The Blue Mountains are one of those ‘must visit’ destinations from Sydney and are easily doable as a day trip via car or train. However, to really see the area in its full glory, try and spend two or three days there, so you can include a couple of hikes, see the icons and enjoy the local restaurants in your Blue Mountains itinerary.
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How to get to the Blue Mountains
If you don’t have a car, it’s easy to get there by train. It takes just over two hours from Sydney Central Station to Katoomba and two hours and 15 minutes to Blackheath. If you do have a car then that’s definitely preferable as it will give you a lot more flexibility to get around once you’re there. Although you can take the train and bus between the main towns, some of the hikes can only be reached by car. This itinerary assumes that you have a car.
Blue Mountains Itinerary – 3 Days in the Blue Mountains
Day 1 in the Blue Mountains
Ideally, arrive the night before, so you can get up early and head straight out on your first day in the Blue Mountains.
The Grand Canyon
Make your way to Blackheath and the start of the Grand Canyon Walking Track. This is one of the most popular and beautiful walks in the Blue Mountains, passing waterfalls, scenic lookouts and lots of beautiful native plants. Depending on your fitness, it takes about three to four hours to complete the 6.3km loop. Bring lots of water and if possible wear hiking shoes as it can be slippery on the rocks.
Tip: Park at the Grand Canyon Loop car park and walk the Grand Canyon anti-clockwise, this way you can finish at Evans Lookout and be rewarded with beautiful views.
If you have a packed lunch, you can eat it whilst enjoying the views of Evans Lookout. If not, head into Blackheath for lunch at one of the restaurants or cafes, such as Anonymous or Altitude Delicatessen.
The Three Sisters
In the afternoon, make your way to Katoomba and the Three Sisters. You may have seen images of the famed Three Sisters, as the rock formation is one of the most popular and photographed places in the Blue Mountains. It’s a significant site for the Gundungurra, Darug, Wiradjuri and Tharawal Aboriginal people.
The Three Sisters Walk
You’re probably thinking ‘another walk?!’ But don’t panic. It’s less than 1km return, should take well under an hour to complete and offers lovely views of the Three Sisters.
From here, make your way to Scenic World, where you can ride the worlds steepest train down into the valley and take a gondola back up to the top! There is also a cable car – the Scenic Skyway – suspended 270m above the ravine, that travels between the cliff tops with a glass floor and incredible views of Katoomba Falls, the Three Sisters, Mt Solitary and Jamison Valley.
Have dinner at 8 Things in Katoomba (or get it to take away). As the title suggests, this restaurant serves 8 dishes from different countries ranging from Korean Bao to South Indian Dosa. I highly recommend the tofu fries.
Day 2 in the Blue Mountains
Enjoy a little adventure on day two with a day of canyoning with BMAC. They offer full-day and half-day trips at various locations throughout the Blue Mountains, suitable for different levels. We did the Serendipity Canyon, which I highly recommend. This is a full day (9 hours) experience with lunch included, featuring four abseils, a rock jump, and a visit to a glow worm cave.
Have dinner at Avalon on the main street in Katoomba. Located in the 1930’s Savoy Theatre, the menu features international dishes, great wines and excellent cocktails.
Day 3 in the Blue Mountains
Another early start for your second hike to Lockley’s Pylon.
This is my favourite hike in the Blue Mountains for two reasons. 1. It’s much less known than some of the other hikes, so you’ll find fewer people and 2. The views are incredible! It’s a 7km return hike, which takes about three hours to complete. Bring snacks or an early lunch to enjoy on the rocks once you reach Lockley’s Pylon, as the views are incredible.
Tip: The road to Lockley’s Pylon is unsealed, so if there has been a lot of rain it’s worthwhile checking that the road is ok with the Blue Mountains Heritage Centre (02 4787 8877) before you set out. We drove the road in our 2WD Hyundai i30 and had no issues. I advise arriving early as the car park is pretty small.
In the afternoon, browse the antique shops in Katoomba. Mr Pickwicks and Post Office Antiques are both full of fascinating furniture, clothes and books.
On the way back to Sydney, stop at Wentworth Falls. You can admire the falls from above, or take the 1.4km return track down for a closer look.
Where to stay in the Blue Mountains
Base yourself in Katoomba, which has lots of great shops and restaurants and is a short drive (or stroll) to lots of great walks.
We stayed at the Blue Mountains YHA in a double room with a private bathroom and I would definitely recommend it. It’s huge, with a massive lounge area and kitchen if you want to cook your own meals. If you prefer to eat out, it’s right on the main strip of bars and restaurants. A double room with ensuite costs $100 AUD.
If you’re looking for something mid-range, then Echo Point Village is a good choice. I stayed whilst filming in the Blue Mountains for a few days and it was great having my own kitchen and living space. It’s a bit of a walk from the centre of Katoomba but only 600m from The Three Sisters. From $160 AUD per night.
And for luxury, stay at the 5-star Lilianfels Blue Mountains Resort & Spa. Set amidst 2 acres of gardens, rooms are set in a grand country house with 2 restaurants, an outdoor pool and luxury spa facilities. From $364 AUD per night.
In Blackheath, Parklands Country Gardens & Lodges is a lovely spot to stay (Enrico and I stayed here on our first visit to the Blue Mountains). Set on 28 acres, there is a restaurant and private suites with fireplaces – perfect for a cosy winter break. From $374 AUD per night.
A Weekend In The Blue Mountains
If you only have two days instead of three, I would recommend following days two and three of this itinerary, with a quick visit to the Three Sisters on the last day, purely because I think Lockley’s Pylon is such a fantastic walk. If you’re not keen on the canyoning, then stick with days one and three.
Have you been to the Blue Mountains? Let us know your favourite spots in the comments below!