Day and Overnight Trips from Sydney

Find a scenic hike, a destination restaurant, or a wilderness retreat in every direction.

180 Berkeley Rd, Berkeley NSW 2506, Australia
Just over an hour south of Australia’s largest city is a more tranquil “largest,” the largest Buddhist temple in the Southern Hemisphere, Nan Tien Temple. This spiritual, educational and cultural refuge brings a bit of the east to the western world. Classic Chinese architecture accents this “Paradise of the South” with symmetrical structures like the tiered seven-level pagoda and ski-slope-roofed shrines including the Great Compassion Hall that features an intricate 16-handed Bodhisattva statue. Stroll the serene landscape to discover the lotus pond, tea garden, vegetarian dining hall and playful statue studded hillsides and to learn more about the Fo Guang Shan sect of Mahayana Buddhism that is practiced on-site. To end, meditate at the main Great Hero Hall under the powerful yet peaceful presence of five grand Buddha statues set in front of 10,000 miniature ones. Make the most of this moment to reflect and walk out the red doors into the world a more enlightened person. Tip: For those with time, spend a day or weekend with one of the temple’s retreats for a fully serene experience.
Governor Phillip Park, Palm Beach NSW 2108, Australia
This Hawkesbury river boathouse looks like it’s come straight from a shoot with Vogue. Elegant and casual, fun and cheery, it’s worth taking a day trip to Palm Beach for. Red-and-white awnings hang over charcoal-painted tables where the white umbrellas don’t reach. Tin pots of orchids and tulips sit on stools. It’s lazy, albeit very busy (be prepared to queue), and linen, jeans and flip-flop clad diners order from a large blackboard. The signature beer battered flathead and chips are light and crispy, served in a little wooden box. The pot of herby Boston Bay mussels are small and sweet. For breakfast, the fluffy French toast, piled up with mixed berries and drizzled with maple syrup and mascarpone, and the Boathouse baked beans are hard to beat.
2600 Wolgan Rd
It doesn’t get more quintessentially Australian than this: waking up to a symphony of kookaburras and the heady scent of eucalyptus, the sight of kangaroos roaming freely about the 7,000-acre nature reserve. You might be tricked into thinking you’d slept under the stars—if it weren’t for the four-poster bed, flicker of a warm fire, and sunrise reflected from the glittering private pool. A three hours’ drive west of Sydney, this luxury ecolodge feels worlds away, surrounded by sandstone bluffs and sweeping plains filled with leafy gumtrees and Wollemi pines. It has 40 homestead-style villas that are as eco-friendly as they are indulgent: materials sourced within a 60-mile radius, solar panels for hot water and lighting. Highlights include the Aussie cuisine, mostly grown and sourced within 100 miles of the resort (and included in the all-inclusive rate, along with a premium minibar). A fruit orchard and edible garden supplies organic herbs, vegetables, fruits, and nuts.


The most intriguing aspect of the property is an original farmhouse, built around 1832, that hosted Charles Darwin in 1836. Today, the homestead functions as a museum that highlights the Indigenous, settler, and agricultural history of the valley. The comprehensive program of activities gets guests off the homestead: There are peaks to climb, glowworms to ogle, and horses to ride. Following a landslide in 2022, Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley has faced access issues. It is temporarily closed.
Named after the blue haze that cloaks the region—which some link to oil droplets from the multitude of eucalyptus trees—the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage area is a staggering 2.5-million-acre swath of sandstone canyons, cliffs, and tablelands, just a few hours west of Sydney. The Blue Mountains are a stronghold of natural and cultural values, from Aboriginal rock art caves and relics of early industry to rare plants and animals, including the glossy black cockatoo and the wollemi pine, a descendant of a 200-million-year-old tree family. For a day hike, you can’t beat the National Pass, which takes in deep canyon views and three waterfalls. Adventurers can also rock climb, abseil, mountain bike, or endure the 28-mile Six Foot Track.
Newcastle NSW, Australia
Take the train less than two hours north of Sydney for a relaxing weekend in Newcastle, a town of historic pubs, welcoming cafes, and beautiful beaches. A visit to the oddly named Bogey Hole is a quintessential Newcastle experience, as you can swim in the rock pool on the ocean carved by the convicts that populated the area. Known also as the Commandant’s Baths, it was constructed for the Commandant of Newcastle’s personal use in 1820.
Harbour St, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
The largest and most storied of the Sydney Harbour islands, Cockatoo was once an Aboriginal fishing ground, a naval shipyard, a girls’ reform school, and a gruesome prison. Today, it offers fascinating walking tours, a casual café, and a number of events such as the Biennale of Sydney. When most visitors line up in the evening to catch the ferry home, those staying on the island are just setting off on a leisurely sunset stroll. They can watch the city light up from what feels like another world and then retreat to their campsite, canvas “glamping” tent, heritage home, or modern apartment until they wake up to birds and boats the next morning.
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