Popular destinations in New South Wales & Australian Capital Territory
Here is an introduction to some of the most popular destinations and activities in New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory, areas that together goes under the name Capital Country. For more inspiration and valuable tips on your dream destination, simply follow the links under each destination. But first, the top-five destinations in Capital Country followed by a range of more detailed and inspiring destinations, as well as good-to-know advice on when planning a trip here, or for when travelling in the area.
- Sydney; City of Cities, the place that is said to have it all. Sydney has a seductive mix of shiny skyscrapers and sun-drenched sandy beaches. Visit the iconic Opera House, enjoy a walk along the coast or in the Botanical garden or experience a Sydney Harbour Bridge adventure. Treat yourself to a full day of shopping, visit art and culture museums, see unique animals at Taronga Zoo or take the ferry to Manly or a bus to Bondi Beach for surfing and relaxation (wotif.com/discover/australia/new-south-wales/sydney.d178312).
- Blue Mountains; A UNESCO World Heritage Listed National Park with a variety of hiking trails where you can discover rainforests, waterfalls and steep sandstone cliffs, deep gorges and dense wilderness. Gaze out over the giant sandstone pillars of the Three Sisters or go to the Jenolan Caves for adventures in the world’s oldest caves. You will also find the world’s steepest railway here (wotif.com/things-to-do/search?location=Blue%20Mountains).
- Hunter Valley; First-Class restaurants are never far from rustic wine cellars, and after a long day among rolling hills and vines you can treat yourself with a relaxing spa visit. There are a variety of arranged tours for those who want to take a glass or two (wotif.com/things-to-do/search?location=Hunter+Valley).
- The Legendary Pacific Coast Drive, New South Wales’ North Coast; The 630 km long winding coastal road trip between Byron and Newcastle offers a cavalcade of breathtaking views, rocky capes and exciting stops. If you like water activities such as surfing, scuba diving and kayaking, this is the route for you. Start with a balloon ride over Byron Bay or a visit to Byron Bay Lighthouse, go to Coffs Harbour’s Big Banana where you pull out the camera. In Port Macquarie you can visit the world’s only Koala hospital and swim with dolphins in Port Stephens. When arriving in Newcastle, take a stroll on ANZAC Memorial Walk, a 450-metre long coastal walk path built in memory of those who fought during both World Wars. If you planned your visit to Newcastle, you can enjoy the yearly big surfing festival.
- Canberra, Australian Capital Territory (ACT); The country’s capital and political hub houses a variety of art galleries and historical museums. You can visit the zoo, Canberra Space Centre, the National Dinosaur Museum and of course the Australian Parliament. Parts of the city have retained its small-town charm and Canberra is a city that is both surrounded by and allows nature to be a part of it. Popular festivities and festivals of various kinds in and around the ACT are often organised. The capital is a good starting point for a day trip to nearby national parks or vineyards (wotif.com/discover/australia/australian-capital-territory/canberra.d6049663/canberra-insider-tips).
Australia’s capital, Canberra, which belongs to the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), is encircled by the state of New South Wales (NSW). The capital and popular sites in NSW have been given the collective name Capital Country. Together, these two areas cover an area so large that you are more than likely to find a destination that suits you.
If you want to visit the City of cities, the city that is said to have it all, then go to New South Wales and Sydney. Where to start? Yes, in addition to culture, entertainment, nightlife, shopping, food and attractions such as the Opera House and the Botanical Garden, you will find popular beaches such as Bondi Beach and Manly. These sandy beaches are the place to go for those who want a touch up on their suntan, or for those who like water sports of all kinds, while still being close to amenities and well-attended centres.
If you prefer a city of a different kind, you should visit the Australian capital of Canberra in the Australia Capital Territory (ACT). Canberra has a small-town charm and is the right place for those who like history, politics and art. For those who like to take an excursion from city life, it is not far from beautiful national parks, hiking trails, historic remains, Aboriginal culture, vineyards and the Murrumbidgee River where you can swim. If you plan your stay, you can participate in any of the popular festivals and events organized by ACT.
For those who enjoy nature experiences with views, the Blue Mountains is a UNESCO World Heritage Listed National Park a few hours west of Sydney well worth a visit. Suitable for those who want to enjoy good food with a stunning view, or for those who want to hike, swim or try rock climbing among ravines and cascading waterfalls. History-interested visitors might like to try out the world’s steepest railroad or immerse themselves in colonial history as well as Aboriginal culture. And there are lots of galleries to visit. The golf enthusiast can choose among a range of courses with magnificent mountain views.
If you continue going west and inland, you will arrive at Country & Outback New South Wales. Once you leave the urban areas of Sydney the sights will shift, from barren and jagged wilderness to a rising mountain range, the Great Dividing Range, until you are surrounded by a reddish fine-grained desert and soaring temperatures. Among the Great Diving Range’s rolling hills you will find hidden colonial buildings, vineyards and orchards surrounded by lush green areas. Orange is the place for those who want to have an unforgettable taste experience. Wine- and food enthusiasts will also enjoy Hunter Valley north of Sydney, especially if you stay during one of the annual foods and wine festivals.
In the wilderness and the Outback, the curious and adventurous can discover old mining towns or visit a wacky Opal city, see ghost towns, enjoy oases of lush green land in national parks, see Aboriginal rock paintings or take a trip to the nearest river, the life source for the area’s agriculture and greenery.
If you instead of the desert’s burning heat prefer the white sands of the coast and a cooling breeze, there are plenty of beautiful stretched coastlines to explore in the Capital Country. Experience the north coast of New South Wales with its Australian iconic rock formations and tropical nature, try either driving or taking the bus along The Legendary Pacific Coast Drive. In north, enticing beaches and bustling cities awaits. A paradise for backpackers or for those who love the sea. For a quieter place of choice, you can make a stop at a smaller town like Port Macquarie, something that might suit families better. Here, you can give a helping hand in the world’s only hospital for koalas. Inland there are vineyards or national parks to visit. If you like flower power or odd and colourful personalities, make a stop at the coastal town of Byron Bay.
If you want to avoid the crowds, travel south of Sydney along the coast, via Grand Pacific Drive and continue through Wollongong to Eden. It will take you down winding coastal roads where you can enjoy sun-drenched resorts with powder-white beaches surrounded by scenic national parks and forests. Why not snorkel, fish, hike or look for whales? A magical journey without the typical tourist congestion.
For those who are tired of everything that has to do with bathing and extreme heat, a visit to the Australian Alps in south-eastern New South Wales and Snowy Mountains tops might be of interest. Here you can ski in winter or try hiking during summer, the perfect opportunity to pull out the camera for a great panorama view.
Destinations in Capital Country
Get to and get around in Capital Country
You can easily get to the larger cities by plane, train or bus. If you are visiting Sydney CBD, you can get around by using the public train, tram, bus or ferry, either via single trips or discounted tourist cards. If you want to head outside the cities, a more flexible option is using a car, but keep in mind that you must pay toll on some highways and that it is expensive (and sometimes difficult) to find a parking space in Sydney metropolis. If you drive in the CBD, the traffic is quickly changing, there are several one-way streets and not always easy to feel comfortable for those not used to be driving on the left-hand side of the road. If you want to avoid driving around looking for a parking space in Sydney, you can for a fee book a parking space in one of the larger car parks. The cost for parking depends on the day, time and place. Another option for those who want to visit Sydney for a whole day is to park the car at one of the nearby suburbs’ train stations and take the train or other collective means of transport to get into the CDB. In short, it is easier to use public transport in the CBD.
If you are in the Australian capital Canberra, you can get around via bus, but it is common to use bikes too. Bicycles can be rented on site. However, it is advantageous to have access to your own car. If you want to leave the city to explore the rest of the ACT, a car is the easiest way to get around on your own.
In general, the public transport service is good along the coast in Capital Country and in major cities, but the departures are fewer when going inland and to regional areas. However, it is recommended for those who want to be able to see national parks and to experience a variety of sights to have your own transport along the coastline, but especially if you are going inland. If you are planning to go through the desert in The Outback, the distances are ludicrously long. Having lots of drinking water, extra fuel and plenty of time is key.
Of course, there are a lot of shorter guided tours, day trips and bus tours to take advantage of for those who want to relax and let someone else take the wheel while seeing Capital Country.
Keep in mind
If you decide to go for a swim, carefully follow advice from signs and lifesavers. The rips in the ocean are not to toy with; Not even for the experienced swimmer – stay within the flags on the beach where the lifesavers can see you. It is forbidden to drink alcohol on several beaches, be sure to find out what applies to avoid unnecessary fines.
Don’t go into the desert alone.