We all need a change of scenery after a year of lockdowns and home-schooling – and if you’re not getting on a plane, why not hop in the car instead?
These fab holiday destinations are all within two hours of Sydney and well worth exploring for a week away or long weekend. After a tough year, and no international tourists, they’ll appreciate your support.
The lovely, leafy Southern Highlands are within easy reach of Sydney and just the ticket if you’re seeking a bit of a country vibe, quirky food trails and lots to do. The area is made up of a string of little towns and villages, like charming Berrima (with its fabulous Book Barn). It’s also a well-known destination for cool-climate wines, with over 17 cellar doors to visit. Lay your hat anywhere from a luxury lodge to a converted train carriage – with some slow-stay options on Stay In The Bush, too. If you’re keen to shop, don’t miss a potter around the antique markets at Robertson and Bowral. You could even pay a visit to the famous Grandpa’s Shed near Fitzroy Falls if old wares and bric-a-brac are your things.
This gorgeous little town nestled between the Shoalhaven and the Southern Highlands is famous for its green rolling hills, boutique shopping and local eateries and attractions. You could book an Airbnb right in town like this one, pitch a tent at Bendeela Recreation Area (famous for its nightly wombat and wallaby visitors!) or check out a range of local farm stays. There are lots to do in the area including checking out the famous stone suspension bridge, kayaking, horse-riding and walks. Don’t miss brekkie at The General Café in the centre of town - the food is fabulous. And stop into Berry for some coffee and fantastic shopping if you take the coast road home.
If there’s one area within an hour or so of Sydney that really does offer something for everyone, it’s the Central Coast: a stunning mix of beach towns, hinterland villages and urban hubs. You might like to camp in one of many national parks, take a guided tour to discover Aboriginal rock paintings, go surfing or scuba diving, or enjoy the region’s delicious local produce. For a taste of city life, head further north to Newcastle - bang on the two hours - and enjoy the live music scene, shops and eateries, or base yourself in a smaller beach town like Terrigal, where you can grab a beachfront room at the Crowne Plaza Terrigal Pacific and have everything you need within walking distance.
Wollongong and the Illawarra
Wollongong is NSW’s third-largest city, but you wouldn’t know it: there’s a sleepy holiday vibe here and in the surrounding Illawarra the whole year-round. It’s less than a 2-hour drive from Sydney, and there’s everything you need here for a fantastic mini-break or week away. Get your kicks with a little skydiving and snorkelling, take a round of golf with a view, dip into the area’s thriving art scene – or visit the largest Buddhist temple in the Southern Hemisphere. Not sure where to stay? There are lots to choose from but for an easy family break check out the Headlands Hotel at Austinmer Beach. A bit further south and you’re in beach heaven at the gorgeous Kiama or Gerringong.
The Blue Mountains
Winding your way up to the Blue Mountains is an easy drive from Sydney, and there are heaps to see and do beyond a selfie at The Three Sisters! Pop your boots on and take a hike (or go canyoning), check out cute little mountain villages like Leura and Blackheath, or head to a luxury hotel or day spa to truly relax (Lilianfels, the Hydro Majestic and the Japanese Bath House are some to bookmark). Airbnbs and resorts like the Fairmont abound, but if you’re keen to delve deeper into the mountains, check out book a cabin on Porcupine Hill so you’re close to Jenolan Caves, the glow worm tunnels and lookouts such as Kanangra Walls.
So, what are you waiting for? Happy exploring.