Chances are, if you’re travelling to or around Australia, you’ll be paying Sydney a visit. Famous for the iconic views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, Sydney city has a lot to offer. But if you’re looking to escape the CBD for a day, there are plenty of day trips in and around Sydney to enjoy. Here are three of the best Sydney day trips that will transport you away from the CBD and into immersive Australian experiences!
Day Trip 1: Taronga Zoo, Sydney
Whether you’re looking to keep the kids entertained for a day, take that famous quokka selfie, or just eager to meet some adorable Australian animals, Taronga Zoo is one of the best Sydney day trips going. You just can’t go wrong with a day trip to Sydney’s Taronga Zoo: trust me!
Though still within the centre of Sydney, Taronga Zoo feels like a world away from the bustling, cosmopolitan CBD district. Sitting on the harbour’s edge, it’s easily accesible by a short ferry ride (have your Opal Card at the ready). Which means this Sydney day trip has an added extra: great views of the Opera House!
After disembarking from the ferry, you have a choice of transportation to the main gate of the zoo. There’s a short bus ride or, if you’re feeling brave, the Sky Safari. I arrived at Taronga Zoo on a very rainy day and so opted for the bus ride to the entrance. I enjoyed the Sky Safari on the way back to the ferry and I would definitely recommend you end your zoo trip with the Sky Safari too. The views of Sydney Harbour just can’t be beaten!
There’s so much to do on a day trip to Taronga Zoo in Sydney. Open every day of the year (yes, even Christmas Day!), the zoo is home to over 350 species. Here’s what makes this the best Sydney day trip, though: the animals come first. Taronga Zoo places the care of its animals as top priority: the animals aren’t there to entertain the visitors, the visitors are there to support the animals. As a keen animal lover, this ethos instantly gave Taronga Zoo a special place in my heart.
When planning your day trip to Taronga Zoo, you can download a map of the site beforehand from the zoo’s official website here. You can wander and explore at your own pace, but if you’re looking for some of my top tips for things to do there, here they are…
1. Meet the Kangaroos: Is there a more iconic Australian animal than the kangaroo? At Taronga Zoo, you can see kangaroos up close as you walk through an enclosure where they roam free. You’ll find they are majestic and bigger than you think! But remember, this is not a petting zoo, so give the kangaroos their space.
2. Watch the Koalas Snooze: Another iconic Australian animal, koalas are as adorable in real life as you expect. But don’t expect a lively encounter: koalas snooze for around 20 hours a day! If you’re willing to part with some extra pennies, you can pay for an up-close koala encounter where you’ll pose for photos with the marsupials. This is New South Wales, though, and there are laws in place that prevent you from touching koalas. So, as difficult as it may be, try to refrain from cuddling them!
3. Meet the Quokkas: The moment I met quokkas at Taronga Zoo was the moment one of my dreams came true! Though the main quokka selfie location in Australia is Rottnest Island, if you’re travelling on a budget like I was a trip there may not be possible. But rest assured, you can meet the world’s happiest animal at Taronga Zoo. Say hello from me, would you? I miss those quokkas already…!
4. Watch the Seal Show: Finally, make sure to enjoy the Seal Show while visiting Taronga Zoo. These giant, powerful, in-no-way-ugly sea animals are magnificent to watch. You’ll learn why sustainable fishing and eco-awareness is so important to the future of our planet and its wildlife – all while watching seals jump and dance. I challenge you to not cry when you see the story of a seal’s life in dance form.
Day Trip 2: Blue Mountains
If you’re really looking to escape the city, then a day trip to the Blue Mountains outside Sydney is just the thing. If you’ve hired a car, then you can make the journey there yourself, but I highly recommend booking onto an organised tour. Tours to the Blue Mountains are run by local people who know the area, and as such you’ll be sure of seeing the best the area has to offer in just one day.
There are different tours on offer and many pick up from central Sydney. Some combine hiking with a visit to an animal park, others provide views and lunch. Whichever you choose, you won’t be disappointed with a day trip to the Blue Mountains.
The Blue Mountains is home to the famous Three Sisters – rocks that make for a truly spectacular view. Be prepared though – while you can plan the location of your hike, you can’t plan the weather. The Blue Mountains can experience all four seasons in one day and the mist can descend quickly and thickly. If that happens, you may not get to see the famous rocks. But the day will not be wasted – hiking through the temperate rainforest that fills the mountains is a treat and once-in-a-lifetime experience in itself.
As well as the Three Sisters, the Blue Mountain is also home to many waterfalls. Wentworth Falls, pictured above, is one of these beautiful waterfalls and is beautiful in any weather.
For rewarding hikes, beautiful views, and time to be with nature without a coffee shop in sight, the Blue Mountains is one of the best Sydney day trips you can have. Check out the tour options below. There’s a tour for everyone, whatever your fitness level, however much time you have and whatever you’re looking to focus your time on. You won’t be disappointed with a day trip to the Blue Mountains!
Day Trip 3: Wine Tour
So you want to escape the city… How about some wine, while you’re at it? A day trip to the Hunter Valley, exploring vineyards and drinking local wines, is a great choice for a day trip outside Sydney!
Most people know of Jacob’s Creek or Yellow Tail wine brands, but Australian wine ranges far wider. The Hunter Valley, a short drive from central Sydney, is home to many vineyards. One of the oldest wine regions in Australia, Hunter Valley produces semillon, shiraz and chardonnay to name a few. Whether you’re a red wine fan or prefer white, you’ll find something for your tastebuds in the Hunter Valley.
The best way to explore what Hunter Valley has to offer is to book on to a day tour. These tours will pick you up from central Sydney and take you direct to the vineyards. On a wine tour, you’ll be able to learn the history of the region and enjoy tasting the wine without the worry of having to drive back at the end.
You can splash as much cash on a wine tour as you feel. There are tours ranging in price, some offering extra luxuries, four-course meals and even helicopter rides!
The best tip I can give is to read the details of each tour before you choose. And remember, if you’re planning on drinking more than a few taster sips, consider booking a tour that includes lunch!
There really are so many ways to spend a day beyond the CBD in Sydney. Whether you choose a day trip to Taronga Zoo, a day hiking in the Blue Mountains or a day enjoying wine tasting in the Hunter Valley, make the most of your Sydney day trip!
Do you have any other tips for day trips outside central Sydney? Have you been on one of these tours and had a great time? Let us know in the comments below!
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More Things to Do in Sydney
If you’re looking for more things to do in Sydney, check out my post filled with the best free things to do in the big city!