentworth Falls | To get to the three-tiered waterfall, you must descent about 200 steps to the Fletcher Lookout. The first section of the waterfall is the highest, and then it cascades down through a series of shallow pools. When the sun shines through the falling water, it creates a beautiful rainbow.
Katoomba Falls | Another beautiful waterfall in the mountains is easily accessible, and, interestingly, this falls never dry out, so you can visit them any time of the year.
Lincoln’s Rock | This viewpoint is famous for the most atmospheric sunsets, so if you can stay in the Blue Mountains until late afternoon (the sunset is much earlier in the winter), Lincoln's Rock should be your last stop of the day.
Jenolan Caves | More than 340-million years old, Jenolan Caves are believed to be one of the world's oldest cave systems in the world. The caves can be entered only with a guide, and you can either buy a single ticket or take a tour from Sydney which includes the visit of the caves.
One-day Hikes | The Blue Mountains offer a wide range of hiking trails, and even when visiting the area only for a day, you'll find here many treks you can combine together and create your own personalized trail depending on your itinerary. In case you do not use mobile apps such as Maps.me, grab a map with all the hiking trails in the Visitor Center.
HOW TO GET TO THE BLUE MOUNTAINS FROM SYDNEY
It takes about two hours to get from Sydney to the Blue Mountains, so no wonder it is one of the most popular day-trips from Australia's metropolis.
Public Transport | There is no regular public bus scheduled between Sydney and the Blue Mountains, but the best way in case you want to travel independently without a tour and do not have a rental car is taking a train. Go to Sydney’s Train Central Station and purchase a ticket to Katoomba. Although there are other small towns in the Blue Mountains where the train stops, Katoomba is the best starting point. It is not necessary to reserve the train ticket in advance, the train goes approximately every hour, but remember to ask what time leaves the last train from Katoomba back to Sydney (usually around 10 PM). The cost of the ticket depends on the time of the day you are traveling, it is usually between AUD 12 - 17.
When you arrive in Katoomba, visit information center where you'll get a map with hiking trails and the best things to do in the Blue Mountains, but some places can be a bit far away and hard to reach without a car. But no worries, there is a hop-on-hop-off bus leaving from the train station which will take you to all the best attractions and thanks to it you will be able to see the best the national park has to offer in only one day. You can buy either regular bus ticket or a bus ticket with a ticket to the Scenic World.
Tours | Many travelers decide to visit the Blue Mountains from Sydney on a one-day guided tour - it is one of the easiest ways to see the best things this part of Australia has to offer, and if you'll choose to take a tour from Sydney, you have an uncountable number of options you can choose from. Very popular is sunset tour or all-inclusive tour, but you can choose some of the more extraordinary tours such as visiting the Blue Mountains with river cruise, see the mountains from above on a helicopter tour or a private 4WD tour.
Car | Of course, the best way how to explore the Blue Mountains is by rental car. There are many rental companies around Sydney, and it only depends on your schedule if you need to hire a car only for a day, or for the rest of your trip. It takes approximately an hour and a half to drive from Sydney to Katoomba. It is absolutely easy to navigate from Sydney to the mountains. Take the Western Motorway M4 which will change to the Great Western Hwy A32. This road will eventually take to Katoomba. The drive to the Blue Mountains was pretty straightforward, only on the way back to Sydney, we decided to stop in Euroka campground in Glenbrook because this place is known as the best locality (close to the urban area) where is almost 100% guaranteed to spot kangaroos in the wild. We were lucky enough even to see kangaroo mother with a baby in her's pouch.
IS ONE DAY FOR THE BLUE MOUNTAINS ENOUGH?
We cannot say that you will be able to see everything the Blue Mountains have to offer in only one day, but you will definitely see a lot.
All the major sights and stops are doable in one day, but the park is so huge, and has so many hiking trails and climbing opportunities, that if you are an outdoor enthusiast, you can easily spend here several days without getting bored.
WHERE TO STAY BEFORE VISITING BLUE MOUNTAINS
If you plan on visiting the Blue Mountains on a one-day trip from Sydney, you have to options on where to stay.
Depending on your itinerary you can either return to Sydney, or stay in Katoomba, the gateway to the Blue Mountains, in case you are road tripping around Australia, and you will carry on to the next destination the day after.
WHERE TO STAY IN SYDNEY
Budget | Base Sydney - Great location at Sydney central business district, clean rooms, and helpful staff.
Mid-range | Meriton Suites Coward Street, Mascot - Convenient location to Sydney Airport, new hotel, nice clean rooms.
Luxury | Hyatt Regency Sydney - Fantastic location at CBD, great views of the Darling Harbour, large rooms, comfortable rooms.
Hotels in Katoomba
Budget | Blue Mountains YHA - Great location, social vibe, BBQ and both dormitories, and private rooms make from this hotel the best budget option in the Blue Mountains.
Mid-range | Sky Rider Motor Inn - For the price paid you will get a great service, clean and comfortable rooms, and an outdoor pool.
Luxury | Falls Mountain Retreat Blue Mountains - Modern and luxurious self-catered and self-contained studios and apartments might be exactly what you are looking for.
WHAT TO PACK FOR VISITING THE BLUE MOUNTAINS
What to pack for the Blue Mountains depends on in what season you plan on visiting the area.
Summers between December and February are warm but pleasantly warm, not insanely hot, with temperatures around 22°C, but temperatures can drop at times. Winters are cold with temperatures around 10°C, and it can be below zero at night. It can rain quite often in the Blue Mountains, but rather than rain you can expect haze.
Here are five essential things you should pack with you for one-day trip to the Blue Mountains from Sydney.
Sunscreen | When traveling in Australia, sunscreen in a no brainer.
Rain Poncho | Annual rainfall in the Blue Mountains is 1050 millimetres, so pack a protection against rain.
TRAVEL INSURANCE - SIMPLE & FLEXIBLE
We never leave our home without travel insurance which is designed to help cover your expenses if something goes wrong on your trip. World Nomads Travel Insurance has been designed by travelers for travelers, to cover your trip essentials.
Travel smarter and safer!