Best Places to Visit in NSW

Discover the top-rated destinations in NSW. Our guide to the best places to visit in NSW will help you plan your next adventure.

best places to visit in nsw

Whether you’re an adventure seeker or love nothing more than blissing out on a beach, NSW is as diverse as it is entertaining.


From the Blue Mountains to Wollongong, these are the best places to visit in NSW.

Best Places to Visit in NSW for Nature Lovers: Blue Mountains

Boasting ECO Destination Certification from Ecotourism Australia and World Heritage listing from UNESCO, the Blue Mountains is a wonderous swathe of protected wilderness just 60 kilometres west of Sydney.


Atmospheric towns sit amid silvery forest, and waterfalls tumble from sheer sandstone escarpments. You can understand why it’s one of the best places to visit in NSW.

Situated on the cusp of the dramatic Jamison Valley, the Fairmont Resort & Spa Blue Mountains MGallery is the pinnacle of boutique accommodation in Leura.


The hotel’s rooms and suites are spacious, and some come with perks like private balconies and spa baths. If you can bear to leave, there are near endless on-site diversions, including a billiards room, library, tennis courts and the greens of Leura Golf Club. 


There are just as many options at the Fairmont Resort & Spa when it comes to dining: begin your evening in Two Doctors Whiskey Tavern, perhaps, before moving on to a very special five-course meal at No.1 Sublime Pt. restaurant, offering mod-Australian cuisine with staggering views. 


When a restaurant sources almost all its produce from the farm it occupies, you know you’re in for a true paddock-to-plate meal.


Welcome to Megalong Restaurant, the new dining room on the 600-hectare Lot 101 Blue Mountains estate. Chef Colin Barker, ex-Boathouse on Blackwattle Bay, crafts set menus that change with the seasons, paired with wines and spirits from regional makers. 


There are dozens of walks in the Blue Mountains. The newest is the Grand Cliff Top Walk, linking Wentworth Falls, Leura, Katoomba, Medlow Bath, Blackheath and Mount Victoria. You can join a section, or complete the full 20-kilometre trail. 


On the western edge of the Greater Blue Mountains in the town of Oberon, Mayfield Garden is the largest privately owned cool-climate garden in Australia. It’s beautiful in every season, and hosts annual festivals to celebrate each.


When night falls, Blue Mountains Stargazing takes you on a captivating space journey away from city lights. With your naked eye and state-of-the-art telescope, gaze at the moon, the Orion Nebula and star clusters, among other celestial objects.


Looking to set your heart racing? You’ve come to the right place. Get pedalling with Blue Mountains Biking Adventures, exploring trails, towns and lookouts on two wheels; jump in an army truck or 4WD and go off road with Beyond the Blacktop Adventure Tours; or reach new heights at Beyond Skyway, Scenic World’s hair-raising experience that sees you take in the Jamison Valley from atop the Skyway cable car.

Best Places to Visit in NSW for Culture Vultures: Central Coast

Also achieving ECO Destination Certification, the Central Coast of NSW lies along the Pacific Ocean, north of Sydney. Look forward to a vibrant mix of urban hubs, beach towns and hinterland villages delivering beaches, great food and wine, national parks and adventure.


Locations don’t get much better than that of the Pullman Magenta Shores Resort, set between the Pacific Ocean and Tuggerah Lake. The studio rooms and one- to three-bedroom villas are the perfect base for outdoor enthusiasts, surrounded by an 18-hole golf course and lagoon-style pool and within easy reach of surf breaks, dive hotspots and fishing meccas.  


The Cowrie enjoys a prime position, set high above Terrigal and with unbroken ocean views. The space is breezy yet sophisticated, while the menu takes you on a produce trip around NSW. Book a table on the balcony and order dishes that hero seasonal regional ingredients. 


Also in Terrigal, Bellyfish is a bustling beachside restaurant open for breakfast and lunch. Alongside stellar coffee and local craft beers and wines, the menu is packed with delicious bites like crab fritters, breaky tacos, burgers and poke bowls.  


A great way to get a feel for the Central Coast is on a leisurely ride along the Tuggerah Lakes Cycleway. This 12-kilometre, off-road trail begins at The Entrance, then hugs the lake’s foreshore to Chittaway Bay.


More watery drama awaits on the eight-kilometre coastal walk through Bouddi National Park. Look forward to scenic ocean views, high sandstone cliffs and stunning beaches – bring your swimsuit. 


Then take a deep dive into Indigenous culture on a Girra Girra Aboriginal Experiences walking tour – there are a number to choose from – or with an Aboriginal Elder at Firescreek Botanical Winery in Holgate. Choose the latter and you’ll savour bush tucker while sipping some of the house wines.  


Spot dolphins, seals or whales, during migration season (May and November), with Terrigal Ocean Tours, offering small-group adventures in eco-certified boats.


Back on land, don your helmet and explore the many (free) trails of Ourimbah MTB Park, or fly through the canopy at Treetops Adventure Central Coast, past the great eucalyptus trees of the Ourimbah State Forest. There are ziplines, zipcoasters, tree ropes courses, Segway tours… and much more. 

Best Places to Visit in NSW for Beach Babes: South Coast

Stretching south from Sydney all the way to the Victorian border, the South Coast covers a lot of territory. But you don’t have to travel far to get a taste for the region – Wollongong is just 85 kilometres away, and is the gateway to some seriously stunning coastline and hinterland. 


Hotels don’t get much closer to the sand than the Novotel Wollongong Northbeach, directly opposite a popular patrolled surf beach. The other reason to check in here is for the modern rooms, which may come with a private balcony overlooking the ocean, or even a courtyard. 


Part of the Illawarra region of the South Coast, Wollongong’s surrounds are blessed with excellent wineries. On a day trip from Wollonhgong, linger over a long lunch at Crooked River Wines in Gerringong, where the restaurant overlooks the vines.


Then in Berry, Two Figs Winery offers tastings at its boutique cellar door, allowing you to try the range, from shiraz to chardonnay. While you’re imbibing, stop past The Illawarra Brewery, back in Wollongong, where you can pair craft beers and wines with classic pub fare, including bulging burgers and chicken schnitzel. 


Also in town, K.malu Kitchen & Bar is the place to take someone you want to impress. The menu is designed to share and is split between deli meats and cheeses as well as a la carte options and a longer set menu.    .


There’s plenty to keep you entertained in Wollongong proper, including seasonal whale watching from May through November and surfing at North Wollongong, where the beach also comes with rock pools.


Further afield, many wave riders head to Thirroul, where the swell picks up from most directions. If you need some assistance jumping on a board, Illawarra Surf Academy offers classes from the town. 


Down the coast in Shellharbour, Indigenous guides lead the Gumaraa Aboriginal Experiences, including a cultural tour revealing bush tucker, Dreaming stories and traditional musical and dance performances.  


Make the Minnamurra Rainforest Centre in Budderoo National Park your first stop when planning a hike around the region. Once you’ve mapped your route, head out on elevated walkways to explore rare remnant rainforest, feel the spray of waterfalls and spot all manner of wildlife – perhaps even a superb lyrebird, if you’re lucky. 


Over on the ocean, the Kiama Coast Walk is one of the most scenic in Australia, made up of three sections that cover 20 kilometres from the mouth of the Minnamurra River, through Kiama to Gerringong’s Werri Beach. In its entirety, it can take the whole day. But you can jump in and do sections, if time is limited. 

Best Places to Visit in NSW for Wine Enthusiasts: Southern Highlands

The Southern Highlands is the closest wine region to Sydney, just a 1.5-hour drive south from the NSW capital. When you arrive you’ll find charming historic towns, vast seasonal gardens, plenty of cellar doors, antiques stores and some of the state’s most innovative restaurants. 


Peppers Craigieburn – Bowral, Southern Highlands is the kind of place you check in to, and never want to leave. Located in a century-old manor house across 36 hectares of gardens, the property offers a range of room design styles to choose from. The estate also comes with its own golf course, which you’ll enjoy views of from the on-site Hickory’s restaurant.  


In Berrima – NSW’s oldest Georgian town – you’ll find one of the Southern Highlands’ most picturesque and historically significant buildings. Fittingly, it’s home to one of the region’s most applauded restaurants. Eschalot unites intimate dining and delicious Australian-French fare, with much of what’s on your plate grown or farmed in the gardens that you overlook from the dining room.


Nearby, Birch has put the tiny town of Moss Vale on the map, serving contemporary Australian cuisine that’s as delicious as it is photogenic. The establishment is no longer open for regular meal service, but instead hosts a series of special pop-up dinners, listed on their website. 


More casual but just as Instagrammable is Harry’s on Green Lane in Bowral, filled with plant life and exotic travel memorabilia and lined with a wall of books. Pop in for lunch or dinner to enjoy crab linguine, steak frites or duck confit, among other Italian and French-inspired dishes.     


With more than 60 wineries and 15 cellar doors, the Southern Highlands make up a quaint yet tasty wine region. Introduce your palate to cool-climate wines as you sip your way through the countryside on the Southern Highlands Wine Trail.


Your journey includes a stop at Bendooley Estate, sitting on 80 hectares and with a few other worthy attractions – the property is also home to the iconic Berkelouw Book Barn, renowned for its collection of new, second-hand, rare and antiquarian books, as well as a restaurant known for its focus on local produce. 


When not eating or drinking, you should be shopping. The highlands are brimming with amazing antiques stores, from large warehouses to small boutiques. Emporiums like Dirty Janes in Bowral and Grandpa's Shed in Fitzroy Falls are full of treasures


Experience the wilderness in a whole new way at Illawarra Fly. Take in the rainforest as you float on a zipline or stroll along a walkway suspended in the canopy. Surrounded by national parks, the highlands have plenty of hiking trails winding through dappled rainforests and ancient eucalyptus forests.


Marvel at waterfalls from scenic lookouts on the best walks in the Southern Highlands, including an easy stroll to the dramatic Fitzroy Falls.

Best Places to Visit in NSW for Wildlife Encounters: North Coast

The New South Wales North Coast encompasses the beautiful coastline from the Hawkesbury River just north of Sydney and extends over 700 kilometres in length to the northern border town of Tweed Heads.


Just over half way is the town of Port Macquarie, set at the mouth of the Hastings River. Come here for the great surf, and stay for the wildlife.  


You’re smack bang in the middle of the action when you check in to Mercure Centro Port Macquarie, its spacious rooms all featuring balconies so you can soak up the ocean breeze. When you’re not in the sea, splash about in the on-site pool.


On the banks of the Hastings at the Port Mac marina, Hello Sailor lists half-a-dozen margharitas on its menu, one with spiced pineapple, another with coconut. There’s live music and a food truck where you can order fish tacos and essential beer-battered pickles with a pale ale-cheese dipping sauce.


Not far away is Bills Fishhouse + Bar, where the sea-to-plate menu features fresh, local, sustainable and seasonal ingredients.


And then there’s the Luigi Brothers Delicatessen, stocked with every North Coast (and imported) jam, chutney, cheese and charcuterie imaginable – plus Black Market’s New York-style bagels, made around the corner.


This region has one of the largest koala populations on the east coast of Australia, but their population was threatened when bushfires tore through the Lake Innes Nature Reserve in late 2019.


The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, operating since 1973, was inundated with injured animals. It is rescuing and rehabilitating more koalas than ever, and is also the site of a world-first wild koala breeding program. Visit to discover more. 


Back in town, stroll along the Hastings River Breakwall path, its rocks individually painted by locals since the outdoor art gallery began in 1995. Keep watch for dolphins frolicking near the sandbar. 



Head to Grants Beach, where the glossy creatures of Hastings River Horse Riding await for an amble along the shore. Thirsty riders can jump in the saddle for a ‘Pub Ride’, which sees you trot right up to the doors of the legendary Beechwood hotel for a cold craft beer.


New to the Guulabaa – Place of Koala precinct is WildNets Adventure Park, which sees you running, playing and bouncing above the forest floor. It’s serious fun, but the real goal here is to educate you about the environment. 


While the team at Port Jet Cruise Adventures offers watery experiences throughout the year, they’re particularly popular during the winter months, when migratory whales and dolphins are a common sight. 

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