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Plan Your Escape Now with these Sydney Weekend Getaways

Need a break from city life? These Sydney Weekend Getaways are just the thing to change the pace and recharge the batteries. From romantic breaks to weekends devoted to getting in touch with nature, we think there is something for everyone on our list.

Get out of the city this weekend

Before we dive into our list of favourite weekend getaway spots, let’s do a quick Q&A for those of you in a hurry.

Which are the best short getaways from Sydney?

Three places on our list fit the bill for the best short getaway from Sydney coming in at under ninety minutes drive from the centre of the city.

  • The Illawarra Coast – The scenic drive down the Illawarra escarpment makes a perfect short getaway from Sydney. Don’t have a car? Don’t worry; there is also easy access from Sydney by train.
  • Palm Beach and Pittwater – You don’t have to go far for a short getaway, Palm Beach on the at the tip of the Barrenjoey Headland is perfect for finding paradise close to town. Explore Broken Bay and Pittwater on land and sea.
  • Hawkesbury River – As the northern boundary of Sydney the Hawkesbury offers plenty of options for water-based holidays and even houseboat rentals.

Where can I go for a cheap weekend getaway?

A weekend away doesn’t have to break the bank. These three getaway spots are perfect for those on a budget.

  • Canberra – the capital of Australia, makes a great cheap getaway because many of the attractions, like the Australian War Memorial and Parliament House, are free to enter. Hotels are quieter on the weekend when many of the parliamentarians go home.
  • The Blue Mountains – a fab spot of a budget trip, the YHA in Katoomba is a fantastic base for a trip when funds are tight. There are also several heritage guest houses affordably priced outside peak season.
  • The Royal National Park – home to the Coast Track, one of the most popular two day walks in Australia. There are several campsites in the park just perfect for a budget camping trip.

What destinations make great foodie getaways from Sydney?

If you like your holidays full of delicious eats then we think these three options are perfect!

The Old Mill Cafe and Restaurant in Millthorpe NSW
  • The Southern Highlands – a great foodie escape with boutique cellar doors, great local restaurants and even truffle hunts!
  • The Hunter Valley – Pokolbin in the heart of the Hunter Valley is one of the best places to stay in the region if you don’t want to drive too much. We stayed at Cypress Lakes on our last visit, and it was a great base for evening dining.
  • Orange – with award-winning restaurants and its own annual food festival Orange is a top choice for a gourmet getaway.

What are the best winter escapes from Sydney?

Instead of running north from the cold why not embrace it, after all, we really don’t get to enjoy open fireplaces and bracing morning walks very often as Sydneysiders.

Sydney Weekend Getaway in winter
Embrace the cold and head inland for a winter getaway
  • The Blue Mountains – Along with its annual Winterfest and Christmas in July celebrations the walking tracks in the mountains are perfect for weekend escapes in the winter. The cool weather is exactly what you need for exploring the trails in the World Heritage Listed Blue Mountains National Park and in the evening you can return to your accommodation for a big glass of red in front of the fire.
  • Thredbo – if you fancy a quick adrenalin hit it’s hard to go past a couple of days enjoying the NSW Snowy Mountains. Thredbo at the top of the mountain makes a great base and is the perfect place to enjoy the apres-ski atmosphere.
  • Southern Highlands – sitting by roaring fireplaces, tasting your way through a pie festival and drinking cool climate wines all make wonderful winter pastimes.

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Please note we have included Airbnb options for each destination because they now have an option on many properties for cancellation right up until a couple of days before. If you book via these Airbnb links, we may earn a commission.


Our 12 favourite Sydney weekend getaways

Need some ideas – well we have one for each month of the year!

1. The Blue Mountains and Jenolan Caves

Many people make the day trip from Sydney, but the Blue Mountains really deserves more time, it’s a great weekend destination and one idea for repeat visits. Several villages make great bases for a weekend getaway and each offering something different.

Choose Blackheath as your base for exploring some of the less well known tracks and trails.

5 tops things to do on your Blue Mountains weekend getaway

  • Hike one of the many walking tracks
  • Discover the hidden waterfalls
  • Explore beautiful gardens in Leura
  • Check out the local galleries – Lost Bear and Gallery One88 are our favourites
  • Have high tea with a view at the Hydro Majestic

See our favourite Airbnb properties in the Blue Mountains

Distance from Sydney: 102km to Katoomba
Driving time: 90 minutes
Public Transport rating: Easy – trains service the upper and lower mountain villages. The HOHO bus is a great way to explore once you are there.
Best time to visit: The Blue Mountains is a year-round destination

Check out our weekend in Blackheath for ideas on a Blue Mountains getaway itinerary

2. Central Coast

Only ninety minutes from Sydney the Central Coast offers small coastal villages, like Pearl Beach and Patonga, two beautiful national parks, Brisbane Water and Bouddi National Parks and fabulous surf ocean beaches like Avoca, Umina and Terrigal.

NSW Central Coast Umina Beach
Sunrise over the sea at Umina Beach on the Central Coast,

5 Things to do on the NSW Central Coast

  • Hike the Maitland Bay Track in Bouddi National Park
  • Visit the Australian Reptile Park near Gosford
  • Watch the Pelican Feeding at the Entrance
  • Wine and Dine in Terrigal or Pearl Beach
  • Pop into the Distillery Botanica and try the local gin

See our favourite Central Coast Airbnb properties

Distance from Sydney: 85km
Driving time: 60 minutes
Public Transport rating: Easy – Trains to Woy Woy, or Gosford. Buses service the smaller communities.
Best time to visit: Best in spring and summer when you can enjoy the beautiful beaches of the region.

Check out our weekend in Ettalong that includes a mix of walking, eating and exploring.


3. Canberra

Capital of Australia, it’s likely you have visited as a child, but Canberra makes a great grown-ups weekend away these days. Just 3 hour’s drive south-west of Sydney it possible offers the best rainy-day attractions in the country with dozens of museums and galleries, many of them free to visit.

Lake Burley Griffin and iconic Telstra Tower

5 Things to do in Canberra

Choosing a base for your Canberra visit: Couples will find Kingston and New Acton make perfect bases for a short stay in Canberra. These two areas are both lakeside and offer a great range of restaurant and bar options.

Check out the Canberra Airbnb properties we love

Distance from Sydney: 285km
Driving time: 3 hours
Public Transport rating: Possible, take the bus in 3.5 hours or the train which takes 4hrs 30 mins.
Best time to visit: We think Canberra looks her best in autumn when the leaves change colour and spring during the annual Floriade festival. However, with all the great indoor activities, this is a year-round destination.

Take a read of our favourite things to do in Canberra on a budget

4. Port Stephens

Flying under the international traveller radar Port Stephens offers lots of adventure opportunities for thrill-seekers. Great diving and snorkelling and beach time the is more than enough to keep you busy for a week or two.

Port Stephens Sydney Weekend Getaway
Fingal Bay in Port Stephens

With over 26 beaches to choose from, you will find it hard to pick a favourite. We think Shoal Bay, One Mile, Zenith Beach, Fingal Bay and Box Beach all deserve to be at the top of any list.

Five things to do on your weekend in Port Stephens

Check out our recommended Airbnb properties in Port Stephens

Distance from Sydney: 215km
Driving time: 2hrs 30 minutes
Public Transport rating: Train to Newcastle and then bus (4hrs 30m)
Best time to visit: Port Stephens a great spring and summer holiday spot.


5. Lake Macquarie

A paradise for water sports lovers Lake Macquire is a boating or fishing enthusiasts dream. Holiday Parks and 1-2 bedroom apartments are in ample supply making this a popular choice for families.

Redhead Beach, Sydney Getaway
Redhead Beach, Lake Macquarie

Top things to do in Lake Macquarie

  • Check out the State Heritage-listed Catherine Hill Bay Village
  • Find the cave at Caves Beach Swansea
  • Photograph the wooden lookout tower at Redhead beach at Sunrise
  • Rent a kayak or a boat and explore the lake
  • Explore the Watagans National Park

Check out our selected Airbnb stays in Lake Macquarie

Distance from Sydney: 135km
Driving time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Public Transport rating: Possible if you are happy to stay in a central base. You can take a train and a bus depending on your location.
Best time to visit: Lake Macquarie is best for watersports so the warmer the weather, the better. Late spring to early Autumn is ideal.

Take a look at this guide to Lake Macquarie for families by our friends over at Boy Eats World

6. Hunter Valley

With ample accommodation and activities for planning a romantic getaway, the Hunter Valley is a top choice for couples. We highly recommend spending a day wine tasting with iHop. They will help you choose the best stops based on the type of wine you enjoy, and by leaving the car at home, everyone gets to relax and join in the tastings.

Running Horse Vineyard Broke
At the very modern looking Running Horse Vineyard, in Broke you can taste a variety of aged wines

Top things to do in the Hunter Valley:

  • Spend the day exploring on the iHop Hunter Hop on Hop Off bus
  • Taste all the cheese at Binorie Dairy – yes all of it!
  • Conquer your fear of highs on a hot air balloon ride
  • Indulge in at least one fine dining experience
  • Visit a mix of old and new wineries.

We have saved our favourite Airbnb properties in the Hunter Valley here. There are several Cyprus Lakes apartments – we loved our stay there.

Distance from Sydney: 170kms
Driving time: 2 hours 10 minutes
Public Transport rating: Not recommended train to Cessnock but you would need to join a local tour to see the vineyards.
Best time to visit: Spring is the prettiest time in the Hunter Valley. Summer harvest is also a great time to visit, but it can be warm.

Already stayed in the Hunter Valley – Check out our weekend visit to Maitland and Morpeth


7. Kiama

A popular spot for a quick weekend getaway from Sydney Kiama with its pretty Norfolk lined waterfront swells with weekend guests most warm Sundays. By staying for the weekend, you get the early morning and evenings without the crowds.

Aerial overlooking Kiama Harbour and the Continental Ocean Pool in Kiama.
One of the ocean pools in Kiama Credit: Mark Fitzpatrick Destination NSW.

Our favourite things to do in Kiama include:

  • Tackle the 22km Kiama Coastal Walk – best over 2 days for most people
  • Explore the Minnamurra Rainforest and waterfall
  • Witness Cathedral Rocks at sunrise or sunset
  • Take a day trip to nearby Berry for some great shopping
  • Grab some takeaway from Otis Deli and head to Seven Mile Beach for a picnic

Choose an Airbnb apartment or holiday home in Kiama or surrounding beach towns.

Distance from Sydney: 120km
Driving time: 1 hr 40 minutes in good traffic
Public Transport rating: Easy train takes 2 hours and 10 minutes
Best time to visit: Spring to early autumn sees temperatures in Kiama perfect for time on the areas beautiful beaches.

8. Newcastle

The second-largest city in NSW, Newcastle was once best known for its steelworks and coal mines, today it offers a fantastic lifestyle and a vibe that had us seriously considering a move north after our last visit.

Take an early morning walk along Bathers Way before a well deserved breakfast

Check out our favourite things to do in Newcastle

  • Take in the view and history of the Anzac Memorial Walk
  • Walk all 5.8km of the Bathers Way
  • Have a picnic with the animals at Blackbutt Reserve
  • Swim in the historic ocean baths at Mereweather Beach
  • Wander Darby Street for cafes and boutiques

Distance from Sydney: 170km
Driving time: approx 2 hours to 2hrs 30 in traffic
Public Transport rating: Easy
Best time to visit: Great year-round spot with plenty of museum and restaurants to enjoy when the weather is cooler.

Check out our list of what we got up to on our recent Newcastle Weekend Getaway.


9. Orange

One of the largest towns in Central NSW most people who make the trip to Orange go to enjoy the cool climate wines, there are 30 cellar doors to visit. The area is also well known for its great food. We, however, usually trek there to see family and friends and in many years of doing this, we always find new things to do.

Orange is especially pretty in spring and autumn, it’s bracingly cold in winter, but that can also be a lot of fun and a great chance to sip red wine by an open fire.

The Falls Waterfall in Orange NSW
A short hike from the carpark is the Falls waterfall at Mullion Range

On our most recent visit thanks to the pandemic, most of the cellar doors were closed, so we spent our time exploring the great outdoors. A local put us onto The Falls Water Falls, at Mullion Range. If there has been some good rainfall before or during your visit be sure to take the short, easy hike for the view above.

We also trekked the stairs to the top of Pinnacle Lookout and along with a sense of achievement that we actually made it the view was well worth the effort!

5 Things you should do in Orange

  • Grab some great local goodies and head to Lake Canobolas for a picnic
  • Climb all the stairs to Pinnacle Lookout
  • Treat yourself to a lovely meal in Millthorpe
  • Book a tasting at Ferment, the wine centre in town.
  • Pop into the excellent regional gallery and museum

Tip: If you have an extra day, take a drive to some of the surrounding villages like Manildra, Carcoar or Canowindra.

Check out these Airbnb options in Orange

Distance from Sydney: 2501km
Driving time: 3 hours and 30 minutes
Public Transport rating: Easy – train from Central to Lithgow and a change for the train to Orange
Best time to visit: Anytime but summer – Spring and Autumn are the most popular. Winter can be freezing.

10. Kangaroo Valley and South Coast waterfalls

If your idea of the perfect weekend away involves walking trails and waterfalls, look no further than Kangaroo Valley just a couple of hours south of Sydney

Fitzroy Falls NSW Southern Highlands
Fitzroy water falls thundering over rock at Kangaroo Valley

5 things to see when you visit Kangaroo Valley

Find an Airbnb in Kangaroo Valley

Distance from Sydney: 160km
Driving time: 2 hours
Public Transport rating: Not recommended – possible in a pinch, train to Moss Vale Station, then a bus. You will need transport on arrival.
Best time to visit: April and May are ideal for weather and rainfall. Summer is cooler than Sydney.


11. Southern Highlands

The Southern Highlands towns of Berrima, Bowral and Bundanoon are perfect for a winter getaway. This is the closest as you can get to an English Country holiday in Australia.

There are lots of great small shops to explore

Five Things to do in the Southern Highlands

Bowral is our preferred base for a Southern Highlands break because of the number of good places to eat and drink. From here, you are just 15 minutes away from most of the other villages.

Check out these Airbnb escapes in the Southern Highlands

Distance from Sydney: 120km
Driving time: 90 minutes south of Sydney to Bowral
Public Transport rating: A car makes exploring easier but you can take a train from Central to Bowral in 2 hours and 20 minutes.
Best time to visit:

12. Jervis Bay

Best known perhaps for Hyams Beach with its white sand and crystal clear blue water, there are more than 100 beaches in the Shoalhaven giving you ample opportunity to find your own favourite. Add to this great local produce and its own emerging wine region, and this south coast paradise is the perfect sydney weekend getaway in our book.

Jervis Bay Beach Narrawallee near Mollymook
Narrawallee Beach at Mollymook in Jervis Bay

Only three hour’s drive south and you are surrounded by lush green hills and some fantastic snorkelling and diving in the Jervis Bay Marine Park. It’s insanely busy in summer so try to visit at other times of the year for the best experience.

5 Great things to do in Jervis Bay

The area offers everything from luxury stays and boutique hotels in Mollymook to rustic camping in Booderee National Park.

You can also find some fantastic Airbnb properties in Jervis Bay.

Distance from Sydney: 185 km to Huskinson
Driving time: 2hrs 30 minutes to 3 hours depending on traffic.
Public Transport rating: Not recommended – 4 hours (2 trains and a bus)
Best time to visit:

Check out our recent visit to Bannisters in Mollymook for ideas of what to see, eat and do.


Weekend getaways more than 4 hours drive from Sydney

We generally like shorter drive times on our getaways, less time in the car and more time exploring however if you like driving and don’t mind going a little further you could consider the following places

  • Port Macquarie – great coastal walks and family fun
  • Forster – perennial favourite and home to the best NSW beaches in our view.
  • Byron Bay – perhaps book into a resort and relax after the long drive or fly to Ballina and pick up a car.
  • Snowy Mountains – something to offer at all times of the year hiking or skiing
  • Coffs Harbour and the Waterfall Way – our favourite road trip of all time
  • Batemans Bay – family holidays don’t get much more old school than a weekend in Batemans Bay.

Need a car to go exploring?

You can rent a car for a one-off trip, but if you are a local who would like to get away a little more often, you could take a look at Popcar. It’s a member-based service that has a fleet of great premium cars including SUVs, Hybrids and sports cars. With Popcar you can book a car for your road trips once a month or on a casual basis. The pricing is transparent, and the cars are well located around the city. Popcar’s fleet includes premium cars from Toyota and Volkswagen – from SUVs to hatchbacks, sports cars to vans.

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