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Are you looking for the best places to visit in New South Wales? Well, you are most definitely in luck! In this guide, you will find some of the most beautiful places in New South Wales, from country towns in NSW to well-known cities, National Parks and plenty of places for your NSW bucket list!
But don’t just take our word for it! We’ve asked some of the best travel experts where they think the best places to visit in NSW are, so you can get first-hand experience on the best things to see and do as you explore the popular Australian state.
Being from South East Queensland meant that a trip over the border to New South Wales was no big deal growing up. It wasn’t out of the question to pop over to Northern NSW during a Gold Coast mini-break or for a longer stay.
In fact, some of our favourite Australian beaches are in NSW!
But there are certainly many parts of New South Wales that even we are yet to explore. And others that we haven’t been to for many years that are due for another visit.
Best Time To Visit New South Wales
The best time to visit NSW depends on where you plan to go and what you want to do. If it’s beaches and water activities, the summer months are the best. For hiking national parks or visiting the outback, April to August are better options, when temperatures are milder.
Otherwise, any time of the year is great to visit NSW, with fun activities all year round.
How To Get Around New South Wales
The best way to get around New South Wales is by car. Enjoy a scenic drive at your own pace, having your own car or a rental car to stop wherever you like along the way.
This guide to the best places to visit in NSW includes our personal favourites and loads of inspiration from travel bloggers from Australia and beyond who have fallen in love with these beautiful places.
While Sydney might not be the most beautiful place to visit in New South Wales, it is an incredible city and every visit to NSW should include some time spent in the capital city.
Sydney held the title of the largest city in Australia up until 2023 when Melbourne snuck into first place. And there must be a good reason why so many people want to live here, right?
Spending a day in Sydney Harbour is always fun. See the iconic Sydney Opera House and maybe even catch a performance there if you’re visiting at the right time.
Get the best views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and dine your way around Darling Harbour where you will find some of the best restaurants.
But our favourite way to spend a day in Sydney is to jump on a ferry at Circular Quay and visit some of the nearby attractions.
This is a great way to see the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House from a different perspective too. This is fun if you’re visiting Sydney with kids too!
Manly Beach is of course one of the most popular destinations to visit by ferry from Sydney, as is Manly Beach, although we really loved visiting Watsons Bay too.
It’s only around 20 minutes by ferry and here you will find great views of the city, a coastal walk, a playground and waterfront dining.
Taronga Zoo is another popular attraction located on the shore of the Sydney Harbour and just a 12-minute ferry ride from the Sydney CBD.
We usually stay right near Darling Harbour for easy access to food and attractions. Although you usually have to pay extra if you need to use the hotel car park!
Jervis Bay is in the Shoalhaven region of New South Wales, 3 hours south of Sydney. The region is famous for its 100 Beach Challenge and Jervis Bay has some of the stars of this beach-rich area.
Featuring crystal clear water and some of the whitest sand in Australia, Hyams Beach, Cabbage Tree Beach and Murrays Beach are magic places to swim or get Insta-worthy pictures.
Walking is a great way to explore this beautiful part of New South Wales.
The Governors Head walk at Murrays Beach is spectacular, but for a real adventure take Coomies Trail from Abraham’s Bosom to Gosangs Tunnel. After crawling through the tunnel, you pop out on a ledge overlooking the water – the views are breathtaking.
You could easily spend a week at Jervis Bay, ticking off the best beaches, exploring Booderee National Park and Botanic Gardens, or taking in the views from the two lighthouse sites on the bay. Jervis Bay is one of the most beautiful places to visit in NSW.
The Blue Mountains is a stunning mountain range located just around an hour from Sydney. It’s definitely one of the most popular tourist attractions for locals and visitors to New South Wales Australia.
Providing you don’t luck out with the weather as we did on our first visit, you will get some impressive views and some epic hiking trails to explore.
It’s a bit of a running joke for us now that our first visit to the famous Three Sisters viewing platform was initially just a view of fog. Thankfully we got some great views (above) when we got closer!
This is where you will find the Three Sisters, as well as Scenic World. Scenic World is home to the world’s steepest passenger railway, a scenic sky car and the steepest aerial cablecar in the Southern Hemisphere.
Don’t worry, they aren’t at all as scary as they sound unless you really hate heights!
There are also walking trails and boardwalks throughout Scenic World, so you could spend a half day or full day here easily.
If you’re feeling particularly energetic, start your day at the Three Sisters lookout and take the Giant Stairway all the way to Scenic World. We did half of this walk and turned back, knowing our car was parked back at the top. Oh boy!
Of course, the Blue Mountains National Park is another ideal place to explore for hiking, mountain biking and wildlife spotting. Wentworth Falls is another great spot for hiking trails, rainforests and impressive waterfalls.
When thinking about some of the best places to visit in NSW, most people will think of the Hunter Valley. And they’d be correct!
Despite being well known throughout the country for its ample wine tasting and picturesque vineyards, there is much more to experience in the region than sampling some of the best wine Australia has to offer.
It’s certainly worth spending one or two nights enjoying the Hunter Valley and its country charm to its fullest. Why not stay in a locally-run B&B and wake up early to spot kangaroos hopping through the vineyards?
At the cellar doors, visitors can pair their wine tastings with scrumptious local specialties such as cheeses or even chocolates for those with a sweet tooth, as the perfect way to experience one of Australia’s best wine regions.
Byron Bay is known for its celebrity sightings and is home to the Hemsworths, but there’s a lot more to see and do than a potential Thor photo opportunity! This gorgeous coastal town is a popular day trip from the Gold Coast or Brisbane day trip and from elsewhere in NSW.
One of the main attractions here is the beautiful beaches, with crystal clear waters, soft sand, and plenty of waves if you love surfing. Tallow Beach, Main Beach and Wategos Beach are favourites.
Head up Cape Byron to Byron Bay Lighthouse for epic views of the coastline and the pacific ocean.
This can be a great spot to see migrating humpback whales at certain times of the year, as well as dolphins. There is also the 3.7km loop Cape Byron walking track that takes you to a few different scenic lookouts.
Or go on a sea kayaking tour and get even closer to the beautiful dolphins in their natural habitat.
Byron Bay is also a great destination for foodies! With many restaurants, cafes, and bars offering a wide range of cuisines and beverages, this is the perfect holiday spot to enjoy fresh seafood, organic produce, and meals made from locally sourced ingredients.
If you’re visiting with kids, make sure you stop at The Farm Byron Bay. Not only will you find delicious meals at the restaurant, but this is also a really fun place to visit. Take a self-guided tour around the working farm to see the animals and stop at the playground at the end.
Port Macquarie is a tranquil coastal town on the mid-north coast of New South Wales, perfect for a relaxing beach holiday or getaway in nature. The town offers up a friendly and welcoming atmosphere, along with beautiful stretches of sand and plenty of activities to keep you entertained.
One of the best things to do in Port Macquarie is to spend time on its picturesque beaches; the town has 17 of them to choose from!
Some of the top spots in town include Town Beach, Flynns Beach, and Lighthouse Beach, with sheltered Shelly Beach being the best option for kids. Choose to spend your days swimming and surfing, or simply opt to kick back and soak up the sun.
For those who love nature, a visit to the nearby Sea Acres Rainforest Centre is a must-do. While you’re there, you’ll be able to walk along an elevated boardwalk through the rainforest, spotting native wildlife and rarely-seen trees.
If you’re interested in history, a visit to the Tacking Point Lighthouse, one of the oldest working lighthouses in Australia, is a fascinating way to spend an hour or two.
And don’t forget to hit up the Koala Hospital, where you can hang out with these adorable creatures and learn more about the local conservation efforts.
You could even take a camel ride along Lighthouse Beach at sunset for a truly unforgettable experience.
Look to spend three days in Port Macquarie in order to explore all of the highlights while still having enough time to relax on those beautiful beaches.
Coffs Harbour is a fantastic place to visit in NSW. There is generally good weather, it’s well set up for tourists and there are some fun attractions.
The first stop on any Coffs Harbour adventure should be at the famous Big Banana. A photo here is obligatory, but it’s also worth tasting the merchandise. A frozen banana dipped in chocolate hits the spot. And there’s also a theme park, mini golf and water park.
Dolphin lovers should definitely stop by the Dolphin Marine Conservation Park. This centre rehabilitates sick and injured marine animals, and there are various ways you can see dolphins, sea lions and penguins up close.
Solitary Islands Aquarium at the Southern Cross University offers another chance to see marine life.
Another must-visit is the Forest Sky Pier. This is located at Sealy Lookout and is an overhanging “pier” – basically a 21-metre walkway hanging over the forest – where you can see the whole Coffs Harbour area. It’s a quick drive from town and is the perfect introduction to Coffs Harbour.
The main attractions in Coffs Harbour can be seen in a couple of days. However, a week is even better to fully appreciate the area and to spend some time at the great beaches.
This also gives you time for a day trip to Dorrigo National Park, which is an hour from Coffs and part of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Gondwana Rainforests of Australia.
Another gem in Northern New South Wales is the coastal town of Yamba. This laidback town is deserving of your NSW itinerary, especially during the summer months when you can enjoy the beaches.
We love ocean pools and the Yamba Ocean Pool is a great place for a day with the kids. This large ocean swimming pool is built into the rocks on the southern end of Yamba’s Main Beach, and best of all, it’s free! There are also loads of rock pools to explore nearby, which the kids loved.
Otherwise, check out the views from near the Yamba Lighthouse, or enjoy a picnic on the grass beneath a shady tree.
Head across to the next town of Townsend for a relaxed afternoon at Sanctus Brewing Co or head to Angourie’s Blue Pool and Green Pool for some essential time enjoying the nearby natural attractions.
If you’re an adventure seeker, nature lover, winter sports enthusiast, or just looking for a place to enjoy the great outdoors in Australia, The Snowy Mountains should be on your Australia bucket list.
Hikers can spend weeks exploring all the different trails, but if you have limited time, Mount Kosciuszko (2,228 meters) in Mount Kosciuszko National Park, Australia’s highest peak, and the Clarke Gorge trail are the top picks.
During your hikes, make sure to keep an eye out for wildlife such as roos, wombats, emus, platypus, echidnas, and wild brumbies (horses).
For a different experience in nature, check out the beautiful stalagmites and stalactites in the Yarrangobilly Caves, and afterwards, relax at the Yarrangobilly Thermal Pool.
And if you visit The Snowy Mountains during the winter season, head to one of the five ski resorts and challenge yourself on some of the ski slopes of Australia. July and August are the best months to visit for winter sports.
The Snowy Mountains cover a region of 700,000 hectares, and the best attractions are spread around the park, so you definitely need a car to explore the area.
Stay for a minimum of 3 nights so you can visit different areas of the park, and if you have more time, you could easily entertain yourself for a week or more here.
Kiama is a small town along the NSW South coast around 90 minutes south of Sydney. Located south of Shell Harbour and Wollongong, Kiama is perfect for a day trip from Sydney by car or by train.
Popular as a beach holiday escape from the city, Kiama is best known for the spectacular Kiama Blow hole on the sea cliffs above the town. At the blowhole, waves crash through a fissure in the rock face sending a plume of seawater up into the air making a crashing sound.
The name “Kiama” is derived from an indigenous word that means “the place where the sea makes a noise”. And the blow hole goes off at high tide and when the conditions are right.
A second Little Blowhole can be reached from the Kiama Blowhole via a walking trail along the cliffs to Cathedral Rock. During the winter months, it’s a great place to spot whales swimming past in the Pacific Ocean close to shore on their annual migration.
Kiama has some beautiful surf beaches and fresh seawater rock pools that fill at high tide, perfect for swimming and relaxing.
Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park is a good place to visit in NSW for adventure holidays, especially for lovers of the outdoors! The diverse and stunning National Park located just north of Sydney is full of lovely walks with breathtaking views and is easy to get to by car or public transport.
The most stunning of all walks in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park is the Resolute Loop Track, which goes from West Head Lookout to Resolute Beach, and past some Aboriginal handprint markings that are over 5,000 years old (one of the hidden gems of the park)!
You’ll get spectacular views over to Palm Beach and Barrenjoey Headland, plus you’ll also get to visit Resolute Beach – a hidden beach that is simply spectacular!
Other great walks in Ku-ring-gai include the America Bay track, the Bobbin Head walks (there’s an actual Sphinx statue here!) and the Cowan to Berowra walk.
You can visit Ku-ring-gai on a day trip, or you can camp overnight and spend several days here experiencing the hikes! The Basin Campground is a stunning spot here in front of a secluded beach – but spots get booked out extremely fast so book in advance!
Things To Do In Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park
Go hiking through the national park
Visit Resolute beach
Contributed by Josie from Josie Wanders
Newcastle is perfect for a weekend getaway from Sydney, even if you don’t have a car. It can be easily accessed by train, and you can see many things on foot or by using the tram once you are there.
A big Newcastle drawcard is the 10 beaches. You can surf the world-class waves, swim in the calmer waters of Newcastle Beach, or relax in the ocean baths at Merewether Beach.
Newcastle is also home to a rich cultural scene. Check out the Newcastle Art Gallery for an impressive collection of Australian art or learn about the city’s past at the Newcastle Museum. Keep an eye out for all the street art as you explore too.
The food in Newcastle is good too! With a thriving dining scene, you can indulge in fresh seafood, and craft beer, or try out international cuisine from all over the world. Head to Honeysuckle Wharf for plenty of options.
Newcastle is also the perfect base for exploring the wider region. Drive or do a tour of the nearby Hunter Valley wine region for world-class wineries and beautiful scenery.
Or head to Port Stephens, where you can soak up the sun on the beautiful beaches, go sandboarding on the sand dunes, and even spot some dolphins!
When we started planning our NSW Road trip we were keen to get off the coast and include some of the quirky towns on the state’s outback. Lightning Ridge fits the bill. It’s a unique town that offers an experience you won’t find anywhere else in NSW.
From soaking in the town’s free hot spring to trying to find your own opal – yes it is possible. There is plenty to see and do in Lightning Ridge for 3 days to make the journey worth the long drive!
Top of the list is making your way around town on one of the five “Car Door” tours. In fitting with a landscape, scattered with unwanted metal, the tour is mapped out using old car doors that are dotted around town and on the outskirts, to make up fun self-guided outings.
The longest of these tours takes in some of the quirkiest pubs you will ever find and if you only have time for one full day out make it this one.
“The Pub in the Scrub and The Glengarry Hilton” are highlights and there is no better way to get an understanding of the land and the outback NSW sense of humour. There are guided tours available if you fancy a few drinks.
Lightning Ridge has a good supply of caravan parks and motels. We stayed at the Lightning Ridge Holiday Park and loved it! Walking distance to the main street and friendly managers who run a fab happy hour.
Plan to visit in winter unless you are completely mad! The summer temperatures here average in the mid 40’s°C and 50°C is not unheard of.
Contributed by Shandos Cleaver of Travelnuity: Dog-Friendly Travel
When looking at where to visit in New South Wales, don’t overlook visiting the city of Wollongong, just an hour south of Sydney on the NSW Central Coast. It’s a terrific destination for a day trip or a longer stay near the beach.
Start your visit to Wollongong with a drive south through the Royal National Park. This is the oldest national park in Australia.
At the southern edge of the park, you’ll pop out onto the coast at Bald Hill. Stop to enjoy the view south from the lookout, also a popular spot for hang gliding.
Just a few kilometres further south, you’ll cross over the stunning Sea Cliff Bridge. This 455m long bridge mimics the curves of the adjacent cliffs as it soars above the rock platforms below. Stop at the southern side of the bridge to enjoy a walk back along the adjacent footpath.
While visiting Wollongong, don’t miss visiting some of its stunning beaches. There are plenty of quiet beaches to choose from, including multiple dog-friendly beaches if you have a dog.
Afterwards, stop off at a waterfront cafe or restaurant (Headlands in Austinmer doesn’t require bookings!) Or else enjoy a picnic at a beachside reserve.
Located on the south coast of New South Wales, Narooma is a coastal town famous for its seal population and spectacular blue ocean. With pristine beaches and green rainforests, the town makes a perfect getaway from the cities, especially for outdoor enthusiasts.
The name Narooma means clear blue waters which is derived from an Aboriginal word.
The town offers many things to tourists and is specifically known for its unique rock formations along the ocean.
These rock formations are said to be composed of 450 million years old metamorphic rocks and are in the shapes of a camel and horse heads. There is also a rock in the shape of Australia which is a very popular tourist attraction.
This place is also a great spot to see the seals in its natural habitat as there is a large seal colony. One of the most exciting things to do is to swim and snorkel with the seals and this is a very short boat ride away from the wharf at Narooma.
The best time to visit Narooma is during the spring and warmer seasons between the months of September and March as the weather is pleasant. To explore and enjoy the things that Narooma can offer, you need at least 3 days.
Palm Beach is a must-visit destination when visiting NSW for anyone looking to experience the Northern Beaches region’s beauty.
The beach is one of the best on the east coast of Australia and is known for its clear water, golden sandy beaches, and stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and nearby natural scenery.
One of the best things to do at Palm Beach is simply relax at the beach and soak up the sunshine. Whether you’re lounging on the beach or taking a dip in the water, this is the perfect place to unwind and enjoy some downtime, which means the best time to visit is definitely during the summer months.
This also makes it a great place to visit with kids!
For those looking for more adventure, Palm Beach also offers a range of water sports like surfing, paddleboarding, and kayaking. You can also take a scenic hike along the Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk, with incredible views of the coastline and surrounding area.
If you’re planning a visit to Palm Beach, we recommend spending at least a full day there to truly experience all the area has to offer. Be sure to pack sunscreen, snacks, and plenty of water, as the sun can be quite strong in this part of Australia.
Eden is the last town on the NSW coast before you head south into Victoria. Or it is the first town you drive into if driving north from Victoria. It is a small town that many drive through, but if you stop you will discover what a hidden gem it is. It could be the perfect starting point for a road trip!
As well as being a coastal town with inviting beaches and plenty of hikes in the local national park, Eden is known for its whaling history.
And today, Eden is known as the ‘humpback highway’ due to the humpback whales that visit each year while migrating up and down the coast.
To truly understand the relationship between whales and Eden follow the Killer Whale Trail.
Starting at the Eden Whale Museum you will step back in time and discover why Eden was the Whale Mecca of Australia from 1828 to 1930.
A highlight at the museum is the skeleton of Old Tom – one of the last whales involved in the whale industry – kids of all ages just love it.
After conquering the whale trail head to one of the coffee shops or to the pub for a great meal. There is plenty of accommodation if you decide to spend a few days!
Mudgee is named after the Wiradjuri term Moothi, meaning nest in the hills. The town became a municipality back in 1860, which makes it the second oldest west of the Great Dividing Range. However, most people head to Mudgee for its endless amount of wineries.
Some wineries offer wine tasting and tours of their vineyards if you go at the right time of year.
In addition, many excellent restaurants with farm-to-plate fresh produce in the area are either part of the wineries you can book for lunch or dinner.
If wine isn’t your thing, not to worry. Mudgee also has micro-distilleries and Mudgee Brewing Co, where you can find yourself trying a cold beer.
Mudgee is also famous for its honey in this region, so you can’t miss visiting Mudgee Honey, where you can sample the various types of honey. They also have a cafe where you can try many foods and wines made from the ingredient.
Spending a week in Mudgee will have you horse riding, taking off in a hot air balloon and exploring the museums and neighbouring old mining town of Gulgong.
I highly recommend exploring the rich history that makes this country town so remarkable. From the old Cobb and Boutique Hotel to the many pubs that make the town what it is today.
Here are some good things to know before you visit NSW, including some of the coolest NSW facts too:
How big is New South Wales?
New South Wales is the fifth largest state in Australia with a total area of approximately 809,444 square kilometres. This is about twice the size of the United Kingdom and slightly bigger than the state of Texas.
What UNESCO World Heritage Sites are in NSW?
The NSW UNESCO World Heritage Sites include the Sydney Opera House, Greater Blue Mountains National Park, Lord Howe Island Group, Australian Convict Sites (including the Old Government House, Old Great North Road & Parramatta Park), Willandra Lakes Region and Gondwana Rainforests of Australia (which includes several National Parks in NSW).
What is the most popular attraction in NSW?
NSW has many popular tourist attractions. Some notable ones include Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera House, Blue Mountains, Bondi Beach, Taronga Zoo and Hunter Valley.