Located on the outskirts of Sydney, the UNESCO-listed Blue Mountains National Park is a paradise for recharging your batteries. The Blue Mountains National Park has a lot to offer: hiking trails, breathtaking views, gorges and huge waterfalls. As the park is only 2 hours from Sydney, city dwellers enjoy going there for a weekend getaway. Also, among wildlife lovers, the park is very popular because there are kookaburras, owls, possums and much more to see. In this article, you will find all the information you need to have a splendid time in the Blue Mountains!
Blue Mountains National Park
The Blue Mountains Park is a huge plateau of 11,000 square kilometres (one third of Belgium!). It stretches from Penrith to Lithgow and is easily accessible by car or train from Sydney. When light disperses through water vapour, eucalyptus oil, and dust, a blue haze is created, hence the name Blue Mountains.
Discover the flora and fauna of the Blue Mountains on bushwalks through the park (on foot or by bike). There are a few sites, where you can go climbing or canyoning if you have got the right equipment. Depending on what you plan to do, you could stay from one to three days to get the most out of your stay the park.
Be careful though because forest fires are not uncommon. The “Fires Near Me” app available on iOS and Android will be your best ally. Also, be careful not to get lost in the thick layer of eucalyptus. Do not hesitate to equip yourself with location beacons, which you will find in the park’s information points.
When to visit the Blue Mountains?
While it is best to visit the Blue Mountains during the summer months, the other seasons are mild and each gives the park a different charm. So visit the park whenever you want. However, check the weather before you go as the temperature can be very different from Sydney and the nights are cool.
For reliable weather information in Australia, visit bom.gov.au
How to get there?
The easiest way to explore this vast area is obviously by car. From Sydney, you only need 1.5 hours to get to the national park. You take the M4 and then the A32 to Katoomba, the starting point for all park visitors. There are other ways, too. The Blue Mountains is definitely the most accessible National Park in the Sydney region.
In a campevan
If you want to visit the Blue Mountains in a campervan, the main advantage is that you can spend more time there, sleeping and eating there cheaply. If you don’t have your vehicle, you can hire a campervan in Sydney. Most rental companies are located in the suburbs, which allows you to go directly inland without having to cross the city.
To camp on site, caravan parks are available in Katoomba, Blackheath or Lithgow. You will find some free campspots such as Blackheath Glen Reserve on Prince Edward Street, or Murphys Glen Campground (easily accessible by 4 × 4).
Your adventure can also begin at the Sydney Central Station, from where a train will take you to Katoomba in 2 hours. With an Opal card, you only pay about 8 AUD. The train runs every hour and stops at all stations of the park. From Katoomba, you can either continue on foot or by public transport.
Activities & Organised Tours
If you prefer to visit the national park with an organized tour, there are many offers for 1 to 2 days and for all budgets. Allow about $90 for a single day, up to $500 for a 2-day tour.
Departing from Sydney, you will find many excursions that allow you to discover the blue mountains in one day. For small budgets, you have small group tours in the $100 including a pickup from Sydney and the visit of the main points of interest with obviously the view on the Three Sisters.
For around $150, you have group tours including a visit to an animal park and the Scenic World pass (Cableway, Skyway and Railway).
And for a more exclusive tour, you can even explore with a local guide in a 4×4 (from $250).
Activities to do on-site
For those who plan to visit the region on their own, here are also all the activities available (except walks/hikes):
- Scenic World (Cableway, Skyway and Railway).
- Visit of the caves (Jenolan caves)
What to do in the Blue Mountains?
The highlights can be seen in one day while the long hikes allow you to stay on the site for more than a week without getting bored. Here is a list of highlights and hikes not to be missed.
The first stop is just behind the gates of the park, at Wenworth Falls. In the early morning, you can escape the tourist crowds. Enjoy the view before heading to the Overcliff-Undercliff Track. After a 3.5 km walk, you get a gorgeous view of the 180 m high waterfall. An ideal place for a picnic and a refreshing dip in the creek.
“THE VIEW OF THE WATERFALLS IS amazing, WE HAVE SEEN A RAINBOW DRAWING FROM THE WATERFALL.”
At the top of the waterfall, take a few steps on the National Pass Walk to enjoy the hike along the mountainside. It was built by early explorers of the Blues Mountains. It’s breathtaking!
This marks the starting point for all park visitors. At the visitor information centre, you can ask for advice and recommendations, book activities as well as rent bicycles and equipment. Apart from that, the town doesn’t have much to offer except perhaps the Street Art Walk.
Three Sisters and Echo Point Lookout
From Katoomba, you can get to the Echo Point Lookout in no time. From there, you have a stunning view of the Blue Mountains and also the “Three Sisters”, who haven’t moved since the “Shaman’s Fate”! Do the Giant Stairway Walk, which leads you across a dizzying bridge to the first sister’s rock. (Continuing on this track, 900 steps lead you down to the foot of the Three Sisters.)
The legend of the Three Sisters tells that these 3 stone statues were once Aboriginal women of the Katoomba tribe. Wishing to marry men of an opposing tribe, they gave birth to a terrible battle in the region. To protect them during the battle, a shaman transformed them into a rock. Unfortunately, he died in combat, and the 3 sisters remained trapped in stone forever. They are still an emblem of the park today. If you come to see the 3 sisters, practice the traditional aboriginal “dadirri”, listen silently and respectfully to the beauty of these geological curiosities.
Visit the picturesque village of the Blue Mountains: Leura. Take a stroll along the shopping street past cafes, restaurants, crafts shops, bookstores, art galleries, and even a small farmer’s market. Sneak through the small alley that leads to the candy store. This place is every child’s dream!
To end a beautiful day in the park, we strongly recommend you to go to Lincoln’s Rock! This huge, flat rock is the best possible place to watch the sunset over the Blue Mountains. It is usually not too crowded, so you will certainly find a nice spot with a breathtaking view of the valley.
These are among the oldest caves in the world! Make the most of the tourist drive at dawn, as you will be alone at this time of day (from 11 o’clock, it usually gets pretty touristy). This winding road overlooking the valley and the forest is incredibly beautiful. At the end, you will drive through a giant rock via a tunnel that leads you directly to the caves. There are several caves, all listed on the Jenolan Caves website. These caves in the heart of the Blue Mountains are definitely a must-see!
You find packages for cave tours on the Internet, including deals with which you can visit the 2nd cave for half price. Guided night walks are also possible.
It’s hard to say which one’s are the best as each lookout offers a different perspective on the beautiful Blue Mountains. Best stop at every one of them. Depending on the time of day, the landscapes look different. The blue of the mist can quickly turn into a dramatic-looking cloud and a stunning panorama. In addition, most of the lookouts are the starting points of hiking trails.
Here is our selection of the best lookouts:
- Evans Lookout: Perfect for the end of the day. It’s behind Katoomba.
- Govetts Leap Lookout: You get a scenic view of the Blue Mountains plateau. It’s the perfect place to see the contrast between the blue of the mist and the eucalyptus green. From there, you can choose between a couple of hiking trails.
- Sublime Point Lookout: This one lives up to its name offering a sublime view. Have a picnic and relax for a while.
There is certainly no lack of hiking trails in the blue mountains national park. Find a complete list of all routes here (Link). There is something for everyone, no matter what level. From the 45-minute Three Sisters Walk to the three-day Six Foot Track, the choice is massive.
We recommend the following trails:
- Three Sisters Walk: It takes about an hour to see the three sisters, it’s worth it!
- Overcliff Undercliff Track: 3.5 km in the picturesque area of Wenworth
- National Pass Walk: This is probably one of the most impressive trails that will take you along the cliff over dizzying stairs. You can see things with the eyes of the first discoverers of the Blue Mountains.
- Cliff Top Walking Track: From the Evans Lookout you can hike to the Govetts Leap Lookout, where you can enjoy gorgeous views of the valley and waterfalls.
- Grand Canyon Track: A 6.3 km trail that runs through the valley at the foot of the Blue Mountains.
Blue Mountains 3 days itinerary
To get the most out of the park and to tick most of the beautiful places off your list, we recommend a stay of 3 days and 2 nights. This means you don’t need to rush through the park and you can fully enjoy the beauty of the landscape. For those who have less time, we have also prepared an itinerary in 2 days.
The first stop is at the park entrance, at Wenworth Falls. Then you drive back to Katoomba and visit the information centre. As the day soon comes to an end, do a detour to the Evans Lookout. If you still have enough time, you can also go to the Govetts Leap Lookout. Otherwise, tomorrow is another day.
Length of the route: 20-25 km
After a traditional brekkie, it is time for a nice walk off the beaten track. Have patience! You will see the Three Sisters at the end of the day when most of the tourists have gone. Choose a couple of the number of trails, depending on the difficulty and the location of your accommodation.
Then you take a well-deserved break at Sublime Point Look Out before heading over to Leura.
In the afternoon, it’s time to see the Three Sisters from Echo Point Lookout!
To end this beautiful day, enjoy the sunset from Lincoln’s Rock.
Length of the route: 30-40 km
Take the road for about an hour to get to the Millionth Acre Recreation Area. Then continue on foot to discover the splendid Tourist Drive which will lead you to the intriguing Jenolan Caves. You can easily spend the morning there. Treat yourself to a last picnic in the great outdoors with the wallabies at Jenolan Cottages before visiting the caves.
Length of the route: 20-25 km
Share your ideas and suggestions for the blue mountains national park with other readers in the comments below.
Blue Mountains 2 days itinerary
How to explore a 1436km² park in 2 days? Well… you have to make strategic choices! We offer an itinerary that focuses on the Blackheath region. The ideal place for lovers of rainforests, menthol scents, hikes and waterfalls.
Start your day at the Blackheath visitor centre where you can get more information, then visit the Evans Lookout. Enjoy the great view of the lookout.
Then join the Cliff Top Track, a 3.2 km walk along the crest of Grose Valley. The numerous viewpoints equipped with benches and guardrails along the way allow appreciable breaks, with an endless view of the blue mountains. Be warned, the stairs are steep and it’s hot! Then return to Govetts Leap Lookout via the road. It should take you half an hour on foot or 5min hitchhiking.
As the night approaches, join one of the many free campsites nearby. You will find in particular the Perry’s Lookdown campsite. This campsite offers a superb view and breathtaking sunsets! Nothing better to end a beautiful day. Take your chairs, your picnic, join the lookout and enjoy.
Length of the route: about 15 km
After your brekkie, join the Cliff Top Track to start a cliff descent to the Beauchamps Falls (3 km with a vertical drop of 400 m). Make sure you have good shoes, because the stairs are steep and water trickles at times. The view of the waterfalls is magical, and if you are lucky you will be able to see a rainbow emerging from the waterfall. With all the giant ferns, creepers and huge eucalyptus, you will feel as if you were in some prehistoric lands – whiteout dinosaurs!
Once at the waterfalls, continue your route for the 11 km trek called Junction Rock via the Rodriguez Pass. You will be able to observe lyre birds, these rare birds which imitate the cries of other birds and other surrounding noises. You will also have the opportunity to swim in beautiful natural pools, picnic by one of them and photograph lizards or other local animals.
Before leaving the park, pass by Echo Point Lookout to see the famous Three Sisters and soak up the Aboriginal culture of the Katoomba tribe.
Length of the route: 30-40 km
National Park website
Map of the park
List of trails
Updated on the 30/04/2020. Initially published on the 07/02/2019.