10 Incredibly Scenic Day Trips From Sydney By Public Transport

10 Incredibly Scenic Day Trips From Sydney By Public Transport
10 Incredibly Scenic Day Trips From Sydney By Public Transport

Abundantly lined with quaint little cafes, winding streets and clear blue waters, NSW towns offer the perfect escape from city life. If you’re lucky enough to own a car and brave the city traffic, the sky is the limit. If not, there’s still heaps of exploring you can do via day trips on public transport. Sydney’s public transport network will take you almost anywhere you need to go with buses, trains, ferries and the light rail at your disposal. If you want to plan a budget-friendly trip, Sydney transport also offers an Opal card price cap on Sundays, which means you can get quite the bang for your buck exploring the city and surrounds and pay the bare minimum.

Although Sydney is jam-packed with exciting activities, if you’re looking for a change of scenery, you can visit a number of striking towns in NSW using without the need for your own set of wheels – just remember to carry your Opal card (and check the weather app). Here are some of our destinations near Sydney which not only provide a refreshing change of pace from city life, but also make for easily accessible day trips on public transport.

The best day trips on public transport from Sydney

1. Katoomba

katoomba, blue mountains
Image: Shutterstock

Katoomba is the place to go if you’re after a town with some character. About two hours from Sydney, Katoomba delivers both natural landscapes and a quirky lifestyle. A visit to the iconic Echo Point and The Three Sisters lookout is essential, plus enjoy art-deco buildings, lovely waterfalls, and more. Katoomba also has a pretty thriving food scene with a number of excellent spots close to the station which are definitely worth checking out when you need a break from all the sightseeing.

Make sure to visit the Hominy Bakery for some brilliant pies and sandwiches and True to the Bean café if you’re keen on some sweet local treats and a caffeine fix. 8Things, located on the main street of Katoomba, comes highly recommended and serves food from eight different countries including Korean baos and Mexican tacos.

If you’re planning a trip to the Blue Mountains, check out our comprehensive guide and get planning.

How to get there: Get a direct train from Central and get off at Katoomba Station.
Distance: 2 hours.

2. Newcastle

aerial view of newcastle, nsw
Image: Shutterstock

Newcastle is one of the most easily accessible cities from Sydney using public transport, with regular direct trains available from Central. This harbourside city is filled with stunning beaches, excellent food and a number of coastal walks. Much like Sydney, Newcastle is also famous for its many ocean baths, except you can actually enjoy them without having to worry about the crowds. Some to take a dip in include the Merewether Ocean Baths, the iconic Bogey Hole ocean pool and heritage-listed The Entrance Ocean Baths.

Nature buffs can also go on a number of picturesque coastal walks and lookouts around Newcastle. If you prefer to explore the city, you can find a number of art galleries, street art and boutique shops lined across town. Don’t forget to grab a drink from one of their many acclaimed local breweries and distilleries.

If you’re lucky you can also spot whales migrating from June to November. Fort Scratchley and a walk along Nobby’s Beach are also must-do activities in Newcastle.

How to get there: Get a direct train from Central and get off at Broadmeadow Station.
Distance: 2.5 hours.

3. Kiama

Kiama, nsw
Image: Shutterstock

Kiama has been an age-old favourite NSW town for Sydneysiders. It’s a charming little seaside spot with a strong sense of community and picturesque views all around. Known for its blowhole, quirky little eateries and many lookouts, you can visit Kiama at any time of the year and enjoy its many touristy offerings.

The Kiama Coastal walk is one of the most beautiful coastal walks in the state and includes incredible ocean views and beaches along the track. Other attractions include the Cathedral Rocks, the popular Kiama Lighthouse and the lovely Minnamurra Lookout. Or just pack a picnic and have a lazy beach day on one of Kiama’s many scenic beaches.

To grab a bite to eat, head to The Hungry Monkey for burgers, milkshakes and classic fast food or Penny Whistlers for all the seaside vibes and live music. You’ll also want to check out the unique basalt columns of Bombo Headland which will have you feeling like you’re walking on the moon according to Destination Kiama.

How to get there: Grab a direct train from Central and get off at Kiama Station.
Distance: 2.15 hours

4. Bowral

A personal favourite, Bowral is Australia’s best-known booktown, having held the distinction since 2002. The charming and elegant town is a dream destination for book lovers with a number of striking bookshop cafes, libraries and old-world accommodations. Although the largest town in the Southern Highlands of NSW, it’s peaceful and laidback enough if you just want to get out of town and pretty easy to get to using public transport.

Start your day with coffee and breakfast at The Press Shop, located in an old bespoke letterpress studio, or head to The Mill Cafe for chic, industrial vibes and plenty or vegan and vegetarian options. A stop at Harry’s on Green Lane and Plantation Café is absolutely essential for bookworms with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and bright, breezy interiors.

There’s heaps to do aside from all the bookish activities. Step back in time with a visit to Empire Cinema — the country’s oldest commercial cinema — or make your way to Mount Jellore Lookout in the Mount Gibraltar Reserve for stunning views of the bush. Corbett Gardens hosts the annual Tulip Time Festival with thousands of tulips on display, arguably one of the best spring day trips on public transport.

How to get there: Catch a direct train from Central and get off at Bowral Station.
Distance: 2 hours

5. Berry

berry, nsw
Image: Shutterstock

Just 2 hours from the CBD and nestled comfortably between the sea and the mountains, you should be berry excited for this trip. Warm, welcoming and very chic, Berry is one of our favourite day trips on public transport from Sydney. Be sure to visit the Seven Mile Beach National Park for some sun, sea and sand. Foodies will find a number of delicious breakfast, lunch and drink options along the way. The famous Berry Donut Van, which has been in operation for over 55 years, is also a local staple.

History buffs should keep the Berry Historic Museum on their radar while lovers of the great outdoors can look forward to mountain vistas, beaches, rivers and National Parks. Berry is a bit further ahead with the total journey by public transport under 3 hours, but the hike is totally worth it.

How to get there: Catch a direct train from Central and get off at Bowral Station.
Distance: 2 hours, 40 minutes

6. Wollongong

A drone shot of Wollongong harbour, one of our favourite day trips on public transport.
Image: Shutterstock

Just an hour and a half from Sydney is the beautiful coastal city of Wollongong. It’s a popular destination for Sydneysiders for its beaches, small bars, lovely lookouts and rainforest walking tracks. Its proximity to Sydney also makes it a good choice for people wishing to work in the city but save some money on living expenses. Wollongong makes for an exciting day trip adventure and a picturesque getaway using public transport.

Essential activities include a visit to the Wollongong Botanic Garden, Nan Tien Temple and an afternoon at Jamberoo Action Park. The coastal city is also home to a number of spectacular lookouts including the Instagram-famous Bald Hill Lookout at Stanwell Tops. The Illawarra Fly treetop walk will also take you through a lush beautiful rainforest with treetops and ocean views to boot.

How to get there: Direct train from Central to Wollongong.
Distance: 1 hour, 45 minutes

7. Palm Beach

An aerial view of Palm Beach with beaches either side, one of the most accessible day trips on public transport from Sydney.
Image: Shutterstock

The Northern Beaches suburb of Palm Beach is instantly recognisable for being the setting of the iconic show Home and Away (and more recently, it featured in 2023 rom-com Anyone But You). This fairly underrated part of Sydney is packed with insanely gorgeous lookouts, hikes and places to eat. While within city limits, it’s far enough to warrant a day trip.

Spots to visit include the historic Barrenjoey Lighthouse, the hidden Bible Garden and the idyllic Palm Beach Markets. It’s also a popular spot during the whale-watching months. You’d be seriously missing out if you didn’t stop for lunch at The Boathouse. The waterside venue offers incredible views of Palm Beach along with excellent breakfasts and seafood options. If you love water activities, there are options to kayak, swim and catch a ferry to a number of nearby locations.

How to get there: Catch a B-Line bus from Wynyard and get off at Observation Point, Barrenjoey Rd
Distance: 2 hours

8. Avoca Beach

avoca beach, central coast nsw
Image: Shutterstock

Avoca Beach is a pretty coastal village in the Central Coast chock full of activities for water lovers. Swim, surf, go on coastal walks or just enjoy the sweeping views of the ocean in this idyllic spot. There’s heaps to do in and around Avoca Beach. You can hire pedal-boats and kayaks for some fun in the water at the Avoca Lake or shop from 90+ stalls and enjoy live music at the Avoca Beachside Markets. The Bouddi Coastal Walk is also a superb activity that takes you through hidden beaches and scenic views.

In the surrounding area, you’ll find the famous Avoca Beach Theatre, a charming theatre playing a variety of films for cinema goers including new releases and classics. It also hosts Italian evenings, Bollywood nights, film festivals and live concerts over the year. For food and drink, The Point Cafe located right on the beach should be your number one pit stop along with Block ‘n Tackle Brewery for beers and ciders.

How to get there: Catch the train from Central Station to Gosford, and pick up the 66 bus.
Distance: around 2 hours, 30 minutes.

9. Long Jetty & The Entrance

Sticking around the Central Coast, the place often dubbed ‘Newtown by the sea’ offers a home away from home for Sydneysiders, and one of the most accessible day trips on public transport. Long Jetty is home to an array of retro clothes shops like Plain Janes, Webster’s, and Tiki La La (who also stock vintage furniture pieces), and once you’re done thrifting, you can quench your thirst at Upstairs Wines, who stock a variety of local and international wines. Snapping a picture of the famed ‘Welcome to Long Jetty’ mural (it’s on Thompson Street, on the side of Green Tangerine café) is a must, and you can’t leave without exploring The Long Jetty itself, which stretches 351 metres into Tuggerah Lake and commands views of some truly impressive sunsets.

Neighbouring Long Jetty to the north is The Entrance, and we’d encourage you to pair the two beach towns for an ideal day trip. Swim or surf in the turquoise waters of The Entrance Beach, or rent a bike and cycle along the shore of Tuggerah Lake. At the foreshore and along high street, you’ll find a number of eateries and pubs along with live music and ice cream parlours, all feeding into the effortlessly laidback beachy vibes of this must-visit town.

How to get there: Catch the train from Central Station to Gosford, and pick up the 21 bus towards Entrance North.
Distance: around 2 hours, 20 minutes.

10. Scotland Island

An aerial view of Scotland Island and its many jettys. The island is one of the best day trips on public transport from Sydney.

Scotland itself is a bit far, but Scotland Island is a much more accessible spot – like Palm Beach, it’s within the city limits, making it one of the most convenient day trips on public transport. You’ll need to hop a ferry to reach the island, which is home to around 1000 residents – some year-round, some who visit for the weekends only. Scotland Island attracts guests for the serenity of the place; surrounded on all sides by the shimmering waters of the Pittwater estuary, the island is home to bushland reserves and native animals. There’s a strong sense of community here, which extends to the community-run café in Catherine Park, and seasonal events such as summer’s Shakespeare in the Park.

How to get there: from the CBD, catch a bus to Church Point or Newport and catch the Church Point Ferry to one of the island’s four wharves (note: Opal cards are not accepted on the Church Point Ferry).
Distance: around 1 hour, 40 minutes.

Source: secretsydney.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *