Sydney is the capital of the Australian state of New South Wales and one of the most popular cities in the country. Nicknamed the “Harbour City”, Sydney is known for its iconic landmarks (such as the famous Sydney Harbour), diverse culture and exciting dining scene, among others. The city also serves as a gateway to the abundance of lovely nature parks and reserves found within the city and all over New South Wales.
Consider Sydney Harbour National Park, with its combination of coast and city beauty. Beach lovers can aim for the Resolute Track, which heads to stunning Resolute Beach. And those who love to walk and explore cannot miss an opportunity to hike to Big Marley Beach, passing by Wedding Cake Rock. Love adventure? Plan a camping trip to Bowtells Swing Bridge!
Because of the incredible outdoor spots in and around Sydney, it’s no surprise why hiking is a favorite activity among both Sydneysiders (the moniker for Sydney locals) as well as tourists. There are a variety of trails that cater to all levels of experience – whether you’re a newbie who’s looking to get started or a proficient hiker looking for an adventurous trail.
If you’re wanting to do some hiking while in the city, you’re in for a treat! Hiking is one of the best ways to explore Sydney and see and appreciate its raw beauty. To help you plan for your trip, check out our comprehensive list of best hikes in and around Sydney.
Pro tip: Before heading out in your hiking boots, check the alerts and warnings from NSW National Parks to know what conditions you are going into. Additionally, travel as light as possible by storing your excess baggage and gear at a Sydney luggage locker.
Our Top Hiking Trail Picks in Sydney
Jibbon Loop Track
The Jibbon Loop Track is one of the best Sydney walks as it is suitable for beginners. The hike takes place at the northernmost edge of the Royal National Park and covers a total distance of about 5 kilometers. The hike’s starting and ending points are at the ferry wharf in Bundeena, which can be reached by taking a quick ferry ride from Cronulla.
Throughout the hike, trekkers are spoiled with views of the Pacific Ocean and the far off Sydney skyline. The loop track itself will pass through four beaches, where you can rest and relax before continuing through the track. While hiking, be on the lookout for ancient Aboriginal engravings made by the Dharawal people that are visible in some of the rock faces that you will encounter. All in all, the Jibbon Loop Track takes about 2.5 hours to complete and is a relatively easy hike.
Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk
Another one of the best walks in Sydney, and a popular trail among locals and visiting hikers, is the Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk. Situated in the northern part of Sydney’s Palm Beach is Barrenjoey Headland, a national park with a Hawkesbury Sandstone lighthouse as its main feature. The lighthouse is perhaps the most recognizable landmark in the Northern Beaches and the trail leading up to it is frequented by both avid trekkers and non-hikers.
Built in 1881, the lighthouse stands 113 meters above sea level and is a heritage-listed landmark. The Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk actually features two trails and most hikers tend to follow one trail heading up to the lighthouse and the other on their way back down to the beach. From the top, hikers are treated to incredible views of Sydney’s coastline. The trek takes about 1.5 to 2 hours to complete and is suitable for beginners and intermediate hikers.
Pro tip: During winter to early spring, the viewpoint from the Barrenjoey Lighthouse is one of the best places in Sydney to catch sightings of humpback whales. So if you like whale watching, don't miss this one!
Taronga Zoo to Balmoral Beach Walk
No doubt one of the most fun walking trails in Sydney, the walk from Taronga Zoo to Balmoral Beach extends up to 6.5 kilometers (one way) and features everything from scenic bays, secluded beaches, historical sights, and picturesque viewpoints, among others. The hike takes about 2.5 hours to complete and is suitable for both beginners and intermediate hikers.
The easiest way to reach Taronga Zoo is by taking a ferry from Circular Quay, which crosses the Sydney Harbour and provides you with lovely views of the iconic attractions such as the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. Once you arrive at the zoo, the walk begins and reaches an elevation of up to nearly 200 meters, passing through inner city bushlands and secret beaches.
One of the highlights of this trek is a stop at Bradley’s Head, which is home to the foremast of the historic HMAS Sydney, a Leander-class light cruiser that collapsed in 1929. Its foremast was erected in 1934 and continues to be a monument for all the Australian sailors and ships lost during the war.
America Bay Track
One of the easiest hikes to complete in Sydney is the American Bay Track, which can be found in the renowned Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park. Some people might dismiss this trek, given all the other trails within the park, because it is short and a little less challenging. However, what it lacks in technicality, it more than makes up for in natural beauty.
Situated in the heart of the park, just a little under an hour from the Sydney CBD, the America Bay Track measures about 1.8 kilometers (round trip) and takes around 1.5 hours to complete. While trekking through this course, hikers will encounter a broad range of wildflowers, bloodwood trees and other plant species.
The trail also leads to a creek that overlooks the bay, giving you an incredible and picturesque view of the Cowan Creek and surrounding areas. Because of its beauty, the track has become somewhat of a top spot for picnics and those who want to get away from the busy city life without going too far from the CBD. Grab some Sydney street food and take your break at America Bay Track.
Malabar Headland Circuit Walk
This circuit walk in the Malabar Headland National Park is fairly new but has quickly become one of the most popular hiking trails within the Sydney area. Both a bush and a coastal walk, the Malabar Headland Circuit Walk combines two of the park’s most popular trails – the Western Escarpment walking track and the Boora Point walking track.
Covering a distance of 7 kilometers, the Malabar Headland Circuit Walk has a clear walking path that is relatively path and easy enough to follow. Throughout the track, there are several boardwalks where you can get panoramic ocean views. All in all, the circuit walk can be completed within 2 hours and is ideal for both new and intermediate hikers. As an added bonus, the Maroubra Beach is also not too far so you can cap off the hike with a cold drink or a swim in the ocean.
Karloo Walking Track
Among the most ambitious day walks in Sydney, but one that is achievable, is the Karloo Walking Track. Located within the Royal National Park, which can be accessed from Sydney by either public transportation or private car, this hike is well worth the time and effort.
Upon arriving at the Royal National Park, the track begins near Heathcoat station and passes through the heathlands; along the way, trekkers will encounter several points of interest, such as the Karloo pool and the lovely Uloola Falls. The Karloo Walking Track covers a distance of 10 kilometers both ways and can take anywhere from 5 to 5.5 hours to complete.
Although the track is straightforward, it is the length that makes it a bit more challenging. It is recommended for hikers with a decent fitness level. Alternatively, you can take your time in this beautiful trail by staying overnight; the Uloola Falls has a campground with toilet facilities for campers but you will need to bring your own tent and other camping essentials.
Bouddi Coastal Walk
If you want to experience a scenic hike unlike any other, you will definitely enjoy doing the Bouddi Coastal Walk. Found within the Bouddi National Park, near the Central Coast and about an hour away from Sydney, this easy trail is considered one of the best Walks in the Central Coast. The trail starts from Putty Beach and ends at Macmasters Beach, where hikers are treated to lovely rainforests, stunning ocean views and lush spots for picnics and resting.
One of the must-see spots within the trail is the Gerrin Point lookout, a fenced section where you can sit in one of the benches while taking in the panoramic views of the Bouddi National Park Marine Extension and Maitland Bay. The Bouddi Coastal Walk covers a total distance of 8 kilometers (one way) and it can take anywhere from 4 to 5 hours to accomplish the entire walk. If you’re looking to stay overnight, there are camping grounds in both Little Beach and Putty Beach.
Grand Canyon Track
The Blue Mountains area is famous for its steep sandstone cliffs, lovely waterfalls and lush greenery, which is why it draws millions of travelers every year. For hikers, there is only one reason to visit the area – to conquer the Grand Canyon Track. Often referred to as one of the best walking tracks near Sydney, the track opened to the public during the 20th century and has been conquered by thousands of hikers since.
Found within the Blue Mountains National Park, 62 kilometers away from the CBD, the Grand Canyon Track extends nearly 6 kilometer in length and starts at Evan’s Lookout near Blackheath and runs through an array of trees, waterfalls, cliffs and creeks. You will then make your way down to the canyon floor before making your way back up to the starting point to complete the trail. The entire circuit hike will take about 4 hours to complete and can be quite challenging, which is why it is more recommended for intermediate hikers or those with some hiking experience.
Bundeena to Otford (Coast Track)
One of the most difficult hikes near Sydney is the hike from Bundeena to Otford, otherwise known as the Coast Track. Found within the Royal National Park, this difficult hike is perhaps the most famous coastal trail in New South Wales and is a true gem that any serious hiker will enjoy. This iconic walk definitely has it all – from white-cliff coastlines, rainforests, secret waterfalls and rock pools. However, because of the 26-kilometer distance and the challenging track, it does require ample preparation and is more suitable for hikers with a lot of experience.
The trail starts from Bundeena (north) and ends in Otford (south), although there are hikers who choose to do it the other way around. Regardless of which starting point you choose, you won’t miss out on any of the beautiful wonders that the trek has to offer. The trail is also riddled with free camping sites for when you need to pitch a tent and rest overnight. The Coast Track covers a total of 52 kilometers (round trip) and will take about 2 days to complete.
Six Foot Track
Undoubtedly one of the most challenging hikes in Sydney, the Six Foot Track is a must-do for any hiking enthusiast who is looking for an epic adventure while in the city. Located in the famous Blue Mountains, this difficult hike extends 44 kilometers and follows an old horse track that passes through the Katoomba all the way to the Jenolan Caves, during which you will be crossing the Coxs River and the Megalong Valley.
Not for the faint of heart, the Six Foot Trail is quite the challenge and will take at least two days to complete, although most hikers will need three days to conquer the walk. There are a number of campgrounds found along the trail where you can stay overnight. Despite its difficulty, you will find that the effort is worth every ache because of the incredible scenery that you will encounter along the way.
Easy Hikes in Sydney
If you're looking for an easy hike in Sydney, one of your best bets is the American Bay Track in Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park. The trail has a length of under 2 kilometers and can be completed in less than two hours.
Intermediate Hikes in Sydney
Intermediate hikers are spoilt for choice when it come to trails in Sydney, which involves everything from coastal walks to circuit trails. Some of the best hikes for those in the intermediate level include the Malabar Headland Circuit Walk and the Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk. For a more challenging option, the Grand Canyon Track can make any intermediate hiker work up a sweat.
Difficult Hikes in Sydney
Sydney (and its surrounding areas) have no shortage of hiking trails for trekkers that have advanced skills and experience. One of Sydney's most renowned and challenging hikes, and one that a lot of hikers have on their bucket list, is the 44-kilometer long Six Foot Track.
Blue Mountains National Park and More
Sydney is the perfect base for travelers who are looking to squeeze in some hiking activities, regardless of one's experience and skills. We didn't cover all of the terrific hikes available – you may want to check out Garigal National Park, Jamison Valley, or Nielsen Park (stop at Shark Beach) where views of the fabulous Sydney Harbour Bridge and even Shark Island can be seen. Great walks in the area include Coogee Walk and the quieter Watsons Bay Walk. Shop in Sydney for any hiking gear you may need and get ready to trek. From beginners to advanced hikers, the trails in and around Sydney can surely satisfy your taste for the outdoors!