Planning a trip to New South Wales’ famed Blue Mountains? It’s time to strap on your closed-in shoes because it’s about to get real outdoorsy up in here. The Blue Mountains are a spectacular World-Heritage Listed spot, just a few short hours drive from the heart of Sydney. Honestly, sitting quietly, gazing over the escarpments below, I felt like I was back at the Grand Canyon. This seriously gorgeous part of Australia is a must-visit for travel-lovers and, to help you make the most of your weekend escape, I’ve brought together these tips on how to spend a wonderful weekend in the Blue Mountains.
Where to base yourself in the Blue Mountains
So the Blue Mountains National Park is huge, you guys, and there are lots of little towns nestled around them. If this is your first trip to the region and you aren’t quite sure where to stay, I’d recommend Katoomba and surrounds. This area is easy to get to, offers some great accommodation options as well as shops and food. My top picks would be Katoomba, Medlow Bath and Leura. These three places are very near to each other, giving you great views of the local area and access to all the things you’ll want to see, do and eat while you’re there.
My accommodation recommendations would be the old-world luxury glam of Lilianfels Resort & Spa, in Katoomba, and the Great Gatsby style grandeur of The Hydro Majestic, in Medlow Bath. Both hotels offer great luxury accommodation with a whole lot of glamour and, honestly, are unlike anywhere else I have ever stayed before. At Lilianfels I felt like I was in Colonial England and at Hydro Majestic I felt like I was back in Banff, Canada.
7 Awesome things to see and do in the Blue Mountains
Now you’re all settled in a great spot in the Blue Mountains, it’s time to start planning what you’re going to do. I’d say there are two main things to do in the Blue Mountains; explore the great outdoors and relax! Yep, it’s all about getting out there in, on and around nature then retreating back to your hotel to relax and unwind. We’re talking fluffy blankets, amazing meals and fireplaces. Here are some tips on the best things to see and do in the Blue Mountains.
1. Visit Scenic World
The best place to start things off is with a visit to Scenic World in Katoomba. We got here right on opening tour and had a guided trip around the park with Pete, a total legend of a dude who taught us a lot about the history of the area and the rainforest. The park is really fun, we took rides across the Scenic Skyway, suspended 270 metres above the ravines, offering amazing views of the Three Sisters, Katoomba Falls and Jamiesons Valley. We also took a ride on the world’s steepest vehicular, the Scenic Railway! Again, so cool! Make sure you sit up the front, it’s a really fun ride. Our trip to Scenic World was a real ‘things to do’ highlight for us, I think it’s so good because the staff are amazing and there’s more to do than just standing around staring at rocks and stuff. Find Scenic World here.
2. Anvil Rock Lookout
For the very best views of escarpments and mountains, away from all the tourists, you have to visit Anvil Rock Lookout. You’ll need a car that doesn’t mind going along an unsealed road, we took our Mitsubishi ASX and she loved it. Drive all the way to then, around 5km and follow the signs to Anvil Rock. We had this incredible spot all to ourselves and didn’t see another soul the whole time we were there! It offers insane views and it’s a really surreal spot, so beautiful. Find Anvil Rock Lookout here.
3. The Three Sisters
If you’ve seen photos of the Blue Mountains before, there’s a good chance one of them featured the Three Sisters. This famous rock formation can be found at Echo Point Lookout in Katoomba. We found it to be crawling with tourists and preferred viewing it from Scenic World, but it’s still worth stopping for a few minutes to check it out close-up and soaking in the views of Jamieson Valley. Find the Three Sisters here.
4. Govetts Leaps Lookout
Take a trip to Govetts Leap for scenic waterfall views across the Grose Valley. There’s a great walking track, Govetts Leap Descent, which is worthwhile taking all the way down to the bottom. Just be aware it’s a bit tougher coming back up. The 1.2km walk should take you around 1hr 45 minutes or so and you’ll need water, suncream and a hat. The waterfall here is SPECTACULAR! Find Govetts Leap Lookout here.
5. Jenolan Caves
It should take you about an hour to get from Katoomba to the Jenolan Caves. These incredible limestone caves are the most impressive in Australia, so you should definitely aim to fit them into your weekend plans. They date back some 340 million years and you can take a tour through the caves, exploring the underground rivers, spectacular lighting and cave formations. Find the Jenolan Caves here.
6. Wentworth Falls Waterfall
This stunning three-tiered waterfall is fed by Jamieson Creek and well-worth the visit. The spot to visit is Upper Wentworth Falls, offering you views the gorgeous waterfall that will take your breath away. There are some great walking trails in the area and you’ll find loads of nice places to set up and have yourself a picnic. Also, be sure to visit the Wentworth Falls Lake, nearby. Find Wentworth Falls here.
7. Leura Cascades
Another fantastic spot to visit is the majestic Leura Cascades. There are some great spots to walk to from the Leura Cascades picnic area, including Bridal Veil Falls and the Prince Henry Cliff Walk out toward Gordon Falls Lookout. You can also try the Fern Bower circuit, this 4.5km loop should take you around 3 hours to complete and will set you up with some really gorgeous spot to photograph too. Find the Leura Cascades here.
Where to eat in the Blue Mountains
1. Darley’s Restaurant
For an unforgettable meal that’s really special, take a trip to Darley’s Restaurant in Katoomba. This award-winning hatted restaurant serves up incredible meals that will have you feeling absolutely spoilt on your trip. Try their two or three-course meals or a degustation, if you’re feeling extra fancy. Find Darley’s here.
2. The Yellow Deli
For a simple, delicious bite to eat, stop in at The Yellow Deli in Katoomba. We got stuck into some really hearty bowls of lentil soup, served with warm bread. It was a great place to warm up and just sit for a little while in this cosy little space in the middle of town. Find The Yellow Deli here.
3. Wattle Cafe
Another sweet and simple little spot, the Wattle Cafe can be found in Blackheath. This great spot is nice and cosy, serving up yummy meals that won’t break the bank. I had a fantastic roast tomato and capsicum soup served with buttery sourdough. They also offer up a range of burgers, toasted sandwiches and daily specials. Find Wattle Cafe here.
4. Station Bar
If you love pizza, be sure to dine at Station Bar, where they serve up fantastic wood-fired pizzas in a warm and welcoming setting. They have some great pizzas on their menu, named to reflect the local area, like ‘Medlow Bath,’ ‘Leura,’ and ‘Wentworth Falls.’ Eat the whole damn mountain! Find Station Bar here.
5. Little Paris Cafe
For a very delicious breakfast or lunch, stop in at Little Paris Cafe in Katoomba. You’ll find the menu here makes it hard to choose just one thing to eat and the cakes cabinet will have you drooling. Their breakfast menu offers up treats like French toast with sweet spiced poached pears, honey ricotta and puffed rice. For lunch, try the French onion burger of pork and beef, topped with caramelised onions, roast beetroot, lettuce, Emmental cheese, dijon mustard and mayonnaise served with pommes frites. Find Little Paris Cafe here.