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The Best Hikes in Sydney for a Scenic Adventure

From the coast to the bush, here is where to find the best hikes in Sydney.

Rose Bay (Image Credit: Visit NSW)

Living in Sydney, we’re spoiled for choice when it comes to quality views. Whether you want to enjoy the rugged coastline, the harbour foreshore, bushland or beach, there are plenty of places to go for a wander. Most of these tracks are under an hour from the CBD so there's no excuse next time the weather gods bless us with a sunny Sydney day. 

Fancy a half-day hike or a shorter stroll? We've got all your predilections sorted. It's time to lace up your boots, pack a picnic, and get exploring. Read on for the best hikes in Sydney (and beyond!) to get your heart rate up and your blood pumping. 

The Best Hikes in Sydney: North Shore

Manly to Spit Bridge Walk

Manly to Spit Bridge Walk

Hugging the coastline of Middle Harbour and North Harbour, the Manly to Spit Bridge Walk is one of Sydney’s most spectacular hikes. This four-hour walk leads you past the calm waters of Clontarf Reserve and Reef Bay and through the rugged bushland of Sydney National Park which has non-descript tracks that take you off the beaten path to more secluded areas. The views are incredible at every turn and whether you finish in Manly or along the Spit Bridge, world-class dining awaits.

Distance: 10km one-way 

Time: 3.5 - 4 hours

North Head Sanctuary Loop

North Head Sanctuary Loop

Bushwalkers, you’ll love this loop! It starts at North Head Sanctuary and takes in bushland, wildlife and a bit of Aussie history. You’ll wander through the former North Head Army Barracks, then follow the trail into the bush, where you’ll see native plants, birds and maybe even an echidna. At a few points, the 9.5km walk also boasts coastal views of Sydney Harbour.  

Distance: 8km 

Time: 2 hours 

Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk

Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk

This is one of the most popular walking trails on the Northern Beaches and for a good reason. The iconic lighthouse track is located in Palm Beach and rewards walkers with some of the most spectacular views the coastline has to offer.

Starting at the Boathouse Palm Beach, don your most comfortable walking shoes and get ready to climb 1.5 kilometres up to the historic lighthouse on either the Smugglers Track or Access Path. Both trails lead to sweeping views across Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, Broken Bay, the Hawkesbury River, and Pittwater.

Time: 1-hour loop

Bradley's Head to Balmoral Walk

Bradley’s Head to Balmoral Walk

For a bushwalking experience that’s close to the city and easy to access using public transport, head off on the Bradley’s Head to Chowder Bay Walk. The track begins at the Taronga Zoo ferry wharf and extends to the bay, taking in picturesque views of the Harbour Bridge, Opera House and skyline along the way. The leafy trail also covers a bunch of heritage-listed and historic buildings, such as Athol Hall. It’s relatively flat, making it the perfect Sunday afternoon stroll.

Distance: 6.8km one-way

Time: 3 hours 

The Best Hikes in Sydney: Hornsby Shire

Blue Gum Walk Loop

Blue Gum Walk Loop

Embark on the scenic Blue Gum Walk Loop, a 4.2-km trail in Berowra National Valley. Moderately challenging and preferred by wildlife enthusiasts and hikers alike, it offers stunning natural scenery. It is ideal for exploration between May and October; just don't bring your pooch, as it's strictly no dogs. Encounter fellow adventurers and diverse wildlife on this picturesque journey through nature.

Distance: 4.2kms

Time: 1.5 hours

Shelly Beach, Manly

Queenscliff to Shelly Beach

Considered one of the best walks in the Northern Beaches thanks to its beautiful beach views and gentle terrain, the Queenscliff to Shelly Beach walk may be a short relaxing stroll, but the views are spectacular, and the Eco-Sculpture Walk is a nod to the Cabbage Tree Bay’s unique marine life.

Starting at Queenscliff Beach, make your way along the beachside promenade past Manly Beach and Manly Surf Club and onto Shelly Beach at Cabbage Tree Bay. There are plenty of places to take a dip along the way, but we strongly recommend enjoying a post-stroll brekky and coffee at Boathouse Shelly Beach.

Distance: 5.4kms

Time: 30 minutes

The Best Hikes in Sydney: Eastern Suburbs

Bondi to Coogee Walk

Bondi to Coogee Walk

It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve done it, the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk never gets old. The path passes Bondi Icebergs and a bunch of beaches, lookouts, rockpools and parks before finishing up at Coogee Beach. The views are spectacular, and while the path is mostly paved, there are a few sets of stairs, so expect to get a little sweaty. While the full Bondi to Coogee track is 6km, the shorter version covering Bondi to Bronte (2.5km) is just as good. 

Distance: 6km one-way 

Time: 2-3 hours 

Rose Bay (Image Credit: Visit NSW)

Rose Bay to Watsons Bay

Beginning at Rose Bay ferry wharf and traversing the Hermitage Foreshore Track, this eight-kilometre trail offers spectacular harbour views and several pitstops at memorable Sydney icons, including Strickland House, Nielsen Park and Hornby Lighthouse. The walk takes about four hours, but if you’ve got extra time, stop off at one of the several hidden beaches along the way for a dip. 

Distance: 8km 

Time: 3-4 hours 

The Federation Cliff Walk (Image Credit: Walk My World)

The Federation Cliff Walk

In the eastern suburbs, the Federation Cliff Walk is another scenic option. Stretching from Watsons Bay to Dover Heights, the 5km coastal track features ocean views and dramatic sandstone cliffs. It also takes walkers through parklands and past the Macquarie Lighthouse before ending at Robertson Park.

Distance: 5km 

Time: 1 hour 30 minutes 

The Best Hikes in Sydney: Sutherland Shire

Karloo Pools (Image Credit: The Wildlife Diaries)

Karloo Track to Karloo Pool 

Take a day trip to Sydney's south for one of the most popular Royal National Park walks the Karloo Track. This track starts next to Heathcote Train Station and leads down to the Karloo Pools – a natural swimming hole ranked as one of Sydney's finest. The walk has a steep rocky descent, so at times it is a little hard going, but it's well worth the effort when you dive into the swimming hole – just save enough energy for the trek back up.  

Distance: 5 km return

Time: 1.5 hours

The Forest Path (Image Credit: Walk My World)

The Forest Path 

An easy walk that makes you feel worlds away from it all is The Forest Path, which takes hikers through lush rainforest. The walk runs along the Hacking River and loops around the green lower gullies of Forest Island, starting and finishing at Sir Bertram Stevens Drive. Pack a picnic for hiking with kids to sit by Bola Creek or at the Upper Causeway Picnic Area. 

Distance: 4.5km circuit

Time: 1.5 hours

Wedding Cake Rock

Wedding Cake Rock Walk 

Forming part of The Coast Track, many opt to just walk the section from Bundeena to the iconic Wedding Cake Rock – a pure white rock formation that stands out against the coastal cliffs' sandstone. What gives it its name is the sharp edges and deep cracks perched high above the ocean. It's a perfect vantage point for whale watching, and the views up and down the coastline are spectacular. Feeling energetic? Head a little further south to Marley Beach.

Distance: 6km return

Time: 2 hours

The Best Hikes in Sydney: Sydney CBD

Glebe Foreshore (Image Credit: City of Sydney)

Glebe Foreshore 

There's no need to leave the city for top-notch views! The Glebe Foreshore walk is a fantastic option if you're looking for something dog-friendly. You'll start at Bicentennial Park, taking in water views and green spaces before eventually arriving at the Sydney Fish Markets (hopefully just in time for lunch!).

Distance: 4km return 

Time: 2 hours 

The Best Hikes in Sydney: Botany Bay

Malabar Headland Walk (Image Credit: NSW Government)

Malabar Headland Walk 

This relatively easy circuit walk will deliver some of the best coastal views in Sydney, with rugged native bushland and dramatic sandstone cliffs aplenty. There are ample spots to stop for a picnic with a view, as well as whale-watching opportunities during winter. Begin the trail at the car park located behind Maroubra Beach before heading to Malabar Beach, Boora Point, and back to Maroubra. 

Distance: 6km circuit

Time: 2 hours

Cape Banks from La Perouse

Cape Banks from La Perouse

Embark on a family-friendly hike along the picturesque Cape Banks Walking Track in Botany Bay National Park. This scenic coastal walk is perfect for all ages, with an easy-to-follow trail that is mostly flat, ideal for leisurely exploration. Take a refreshing dip at Congwong Beach and keep an eye out for Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoos, a common sight along the route. Discover World War II bunkers and enjoy stunning cliff views as you immerse yourself in nature and history on this captivating journey.

Distance: 7.6km

Time: 2 hours

Has all this talk of the best hikes in Sydney got you inspired to challenge yourself? Check out our round-up on the best hikes in Sydney, then take a look at our edit of the best hikes on the South Coast.

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