THE PERFECT BLUE MOUNTAINS DAY TRIP FROM SYDNEY
THE PERFECT BLUE MOUNTAINS DAY TRIP FROM SYDNEY
A Blue Mountains day trip is the perfect escape from busy Sydney; however, planning a Blue Mountains itinerary is not an easy task as there is so much to see and do. From the endless wildlife to waterfalls it’s not surprising it’s one of the most popular day trips out of Sydney, so it’s essential you plan each stop to make the most of your day.
Before our day trip, we asked for recommendations from locals as well as researching numerous itineraries to make the most of our short time. We managed to narrow down the best Blue Mountain activities and the stops that are worth it, all of which we have explained in detail below.
*Spoiler Alert* The Blue Mountains are not actually blue although they definitely will look blue in your photos and in real life. The blue tint is caused by Eucalyptus trees which release oil into the air. This oil mixes with water vapour and dust which reflects a bluey haze giving these mountains that famous colour.
HOW TO GET TO THE BLUE MOUNTAINS FROM SYDNEY
If you’re wondering how to get to the Blue Mountains from Sydney, there are three options – car, bus or train. It depends on your budget, time limitations and what you hope to do in The Blue Mountains which option you feel is best.
If you’re a keen hiker, you may not want to be limited by a train timetable. If you want to beat the crowds, you may want to drive to leave as early as possible. If you want someone else to do all the hard work, a Blue Mountains bus tour may be your best option. Read our advice below to find the best option for you.
How To Get To The Blue Mountains From Sydney By Car
We chose to do our Blue Mountains day trip tour by car, well campervan to be specific. For us, it offered the most freedom and allowed us to stop at only the stops we wanted to as well as spend as much or as little time as we wanted at each stop. It is also the most time effective, as it is only a 90 minute drive from Sydney to the Blue Mountains if you travel via toll roads.
To begin our Blue Mountains day trip as early as possible, we camped closer to the National Park the night before, so we only had a 40-minute drive in the morning.
Blue Mountains Day Trip By Train
The second option (and one of the most popular) is to do your Blue Mountains day trip by train. The Sydney to Blue Mountains train is a great option if you’re on a budget or can’t drive. The train costs around AU$10.00 each way and takes 2 hours. If you are planning a Blue Mountains day trip by train, we recommend going on a Sunday, when transport in Sydney is capped at AU$2.70. You can pay the train fare using your Opal card.
There are two types of Sydney to Blue Mountains train – regular or express. The express has fewer stops along the way, although it is only around 15 minutes faster. The train travels from Sydney to Katoomba which is the main hub of the Blue Mountains and home to the landmark, Three Sisters.
From Katoomba, you can also hop on the Blue Mountains Explorer which will drop you at more Blue Mountain attractions such as Scenic World and Leura Cascades. Another option if planning your Blue Mountains day trip by train is to take a train from Sydney to Leura which is an equally popular town in the Blue Mountains national park.
Blue Mountains Bus Tour
If you’re wondering how to get to the Blue Mountains from Sydney by bus, unfortunately, there are no public bus services. However, you can opt for an organised bus tour which will allow you to sit back and relax without arguing over sat nav directions, parking spaces or train time tables.
There are numerous Blue Mountain bus tours to choose from which leave from Sydney, which will take you to the main attractions. An organised Blue Mountains bus tour may prove more cost effective if you consider the price of fuel and car hire; however, it does come with the disadvantage of having someone else dictate your day.
Also, many Blue Mountains bus tours do not offer enough time to enjoy the many Blue Mountains walks, so if hiking is on your agenda, a bus tour may not be the best option. These are the best Blue Mountains bus tours we could find, based on reviews and value for money.
WHERE TO STAY IN THE BLUE MOUNTAINS
As mentioned above it is easy to travel to the Blue Mountains from Sydney by train or by bus. To start our Blue Mountains day trip earlier, we checked out of our amazing budget accommodation in Sydney and instead found a campsite nearer to the national park called Lake Wallace where we stayed the night before.
During our time camping in Australia, Lake Wallace was one of our favourite free campgrounds as it offered hot showers, flush toilets, huge spacious pitches and beautiful views. All without spending a penny. We recommend staying here the night before your Blue Mountains day trip as it’s only a 40-minute drive from here to our first stop.
BEFORE YOU START YOUR BLUE MOUNTAINS DAY TRIP
You will not regret hiring a car or taking your campervan as we did, as our Blue Mountains day trip was one of our favourite road trips in Australia, with our Great Ocean Road trip being a very close contender. It allows you the freedom of leaving when you want and ticking of the best Blue Mountain activities before the tour buses & crowds.
However, if you are opting for a self-drive tour of the Blue Mountains, ensure you have all the road trip essentials packed in preparation for a safe, stress-free drive.
If you are taking the train, make sure to check the current Blue Mountain train schedule as prices vary whether you travel at peak times and if you want an express of regular train. You can use the online Planner to plan your Blue Mountains day trip from Sydney to ensure you’ll make it to all attractions before the last train home.
Also, check the National Park website as certain hiking trails may be closed which happened to us. It would be so disappointing to pack the car and drive all the way there for your hike to not be possible.
THE PERFECT BLUE MOUNTAINS ITINERARY
We had our breakfast in the campervan and began our day around 7 am to beat the crowds. From our campsite, at Lake Wallace, it was only a 40-minute drive to the first stop in our Blue Mountains day trip.
Govetts Leap Lookout
Govetts Leap was recommended to us by a local, as they explained it was a perfect first stop if you are limited on time as you don’t have to walk for hours to reach incredible views. She was not mistaken, we parked up our campervan, and within 5 minutes we were at the viewing platform. This also makes it a great stop for those with young families as it safe, short walk.
Govetts leap provided vast views of the endless gum tree forest (and that incredible blue hue.) It should’ve provided views of a beautiful 180m drop waterfall, but during our Blue Mountains day trip the waterfall was dry.
Our visit to Govetts Leap is a great example of why we recommend starting your Blue Mountains day trip early, as we were the only people there allowing us complete freedom to photograph the insane views and absorb the peaceful atmosphere.
As we were leaving, we bumped into a group of hikers who were away to start one of the most famous Blue Mountain walks – the walk from Govetts Leap to Pulpit Rock. After our experience hiking in Hawaii, we were not quite mentally (or physically) prepared for hikes in the heat any time soon; however, this walk is incredibly popular and rewarding. The hike takes around 2-3 hours and is 7km, for more info we recommend checking the National Parks Site.
Instead, we jumped back in the campervan and continued our Blue Mountains day trip with stop number 2 which was only 15-minutes down the road.
Pulpit Rock Lookout
Pulpit Rock Lookout was hands down our favourite stop from our entire Blue Mountains day trip. Again, because we were the only ones there and to us, it offered the best views of the Blue Mountains.
We will warn it is not a stop for the faint-hearted. The first half of the walk was relatively easy with carved steps and a gentle decline downhill. However, you soon arrive at a viewpoint where you can take scarily narrow stairs down to a further viewpoint.
Although the Pulpit Rock Lookout was a highlight from our Blue Mountains day trip, it did require some persuasion to get me down those steps as it was a tad terrifying if you’re not a fan of heights because it was very windy.
The views were 100% worth it however and to be honest, you can easily admire the incredible views without the adrenaline-inducing stair climb. Take your time, admire the scenery and enjoy those last few minutes of peace as our next stop on our Blue Mountains itinerary was the busiest.
Echo Point / Three Sisters
If you are planning your Blue Mountains day trip by train, Echo Point is only a 20-minute walk from Katoomba train station. If you are travelling by car, parking is available directly at Echo Point, but it is expensive. From Pulpit Rock to Echo Point it was only a 30-minute drive.
Echo Point is a viewing platform offering the best view of the famous Three Sisters and Jamison Valley. You will also have access to Queen Elizabeth lookout which is a second viewing platform offering views of The Three Sisters. It’s very likely the reason you are planning this Blue Mountains itinerary is to see the fabulous three but to be honest, we found them a slight anti-climax.
As we drove up to Echo Point, we could count nearly half a dozen buses, and our hearts sank knowing a battle with selfie sticks was away to commence. It was only around 10 am, and we had to queue patiently for the best space along the platform to snap a photo or two. It’s silly to expect such a popular attraction to be empty. However, the endless (very loud) crowds did slightly spoil our experience at Echo Point.
We do still feel it is a worthy stop on your Blue Mountains itinerary as the Echo Point visitor centre offered an interesting insight into the history of the rocks as well as hikes and maps of the area.
We learned the legend behind the landmark is that there were three sisters from the Katoomba tribe who fell in love with three warriors from the rival Nepean tribe. According to Aboriginal folklore, a fierce battle broke out when the Nepean men tried to capture the sisters, so as a method of protection a witch doctor turned them into stone. Unfortunately, he was then killed in the battle, and so the sisters remained as stone forever.
Fast forward to today, you can take The Three Sisters track and hike down The Giant Stairway to reach the famous three up close. Although be warned, you will then need to hike The Giant Stairway back up which is quite a challenging climb. For an easier but equally rewarding hike, take The Prince Henry Cliff Walk from Katoomba which will take you Leura Cascades.
We prefer to explore nature through hikes or trails simply because it’s cheaper and usually less crowded/touristy. However, we couldn’t mention Echo Point without mentioning Scenic World, which is an incredibly popular thing to do on a Blue Mountains day trip.
Scenic World offers four ways (literally) to view the Blue Mountains – a skyway, walkway, cableway and railway.
- The Railway is one of the steepest in the world with an incline of 52 degrees.
- The Skyway is 270m high, travelling from Echo Point, over Jamison Valley with views of Katoomba Falls.
- The Cableway travels 545m to the valley floor – all the way to the rainforest.
- The Walkway is a 1.5-mile walkway which also takes you through the rainforest.
Ticket prices vary depending on if you want to explore one or all “ways”. You can also purchase combo tickets, which include the Blue Mountains Explorer bus – this might be a good idea if you are doing your Blue Mountains day trip by train and won’t be able to drive to the next stops.
There are numerous waterfalls within the Blue Mountains National Park. However, Wentworth Falls was our favourite. The Wentworth Falls Track is one of the most famous Blue Mountain walks, but unfortunately, a recent storm had damaged parts of the path during our visit. To be honest, the parts of the walk we did manage were incredible, and it was a definite highlight of our Blue Mountains day trip.
The track takes you to three lookouts – Jamison & Wentworth with the finale being Fletchers lookout. Again, it was nerve-wracking at times if you’re not a fan of heights as occasionally, the path is incredibly narrow, and you are literally on the edge of the cliff face. This does provide some incredible photo opportunities however and a walk not to be missed from your Blue Mountains itinerary.
Our Blue Mountains day trip was in early February, therefore the water in the falls was not overly impressive as there hadn’t been heavy rainfall for some time. Wentworth Falls usually cascade down a 100m drop into the valley, but the wind kept whisking the water away. This did create impressive rainbows over the water that was flowing which we could’ve stood and watched all day.
Mountain High Pies – Wentworth
You maybe were not expecting your Blue Mountains day trip to include a bakery; however, the “number one pie in Australia” is in fact from Wentworth, in the Blue Mountains.
During our time in Australia, we sampled an embarrassing number of pies and loved stopping at local bakeries as the owners always gave us friendly advice and hidden gems for where to explore next in our campervan.
When we arrived at Mountain High Pies, we had high expectations (excuse the pun), and the pies definitely exceeded expectation. I had a lamb, rosemary and shiraz pie and Darren managed two, including a delicious lemon meringue pie. A stop here is the perfect way to end your Blue Mountains day trip, before heading back to Sydney or continuing your NSW tour.
We hope our Blue Mountains itinerary will help you see the highlights of the Blue Mountains in one day. Whether you choose to make it an epic road trip or prefer a Blue Mountains day trip by train, we would love to hear what you got up to, if you managed to see everything on our list or if you find some hidden gems along the way – let us know in the comments.
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