Visit the Blue Mountains By Train: 2 Easy Itineraries

Visiting the Blue Mountains by train on a day trip is a great way to save some money and have more control over what you see and do while you are there. It’s relatively easy and armed with our detailed advice; you have everything you need for a fantastic day trip from Sydney.

Update: Please note this itinerary has been fully updated to work with the new timetable that begins 1 July 2024.

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How to Plan a One Day Blue Mountains trip by Train

We have put together two one-day itineraries for visiting the stunning UNESCO listed Blue Mountains using a combination of the train from Sydney and HOHO Bus.

  • One day visiting Scenic World and using the HOHO bus to see the main sites.
  • One day skipping Scenic World to allow more time for bushwalking.

Let’s start with our tips for taking the train to the mountains.

Catching the train to the Blue Mountains from Sydney

Trains to the mountains leave from Central Station, usually from platforms 5-12, which are in the main hall. 

Take a seat upstairs on the left if you can. This will offer the best views once you reach the lower mountains.

The journey takes just under two hours, and most of it is not that scenic, so pack a book or have a little snooze.

Sydney Central Station indicator board country trains the starting point for your Blue Mountains by train itinerary
Central Station has suburban and interurban areas. Blue Mountains trains usually leave from the interurban area.

How much does a train ticket to the Blue Mountains cost?

The cost of tickets depends on the time of the day and the day of the week.

If you catch the train in the official off-peak time before 6.30am or after 10am, it is $6.88 one way; during peak times, it is $9.84. The return peak runs between 3-7pm.

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday the return fare is set by the Opal weekend travel cap of $8.40 per day. A consequence of the cheap ticket is there are more people on the trains (and in the mountains), which can often result in no empty seats on the way home!

If you are not familiar with the Opal system, read our 101 Guide to using Opal in Sydney first.

What time train should you take to the Mountains?

The early bird catches the worm and avoids the tour buses, so set your alarm and get to bed before midnight!

Trains from Katoomba are as follows:

Central StationKatoomba Station
6:23 am8:21 am
6:53 am8:51 am
7:23 am9:21 am
8:18 am10:16 am
Morning trains to Katoomba

Try to catch one of the first two services above. These trains will get you up to the mountains in time to grab a coffee before the first HOHO bus departs or Scenic World opens.

If you prefer to drive, check out our Blue Mountains self-drive itineraries.

If you are on a very tight budget, you might like our guide to exploring the mountains using the public bus system, however we think the HOHO bus is worth every cent!

Itinerary 1 – Blue Mountains with Scenic World & HOHO Bus

A day of short bushwalks and lots of photo opportunities

This first itinerary focuses on the best-known spots in the Blue Mountains, Echo Point, home of the Three Sisters, Scenic World and Leura. It’s a great choice for anyone who would prefer to keep their bush walks limited to 30 minutes or less or those who have not had time to do much research.

Blue Mountains HOHO bus
The commentary on the HOHO was entertaining and informative.

Being able to hop on and off the bus is perfect for families with young kids who may struggle to keep up on a group tour.

I recommend is that you buy a Lyrebird Pass online to save valuable time on arrival. The Lyrebird pass entitles you to use the hop on hop off bus and includes entry to Scenic World so you won’t have to line up to get a ticket when you reach Katoomba.

If you plan on visiting Scenic World, lines for tickets can be very long at times; having a ticket means you can get straight to the rides before the crowds.

If you are not planning on visiting Scenic World, buy the standard HOHO pass.

Related: Check out our guide to Fifty+ Things to Do in the Blue Mountains

Planning your stops on the Blue Mountains Explorer Bus

Head to the Blue Mountains Explorer Bus office at Katoomba Station to pick up your guidebook if you are early. It will allow you to plan your stops over your morning coffee. The office opens at 8:45 am on weekdays, and 8:15 am on weekends. If you have purchased your ticket online, you can also show your voucher to the driver and collect your booklet when you board.

9:15 am – Join the bus on the main street of Katoomba, Katoomba Street, opposite the Carrington Hotel (Stop 1)

Carrington Hotel Katoomba
The first HOHO bus stop is directly opposite this historic hotel.

The first HOHO bus leaves Katoomba at 9.15am and arrives at Echo Point at 9:27am.

If you are planning to visit Scenic World today, I suggest going there first. The first HOHO bus that stops at Scenic World departs Katoomba at 9:45am and arrives at 10am. The big tour buses usually arrive around 10.30am, if you can get there before they do, you will not have to queue for the rides making the whole day more enjoyable.

If you come later in the day, leave Scenic World until mid-afternoon.

If you arrive early, walk to stop number two and check out the street art in Beverly Place before joining the bus.

10 am – Arrive at Scenic World East Station, show your pass and walk right in. (Stop 7)

How long should you spend at Scenic World?

If you want to take all three rides at Scenic World, then I suggest you allow about an hour for your visit. This is how I would plan my time:

Ride the Scenic Skyway first.

The bus makes a stop at the Eastern Station shortly after leaving the Three Sisters. When you get off walk around to the lookout before heading to join the line for the skyway. At this time of day you should get right on.

Blue Mountains Scenic Skyway
The Skyway ride is quick and offers fantastic views.

The Skyway offers 360-degree views as it travels 270m across the valley, passing Katoomba Falls on the way across.

As the skyway makes its way over to Scenic World get a spot by the window at the back or right hand side for the best views of Katoomba Falls.

You also get a fantastic view of the Three Sisters. The glass bottom floor gives you a chance to feel the vastness of the valley.

The light across the valley is best earlier in the day, and the Skyway is popular with tour groups, which is why I recommend you take this ride first.

Blue Mountains Scenic Skyway view
There is an open area where you can stick your camera outside the glass for photographs.

Once you arrive on the other side of the valley, you can take a short walk to the top of Katoomba Falls and return to the Skyway for the trip back to the base. Alternatively, you can get off at stop 8 (the Eastern Skyway Station) and join the skyway here after you have done your walk to the falls and back.

Ride the Railway next

Once you are back at the main Scenic World station, line up for the Scenic Railway.

Blue Mountains Scenic Railway
With a 52 degree incline, the Scenic Railway is the steepest passenger railway in the world.

The ride on the railway to the valley floor is an attraction in itself, and the platform at the bottom has fantastic views of the Three Sisters. The trip down is my preference because it’s like a rollercoaster ride. If you are scared of heights, you might prefer to ride up and take the cable car down and the railway up.

The Scenic Walkway 

The Scenic Walkaway is a 2.4km boardwalk runs between the railway and the cable car. This walk is accessible for prams and wheelchairs with a natural incline and handrails along the way.

Scenic Walkway Scenic World Katoomba
The 2.4km boardwalk connects the Scenic Railway with the Scenic Cableway

There is an extension that is not wheelchair accessible and adds 10 mins to the trail. There was nothing significantly different on this part of the walk, so it’s okay to skip it if you like. Follow the signs to the cableway.

The Scenic Cableway will take you back up to the base station from the valley floor.

Blue Mountains Cableway at Scenic World
The Cableway transports you from the valley floor back to the top of the mountains.

11.00 am – Rejoin the HOHO bus; if you miss this one, there is a bus every hour on the hour.

The next stop you will pass is NarrowNeck Lookout. The bus usually stops here for a couple of minutes so you can take a quick photo. If you are not looking to do a bushwalk, jump back on the bus after you have taken your shot.

HOHO Bus at Narrowneck lookout
The front row at the top of the bus offers the best views

11:19 am – Arrive at Katoomba Falls Tourist Park (Stop 14)

This is one of the prettiest walks in the mountains. Follow the signs to the main Katoomba Falls lookout before backtracking and following the walk Katoomba Cascades. There are plenty of picnic tables at the top of the stairs above the cascades waiting for you when you can tear yourself away from the view.

Katoomba Falls Blue Mountains
Katoomba Falls

1:01pm – Rejoin the HOHO bus here at Stop 8 (Katoomba Cascades) and stay on board until you reach Leura Village.

1:27pm – Arrive at Leura Cascades (stop 18) which is the perfect spot for a picnic. if you are have not bought lunch with you, perhaps stay on the bus to Leura Village.

Leura Blue Mountains
Leura is the perfect stop for a late lunch or for coffee, cake and shopping!

Stroll the main street, Leura Mall, and make sure you visit Josophan’s for some of their delicious chocolate. There are lots of shops selling things you didn’t know you needed but will probably want after you spot them. I find I always spend too much time in Teddy Sinclair and Leura Whisk, which I rarely fail to leave without a purchase.

If you need a bathroom here you will find them off the main street near Wooworths supermarket.

Teapot Muesum Leura Blue Mountains
Bygone Beauty has over 5500 rare and classic teapots on display.

You might want to check out Bygone Beauty’s Treasured Teapot Museum. The museum houses the world’s largest private collection of tableware, including more than 5,500 teapots from across the world. They also do a very good afternoon tea.

If you are not much of a shopper, I suggest you get off at stop 20 or 21 and explore Lyrebird Dell or Elysian & Olympian Lookouts.

3:35pm – Reboard the bus at Leura Station (stop 22 ) and travel to the Three Sisters (Echo Point)

3:57 pm – Arrive at Echo Point (Stop 6)

Walk down to the Three Sisters viewing platform for fantastic views of the famous rock formation and across the valley to Mount Solitary; if you are up for a walk, head down to see the Three Sisters up close.

Mount Solitary Blue Mountains
Less well known than the Three Sisters is Mount Solitary, also viewed from Echo Point.

Walk through the stone archway next to the visitors’ centre and follow the path to Honeymoon Bridge, where you can walk out onto the first sister.

Honeymoon Bridge Blue Mountains
80 steps will get you down on to Honeymoon Bridge

There is a visitors centre, with a gift shop you might like to pop into before you depart.

From here if the legs are up to it, I suggest a walk to Katoomba town centre as the bus journey takes a lot longer and is covering ground you have already visited. If you prefer not to walk head into the bar called the Lookout and have a nice cold drink while you take in the views.

If you decide to take a walk along the main street and make you way to see the street art in Beverly Place.

4:57pm – Join the bus where you got off for a trip back to Leura station (stop 23) where you can join the train back to Sydney or Katoomba if you prefer to depart from there for any reason.

Katoomba Street Art
There is a whole laneway of murals in Beverley Place at Katoomba

Trains back to Sydney leave Katoomba Station hourly at twenty minutes past the hour on weekdays and twice hourly on weekends at twenty-two and thirty-eight minutes past the hour.

If you are not in a hurry to return to Sydney, the sunset over the valley at the Three Sisters is well worth staying to see. The last drop off at Echo Point is at 4:57 pm. If you choose to stay, you will need to take a local bus back to the station. You can use your Opal card on these buses.

The Three Sisters, Blue Mountains, New South Wales, Australia, at sunset.
Sunset at the Three Sisters

If you want to eat dinner in the mountains before you head home our two favourite options at The Bootlegger, opposite the station or Mountain Culture a couple of blocks west.

There is a train at 8:20 pm that would work well and have you back in Sydney at 10:21 pm.

Itinerary Two – The HOHO bus and lots of bushwalking

This itinerary is similar to the one above but focuses on longer walks and less time in the villages of Katoomba and Leura and does not include Scenic World. I suggest you pack some water and something to eat so that you can focus your time on exploring the trails.

Small waterfall in the Blue Mountains
Small waterfalls are numerous

Planning which bushwalks to take

Before you begin this itinerary, be sure to check any track mentioned for closures. Two top-rated trails, the Prince Henry Cliff Walk at Leura and the Valley of the Waters in Wentworth Falls, are partially closed due to landslides and may not reopen for some time.

This itinerary includes three walks. There are many more options, and these are outlined in the guidebook you receive with your HOHO bus ticket.

Planning your stops on the Blue Mountains Explorer Bus

9:15 am – Take the first bus from Stop 1 to Echo Point. If you want to grab some picnic items, you can walk down Katoomba Street to the Hominy Bakery or even the Aldi supermarket for supplies. There is a second stop at this end of the street to save you from walking back.

9:27 am – Alight at Echo Point (Stop 7) and walk to the Three Sisters lookout to get your first view of the stunning Jamison Valley.

Three Sisters viewing platform
There are two platforms at Echo Point lookout to view the Three Sisters.

You can take a short walk out on to the first sister and then retrace your steps back to the carpark where you will find signs for the Prince Henry Cliff Walk

Prince Henry Cliff Walk in the Blue Mountains
Prince Henry Cliff Walk

The Prince Henry Cliff walk will take you to Katoomba Cascades. This 2.3km walk is graded at moderate and there are quite a lot of steps but its not to challenging for anyone with average fitness.

Stairs along the Prince Henry Cliff Walk Blue Mountains
The view of Katoomba Falls from the Scenic Skyway

There are lookouts all along the way, and you should be able to cover it in an hour.

12:19 pm – Join the HOHO at stop 14; Katoomba Falls Tourist Park and ride the bus to stop 21 Lyrebird Dell.

12:33 pm – Lyrebird Dell to Pool of Siloam. This walk is much harder than this morning’s walk, but is one of my favourites in this section of the mountain.

The environment is a lot wetter, and ferns flourish here. There is also the promise of little waterfalls along the way the walk. You also pass a cave with Aboriginal engravings.

If you are not up to a challenging walk, you can get off at stop 20 and take the walk to Elysian & Olympian Lookouts. Still a very worthwhile exercise.

The Pool of Siloam
The Pool of Siloam

2:357 pm – Head back to Stop 23 for the bus to Leura Village, where your walking ends and the coffee and cake are calling. It’s easy to kill an hour here looking in all the lovely shop windows.

From here, you can either spend some time shopping before joining a bus back to watch the sunset at Echo Point or take a train back to Sydney from either Leura or Katoomba Stations. You can check the sunset times here.

Cute shops in Leura Blue Mountains
I have spent way too much money in this shop!

Trains back to Sydney leave Leura at 4:24 pm and then hourly until the last one just before 10:30 pm. Trains leave from Katoomba five minutes earlier.

If you need more suggestions, study the guidebook your driver will give you. It contains 16 more walks, plenty to keep you busy. If you are staying overnight, let them know and they will usually give you a free extension on your pass for the next day!

For more inspiration, check out these articles:

You might also find our Sydney itinerary helpful if you are only in the city for a short time.

Have questions about things to see and do in Sydney?
Head over and join our Facebook Group and we will be happy to help

35 thoughts on “Visit the Blue Mountains By Train: 2 Easy Itineraries”

  1. Thank you for a very detailed guide for visiting the Blue Mountains. It brings me back memories of my visit there some time ago. I did most of what you have suggested but not all. As my daughter lives in Sidney maybe I will revisit someday. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Very informative and love that it gives different detailed options. Thank you.

  3. This is a great post and so helpful in planning my trip. Thank you! One quick question to clarify on the train tip. When you say take a seat on the left, do you mean the left when looking forward to the front of the train? Thanks!

  4. You can usually save the webpage as a shortcut on your home screen? I am not an iPhone user so I am not sure of the exact instructions. You can also choose print and save as a PDF to your phone.

  5. My husband and I will be in Sydney November 14-18, 2019 (soon!) We are from the States. We have never been to Sydney, so researching lots of stuff now. We will be on a cruise before our stay in Sydney. Anyway, if we choose option #1 or #2 should we reserve anything ahead of time via internet? Like bus tickets? Since we are doing a LOT of touring on foot for 3 weeks, do you think the first itinerary is best for us? We are in good shape, but in our 60s. Thanks for all this wonderful information!

  6. Hi Linda
    Sorry for the delay, I have been away with little internet access. You don’t need to purchase anything in advance. You can use your credit cards (a different one per person) instead of buying Opal cards now. The first time itinerary would be good. I also suggest checking out Sydney Greeters and also our self-guided bus tours and our walking tours.

  7. Hi,
    thank u for this informative article 🙂
    could u plz tell me if I got this right: so if i want to do the wentworth falls walk, i take the train from sydney to Katoomba Station and if i want to stop at the 3 sisters lookout i take the bus number 686. and then to do the wentworth walk i need to take the same bus back to katoomba and take another bus 685 to North Wentworth Falls. right?
    1. how do i know when i have buses?
    2. how long does it take from one station to another?
    3. is there a lookout u recommend?

  8. I would probably suggest you take the train to Wentworth Falls and start the walk here. You can take the 685 bus from the station to near the start of the walk. You can check the timetable here

    Once you are done jump on a bus to Katoomba. Before you head out check the NPWS website for any fire warnings. Parks and trails are closed this week due to fire risk and this will probably happen several times over the summer.

  9. Another shoutout from the U.S. We will be in Sydney in early September of 2020. What type of weather is typical of the Blue Mountains at that time?

  10. Is the train from Sydney to the Blue Mountains in operation due to the fires? If not what is the best way to get to the Blue Mountains?

  11. Wonderful information and details! Thank you!! We are visiting Sydney from 10-28 to 11-3 this year. I cannot wait to see this area.

  12. Thanks for the detailed info on how to see the Blue Mountains.
    Can you use your Opal Card on the train from Sydney to Katoomba?
    What is the typical weather like in early April in the Blue Mountains?

  13. Hi Lynda, you can use your Opal card. April can be cooler but it’s usually lovely walking. Average temperatures are between 17° / 9° Celcius.

  14. Great itinerary! I am planning a trip June 2021. Hopefully this will entail the Winter Festival. How does that affect this itinerary? Should I come early, like Thursday/Friday or stay late, like Sunday? I will assume there will be a huge crowd. Do you have suggestions for lodging?


  15. Dear Sir
    I plan to visit Blue mountain October 2022 with my family. I live near King Cross Station. So i plan to board King Cross Station interchange at Central and then travel to Katoomba Station. Then take a bus or cab to Scenic World and spend 3 hour. My question is how do i return to Central Station via train from Katoomba station.
    Should i follow the same route or different route Please mention the train route for the return journey

  16. Hi
    I will be here in February 2023 and plan on following this guide (assuming that the HOHO is back to 7 days a week). I have a query on one section of the guide which states
    “1.13 pm – Rejoin the HOHO bus here at Stop 9 and stay on board until you reach Echo Point
    The bus will pass by NarrowNeck and Cahill Lookout
    1.45 pm – Arrive at Echo Point (Stop 7)”
    These instructions have you going backwards from stop 9 to stop 7 – how is this possible?

  17. Hi Sir, i am planning to visit the blue mountain on 17 December. But since I am on work trip to sydney my chances to visit is but dicey. Does the lyrebird pass recommended by you has free cancellation? I am not able to see any cancellation policy on the link.

  18. Thanks for all of this. We have a trip to Dubai and Australia booked for October / November this year. We have already booked our Lyrebird HOHO bus and Scenic World ticket. We are seasoned walkers although in our 70th year, we were struggling to decide which walks to take on at The Blue Mountains. We will certainly take your advice and do Scenic World first and want to do the Cliff Top Walk from stop 6 to the 3 sisters. Another question you have answered is eating places. As we will be catching the 6.23 train from Sydney, we will want to eat something during the day and it will save preparing / buying and carrying food all day. Leura Village seems ideal as we want to do the Prince Henry Cliff Walk / Gordon falls to Olympian Rock as our last walk.

  19. Thank you for this very informative post. I didn’t fancy the planned excursions from Sydney which all seem to include a visit to a place with animals and a river cruise. I’ve had to cancel that booking thankfully!

  20. We are traveling from the States to Sydney this coming weekend. Should we purchase any tickets in advance for your Itinerary #1? And if we plan to leave anything out on that itinerary, what would you recommend? And what is the temperature there right now?

  21. The temperature is set to be 27-35 degrees celcius this weekend. If I was going to leave anything out I would probably miss Scenic World – and do the Katoomba Falls hike instead. If you really want to go to scenic world just do the skyway and the railaway and dont worry about the rainforst walk there. Or spend less time in Leura shops.

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