Having lived in New South Wales a while back, I have come up with a list of ‘Must Do’s’ when you visit. Everyone thinks of the iconic Opera House and Harbour Bridge and yes, while these are superb places to visit, there is so much more to see. These are 5 of my favourite things to do in New South Wales…
1. The Blue Mountains
The Blue Mountains are located to the West of Sydney and can be reached by taking a train from Central Station, a coach from Circular Quay or by car. Allow 1-2 hours to get there by car or coach depending upon which part you go to. The Blue Mountains are breathtakingly beautiful and the air is filled with the scent of eucalyptus trees. As you can book guided tours, the Blue Mountains are a great place to visit with likeminded people, as a solo traveller.
Activities include taking a ride between clifftops on the glass bottomed scenic skyway. Or maybe ride the scenic railway which is the steepest passenger railway in the world and descends 310m into the rainforest.
Enjoy signposted walks of varying lengths to admire the flora…
1000 steps down the Giant Stairway …
and the stunning sandstone rock formation of the 3 Sisters.
I booked a tour through the Tourist Information centre by Manly Wharf with Oz Trails as a day trip and I really enjoyed it. It also included a boat ride along the Parramatta River. But you can stay longer if you prefer, as there is accommodation available in the Blue Mountains.
Manly Beach has just been named as Australia’s number 1 beach by Trip Advisor’s Traveller’s Choice Awards 2018. The beach has a long stretch of golden sand and perfect surfing conditions. If you get here early enough in the morning you can admire the beautiful sunrise. In the evening, head wharf side of Manly and you can view a stunning sunset.
Between May and November you may be lucky enough to spot whales breach from the beach…
Hire a bike and cycle to North Head and enjoy the panoramic ocean views. While you are here, you could visit the museum at Quarantine Station or if you are feeling particularly brave, book yourself on a ghost tour!
Other beaches offer different activities. For example you could head to Shelly beach with its free barbecues, ideal snorkelling conditions and walking trails. Alternatively you could hire a SUP, kayak or self-drive boat from Manly Wharf.
When it comes to eating and drinking, there are a number of excellent eateries and bars in the town. You can browse the surf shops and wander around the market along the Corso at weekends too.
3. Taronga Zoo
Taronga Zoo, Bradleys Head Road, Mosman, NSW, Australia
Open daily 9:30am-5pm including Christmas Day
The cheapest way to buy a ticket is online – which will discount the price by 10% $42.30
When considering my favourite things to do in New South Wales, Taronga Zoo was high on my list of places to visit. It is arguably one of the best zoos in the world. Located in a beautiful harbourside setting on the outskirts of Mosman, it benefits from stunning views of the Harbour Bridge and has been open for over 100 years.
Although you can drive or catch the bus to Mosman, the most relaxing way to arrive is by ferry from Circular Quay and admire the stunning views along the way. Once you arrive you will enjoy the amazing exhibits including Giraffes, Sumatran Tigers, Gorillas, Orangutans, Asian Elephants and Red Kangaroos.
Keeper talks take place throughout the day as well as some amazing displays, especially the interactive bird display, giving valuable information about the animals.
A ride on the cable car is a wonderful way to enter or leave the zoo. Make sure you have your camera ready as the views are incredible.
If you would like a photo with one of the animals, book the experience early at the main shop on arrival. These are an additional cost and book up quickly. Prices vary depending on the encounter. More information can be found on the Taronga Zoo website. Encounters include feeding carrots to a giraffe, feeding fish to the penguins, getting climbed on by meerkats and going behind the scenes in the elephant enclosures.
Zoo Snooze is another fun activity giving you a chance to sleep in the zoo overnight and wake up to the sounds of the animals.
4. Darling Harbour
From Circular Quay, the ferry service to Darling Harbour is frequent. It is a fabulous area with lots going on. Wander along the harbour and admire the glistening waters and beautiful yachts moored up. You can browse the local shops or eat in one of the many restaurants around the harbour.
If you are feeling more active, there is a bowling alley, Madame Tussauds, Sea Life Aquarium and Wild Life Sydney, all very close together so you could enjoy several activities in the same day.
15 minutes walk from here are the famous fish markets. They have shops selling fresh seafood with seating areas inside and outside. Great if you want to buy your own food and cook it on the bbq later or purchase some to eat here. Just watch out for the seagulls with their ‘mine, mine, mine’ attitude!
A short walk away is the well kept Chinese Garden of Friendship. This pretty and serene walled garden contains exotic plants, lakes and waterfalls and only costs $6 entrance fee for an adult.
Local parks sometimes hold festivals and during peak times spectacular firework displays are held for free. Check the Darling Harbour website for details as well as information about the Chinese Garden of Friendship.
5. Hunter Valley
One of my favourite things to do in New South Wales is to drive North of Sydney for about 2 hours to the vast wine region of Hunter Valley. Cellar door wine tasting and vineyard tours are available. I went on a fantastic tour booked through Cheers Bus which I recommend.
The Hunter Valley is a calm and peaceful area and feels as if you have stepped back in time. It is a great contrast to life in the City. There are many hotels in the area with good facilities and restaurants nearby if you prefer to stay over night.
Early morning, you can see kangaroos in the wild, jumping around at the coolest part of the day.
Suggested Further Reading
As well as my favourite things to do in New South Wales, I can also recommend a few places to eat at or stay while in Sydney if you are by yourself.
Sydney Restaurants great for solo dining!
Hotels in Sydney suitable for solo travel