New South Wales is a lot more than Sydney alone. It’s white beaches galore. It’s red sand landscapes stretching for hundreds of miles. It’s food, wine (and weather) that will make you want to move there. It’s dolphins, kangaroos, lush greenery, remote islands and stunning geographical features. In short, it’s Australia in a nutshell. And with spring already sprung, it’s prime time to see it in all its glory.
In partnership with:
If you’re looking for a reason to go soon, it might be a good time to let you know that Etihad Airways is offering special deals to Sydney right now. Oh, and a free two-night stopover in Abu Dhabi too, either on your way over or on your way home.
Here are the unmissable sights and experiences in New South Wales which are just calling your name – and an itinerary that lets you do it all in just two weeks.
Sydney and its surroundings – colourful culture, dazzling beaches and nearby nature
Sydney is one big holiday buffet. As in, you can pile your plate with all sorts of amazing, from colourful culture to a bonanza of beaches, to greenery right on your doorstep. Speaking of which, the city’s also home to some of the world’s best coffee, fine dining and creative Asian cuisine.
Sydney – the starting point of your New South Wales adventure
Where to begin? There’s so much to do in Sydney, we’re not sure how to do it justice. Should we go into its world-class cuisine, including champions like Caribbean-influenced Momofuku Seiobo, Quay or Black Star Pastry, home of the watermelon cake? Or all the colour on display at Vivid Sydney? But then, what about Christmas and New Year’s Eve on the beach? How about a cool drink at a pub with a harbour view? As you can see, it’s a struggle fitting it all in here.
- Do Bondi Beach and Bondi Icebergs pool – but also discover tranquil beaches like Balmoral and Bronte.
- Take the Manly ferry from Circular Quay for a glimpse of the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge (a.k.a. “The Coathanger”) from the water.
- Fall under the spell of Aboriginal culture on a Dreamtime tour through The Rocks.
Now, it’s time to hit the road and explore all the natural wonders New South Wales has to offer. Starting, of course, with some epic spots within easy reach of Sydney. You can even see more by car for less, with up to 10% off with Avis.
Royal National Park
Just an hour (if that) from Sydney, this beach-packed park (11 to be exact) is a perfect destination for a day of leisure. Best known among the beaches is Wattamolla Beach, but you’re bound to find your very own. Not in the mood for salty water? You can opt for a freshwater dip at Karloo Pool or Deer Pool too.
- Keen for some adventure? Bush walk the Curra Moors Loop Track and be rewarded with stunning sandstone cliffs, coastal views and waterfalls.
- Hit the waves at Garie Beach, a hot spot for cool surfers.
- Watch for humpback whales from the park if you’re there between May and November.
The Blue Mountains
When you see the Blue Mountains, you might think you’re looking at a Jurassic Park scene. It’s difficult to believe you’re only an hour and a half from Sydney! This UNESCO World Heritage Site is easy to explore thanks to its many hiking trails and Scenic World cable car. Want to stay still and take it all in? Govetts Leap is the perfect lookout to see the blue haze rise from the eucalyptus trees into the sky.
- Say hello to the Three Sisters – the Blue Mountains’ most iconic sandstone formation – at Echo Point.
- Explore from up on high at Prince Henry Cliff Walk and down low at the Jenolan Caves.
- Discover the spiritual side of this natural wonder on an Aboriginal Blue Mountains Walkabout.
Further afield in New South Wales – rainforests, deserts and remote islands
Now, let’s broaden our horizons beyond Sydney. New South Wales is big – it’s around a 17 hour drive from end to end – so we’ve narrowed things down to help you pack the most into your trip.
Jervis Bay and the Grand Pacific Drive
On the 3 hour drive down the South Coast along the Grand Pacific Drive, you’ll quickly realise the journey is just as amazing as the destination. And believe us, the destination is pretty special. You can stop for a swim at Royal National Park, hang-glide at Bald Hill and witness the mighty Kiama Blowhole. Then, when you reach Jervis Bay, it’s time to get in the water. Or under it, if you want to go scuba diving.
- Share the white sands of Pebbly Beach with some friendly kangaroos and watch for dolphins on the White Sands Walk.
- Discover beaches with a roof and natural stone hallways in and around Caves Beach, Booderee National Park.
- Fancy glamping? Stay overnight at the luxury tents at Paperbark Camp in Booderee National Park.
The Hunter Valley
Welcome to the Hunter Valley region, where “treat yourself” really should be the official motto. It’s home to the Hunter Semillon grape, as well as Australia’s oldest vineyards, where they know how to turn it into special wines. The food – especially the cheese platters – are just as fine. Trust us, you’re going to want to stay a night. Or two. Or three.
- Tour a bunch of vineyards, including Tyrrell’s Wines, Audrey Wilkinson and Usher Tinkler.
- View the Hunter Valley from above on a hot air balloon tour.
- Treat yourself to a day spa (or a round of golf) at Chateau Elan.
Now that you’re all rested up, you can continue onward with an epic inland journey:
Broken Hill, Silverton and the wide open outback
That Australian outback experience you’ve always dreamt of? This is it. Between Sydney and Broken Hill lies 13 hours’ worth of Mars-like landscapes and rich Aboriginal culture. And in more practical terms, the many towns and accommodation options dotting the region – plus the well-connected road and rail networks – make it easy to explore too. The underground motel at White Cliffs is a particular highlight.
- Tour the sandstone works of art in Living Desert Sculpture Park near Broken Hill.
- See where the silver screen magic happens around Silverton, a shooting location for franchises like Mad Max and Mission Impossible.
- Travel back in time for tens of thousands of years of Aboriginal history at World Heritage Site Mungo National Park
Byron Bay and the legendary Pacific Coast
The total drive duration from Sydney to Byron Bay is around 9 hours. But you’re going to want to spend at least a few days touring this stretch of the New South Wales coast. And once you reach Byron Bay, get ready to be spoiled by this super-zen region. It’s going to be one endless stream of picture-perfect surf beaches, delicious dishes made from fresh organic produce, yoga sessions and lush green walks.
- Watch the sun rise at Cape Byron lighthouse, then hike into the hinterlands for rainforests and quirky villages – or spike your adrenaline levels with a sky dive over Byron Bay.
- Stop for a “sun and sea” pit stop at Port Stephens, Port Macquarie or Coffs Harbour.
- Swim alongside turtles, coral and colourful fish at Solitary Islands Marine Park.
Lord Howe island
An oasis in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Lord Howe Island is just a two hour flight from Sydney. Only 400 people are allowed at a time on this World Heritage Site. That means you finally get to live out that fantasy of having your very own paradise island. You’ll have to share it with flocks of seabirds and colourful fish, but our guess is that you won’t be complaining.
- Indulge in luxury and breathtaking views of Mount Gower and Lidgbird by staying at Capella Lodge.
- Go on walks through the unspoiled rainforests and dive into crystal clear waters.
- Scuba and snorkel to get up close and personal with the teeming marine wild life – or observe it from the comfort of a glass-bottom boat.
Your flight home from Sydney with Etihad Airways
Feeling the adventure-is-over blues? No worries. With the personal service of Etihad Airways, the journey home is going to make everything feel alright. Book yourself a window seat to throw a last glance at Australia. For extra legroom, stretch out in Economy Space. Why not treat yourself to a glass of Champagne to end the holiday in style, or popcorn with your film? You can buy all of that on board. Besides, the holiday isn’t over yet. Remember? You still have your free stopover in Abu Dhabi.