How long since you jumped on a train and went exploring? Today we want to introduce you to five Sydney suburbs that are easy to reach by train and offer plenty to see and do when you get there.
When we travel, we enjoy riding public transport and visiting a few places that don’t make the top ten lists in our guidebook. The same can apply to times playing tourist at home.
A train ride into the suburbs can reward with lots of great discoveries, gems that have been hiding right before your eyes. For visitors jumping on the train and heading away from the city is a chance to glimpse how Sydneysiders live and maybe even strike up a conversation with a local.
Today we share five suburbs that are between 15-60 minutes from the city from the centre of town. Plan your day using this trip planner.
Take these trips on a Sunday for only $2.80
Street art murals, great cafes, miles of beaches and a lovely waterfront walk
Cronulla is the only beach in Sydney you can reach by train. A simple 48 minute trip from Central Station on the T4 line and you will arrive just a 3-minute walk from the waterfront. With Port Hacking on one side of the tracks and the Pacific Ocean on the other, there is plenty of outdoor beauty to enjoy here.
Thanks to the November 2019 Walk the Walls Street Art Festival Cronulla is now home to more than 40 murals by some of the city’s best artists. The walls are all located in just a few streets, and it’s an excellent chance to see a lot of art in a short walk.
When it comes to beaches, you have plenty of choices; there are ten you can reach on foot from the station. The most popular beaches, North and South Cronulla, are patrolled year-round.
- Greenhills Beach
- North Cronulla
- South Cronulla
- Oak Park
South Cronulla is the closest to the station and the safest of the surf beaches. Shelly Beach, just a km south has a lovely ocean pool and is a good choice for families with the added bonus of a large fenced playground.
Surfers tend to stick to the north with the first 4 beaches being most popular although you do see people surfing off Blackwoods. Blackwoods is also the only clothing-optional beach in Sydney’s south.
The final beach along this stretch of coast Oak Park has a tidal ocean pool and is an excellent place to practice your snorkelling skills.
Eat at: Another thing in ample supply in Cronulla is dining options. Our favourites include Alphabet Street (Thai), Bloodwood Cafe, Yalla Sawa (Lebanese), Pilgrim (Vegetarian) and the Cronulla RSL, which overlooks Shelly Beach. For a splurge head to North Cronulla’s Sealevel opposite the beach.
Walk: The most popular walk is the 4km beachfront walk from Wanda to Bass and Flinders Point. You can also take the little Tom Thumb ferry from Cronulla Wharf just behind the station over to Bundeena and take the Jibbon Beach walk. If you want a challenge the 13km walk to Botany Bay Discovery Centre at Kurnell is a great one. You can return to Cronulla by bus.
How: Take a train from the city on the Illawarra T4 Line. The train starts at Bondi Junction and travels via Martin Place, Town Hall and Central.
Related: New to public transport? Check out our guide to using public transport in Sydney
A South East Asian culture fix less than an hour from Sydney
Can’t travel to Asia but really missing some authentic food? Then jump on the train and head deep into Sydney’s South West.
Cabramatta and neighbouring suburbs Canley Vale and Canley Heights are among Sydney’s most multicultural suburbs. Cabramatta is home to the largest Hoa Vietnamese community in Australia with large numbers arriving as immigrants after the war in Vietnam.
Since then residents have arrived from Cambodia, Thailand and Laos. Together they offer what many say is the best South East Asian food outside the Asian continent.
Let your nose lead you but be sure to stick your head into Eastland supermarket on John Street to stock up on ingredients for your next Asian cook up.
Eat at: We often end up at Tan Viet Noodle House on John Street – an oldie but a goodie we have been popping in for their crispy chicken for years. We also enjoy Bau Truong on John Street.
Our favourite in Canley Heights is Holy Basil, which we have returned to many times, but we need to do more eating here to test out the rest of the strip. If you find something you think we should add, please let us know.
Walk: From Cabramatta Station head directly up Arthur Street to Freedom Plaza, walk through the Pai Lau Gate at the entry to the plaza before heading into John Street. Stroll John Street as far as Eastland before making your way back to the station.
When you are done find the 817 bus and head to Canley Heights. If you follow Canley Vale Road you will reach Canley Vale Station for your trip back to the city.
How: Take the T2 train line 45 minutes south west to Cabramatta Station and make your way home from Canley Vale Station.
Want more: Check out Chef Luke Nguyen’s favourite Cabramatta eats.
Related: Discover more great Sydney food on one of these food tours
This inner west suburb is hipster central, think small bars, independent art studios, live music venues, craft breweries and then mix in a good dose of Greek and Vietnamese culture.
Art lovers and foodies will enjoy an afternoon exploring this diverse suburb. It’s not the prettiest place, but it’s full of exciting diversions. You could hunt down street art murals, taste your way through half a dozen craft breweries or shop your way through specialty food stores and outlets.
This walk makes a good afternoon stroll so you can finish up in one of Marrickville’s many small bars to kick on.
Eat at: If you are a local you will find yourself returning to Marrickville to eat regularaly once you discover the delights on offer.
- Marrickville Pork Roll, as the most infamous cheap eats in the area, has to be on our list. If you start your walk hungry grab one of these to munch along the way.
- Gelato Franco just around the corner on Marrickville road makes a great dessert stop.
- For a sit down Vietnamese meal Pho PHD and Hello Auntie are popular newcomers. We usually head to Bay Tinh on Victoria Road where we have been eating for the last 20 years.
- For a big cafe meal, we are not going to give you any tips because there are literally a dozen good choices and we can’t pick just one. Let Google be your friend here. When you get hungry turn on maps and see what’s nearby. Anything with a 4.5 or above is a winner 😉
Shop at: I could easily make this a very long list as we live nearby and shop in Marrickville regularly, but I will limit it to just a few so you can discover some of the gems yourself.
- Paesanella Cheese on Marrickville Road is a foodies delight – the range of cheeses and imported deli items in this warehouse will make it very hard to leave your credit card in your wallet.
- Lamia Supa Deli is smack bang in the middle of the shopping strip – we adore the olives here but often also leave with a freshly made roll of stuffed veggies.
- Sweet lovers will want to visit TIM Products on Enmore road a short walk from the Factory Theatre. We discovered it on Maeve O’Meara’s Gourmet Safaris and what a find, a huge range of fresh Greek delights baked daily and wholesale pricing.
Drink at: Poor Toms Gin Hall is my personal favourite but Charles is more of a fan of the brews at The Grifter. The Vic on the Park has a dog-friendly beer garden and The Henson is a great family-friendly pub; no one misses out in Marrickville.
Walk: I suggest starting your visit at Marrickville Station and making your way along Illawarra Road across the intersection of Marrickville Road and continuing along until you get to Addison Road.
If it’s Sunday take a left and check out the market otherwise head right and continue up Addison Road until you reach Victoria Park.
Take your pick between Vic on the Park and The Gifter for a refreshment. Follow Victoria Road until you are back at Marrickville Road and turn left. Follow Marrickville Rd up to Sydenham Station stopping at any of the stops we have listed above that take your fancy.
How: Get a train to Marrickville or Sydenham Stations. You can take a 428 bus from the city if you prefer.
Related: Check out our Guide to the street art of the Inner West
Parramatta, Sydney’s second settlement is a colonial history fix, a lovely ferry ride from the city*.
Originally known as Rose Hill, Parramatta was one of the first settlements in Australia. Today it’s the second biggest city in the metropolitan area and geographically the centre of Sydney. The First Nations people of this area were the Burramatta clan of the Darug people.
Outside of the city centre, Parammatta is the best place to explore our colonial history. The star is Old Government House in Parramatta Park. Be sure to check out it’s surrounding buildings including the Bathhouse and Observatory while you are there.
Other historical sites include:
- St Johns Anglican Cathedral and nearby cemetery
- Philip Ruddock Heritage Centre – View the foundations of the original settlement that were uncovered during the redevelopment of the site.
- Experiment Farm Cottage – a 15-minute walk from the station
- The Brislington Medical Nursing Museum – Beautiful Georgian building
Eat at: You will not run out of dining options here with “Eat Street” the central hub on Church Street. Among the most popular are The Social Hideout, Little Miss Collins, Milky Lane and Soul Burger.
If you fancy a coffee with a conscious try Darcy St Project, a social enterprise cafe helping those facing homelessness, unemployment and social exclusion by providing on the job training and support.
Walk: Depending on how far you would like to go you can start at Parramatta Station and make you way down Church Street to take the riverside walk back to the ferry wharf. This might be less than a kilometre if Parramatta wharf is open or 4km to the next wharf Rydalmere.
How to get there: An express train from the CBD takes 30 minutes. If you don’t feel like walking between the attractions there is a free shuttle bus service. There is also a ferry to the city.
*The wharf is currently closed for repairs (again!) but when it reopens it’s a lovely way to return to town.
Related: Check out our list to all the UNESCO sites in NSW
This pretty lower north shore suburb has harbour views around every corner and more than its fair share of parks.
A stroll around Waverton and Wollstonecraft will give you harbour views, Aboriginal sites, several lovely cafes and plenty of green space.
This is an easy walk for the whole family. All up you will cover about 4km on mostly flat or gently sloping land, it’s also dog friendly!
Key sites on the route
- Berry’s Bay Lookout – Once an industrial site owned by BP has been transformed to walking tracks with views that will impress.
- Coal Loader Centre for Sustainability – once coal transport facility, now houses a bush food garden, community gardens, and community talks and tours.
- Cammeraygal engraving of a shark in Waverton
- Berry Island and Gadyan Walking Track
Eat at: Right by the station is the Botanica Garden Cafe, a cute, dog-friendly spot with indoor and outdoor seating. The menu includes some Vietnamese coffee and Bahn Mi along with western breakfast favourites. Another option is the Coal Loader Cafe which is popular with locals, I have not tried it yet, but the menu looks good.
If you prefer to pick up a takeaway lunch to eat in one of the parks, you will have two chances to detour a little off track to the Grumpy Baker, a local favourite, for pastries and delicious sandwiches on perfect bread!
Walk: Begin today’s walk at Waverton Station, the third top over the Sydney Harbour Bridge. From the station head down Bay Road to Woolcott Street, and then down Larkin Street to Berry’s Bay Lookout. Stop and take in the harbour from a less family aspect.
When you are ready to move on, follow the signs and walking track to the Coal Loader Centre for Sustainability. There is plenty to see here – you can check this guide for a walking map and info about free guided tours of the facility.
Once you are done head follow the waterfront path west to Berry Island, there is a playground and bbq area here, along with the Gadyan Track walk. The walk is well signposted and will take about 20 minutes.
It’s a 750m uphill walk to Wollstonecraft station for trains back to the city.
How: Take a train from the city three stops to Waverton and return to town from Wollstonecraft station.
Local tip: Extend your time in the area by exploring Balls Head before you head to Berry Island.
Related: Want some longer day trips? Check out these Big days out by train.
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