Sydney is Australia's largest city and a magnet for travellers. But beyond the beaches of Bondi and the charm of the harbour, a host of great holiday destinations waits for you. So go ahead and load up your rental car for a weekend getaway to one of these New South Wales hot spots.
1. Gourmet Delights of the Hunter Valley
The Hunter Valley is one of Australia's premier wine regions, and it's only a two-hour drive from the Sydney CBD. The area is home to more than 120 vineyards, including the famous Drayton's, Lindeman's, and Tyrell's Wineries, which dates back to the 19th century. But there is also much to savour at the smaller boutique wineries which produce some of the region's best drops. Most local wineries welcome visitors to their cellar doors for complimentary tasting sessions.
Good wine deserves good food, and the Hunter Valley serves that up too. The country location ensures its fine dining restaurants, including six with chef's hats, offer delicious dishes using fresh, seasonal produce.
A weekend getaway ensures you can pace yourself with the wine before retiring to one of the Hunter's luxury resorts. For more on the Hunter Valley, see our Hunter Valley Region Road Trip article.
2. Water Wonderland of Port Stephens
Image credit: Tourism Australia
The picturesque beach towns of Port Stephens beckons just two and a half hours north of Sydney. The area boasts 26 beautiful beaches and its waterway is more than twice the size of Sydney Harbour, so there is plenty of space for diving, fishing, kayaking, and meeting the locals on a whale or dolphin watching cruise.
The surrounding towns of Nelson Bay, Anna Bay, and Salamander Bay all offer a range of accommodation, from five-star resorts to cheap and cheerful caravan parks and campgrounds, to suit all budgets. Pack you tent and gear up in your Bayswater rental and enjoy this beautiful beach town as nature intended.
3. Breathtaking Beauty of the Blue Mountains
At just an hour west of Sydney, the Blue Mountains seems like the perfect spot for a day trip, but you really need a weekend to appreciate all this beautiful region has to offer.
Image credit: James Horan, Destination NSW.
It is home to the majestic Jenolan Caves, believed to be the oldest caves in the world, the Three Sisters rock formation, and a number of striking waterfalls including Wentworth Falls and Leura Cascades. Springwood Sassafras Gully and Lapstone Zig Zag walking tracks will delight hikers, or you can save your legs and discover the region on a quirky Segway tour.
The natural wonders of the Blue Mountains are free to see, leaving you to splurge on a romantic mountain chalet or luxury resort.
4. Romantic Charm of the Southern Highlands
At a little less than two hours from Sydney, the Southern Highlands makes an excellent destination for a romantic weekend getaway. It is a region that celebrates the best things in life, from its AGFG multi-hatted restaurants and award-winning wineries to the sporting achievements of its favourite son, Sir Donald Bradman. Its antique stores and specialty book shops make a great change from the shopping centres in larger cities, and its gardens, parklands, and reserves are ideal for picnics.
Enjoy the warm hospitality of the locals at one of the region's great bed and breakfasts or boutique hotels. Sydney might be New South Wales' biggest city, but these fantastic destinations all challenge its title for the best. With the freedom of your rental car, you can explore and enjoy what these lovely destinations have to offer.