Blue Mountains travel guide – how to get there, what to see and what to do, with the ultimate bucket list

When you are staying at the Eagle View Escape, a stunning 100 acre property that is just 30 minutes west of the Blue Mountains, why not spend time exploring the area?

Blue Mountains

Blue Mountains is synonymous with the words spectacular, adventurous and utterly beautiful for picture-worthy reasons, including its balancing act between wild and corralled nature. Trodden dirt paths and driveways that coast along clifftops gift you with sprawling views over valleys; you can also wind your way through the eucalyptus, gorges and sandstone terraces, and round off your day at a winery.

Eager to discover the secrets within the expansive valley and to bask in small town charms, I had set off for a few days of nature pursuits.

How to get there

There are a couple of ways into Blue Mountains. I opted for the most common public transport option which was by train.

To make the most of my time, I woke up bright and early and boarded a train from Sydney Central Station to Parramatta. There, I transferred to the local Blue Mountain Line towards Lithgow and disembarked at Katoomba Station. My trip took a little over two hours.

Blue Mountains

While there are other towns spanning the region, Katoomba is by far the most central to major attractions; the main visitor center offers detailed maps for hikers and brochures on fun activities. It is also the linchpin of public transport with public buses connecting Katoomba to Echo Point. I recommend the hop-on hop-off Blue Mountains Explorer Bus for day-trippers as it’ll loop around Scenic World to Leura.

If convenience is your number one criteria, explore Blue Mountains by car! The drive from Sydney to Katoomba is only 90 minutes – you also get the luxury of detours and scenic breaks. Take the Western Motorway (M4) and slide through the A32 highway to reach Katoomba. Alternatively, take the Windsor Highway and Bells Line route to visit the orchards around Bilpin.

You could muddle through bus transfers but there’s no direct bus route to Blue Mountains unless you join a bus tour. I recommend taking the train as the most efficient and cost-effective method of travel.

Exploring Blue Mountains

Eight protected regions come together in a patchwork of vineyards, highlands and ancient geological formations to make up the Greater Blue Mountains area which is a cumulated million hectares. It goes without saying that its main attractions are nature oriented, allowing for week-long hikes, abseiling, canyoning, horse riding and wild life tours. It’s the getaway for those wishing to unplug for the weekend.

Blue Mountains

On the other end of the spectrum, Blue Mountains is also a study in natural history, cultivated gardens and picturesque towns. You don’t have to love nature to love the region as it is a trove of antique shops, intimate gardens and unique locomotive museums.

Bucket List

Drawing on my favorite parts of Blue Mountains (as well as some must-sees and must-dos I hope to check off in the future), below is a quick run-through of its top attractions.

Admire the Three Sisters from Echo Point

One of the most iconic Blue Mountains landmark is the Three Sisters rock formation, complete with a legend about forbidden love and war.

Blue Mountains

I took a bus from Katoomba to Echo Point, where the Three Sisters stood in clear view against the blue tinted backdrop. You can get a great vantage point over Scenic World as well.

Hike down Wentworth Falls

Among the best hikes is Wentworth Falls as it dangles the promise of both rest points and viewing platforms. Push through to the bottom like I did to bypass the crowds at the first tier of the waterfall and you’ll get the clear pool to yourself.

Megalong Valley: Horse riding and Hargraves Lookout

Another bucket list attraction I didn’t manage to tick off was horse riding in Megalong Valley. If you have time, look into the Centennial Glen Stables for a morning to tea package – horse riding from Kanimbla Valley to Megalong with lunch in atmospheric tea rooms. For a quiet, contemplative viewing point, visit Hargraves Lookout.

Blackheath: Govetts Leap & Campbell Rhododendron Gardens

Located in Blackheath is Govetts Leap, a drive up option that branches out in various walking trails. I originally hoped to do the Bridal Veil Falls walk or the Braeside Walk, both short walks that covered rock formations, waterfalls and varied fauna, but couldn’t fit them into my schedule. There are plenty of lookout points here if you can allocate exploration time.

Campbell Rhododendron Gardens is a seasonal display not to be missed! Marvel at the 18.3-hectares display, just a kilometer away from the railway station. Alternatively, those with cars can drive up to Blackheath lookout for a panoramic view over its dipped valley and mountainous plateau.

Explore Scenic World

Investing in a discovery pass for Scenic World was one of the best decisions of my trip. Integrated into the national park, Scenic World pairs three scenic rides with a 2.4 kilometer boardwalk that will take you into the heart of forested ground.

Blue Mountains

The skyway volleys you across Jamieson Valley with bird-eye views via a glass floor whilst a cableway can bring you into the valley if you prefer being grounded. The passenger train ride however is most deeply engrained in my memory – it’s the steepest funicular in the world at an incline of 52 degrees!

Stroll through Mount Tomah Botanic Gardens

Moody and romantic, Mount Tomah Botanic Gardens is another highly recommended attraction spot. Criss-cross trails take you through cultivated groupings of plantations, from willowy tendrils and soft blossoms to dry spikes of savannah plants. The 97-hectare estate looks out over Wheeny Gap in a layered and open landscape. I thoroughly enjoyed a meal at their terrace restaurant which serves organic and fresh dishes to complement the views.

Katoomba: town and Katoomba Falls

Katoomba town is a great stop for foodies and anyone in need of delicious bites after a grueling day. If you’re looking an easy walk however, it is nearby Katoomba Falls that I recommend. Depending on the amount of rainfall when you visit, the top sections of Katoomba Falls may or may not be a thundering torrent but it’s worth seeing regardless. I took the clifftop walkway towards the Furber Steps for close-up views.

Leura: town and Everglades Historic House and Garden

The township of Leura is very much the relaxed, rural escape that I sought. Art deco buildings hosted cozy restaurants, art galleries, handicraft shops and other single-themed shops that offer great souvenir finds. It is also home to Everglades Historic House and Garden for those who like to mix their history and landscaped grounds.

Mount Wilson: Breenhold Gardens

Stunning Breenhold Gardens is one of my favorite itinerary items on Mount Wilson. Open only in spring and autumn, the estate presents carpeted grounds and vibrant hues. Trellis plants grow thick over brick walls while browned leaves crunch underfoot – that’s not to say of the maples that bring color to your camera roll.

Cider tasting: Bilpin Cider and Hillbilly Cider

Enjoy a chill afternoon at either Bilpin Cider or Hillbilly Cider, two established farms on Mount Wilson. It’s a great follow-up activity to Breenhold Gardens as the facilities are open close to noon until 4 to 5 PM; sign up for a tour and cider tasting as the sun sets slowly.

Adventure in the Jenolan Caves

Why wouldn’t you want to tour the oldest cave system in the world? The Jenolan Caves top my list of adventurous must-sees as they stun with a plethora of carved out coves, hanging structures, scored fossils and crystal formations.

Blue Mountains

The blue lake gives off a fantastical hue due to its limestone edging; you’ll find that every cave has its own eye-catching piece.

Did you know?

It’s easy to get swept away by Blue Mountains’ gorgeous landscape and forget that it is steeped in history and stories. For the curious minded, I’ve gathered some interesting facts:

The varied sights and spaces in Blue Mountains mark it as a natural reprieve for everyone. If you’re in Sydney for a week or two, spare the weekend exploring New South Wales’ stunning valleys. Not only will its daytime sceneries leech away the stressors of the city, the array of stars in the inky evening sky is breathtaking – it’s a sight that will stay with me for a long, long time.