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A couple lay on a beach near Huskisson, Jervis Bay
Photograph: Destination NSW

The best cheap holiday destinations in New South Wales

At these top retreats not far from Sydney, you can holiday like a baller while sticking to a budget

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Written by
Maxim Boon
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There are plenty of places to holiday in NSW that’ll set you back a pretty penny. But you needn’t splash all your cash to have a great local getaway. There are many affordable breaks to be had across the state, that won’t break the bank or shortchange you on top-quality experiences. We’ve picked seven great options that you can enjoy for just a few hundred bucks, for when you want a vacay without waiting for payday.

Want to get out into nature without losing your creature comforts? Check out these top glamping sites around NSW.

The most affordable getaways in NSW

Parramatta
Photograph: Daniel Boud/Destination NSW

Parramatta

It is a truth universally acknowledged that an inner city-dwelling Sydneysider will drag their feet at the prospect travelling any further than Marrickville. But this convenient city-stay in Sydney's west is full of art, culture and excellent eats more than worth the trip. Sydney’s second Big Smoke is in the middle of a huge hospitality and retail boom and it’ll cost you just a few dollars to reach by train or riverboat from central Sydney. You should certainly make time to explore the new dining precinct in the heart of Parramatta, which features eateries by star restaurateurs such as Maurice Terzini from Bondi Icebergs and the talented team behind high-end Middle Eastern diner Nour. Another great way to discover all the delicious delights of the area is on a Taste Tour. For just $85 per person, you’ll not only get to savour multiple cuisines, from sushi to dumplings to gelato, but you’ll also learn about Parramatta’s ancient and pre-colonial history. Since you saved so much on your travel costs, you may be inclined to pay a little more for a plush pad for a night or two. The new Skye Suites Parramatta is one of the most luxurious boltholes in Western Sydney and a night’s stay will only set you back around $300.

Katoomba
Photograph: Destination NSW

Katoomba

The most populous town in the Blue Mountains is just a couple of hours by train out of Sydney Central. If hiking is your jam, you can trek to your heart’s content here without spending a cent – even after dark, thanks to the newly opened Katoomba Reserve Night-lit Walk, which will take you past the majestic Katoomba Falls and onto the Three Sisters. There are heaps of cute-as-a-button guest houses dotted around town, where you can find a comfy bed in pleasant surrounds just minutes from both the town centre and the Jamieson Valley, and few will set you back more than $200 a night. There are plenty of great places to grab an affordable bite on the main drag of Katoomba Street, but be sure to check out Frankly My Dear Coffee, which is serving up one of the best brews in the Blues, and a hearty menu of comfort food favourites (you must try the toasties), all priced under $20. For a sophisticated day trip, jump on the Megalong Valley winery shuttle bus, which costs just $25 when you book with a NSW Dine and Discover voucher. It'll whisk you to top Blue Mountains wineries, such as the Dryridge Estate, which offers tastings for as little as $10 per person.

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Bathurst
Photograph: Destination NSW

Bathurst

The XPT train runs daily between Sydney and Bathurst and will deposit you right in the heart of town for only $25. The nation’s oldest inland settlement is a great option for history buffs, culture seekers and the culinary-curious. Bed and breakfast accommodation is the go here, such as the cosy (but not costly) Alfred on Keppel. With your sleeping arrangements in order, it’s time to explore the Bathurst Arts Trail. Visit on the first weekend of each month and peruse the wares of local makers including potters, glass artists, sculptors and printmakers. If it's history you seek, a visit to Abercrombie House (pictured) is a must. The heritage-listed ancestral home of the Morgan family is a masterpiece of gothic architecture and you can take a tour of both the house and grounds every Wed-Sun for just $15. Autumn is an ideal time to visit this forested region. The local Autumn Colours Festival (Mar 13- May 9) celebrates the season with a program of events and tours that hero the town’s rich past and golden foliage. If all that culture has made you a little peckish, tuck into the famous lemon tart from Legall Patisserie on Keppel Street – one of Bathurst’s most prized pick-me-ups that’ll only set you back a few bucks.

Kiama
Photograph: Destination NSW/Tim Clark

Kiama

This seaside escape just south of Lake Illawarra is a natural wonderland of volcanic rocks, gushing blowholes and ancient rainforests. Best of all, it’s just 90-minutes drive from Central Sydney – or two hours by train, although the stunning scenery en route will make the journey time fly by. Prepare for a generous spritz of salty surf on the Kiama Coast Walk, an essential outing that takes in both of the famed blowholes and the sea-sculpted basalt of the Cathedral Rocks. The entire trail, which is free to access, is 20km, but it can be broken down into three more manageable stretches if that’s a little more cardio than you were banking on. If the thrill of the ocean spray whets your appetite for yet more excitement, get your adrenaline pumping with a trip to the Illawarra Fly Treetop Adventures, home of the highest zipline in Australia, which will send you whizzing through the treetops 35-metres above the forest floor. Too white-knuckle? The treetop walk is a more serene option, where you can amble along an elevated boardwalk surrounded by the lush canopy of the rainforest for just $25.

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Central NSW
Photograph: Destination NSW

Central NSW

Since domestic travel is all we have to satisfy our wanderlust at present, road tripping – or ‘nomading’ if you want to use the currently in-vogue lingo – is enjoying a surge in popularity. Which is why it pays to take the roads less travelled. Instead of heading up or down the coast like the majority, beat the crowds by venturing inland to some of the gorgeous country towns and villages in Central NSW that are under the radar of most holiday seekers. Hidden gems like Rylstone, Canowindra, Tumbarumba and Holbrook are rich with history and unique local culture, as well as boasting great cuisine and wine to boot. And since many of these rural towns are located within national parkland, they are excellent places to base yourself for a nature-centric weekender. Accommodation options can sometimes be limited, but you can keep your overheads even leaner by hiring a campervan.

Huskisson
Photograph: Destination NSW

Huskisson

Shoalhaven and the beautiful stretch of the state in and around Jervis Bay is one of the all-time great holiday go-tos of NSW, just two-and-a-half hours south of Sydney. Callala Beach and Vincentia are popular with the getaway set, but the lesser-visited coastal town of Huskisson is perfectly situated right in the heart of the bay with million-dollar views that won't bust your budget. You can easily find beachfront accommodation with plumbing and power at one of Huskisson's camper and RV parks or at the many small rental cottages in the area, like those at the Holiday Haven, available for as little as $115 night. One of the best ways to explore the ancient mangroves, river estuaries and bay waters is on a guided kayak tour, which will cost around $60 per person for a two-hour experience with Jervis Bay Kayaks. Keep your eyes peeled for green sea turtles, dolphins and giant rays, which are commonly spotted where the Currambene Creek flows into the natural harbour.

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Batemans Bay
Photograph: Destination NSW

Batemans Bay

Venture south to the heart of Australia’s Oyster Coast and sample succulent Clyde River oysters from the farm gates of Pearly Oyster Bar and Farm and the Oyster Shed on Wray Street. You won't have to pay the eye-watering prices of a fine diner, however. Purchasing them from the source means you can get your fill of the freshest bargain bivalves on the cheap. There are also wildlife encounters of the non-edible kind on the coast of Batemans Bay. Meet fur seals and penguins off Montague Island, follow ancient walking tracks like the 2km Wasp Head Walk in Murramaranga National Park, or go bush swimming in the Clyde River National Park, all without opening your wallet, before calling it a day at the Bay Breeze Boutique Motel, where you can rest your head for around $175 a night.

Check out more of the state

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