16 Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in the Blue Mountains, Australia
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The Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area is one of Australia's most famous wilderness areas. Encompassing more than a million hectares, including Blue Mountains National Park, it lies about 60 kilometers from Sydney, in New South Wales, and is one of the city's most popular day trips.
Named for the blue haze emanating from its many eucalyptus trees, the Blue Mountains is a region of stunning mountain scenery, exceptional biodiversity, and rich Aboriginal heritage. Rugged rock formations, pristine eucalyptus forests, abundant wildlife, waterfalls, ravines, and more than 140 kilometers of hiking trails and heritage tracks make this a haven for nature lovers.
Wilderness adventures abound. The park's dramatic topography provides a superb setting for rock climbing, canyoning, caving, canoeing, abseiling, mountain biking, horseback riding, and camping.
If you're less adventurous, you can view the park's top features via scenic lookouts or on the self-guided Greater Blue Mountains Drive. You can also experience the sweeping vistas via cableway, skyway, and the steepest railway in the world.
The region's charming mountain towns are also popular weekend getaways from Sydney – especially during summer, when the cooler temperatures provide a welcome refuge from the city heat. Enjoy visiting art galleries, lush gardens, gift shops, cafés, and heritage-listed hotels in charming mountain towns like Katoomba and Leura.
For ideas on other places to visit in this ruggedly beautiful region, check out our list of the top attractions and things to do in the Blue Mountains, Australia.
See also: Where to Stay in the Blue Mountains
1. See the Three Sisters from Echo Point Lookout
The Three Sisters rock formation, near Katoomba, is the best-known tourist attraction in the Blue Mountains. Rising more than 900 meters above the mist-shrouded Jamison Valley, these striking sandstone pillars star in countless iconic images of the Blue Mountains. Floodlights illuminate them at night, creating a hauntingly beautiful effect against the night sky.
According to one Aboriginal legend, the peaks are three sisters bewitched by a tribal elder, who turned them into stone to protect them from three brothers in another tribe. However, the elder perished before he could reverse his spell.
Echo Point offers one of the best views of the Three Sisters. It also marks the starting point for several walking tracks descending into the valley. The Giant Stairway, a trail of more than 800 steps, leads to the base of these stunning peaks.
2. Scenic World Blue Mountains
Scenic World offers some of the most popular adventures in Blue Mountains National Park. It's a great way to experience the dramatic topography.
Choose from four different experiences here: Zoom through a cliff-side tunnel into an ancient rainforest on the Scenic Railway, the steepest railway in the world. Soar across the forest canopy on the glass-floored Scenic Skyway, or plunge into the Jamison Valley on the Scenic Cableway.
At your own leisure, you can also stroll along the 2.4-kilometer Scenic Walkway, an elevated boardwalk through the Jurassic rainforest.
No matter what adventure you choose, you'll start at Scenic World Top Station, perched on a cliff edge over the Jamison Valley. Here, you can buy your tickets, grab a bite to eat, purchase souvenirs at the gift store, and steal a glimpse of the spectacular scenery that awaits you on your descent into the valley.
Address: Corner of Violet Street and Cliff Drive, Katoomba, New South Wales
Official site: www.scenicworld.com.au
3. Govetts Leap Lookout
Perched over the steeply plunging Grose Valley, Govetts Leap Lookout offers one of the most magnificent views in the Blue Mountains. It also tends to be less crowded than Echo Point, which looks out over the Three Sisters. The panorama extends across the main ridge, with its sandstone cliffs, to Bridal Veil Falls and the dense eucalyptus forest below.
If you're feeling energetic, you can descend into the valley from the lookout and enjoy the scenery along some of the region's more challenging hikes.
Govetts Leap is easily accessible by car. Along the same road, you'll find the Blue Mountains Heritage Centre, with excellent exhibits and information on the area.
Address: Govetts Leap Road, Blackheath, New South Wales
4. Explore the Blue Mountains Hiking and Heritage Trails
One of the best ways to appreciate the beauty of this World Heritage wilderness is exploring some of the park's 140 kilometers of hiking and heritage trails. Many of the trails date from as early as 1825.
One of the most popular trails is the historic National Pass. Carved into the edge of a cliff, the trail begins at Conservation Hut and enters the Valley of the Waters. Here, you can admire a set of graceful waterfalls before continuing on to the historic Grand Stairway, hand-built using picks and shovels more than a century ago. The walk ends at Wentworth Falls and Jamison Lookout, with awe-inspiring views.
Another popular trail is the Prince Henry Cliff Walk, which skirts the edge of a valley from Katoomba Cascades to Gordon Falls. Jaw-dropping valley views, spring wildflowers, and some of the park's most iconic features punctuate this popular hike.
Almost a spiritual pilgrimage for Aussie bushwalkers is the challenging Blue Gum Forest hike. From Perry's Lookdown, this five-kilometer hike offers panoramic views across sweeping eucalyptus forests that were saved by a group of passionate hikers in the 1930s. It's one of the top hikes in Australia.
A great family hike is the Jellybean track – especially on a hot summer day. This easy trail descends into Glenbrook Gorge to picturesque Jellybean Pool, which is perfect for a dip with the kids. After your swim, you can enjoy a picnic on one of the sandy beaches.
Also great for families, the Fairfax Heritage Track is suitable for wheelchairs and strollers. It traces the banks of a hanging swamp through forests of scribbly gums.
No matter where you choose to wander, you're sure to find some Blue Mountains secret spots on your travels. Pack a picnic, find a peaceful place to relax, and just soak up the breathtaking natural beauty around you.
Insider's tips: Before heading out, be sure to check local weather conditions and pack plenty of water. If you're heading out on a long hike, it's a good idea to bring basic first aid equipment, register the planned route, and advise friends and family of an estimated return time.
5. Hike to Wentworth Falls
Cascading down three tiers of rock ledges, Wentworth Falls is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the Blue Mountains. At the lip of the escarpment, Jamison Creek tumbles 297 meters over the upper and lower falls into a huge pool, and gushes down a creek into the Valley of the Waters.
Hikes in the area range from easy jaunts to challenging cliff-ledge trails, and you can view the falls from several lookouts. The falls can also be reached along the National Pass walking trail, but they are seasonal, so it's best to check on local conditions before venturing out.
In the nearby town of Wentworth Falls, you can stop by the Conservation Hut, an information center, restaurant, and launching point for several popular walking trails.
6. Cruise the Blue Mountains Discovery Trail
Prefer to do your sightseeing from the comfort of a car? Take the Blue Mountains Discovery Trail.
Part of the 1,200-kilometer Greater Blue Mountains Drive, this 36-kilometer driving route starts west of Katoomba and travels to Wentworth Falls, past bush-cloaked mountains and valleys that sing with the scent of eucalyptus.
Along the way, you'll also see some of the park's top attractions, including Echo Point and the Three Sisters, Katoomba Falls, Scenic World, Sublime Point, and beautiful Wentworth Falls Lake. You can also squeeze in some short walks.
See the website below for the driving route, or stop by the Blue Mountains Visitor Information Centre at Echo Point for help with directions.
7. Visit Katoomba
Katoomba is the largest town in the Blue Mountains and a major tourist hub. Along with the smaller neighboring towns of Wentworth and Leura, Katoomba rapidly developed from a coal-mining town into a popular holiday resort in the second half of the 19th century.
With all the things to do in Katoomba, it makes a great base for a visit to the Blue Mountains. This is where you'll find Blue Mountains attractions like Scenic World, The Three Sisters, Echo Point, The Giant Stairway, and the Prince Henry Cliff Walk. It's centrally situated in Blue Mountains National Park, and the town itself brims with boutiques, galleries, antique stores, cafés, second-hand bookstores, and excellent restaurants.
For more information on things to see and do in Katoomba, make sure you stop by the Blue Mountains Visitor Information Centre. You can also pick up a Blue Mountains attractions map here.
If you have time to visit more Katoomba attractions, stop by the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre – it's one of the top things to do in the Blue Mountains when it's raining. The center is home to the Blue Mountains City Art Gallery, one of the top regional art galleries in Australia. Also here is the World Heritage Exhibition, with displays on this unique World Heritage-listed environment. You can also enjoy breathtaking views over the wilderness from the lookouts.
If you love waterfalls, you're in luck. The town's eponymous Katoomba Falls are a worthwhile attraction – especially when they're in full flow. To see them, follow the Katoomba Falls Round Walk, a two-kilometer circuit trail starting at Scenic World. Along the way, you can capture beautiful photos of the multi-tiered cascades tumbling over jutting lips of sandstone.
Katoomba also offers some of the most romantic accommodation in the Blue Mountains, including the elegant five-star Lilianfels Resort & Spa.
Prefer to leave the car behind? Katoomba is also easily accessible from Sydney by train.
8. Linger in Leura
Charming Leura, a mere three kilometers east of Katoomba, is known for its health spas and beautiful cool-climate gardens. Cherry trees line the main street, and its 19th-century cottages and Edwardian-style buildings impart the air of an English village. Many writers, musicians, and artists make their home here.
Shoppers will enjoy exploring the town. In the village center, Leura Mall is an enticing jumble of antique stores, galleries, and gift shops. And you'll also find some of the most charming Blue Mountains restaurants and cafés here.
Besides sightseeing in town, one of the most popular things to do in Leura is visit the Everglades Historic House and Gardens and admire beautiful views of the Jamison Valley. And if you're looking for things to do in the Blue Mountains in October, you can join in all the festivities at the Leura Gardens Festival.
Leura is also a great jumping-off point for some rewarding free things to do in the Blue Mountains. To the south, Sublime Point offers stunning views over the Jamison Valley. And for another dose of nature, stroll along Prince Henry Cliff Walk to Leura Cascades, one of the most picturesque waterfalls in the Blue Mountains.
9. The Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mount Tomah
Australia's highest botanic garden, the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden is a must-see for plant-lovers. Perched on a basalt peak, about 300 meters above sea level, the gardens offer beautiful views of the Blue Mountains wilderness. It's the only botanic garden in the world that sits within a United Nations World Heritage Area.
The Blue Mountains Botanic Garden is the sister property of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney; however, the main theme of this garden is cool-climate plants, predominantly from the Southern Hemisphere. You can stroll among gardens grouped by geographical origin, and compare and contrast how the plants have evolved across each region.
Feature gardens include the North American Woodland and the Heath and Heather Garden, and you can take a delightful walk through The Jungle, a 33-hectare tract of Blue Mountains rainforest.
If you're looking for things to do in the Blue Mountains with the family, you'll find something here to please everyone. At the excellent World Heritage Exhibition Centre, you can learn about the area's ecosystems through interactive exhibits. Other things to do include guided tours of the gardens, shopping at the garden store, special children's activities, and relaxing at the restaurant and picnic areas.
Note that some of the trails here are still closed to give the plants a chance to regenerate after the devastating 2019/2020 bushfires.
For more cool-climate botanical beauty, visit Mayfield Garden in Oberon. You can also book a stay in the garden glamping tents here. Fall is the best time to visit for maximum garden color.
Address: Bells Line of Road, Mount Tomah, New South Wales
Official site: https://www.bluemountainsbotanicgarden.com.au/
10. Jenolan Caves
On the southwestern edge of the Blue Mountains, Jenolan Caves are some of the oldest caves in the world. You can explore any of 10 caverns, with stunning limestone formations, subterranean rivers, and fossilized remains.
In the Cathedral chamber of the Lucas Cave, you can also attend musical concerts that demonstrate the cave's excellent acoustics, claimed to be the best of any performance space in the world.
Tours range from adventure cave clamoring to spooky night tours and easy strolls along the boardwalks. Be sure to book in advance. Since the tours can be lengthy, parents with younger children may want to opt for the self-guided tour.
In the wilderness areas around the caves, bushwalking tracks provide ample opportunity to spot native wildlife.
Want to stay a little longer? You can book cottages, motel rooms, or guest rooms at the heritage-listed Jenolan Caves House.
Address: 4655 Jenolan Caves Road, Jenolan Caves, New South Wales
Official site: http://www.jenolancaves.org.au/
11. Enjoy a Picnic at Leura Cascades
Looking for a relaxing spot to enjoy a picnic with a view? Leura Cascades is the perfect place. Softly splashing water, twittering birds, and the fragrance of the Aussie bush provide a sensory feast here, not to mention all that delicious picnic fare. If you're wondering about things to do with that special someone, this is one of the best Blue Mountains activities for couples.
Though not tall, the falls are picturesque. They cascade down a series of fern-fringed rock ledges, spilling into a small pool.
You'll find plenty of places to lay out your picnic rug, or you can set up at one of the picnic benches here.
After you're done with all the food, explore some of the scenic hiking trails from the falls. For a gentle stroll, take the trail downstream to the top of Bridal Veil Falls. Want to work off all the picnic calories with a longer hike? The 4.5-kilometer Fern Bower loop is a great option. Alternatively, you can follow the Prince Henry Cliff Walk to Gordon Falls lookout.
Note that restoration work on the upper picnic area and the walking trail to the upper Leura Cascades is ongoing due to heavy rain in 2020 and 2021. But the lower picnic area is open.
12. Everglades House and Gardens, Leura
Green thumbs will love Everglades House and Gardens. Set on 5.2 hectares, the house is a Moderne-style 1930s house, and you can tour its interior during your visit.
But the real highlight of Everglades lies outside the house. Designed by Danish-born landscape gardener, Paul Sorensen, the gardens at Everglades are a delightful array of native and European-style plantings. Wander along the winding paths through different terraces, from a cherry and lilac terrace to the agapanthus terrace, and even a conifer walk.
The gardens are particularly lovely in the spring, when many flowers burst into bloom, and in the autumn, when clouds of gold and red leaves glow against hues of green. Other garden highlights include the grotto pool and the peaceful reflection pool.
In addition to all the beautiful trees and plants, you can enjoy superb vistas of the Jamison Valley and Mt. Solitary. Want to really make the most of your time here? Bring a picnic to enjoy on the grounds after your tour.
Address: 37 Everglades Ave, Leura, New South Wales
13. Norman Lindsay Gallery & Museum
For a dose of art and culture in the mountains, make time to visit this charming museum in Faulconbridge. The delightful sandstone cottage here was occupied from 1912 to 1969 by the legendary Australian writer and artist Norman Lindsay. It now honors his contribution to literature and the arts with a collection of his works.
Lindsay is perhaps most loved for his children's book, The Magic Pudding. Even if you're not familiar with Lindsay's work, this is still an enjoyable place to visit – especially if you're an art lover. Apart from the gallery, the grounds also include an etching studio and a painting studio.
A particular highlight are the beautiful formal gardens. Sculptures adorn the lawns and fountains, and wisteria perfumes the air in the spring. Guided tours offer valuable insight on the life and works of this celebrated artist.
Address: 14 Norman Lindsay Crescent, Faulconbridge, New South Wales
14. Abseil Down a Cliff in Blue Mountains National Park
Craving an adrenaline rush? Abseiling (rappelling) down sheer granite cliffs over plunging valleys is sure to get your heart pumping. And it just so happens that rappelling is one of the top things to do for adventure seekers in Blue Mountains National Park.
For those who are unfamiliar with the sport, rappelling, or abseiling, involves descending a rock face via a fixed rope. One of the best ways to try the sport for the first-time is on an organized tour. The Half-Day Abseiling Adventure in Blue Mountains National Park lets you try this sport under the care of an experienced guide, rappelling down a set of cliffs, with a 30-meter drop.
While you're hanging off the cliffs, make sure you take time to look around and enjoy the breathtaking (literally) scenery! The tour departs from Katoomba and includes all the equipment, as well as national park fees.
15. Glow Worm Tunnel
Looking for unusual things to do in the Blue Mountains? How about seeing hundreds of glowing blue worms hidden deep in an old rail tunnel?
Getting here is an adventure in itself. You can reach it from the Newnes Plateau, about 40 kilometers from Lithgow in Wollemi National Park. It involves driving for about 45 minutes down an unpaved road punctuated with beautiful rock formations, then walking through the dark tunnel aided by a flashlight.
Once you wander deep inside, turn off your light, stay as quiet as possible, and wait. Soon, you'll be surrounded by a dazzling display of glowing blue lights in the eerie darkness.
Wondering why the worms glow blue? The color results from a chemical reaction in the bodies of the larvae, and it also happens to be a handy strategy for luring prey.
Insider's Tip: Due to the unpaved road, this is a Blue Mountains adventure best tackled when the weather has been dry for a while. Heavy rains gouge the road, rendering it rough and rutted and often impassable in a 2WD vehicle. At all times, a 4WD vehicle is highly recommended.
16. Blue Mountains Heritage Centre
Before heading out on any trails at Govetts Leap, you should pop into the Blue Mountains Heritage Centre. Interactive displays and videos provide useful information on the park, and you can purchase walking track guides, blue mountains attractions maps, and books on the region.
Want to know more about the area's Aboriginal history and culture? The permanent Outside In exhibition here provides insight into this ancient culture, and highlights some of the rewarding walking tracks around the Grose Valley.
Heading out for a hike? The helpful staff here will tell you all you need to know about current trail closures and conditions. You can also check here for the schedule of Discovery Walks, which usually take place during school holidays and weekends.
Souvenirs, gifts, and clothing are also available for sale.
Address: Govetts Leap Road, Blackheath, New South Wales
Where to Stay in the Blue Mountains for Sightseeing
Blue Mountains accommodation ranges from elegant guesthouses to facility-packed resorts and budget-friendly motels. Check out these charming hotels and resorts in Katoomba, Windsor, Blackheath, and Leura, near Blue Mountains National Park:
- Parklands Country Gardens and Lodges: This sumptuous Blackheath 4-star guesthouse offers delightful cottages, beautiful gardens, a private lake, and day spa.
- Fairmont Resort Blue Mountains - MGallery Collection: If you're looking for plenty of amenities and beautiful views, you'll find them at this sprawling resort in Leura. Upscale dining, indoor and outdoor pools, games rooms, tennis courts, and an adjacent golf club keep guests busy during their stay.
- Crowne Plaza Hawkesbury Valley: Contemporary rooms, multiple restaurants, a heated indoor pool, wonderful spa, and floodlit tennis courts keep guests coming back to this popular Windsor resort.
- Sky Rider Motor Inn: You'll find budget-friendly rates at this great-value hotel near Katoomba town center. Rooms come with modern decor, and a barbecue area is available for guests.
Tips and Tours: How to Make the Most of Your Visit to the Blue Mountains
- To explore the region on a day trip from Sydney, consider joining the Blue Mountains Nature and Wildlife Day Tour from Sydney, which includes a visit to Leura, Katoomba, and Sydney Zoo.
- Another great option is the Small-Group Blue Mountains Day Trip from Sydney. This one includes a visit to the iconic Three Sisters, the Jamison Valley, and Wentworth Falls, as well as the popular Featherdale Wildlife Park.
- Prefer to let someone else do the driving? Opt for the Blue Mountains Hop-on Hop-off Tour with Optional Scenic World Rides. This flexible sightseeing tour lets you choose where you want to spend your time. It's also a great option if you want to start a hike at one point and finish at another. You can also upgrade your pass to include rides at Scenic World.
- Dress warmly in winter, when average park temperatures range between 3°C and 12°C. In summer, the average temperature ranges between 15°C and 25°C.
- Take binoculars for close-up views of birds and other wildlife.
- For more details on visiting Blue Mountains National Park see:http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/visit-a-park/parks/Blue-Mountains-National-Park
By Car from Sydney:
- The most direct route is via the M4 Motorway and takes about 90 minutes from the city center.
- A more scenic route begins at Richmond, in Sydney's northwest, along Bells Line of Road, through Kurrajong, Mount Tomah, Bell, and Mount Victoria. It takes about two hours. You can stop off at the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden and Mount Tomah for lunch.
By Public Transport:
- Blue Mountains National Park is accessible from several stations, including Blackheath, Glenbrook, Katoomba, Leura, Mount Victoria, and Wentworth Falls.
- The Blue Mountains is a beautiful place to bike. Check out the Blue Mountains City Council cycling page for information on bike-friendly roads, maps, and other details.