The Best National Parks near Sydney

When it comes to national parks, NSW has some of the best in the world, and we have all the details to help you make the most of your time in nature.

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Hiking, swimming, fishing, boating, camping, and even a picnic in the sun, there’s plenty to see and do in the national parks near Sydney.


And with plenty of national parks to choose from, we’ve narrowed your search down to what we think are the best national parks near Sydney as well as the best things to do in each park.

Royal National Park

Travel time from Sydney CBD: 1 hour


How to get to the Royal National Park?


Leaving the CBD, get onto the Princes Highway (A1) and head south until you reach the Farnell Avenue turn off. This road will lead you to the Royal National Park. You can follow the road as it turns into Audley Road and pull into the Audley Dance Hall Café parking.


You can also make use of the Royal National Park bus service. Hop on the Park Connections bus from Sutherland Station or Bundeena Wharf and get dropped off at your desired spot in the park.


What to do and see at the Royal National Park?


Inside the park, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to natural beauty. The Royal National Park is one of the best national parks near Sydney, thanks to the variation of sights to see. 


Escape under the dense canopy of trees, walk alongside an imposing rock face, and take a hike up to a viewpoint to look out over the trees beneath you. The Royal National Park has cycling trails, whale watching opportunities, canoeing and paddling spots, and plenty of walks and hikes. 


What hikes are there at the Royal National Park?


There are 10 different walks and hikes inside the Royal National Park, making it one of the best national parks around Sydney for anyone who loves to get active in the outdoors. We’ve put together what we think are the best hikes in the Royal National Park.


The easiest track in the park is the Bungoona Lookout Path. The path is great for families who want to take a short walk together and maybe even enjoy a picnic at the end. The path is wheelchair accessible, making it open to most visitors. 


For a slightly more active walking track, try the Karloo Walking Track. This track takes you past picnic spots and waterfall views and even to Karloo Pool, a great swimming spot to cool down on a hot day. 


For anyone who wants a bit of a challenge and some amazing views, the epic Coast Track is a must-try. The track will take you two days to complete, and along the way you’ll be able to enjoy coastal lookouts, swimming pools, native flora, and even whale watching (depending on the season). 

Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park

Travel time from Sydney CBD: 45 minutes


How to get to the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park?


Head to North Sydney, towards Turramurra. Then get onto Bobbin Head Road and continue north. You’ll come to the Bobbin Inn Café, where you can park and grab a cup of coffee to start the day.


What to do and see at the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park?


Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park is the meeting point of bushland and water, making it a popular spot for sailing and fishing as well as hikes and picnics. Bring your tent and camp within the park to spend more time in nature, taking in the breathtaking sights from lookouts and significant Aboriginal sites. 


What hikes are there at Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park?


With a whopping 16 unique tracks to choose from in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, there are plenty of opportunities to get on your feet. Most of the tracks are moderately challenging, with some bushwalking experience recommended.


One of the easier walks combines the Basin Track and the Mackerel Track. All up, the walk lasts on average three hours. Bring a picnic and enjoy lunch at one of the lookout spots or by the water. The walk takes you past the Basin Aboriginal Art Site, showcasing rock engravings that reflect the cultural heritage of the area.


For more experienced bushwalkers, The Sphinx Memorial to Bobbin Head Loop Track is a great way to spend the day. The walk can take on average 4 hours and each step you take is a new one. The loop track comes back around to the starting point without you having to retrace your steps. Along the track, you’ll get to visit the Sphinx Memorial as well as scenic lookouts that showcase the rugged beauty of this national park in Sydney.

Sydney Harbour National Park

Travel time from Sydney CBD: 30 minutes


How to get to the Sydney Harbour National Park?


Make it super easy on yourself by staying in a budget Sydney hotel or one of our many boutique accommodation options close by. From your hotel, head to the north side of the bridge, head east. Make your way onto Bradleys Head Road, which will take you south and to the park.


What to do and see at the Sydney Harbour National Park?


The Sydney Harbour National Park is worth a quick visit for anyone looking for the essential things to do in Sydney. The park has plenty of historical sites to visit. Military relics, historic lighthouses, and heritage buildings await you.


There are also a great deal of scenic, coastal lookouts from the park. The Sydney Harbour National Park is quite close to the Taronga Zoo Sydney, if you want to add another stop on your day and visit some of Australia’s iconic animals.


What hikes are there at the Sydney Harbour National Park?


The walks in the Sydney Harbour National Park are all relatively easy, so anyone with some bushwalking or hiking experience has nothing to worry about. 


If you’re looking for a short walk, the Fairfax walk will only take you up to an hour. The gentle walk is ideal if you’re with the family and don’t want to have to carry the kids.


Fairfax walk connects three lookouts with views of the harbour, the city, and the ocean. Be sure to stop by during whale watching season (June-July and August-October) to try to catch the sight of a whale breaching across the water. 


For a slightly harder walk that will take you deeper into the lush bush of Sydney, try the Bradleys Head to Chowder Bay walk.


As you walk, you’ll have views of the Sydney harbour keeping you company and fresh ocean breezes keeping you cool. Once you reach Chowder Bay, grab yourself a coffee at the heritage-listed Athol Hall, or one of the many local cafés. 

Blue Mountains National Park

Travel time from Sydney CBD: 1 hour


How to get to the Blue Mountains National Park?


Make your way onto the Western Motorway (M4) and head west until you reach Glenbrook. Turn left onto Ross Street, which turns into Park Street, then right onto Euroka Road. Right again brings you onto Bruce Road, which will bring you to your destination. 


What to do and see at the Blue Mountains National Park?


The Blue Mountains are home to the iconic Three Sisters, as well as waterfalls, walking tracks, mountain biking, and camping. There are six distinct areas in the national park—the Katoomba area, the Blackheath area, the Glenbrook area, the Lower Grose Valley area, the Mount Wilson area, and the Southern Blue Mountains area.


You might even want to stay in the Blue Mountains to make sure you have enough time to see all the region has to offer. The Fairmont Resort & Spa Blue Mountains situates you in the heart of this iconic region, with views of the serene mountains as well as cabin-chic charm.


The Ubika Day Spa within the resort is just the place to visit if you want to indulge in some pampering as you soak in the relaxing tranquillity of the Blue Mountains. 


What hikes are there at the Blue Mountains National Park?


The Blue Mountains is one of the biggest New South Wales national parks and downloading the NSW national parks guide app is a great idea to find the best tracks. 


A must-do walk is the Three Sisters walk. From the Echo Point lookout, you can see the three giant rock formations in all their glory, but head down the path nearby to walk to the bottom of the sisters for a one-of-a-kind experience and view. 


In the Blackheath area in one of the best national parks in NSW is the Cliff Top Walking Track. The track follows the cliff edge and looks out over the rolling hills of the Blue Mountains.


Don’t be put off by the intimidating name. Anyone with some hiking experience should have no concern tackling the Cliff Top track.


Keep an eye out for some of Australia’s beautiful, native wildflowers along the path and don’t forget to catch your breath when the phenomenal views snatch it away from you.

Lane Cove National Park

Travel time from Sydney CBD: 30 minutes


How to get to the Lane Cove National Park?


Take the M1 north and head towards Chatswood. From there you can turn west for a short drive along the A38 and you’re at one of the best national parks in Sydney, NSW.


What to do and see at Lane Cove National Park?


Lane Cove is a popular camping spot, thanks to the serene atmosphere and activities available. Boating or canoeing along the river, bushwalking, wildlife watching, picnicking, and more activities to entertain the whole family.


What hikes are there at Lane Cove National Park?


Lane Cove National Park is home to several hikes and bushwalks, and one of the best is the Fairylands Loop Track.


Another loop track, the Fairylands walk ends where it began, so if you’re visiting in the car, then parking is simple. The hike itself is relatively straight forward. There are some trickier spots, but nothing that a confident hiker should be worried about.


There are several lookouts on the walk with views of the lake and the bushland. At the midpoint of the walk, you’ll find a small rest stop by the river that’s perfect for lunch or a picnic, before continuing along the trail.


If you’re only at the National Park for a short time, the Whale Rock walk and Mambara Track are both under half an hour each, perfect for stretching your legs.


Whale Rock walk takes you to the titular Whale Rock, a large boulder that looks like a whale, a good spot for kids to climb about. Mambara Track is designed to be wheelchair and stroller friendly, so it’s a good option for anyone limited by accessibility who wants to be among nature for an afternoon.

Marramarra National Park

Travel time from Sydney CBD: 1 hour, 40 mins


How to get to the Marramarra National Park?


Take the M1 north, then turn west, going past Chatswood and Macquarie Park. Head north-west past Dural and through the small towns of Glenorie and Forest Glen. Finally, turn right onto Canoelands Road, which will take you to your destination.


What to do and see at Marramarra National Park?


There are plenty of great campgrounds in Marramarra National Park. For anyone looking for New South Wales national parks to escape in for the weekend, Marramarra is a great choice. The park also has space for horse riding and, of course, walking trails to help you escape into nature.


What hikes are there at Marramarra National Park?


Marramarra National Park doesn’t have as many hiking trails as other NSW national parks, but the trails you’ll find here are more than enough to keep you charmed.


The Marramarra Ridge to Smugglers Ridge walking track takes you on a loop walk through colourful wilderness with sights out over the treetops accompanying you.


The walk can be tricky for anyone not experienced with bushwalking or hiking, so make sure you come prepared. You’ll spend half a day on the trail (up to 6 hours) so bring a packed lunch and make a picnic at one of the rest stops along the way.


If that isn’t enough to satisfy you, the Canoelands Ridge walking track will give you an entire day in the great outdoors. The Canoelands Ridge walking track is another track that you’ll want to be prepared for, with a few spots along the path that might be harder for less experienced hikers to clear.


Once you do clear them, though, you’ll be treated to views over the treetops and river lands as the sun warms the rocks beneath you. Settle down for lunch before continuing on your journey. The total time this walk will take can be up to 10 hours.


For anyone who wants to stretch their legs on a hike through nature, take in some of the most breathtaking sights in the nation, or just relax on soft, green grass, NSW’s National Parks are a must-do weekend activity for locals or travellers visiting Sydney.

Plan Your Trip

Before you visit any of NSW’s national parks, download the free NSW National Parks app. The app will be able to direct you to some of the best things to do in each of the national parks and alert you to any closures.

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