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I have spent a lot of time in the Blue Mountains of Australia, and they are one of my favorite places in the whole country. I wanted to share my Blue Mountains Itinerary and guide for the perfect Blue Mountains weekend away to help you fall in love with this magical place too, so here we go!
The Blue Mountains are not what you would picture when you think of Australia.
Deep green forested mountains, beautiful waterfalls, and small mountain villages where it is known to snow in winter. Only two hours by train from Sydney, the Blue Mountains are far removed from Coastal life in Australia’s biggest city.
Mostly famous for the rock formations, the Three Sisters, a lot of people travel to the Blue Mountains by train from Sydney to see these iconic rocky outcrops, do one or two of the short Blue Mountains walks, and have lunch and a look at the shops in Katoomba on a day trip.
A Blue Mountains day trip from Sydney is a great idea if you are short on time, but the charms of the Blue Mountain region are best appreciated by lingering. Especially in autumn when the mountains are at their prettiest.
My first Blue Mountains trip was a weekend break back in 2005 during my first round living in Sydney. In those days I was in my early twenties and had very different priorities in life than I do now.
Fun for me then was smoking, drinking and partying. I thought the mountains were pretty but I sure as hell wasn’t going to do anything crazy like hiking in them.
Fast forward nine years and that is exactly why I wanted to re-visit the Blue Mountains. And there are some fabulous Blue Mountains walking tracks.
Our three days in the Blue Mountains were absolutely perfect and paved the way for many a Blue Mountains weekend away.
The Perfect Blue Mountains Itinerary
Blue Mountains Itinerary Day One
After arriving in the Blue Mountains by train, we checked into our hostel in Katoomba then set out to explore the town.
Katoomba is the most well-known of the Blue Mountains towns and is the main tourist hub because of its proximity to the Three Sisters. It has a tidy main street with lots of eateries, small specialty shops, historic buildings, and hotels.
Katoomba started out as a small mining town before its metamorphosis into a fashionable retreat after the building of the historic Carrington Hotel in 1882. It is the administrative headquarters of Blue Mountains City Council.
Our first day in Katoomba was ANZAC Day, a public holiday in Australia and New Zealand recognizing and honoring the servicemen who have fought in conflicts around the world.
The date itself, 25th April, is the anniversary of one of the most significant campaigns involving Australians and New Zealanders in World War I, when the allied forces landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey to go up against the Ottoman Turks. Both sides suffered a massive loss of life.
Gallipoli is now a popular pilgrimage for young Australians and New Zealanders.
There was a small parade along the main street which we went along to watch. The procession only lasted about five minutes as Katoomba is such a small community but it was great seeing all the elderly returned servicemen in their uniforms, with medals proudly on display, that came down to march in the parade.
It was a cold and drizzly day so we looked around the shops, and I had a hot apple cider at the cozy Yellow Deli, then when the sun came out later we decided to walk the half-hour to the Three Sisters.
Walking through suburban Katoomba, I was amazed by the bright colors of the trees. The crisp mountain air and the brightly colored autumn trees made me feel as if I was back in Canada or the U.S. Amongst the shedding trees, daffodils were sprouting.
Mother Nature is a bit confused around here.
At Echo Point, an iconic Blue Mountains lookout, a low mist hung over the Blue Mountain’s most famous rock formations but within fifteen minutes it slowly lifted to reveal stunning views over the densely forested Jamison Valley.
We did the short hike down to the platform near the base of the Three Sisters where the mist swirled around us. The sun was sinking lower in the sky and lit up the mist a brilliant orange. It was truly beautiful.
Walking along the valley’s edge back to town we stopped to watch the sunset over the mountains. They really did look blue in the low evening light.
It is commonly believed that the blue haze that gives the Blue Mountain’s their name is, according to the Blue Mountains Heritage website, ‘created by the atmosphere whereby dispersed droplets of Eucalypt oil combine with dust particles and water vapour to scatter refracted rays of light which are largely blue in colour’.
Whatever the cause, it is a beautiful sight, especially at sunset.
Blue Mountains Itinerary Day Two
Luckily after the abysmal weather for much of our first day, it cleared for the rest of our Blue Mountains weekend away. Hiking was the main reason for my wanting to return to the Blue Mountains so hiking was what we did for a large proportion of Saturday and Sunday.
I had heard that Wentworth Falls is a beautiful spot so we took the train the short distance to the small township of the same name, a lot quieter than the touristed Katoomba. There is a great Blue Mountains walk that leads from the township to the falls themselves called the Charles Darwin Walk.
It is named as such because the man himself traveled through Wentworth Falls back in 1836, toward the end of his long voyage as a naturalist on the HMS Beagle. His trip on horseback into the Blue Mountains was the only inland trip he did in Australia.
After walking along a quiet bush path for about twenty minutes we came across the small waterfall, Weeping Rock, and a small plaque stating that Darwin had passed through in 1836.
Shortly after, we arrived at the mighty Wentworth Falls, with amazing valley views from this Blue Mountains lookout.
From there we started the Wentworth Pass track, following the cliffside path that took us down steep rock-hewn stairs with dramatic views of the Jamison Valley below. Stopping at a viewpoint at the bottom of the first set of stairs, there were gorgeous views of the falls in all of their splendor.
We carried on down, further into the valley. Steep steel ladders led the last section of the hike down to the valley floor. The path was leveled out. Surrounded by thick foliage and tangled tree roots, there was an absence of light filtering through to the forest floor.
The Wentworth Pass track was really quiet, and we didn’t see many other people until we started heading upwards and out of the valley again.
Laboring up endless stairs we re-joined the tourist throngs that had taken the shorter paths skirting the valley’s edge. There were more incredible views from the top.
We stopped at The Conservation Hut Café for a drink, before walking through the quiet residential streets of Wentworth Falls and back to the train station.
Blue Mountains Itinerary Day Three
The last day of our Blue Mountains weekend away we did the Federation Trail hike from the Three Sisters to the valley floor and up to Leura Cascades – one of the best Blue Mountains hikes in the area.
Similar to the day before at Wentworth Falls, it involved many, many stairs down, then hiking along a deserted path through the thick bush on the valley floor, before heading back up, to the Leura Cascades where we stopped to eat our packed lunch.
We saw a lyrebird, which is like a native bush chicken. It has beautiful long black tail feathers and scratches around in the undergrowth with its powerful claws.
It is well known for its uncanny ability to mimic natural and artificial sounds, but the one we saw wasn’t very chatty.
From Leura Cascades, we got a bit lost trying to make it to the township of Leura but eventually managed to find our way after wandering along back roads for a while.
Leura is another quaint mountain town and in my opinion, is the most beautiful of the Blue Mountain towns we visited.
There was a small market on when we went there, held in the tiny Town Hall, with stalls selling second-hand books, local produce, handmade jewelry, homemade food, and other knick-knacks.
There were lots of interesting shops selling candles, art, fashion, and tasteful souvenirs lining the quaint main street. A grassy strip with flowering bushes and park benches ran down the middle of the road.
In the Blue Mountains, I have found my Australian hiking paradise. And it’s so close to Sydney. With cheap rail tickets, I will definitely be returning for another Blue Mountains weekend trip in the future for my mountain fix.
This captivating area is definitely worth the time to explore, even if you only have time to do a Blue Mountains day trip. I hope this Blue Mountains itinerary can help you in planning your own Blue Mountains trip.
Planning Your Blue Mountains Weekend Away
Where to Stay in the Blue Mountains
There are many places you can stay in the Blue Mountains but I would recommend staying in Katoomba as it has lots of restaurants and cafes, and it’s walking distance to the cute town of Leura and the famous Three Sisters.
On this visit, I stayed at the Flying Fox Backpackers in Katoomba and loved it. Our private double room was cozy and we met some cool people during our stay. The lounge had comfy couches, lots of books, a friendly hostel cat, and a fireplace.
There was a free pancake breakfast each morning and the hostel was only five minutes walk from town.
I have also stayed at No14 Lovel St Hostel and loved it too. It is very similar to Flying Fox in that it has a great location close to town, a free breakfast, and a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.
If you want to treat yourself to something nicer, I have stayed at the historic Carrington Hotel in Katoomba and the Hydro Majestic Blue Mountains Hotel in nearby Medlow Bath and recommend them both.
They are both very grand and beautifully decorated – it really does feel like stepping back in time once you enter these majestic hotels.
Getting To the Blue Mountains
The Blue Mountains By Train From Sydney
The cheapest and easiest way to visit the Blue Mountains is by taking a regular train from Sydney. On the weekend, it will only cost you $8.05 return if you are using an Opal card! The usual one-way price for a ticket from Sydney’s Central Station to Katoomba is $6.30 and it takes two hours.
You can check the Transport NSW Trip Planner to check departure times.
Hire a Car from Sydney
If you want more freedom once you get to the Blue Mountains, then you should definitely hire a car. The drive up there takes around 90 minutes to two hours and it is a beautiful drive. Budget Car Rentals usually has the most competitive prices but check around before booking.
Where to Eat in the Blue Mountains
Everything we ate in the Blue Mountains was amazing, and Katoomba turned out to be a foodie haven.
The Yellow Deli in Katoomba is a favorite, and it feels like you have stepped into Hobbiton with its beautiful polished wooden interior, a split level with a spiral staircase leading up to it, a roaring fireplace, and small handmade wooden tables and chairs.
We ate lunch one day at Sanwiye, a small Korean Restaurant with amazing chicken bulgogi (like a stir fry, a VERY delicious one). Washed down with a natural grape juice it was an incredible introduction to Katoomba’s food scene.
The Old City Bank Brasserie and Bar is part of the Carrington Hotel. It is a British-style pub with high ceilings and historic photos of the area adorning the walls. We sampled a few of their expansive range of beers and had delicious pulled pork sandwiches.
We packed lunches for the days we spent hiking from the Hominy Bakery in town which had yummy quiches, focaccia, sausage rolls, apple pies, cookies, and other sweets.
When to Visit the Blue Mountains
I have visited the Blue Mountains in every season and I loved every visit, but the Blue Mountains in Autumn is my favorite because the weather is nice but cooler – perfect to do some Blue Mountains walks, and the trees are colorful.
I also loved visiting the Blue Mountains in winter for Yulefest celebrations in July.
The Best Travel Insurance for your Blue Mountains Trip
Make sure you get travel and health insurance before your Blue Mountains trip, just to be on the safe side. Safety Wing is my go-to and they are cheap and easy to claim with.
Safety Wing also allows you to sign up when you are already traveling, unlike a lot of other travel insurance providers.
If you liked this post, check out more of my Blue Mountains and Sydney content:
- Celebrating Yulefest in the Blue Mountains of Australia
- Experiencing Real Autumn in the Blue Mountains of Australia
- Hiking the Other Grand Canyon in the Blue Mountains of Australia
- The Ultimate Itinerary for 5 Days in Sydney
- The Best Sydney Walks
- Ultimate Offbeat Summer in Sydney Bucketlist
- 30 Reasons Why I Love Sydney
- A Beach Bum’s Guide To the Eastern Suburbs Beaches in Sydney