Sydney and its surroundings are home to no shortage of splendid hikes and walks, including many with stunning views, whether of natural scenery or city skylines. When next visiting Sydney, consider adding some of these top hikes with a view near Sydney to your itinerary.
Sydney Harbour Foreshore Walk
Much of the harbour foreshore of Sydney is public land, and it’s possible to walk for kilometres along it. Along the way, you’ll marvel at the views of the Sydney skyline, the Harbour Bridge and the sails of the Opera House.
A great spot to start a harbour-side walk is from the recently completed Barangaroo precinct. Just a short walk from Wynyard station and many city centre hotels, head north along the shoreline of grassy Barangaroo Reserve, before cutting past the former wharves at Jones Bay, and then underneath the span of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
The walk will become busier as you walk through the Rocks, past the Overseas Passenger Terminal and then to Circular Quay. Loop around past the Opera House (don’t miss checking out the sails up close), to the entrance of the Royal Botanic Garden.
Follow the path along the harbour’s edge of the gardens, around to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. You can then return to the city centre past the new wing of the Art Gallery of NSW.
Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk
Sydney is home to countless beautiful beaches, with none more famous than Bondi. Bondi Beach is also the start of the very popular Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk.
One of the chief attractions of this walk are the views of the many beaches that you pass, where it’s possible to enjoy a dip in the water. Heading south from Bondi, you’ll pass Tamarama, Bronte and Clovelly Beaches, before wrapping up at Coogee.
My top recommendation though is to find a spot to lounge on the rocks at Gordons Bay and enjoy a swim or snorkel in the turquoise waters, home to an underwater snorkelling trail.
While only 6km long, this hike has plenty of stairs, not to mention distractions along the way. Ideally allow at least half a day to complete it, stopping for brunch or lunch at one of the many cafes along the way.
Federation Cliff Walk
The Bondi to Coogee Walk isn’t the only coastal hike with views in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs. Another excellent walk is the Federation Cliff Walk, which follows the cliffs north of Bondi Beach, between Dover Heights and Watsons Bay.
The 5 km-long walk officially starts at Raleigh Reserve, but it’s possible to start from the northern side of Bondi Beach, following the signs for the Bondi to Manly Walk (a multi-day venture!) From Dover Heights onwards, the walk weaves between multiple clifftop reserves, sometimes with stretches of street in between.
Unlike the Bondi to Coogee Walk, there are no beaches along this walk. Combined with the lack of shade, it’s better to complete it in the cooler months of the year. During the winter and spring months keep an eye out for whales off the coast – the cliffs provide the perfect vantage point.
Once you reach Watsons Bay, take a stroll through Gap Park, then up to Gap Bluff in the Sydney Harbour National Park. Nearby Camp Cove Beach is a calm harbour beach that is ideal for a cooling swim. Alternatively, enjoy a drink in the beer garden at Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel or dine on seafood at Doyle’s. Then it’s an easy ferry ride back to the city.
Spit Bridge to Manly Walk
The Eastern Suburbs of Sydney doesn’t have a monopoly on scenic view walks in Sydney. Another very popular hike in Sydney is the Spit Bridge to Manly Walk, also known as the Manly Scenic Walkway.
Most hikers start this 10km-long walk at the Spit Bridge, before wrapping up in Manly, whether at the beach or its many pubs and restaurants. The Spit Bridge is an opening bridge that crosses Middle Harbour, connecting Mosman to the Manly Peninsula.
The walk starts relatively easy, following the shoreline past multiple harbour beaches, before it climbs after Clontarf Reserve into Sydney Harbour National Park. It’s surprising how much bushland still remains in this part of Sydney, thanks to the steep terrain.
Along much of the walk, there are beautiful views across Sydney Harbour to its southern shoreline, spotting the Manly ferries go by. Other highlights include the historic Grotto Point Lighthouse and Aboriginal rock engravings. You’ll also pass Reef Bay, a harbour beach only accessible on foot.
Prince Henry Cliff Walk
Just west of Sydney are the magnificent Blue Mountains. This World Heritage-listed wilderness area is home to some stunning scenery, not to mention world-class hiking. Some hikes are quite strenuous, but for an easier hike with views near Sydney, hit up the Prince Henry Cliff Walk.
This easy walk stays entirely on top of the cliffs near the mountain town of Katoomba, rather than venturing down into the valleys below. The complete walk from the Katoomba Cascades to Gordon Falls is 7km one-way, but it’s also possible to walk just part of the walk and then retrace your footsteps.
The most popular part of the walk is the western end, in between Echo Point, home to the Three Sisters, and the Cascades. You’re never far from clifftop views and some excellent lookouts. The eastern part of the walk offers up more waterfalls. In total there are over 20 lookouts and three waterfalls along the track.
Giants Staircase Walk
If you’d prefer a round-trip hike near the Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains, one of the most popular options is the Giants Staircase Walk. This hike combines part of the Prince Henry Cliff Walk with the Federal Pass Track. It’s one of the best hikes with a view near Sydney.
The most accessible place to start the walk is at Scenic World or a nearby carpark. Walk along the clifftop to the Katoomba Cascades and the start of the Prince Henry Cliff Walk, detouring to the many lookouts, before you arrive at Echo Point. From there it’s a short walk over to the Three Sisters, for an up-close view.
Now for the hard part. The Giants Staircase consists of 998 steps – it’s better to head down than up! At the bottom, turn right onto the Dardenelles Track, which soon joins up with the Federal Pass Track. Follow the signs to the Scenic World Boardwalk.
Once at the Scenic World Boardwalk, you have three options to ascend back up to the top of the cliffs. The easier options are the historic Scenic Railway (the steepest passenger railway in the world) or the more recent Scenic Cableway. Alternatively, the Furber Steps are a tough climb, but they’re free and offer more views along the way!
Wentworth Falls National Pass Walk
Katoomba and the Three Sisters aren’t the only highlights of the Blue Mountains National Park. Another popular destination in the park are the Wentworth Falls, a few kilometres to the east.
It’s a short walk from the carpark and picnic area to multiple lookout points and the top of the falls. But for more of an adventure, continue hiking down to the bottom of the main fall and take one of the multiple hiking trails to loop back up to the top for stunning views.
One of the best options is the National Pass. This track follows a narrow terrace in the middle of a long cliff, with spectacular views along much of it. The Federal Pass is longer and more strenuous.
Shortly after Empress Falls, follow the signs to the Queen Victoria Lookout and Conservation Hut. Then continue back along the top of the cliffs along the Overcliff Track and Undercliff Track. The complete loop is just under 5km.
Otford to Burning Palms Walk
Sydney is completely surrounded by national parks, with beautiful hikes on offer in every direction. If you’d instead prefer to head south of Sydney, the main national park is the Royal National Park, the second oldest national park in the world and the first in Australia.
This large national park contains a wide variety of hiking trails. One of the most spectacular is the Otford to Burning Palms Walk. This popular hike starts near Otford railway station, or alternatively park at Otford Lookout, on the southern edge of the park.
The hike follows the Coast Track route, passing multiple lookouts peering down at a few small beaches, including the interestingly named Hell Hole. After passing through the Palm Jungle, you’ll eventually reach Burning Palms, a remote beach that is only patrolled on weekends during the summer months.
A popular detour from Burning Palms is along the rock platforms to the south, to the Figure Eight Pool. Just be warned that this should only be attempted at low tide, and during calm seas, with several unfortunate accidents having occurred in recent years.
Return by the route you came, or else it’s possible to continue north and then turn up Burgh Ridge, returning by the Garrawarra Ridge fire trail, which is easier underfoot. Depending on your choices, expect to hike around 12km in total.