NSW’s Best Weekend Getaways, Ranked By Someone Who’s Never Home

blue mountains accommodation

Ironically, one of the best parts about Sydney, in my opinion, is how easy it is to escape.

You can drive up and down the stunning NSW coastline for beach towns filled with boutique shops, barefooted locals and laidback cafés serving expertly-made flat whites with a side of sea air.

Or you can head inland to the countryside for cosy retreats, best enjoyed with steaming cups of tea or cocoa and a day spent in your PJs. If you do feel like getting up and out, you’ll be spoilt for choice with countless steep hikes and leisurely walks, and plenty of waterfalls, animals or foliage to look at along the way.

The only problem then becomes — where to go? Ahead, I’ve rounded up some of my favourite spots with a snapshot of what to expect from each. And they’re coming from me, someone who’s very much partial to a weekend getaway and rarely home.


As far as country towns go, Bowral in the Southern Highlands is on the bougier end, known for its sprawling estates, boutique shops and gourmet restaurants. In the mid-1880s, Bowral was a popular holiday destination for wealthy Sydneysiders looking to escape the summer heat. Today, choose from stays like Berida Hotel, Peppers Manor House Sutton Forest or Milton Park Country House Hotel and Spa, browse antique shops like Dirty Janes Bowral, Birdhouse by Hem and Susie Anderson Home or Bespoke Press and visit restaurants like Onesta Cucina, Harry’s on Green Lane and The Bowral Brasserie.

Driving distance from Sydney: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Berida Hotel Bowral
Image: Berida Hotel Bowral

The Hawkesbury

The Hawkesbury is often called the “food basket” of Sydney because it grows a vast range of produce like oranges, apples, berries and veggies. Though they’re mostly sold in the metropolitan area, you can also pick them at stalls dotted along roads in the area or “pick your own” from orchards. Here you can visit a winery, cruise or kayak down Hawkesbury River, or go for a bushwalk.

Driving distance from Sydney: 2 hours, 45 minutes


Kiama, in the Illawarra region of NSW, is best known for the Kiama Blowhole, a natural attraction that sees water from the sea regularly spurted up through a hole in rocks. The town is also known for its coastal cliffs, white sand beaches, and many vantage points where you can take it all in. Visit the still-active Kiama Lighthouse, lookout Minnamurra Point and, in Budderoo National Park, Minnamurra Falls.

Driving distance from Sydney: 2 hours, 15 minutes

Image: Getty Images


Narooma doesn’t get nearly the amount of hype it deserves, though that might be because it’s that much further from Sydney — it’s just over a five-hour drive. Here, you can swim with seals in Montague Island, do a cycle tour, or simply explore the beach town on your own. Dine as seaside venues Salt, Quarterdeck and Queen Chow, a Cantonese restaurant located in Whale Inn, opened after success in Enmore and Manly.

Driving distance from Sydney: 5 hours, 15 minutes

Blue Mountains

No round-up of weekend getaways from Sydney would be complete without a mention of the Blue Mountains, easily one of the most popular choices among tourists. Because of this, it’s well set up for them, so you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to things to do, whether it’s hiking one of the many trails, browsing the boutique shops along the main drag in Katoomba or simply chilling out and visiting a day spa. Restaurant-wise, visit Arrana, Zoe’s and, for Surry Hills-rivalling coffee, Kickaboom.

Driving distance from Sydney: 1 hour

Image: Getty Images

Hunter Valley

Like the Blue Mountains, Hunter Valley is a weekend getaway staple, though here it’s all wine-tasting. Even if you’re not drinking, it’s worth a peek around a winery and wander through a vineyard. The viticulture here dates back to the early 1800s. When you’ve finished with the wineries, visit an art gallery, embark on a cycle tour or even book a horse riding trip.

Driving distance from Sydney: 3 hours, 30 minutes

Kangaroo Valley

When many Sydney locals think of Kangaroo Valley, excellent bushwalking comes to mind. The area is filled with untouched nature so, in addition to walking, you can set up a picnic in it — preferably in Morton National Park where the incredible Fitzroy Falls can be found — or hire canoes and head down Kangaroo River. Stay in boutique hotels, cottages, or farmstays.

Driving distance from Sydney: 2 hours, 15 minutes

Read more stories from The Latch and subscribe to our email newsletter.