13 Reasons The Blue Mountains Explorer Bus is Worth Every Cent!

The Blue Mountains Explorer Bus is almost as iconic as the Three Sisters. For almost 50 years, they have been helping visitors make the most of their day in this UNESCO wonderland. While you can take a tour from Sydney jumping on the train and using exploring the Blue Mountains using the much loved Blue Mountains Hop on hop off service is a top way to do things.

Today we are going to tell you why we think the train and HOHO bus are a brilliant combination.

Fully updated 21 May 2024

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Why visit the Blue Mountains

A day out of the city to see the Three Sisters is the most favoured day trip for visitors to the harbour city. For good reason, it’s a world heritage listed wonderland that provides a great break from the big city streets. There are lots of different ways to experience the mountains.

Prince Henry Cliff Walk view over Blue Mountains valley
Prince Henry Cliff Walk

You could book a guided tour from Sydney, take the train and plan your own day out or drive using one of our self drive itineraries. We think that a combination of one and two is the perfect solution.

The train ride up allows you to sleep, or relax, for the two-hour trip from Sydney to Katoomba. Once you arrive the hop on hop off bus is an affordable way to see the most of the mountains in the least amount of time.

This bus service is perfect for an impromptu visit when you have not really had time to plan out your day. No need to worry about where to park, especially on weekends, no need to backtrack to the car after completing a walk.

Even if you know nothing about the area before you arrive, the guide booklet they give you with your ticket will help you work out, which stops are best for you. The drivers are also extremely helpful and will steer you in the right direction.

Why the Blue Mountains Explorer is a good idea

If you want to learn about the history and visit some of the less accessible and beautiful parts of the mountains, then the Blue Mountains Explorer bus is hard to beat.

Discover the Blue Mountains
Ride the Blue Mountains Explorer

Would you prefer easy stops at lookouts for photos or do you want to do a bit of bushwalking? The driver/guide on the HOHO bus will make suggestions to help you plan your day.  

Here are just a few other reasons we think this service is a brilliant idea:

  • Flexible booking options, change your date of travel
  • Your ticket includes a map with walking guides
  • Kids ride free!
  • Interesting live commentary by local driver guides
  • 37 stops between Leura and Katoomba
  • Air-Conditioned, wheelchair accessible buses
  • 4 minutes to the cliff-top edge
  • A family-owned company operating since 1974
  • Australia’s first 100% Carbon Neutral Tourism operator
  • Personalised service and step-by-step help whenever needed
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
  • Staying overnight in the mountains? Let the driver know and you can use your pass tomorrow too!
  • Blue Mountains locals ride free with a paying passenger, perfect for family and friends who pop in for a visit!

A sample of the stops on the Hop on Hop off route

Getting to the Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains biggest town, Katoomba, is 109 km from Sydney. The trip up the mountain gives you a chance to explore suburban Sydney – mostly via a boring motorway – unless you take the train, but it helps get some perspective on the size of suburban Sydney.

Take the train to the Blue Mountains

The train trip to Katoomba is not too difficult. A city rail train from Central will get you to Katoomba in a little under two hours.

2 Sydney Trains at Central Train Station in Sydney

The train ticket will set you back between $12-17 return depending on whether you travel off peak or not. You can visit for just $8.90 return on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Weekend services can be more crowded so if you can try to visit during the week.

Once you arrive in Katoomba, there is hop on hop off service that will take you to all the best spots in the mountains. Check out these two itineraries for making the best use of the HOHO bus.

If you are on a tight budget, you can walk or take the local buses however, the HOHO is quite affordable and makes for an easier day. We have a detailed guide to exploring the Blue Mountains by public transport.

Sydney’s rail system is undergoing a huge update, so always check the list of planned track work before choosing this option.

Going to the Blue Mountains by car

You can rent a car and drive yourself around the mountains. The traffic can be awful on the weekends, and you may find parking a challenge at the popular spots.

I have a very detailed list of itineraries for self-drive tours of the mountains.

Best by far way to visit the mountains is befriend a local or long-lost relative and get them to take you if you have family or friends here and they offer to show you around accept! You can stop off at Featherdale Wildlife Park for a close encounter with a koala or kangaroo on the way when you travel up by car.

I have reviewed my three favourite Blue Mountains tours here. But if you are in a hurry

You can see a full list of our recommended tours here

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3 thoughts on “13 Reasons The Blue Mountains Explorer Bus is Worth Every Cent!”

  1. Hi
    I plan to go blue mountain in end of year.
    We are family of 4 adults and 2 children. Is there any public bus moving around blue mountain? Is it hard to found it?
    Or better using Hoho bus, cause the price quite expensive for us

  2. Kids ride free on the HoHO bus in the Blue Mountains. You can use public buses to get between Katoomba Station, Katoomba Falls, and Leura but you will still need to walk quite a bit and if you are visiing on weekends or over the holidays buses will ont be as regular as weekdays. The train from Sydney to Katoomba will cost you $8.90 return on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Perhaps if you travel then you can save some money and use it for the HOHO ticket.

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