The penultimate long weekend of the year is around the corner and it’s the perfect opportunity to venture beyond the harbour city for a short escape. Luckily, Sydney is surrounded by plenty of small towns with abundant natural beauty, coastal vibes, outdoor offerings and good times. Read on to find the best destinations within driving distance of Sydney to visit over the October long weekend.
Short breaks from Sydney within two hours
One of the oldest national parks in the world and Australia’s first is just an hour’s drive from Sydney. The rugged and beautiful Royal National Park is perfect for those seeking outdoor adventures with many rainforests, beaches, coastal hikes and wildlife to discover. Read all about it here.
Visit it for: Bushwalks, swimming holes, lookouts and beaches.
Just a 90-minute drive from Sydney, Wollongong is the perfect coastal escape with several golden beaches including Stanwell Park Beach and Wollongong City Beach. It also has a bustling city centre with plenty to do with the family.
Visit it for: Beaches, rainforests and attractions like the Nan Tien Temple.
Berry is around a two-hour drive from Sydney and filled to the brim with cute activities to do. It is famous for its many antique and specialty stores, heritage buildings and wineries. Berry is a great day trip spot from Sydney if you’re looking to get away from the city for a few hours. Don’t forget to make a pitstop by its iconic donut van and Berry Markets to find something unique.
Visit it for: Cafes, boutique shops and gardens.
4. Mount Wilson
The village of Mount Wilson is packed with charm and character and an excellent short getaway from Sydney. It’s also the perfect spot to enjoy stunning views of the Blue Mountains and soak up all the spring colours, especially at the beautiful Breenhold Gardens.
Visit it for: Walks, lookouts and camping.
5. Kangaroo Valley
The small town of Kangaroo Valley is rich in village charm and wildlife and the perfect nature escape less than two hours from Sydney. Visit the heritage-listed Hampden Bridge, check out all the cafes and shops along Kangaroo Valley’s busy main street and go on a self-guided tour of the Pioneer Village Museum on your trip.
Visit it for: Rainforests, countryside, kayaking and bushwalks.
If you love books and cafes, Bowral is the place to visit. Just a 90-minute drive from Sydney, the largest town in the Southern Highlands is bursting with things to do. Get your art fix at Bowral Art Gallery or the Milk Factory Gallery, grab a coffee and bite at Plantation and stop by its many boutique stores to buy something special.
Visit it for: Bookshops, cafes, wineries and good coffee.
The small town of Bilpin lies one and a half hours from Sydney and it’s a great choice for outdoor adventure seekers. Make sure to visit Bilpin Fruit Bowl for the freshest food and veg, enjoy a picnic at the beautiful Waratah Native Garden and gaze in awe at glow worms when the sun sets.
Visit it for: Apples, countryside and bakeries.
The town of Blackheath is well known for its many lookouts, walking trails and natural landscapes. Visit the Govetts Leap and Mount Blackheath lookouts for amazing views of the Blue Mountains, grab a bite at This Little Piggy Deli or buy something cool at the Victory Theatre Antique Centre.
Visit it for: Galleries, lookouts and local markets.
The coastal town of Kiama is a 2-hour drive from Sydney and one of the most popular getaways for locals looking to escape the city. The picturesque town is home to the Kiama Blowhole and gorgeous beaches like Kiama Surf Beach and Seven Mile Beach. The Kiama Coast Walk is one of NSW’s most scenic walks with seaside vistas and unspoilt beaches.
Visit it for: Beaches, blowholes and coastal walks.
Weekend getaways further away from Sydney
10. Hyams Beach
Boasting some of the whitest sand in Australia and turquoise blue waters, Hyams Beach is an excellent spot to visit from Sydney. Located three hours from Sydney, the gorgeous spot in Jervis Bay is also one of the most popular in NSW so be prepared to battle the crowds, especially during warmer seasons. Read all about Hyams Beach including things to do.
Visit it for: White sands, blue waters and natural landscapes.
11. Byron Bay
If an 8-hour drive from Sydney is not a daunting prospect for you, the iconic coastal town of Byron Bay is a must-visit. The shopping and dining scene here is excellent but you can’t fault the beaches and the famous Cape Byron lighthouse. If you’re lucky, you could even spot a humpback whale or two between June to November.
Visit it for: Beaches, shopping and food.
The country town of Orange is one of the most popular getaways for Sydneysiders thanks to its boutique shops, beautiful gardens and local markets. It’s great to visit all year round but it’s especially popular if you’re trying to get a glimpse of snow in NSW.
Visit it for: Wineries, restaurants and natural attractions.
A three-hour drive from Sydney will land you in Canberra. The art galleries and exhibitions like the National Gallery of Australia and the Canberra Museum and Gallery are a must-visit. Other fun things to do include taking a tour of the Australian Parliament House, cycling around Lake Burley Griffin and hitting the wineries around town.
Visit it for: Art galleries, museums and food and wine.
Popular for being the food bowl of Australia, Griffith is an excellent family-friendly destination with a variety of outdoor experiences for kids and excellent food and wineries for adults. Go bushwalking and birdwatching at the Cocoparra National Park, about half an hour from Griffith or learn more about the region’s history at the Griffith Pioneer Park Museum.
Visit it for: Food, wineries, outdoor activities
15. Port Stephens
Located about 2.5 hours from Sydney, Port Stephens has plenty of wonderful things to see and do. Stop by its lovely seaside villages like Nelson Bay and Shoal Bay and check out the majestic sand dunes of Stockton Beach and don’t forget to try sand boarding, quad and motorbike riding while there. Port Stephens is also an excellent spot for whale watching from May to November. See everything you can do in Port Stephens here.
Visit it for: Beaches, Quad biking, sand dunes
Grafton is nearly a 7-hour drive from Sydney but its annual Jacaranda Festival is well worth the trip. There are vibrant blooming trees, markets, entertainment and heaps of pomp and pageantry at the 10-day event that takes place in October. They even close down their main street for the entire community to join in on the fun. Read all about it here.
Visit it for: The Jacaranda Festival, arts scene
17. Coffs Harbour
Nicknamed Coffs, the coastal town of Coffs Harbour is famous for many things, especially its many stunning beaches and excellent food scene. It’s also home to one of not just NSW but also Australia’s most famous “big things”, the Big Banana. The Solitary Islands Marine Park is a must-visit for its abundance of coral reefs and wildlife. Coffs Harbour is a 5-hour, forty-minute drive from Sydney.
Visit it for: Beaches, underwater adventures
18. Port Macquarie
Rich in coastal vibes and outdoor adventures, Port Macquarie is a popular getaway for Sydneysiders. It’s excellent for swimming and water sports along with plenty of scenic hiking trails and wildlife experiences. Don’t miss out on the 19th-century Tacking Point Lighthouse and Billabong Zoo while visiting. Port Macquarie is a 4-hour, 30-minute drive from Sydney.
Visit it for: Beaches, hiking trails and natural beauty
A 3-hour, 20-minute drive from Sydney will land you in Bathurst, a city famous for its food and wine scene, gold rush heritage and rural villages. It’s also the perfect destination for lovers of motor racing in Australia. Check out everything you can do in Bathurst here.
Visit it for: Museums, wine and walking tracks.