Are you planning a visit to the Blue Mountains in Sydney? If so, keep reading for all my thoughts and experiences from our trip!
During our time in Sydney and Bondi Beach we also took a trip over to the Blue Mountains.
it’s one of the main day trips from the city, and it was a really welcome change of scenery and pace, from the city chaos.
The Blue Mountains is a big beautiful national park, closest to Sydney than any others – and they are called so, because they’re very big, and very blue.
See the photo below for further proof of their bigness and blueness.
In this post I’ll go over our experience, and also some tips and tricks for visiting this gorgeous part of Australia yourself!
Don’t expect Everest!
First off, it’s worth setting expectations.
That’s not to say the Blue Mountains aren’t beautiful, because they are. But they’re not your ‘conventional mountains’. If you’re expecting snow-capped peaks (like New Zealand) you might feel a bit disappointed.
Just before visiting, my husband and I had just come from New Zealand where the mountains were massive and pointy, so I just wanted to clarify!
The Blue Mountains are still incredibly beautiful though and the gorgeousness is more in how expansive the valleys are, how far you can see, and the colors and textures of the landscape.
I’ve always had a thing for valleys that fall behind each other, fading into the background, and you definitely get that here, you’ll find some awesome opportunities for photos.
How do you get there?
Now, let’s talk about how to get there!
You have a few options if you’re planning on visiting the Blue Mountains. I’ve highlighted the pros and cons of each choice below – included some tips and tricks.
Option 1: Rent a car and drive there yourself
If you like to have the freedom to explore at your own pace, then renting a car and driving yourself might be your best option.
The drive-time (with no stops) is about 2 hours, and 30 minutes if you go via M4 and Great Western Hwy/A32.
So, obviously, it will feel quicker than getting a coach trip (where you’ll make multiple stops and pick up other passengers).
The drive isn’t too challenging, especially if the weather is favorable. To be extra helpful, I’ve included the parking fees below (just so you know what to expect).
- The parking fee for non-residents is $10 per hour for up to 4 hours at all waterfront properties. Parking fees at Loree Forest and Heathcote Park are $5 per hour with no maximum stay for non-residents.
- The paid parking around the local area uses the HonkMobile app, which is nice and easy. So make sure you download the app!
Tip: Always check the day before for road closures and weather interruptions. Look out for things like wildfires and flooding in the news reports, just to be safe.
Option 2: Book a tour, and let someone do the driving for you!
As I mentioned, we did this excursion as a day trip, and we felt that was plenty of time.
Sure, it was a long day (and a long drive) but for us, it’s just so much easier to leave the driving to someone else!
We left the city at about 6.30am (I know… so frickin’ early), and started getting to the viewing spots around 11am ish, so there’s a good solid 4 hours of driving before you even get to the hot spots.
Luckily I slept for most of it (thank God for neck cushions), so it wasn’t so bad. Pad’s shoulder is always a hugely comfortable pillow too, so needless to say – I always sleep well on coach journeys.
Here are a few companies that do coach tours:
Another important thing worth noting when taking a tour, is knowing about the difference between inclusive tours (which includes the Scenic World tickets, lunch, etc), and non-inclusive tours.
To be honest – for convenience, I would just go with the inclusive one. Our tour guide was able to skip us through queues, etc because he had our tickets ready and waiting – which wouldn’t have been possible if we’d opted for the option to buy them ourselves.
And it was kind of nice not having to queue up – because the Scenic World was extremely busy! For the sake of a few dollars either way, I’d honestly go for the inclusive deal.
When is the best time of year to visit the Blue Mountains?
Once you’ve decided how to get there, and whether to take a tour or drive yourself – you might want to consider the time of year you take this trip.
The Blue Mountains experience different seasons, each offering a unique charm. But there are two times of year I think that stand out as perfect choices.
In Spring (September to November) and autumn (March to May) you’ll find that conditions most days make it an are ideal time to visit.
The weather is pleasant, and you’ll witness a burst of colors as flowers bloom or leaves change. Avoid the scorching heat of summer and the cold winters, as extreme temperatures might hinder your outdoor activities.
What can I see in the Blue Mountains?
OK, now you know how to get there, let’s talk about what there is to see in the Blue Mountains, and what to expect during your visit!
I’ve included some in-depth, helpful information about my favorite locations around the Blue Mountains area below, but I’ve also put together a useful map too!
On the map you’ll find all the areas mentioned below, as well as some extra suggestions, lookout points, and trails.
Tip: I think the map below is most useful for people driving to the Blue Mountains themselves – as it gives you a bit of an unofficial route map for places to check out!
The 3 Sisters
- Website: https://www.bluemts.com.au/info/thingstodo/threesisters/
- Address: Cliff Dr, Katoomba NSW 2780, Australia
One of the main ‘sights’ to see in the Blue Mountains are the 3 Sisters, a rock formation on the side of one of the cliff faces. It is pretty gorgeous, and you’ll be able to see them from any tour I’d imagine, as it’s one of the priorities, and main lookout points.
A visit to the Blue Mountains isn’t complete without marveling at the Three Sisters.
These iconic sandstone peaks stand tall, creating a stunning backdrop for some unforgettable photographs.
Don’t miss the chance to learn about the Aboriginal legend that surrounds this natural wonder too. I imagine, as part of any tour group, you’ll be told all about this before arriving!
- Website: https://scenicworld.com.au/
- Address: Violet St &, Cliff Dr, Katoomba NSW 2780, Australia
Taking a ride on the Scenic Skyway, Cableway, and Railway is another great choice for things to do in The Blue Mountains.
The attractions at Scenic World provide breathtaking views of the mountains, valleys, and waterfalls. The glass-floored Skyway offers a thrilling experience as it glides across the Katoomba Falls.
Be warned though – the railway is really steep. Which is kind of scary, and did freak me out a little. For anyone who is a little cautious of heights, it’s worth mentally preparing yourself!
Again, most tours will stop at Scenic World as part of the package, so don’t worry about missing out on it. It’s one of the must-visit locations for tour groups.
Tip: I think most of the tours that stop at Scenic World, involve a little bit of walking – so don’t wear flip-flops or anything stupid. Wear some trainers or pumps.
- Website: www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/walking-tracks/wentworth-falls-track
- Coordinates: 33°43′S 150°22′E / 33.717°S 150.367°E
Wentworth Falls is one of the most renowned waterfalls in the Blue Mountains, situated within the Wentworth Falls village near Katoomba.
Nestled within the rugged expanse of the Blue Mountains, Wentworth Falls stands as a natural gem, captivating visitors with its sheer beauty and tranquil surroundings.
As you plan your journey to the Blue Mountains in Australia, don’t miss the chance to explore this breathtaking waterfall and its surrounding trails, offering a true taste of the region’s awe-inspiring natural wonders.
The trail offers stunning vistas of the falls, lush rainforest, and valley below.
Tip: If you’re driving yourself, and you’ve got more time to explore and you’re up for a challenge, attempt the Grand Canyon Walk or the Ruined Castle Track for a more strenuous adventure.
This is probably something you’ll only get involved with if you’re driving yourself, because I don’t think many tours involve cycling as part of the package.
But if you are driving yourself – hop on a mountain bike and explore the Blue Mountains’ scenic tracks and trails on two wheels!
The region offers options for all skill levels, allowing you to enjoy a thrilling ride amidst the picturesque wilderness.
- Address: 4655 Jenolan Caves Rd, Jenolan NSW 2790, Australia
- Website: https://www.jenolancaves.org.au
Some tours may include the Jenolan Caves, others might not, so if you getting a tour to the area, you might want to double check.
If you’re driving yourself, you can take a short drive to the nearby Jenolan Caves, a labyrinth of spectacular limestone formations.
These ancient underground wonders are really something to be seen, as they showcase stunning stalactites and stalagmites.
Explore Leura Village
Leura Village is a gorgeous little town that you’ll absolutely love exploring whilst in the Blue Mountains area.
Discover this charming village, known for its boutique shops, quaint cafés, and beautiful gardens.
Take a leisurely stroll through the streets, enjoy a coffee, and indulge in some local shopping.
Any negatives about the experience?
The only thing I hated abut the experience, was the sheer amount of flies there are up there in the mountains.
Not mozzies or wasps or anything – just plain old flies. BIG AND GROSS.
I really hate flies.
At one point I didn’t want to talk because I was scared of inhaling a few. Eurgh!
It’s a shame actually – because there are some absolutely lovely picnic sites around the mountains which we stopped off at.
Maybe it was the season though, we were there in the peak of summer – so maybe that’s peak fly season!? But I guess, if flies don’t bother you too much (or you’re smart enough to bring repellent) then that’s not an issue anyway and you wouldn’t mind at all.
Tip: If you can purchase a hat with netting, or a fly-repellent, then totally do it!
Tips for visiting the Blue Mountains
I thought I’d end this blog post with a few practical tips on visiting the Blue Mountains.
These tips will hopefully be applicable to you, whether you’re visiting the mountains via car, or tour.
- Wear Appropriate Footwear: Since you’ll likely be doing some walking or hiking, wear comfortable and sturdy footwear suitable for the terrain.
- Carry Water and Snacks: Ensure you have enough water and some snacks to keep you energized during your hike.
- Respect the Environment: Stay on marked trails, follow any provided guidelines, and maintain respect for the delicate ecosystem.
- Plan Your Time: Allocate ample time to fully explore the falls and trails. It’s worth dedicating a few hours to soak in the beauty and tranquility. This is a little easier with a tour, because they’ll do the time-keeping for you!