Want to get to know the real Sydney? Put on your sneakers, throw some supplies in your day pack and head to the trailhead of one of the city’s best walks.
1. Bondi to Maroubra
You may have heard of the Bondi to Bronte or Bondi to Coogee walk, but this jaw-dropping 11km coastal track actually runs all the way from Bondi to Maroubra Beach, stopping at Tamarama, Bronte, Clovelly, Gordon’s Bay and Coogee beaches along the way. Depending on your stamina, you can choose a short section (Bondi to Bronte is a quick 45-minute stroll) or walk from end to end in 2-3 hours. It’s hard to describe just how stunning this walk is – picture the best ocean views you’ve ever seen coupled with golden beaches, ocean pools, rugged clifftops and coastal greenery with lots of places rest, swim and eat in between.
Getting there: Catch the train (Eastern Suburbs line) to Bondi Junction and then hop on the 333 express bus.
2. Blackwattle Bay Walk (the Bay Run)
Nature and urban life collide on this scenic, seven-kilometre circuit that winds around Iron Cove in Sydney’s inner west and through the suburbs of Rozelle, Lilyfield, Haberfield, Five Dock and Drummoyne. It’s mostly flat, which means you can run, walk or cycle along through mangroves and parks, enjoy stunning water views, and you can even stop off for a drink or snack at a number of cafes on or near the route.
Getting there: You can start this walk just about anywhere, but Victoria Road is a good option if you’re travelling by public transport. Jump on one of the 500 buses (check with the driver) and hop off just after Clubb Street before the bus heads onto the bridge – the Bay Run is to your left.
3. Hermitage Foreshore Walk
This 1.8-kilometre walk is one of Sydney’s hidden gems, tracing the harbour foreshore of the far-east suburb of Vaucluse. Starting at the stunning Shark Beach at Nielsen Park, the track will take you through stunning bushland, tiny cove beaches and bursts of wild-growing tropical flowers. The track is a combination of elevated boardwalk and dirt path, so it can get pretty muddy when it’s wet. Choose a sunny day – if it’s warm enough, stop off for a paddle and a picnic at Milk Beach or Little Bay along the route.
Getting there: Take the 325 bus from Walsh Bay to Nielsen Park. Walk to the far end of Shark Beach, head up the staircase and follow the path until you see a sign to the walk on your right. The walk ends at the Hermitage Foreshore Reserve. Walk up and out to Bayview Hill Road and follow it back up to New South Head Road. You’ll need to cross the road to jump on a bus back into the city.
4.Spit to Manly
One of Sydney’s great walks, the Spit to Manly walk is a 10-kilometre, 3-4-hour experience through some of the most stunning spots on the north shore. There’s so much to see on this walk, from gorgeous beaches and tidal pools to the Grotto Point lighthouse and Aboriginal engravings of boomerangs and local wildlife. The path alternates between paved walkways, boardwalks and bush tracks that wind their way through a wide variety of environments, from rainforest to bushland to coastal cliffs. The walk ends in Manly, home to the famous Manly Beach, lively weekend markets and lots of places to eat and drink.
Getting there: Get a bus (such as the 180 or 178) from Wynyard to The Spit. Get off on the northern side of the bridge and look for a path on your left that loops underneath the bridge. This is the start of the walk. Once you arrive in Manly, you can get a bus or ferry back to the city.
5. Figure Eight Pools
The Royal National Park in Bundeena is home to more beautiful walks than you can imagine, but one of the best known is the hike to the Figure Eight Pools. This challenging walk is a steep, 3.5-kilometre trek through bush, beach and rocky terrain – with 15 minutes of rock-hopping and more than one slippery rock ledge, it’s not for the faint of heart. But the payoff is worth it once you get to your destination: swim in the pools, snap some stunning pictures, and start preparing yourself for the very strenuous walk out!
Please note: You must take precautions when visiting the Figure Eight Pools. The pools can be inundated by waves at different times of day; check the risk forecast on the NSW National Parks website before you set out and plan your trip accordingly. Pay attention to warning signs along the route and keep an eye out for rogue waves even if you’re there at a low-risk time.
Getting there: To get to – and through – the Royal National Park, you’ll need a car. Find a friend who drives or rent a car for the day.
Australia is a stunning country, but when it’s time to get out in the great outdoors, it’s important to do it safely. Before you set off on a walk, pack plenty of water, a hat and sunscreen (even if it’s cloudy!), snacks and comfortable shoes. Read up on the walks and track conditions before you set out and choose a walk that’s a good match for your fitness level and experience. Take note of council and NSW Parks and Wildlife signage – these are there for your safety. If your coastal walk plan includes a swim, choose patrolled beaches, swim between the flags and go with a friend.