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Planning a trip to Sydney? Don’t miss experiencing Sydney’s incredible nature while you are there by exploring on foot. Here is my pick of the best walks in Sydney to help with your planning.
Over the 17 months that I lived in Sydney, I made it my mission to discover as many best Sydney walks as I could. And there are loads of great walks around Sydney.
Sydney has an abundance of national parks as well as a stunning coastline which makes it one of the best cities in the world for access to the great outdoors. And the way to truly experience the best of Sydney, is to walk it.
I had intended to write about the best Sydney walks that I have been doing individually, but I never got around to it. That’s probably a good thing as I think a run-down of a whole heap of juicy scenic walks in Sydney in one post is more informative for you keen hikers out there.
This way you can compare and decide which of Sydney’s walks appeal to you the most, as most visitors to the city wouldn’t have time to do all of them.
So here it is folks, my ultimate guide to the best walks in Sydney. Time to get hiking in Sydney!
The Best Sydney Walks
Check out my interactive map of the best walks in Sydney.
Eastern Beaches Walks
Bondi to Coogee Walk
Distance: 6km one way
Best for: Swimming at the most iconic beaches in Sydney
THE most famous of Sydney’s walks, the Bondi to Coogee walk (or Coogee to Bondi walk) is very popular and best done on a weekday in winter if you don’t want to share the trail with hundreds of tourists.
Despite the crowds, the walk from popular Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach, one of the best beaches in Sydney, is a corker.
Enjoy stunning coastal views from the top of sheer cliffs, lots of those picture-perfect, white-sand Sydney beaches, rock pools to swim in, and even the sprawling Waverley Cemetery which has arguably the most beautiful setting of any cemetery in the world.
The Bondi to Coogee walk is popular for a reason and if you only have time for one Sydney walk and don’t mind crowds too much, this is the one to do. It is absolutely one of the best coastal walks in Sydney.
Maroubra to Coogee Walk
Distance: 4.5km one way
Best for: Checking out the surfers at Maroubra Beach
The Maroubra to Coogee walk is one of the lesser-known walking tracks in Sydney.
Starting in Maroubra, which is home to some of the world’s best surfers, this stretch of coastline on Sydney’s Eastern Beaches is a lot less crowded than its famous counterpart, the Bondi to Coogee Walk.
The trail doesn’t hug the coast the whole way as there is a ten-minute section where you have to walk through the suburban streets.
There is a section that takes you across the rocks and you can even swim in the super clear Ivor Rowe natural rock pool along the way.
If you really feel like walking you could tack this on to the Bondi to Coogee Walk for an epic Sydney day walk.
Bondi Beach to Watson’s Bay Walk
Best for: Stunning views of the city and coastline followed by fish and chips on the wharf at Doyle’s in Watson’s Bay
Iconic Bondi Beach is the starting point for this Sydney walk. Check out the Bondi Markets in the school grounds by the beach if you are walking on a Sunday. Head north following the road for a bit before the path rejoins the coast along the top of huge limestone cliffs.
The Bondi Beach to Watson’s Bay walk has views out to sea on one side as well as one of the best views of the opera house and harbor bridge on the other.
The walk ends at lovely Watson’s Bay which is the home to Doyles where you can get Sydney’s most famous fish and chips. Catch a ferry to the city from there.
Northern Beaches Walks
Narrabeen Lagoon Trail
Distance: 7.5km loop
Best for: Experiencing a different side of Sydney, away from the coast
Something a bit different than most of the Sydney walks as it doesn’t involve any time hiking the coastline, this lake loop hike is very easy and a great hike to spot birds. It is also the only place I have ever seen a snake in Sydney.
Depending on whether you like snakes this could be taken as a good or bad thing. I don’t like snakes but it was still kinda cool seeing one (at a distance).
The Narrabeen Lagoon trail is one of the best bushwalks in Sydney.
Dee Why to Manly Coastal Walk
Distance: 7km one way
Best for: Discovering Sydney’s quieter Northern beaches
Another beautiful Sydney coast walk, this one takes you past some of Sydney’s most beautiful but quieter beaches in Northern Sydney.
Starting at Dee Why it follows a path along the top of the cliff for a while before heading down to one of my favorite beaches in Sydney, North Curl Curl.
I definitely recommend a swimming break at the beach there or in the rock pool before walking along the beach and then over to another beauty, Freshwater, before reaching Manly.
Grab a drink on the deck at Manly’s awesome 4 Pines Brewery.
Manly North Head Loop Walk
Distance: 5.5km loop walk
Best for: Secluded coves and ocean views
This was a local Sydney walk for me and one I did quite regularly.
Starting at Manly Beach take the gorgeous waterside path to sheltered Shelly Beach which is a good spot for snorkeling, then follow the path up to the Fairy Bower Headland where you might be lucky enough to see whales migrating offshore in winter.
Continue on over North Head and down the road to the secluded Collins Flat beach which is surrounded by native bush and has a waterfall falling onto the sand from above.
Follow the bush path around to lovely Little Manly Cove before finishing at the harbor where you can grab an ice-cream or a drink.
This little loop is one of the best northern beaches walks and a great option if you are short on time.
If you are in Manly from July till January, stay at the Wharf till sunset to see Manly’s Little Penguin population – I used to be a Penguin Warden here and these little guys are fascinating as well as incredibly cute.
The Basin Trail in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park
Distance: 5.6km return
Best for: Spotting wild wallabies and aboriginal rock art
The only place in Sydney I have seen wallabies (and their tiny babies), the Basin hike in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park involves walking along a dirt road and down into a river basin on the Pittwater, a large estuary.
Near the beginning of the Basin hike, there is some aboriginal rock art on large flat rocks including the outline of fishes, people, and other animals.
The Basin itself is a camping area as well as a day area and has an amenity block, a small swimming beach, and barbecues. We reached the basin a couple of hours before sunset and there were wallabies everywhere. Quite an amazing sight.
You can also take a ferry to the basin from Palm Beach but it is much more fulfilling if you hike there.
Barrenjoey Lighthouse Trail
Best for: Pittwater and Palm beach views and a sandstone lighthouse
Like Hornby Light, Barrenjoey Lighthouse is another of Sydney’s iconic lighthouses. A short but stunning hike will lead you from the Palm Beach Surf Club where the TV Show ‘Home and Away‘ is filmed and over to the Pittwater before rising up the headland to the lighthouse.
Along the way, there are stunning Sydney coast views with the beach on one side and the Pittwater on the other. Keep an eye out for whales from the top!
There is a small grave of a past lighthouse keeper near the lighthouse and you can walk further to the end of the headland for views back to the lighthouse.
Short and sweet, and one of the best walks in the Greater Sydney area.
Sydney Harbor Walks
Manly to Spit Walk
Distance: 10km one way
Best for: Harbor views and native bush
Starting at Manly Wharf, the Manly to Spit Bridge walk will take you past beautiful Sydney beaches, pristine pockets of native bush, and incredible views – all of which make it one of the best Sydney coastal walks.
Look out for the small huts visible in the distance below when you reach the Crater Cove Lookout and a sea of white wildflowers in spring along the Sydney National Park section of the trail.
The Manly to Spit walk is definitely one of the best Sydney harbor walks, as you will get glimpses of the harbor the entire way.
I’ve classed it as Intermediate because there are sections that are reasonably strenuous as the track rises to the top of the headland.
For more details, check out my more detailed post about the Manly to Spit walk.
Rose Bay to Hornby Light Walk
Distance: 8km one way
Best for: Harbor beaches, upmarket suburbs, and Sydney’s best lighthouse
A great way to explore Sydney’s harbor beaches close to the city, this walk starts at upmarket Rose Bay where you will see many luxury boats in the harbor.
Stop at the beautiful white sand Shark Beach for a swim then continue on along the coast to the village with an English vibe, Watson’s Bay.
This walk then takes you past a nudist beach to the most beautiful lighthouse in Sydney, the candy-cane-colored Hornby Light.
From the lighthouse, there are dramatic views of the waves crashing onto the rocks below at the entrance to Sydney harbor. It’s one of the best lookouts in Sydney.
Balmoral Beach to Cremorne Point Walk
Best for: Native bush and sparkling harbor and city views
The walk from Balmoral Beach to Cremorne Point is my favorite Sydney walk and one I kinda cobbled together myself.
Balmoral Beach is gorgeous with its powdery white sand and crystal clear water, one of the most impressive of Sydney’s beaches.
After grabbing brunch at the fantastic Boathouse Cafe, take the trail through native bush to Chowder Head, across the beach and through more native bush in Sydney Harbour National Park, all the way around Middle Head and Bradley’s Head to Little Sirius Cove.
You will briefly leave the bush behind for suburban streets before re-entering the bush at Reid Park.
A path then follows the coastline along the side of Cremorne Point past beautiful gardens and water views to the wharf at Cremorne Point where you can catch a scenic ferry to the city.
This hike is an absolute joy with a lot of time spent in pristine coastal bushland as well as one of Sydney’s most beautiful beaches.
A fantastic introduction to the harbor and one of the best bushwalks in Sydney.
Central Sydney Walks
Centennial Park Loop Walk
Best for: A city parkland escape
For one of the best Sydney city walks, head to Centennial Park, where inner-city Sydneysiders can be found walking, running, and biking whenever the sun is out.
There are many routes you can take through Centennial Park and I recommend doing a bit of a loop, but rather than following the loop road, do some off-roading by winding your way past some of the beautiful ponds.
There are always a lot of black swans, ducks, and Canadian geese to be fed.
The Rocks and Botanical Gardens Walk
Best for: History and iconic city landmarks
One of the best walks in Sydney to do if you want to see the big-ticket sights and explore Sydney’s history is this walk through The Rocks and the Botanical Gardens.
Starting in iconic Circular Quay, make your way through The Rocks, Sydney’s oldest neighborhood, which is full of historic pubs and laneways.
Don’t miss visiting The Hero of Waterloo and The Lord Nelson – two of the oldest pubs in Sydney, the base of Sydney Harbor Bridge with views across the harbor, lovely Barangaroo Reserve, and La Renaissance Patisserie, which is home to incredible French pastries.
After exploring The Rocks, continue back through Circular Quay and around to the most famous sight in Sydney: The Sydney Opera House.
When you are done admiring this architectural wonder, walk along the water in the Botanical Gardens to Mrs Macquarie’s Seat, then explore the gardens at will – I love the Fernery and the Lotus Pond.
Finish at the Art Gallery of New South Wales if you enjoy art (and it’s free!), or grab a pie from Harry’s Cafe de Wheels at Wooloomooloo – a classic Sydney lunch.
Make sure to check out my Hikes and Walks page for more of my favorite hikes from around the world.
Which of these Sydney walks would you most like to do? Do you know of any more amazing hiking trails in Sydney that you think should be on the list? I would love to hear from you!
Plan Your Best Walks in Sydney Vacation
Where To Stay in Sydney
Although it is so nice to stay by the beach, I would recommend you stay close to downtown – particularly The Rocks and Circular Quay – as it is the best base to get around from.
If you really want to splurge, I highly recommend the Four Seasons in Circular Quay or the Park Hyatt in the Rocks – they both have pools and are handy for trains, buses, and ferries. Crown Towers in Barangaroo and The Fullerton Hotel Sydney in the CBD are also great options.
There are a number of hostels around Sydney but I have heard really good things about one in particular – the Sydney Harbour YHA Hostel in The Rocks. The location is perfect and there is even a harbor-view rooftop.
Alternatively, look for vacation rentals in Paddington, Darlinghurst, Pyrmont, CBD, and Surry Hills areas – as these are all pretty central. Here are my picks for the most affordable, centrally located, and highly rated rentals:
- Inner City Old Dairy Loft
- Bright and Sunny Paddington Apartment
- Cozy Studio Cottage in Balmain
- Vintage Two-Bedroom Suite in Historic Building in CBD
- Luxury One Bedroom Suite in Paddington
If you really want to be by the beach, go for Bondi or Coogee – these have the best transport links of the beaches, with a train line at Bondi Junction, as well as regular buses.
My favorite place to stay in the area on a budget is the PodBed Coogee Beachside which is very affordable for a pod in a dorm or for a private room and has an excellent location on Coogee Bay Road.
For a budget option in Bondi, stay at Wake Up! Bondi Beach – it has great reviews and is right on the beach. The best hotels and bed and breakfasts in Bondi are The Baxley Bondi, Bondi Beach House Bed & Breakfast, and QT Bondi Condo Hotel.
The best vacation rentals in Bondi and nearby Coogee are:
- One-Bedroom Apartment With Lap Pool Near Coogee
- Contemporary Secluded Studio in North Bondi
- Tiny House Studio Apartment With Sea Views
- Sunny Bondi Studio With Garage, Balcony and Pool
What to Take on Your Sydney Walks
For day hikes, the Cotopaxi Luzon is an awesome backpack choice and it’s lightweight and will pack down easily when you’re not using it.
For hydration, pack a CamelBak to make it easier to hydrate while you are hiking and to store a large amount of water comfortably.
Take some trekking poles to help with the downhill hikes – your knees will thank you! Pack a raincoat in case it rains, and if you are hiking in winter, wear a lightweight but cozy thermal base layer top.
The Best Insurance for Your Sydney Trip
Make sure you get travel and health insurance before your trip. Safety Wing is my go-to and they are cheap and easy to claim with – it auto-renews every month unless you turn it off so you don’t have to think about it for longer trips
Safety Wing also allows you to sign up when you are already traveling, unlike a lot of other travel insurance providers.
Want to know more about what to do in Sydney? Check out my other Sydney posts:
- Ultimate Itinerary for 5 Days in Sydney
- Ultimate Offbeat Summer in Sydney Bucket List
- Manly to Spit Walk: How To See the Best of Sydney Harbor
- A Beach Bum’s Guide to the Eastern Suburbs Beaches in Sydney
- 30 Reasons Why I Love Sydney
- The Best Long Weekend Blue Mountains Itinerary
- What It’s Like to be a Penguin Warden in Sydney