12 Epic Hikes Near Sydney For When You Need To Stretch Your Legs

One of the best ways to experience a place is by walking every inch of it. Sydney is a great walking city, but unlike other cities, Sydney is surrounded by a sparkling coast and dense bushland, which makes it a hiker’s dream and city dwellers escape. 

Whether you have an hour or four, Sydney’s hikes vary in distance and difficulty. Some start at the beach and end atop a dizzying cliff with ocean views. Other trails will take you through lush valleys, up sandstone stairs, and across small creeks. They all come with stunning views, wildlife encounters, and well, the many benefits of exercise.

Lace-up your hiking boots, pack a bag, and get walking. 

Be sure to check the NSW National Parks alerts and warnings along with the NSW COVID-19 restrictions and advice before you head out.

two people walking
Photo Courtesy of Destination NSW

Bondi to Manly

The Bondi to Manly walk is the godfather of all walks. Stretching 80km from one iconic beach to the other, this walk weaves through public land, with well-maintained tracks, along wharves, across bridges, and by some of Sydney’s hidden vantage points. The entire walk can be completed in 15-hours, but a more realistic goal would be to break it up over four or five days, which is seven hours of walking a day. Let’s be honest, no one has the time, but you can complete a section at a time. Some highlight spots include Mr’s Macquarie’s Chair, Bradley’s Head, Watson’s Bay Wharf, Rose Bay, and Mary Booth Lookout. Along the way, you can stop at restaurants and bars, or soldier on to complete the track.

bridge on coast
Photo Courtesy of Destination NSW

Bundeena Drive to Marley Walk

Royal National Park
This rewarding walk is an 8km loop through the Royal National Park and passes by freshwater pools, bushland and has scenic beach views. The walk starts at Bundeena Drive which you can park at, then takes you through coastal terrain, with occasional steps and gentle hills. Along the way keep eyes peeled for the golden arc of sand at Little Marley Beach. If you have time, make a day of it and have an oceanside picnic, before retracing your steps to Bundeena Drive.

rock on cliff
Photo By S Rohrlach/ Courtesy Getty Images

Bundeena to Wedding Cake Rock

Royal National Park
This easy one hour stroll takes you to one of the best views of the ocean and to an Instagram famous sandstone cliff, dubbed Wedding Cake Rock. Here, many have jumped to the water’s edge for a snap, but the fence is there to protect people as there is a high risk of collapse. Other than that, the walk takes you through stunning scenery, from flowers and wildlife to bush and ocean views. This track connects to a much larger 26km Coast Track that runs along the sandstone cliffs of the Royal National Park. 

lighthouse lookout
Photo Courtesy of Destination NSW

Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk

Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park
The views along Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk will make you feel like you’re in Hawaii. It’s only an hour from the CBD, but this slice of paradise is set 91-metres above sea level and overlooks the infamous Palm Beach, also known as Summer Bay to fans of Home and Away. It’s a 30 minutes walk, but it is a steep track to the top, but once you reach the summit the pain subsides and sheer astonishment takes over. This walk is part of the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, which has the Smuggler’s Track, a harder workout if you’re keen. 

boats on beach
Photo By Brian Chidlow/EyeEm/Courtesy Of Getty Images

South Head Heritage Trail

Watsons Bay
Explore the tip of Sydney’s South Head on this 1km loop that combines leafy green nature with water views. The trip starts at Camp Cove, along a cobbled sandstone path, which reveals historical cannon and gun emplacements dating back to the 1800s. Continue down to Lady Bay Beach, a nudist beach with views of the harbour and city skyline. Next stop is the candy-striped lighthouse, which offers 180-degree views of Sydney. Sounds too good to be true, right?

overlooking bay
Photo Courtesy of Destination NSW

Botany Bay Coastal Walk

Botany Bay
This 12.7km walk takes you through the southern coastlines of Sydney, exploring the hanging swamps, native plants, wildlife, and ocean views along the way. Start at Polo Street and work your way down to Cronulla for a dip into one of its beautiful ocean pools. Keep an eye out for Cape Baily Lighthouse, a structure built in the 1950s and continues to guide northbound ships to this day. It takes around four hours to complete and the terrain is difficult as some sections are unmarked and rugged. 

Scenic view of the harbour bridge
Photo Courtesy of Destination NSW

Bradley’s Head to Chowder Bay Walk

This pleasant coastal walk is 4km, but it’s an easy stroll by the ocean on boardwalks and designated paths. You can start at Taronga Zoo Wharf and wade your way up Bradley’s Head which is dotted with its own secret little beaches, not to mention epic views of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House. It weaves around the headland to unveil Chowder Bay, a small beach with a netted swimming enclosure. Here, stop for a picnic or head to a cafe to fuel up before the walk back.

hidden beach
Photo Courtesy of Destination NSW

Hermitage Foreshore Walk

Vaucluse and Rose Bay are known for their rich residents, but they’re also home to some of Sydney’s best secret beaches. This one hour walk takes you to some of them, and a few spectacular lookouts along with views of Italianate style mansions and heritage-listed homes. The path is mostly covered by a flat boardwalk with some stairs, so it is a fairly easy walk. Highlights include Milk Beach, Queens Beach, and Shark Bay, which contrary to its name is a safe swimming area. Stop by Steele Point and Ralph Newboult Lookout for a new perspective. 

beach and boardwalk
Photo Courtesy of Destination NSW

Bondi to Coogee

This iconic walk is a popular trail, but it takes you to the best of the city’s beaches and clifftops with ocean views. The 6km one-way walk is an easy, but long stroll that starts at Bondi Icebergs and continues along the coastline past Tamarama Beach, Bronte, Clovelly Beach, and Gordon’s Bay. Whichever way you look, there are beautiful scenic views. Stop at the clifftop to take in the fresh air and view or head down to one of the many beaches for a swim. 

three sisters view
Photo Courtesy of Destination NSW

Three Sisters Walk

The Blue Mountains, only an hour from the CBD offers some pretty impressive, vertigo-inducing views. This short but iconic walk takes you to a lookout where three large rock formations, dubbed the Three Sisters stand. The walk starts at a stone archway at Echo Point and continues through a well-maintained path, that gets tricky once you reach Giant Stairway. The trip takes around 45 minutes, return, and offers atmospheric views of the mountains.

mountain views
Photo Courtesy of Destination NSW

Cliff Top Walking Track

Take advantage of the two most impressive lookouts in the Blue Mountains. This 3km clifftop walking track follows a cliff edge, boasting valley views the whole way around. It’s a moderate walk, that can start at either Govetts Leap Lookout or Evans Lookout. The views show the iconic cliff faces of the Blue Mountains, its lush greenery, and the horizon, which makes it a romantic walk, particularly during sunset or if you’re game enough, sunrise. The walking track connects to the famous Grand Canyon Walk, where you will meet a series of waterfalls, creeks, and of course, epic cliff views. 

man standing on mountain
Photo By WalkerPodImages/Courtesy Of Getty Images

Ruined Castle Walking Track

This grueling five-hour hike in Katoomba is 6.6km long and goes deep into the Jamison Valley. You start at the Golden Stairway and from there, head into the rainforest, where wildlife and old miner’s cottages await. You can climb the ruined castle, one of the most recognisable rock formations in the valley. Once at the top, the view encompasses Katoomba and Wentworth Falls. It’s recommended you have bushwalking experience, as there are limited signage along this track and some rough and steep terrain.