Things to Do in New South Wales
The southeastern state of New South Wales is one of the best-known regions in Australia thanks to its iconic city of Sydney. Venture beyond Australia's largest city though and you'll find a region of charming beach towns, vast bushland and inspiring wildlife. With these features and more, you’ll be spoilt for choice with things to see and do in New South Wales. Don’t feel overwhelmed though; here we help you narrow down your list:
Climb Sydney Harbour Bridge
Most people know Sydney Harbour Bridge, but only a handful of them have viewed it from above. Enter the Sydney BridgeClimb, where you’ll climb 332 steps to a dizzying 134 metres high and, when you near the top, and the intricate metalwork starts to give way to blue skies, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the city, the Harbour and the iconic Opera House. There are few better ways to get a bird’s eye view of Sydney.
How to do it: Embark on our tailor-made East Coast Highlights itinerary which includes the Sydney BridgeClimb Sampler.
Tour the vineyards of the Hunter Valley
Located a few hours’ drive north-west of Sydney, the Hunter Valley is New South Wales’ premier food and wine destination. The region is Australia's oldest and most-visited wine region, home to over 150 top-class wineries, vineyards and cellar doors. To match the region’s knack for delicious food and wine, the Hunter Valley also boasts a number of day spas and Championship golf courses, providing the perfect place to stay, wine, dine and relax for a few days.
How to do it: The Hunter Valley is just west of Newcastle and a perfect place to stopover as you make your way up the Pacific Coast. While visiting, we can arrange a number of activities for you to enjoy such as a sunrise hot-air balloon flight (included in our Beyond Sydney itinerary), or a picnic amongst the vines (included in our Highlights of New South Wales).
Hike in the Blue Mountains
The Blue Mountains is a range located west of Sydney, named after the peaks' blue tinge which can be seen from a distance. Most visitors visit the Blue Mountains National Park for the bush walking. From the local Heritage Centre you can find out about all the hikes and varying difficulties before choosing to head off on your own or with a guide. Our favourites include the National Pass, affording panoramic views of the Jamison Valley, the Nepean River walking track, which weaves between enchanting woodlands, and the adventurous Glenbrook Gorge track, stretching into the eastern reaches of the park.
How to do it: Hire a mountain bike or hit the Blue Mountain trails on foot with our Highlights of New South Wales holiday itinerary.
Explore the Jenolan Caves
With fascinating formations of stalactites and stalagmites, the huge underworld phenomenon that is the Jenolan Caves is open for adventure caving, cave tours and even after-dark excursions. You could spend hours exploring this labyrinth of limestone caverns, soaking up a history more ancient than you could ever imagine.
How to do it: Nestled in the Blue Mountains World Heritage area, the Jenolan Caves are a three-hour drive from Sydney or Canberra. Visit the caves on our New South Wales Explorer holiday.
Meet whales in Port Stephens
There’s a reason that Port Stephens’ nickname is the ‘Blue Water Paradise’: it features tranquil coves, ripe for swimming; unbeatable marine scenery; and of course, whales. Indeed, this is one of the top spots in the state to see humpbacks and southern right whales passing during their annual migration. Also be sure to look out for cetacean pods from the Tomaree Head Summit Walk.
How to do it: Visit May to November for prime whale watching season. You’ll spend two nights in Port Stephens as part of our Beyond Sydney holiday itinerary.
Learn to surf in Byron Bay
Australia is surfing at its very best and New South Wales boasts some of the best waves going. For beaches that offer perfect beginner conditions without the crowds, we recommend visiting the Bohemian coastal town of Byron Bay. Beloved by Australians for its pristine beaches, laid-back vibe and luxury accommodation options, Byron Bay also offers fantastic coastal walks and has a burgeoning dining scene.
How to do it: Byron Bay is a perfect stopover point when driving from Sydney to Brisbane along the Pacific Coast highway. For an idea on how to drive this route, see our Legendary Pacific Coast holiday itinerary.
Snorkel off Lord Howe Island
Located 370 miles off the mainland, Lord Howe Island may be a small landmass, but it’s big on beautiful marine life. So grab your flippers, mask and snorkel and take to the water – here you can swim in secluded seas home to over 90 vibrant types of coral and 500 fish species, like the elusive double-headed wrasse. If you’re feeling adventurous, diving is incredible here too, or if you’d rather stay dry, opt for a glass-bottom boat tour.
How to do it: You'll stay on Lord Howe Island for three nights on our New South Wales Food & Wine holiday, an itinerary that gives you the time to spot rare birdlife on land before getting underwater.
For more ideas on things to do in this Australian state, see our New South Wales holiday itineraries.