Sydney is renowned for its iconic Opera House, sun-drenched beaches and vibrant harbour. Yet, what many don’t realise (guilty as charged) is that nestled within and around this bustling metropolis lies a bounty of walking trails that rival the best in the world.
Here are five of our favourite ways to move those muscles and get your steps up in and around Sydney.
Spit Bridge to Manly
Distance: 10km one way, about 4 hours
The Spit Bridge to Manly walk is one of Sydney’s most picturesque coastal trails, offering an immersive experience and rich history. Meandering for approximately 10 kilometres through the northern beaches, this iconic trek unveils a tapestry of lush bushland, serene inlets and panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. As you traverse the path, you’ll encounter a myriad of landmarks – from indigenous rock engravings to secluded beaches perfect for a refreshing swim. The walk culminates at the bustling Manly Beach, where you can get a bite to eat before hopping on the ferry for a scenic trip back to the city.
"This well-trodden path takes you on a captivating journey between two of Sydney's most famous beaches, Bondi and Coogee."
Aboriginal Heritage Walk
Distance: 4.4km loop, 3-3.5 hours
The Aboriginal Heritage Walk in Sydney’s Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park is a profound journey into Australia’s ancient indigenous culture, revealing a wealth of knowledge, traditions and stories that the land has held for thousands of years. This significant trail offers a deep dive into Aboriginal history, showcasing enigmatic rock engravings, sacred sites and art canvases painted on natural rock formations. As you tread softly along the path, you are invited to witness and understand the deep spiritual connection the traditional custodians have with this land. Guided tours further illuminate the significance of the area, interpreting the symbols, explaining bush food sources and recounting age-old legends. The walk is not just a visual treat; it’s an education, a connection, and a tribute to the world’s oldest living culture, right in the heart of the city.
Bondi to Coogee
Distance: 6km, about 2-3 hours
The Bondi to Coogee walk is so good you just don’t want to miss this one. Spanning approximately 6 kilometres, this easy but undulating walk takes you on a captivating journey between two of Sydney’s most famous beaches, Bondi and Coogee. Along the route, you’ll take in uninterrupted views of the vast Pacific Ocean (look out for whales), interspersed with golden sandy beaches, rugged cliffs and tidal pools like the renowned Bondi Icebergs. The path seamlessly weaves through a series of beaches, including Tamarama, Bronte and Clovelly, each offering a distinct charm and character and a perfect recharge spot for a drink and some people watching.
Royal National Park
Difficulty: Easy to challenging
I wanted to pick a single walk in here, but I just couldn’t choose. This national park, just one hour south of Sydney, has an abundance of stunning outlooks and magical waterfalls to discover. Established in 1879, it’s the world’s second-oldest national park after Yellowstone in the USA. Take in Wedding Cake Rock with its pure white rock that stands starkly against the sandstone cliff backdrop. Cool off at Wattamolla’s lagoon with its beautiful cascading waterfall. Enjoy the expansive views of the sparkling horizon at Otford lookout. The Coast Track offers a challenging yet rewarding hike that encompasses many of these significant points while providing panoramic views of the vast Pacific Ocean and the rugged Australian coastline. Or, if you’re keen for an adventure, head down to the Figure Eight pools – the natural rock pools along a rock platform that are only accessible during low tide. The track can be a bit challenging in parts but the insane precision of the pools is well worth the effort.
"From Barrenjoey in Palm Beach to the Royal National Park in the south, the Great Coastal Walk is a grand testament to the city's diverse coastal beauty."
Sydney’s Great Coastal Walk
Distance: 200km, allow 10 days
Difficulty: Easy to challenging
Looking for a walk that will really stretch your legs? Encompassing nearly 200 kilometres from Barrenjoey in Palm Beach to the Royal National Park in the south, the Great Coastal Walk is a grand testament to the city’s diverse coastal beauty. As one of Australia’s most epic urban trails, it guides adventurers through a kaleidoscope of landscapes – from pristine beaches and dramatic sea cliffs to serene lagoons and dense eucalyptus forests. Along the journey, you’ll experience iconic sections such as the Palm Beach to Manly stretch, the Bondi to Coogee coastal path and the rugged terrains of the Royal National Park. An amalgamation of Sydney’s coastal highlights and hidden gems, the Great Coastal Walk offers an unrivalled experience that encapsulates the city’s maritime soul. Plan at least 10 days to complete the entire coastal walk, depending on how many hours you’d like to spend on your feet each day.
Are you interested in other amazing walks around our beautiful country? Check out Stretch your legs on these South Australian trails and Australia’s best multi-day guided walks from our Journal.