With stunning coastline to the east, breathtaking mountain ranges to the west, and a bevy of iconic landmarks and city sights in the middle, there are countless impressive walking trails that thread through Sydney city. Varying in length and difficulty, we’ve plucked out the best of the best that you need to hike at least once in your lifetime.
Garie Beach Coast Track
Distance: 16 miles
Estimated time: 1-2 days
Best for: Serious hikers who know a good thing when they see it, equipped with plenty of sunscreen, water and camera battery.
Following the southeastern edge of the Royal National Park, this trek begins about 35 miles south of Sydney Central Business District (CBD), a one-hour drive away. Stretching from Bundeena to Otford and winding around cliffs, beaches and spectacular escarpments, this is certainly one of Sydney’s more quiet but stunning hiking trails. With almost as many lookouts as there are swimming spots (be sure to take a well-deserved dip at beautiful Garie Beach), you’ll also be spoilt for wildlife watching, with sea eagles, silver gulls and the occasional whale also passing by. Come prepared if you want to hike it over two days, and sleep under the stars at North Era camping ground.
Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk
Distance: 3.7 miles
Estimated time: 1.5 hours
Best for: Weekend wanderers seeking ocean views as impressive as the local brunch options.
As the city’s most photographed track, this cracking coastal walk starts at Australia’s most famous beach, before following the shoreline south to Coogee. Passing rock pools and ocean pools, you can also expect to see rocky outcrops, frolicking beach goers, grassy knolls, surfers waiting for the next big wave and a stream of dazzling oceanfront mansions (we can dream, right?). Come in spring and see this dramatic coastline transformed into a seaside art exhibition known as Sculptures by the Sea. But if you do come of a weekend, start early in the morning (like before 8am), or you’ll be jostling for path space with like-minded walkers.
Mount Solitary Walking Track
Distance: 7.5 miles
Estimated time: 6-9 hours
Best for: Adventurous hikers hungry for fresh, mountain air and insane valley views.
You’ll find this memorable mountain hike less than a two-hour drive west of Sydney's CBD, in the Blue Mountains National Park. Starting from the historic Federal Pass near Katoomba, you’ll walk along where an old horse-drawn tramway once operated, before trekking the rugged ridge of Mount Solitary, through woodlands and rainforest. Breathtaking in more ways than one (yes, this is a fairly intense hike), you’ll be rewarded with both incredible vistas over the mountains and an eagle sighting or two.
Manly to Spit Bridge Walk
Distance: 6.2 miles
Estimated time: 4 hours
Best for: Those who really want a decent beach hike without leaving the city limits
Comprising a series of short tracks that weave through North Sydney’s bays and beaches, you can expect plenty of leafy bushland, awesome harbor views and some very welcome swimming holes to cool off in along the way. It’s worth taking a detour to see some pretty special Aboriginal rock engravings at Grotto Point Lighthouse, or check out Arabanoo Lookout for A-grade photo opps. Plus, if you visit between May and November, you might even spot a migrating whale or two out at sea. Just as importantly, since the walk is close to the city, you can check out one of these top ice cream parlors after.
Glebe Foreshore Walk
Distance: 1.5 miles (if you don’t make any stop-offs)
Estimated time: 5 hours (including time for detours)
Best for: Leisurely walkers more interested in a dose of culture and fresh air than elevating their heart rate.
What this inner-city track lacks in length, it makes up for in attractions along the way. Beginning in Rozelle Bay, the park passes through several iconic parklands and reserves (read: scenic spots to have yourself a little mid-walk picnic), as well as taking in some killer views of the CBD skyline, Sydney Harbor and Anzac Bridge. It’s also worth making a detour into Glebe itself – a charming historic suburb lined with 19th-century terrace houses, adorable cafes and boutiques, plus seriously fun markets held every Saturday with everything from second-hand wares and handmade furnishings, to designer jewelry, delicious food stalls and live music. When you finish the track in Pyrmont, give yourself time to explore the Sydney Fish Market – one of the world’s biggest seafood markets. It’s incredible just for the spectacle, let alone the tasty morsels you can pick up here.
Centennial Parklands Grand Drive Circuit
Distance: 2.2 miles
Estimated time: 1 hour
Best for: Inner-city dwellers needing to stretch their legs or visitors seeking a slice of Sydney history
Covering almost 190 hectares, there’s no shortage of sights to see and green space to frolic around in Centennial Park. If you’re done with walking after the above trails, mix things up with a cycle, rollerblade or horse ride around this central oasis, connecting the CBD with the eastern suburbs. Expect plenty of gardens, ponds and wildlife, as well as grand avenues, statues and heritage buildings. There’s even Centennial Parklands apps you can download so you don’t miss any of the info on your self-guided walk/cycle/ride.