While visiting Sydney, Australia, taking a Blue Mountains day trip was at the top of our must-do list. The Blue Mountains National Park lies just west of the city and is easily accessible by train, car or tour. The spectacular nature retreat features scenic landscapes, picturesque waterfalls, sheer cliffs and a network of hiking trails. Additionally, an aerial cable car and steep railway at Scenic World allow park guests to enjoy unique experiences. Because of the numerous Blue Mountains attractions, Sydney day tours to the park are among the most popular excursions from the city. With so much to see and do, how do you plan to visit the Blue Mountains in a day?
We carefully considered our options for a Blue Mountains trip from Sydney – from what to see in Blue Mountains to whether or not we should take a tour to the best way to get from Sydney to the park. We are sharing what we learned (and our detailed Blue Mountains itinerary!) to help other travelers plan their perfect one-day Blue Mountains Australia tour.
How to Plan a Blue Mountains Day Trip
When creating a Blue Mountains trip plan, these are the most important factors to consider:
- What to see in Blue Mountains NSW?
- Self-Guided or Organized Tours to Blue Mountains from Sydney?
- How to travel to Blue Mountains from Sydney?
Deciding Which Places to Visit in Blue Mountains
With so many Blue Mountains places to visit, it can be a task to decide what to include in a Sydney one-day trip. In addition to being limited to a one-day adventure, you also need to consider what kind of experiences you want and how much you want to spend. It is free to enter most of the park – including top hiking trails and the best viewpoints – but there is a cost for tours and Scenic World attractions.
While a multitude of sights appealed to us (and I’m the kind of person who always wants to do everything), it simply isn’t feasible to partake in all the park attractions on a Sydney one-day tour. The reason we wanted to visit the park was to escape the city and immerse ourselves in nature. On our trip, we decided to limit our Blue Mountains sightseeing to the natural aspects of the park.
At the end of the post, we include detailed information on top park attractions and tips on where to go in Blue Mountains and what to see.
Blue Mountains 1-Day Tour: Organized or DIY?
After determining which Blue Mountain sights to include in your one-day itinerary, you need to decide whether you want to take one of the organized Sydney day tours or plan your own Blue Mountains self-tour. There are many benefits to joining an organized Blue Mountains tour bus excursion. The obvious advantage is that organized tours require little-to-no planning. Tour participants won’t need to sort the details of getting to Blue Mountains or wonder how much time to allot at each sight. And, without having to worry about the details of a Blue Mountains one-day trip, guests can simply sit back and enjoy the day. On the other hand, there are a few reasons you might not want to join an organized tour from Sydney to Blue Mountains. It’s important to consider cost, specified time allotments at sights and group dynamics before booking a tour.
We weighed the pros and cons of the organized Sydney, Australia day trips, focusing on our personal interests. Many of the Sydney day tours package together the best Blue Mountains tourist attractions with other nearby sights and activities, which means the experience will include much more than a visit to the park. However, for us, hiking along the Blue Mountains walking tracks was one of the top reasons we wanted to visit Blue Mountains – so if we were going to take a tour, we needed to find one that allowed time for bush walks.
At the end of the post, we include detailed information on the best Blue Mountain tours from Sydney.
How To Get To Blue Mountains?
If foregoing the organized Blue Mountains Australia tour option, park visitors need to figure out how to go to Blue Mountains from Sydney on their own. Self-driving allows for the most flexibility in planning a trip to the national park. However, for us, driving was not an option as we don’t like to rent cars in foreign countries – especially in countries where they drive on the left side of the road. Fortunately, there is a viable Blue Mountains public transport option: the train to Blue Mountains from Sydney. To go to Blue Mountains by train takes about 2 hours and costs less than $10 AUD each way. Note: There is no Sydney to Blue Mountains bus.
Specific details on how to get to Blue Mountains by train at the end of the post.
Our Perfect Blue Mountains Day Trip
After thoroughly researching our options, we decided to dedicate our one-day Blue Mountains trip to nature and bush walking. We debated between booking an organized Blue Mountains day tour that focused on hiking or planning our own trip via train from Sydney to Blue Mountains. In our research, we discovered a hiking trail that we could easily complete on our own: the Prince Henry Cliff Walk.
Highlights of the trail are the stellar viewpoints and tumbling waterfalls – and although it is technically a one-way trail, we discovered a way to create a loop so that we didn’t have to backtrack. The Blue Mountains hike was the exact nature experience we wanted: incredible scenery, but not too strenuous. Although the Sydney day tours to Blue Mountains offer incredible value, we determined it was best for us to plan a DIY Blue Mountains day trip from Sydney by train.
A Detailed Blue Mountains Day Trip Itinerary
Creating our own Blue Mountains one-day itinerary (rather than joining one of the day trips from Sydney, Australia) meant we had to sort all of the excursion details on our own. Our Blue Mountains in One Day Itinerary outlines everything you need to know – from how to get to Blue Mountains from Sydney to the must-see viewpoints to how to coordinate your timeline for the day. Follow in our footsteps or use the information as a guide to plan your own ideal trip from Sydney to Blue Mountains.
Getting to Blue Mountains via the Sydney to Katoomba Train
Planning a Blue Mountains day trip by train is easier than most people expect it to be (at least it was for us!). The Blue Mountains Train Line (from Central Station to Katoomba Station), which is part of the Intercity Trains Network, covers the distance from Sydney to Blue Mountains in about two hours. To make the most of your trip, hop on a Central Station to Blue Mountains Train that departs early in the morning.
We took the morning Express Train, not because it’s a time-saver (it’s only 15 minutes shorter than the regular train), but because it got us to Katoomba by mid-morning. The day of our Blue Mountains day trip, we arrived at Central Station about 20 minutes before departure – and the train was already at the platform. As our trip was on a weekday, we had a pick of seats. On departure, the train slowly chugged out of the city toward Parramatta and then on from Paramatta to Blue Mountains.
Details of getting to Blue Mountains from Sydney:
- Express Train Departure Time from Sydney Central to Katoomba: 8:48am
- Arrival Time to Katoomba Station: 10:32am
- Sydney to Blue Mountains Train Fare: $8.69 AUD (peak pricing)
- The Blue Mountains Train ticket can be paid with an Opal Card.
Find more Sydney Central to Blue Mountains Train details – including timetables and fares – at the end of the post.
Arrive in Katoomba
Katoomba, which has a population of about 8,000 residents, is a charming mountain town – and the main town in Blue Mountains. Many of the top places to see in Blue Mountains NP are accessible from Katoomba, which makes it a great starting point for a day of exploration. To get from the Katoomba Station to Blue Mountains Park, it is an easy 2km (1.2 mile) downhill walk along Katoomba Street. The street, which is lined with tourist shops, cafes and eateries, provides a direct path south from the station to the national park.
Getting from Katoomba to Blue Mountains National Park
From Katoomba Station, walk south on Katoomba Street. Pass Echoes Boutique Hotel and Restaurant, then merge onto Panorama Drive, which curves to the east. At Echo Point Road, turn south and enter the park at Echo Point Lookout.
Top Tip: Make a stop at a grocery store on Katoomba Street to pick up hiking snacks and items for a picnic lunch. We like Woolworth’s, which is located on Waratah Street, just west of Katoomba Street.
Katoomba to Blue Mountains Bus: The Blue Mountains Explorer Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus transports passengers from Katoomba to area attractions, including Echo Point, Scenic World and Leura Cascades. More info about the bus at the end of the post!
Take in the Views at Echo Point Lookout
Offering panoramic views of the park’s most iconic landscape, Echo Point Lookout is a must for every visitor of Blue Mountains NP. Ranking as the “Best Lookouts Blue Mountains,” the spacious Echo Point platform provides stunning views of the famous Three Sisters rock formation and Jamison Valley. One level lower than Echo Point is Queen Elizabeth Lookout, which allows for an easily accessible secondary vantage point. In addition to the informational plaques found at the railings, visitors can obtain Blue Mountains info at the on-site Echo Point Information Center.
Blue Mountains Hikes from Echo Point
Many Katoomba hikes commence at Echo Point Lookout. Hikers can hop on a trail that heads west to complete the Blue Mountains waterfall walk to Katoomba Falls (and on to Scenic World). Ambitious trekkers can take the Katoomba walking tracks that lead south to the Three Sisters and down to the valley floor. Viewpoint-seekers – like ourselves – will want to find the Katoomba walks trail to the east, Prince Henry Cliff Walk, that follows the mountain’s edge to Leura Cascades and beyond.
Top Tip: A Blue Mountains hiking map can be purchased from the Echo Point Information Center. We opted, however, to use the Blue Mountains tourist map included in the free magazine (available at the entrance of the info center). It was, perhaps, not the best Blue Mountains walking map and shouldn’t be used for more difficult Katoomba bush walks. However, the map served its purpose for our day of hiking Blue Mountains Australia. More serious hikers should consider purchasing a trail book, which includes a map of Blue Mountains NSW, in advance to better plan a hiking trip.
Gaze at Three Sisters Blue Mountains
The Three Sisters is the most recognizable rock formation in the national park – and a must-see when you visit Blue Mountains from Sydney. Thousands of years of erosion paired with aboriginal fables make Three Sisters a landmark destination in the national park. According to the indigenous legend, three sisters were turned to stone when they wanted to marry men outside their tribe. Consequently, a battle occurred between the two tribes and the only elder who had the power to return the sisters to human form was killed in the fight. Thus, the sisters remain stone for eternity.
Blue Mountains Bush Walks: Three Sisters Walk and the Giant Stairs Blue Mountains
From Echo Point, there is a short .8km (1/2 mile) Three Sisters Walk that allows visitors to access the first ‘sister’ via the Honeymoon Bridge. Hikers can loop back to Echo Point or opt to continue to the valley floor via the Giant Stairway. Detailed information on both of these hikes is provided at the end of the post.
Trek from Three Sisters to Elysian Rock via Prince Henry Cliff Walk
Total Length: 4.5km (2.8 miles) | Difficulty: Easy to Moderate | Total Time: 3-4 hours
When we were planning our trip to Blue Mountains in a day, we were seeking out the best hikes in Blue Mountains – and we think we found it on the Blue Mountains hike from Three Sisters to Elysian Rock via the Prince Henry Cliff Walk. Most of the natural path is enveloped in lush forest. Hugging the edge of the cliff, the easy-to-moderate trail offers more than 20 incredible lookout points. The entire length of the Prince Henry Cliff Walk is about 7km, of which we walked about 4.5km (2.8 miles) en route from Three Sisters to Elysian Rock, via Leura Cascades. Below, we break down the hike into sections.
Bush Walk from Three Sisters to Leura Cascades
Length: 3km (1.9 miles) | Difficulty: Easy to Moderate | Time: 1-2 hours
From Echo Point Lookout, the Prince Henry Cliff Walk to Leura Cascades begins behind the Echo Point Info Center. The trail joins the Three Sisters Walking Track, which leads to an up-close view of the first ‘sister’ and the top of the Giant Stairway. If time allows, make the out-and-back detour to the lookout point and – if feeling adventurous – take the stairs down to the bridge and cross over to the iconic rock formation.
Follow the signs for the Prince Henry Cliff Walk, which roughly follows the ridgeline road, Cliff Drive. The dirt trail is enveloped in a forest of eucalyptus and other natural vegetation. Listen for the shriek of the Wild Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos as they fly overhead and above the vast valley. From the trail, there are numerous lookout points, each offering breathtaking views of the valley. If time allows, we recommend venturing out to each viewpoint, but be certain not to miss Burrabarroo Lookout (one of our favorites!) and Bridal Veil Lookout for an awesome vantage point of the waterfall.
Top Tip: Wooden benches are found sporadically along the path. Great for a rest if needed, we settled into a bench with a view for our picnic lunch. Although it was a beautiful spot for a meal-with-a-view, in hindsight, we would have rather waited to eat when we arrived at Burrabarroo Lookout.
Blue Mountains Waterfalls: Leura Cascades and Bridal Veil Falls
The gently flowing Leura Falls Creek tumbles down stairstep rocks before streaming over the cliff’s edge into the valley below, creating what is better known as Bridal Veil Falls. Follow the path along the stream and across bridges for a closer look at the falls. For the best views of the Leura Cascades, veer off the path to the small clearings.
Top Tip: At Leura Cascades, there is a picnic area, bathroom facilities, parking and an Explorer Bus Hop-On-Hop-Off bus stop.
Leura Cascades to Elysian Rock
Length: 1.5km (.9 miles) | Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Just past the falls, hike along the Prince Henry Cliff Walk to the Bridal Veil View path. Take the detour to the Bridal Veil View for the absolute best view of the Bridal Veil Falls – and note the veil resemblance from the vantage point. Retrace your steps to reconnect with the main path. Shortly after the Tarpeian Rock lookout, the Prince Henry Cliff Walk diverts from the forest onto a street for a short distance. Upon returning to the natural path, the Olympian Rock Lookout is not too far – and a must-see! The views are spectacular. Shortly after Olympian Rock, you will arrive at Elysian Rock Lookout.
Top Tip: We continued on the Blue Mountains hiking trail past Elysian Rock to Gordon Falls Lookout, but don’t recommend the route to other hikers. Not only was the signage for the lookout point easy to miss, but the view of the waterfall was a bit disappointing – especially after Leura Falls. On the other hand, this portion of the trail was vacant of people, so if you are seeking a bit of solitude in the forest, it might be worth it to continue on to Gordon Falls.
Conclude Your Blue Mountains Hike in Leura
From Elysian Rock Lookout, take the stairs up to Olympian Parade; turn left (west) and walk to Leura Mall. Turn right (north). Follow the residential street for about 2km (1.2 miles) into the center of town, where there are a handful of shops, cafes and restaurants. At the top of the street is Leura Station.
Travel from Blue Mountains to Sydney
From the Leura Train Station, hop on the next Blue Mountains to Sydney train. We were aiming to be on the 15:54 train – the last train before peak pricing begins – but arrived at the station earlier than we anticipated…and just in time for the 15:24 train back to the city.
Details of getting from Blue Mountains to Sydney:
- Train Departure Time from Leura Station to Sydney Central: 3:24pm
- Arrival Time to Sydney Central Station: 5:21pm
- Blue Mountains to Sydney Train Fare: $6.08 AUD (non-peak pricing)
- The Blue Mountains Train ticket can be paid with an Opal Card.
Detailed Blue Mountains from Sydney Train Information below!
What You Will Need for a Blue Mountains Day Trip
For the best Blue Mountains experience, you need to be prepared with a few essential items.
- If you are going hiking in the Blue Mountains, you need proper footwear. For the Prince Henry Cliff Walk, which is an easy to moderate trail, casual trekking shoes are adequate, such as these shoes by Columbia or these by Merrell.
- Don’t forget important items like a refillable water bottle, insect repellent, sunscreen and binoculars.
- For the best pictures of the Blue Mountains, you will need a good camera (something better than a phone!). We carry a Canon Rebel, which takes incredible photos. But, for something a little less bulky, we suggest a Canon Powershot, which is slim, lightweight and still have a nice zoom.
- Travel Insurance is essential if you are visiting Australia from abroad! Find out more about World Nomads Travel Insurance.
Blue Mountains: How To Get There
Here is everything you need to know about how to get from Sydney to Blue Mountains!
How Far is Blue Mountains from Sydney?
Sydney to Blue Mountains Distance is about 100km (60 miles).
How long does it take to get from Central to Blue Mountains?
The Blue mountains self-drive route from Sydney takes about one and a half hours. To get from Sydney to Blue Mountains by train takes about two hours.
Blue Mountains Train Line
Operated by NSW TrainLink, the Blue Mountains Train Line is the most direct and convenient public transportation option between Sydney and Blue Mountains National Park.
Blue Mountains Express Train
The express train only makes four stops between Central and Katoomba – at Paramatta, Westmead, Penrith and Springwood. Although the express train makes fewer stops than the regular train, the express ride is only about 15 minutes shorter timewise. There are two express trains that depart from Sydney – at 8:48am and 5:47pm. The express trains from Katoomba depart at 7:40am and 2:04pm.
Blue Mountains Train Station
The two Blue Mountains train stations that are best to access the national park are Katoomba Railway Station and Leura Railway Station. Both stations are serviced by the Blue Mountains Train. The Blue Mountains Express Train only stops in Katoomba, not Leura.
Train: Sydney to Katoomba
There are multiple Blue Mountains Trains that depart from Sydney Central Station every day. The first train departs at 4:23am – and the last train departs at 12:18am (12:24am on weekends and holidays); there is at least one train every hour.
Train: Katoomba to Sydney
There are multiple Katoomba to Sydney Trains (and Leura to Sydney trains) that depart daily. Departures from Katoomba begin as early at 3:02am on weekdays and 4:38am on weekends and holidays.
Blue Mountains Train Timetable
Sydney to Blue Mountains Train Cost
The Sydney to Katoomba train fare depends on time of train departure: Peak or Non-Peak hours. The Sydney to Blue Mountains train price is $8.69 AUD for Peak Travel and $6.08 for Non-Peak Travel. Train fare can be paid using the Opal Card.
Bus to Blue Mountains from Sydney
There is no public bus to Blue Mountains from Sydney.
Blue Mountains Day Trip Self-Drive
If you have access to a car and are comfortable being behind the wheel, driving from Sydney to Blue Mountains is an ideal mode of transport. The Sydney to Blue Mountains drive will take about 1.5 hours, but the fastest route requires toll roads. You can find directions for the drive to Blue Mountains from Sydney on Google Maps. Note: A Blue Mountains Self-Drive Itinerary will differ slightly from our outlined day trip guide, as our route looped from Katoomba to Leura via the Prince Henry trail.
Best Time to Visit Blue Mountains
The Blue Mountains are beautiful any time of year! In the summer months (December, January, February), it can be warm, but cooler than Sydney. The autumn (March, April, May) is an ideal time for walks. In the winter (June, July, August), park visitors can expect cooler, but still beautiful, weather.
What To Do in Blue Mountains
There are many options of things to do on a Blue Mountains holiday – even if it is for just one day! Here are some of the top things to include on a Blue Mountains Itinerary for 1 Day.
More Blue Mountains Bush Walks
Although the Prince Henry Cliff Track proved to be one of the best walks in Blue Mountains for our style of hiking, there are several other trails in the park of varying degrees of difficulty.
Katoomba Falls Round Walk
Located between Echo Point and Scenic World are the Katoomba Falls. The Katoomba Falls Round Walk features viewpoints and forest trekking. The walk begins and ends at Scenic World.
Wentworth Falls Bushwalk
Another one of the popular Blue Mountains waterfalls, Wentworth Falls are located east of Leura. The Wentworth Falls loop walk is 1.4km (.9 miles). The steep trail incorporates 200 stairs from the clifftop to Fletchers Lookout.
Blue Mountains Three Sisters Walk
One of the most popular park treks is from Echo Point to the famous Three Sisters landmark. Find information about this walk here.
Three Sisters to Giant Stairway to Scenic World Walk
A stimulating hike, the Three Sisters to Scenic World Walk (via the Giant Stairways) is best suited to avid hikers who want a bit of a challenge. More info about this hike here.
More Blue Mountains Tracks can be found on the official NSW National Parks website.
Blue Mountains Scenic World is a hub of entertainment, including four main attractions: the Scenic Railway, the Scenic Skyway, the Scenic Cableway and the Scenic Walkway. Scenic World is open weekdays from 9:00am to 5:00pm (and opens earlier on some weekends). Ticket prices for Scenic World vary based on day of week, age and ticket type (single or family). The tickets are all-inclusive of Scenic World attractions. Find more information on the Scenic World website.
Blue Mountains Scenic Railway
Built as part of the mining operation in the Jamison Valley in the late 1800s, the steep track has an incline of 52 degrees, making it one of the steepest railways in the world.
Blue Mountains Scenic Skyway
The Skyway traverses the gorge from Scenic World to Echo Point 270 meters (886 feet) above the valley with views of Katoomba Falls.
Blue Mountains Cable Car
The Scenic Cableway Blue Mountains ride takes visitors 545 meters (1788 feet) from the top of the rim to the valley floor where they can explore the rainforest.
Blue Mountains Scenic Walkway
The Walkway is a 2.4km (1.5 mile) elevated walkway through the rainforest on the valley floor. The Walkway can be accessed by the Cableway and Railway.
Buy a Combo Scenic World and Explorer Bus Ticket for unlimited Scenic World and Explorer Bus Rides in advance of your trip!
Blue Mountains Bus Explorer
The Blue Mountains Explorer Bus is a fantastic option for park visitors who want to see multiple sights on a short timeline. The Hop-On-Hop-Off route begins at the train station and transports passengers to the top park sights – like Echo Point, Scenic World and Leura Cascades. The stops are conveniently located at key points along the Prince Henry Cliff Walk, which allows trekkers to easily complete shorter sections of the trail – as well as partake in other park activities. Find out more!
Book a Blue Mountains Tour
Visitors who want to book a Blue Mountain Sydney tour have many options. Because we didn’t opt to take a tour, we can’t personally vouch for a specific company or guide. However, when looking at tours, we always read reviews from fellow travelers to get a sense of what we can expect. The best Blue Mountains tours will have the highest online ratings, so make sure to read the Blue Mountain tour reviews before booking your trip!
There are many day tours from Sydney that offer an array of activities – both in the national park and en route to and from the city. The best Sydney day trips to the Blue Mountains offer multiple attractions and value for money. Highlights of the most popular tours are seeing the Three Sisters rock formation, visiting Scenic World attractions (cable car and train) and learning about native Australian animals at a Blue Mountains wildlife park. Most of the tours include a Blue Mountains guide who will share history, information and Aboriginal legends about the park. Some day trips out of Sydney also include a lunch and a ferry ride back into Sydney Harbor.
In addition to the standard tours, there are several other organized tours to Blue Mountains. Active and adventure travelers have a choice of Blue Mountains hiking tours, 4WD tours and climbing/abseiling tours. Visitors can choose to go on a Blue Mountains and Jenolan Caves tour that explore underground passages – or see the national park from the sky on a helicopter tour. Participants on a one-day trip from Sydney can join Blue Mountains private tours, small-group tours and large-group tours.
Classic Blue Mountains Tour
This 10-hour tour includes all the highlights of a day trip to the Blue Mountains. Visit a wildlife park, view Three Sisters from Echo Point and enjoy the rides at Scenic World and end the day with a river cruise. Book this popular tour!
Blue Mountains Wildlife Park and Bushwalks Tour
Spend a full day experiencing the best of the Blue Mountains! Get up close and personal with native Australian animals and then join a guide for fantastic Blue Mountains viewpoints and a trek through the forest. Find out more!
Blue Mountains and Jenolan Caves Day Tour
This adventurous Blue Mountains Cave Tour includes navigating Lucas Cave, visiting Scenic World (rides at own expense) and a river cruise into Sydney’s Circular Quay. Get More Details Here!
Blue Mountains 4WD Adventure Tour
Get off the beaten track and explore the Blue Mountains in a 4×4! See the top sights – and then take in vistas that most visitors miss. Check out the details!
Blue Mountains Helicopter Tour
Take in the breathtaking scenes of Blue Mountains National Park from the sky on an epic helicopter tour. Book it now!
Blue Mountains Multi-Day Tours
Trips to Blue Mountains from Sydney aren’t limited to one-day adventures. There are several Blue Mountain holiday packages that extend beyond a single day of exploration.
Hunter Valley and Blue Mountain Weekend Packages
This Hunter Valley and Blue Mountains 2-day Itinerary includes top sights and experiences with overnight accommodations. Learn more about this tour!
Blue Mountains 2-Day Tour: Overnight Wildlife Safari
Escape the crowds and discover natural wonders on a Blue Mountains small-group overnight tour. Get the details here!
3-Day Camping Adventure with Wildlife, Hiking and Abseiling
This Blue Mountains 3-Day Itinerary includes waking up with kangaroos and spending evenings around a fire while watching Aboriginal dancers – as well as hiking through the Jamison Valley and abseiling adventures with views. Find out more!
More Sydney Day Trips
Day trips from Sydney are not limited to the Blue Mountains! Find other exciting Sydney Day Tours and book your trip in advance on Viator.
Thanks for reading our Blue Mountains Day Trip blog post! Looking for more things to do in Sydney? Check out our post on a Self-Guided Sydney Walking Tour.
We want to know: Have you been on a Blue Mountains Day Trip from Sydney, Australia? What were the highlights of your trip? Give us your best tips and advice in the comments below!
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