Pete Seaward

Blue Mountains

With stunning natural beauty, the World Heritage region of the Blue Mountains is an Australian highlight. The slate-coloured haze that gives the mountains their name comes from a fine mist of oil exuded by the huge eucalypts that form a dense canopy across the landscape of deep, often inaccessible valleys and chiselled sandstone outcrops.

The foothills begin 65km inland from Sydney, rising to an 1100m-high sandstone plateau riddled with valleys eroded into the stone. There are eight connected conservation areas in the region offering truly fantastic scenery, excellent bushwalks (hikes) and Aboriginal heritage: this is the country of the Darug and Gundungurra peoples.

Although it’s possible to day trip from Sydney, consider staying a night (or longer) so you can explore the towns, do at least one bushwalk and eat at some of the excellent restaurants. The hills can be surprisingly cool throughout the year, so bring warm clothes.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Blue Mountains.

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New South Wales, Australia: from Sydney to the Blue Mountains