places to visit in new south wales

14 Best Places To Visit in New South Wales

There are so many places to visit in New South Wales, it can be difficult to put together an itinerary when you’re in the state.

Sydney is likely the first destination that comes to mind, but there are many other great places in NSW too. Byron Bay, Coffs Harbour and Kangaroo Valley are just a few of the other spots you have to check out while you’re in the state.

These NSW holiday destinations present you with multiple things to do. You can take in cultural sights in Sydney, Canberra and Newcastle. While the beaches that line the New South Wales coast are perfect for relaxing during the warm summer months.

 If you’re wondering where to go in NSW during your visit, then my guide will give you an idea of the places you can visit during your trip to this fascinating state.

Places to visit in New South Wales

Sydney

Sydney Opera House Rocks

Sydney is the biggest city in Australia and the inevitable starting point for your trip to New South Wales.

The main attractions are world-famous: the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. They’re the inevitable starting point in the city and they don’t disappoint. The bridge is incredible. When you first get sight of it, peaking through the buildings, you’ll gasp at its size.

Walking along the bridge gives you a sense of its scale and size as well as providing an excellent view of the Opera House. Doing abridge climb is well worth it if you want to get an even better perspective of the city.

As well as these two sights, there are plenty of other things to do in Sydney. You can relax in the botanic gardens, check out the numerous museums or visit the several beaches in the suburbs such as Manly and Coogee.

Whether you spend 3 days in Sydney or longer, you’ll have an incredible and be blown away by the city!

Blue Mountains

Three Sisters

If you want to see one of the most stunning places to go in NSW, then the Blue Mountains is the place to go.

There are many amazing national parks in Australia, but the Blue Mountains is one of the best. The views here are stunning and it makes a perfect day trip from Sydney.

You can go hiking, climbing, mountain biking or just walk around and enjoy the scenery. But the highlight of the Blue Mountains is the Three Sisters rock formation, which is incredible. It’s the best-known attraction in the park and one you won’t forget in a hurry.

If you’re still looking for things to do, then you can visit the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mount Tomah, or check out the Jenolan Caves, the world’s oldest known open cave system.

Newcastle

View of Newcastle Australia

Newcastle is the second most populated city in New South Wales after Sydney and an interesting place you should check out.

It might not have the attractions that Sydney does, not many places do, but there’s still a lot to see and do here.

One of the best things to do is the ANZAC Walk, which takes you along the coastline and provides some stunning views of the coastline. You can also venture out to Nobby’s Head at the other end of Newcastle near the Hunter River too.

As well as this, Newcastle has a reputation as a culinary hub. So it’s worth checking out some of the cafes and restaurants in the city while you’re there. 

Bondi Beach

Bondi beach

I know Bondi Beach is in Sydney, but it’s such an iconic place I had to include on this list by itself.

You might wonder what all the fuss is about with Bondi, but once you make your way to the beach, you’ll understand why. It’s a huge beach, that really is an incredible spot. Just look at the above picture.

Bondi can get busy, but if you visit during the week, you should get to see it relatively quiet as I did when I visited. Then, you can relax and enjoy the Aussie sun, or brave the waves.

The great thing about Bondi is that are other beaches nearby too. You can do the Bondi to Bronte walk which provides you with some fantastic views of the Sydney coastline. You’ll also find Tamarama and Bronte beaches on this walk, which are both quieter than Bondi but just as stunning!

Byron Bay

Cape Byron lighthouse

Byron Bay is without a doubt one of the best places to visit in NSW.

The beachside town is located in the far northeast of the state close to the border with Queensland. It’s become a haven for backpackers, surfers and hippies, making it a fun place to check out.

One of the best things to do here is to tackle the Cape Byron track. This will take you along the coastline and to the easternmost point of Australia, where Byron’s famous lighthouse looks out towards the ocean.

If you really want to experience Byron, then taking a trip to the nearby town of Nimbin is a must. It’s even more of a hippie spot than Byron and is a lot of fun. Otherwise, you can take explore the waterfalls of Wollumbin National Park or visit Byron’s lively markets.

Coffs Harbour

Coffs Harbour

Coffs Harbour is one of the most underrated destinations in New South Wales, and a great place to visit family if you’re travelling with your family.

There are so many activities you can do here that you can all enjoy, such as kayaking, cycling, surfing and much more.

One of the sights you might notice when you visit Coffs Harbour is the big banana, which is one of the numerous big things in Australia and pays tribute to the local banana growing industry.

Visiting the Muttonbird Island Nature Reserve is a must when you’re in Coffs Harbour and will showcase some of the best natural beauty the town has to offer.

Kangaroo Valley

view of kangaroo valley
ambo kangaroo, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The brilliantly named Kangaroo Valley is easily one of the best places to visit in New South Wales.

It’s a country town surrounded by amazing green landscapes and steep escarpments that give Kangaroo Valley a dramatic look.

One of the most interesting points of interest in Kangaroo Valley is Hampden Bridge, which spans the Kangaroo River, and is the only remaining wooden suspension bridge in Australia. 

If you want to get into the outdoors, then Kangaroo Valley is the place to go. You can go hiking, cycling and horseback riding. If you want to get away from Sydney and discover somewhere different, Kangaroo Valley is a good place to go.

Port Macquarie

Lighthouse beach

Port Macquarie is a great place to visit in New South Wales and one of the most underrated in the state.

If you’re looking for somewhere to relax at the beach, you won’t find many better places than Port Macquarie. Lighthouse beach, pictured above, is a spectacular beach and the primary spot in the town to relax and enjoy the sun.

You can also visit Sea Acres National Park while you’re in Port Macquarie. Here, you’ll find a 1km (0.8 mi) long boardwalk that takes you through the remnants of a seaside rainforest and is also home to an array of colourful wildlife.

If that’s not enough, then you can visit Port Macquarie’s Koala Hospital and meet the furry critters up close. It’s open every day apart from Christmas.

Hunter Valley

hot air balloon rising into the sky during a sunrise at hunter valley

The Hunter Valley might not be the most well-known part of New South Wales, but there are plenty of good reasons to visit.

One of the most prominent is the numerous wineries in the valley. This is the primary region for wine-making in New South Wales producing varieties such as Semillon and Shiraz.

You can do a wine tour to learn more about the wineries, how they make the wine and the history of the industry, or just to sample the wine! Whatever floats your boat!

As well as the vino, you can take a trip in a hot air balloon and get an appreciation for the beauty of Hunter Valley from above. Or go hiking on one of the trails at Barrington Tops National Park.

Yamba

Yamba

Yamba is a small town that’s roughly halfway between Coffs Harbour and Byron Bay. 

It’s included as a stop on my Sydney to Brisbane road trip itinerary, and as you can see from the picture above, it’s a beautiful place.

As with almost all the towns along the coast, there are some great beaches at Yamba. They’re ideal to visit on a warm day so you can relax and enjoy the sun.

One of the best things to do in Yamba is to visit the lighthouse. It’s a decent hike to get there, but you’ll be rewarded with some stunning views of the surrounding area too.

Jervis Bay

beach at jervis bay

Jervis Bay is one of the numerous beach towns dotted along the coast of New South Wales. If you’re on a Melbourne to Sydney road trip, then it’s an ideal place to stop along the way.

Rather than being one single town, Jervis Bay is a collection of towns centred around the aforementioned bay. You’ll find plenty of beaches around the bay, which are great for relaxing, swimming or snorkelling in the water.

There are also opportunities for surfing, walking around the bay and taking in the beautiful surroundings. The town is quiet which makes the scenery all the more enjoyable.

Jervis Bay is also home to a proud Aboriginal history, which dates back over 20,000 years! Once you visit, you’ll understand why they stuck around for so long!

Lord Howe Island

Lord Howe Island

If you’re looking for somewhere to visit in New South Wales that’s off the beaten track, then Lord Howe Islan fits that bill in more ways than one.

Firstly, it’s 660 kilometres off the coast of the state. Secondly, only 40 guests are allowed on the island at any one time. This means it’s not the easiest place to visit, but if you’re lucky enough to go there, you’ll find an incredible destination.

You’ll find white beaches, rugged cliffs and Lord Howe Island Marine Park where you can go snorkelling and scuba diving to see some of the amazing coral reefs.

It takes two hours to reach Lord Howe Island from either Sydney or Brisbane. If you want to visit, it’s best to plan in advance. But if you do visit, you won’t be disappointed!

Canberra

Canberra

Ok, so Canberra may not be strictly in New South Wales but as the Australian Capital Territory is inside the state, I’ve included it anyway.

Australia’s capital is often forgotten about when it comes to backpacking in Australia. I heard it was boring, small and not worth visiting while I was there.

Instead, it’s an interesting city with lots to do and see. As the home of Australia’s parliament, you can visit and check out the incredible building and take a look around.

Canberra is also some to several museums, such as the National Museum of Australia, National Library of Australia, and my personal favourite, the National Dinosaur Museum!

If you’re unsure of whether to visit Canberra or not, you should give it a try. You’ll be surprised by what you find and have more fun than you might imagine!

Outback NSW

close up of a circular desert sculpture with a hole in the centre in broken hill

Most people think of Sydney, or the coastal towns of Byron Bay and Coffs Harbour when it comes to travelling around New South Wales.

Yet, a large part of New South Wales is part of the Outback. If you want to get a sense of the interior of Australia and what life is like out in the sticks, then a trip into the Outback is a must.

One place you should try and visit in the Outback is Mungo National Park, which has some stunning landscapes. It’s also home to some of the oldest archaeological remains in Australia, dating from 40,000 years ago.

Other places you can visit in the NSW Outback are Broken Hill, where you’ll find living desert sculptures, the opal mines of White Cliffs and Lightning Ridge and the stunning Aboriginal rock art sites at Gundabooka National Park.

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