11 Beautiful Sydney Harbour Walks
This guide to the best Sydney Harbour Walks is designed to help you uncover some of the most beautiful parts of the city.
Sydney Harbour is known worldwide for its beauty, but did you know that much of this stunning shoreline is lined with beautiful walking tracks and for your added enjoyment, over 30 beaches? Well now you do, so how do you decide which walk to take? You ask an expert, that’s how ;-).
- Walks on the northern side of the harbour
- Walks on the south side of the harbour
- Want more Sydney walks?
We are fortunate that so much of the Sydney foreshore is accessible to the public. Many of these harbour walks are within the boundary of Sydney Harbour National Park, meaning they are not dog friendly. We have added notes about this and the general accessibility of the tracks to help you choose the most suitable walks for you!
Try to do at least one of these walks as a contrast to Sydney’s often busy coastal tracks.
Walks on the northern side of the harbour
Many of the walks around Sydney Harbour on the lower north shore offer the feeling of being in the bush, while in reality you are only minutes from the centre of the city. These are great walks to add to your Sydney itinerary. We think even on a short visit to Sydney, try to do at least one of these.
Milsons Point to Lavender Bay
This walk along the harbour foreshore is an easy flat walk suitable for the whole family. You can combine it with a walk over the harbour bridge and a visit to the Pylon Museum for some fantastic harbour views.
Starting from Milson’s Point Station make your way straight down to the foreshore. At this point, you will have likely pulled out your camera and start shooting; it’s almost impossible not to 🙂
After you have taken in the harbour views, make your way west to Luna Park. Just before you arrive you will see North Sydney Olympic Pool, which is currently closed for renovation but will reopen in 2024.
You can either walk through Luna Park or follow the foreshore around Lavender Bay. Next up is Wendy’s Secret Garden and Lavender Bay Parklands. Follow the full walk on this page.
- Luna Park
- North Sydney Pool
- Wendy’s Secret Gardens
- Lavender Bay Wharf
Insider tip: Time your visit with the weekend Kirribilli Markets
Public transport rating: Easy
Wheel-friendly: Yes, there are stairs up into Wendy’s Garden.
Dog-friendly: Yes, on leash
Cremorne Point Walk
Cremorne Point Walk is a lovely, gentle circuit walk around Cremorne Point Headland. With beautiful harbourside homes, a lovely free swimming pool and sweeping harbour views.
You can wander down to the point and the tiny white lighthouse if you are brave. Find all the details on our Cremorne Point walk guide.
- MacCallum Pool
- Lex and Ruby Graham Gardens
- Stunning Federation Style Mansions
Local tip: MacCallum Pool is closed regularly for cleaning, so check before visiting.
Length: 3km as a circuit or continue round to Mosman Bay Wharf
Public transport rating: Easy – ferry or bus
Dog owners might like to check this list of dog-friendly walks in North Sydney including off-leash and swimming beaches.
Mosman to Taronga Zoo
This walk from Mosman to the zoo is well shaded and perfect for a warm summer’s day. We often combine it with the Cremorne Point Walk for a long day out. If you intend to begin at Mosman, you can start at either Mosman Bay or South Mosman. If you miss that ferry, you can begin at Taronga and walk in reverse.
One spot not to miss along this route is Curlew Camp. This area at Sirius Cove was home an artists colony back in the 1890s that attracted some of Australia’s finest impressionists, including Tom Roberts and Arthur Streeton, two of our countries best-known artists from this period.
Highlights of this harbour walk include:
- Sirius Cove – a dog-friendly beach
- Pretty paperbark trees
- Little Sirius Point
- Whiting Beach
Local tip: Mosman Art Gallery has produced a guide for this walk you can download to your phone.
Public transport rating: Easy
Dog-friendly: One of the few dog-friendly beaches in the inner city.
Bradleys Head to Balmoral Beach walk
This walk goes by many names, the Taronga Zoo to Balmoral Beach, Bradleys Head to Chowder Bay, Middle Head walk, it all depends on where you start and finish. For the best harbour views in Sydney, this one is hard to beat. We think it’s number one of all the Sydney Harbour walks.
We have written a detailed guide to this walk between Taronga Zoo Wharf and Balmoral Beach.
- Bradley’s Head Amphitheatre
- Clifton Gardens
- Sydney Institute of Marine Science
- Middle Head (Headlands) lookout
Insider tip: Be sure to stop in at the Marine Science Discovery Centre if it is open and try a virtual dive in Sydney Harbour.
Public transport rating: easy ferry and buses
Spit Bridge to Manly Walk
This walk is also often referred to as the Manly Scenic Walkway; however, the full scenic walkway goes past Manly Wharf and continues to North Head and around to Manly Beach.
It will take you between 3-4 hours, depending on how fast you move and how often you stop. You could easily split this walk into two days if you are staying in Manly and prefer to spend more time exploring along the way. You can also reverse this and make it a Manly to Spit walk instead.
- Dobroyd Head Lookout – 270-degree harbour views
- Grotto Point Lighthouse and Aboriginal engravings
- Reef Beach
Local tip: Fairlight pool on the home stretch is one of the best harbour pools in the city.
Length: Manly to Spit 10km
Public transport rating: easy buses drop you at the start of the walk on the Spit Bridge, ferries will take you back to the city.
More info: on NSW National Parks website
North Head Walk
This 8km walk begins at Shelly Beach and makes its way up onto North Head and into the Sanctuary. The views of Sydney Harbour are impossible to beat and plenty of history to be uncovered. This walk offers some of Sydney’s best whale watching viewpoints.
Insider tip: Go on a Sunday so you can join the North Fort tunnel tours.
Highlights of a walk at North Head
- North Head Visitors Centre
- Fairfax Lookout
- Bella Vista Cafe
- The Quarantine Cemeteries
- Australian Memorial Walk,
Also on North Head is the Q Station where you will find good dining options and some great accommodation if you fancy a staycation here.
Length: The full walk is 8km, but you can choose shorter sections, like the Fairfax walk if you begin at the Visitor’s Centre.
Public transport rating: Easy, the 135 bus service runs from Manly Wharf.
Wheel-friendly: Partially, the visitor’s centre is accessible and can advise on the best routes to take
Walks on the south side of the harbour
Let’s start at South Head and make our way around the harbour.
Watsons Bay Walk
Officially called the South Head Heritage Trail, this is a short harbour walk with big rewards. We think it’s one of the best short walks in the city, so if you are short of time put this one on your list. The trip over from Circular Quay combined with the clifftop views, and pretty Camp Cove beach make this a top day out.
Check out our complete guide to walking in Watson’s Bay where you will find the route and highlights outlined in an easy to follow format.
Highlights of the Watsons Bay walk include :
- Candy-striped Hornby Lighthouse
- Lady Bay (nude) Beach
- Camp Cove Beach
- Old military cannon
- The Gap clifftop views
Insider tip: If you are short on time, there is a fast ferry that connects Watson’s Bay to Manly and only costs a few dollars more than the public one. The Fast Ferry allows you to visit both sides of the harbour without going back to the Quay in between.
Public transport rating: Easy
Wheel-friendly: only in some parts, not out to the head itself; however, there is a wheelchair equipped pool here.
Dog-friendly: No, not in the National Park.
Watsons Bay to Nielson Park
Ok so this is not an official walk, but there are enough interesting spots to visit along the way that it’s worth making your way using Google maps as your guide.
You will pass some of the most expensive houses in the country. Sadly, access to the foreshore here is limited between Kutti Beach and NielsonPark,k so you will walk along the street in some sections. The architecture and people watching can make this quite interesting, though.
- Kutti Beach
- Parsley Bay Suspension Bridge
- Vaucluse House
- Shark Beach
Local tip: Take a detour to Vaucluse House for high tea
Public transport rating: Easy
Dog-friendly: only outside the National Park
Hermitage Foreshore walk
The Hermitage Foreshore Walk is a bit of a hidden gem. I rarely pass anyone else when I am on this track. Begin at Rose Bay and follow the coastline around the harbour to the gorgeous Neilson Park. The route can also be extended, so this walk becomes the Rose Bay to Watsons Bay walk.
- Milk Beach
- Strickland House
- Shark Beach and Nielson Park
Insider tip: Head off the track for a visit to Vaucluse House and order some treats in the tearoom.
Public transport rating: easy bus access
More info: We have a photo guide to this harbour walk you can follow along.
Rushcutters Bay to Rose Bay
This walk is not a peaceful track, much of the walk takes you along suburban streets, but these are pretty streets with plenty of parklands and beaches along the way.
There are also some great cafes and shops and if you tire of walking the 325 bus will take you to either Watson’s Bay or Barangaroo.
- Seven Shillings Beach
- Murray Rose Pool
- Seaplanes at Rose Bay
- Rushcutters Bay Park
Local tip: Take a swim at Murray Rose Pool
Public transport rating: Buses all along the route
The Complete Harbour Foreshore Walk
The ultimate of the Sydney Harbour walks on the south side of the city. With the final 300m boardwalk at Barangaroo recently opened, you can now walk all the way from Woolloomooloo Wharf to Anzac Bridge.
We wrote this detailed guide to the Foreshore Walk. I could not recommend this more highly for anyone visiting Sydney. It takes in so much of the city’s big sites and is a flat, easy walk that is almost entirely wheel friendly, which just one or two minor detours.
Public transport rating: Transport all along the route
Dog-friendly: much of the walk is suitable.
Want more Sydney walks?
You might want to read these pages for ideas:
- We have written a list of our favourite Sydney Coastal Walks
- About walking in the Blue Mountains
- A detailed guide to the Bondi to Coogee walk
- The secret Berry Island and Gadyan Track
- And walking across the Sydney Harbour Bridge
About the author: Paula Morgan, a born-and-bred Sydney resident, has been sharing this city and its secret spots for over 15 years. She’s not just about the iconic landmarks; she’s all about the hidden alleys adorned with street art, and the joy of discovering a new café or a fabulous restaurant tucked away in a corner you never knew existed and weekends away exploring regional NSW.