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Sydney for pathfinders

You're drawn to nature and going your own way. Take your restless spirit on these exciting journeys

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grand-canyon-track 3, Blue Mountains
Photograph: Steve Alton

So you'd rather surf in the ocean than surf the inrternet, and social media comes a distant second to catching a sunrise from a mountaintop or taking a walk in the woods. Sounds like you're a pathfinder, a journeyer, and if so, you've come to the right place. Sydney is an outdoors city: steeped in nature, fringed by the beach, surrounded by national parks, and close to natural wonders. Let us recommend the following ways to have an adventure while visiting our town. 

Let's Go Surfing
Photograph: Supplied
Sport and fitness

Let's Go Surfing

Bondi North

Surfing a wave at Bondi Beach should be on everyone’s bucket list. This reputable school prides itself on the popular two-hour beginner’s course that goes through the essentials of safety, paddling and how to catch a wave – ideal for nervous first-timers. Groups are a maximum of five people, or you can go private, with knowledgeable instructors experienced with teaching all levels. In winter, they offer their two-hour beginners course for just $95.

Manly to Spit Middle Harbour
Photograph: Hamilton Lund / Destination NSW
Things to do, Walks

Manly to Spit coastal walk

Balgowlah Heights

It may be called the ‘Manly to Spit’ walk, but (especially if you don’t live North Side) you’re better off doing this ten-kilometre trek backwards. Start at the Spit Bridge (the M30 or 143 will get you there from Central) in Mosman, then cling to Middle Harbour’s coastline passing Clontarf Reserve and Clontarf Point. Your first opportunity for a great swim will come early in the piece, at Castle Rock. After a steep descent you’ll find water that’s calm, clear and gorgeous. From there, you’ll be taking in big clifftop views and lots of scraggy, hardy bushland in the Sydney Harbour National Park. The final stretch is through suburban Manly, and at the end, you should reward yourself with a cocktail and a snack, before catching the ferry home. The walk is 3-4 hours in duration.

Spooners Lookout, Echo Point, Blue Mountains National Park
Photograph: Steve Alton
Travel, Short getaways

Blue Mountains weekend adventure

There are some things you have to do in the Blue Mountains. The well worn tourist trails are trodden in because they’re ceaselessly spectacular: the Three Sisters rock formation and adjacent natural fun-park Scenic World are unmissable for first-time visitors. But venture beyond to the astonishing Jenolan Caves and your curiosity will be more than rewarded. 

The best wineries in the Hunter Valley: A scenic shot of wine vineyards at a winery in the Hunter Vallery
Photograph: Destination NSW
Travel, Short getaways

Hunter Valley wineries

The Hunter Valley, about two hours' drive north of Sydney, is one of New South Wales’ major wine-growing regions. It’s a beautiful place to spend a few days driving about, eating and tasting the drops at winery cellar doors. Whether you opt to journey as part of a tour, or a private trip, vineyards we recommend include Audrey Wilkson, Bimbadgen, Harkham, Brokenwood, Gartelmann, Krinklewood, Meerea Park, Peppertree, Scarborough, Tempus Two and Tyrell's.  

Royal National Park
Photograph: Klara Kalocsay
Things to do

Royal National Park

Less than an hour's drive from the CBD lie the pristine 15,091 hectares of bushland that lines the coast south of Sydney. Whether you want to swim, trek, picnic, swim, bike ride, or swim, the Royal National Park will provide an outdoors, adventure-filled day out. Get the ferry from Cronulla to Bundeena. Starting at Bundeena and walking to Little Marley Beach is a great option for first time National Park adventurers. Float at Wattamolla, a lagoon that's a top spot for picnicking and swimming. Ogle Wedding Cake Rock; surf Garie Beach; or relax on Marley Beach, which has rock pools, a fresh water stream (which leads to the Marley Lagoon) and crashing waves. 

Rest your weary feet...

A room at Sydney's West Hotel
Photograph: Paul Gosney
Hotels, Luxury hotels

West Hotel

Darling Harbour

A boutique accommodation project from Hilton down amongst Barangaroo’s new towers offers an elegant, welcoming home base from which to see Sydney.