Blue mountains

The Blue Mountains Australia is one of my all-time favourite locations for a day trip from Sydney. Sydney is blessed with a beautiful rolling coastline with breath-taking beaches as well as national forests in the north and west of the city. The Blue Mountains National Park is a well-developed area and home to a number of beautiful towns, historical locations and 400 million years old rock formations and caves. 

There is simply too much to explore in the area.  The region is home to blue gum trees. The smoke from the burning of these trees creates a bluish-grey mist that is visible from a distance. This is where this region earns its name "Blue Mountains". The Blue Mountains National Park covers an area of approximately 11,400 sq km. The region stretches from the Western Suburbs of Richmond in Sydney to the Mittagong area in Central Highlands.

The Blue Mountains region is approximately 400 million years old. Some of the oldest subterranean caves in the world are found in this region. Most of the small towns in the Blue Mountains are home to early settlers and miners. Today these towns have become a Mecca for artists and nature lovers who seek inspiration in the wilderness of this amazing region. 

blue mountains australia

Beautiful views of Megalong Valley from Hydro Majestic Hotel 

A general misconception among many tourists is that they are considering the Blue Mountains as a single scenic location and a tourist spot. The Blue Mountains region is quite spread out and cannot possibly be explored in one day. The town of Katoomba is the centre of attractions and the starting point for many explorers. 

katoomba blue mountains

Beautiful view of Katoomba in the Blue Mountains

With very easy access to Sydney by car, bus or train, Blue Mountains is one of the most visited locations close to Sydney. The Blue Mountains make a great location for a day excursion in nature, scenic bushwalks and exploring the history of early settlers NSW. There are a number of cafes and restaurants and bars which makes it an ideal retreat from the hustle and bustle of Sydney life. 

How to travel to the Blue Mountains from Sydney?

If you are driving to the Blue Mountains from Sydney the shortest route is to follow Freeway M4 from Sydney Olympic Park towards Hawkesbury River in Penrith. The winding road ascends to the beautiful towns of Springfield, Hazelbrook, Leura, Wentworth Falls Katoomba and Blackheath. The landscape changes drastically as you climb higher. The road network has undergone an upgrade which makes the drive very enjoyable all the way to Katoomba and Lithgow. 

catching train from sydney to katoomba

Catching a train to Katoomba is the easiest way to travel to the Blue Mountains

Alternatively, catch a train from the central station from the Country link Platform to Katoomba. The trains pass through the Western Suburbs of Paramatta while stopping at all the small towns between Paramatta and Katoomba. This is a relatively slower but enjoyable way of travelling to the mountains. 

For a day tour to the Blue Mountains from Sydney, it is recommended to book a day tour online.  Most tours have pickups from Central Station, Parammatta and Black Town Area. The tours briefly at the most interesting places of interest and is definitely a hassle-free way to travel from Sydney to the Blue Mountains.  

Each town in Blue Mountain has a history that goes back to the age of early explorers in the mid-19th century. Covered with thick vegetation and beautiful waterfalls, this area offers a pleasant retreat from hustle and bustle of city life. You can indulge in your passion for outdoor sports or spend a lazy day browsing through antique shops and exclusive clothing stores. 

Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains NSW 

Three sisters, a rock formation in Katoomba is probably the most visited site in Australia. Several walking tracks into the valley can take you to secluded spots in the wild and you can explore hidden waterfalls and the beautiful flora and fauna of the region. If you are into scenic rides, Scenic World is the best spot to visit as it has the world's steepest incline as well as a Sky Trolley that takes you across the Megalong Valley. 

Interesting facts about the Blue Mountains Australia

  • The Blue Mountains are over more than 400 million years old. Jenolan caves are amongst the oldest caves in the world. The Blue Mountains area is part of the Great Dividing Range that stretches from Queensland to NSW and Victoria. This is the third-longest mountain range in the world. 

  • The Blue Mountains are called Blue mountains because of the blue smoke that surrounds the mountains by burning blue gum tree wood. From Sydney, the mountain ranges appear bluish-grey throughout the year.

  • The Blue Mountains have the second steepest incline in the world in Scenic World.

  • A number of people are reported lost every year while bushwalking in the mountain ranges.

  • The Blue Mountains is home to many creative writers and artists. There are a number of art galleries, bookstores and antique shops in the region.  
  • It sometimes snows in the Blue Mountains in the middle of winter. 


The Blue Mountains Weather & Climate

The blue mountains area is approximately 1180m above sea level. The temperatures are relatively cooler as compared to Sydney. Daytime temperatures can rise in summers but nights are cooler and you would need to carry extra layers even in the middle of winters. On average the temperature is 7c lower in Katoomba as compared to the temperature in Sydney. 

In December and January, the temperature can climb up to 40c. The fire alert during the hot season is turned to high and bushwalking and BBQ is not allowed. In the summer season (Nov-Feb) average temperature is around 18c. During the winter season around mid-July the average temperature is 5c and nights can be very cold. Blue mountains have been receiving snow in the middle of winter for the last couple of years. 

Three Sisters Lookout

Three Sisters Lookout Katoomba

Three Sisters Blue Mountains

Three Sisters Lookout in the Blue Mountains, Katoomba


Visting Scenic World Blue Mountains NSW

Scenic World Blue Mountains is the centre of attraction in the Blue Mountains as it contains the world's steepest incline descending into Megalong Valley. SkyLift takes you across the Megalong Valley with breathtaking views of mountains stretching hundreds of miles. 

You can buy one pass to take three different rides available at Scenic World, Katoomba. Be mindful of time as the crowd starts building up early in the morning and the rides finish by 5 pm in the evening. Scenic World Blue Mountains is particularly crowded over the weekends and public holidays. The ticket for adults costs around $25. The best way to enjoy Scenic World Katoomba is to buy a Hop on and Hop Off Bundle with Scenic World Unlimited rides. This will provide you access to the most popular locations around Katoomba and you can take unlimited rides throughout the day.  

Book the Scenic World Unlimited Rides + Hop On Hop Off Bus

Scenic World

Cable Car at Scenic World Katoomba

The restaurant at the scenic World Katoomba


Hop on Hop off Bus in the Blue Mountains

The best way to leisurely explore the area at your own pace is to buy a ticket for the tourist bus that takes you through all the scenic locations in the Blue Mountains. This way get a chance to explore small towns next to Katoomba, including Leura and Wentworth Falls as well. Once you get off at Katoomba Train Stations, the booking booth is right next to the train station. 

Hop On bus Blue mountains

Hop on and Hop-Off Bus is a great way to explore the Blue Mountains

You can also plan to travel to the Blue Mountains for a day and travel with a group. The benefit of the day tour is that you get to see most of the locations in the minimal possible time and do not have the hassle of using public transport. The Blue Mountains has a lot more offers for those who are into outdoor activities. If you fall into this category, a planned couple of days trips is a great idea, as you can explore hidden gems in the area while enjoying visiting small towns like Blackheath or Mount Victoria. You can also drive down into Megalong Valley to enjoy homemade scones and coffee in a beautiful cafe located at the bottom of the valley.

Remember that most of the places of interest including the lookouts are far apart and it will not be possible to explore most of these places on foot. Driving is the best way to explore the region. Alternatively, hop on and hop off tour is the best way to explore most of the places in the shortest possible time.  

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Explore Antique Shops & Art Galleries in the Blue Mountains

In the last couple of years, Blue Mountains has become a hunting ground for antique lovers as some of the shops carry antiques from early settlers in the region around the 18th Century. You can find a wide range of furniture & home decoration items. 

Paragon Cafe

Paragon Cafe an Art Deco Cafe in Katoomba

Explore the historic Carrington Hotel in the Blue Mountains

Carrington Hotel is one of the earliest buildings in the Katoomba area catering to rich clientele who have visited this interesting tourist town over the last 150 years. The amazing structure is preserved in its original design and decoration. Carrington Hotel takes you back in time with a beautiful wooden staircase at the entrance and an immaculately kept dining room where dinner is served with the original menu. 

Carrington Hotel is one of my all-time favourite locations to visit in the Blue mountains. The lounge area is a great place to relax and enjoy drinks and light snacks. 

Carrington Hotel in Katoomba

If you want to relax after a long day of exploration in the area, I suggest you find a comfy couch near the fireplace in the main hall and order tea and scones with homemade jam or potato wedges with sour cream and milkshake.  Surprisingly the food is priced quite reasonably. 

The hotel provides lavish accommodation for honeymooners as well as families with two-bedroom suites. You will find a wide range of modern amenities including a beautiful spa where you can pamper yourself with beauty treatments. 

Other facilities on premises include a Billiard Room, Conference Room, Study rooms as well as a small library. 

Hydro Majestic Hotel, Medlow Bath in the Blue Mountains

Another historical hotel in the Blue Mountains is the famous Hydro Majestic Hotel which prides itself on its rich history and amazing location overlooking the Megalong Valley. The hotel offers high tea and dinner in its newly refurbished restaurants. The hotel is located between Katoomba and Blackheath. 

Enjoy light snacks and coffee at the Pavilion located adjacent to the main building of the Hydro Majestic. This location commands amazing views of the Megalong Valley. The Boiler Room, Salon Du and Wintergarden are restaurants on this amazing property. Enjoy high-tea on weekdays between 11 am - 3 pm at the Wintergarden. Read more 


Explore interesting towns around Katoomba


Katoomba is the central location in the Blue Mountains region. The region,  however, comprises a large number of small towns and communities offering unique visiting experiences to travellers. A large number of private properties are turned into bread and breakfast accommodation offering comforts of home and a very enjoyable holiday experience in the Blue Mountains. You can easily book a small townhouse to a villa if travelling with a large group. This gives the luxury of space and other amenities along with easy access to all public areas. 

To get a real feel for the bush you can also rent remote country cottages with nice fireplaces and wooden structures. This requires a bit of exploration online as most properties are managed privately through Airbnb and similar services. 

Some interesting towns to explore near Katoomba includes

  • Mount Victoria 

Famous for zig-zag railway ( currently closed down ) and walking trails to Victoria Falls

  • Wentworth Falls

Amazing lookouts as well as calm and serene country houses

  • Bilpin 

Famous for Bilpin apples and Botanical Gardens

  • Blackheath

Next to amazing Megalong Valley and beautiful Cafes and historical building 

Bush-Walking in the Blue Mountains Australia

Looking for some of the best walks in the Blue Mountains? The options are simply too many as the region spreads over 1000 sq. km. Some of the walks in the blue mountains can take a couple of days and should be enjoyed with a group. 

Note: A number of hikers go missing annually in the wilderness in the Blue Mountains and have to be rescued by Fire Services Katoomba. If you are planning to explore long trails make sure to notify the local police departments and carry a Safety Beacon. 

You can pick and choose the trail based on your fitness level and interest. Make sure you get all the necessary information about the trails as some of the locations are quite remote and every now and then people get lost in the bush and rescue missions have to be organised to find them. 

Some Quick Walks under one hour to be enjoyed by light walkers include:

  • Three Sisters Walk
  • Empress Falls Track
  • Katoomba Falls Round Walk
  • Mount Banks Summit Walk

Some Long Walking Trails in the Blue Mountains include:

  • Federal Pass ( 13 km)
  • Six-Foot Track ( 45 km)
  • Hanging Walk Track (8 km)

Some of the enjoyable Walks I have undertaken in the last couple of years include the walk to Wentworth Falls, the walk to Minihaha Falls and Three Sisters Walk which is fun and can be easily covered on day trips. 

Wentworth Falls Lookout is a popular location in the Blue Mountains

 Most trails are properly marked, however, some trails bear the signs of weathering so it is a good idea to carry navigational & communication equipment.

Where to stay in the Blue Mountains Australia

The Blue Mountains region is the most visited tourist area around Sydney. With easy access from Sydney, the Blue Mountains attracts a large number of visitors during weekends and public holidays. 

Blue Mountains Accommodation ranges from Heritage Hotels, luxury resorts, motels and B&B Boutique Hotels. A large number of properties in towns around Katoomba are turned into Airbnb accommodations which are ideal for family holidays or if you are travelling with a large group. 

My first stay in the Blue Mountains was at a Caravan Park in Black Heath. In later years, I stayed at furnished bungalows at Medlow Bath, Carrington Hotel in Katoomba and a number of other locations in Katoomba. 

Some recommended in the Blue Mountains includes:

1. Blue Mountains YHA offers cheap and affordable accommodation in the heart of Katoomba. This location is very close to the train station and all amenities & cafes are within walking distance.

2. Motels like 3-sister Motel are very close to three sisters' lookout and offer daily rates under $100. Weekday rates are a lot lower than weekend rates.

4. Luxury Heritage Hotels include: Hydro Majestic Hotel Blue Mountains, Carrington Hotel in Katoomba

3. Mountain Heritage Hotel: This is one of my favourite places to stay offering world-class accommodation and dining experience in a unique location overlooking the Megalong Valley. The breakfast is amazing as you can see the clouds even below the hotel level. The rooms are lavishly furnished and all basic amenities are accessible. 

Things to do in the Blue Mountains: Explore Jenolan Cave

Another hour's drive from Katoomba will take you to 400million-year-old Jenolan Caves. You can explore cave adventures to find pristine subterranean channels, stalagmites and other cave formations. 

Please Note: Jenolan Caves are currently closed as of June 2020 due to COVID-19 Restrictions.

Other places of interest in Blue mountains include Wentworth Falls, Carrington Hotels and local markets over the weekend. 

Catch Blue Mountains Explorer Bus to get the most of the location and beautiful lookout in the Blue Mountains. 

 blue mountains maps

Best experiences and Tours in the Blue Mountains

Planning a day trip to the Blue Mountains Sydney? Choose Musement to pick the best tours in and around Sydney.

Catching a Tour Bus from Sydney to the Blue Mountains

A number of tour operators organize tours from Sydney to the Blue Mountains. The tours cost from $80- $100 that including the return bus trip from the Central Station to the Blue Mountains, a ticket to the Scenic World and a lunch. The tour bus goes around the most popular lookouts in the region including Wentworth Falls and Katoomba. 

Alternatively, you can catch a train to Katoomba from Sydney Central Station and get a day ticket for a hop-on and hop-off bus in the Blue Mountains. Make sure to start early as the train to the Blue Mountains on the weekend stops at all the stops along the way and will take 1.5 hours to reach Katoomba from Sydney Central Station. 



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