Top 10 Things to Do in the Blue Mountains, NSW inner banner

Top 10 Things to Do in the Blue Mountains, NSW

The tranquility of the Blue Mountains is the perfect foil to the hustle and bustle of Sydney. Here's a checklist of must-sees and dos in this sublime part of Australia.
Ten of the best things to do in the Blue Mountains
Ten of the best things to do in the Blue Mountains: Three Sisters

Top Oz Tours offers a range of Blue Mountains tours from Sydney. You can browse the options here.

The Blue Mountains is a UNESCO World Heritage-listed region of outstanding natural beauty.

A two-hour drive west of Sydney will see you deep in its embrace of towering eucalypt forests, dramatic gorges, mesmerising waterfalls, and soaring sandstone escarpments. This ancient landscape is home to a microcosm of unique plants and animals, and was first occupied by the Darug and Gundungurra Peoples.

Today you’ll discover a daisy chain of charming villages stretching right across the range — from Lapstone on the Sydney side, to Mount Victoria at the top of the western slopes. Each has its own style and character, and all have something special to offer visitors.

What’s the best time of year to visit the Blue Mountains? Any time! Autumn and spring are characterised by the vibrant colours of the region’s cool-climate gardens, while winter demands that you curl up in front of the nearest log fire with a glass of something good. At around one thousand metres above sea-level, the cool air and clear skies make bushwalking a breeze in summer. In fact, awesome outdoor adventures await you all year round!

Here are ten of the best things to do in the Blue Mountains.


Blue Mountains

New South Wales Tours, Activities & Attractions


1. Hike, hike, and hike some more

From gentle strolls to extreme climbs, there are hundreds of wonderful bushwalking trails to choose from in the Blue Mountains; it’s one of the key reasons visitors flock to this part of New South Wales. Easy 30-minute ambles include the Three Sisters Walk from Echo Point, the Reids Plateau Loop to the top of Katoomba Falls, and the Cathedral of Ferns circuit at Mount Wilson.

Ten of the best things to do in the Blue Mountains
Ten of the best things to do in the Blue Mountains: Take a hike. Image: Destination NSW

For the hardier hiker, try the 3.5-hour Valley of the Waters circuit at Wentworth Falls (which features a track cut right into the cliff face), and the half-day trek from Echo Point to Leura Cascades — via the quadricep-busting Giant Stairway. Hang a right instead of a left at the bottom of the Giant Stairway to hike to the Scenic Railway’s valley floor station (which will take you approximately three hours).

2. Linger at the lookouts

Not up for the energetic stuff? That’s OK, there are plenty of spots to simply stand and admire the incredible beauty of this natural wonderland. With its sweeping view of the famous Three Sisters rock formations, Mount Solitary, and wider Jamison Valley, Echo Point is the most popular lookout in the Mountains. If you don’t want to share the moment with selfie stick wielding day trippers from Sydney, go early or late in the day.

Ten of the best things to do in the Blue Mountains
Ten of the best things to do in the Blue Mountains: Echo Point

Other popular (and therefore generally busy) viewpoints include Wentworth Falls Lookout and Govetts Leap in Blackheath. However, you can escape the crowds entirely if you get off the beaten tourist track just a little. Try Sublime Point in Leura, which sits at the far end of a narrow escarpment south of the township. Framed by sheer cliffs, slipstreams of clouds throw dancing shadows across the vast valley before you.

If you’re really keen to go where few have gone before, a canyoning trip may be the answer.

3. Ride high at Scenic World

There are more memorable vantage points and views to swoon over at Scenic World in Katoomba. Climb aboard the Scenic Skyway cable car and travel between cliff tops on either side of the Jamison Valley (270 metres above the valley floor!). This birds-eye view of the terrain is breathtaking. The 510-metre Scenic Cableway descends into the Jamison Valley, as does the famous Scenic Railway — the world’s steepest passenger rail service. If you want to travel down on one and back up on the other, the walk between the two takes about 15 minutes.

Ten of the best things to do in the Blue Mountains
Ride the Scenic Railway at Katoomba. Image: Destination NSW

4. Do a walking tour of Leura

The Federation-era village of Leura was established in the late 1800s and became popular as a retreat for well-heeled Sydneysiders in the 1920s and 30s. Get the lowdown on many landmarks of note — including the heritage Post Office, the hill-top house and garden known as Hillcrest, the ill-fated Chateau Napier, and the Gothic-style Ritz guesthouse — on a 90-minute guided walking tour with Mountains Tales. Owner and tour guide Sue is an engaging host and sets a relaxed pace — covering a total distance of 1.5 kilometres, but with plenty of stops along the way.

Ten of the best things to do in the Blue Mountains
Go on a walking tour of Leura. Image: Adam Ford

5. Take tea

One activity beloved by those early 20th century tourists was ‘taking tea’. You can follow in their footsteps and indulge in a traditional high tea at the venerable Carrington Hotel in Katoomba, sumptuous Lilianfels Resort and Spa adjacent to Echo Point Lookout, and the clifftop Hydro Majestic Hotel at Medlow Bath.

Ten of the best things to do in the Blue Mountains
Enjoy high tea at The Hydro Majestic in Medlow Bath. Image: Destination NSW

Tea lovers will also want to drop by the charming Bygone Beauties tea-room in Leura. It has an amazing gift shop, alongside a teapot museum displaying some 5,000 pieces of tea pouring paraphernalia from across the globe. The tea-room itself is packed with old world charm, and offers both a standard Devonshire tea and a high tea service. The latter comes with quite the flourish (including musical accompaniment!). We won’t give too much away, so as not to spoil the surprise.

Watch our video of ten top things to do in the Blue Mountains:

10 Great Things to Do in the BLUE MOUNTAINS, NSW, Australia | Travel Guide & Checklist

The epic Blue Mountains National Park is located 90 minutes’ drive west of #Sydney and is a UNESCO World Heritage-listed region of outstanding natural beauty. Home to deep valleys, soaring escarpments, plunging waterfalls, and the famous Three Sisters rock formation, it’s a popular destination for day trippers and short break escapees alike – and there are endless ways to spend your time.

6. See some art

There’s a large arts community in the Blue Mountains and it’s not hard to work out why so many residents choose to pick up a paintbrush; the landscape is endlessly inspiring! If you have an interest in art, start by visiting the hugely impressive Blue Mountains Cultural Centre in Katoomba. It stages new exhibitions roughly every eight weeks and there’s bound to be something interesting on the go. There’s also a permanent exhibition dedicated to explaining the reasons for the region’s World Heritage status.

Ten of the best things to do in the Blue Mountains
Blue Mountains Cultural Centre. Image: Adam Ford

From there, you might want to see the once highly controversial nudes at the Norman Lindsay Gallery in Faulconbridge, or visit any of the many independent galleries dotted across the Mountains. The delightful Falls Gallery at Wentworth Falls displays work by Arthur Boyd, John Olsen, Bernard Ollis, Garry Shead, and Wendy Sharpe, and by its proprietors — potter Ian Smith, and visual artist Anne Smith. You can combine a visit to the gallery with a stop at nearby Wentworth Falls Lookout.

Ten of the best things to do in the Blue Mountains
Ten of the best things to do in the Blue Mountains: Falls Gallery. Image: Adam Ford

7. Sample top local drops

Fans of fine wines and boutique brews are in for a treat in the Blue Mountains. Plan a trip out to Dryridge Estate in the Megalong Valley — a 40-minute drive along an initially winding and relatively narrow country road (part of which is graded, but unsealed) once you take the turn-off from Blackheath. You’ll be richly rewarded for the effort. The cellar door sits on a hillside beneath towering gums and affords spectacular views back towards the Mountains. Sample seven estate wines, accompanied by a bountiful charcuterie or cheese board. Heaven!

Ten of the best things to do in the Blue Mountains
Ten of the best things to do in the Blue Mountains: Dryridge Estate. Image: Adam Ford

Back in Katoomba, Mountain Culture Beer Co occupies what was originally the printworks for the Echo newspaper in Parke Street, and the building (circa 1912) retains much of its original character. There are 14 house-brewed beers on tap, and the Status Quo Pale Ale recently took top honours in the Gabs Hottest 100 stakes. Special mention also to the blue ribbon (in our humble opinion) burgers.

8. Hit the Mountains’ markets

Weekends in the Mountains are a market-goer’s delight. The Leura First Sunday Market takes place — unsurprisingly — on the first Sunday of the month, and hosts an array of artisans and up-cyclers. On the second Sunday of the month, you can meet mountain makers at the Winmalee Artisan Market and shop for fresh produce at the Blackheath Growers Market. Lawson’s Magpie Upstyle Market on the third Sunday of the month is likely to deliver plenty of unexpected finds, and Springwood hosts a popular grower’s market the following week.

Ten of the best things to do in the Blue Mountains
Image: Leura First Sunday Market

9. Meander through glorious gardens

Bushwalking aside, the Blue Mountains region is probably most famous for its cool climate gardens. All four seasons are clearly defined by the foliage on display and if you happen to be visiting in late September/early October, you’ve hit the horticultural jackpot. A number of top private gardens open their gates to visitors during the annual Leura Gardens Festival, and it’s an opportunity to poke about that’s not to be missed.

Ten of the best things to do in the Blue Mountains
Blue Mountains Botanic Garden. Image: Destination NSW

At any time of year, the 30-hectare Blue Mountains Botanic Garden at Mount Tomah is more than worth the 40-or-so-minute drive from Katoomba. See rare wollemi pines, be dazzled by a flower meadow, tread lightly round the bog beds, and play lord/lady of the manor in the fabulous formal garden.

10. Visit the glow-worm tunnel

The region has more than its fair share of mossy caves, disused mines, and forgotten tunnels. And at Newnes Plateau in Wollemi National Park — 90 minutes’ drive north of Katoomba — a ‘milky way’ of glow-worms have taken up residence in an abandoned railway tunnel. The 180-degree curve of the structure makes it completely dark inside and fit for this curious creature to thrive. The curious visitor is more than welcome to call in for a look. Bring a torch, but don’t shine it directly on the tunnel walls; it will cause the worms to go dark and ruin your visit.

For more travel inspiration, visit www.visitbluemountains.com.au.

Browse our range of Blue Mountains tours and experiences here.

Do you have any suggestions to add to our list of the best things to do in the Blue Mountains? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.

Additional images: Bigstock

Susan Hinchey

About the writer

Susan Hinchey is a freelance travel writer who, even as a teenager growing up in country New South Wales, knew she wanted to see the world. A couple of years out of high school Susan embarked on an eight-week European Contiki tour. Since then she has visited Alaska, Canada, Thailand, Vanuatu, Fiji, Greece, parts of North America, and Britain several times. Susan’s go-to getaway is a camping trip anywhere along the Australian coast. Her favourite travel moments have included sailing the Mediterranean and visiting Denali National Park in Alaska.

Adam Ford

About the writer

Adam Ford is editor of Top Oz Tours and Travel Ideas, and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger, and photographer. He has travelled extensively through Europe, Asia, North America, Africa, and the Middle East. Adam worked as a travel consultant for a number of years with Flight Centre before taking up the opportunity to travel the world himself as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten. He loves to experience everything a new destination has to offer and is equally at home in a five-star Palazzo in Pisa or a home-stay in Hanoi.

 

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