Throw yourself into a natural wonderland of magnificent sandstone escarpments and deep valleys in the vast UNESCO World Heritage-listed Greater Blue Mountains Area, just 90 minutes by car from Sydney. Unwind as you explore Katoomba, the largest town in the region, and cruise from one historic village to the next, follow bushwalking trails to breathtaking vistas, indulge in inspiring food and wine experiences and nest in cosy hotels and resorts.
Commune with nature in the mountains
Embrace the subterranean at Jenolan Caves, a 70-minute drive from Katoomba, as you navigate a labyrinth of stalactite-lined limestone chasms carved by underground rivers. Look up in awe in the Lucas Cave at the spectacular limestone formation known as Broken Column and the Cathedral, a 54m-high chamber that is sometimes used for musical concerts.
Lace up your bushwalking boots and recharge with an invigorating hike in rugged bushland — there are great walks throughout the Blue Mountains, from easy strolls leading to remarkable lookouts to longer hikes such as the spectacular Grand Canyon Track, a 6.3km loop past waterfalls and sheer sandstone cliffs starting from Evans Lookout in Blackheath.
Challenge yourself on the three-day Six Foot Track walk along the old coach road between Katoomba and Jenolan Caves — or make things a little easier on your legs by joining a guided tour with Life’s An Adventure, which will transport your backpack so you can focus wholeheartedly on your surrounds. Sign up with Tread Lightly Eco Tours for a guided bushwalk or 4WD tour where you can immerse in local history as you visit some of the oldest rainforests, tallest waterfalls and deepest canyons in the area.
In Katoomba, take a thrilling ride on the Scenic Railway, the world’s steepest passenger railway, at Scenic World, or steady yourself as you gaze down at ancient sandstone ravines 270m below you in the glass-bottomed Scenic Skyway cable car. Thrill to cockatoos screeching as they fly beneath you and let the serene sound of the wind in the trees far below wash over you on a Beyond Skyway experience, climbing onto the roof of the cable car as it hangs in the middle of Jamison Valley (safely harnessed, of course).
For a gentler natural high, surround yourself in flowers and bushes at formal and informal gardens across the mountains. During spring, revel in the sight of magnificent private gardens in the villages of Leura and Blackheath blooming with bluebells, azaleas, magnolias, camelias and cherry blossoms, ready for the annual Leura Gardens Festival in October and the Blackheath Rhododendron Festival in November.
Lose yourself in reverie as you wander around the five hectares of beautiful European-style gardens at Everglades House & Gardens, designed by famed Danish-born landscape gardener Paul Sorensen, in Leura. Or take the scenic drive along Bells Line of Road to The Blue Mountains Botanic Garden at Mount Tomah to be spellbound by majestic cool-climate gardens framed by panoramic views.
Discover an elevated dining scene
You’ll work up an appetite in the bracing air of the Blue Mountains. In Katoomba, ease into the evening with a cocktail (or an ale by Katoomba Brewing Company) at Champagne Charlie’s Cocktail Bar in the heritage-listed Carrington Hotel, or venture to the Echo Point lookout and enjoy a glass of fine wine as you take in the iconic Three Sisters from BAR NSW.
Linger in Katoomba for a hearty dinner at Avalon Restaurant, housed in the former Savoy picture theatre opposite the Carrington Hotel, or settle in for a memorable meal of modern Australian fare at Darley’s Restaurant at Lilianfels Resort & Spa, facing the escarpment at the far end of Katoomba Street.
At the iconic Hydro Majestic Hotel in Medlow Bath, around a five-minute drive from Katoomba, soak up spectacular valley views over lunch at Boiler House Restaurant or afternoon high tea at The Wintergarden.
Savour a seasonal menu that’s as creative as the industrial car art at Leura Garage, an award-winning bar and restaurant housed within a former auto-mechanic workshop near Leura’s train station. After lunch in Leura, indulge your sweet tooth by popping in to Josophan’s Fine Chocolates and picking up exquisite handmade chocolates.
Rest and recharge in luxury
Bed down in art deco splendour at the magnificent Carrington Hotel, steps away from the train station in the heart of Katoomba, or head down to the other end of Katoomba Street to immerse in the timeless charm of Echoes Boutique Hotel and its sister property Lilianfels Resort and Spa, a historic mansion surrounded by lush manicured gardens. Keep the kids engrossed with a games arcade, heated pool, cinema and pony rides at Fairmont Resort & Spa Blue Mountains while you take in the serene views of the dramatic escarpment in nearby Leura.
Steep in romance and nostalgia while luxuriating in modern-day opulence at the circa-1904 Hydro Majestic in Medlow Bath, from the group behind Lilianfels and Echoes. Step back a few decades into the recent past when you check in to Kyah Boutique Hotel, a reimagined and recently renovated 1970s motel in the village of Blackheath, or venture off the highway to soak up a sense of seclusion in a freestanding luxe studio set in bushland at Chalets at Blackheath.
Treat yourself and contribute to the health of a magnificent bushland valley at the same time when you stay at Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley conservation resort, a 70-minute drive from Katoomba. Sink into a heritage-style villa with your own private plunge pool and gaze at the magical escarpment views, revitalise in the resort’s stunning wellness sanctuary and take part in bush regeneration efforts for the ultimate feelgood escape.