Last year when training for the Camino de Santiago, I spent months in Sydney training. Although some of the hikes were hard, they were also some of the prettiest I have ever seen. The best thing about Sydney is both a large city with many hiking tracks; it is also a coastal city that has many options to explore. So here are (in my opinion) some of the best walks in Sydney.
Ten of Sydney’s Best Walks
1. Bondi to Maroubra Coastal Walk
No hiking poles needed for this beautiful coastal walk and the hike itself is moderate. You can walk a lot further than this, as the Bondi path leads you Watsons Bay (approximately an extra 1.5 hours) or Maroubra to Malabar (add 25 minutes). Although this path at times can be congested, especially as the weather warms up, this walk is beautiful as it follows the coastal shoreline. The signs aren’t as well advertised in areas, so you will have to look closely in areas if you have never been here before.
Distance – Approximately 2-hour walk one way.
Recommendations The pool cafe is a great place to end as they serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a cool location. I love this cafe and when it is a beautiful day, sitting alfresco is highly recommended.
2. Lane Cove National Park
I’ve always liked this hike as the Lane Cove National Park makes me feel like I am somewhere other than a busy city. There are many different paths in the National Park, so I would do a little research before you go and to figure which walking trail you might want to choose. If you would like to do more than a hike, there are other things to do in this National Park such as hire boats and bikes from The Lane Cove Boatshed, or you can bring a kayak or canoe to paddle down the Lane Cove River.
Distance – It can take up to 3 hours, but there are many paths to take so you can choose.
Recommendation – stop by the Lane Cove National Park Cafe for a cup of coffee, cold drink, or a bite to eat. Great place to rest after your hike.
3. The Royal Botanical Gardens
The best part about the Royal Botanical Gardens is not just the view (which is fantastic by the way) but the many guided tours on offer. If you start at the Domain Carpark walk down to Lady Macquarie’s chair and then around to The Sydney Opera House, there is much to see.
Distance – Approximately 1 hour, depending on if you choose to walk back up to The Domain Carpark or not.
Recommendation – Stop by the Terrace Cafe for a cup of takeaway coffee and sit by the water’s edge and enjoy the view, on a sunny day the view is spectacular.
4. Spit Bridge to Manly
The Spit Bridge to Manly walk hike is not as busy as the coastal walk I mentioned earlier. So this walk can be more enjoyable as you can more often than not be the only person on the path. The views along the north are spectacular and are uninterrupted. If you have an entire day and want to push yourself a little harder than try walking from Circular Quay (add on an extra 2 hours).
Distance – Approximately 3.5 hours via the scenic view
Recommendation – Take the time to view the indigenous carvings in the Sydney Harbour National Park.
5. The Bay Run
The Bay Run is a well-known walk around Rozelle, Leichhardt area; it is approximately 7kms loop around Iron Cove. The circuit is entirely around the water’s edge, but it is quite popular and can sometimes be crowded (especially on weekends). The path also has a bike track so you will have to share the trail in many areas. The pathway has many places to stop and have coffee if you choose to walk the loop a couple of times.
Distance – Approximately 1 hour
Recommendation – Walk a little further down the track to Birkenhead Point Brand Outlet where you can pick up a bargain, or try walking a bit further around to Drummoyne ferry pier and catch a ferry back to Circular Quay, the trip is worth it.
6. McMahons Point to Balls Head Reserve
This walk has spectacular views of The Sydney Harbour Bridge, and is worth starting at McMahons Point and walking to Balls Head Reserve and Back. There are so many photo opportunities along the way, and each turn comes to a better view. McMahons Point is by far, one of my favorites to walk, and it is pretty isolated.
Distance – Approximately 40 minutes each way
Recommendation – Catch a ferry to McMahons Point and start your walk here, the view on the ferry and when you arrive is breathtaking.
7. Cronulla Coastal Walk
Start at Wanda Beach and hug the walkway to Oak Park Beach, this part of Sydney’s coastline is gorgeous but can be busy (especially on weekends). There are many great spots along the way, to stop and enjoy the view! There are many cafes and restaurants along this strip, so you are spoilt for choice.
Distance – Approximately 1 hour each way.
Recommendation – There are many rock pools and beaches along this strip. So there is ample opportunity to take a dip if the walk gets too much.
8. Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk
Palm Beach has always been a great place to visit, and The Barrenjoey Lighthouse should be added to the list of things to do when you arrive. The views from the Lighthouse are amazing from both sides of the peak. You can walk up the steep steps or wander slowly up the paved sloped path; you can see the fantastic view, either way, it will just depend on which way you prefer to get to the top.
Distance – Approximately 30 minutes each way
Recommendation – If you are lucky you may get to see the film crew there because this is where “Home and Away” is filmed. If not, head down to the Boathouse (which has a great healthy menu and friendly staff).
9. Balmoral to Chinamans Beach
Balmoral has always been one of those beaches that is great for swimming, as it has crystal blue flat water and very few waves. Walking from Balmoral to Chinamans Beach and back. Try to stay along the water’s edge because otherwise, you will end up on a busy main street which is not very enjoyable.
Distance – Approximately 25 minutes each way
Recommendation – Go for a swim at Chinamans beach where it is so much quieter than Balmoral, and the beach itself is less crowded.
10. Centennial park
Centennial Park is an excellent location for those who want to see a little bit of paradise in the middle of busy Sydney. Not far from Sydney CBD, this park’s loop is approximately 3.7km in distance. So it is worth doing a couple of circles. The best part about this park is that there are many places to stop to eat, picnic, or feed the ducks. The park can get busy on weekends, as it fills up with joggers, cyclists, and families.
Distance – Approximately 1 hour
Recommendations – Pick up a coffee and walk to the duck pond; it is a great spot to end your walk.
Things to know about Sydney before you go
Sydney weather averages 18-26 C in summer and 8-17 C in winter, so it means that hiking is okay at any time of the year. There are currently 200 registered National Parks in New South Wales alone, so hiking is plentiful in almost every suburb in Sydney. Check this insider’s guide to Sydney to know more.
Sydney has so many parks, coastal walks, and National Parks to choose from that you will be able to find so many great spots no matter where you are. Sydney is spoilt for choice when it comes to outdoor hiking tracks.
Paula is an Australian-born, dual passport owning expatriate; who has lived through 7 postings over 12 years. She has three beautiful children -1 boarding in Australia and 2 who are residing in Sydney attending university. In her past life, she was an Adult Educator and now she is a trailing spouse who can now add travel blogger to her resume. Read her post on the best Sydney weekend road trips and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
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