Sydney's parks & gardens

 People doing the Bondi to Bronte coastal walk

Do the Bondi to Bronte coastal walk. Photo: Destination NSW

Sydney is flush with national parks and gardens and harbour foreshore walks. Even better, they are free. This is the perfect chance to do everything, from walking, hiking, bike-riding, having a picnic, or anything in between. Your only decision is how active you want to be.


The Royal National Park

Wedding Cake Rock in the Royal National Park in Sydney

Hike to the stunning Wedding Cake Rock. Photo: rockyrobbie85, Pixabay

Head to the Royal National Park, which is near Cronulla in Sydney’s south. The Royal National Park – or ‘the Royal’ to locals – is the world's second-oldest national park. There’s 26 kilometres of park, coastal walks, secluded beaches, rock pools and rock formations. Swim, surf, walk, cycle, picnic or camp in the Royal – it’s your outdoor adventure.

Two popular Insta-spots are Wedding Cake Rock and the Figure Eight rock pools. While both these spots are beautiful, they involve challenging walks.

  • Wedding Cake Rock is a 6.8 km hike (and is a 2 hour round trip). When you get there, you’ll see a stunning white standstone rock that looks like a giant wedding cake. Note, The Rock is fenced off these days because there’s been too many Instagram injuries. In saying that, this rock is well worth a look.
The Figure 8 Pools in the Royal National Park

Figure 8 pools are a popular hotspot in summer. Photo: Manuel Moreno, Pexels

  • Another popular but long walk is to the Figure 8 pools. These stunning rock pools have been created by nature and are very popular during summer. You can only get to the Figure 8 pools when it’s low tide so be sure to do your homework first. The path to the pools is steep and narrow and takes between 4-5 hours each way. 

Sydney harbour foreshore walks

an aerial view of Watsons Bay in Sydney

Take the coastal walk along Watsons Bay. Photo: Tourism Australia

Sydney has 16 harbour foreshore walks waiting for you to trek. You'll walk along the harbour coastline, through bushlands and all the while, getting stunning views of Sydney harbour from different vantage points. Walk times range from one hour to all day so you'll definitely find a walk to suit your itinerary. Just some of the Sydney harbour coast walks include the:

  • very popular Bondi to Bronte coastal walk. Allow 1.5 hours to complete this 3.5km walk. This is an easy walk with a boardwalk part of the way, plus plenty of seating so you can stop and enjoy the view. Don't miss Sculpture by the Sea which is a free outdoor art exhibition held every October and November. You get to enjoy all kinds of weird and wonderful art on the walk between Bondi and Tamarama beaches.

A couple enjoying the sea and fresh air on one of Sydney's many coastal walks

Time to soak up views, sun, sea and fresh air on one of Sydney's many coastal walks! Photo: Destination NSW 

  • Hermitage foreshore walk is 1.8 km and takes around 30 minutes to do. You'll walk along the coast from Neilsen Park, Vaucluse to Rose Bay, and if the weather is warm, you can take a dip at three different harbour beaches along the way - Queens, Tingara and Milk Beach.

  • Rose Bay to Watsons Bay walk is a good 5-hour walk so pack some snacks, hat, water and picnic along the way. This 8 km walk is easy, and made even easier because of the stunning views along the way. This walk takes you past rugged cliffs, harbour beaches and parks, ending up at the very end of the eastern suburbs.

Balmoral Beach with Balmoral Bathers in the background

Don't miss out on visiting one of my favourite harbour spots - Balmoral Beach. Photo: Tourism Australia

  • Stunning city foreshore walk which is a beautiful walk around the city. This is an easy 2-hour walk and takes you along Sydney harbour, past the Opera House, through the Botanic Gardens, the Art Gallery of NSW and ending up at Woolloomooloo Bay where you’ll find the Garden Island naval base, funky pubs, exclusive restaurants. You'll be spoilt for vantage points to snap the ultimate selfies with Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House as your backdrop. 

  • Cremorne Point to Mosman walk is an easy 3km circuit where you’ll get a glimpse of stunning harbourside mansions and gardens, Robertsons Point lighthouse. Your walk starts and finishes at the Cremorne Point Wharf, where you’ll also find Sophie’s Place café – a favourite jaunt with the locals.

A group of people walking along the beach, as part of the Manly to Spit Bridge walk.

Set off on the Manly to Spit Bridge walk. Allow 4 hours but truly worth the effort. Photo: Tourism Australia

  • Spit Bridge to Manly coastal walk is both scenic and extremely popular. The Spit Bridge to Manly walk (also known as the Manly Scenic Walk), takes four hours and is 9km one way. Soak up the stunning views, boats and mansions that make up Middle Harbour. This well-maintained track will take you through Sydney Harbour National Park, bushland reserves, harbour beaches and local streets, ending up at Manly Wharf.

City parks & walks

Sydney's Hyde Park which is is a popular spot to hang out

Sydney's Hyde Park is a popular spot to hang out. Photo: Destination NSW

  • Walk along the Opera House foreshore and into the Royal Botanic Gardens. Entry is free. Take a run, join one of the free guided tours or walk through the gardens at your own pace. Why not grab a coffee and sandwich and enjoy panoramic views of Sydney harbour. You'll also get a chance to do some serious people-watching. In summer, book tickets to the Openair Cinema where you get to watch blockbuster movies outdoors with Sydney harbour as your backdrop.

  • Hyde Park is right in the middle of the city. There's fountains, monuments walking paths, and plenty of grass so you can just relax. This much-loved park is a regular lunch-time hangout for office workers. 

two people running around the Opera House foreshore

Fancy a run around the Opera House. You go for it - I'll sit this one out.

  • Centennial Park is only five kilometres from the city, and has plenty of things to keep everyone entertained from some of Sydney’s best children's playgrounds, self-guided walking tours, free BBQs and picnic facilities. Why not join the many walkers, cyclists, joggers and rollerbladers on the 3.6 kilometre Grand Drive circuit. You can hire bikes and rollerblades in the park. Other activities include horse riding around the parklands (which can be organised at the local horse stables), a round of golf or a hit of tennis. 

  • Darling Harbour and Cockle Bay have heaps of things to do. This is Sydney's inner-city leisure spot, and there's parks and gardens, parks, playgrounds, fountains, amusement rides, museums, restaurants, cafes, shopping. Getting there is easy, just take the pedestrian footbridge from Town Hall Station. 

  • Barangaroo Reserve is Sydney’s newest Harbour foreshore park and is another great spot for a walk, play or picnic.

 Centennial Park in Sydney

Explore the inner-city parks including Centennial Park (5 minutes from the Sydney CBD). Photo: Anna Palinska, Pixabay

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