By Jessica Russo
It's no secret that Sydney is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The beach, the harbor, the Opera House, the food scene - it's a 10/10 on the cool scale.
With this being said, it's understandable that you may never want to leave, but Sydney is surrounded by breathtaking areas of natural beauty. Here are our favorite places near Sydney that are worth escaping for - even if just for a few hours.
Blue Mountains National Park
Driving time: 1h
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most popular day trips from Sydney, and for good reason. Not only is it jaw-droppingly beautiful, but it's filled with eucalyptus leaves that give off a peaceful, fresh scent. Now, here's the coolest part - the oil from the eucalyptus gives off a blue haze that suffuses over the park - hence the name Blue Mountains.
When visiting, be sure to snap Instagram-worthy pics of the highlights: the massive Three Sisters, Bridal Veil Falls, and the Katoomba Scenic Railway! Blue Mountains National Park is the perfect place to leave city slicking behind, and get your adrenaline pumping with hiking, biking, or rock climbing.
Driving time: 25 mins
Golden sand, bright blue waters, sunny shopping streets, and seaside cafes - Manly Beach is the perfect place to get a classic dose of Aussie beach culture. Feast on fresh fish and chips, then take some postcard-worthy photos of the Sydney Opera House from the shore! This beachfront hot spot is just a 30-minutue ferry ride from Circular Quay - and the scenic ride is a spectacle on its own.
Driving time: 2h
Escape to one of Australia's most picturesque valleys! As you mosey through rich green pastures, sparkling rivers, and lush forests, be sure to keep your eyes out for native flora and fauna. After days in Sydney, the enchanting wilderness of Kangaroo Valley will feel like a dream. Think: no traffic lights, no car horns, just you and the open road! Check out the must-see sites of Budderoo National Park, Morton National Park, and Hampden Bridge.
Royal National Park
Driving time: 40 mins
Known for spectacular coastal cliffs, unspoiled beaches, and eucalyptus-rich bushland, Royal National Park is the perfect place for a local excursion. This area of otherworldly beauty will make you feel worlds away from the city, but in actuality, you'll only be a quick 40-minute drive back to Sydney.
Driving time: 2h 30 mins
If you don't believe us that Jervis Bay is gorgeous, maybe you'll listen to another source. Hyams Beach on Jervis Bay takes the cake for the "whitest sand in the world," according to the Guinness Book of World Records. See the stark contrast for yourself, where the white shore meets the teal sea.
Driving time: 50 mins
Nicknamed "Palmy" by locals, this golden beach is the perfect place for a relaxing mini-getaway. Sydney's most northerly stretch of breathtaking soft sand is a popular destination for beach and surf lovers, as well as posh vacationers. Pack a lunch and enjoy an oceanfront picnic, or treat yourself to a delicious lunch at any of the trendy restaurants in the area!
Driving time: 1h 40 mins
If you thought blowholes only existed on whales, then you've never been to Kiama. Famous for its blowhole formation that spouts seawater high into the air, Kiama is ripe with natural beauty. Relax on the beach, or snap photos as you trek through the exhilarating Kiama Coast Walk.