A weekend in the Blue Mountains
The Blue Mountains National Park is a spectacular UNESCO World Heritage region starting 50kms west of Sydney. This is the perfect weekend getaway for those in nearby states, and is a must-see for those traveling through Sydney.
How to get there
From Sydney city it is about a 1.5 hour drive to get to Katoomba, one of the main villages in the Blue Mountains. This is a great base for exploring and is well catered for tourists.
If you don’t want to rent a car, you can take a train direct from Central Station in Sydney to Katoomba in 2 hours. It only costs $5 each way with an Opal travel card (which is free). From Katoomba station you are already on the main street.
Where to stay
I would recommend staying in Katoomba as it is walking distance to many of the viewpoints and lookouts. It also has plenty of shops and restaurants for when you want a break from hiking! There are many Airbnbs available for those on a budget. I stayed in a clean and cosy private room for only $45 on a Saturday night. This is very economic if you are sharing a room with someone.
What to do
There is a lot to do in the Blue Mountains, not only in Katoomba but in surrounding areas. However, if you only have a weekend, like I had, this is what you can easily see and do.
A 20min walk down the main street will lead you to the end of the road to Echo Centre. Here you will be treated with the phenomenal view over the cliff edge to the Three Sisters. From here you can see just how deep the Jamison Valley extends.
See the mountains from the sky at Scenic World
Scenic World is a fantastic way to see the Blue Mountains with a bit of adventure. Their rides let you experience the mountains by sky, above and below in the Jamison valley. From Katoomba you can walk there in 35mins, or take the local bus which takes 10mins. The entry costs $40 and this gives you unlimited rides all day.
There are four unique experiences; the Skyway, Cableway, Railway and Walkway. To begin, you can take the glass-bottom Skyway and dangle 270m above the Jamison valley to the other side of the cliffs.
This ride gives you an undisturbed view of the Three Sisters on one side and the spectacular Katoomba falls on the other.
From here you can take a walk to the Katoomba cascades and falls.
You can also take the famous Scenic Railway, which is the steepest in the world. It descends straight down through a cave and opens into the Jamison Valley with incredible views.
Once you are in the Jamison valley, you can take one of several forest Walkways on an elevated boardwalk through the treetops. The walks cover 2.4kms and they range from 10, 30 or 50 minutes.
You can then take the Cableway back up to the main centre while enjoying panoramic views of the valley.
I would recommend spending a minimum of 4 hours here if you want to experience all of the rides and do some nice walks. Also, go early when it opens at 9am if you can, otherwise there will be lines. This is an incredibly fun way of exploring the Blue Mountains and I would highly recommend it.
Hike the Prince Henry Cliff walk
This is a spectacular hike that runs along the cliff face of the mountains. It takes about 3.5 hours round trip if you take your time, so allow half a day if you want a break to stop for lunch or a snack.
I would recommend starting the walk at the nearby town Leura on Cliff Drive, off the main street. From here you can enter the Tarpeian Rock Access walk from the footpath. After a short walk you will come to the start of the Prince Henry Cliff Walk.
Then you will soon come to the first viewpoint, Bridal Veil Viewpoint.
As you continue on, the track will lead you through a beautiful bushland and you will have the chance to stop at the Leura Cascades. There are also many other viewpoints along the way.
At the end of the walk you will finally reach Echo Point where you can see the stunning Three Sisters.
Visit the nearby town Leura
Leura is a cute village similar to Katooma, with a nice set of shops and cafes. It is super lively on weekends with markets and people dining out. It is just one train station east from Katoomba, or a 20min walk.
Indulge and visit the Blue Mountains Chocolate Company
After a long day’s hike, head to the Blue Mountains Chocolate Company to unwind and indulge. The chocolate factory is onsite and you can sample free tastings. You can also buy all of their chocolate products to take home for later. I recommend trying one of their delicious hot chocolates, as you mix the chocolate and milk yourself to get the perfect flavour!
Katoomba is a quiet town in the evenings during the week, but if you’re there on the weekend you can grab drinks at the Avalon in the Savoy building. If you’re looking for a delicious, cheap and filling dinner, sit down for pizza at Renee’s on the main street. It’s BYO and the service is great.
How long to stay
You can easily spend a week in the Blue Mountains exploring not only Katoomba but other villages. However if you only have a weekend, you can still manage to do all of these things and see a great deal of the area.