New South Wales is one of Australia’s most icon-rich states; housing a plethora of national treasures including – but certainly not limited to – Sydney Opera House, Byron Bay, and Sydney Harbour Bridge. Our Ultimate Guide To NSW will help you plan what to see and do to make the most of your trip to Australia.
Getting to New South Wales
The majority of visitors to NSW will arrive in Sydney, the country’s most populous city. The airport (SYD) is a short ride from the city proper, and visitors can get the T8 Airport South Line train or a 400 or 420 bus (or 420N night bus). Once in the centre, there’s a multitude of ways to explore the rest of the state. A great way to get to and around NSW is by car and if you’re travelling from Brisbane or Melbourne it will make for a very scenic start to your trip!
The Best Times To Visit NSW
The summer months in New South Wales (December to February), allow visitors to explore the great outdoors in comfortable temperatures hovering in the mid 20s, while the beaches are plenty hot enough to bathe, surf or kick back with a drink. If you fancy something a little cooler, then spring (October to November) is a great option, with temperatures still pleasant enough to be outside, plenty of sunshine and lots of lush, Australian greenery.
What to see and do
The first stop on any NSW list has got to be Sydney. First, check out Sydney Opera House — one of the most famous buildings of the past hundred years. If you can, catch a show or grab a meal in the Bennelong restaurant (the Opera House’s only dedicated restaurant), but just admiring it as an architectural feat is still worth the trip. There are plenty of tours, so shop about and, as evening falls, don’t forget to grab a drink at the Opera Bar, which has the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge as its backdrop.
Another iconic site of the city is the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which connects the business district (CBD) and the North Shore. If viewing it from a distance just isn’t enough for you then check out a bridge climb tour to add a little thrill to your sightseeing.
A great option for viewing the sites is a harbour boat tour, but if you don’t fancy shelling out for an expensive guided ride then the Manly ferry offers fantastic sightseeing opportunities at a fraction of the cost — and you end up at Manly Beach!
Another must-see spot in Sydney is Bondi Beach, one of the most iconic beaches in Australia — which is saying something! You’ll find sweeping golden sands, trendy cafes and reliable waves.
This national park rises above Sydney and offers dramatic terrain and breathtaking vistas. Known for its rugged terrain, you can make your way through the endless sea of eucalyptus trees by car or set out on one of the many incredible bushwalking trails. One of the most visited spots is known as the Three Sisters, named for an impressive rock formation, best seen from Echo Point Lookout.
This coastal town is a very popular destination for holiday makers, and for good reason! There are numerous watersports including surfing, scuba diving and whale spotting. And if getting out to sea isn’t your thing then its world-class beaches are sure to keep you relaxed. You can explore hinterlands, which offer a lush natural reprise from the touristy coast, or if you fancy getting out of the bustle of a popular destination all together then Bangalow can make for a great alternative with its small-town feel, traditional streetscape and selection of cafes, restaurants and boutique shops.
This is one for the sun-worshippers, since Jervis Bay is thought to have the whitest sand in the world — where better to lay out for the day? The beaches to hit in the bay are Cabbage Tree Beach, Callala Beach, Hyams Beach and Murrays Beach.
Hunter Valley is synonymous with wine and provides a perfect escape from Sydney, lying just a few hours north of the city. It is the country’s oldest wine region and is teaming with natural wonders beyond what you’ll find in a bottle.
If you’re visiting NSW during the winter months, the Snowy mountains — aka The Snowies — is the place to go for skiing and snowboarding, whether you’re an expert on the slopes or just setting out. They are part of mainland Australia’s highest mountain range, so expect some fantastic views as well.
Sticking to the coast
Head south from Sydney and you’ll get the chance to cross the iconic Sea Cliff Bridge, which joins the coastal villages of Coalcliff and Clifton and is a popular location for scenic walks. Head north and you’ll hit the Central Coast, which has everything from national parks to sweeping beaches to waterfront esplanadas to stroll along in the evening. A little further and you’ll find yourself in Port Stephens, with a similarly wide offering of things to see and do including sand dunes to explore and a variety of local wineries and breweries to enjoy. As you continue your northerly journey, make sure to swing by Port Macquarie, which is home to the famous Koala Hospital, a nature reserve dedicated to protecting the species.
The capital of Australia, Canberra, technically sits within the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), but since the ACT sits within New South Wales then it should still be included in the Ultimate Guide To NSW. It’s just a few hours drive from Sydney and is home to the Parliamentary Triangle, which contains some of the country’s most significant buildings, including the National Gallery and National Library among others.
With so many towns to visit and so many things to see and do, NSW is a fantastic destination for any traveller. These New South Wales travel ideas will help you plan your perfect trip and ensure that you see the top spots, so you can focus on enjoying this incredible region!