About 3km south of central Manly, spectacular North Head offers dramatic cliffs, lookouts, secluded beaches, pretty paths through the native scrub, and sweeping views of the ocean, harbour and city. It's great to explore by bike or on foot, along the Manly Scenic Walkway. Grab a map and plot your own path through the headland, which takes in former military barracks, WWII gun emplacements, a quarantine cemetery and a memorial walk commemorating Australia's military. At the tip, Fairfax Lookouts offer dramatic clifftop perspectives.

North Head is believed to have been used as a ceremonial site by the native Camaraigal people. These days, most of the headland is part of Sydney Harbour National Park. There's a visitor centre at the North Fort complex, and a cafe. Tours of the defensive tunnels run at weekends. If you are there midweek, ask to see the worthwhile wartime propaganda film about the gun emplacements.

The 9km, four-hour Manly Scenic Walkway loops around the park; pick up a brochure from the visitor centre. Also here is the historic Q Station.