Looking for the best places to visit in NSW? From the cityscapes of Sydney to the beaches of Byron Bay – here are 10 stops to check out
When it comes to the best places to visit in NSW you’re pretty spoilt for choice – New South Wales has some incredible destination to check out.
Whether it’s the cityscapes of Sydney to the stunning beaches of Byron Bay, a NSW road trip will no doubt be packed with adventure.
So to help you narrow it down, here are 10 of my favourites to squeeze into your Aussie travel plans!
10 Best Places to Visit in NSW | New South Wales, Australia
Having the perfect Sydney itinerary will maximise your time in the city and it’s certainly top of most peoples list of best places to visit in NSW.
Sydney will be sure to wow you with a ton of free things to do and amazing tour options on offer. Plan wisely before visiting the Capital city of New South Wales, to enjoy the complete experience of its vibrancy and diversity.
Sydney is best known for the Sydney Opera house. With great attractions like the Darling Harbour, Royal Botanic Gardens and Taronga Zoo, Sydney has so much to offer. The adventurous can try surfing at Bondi beach or join this 7-day tour between Sydney and Byron Bay.
Top Accommodation in Sydney
- Best hostel option: Bondi backpackers (US$ 45/ AUD 60/ £33)
- Best mid-range accommodation: Meriton Suites (US$ 134/ AUD 179/ £98)
- Best luxury accommodation: Langham Hotel (US$ 357/ AUD 476/ £258)
2. Blue Mountains
Distance from Sydney: 1 hour
With rugged mountainous beauty, scenic forests, waterfalls and villages, Blue Mountains is a must-see stop on any New South Wales Tour. When you reach this destination, you’ll be stepping into a land drenched in spiritual significance.
The Blue Mountains are as majestic as it sounds, which you can discover through hiking trails and exciting bush walks or bike rides. The avid adventurer can explore the Hartley historic site, visit the Blue Pool walking track and check out Lake Wallace. Or try The Coast Warriors tour which visits 3 sisters, Echo Point and Wenworth Falls.
Top Accommodation in Blue Mountains
- Best backpacker option: Flying Fox Backpackers (US$ 63/ AUD 84/ £45)
- Best mid-range accommodation: 3 Sisters Motel (US$ 81/ AUD 108/ £58)
- Best luxury accommodation: Carrington Hotel (US$ 105/ AUD 140/ £176)
3. Port Stephens
Distance from Sydney: 2 hours, 34 minutes
Just a quick hop away from Sydney, Port Stephens is best known for its beaches, popularised by the bottle-nosed dolphins that call these oceans home. This quaint area of NSW is one of the hottest locations for all of your favourite ocean activities.
Explorations through water, sand and land. Choose one of the 26 golden beaches, board down the sand dunes or try some stand-up paddleboarding. This tour of Port Stephens offers a scenic hike, sandboarding, Australian BBQ lunch and an optional dolphin tour.
Top Accommodation in Port Stephens
- Best budget accommodation: Tea Gardens Hotel (US$ 95/ AUD 126/ £68)
- Best mid-range accommodation: Hotel Nelson (US$ 185/ AUD 247/ £134)
- Best luxury accommodation: Anchorage Port Stephens (US$ 328/ AUD 438/ £238)
4. Hunter Valley
Distance from Sydney: 3 hours, 13 minutes
If you’re looking for wining and dining, this is the place to be. The Hunter Valley region is best known for producing varieties like Semillon to Shiraz. Dating back to the 1800s, there’s a ton to learn about their viticultural history as well.
A wine tour in Hunter Valley is an exceptional way to try everything the Hunter distillery has to offer. You can try hot air ballooning with a premium flight company, go-karting or catch up on culture with a Morpeth heritage walk.
Top Accommodation in Hunter Valley
- Best budget option: Table Guest House (US$ 123/ AUD 164/ £89)
- Best mid-range accommodation: Belmore Hotel Scone (US$ 75/ AUD 100/ £54)
- Best luxury option: Harrigan’s Irish Pub and Accommodation (US$ 256/ AUD 341/ £185)
5. Port Macquarie
Distance from Sydney: 4 hours, 11 minutes
If you’re looking for seaside magnificence, this coastal town brings together beautiful scenery and vast wildlife and lush hinterlands. With the best climate around, you’re able to enjoy yourself at any time of the year doing everything you love.
Experience Port Macquarie by horseback, whizz through the Jolly Nose Mountain Bike Park or visit the Cedar Gold Creek. Head out into the ocean with Port sailing or stare at the stars at the Port Macquarie Astronomical Observatory.
Top Accommodation in Port Macquarie
- Best backpacker option: Ozzie Pozzie backpackers (US$ 53/ AUD 70/ £38)
- Best mid-range option: Water’s Edge Port hotel (US$ 102/ AUD 136/ £74)
- Best luxury option: Mercure Centro Port Macquarie (US$ 200/ AUD 267/ £145)
6. Coffs Harbour
Distance from Sydney: 5 hours, 38 minutes
Ever heard of the Big Banana monument? Well, you’ll find that at Coffs Harbour. Coffs is a reasonably safe and affordable addition to your NSW itinerary. With abundant wildlife and gorgeous coral reefs, there’s hardly much else as picturesque.
While you’re here, you’ll want to spend some time exploring the best attractions. The Big Banana Fun Park is a definite must. Thereafter, you can hit Dorrigo National Park and get some candid moments at the Forest Sky Pier.
Top Accommodation in Coffs Harbour
- Best budget option: The Plantation Hotel (US$ 90/ AUD 120/ £65)
- Best mid-range accommodation: Quality Hotel City Center (US$ 172/ AUD 229/ £124)
- Best luxury accommodation: Oceania Holiday (US$ 134/ AUD 178/ £96)
7. Snowy Mountains
Distance from Sydney: 5 hours, 26 minutes
The Snowies mountain range is the tallest range within mainland Australia. Here you can trek the Australian Alps during winter in June, July and August. Be sure not to miss out on the great historical and cultural experiences that await. A perfect location for skiers.
The best activity in the Snowy Mountains is, by far, hiking. There are so many walking trails that you may be able to walk the circumference of the earth during your stay. Prepare your backpack, mountain bike and wildflower textbook to explore some of the best bucket list hiking trails.
Top Accommodation in Snowy Mountains
- Best hostel option: Thredbo YHA Hostel (US$ 81/ AUD 108/ £58)
- Best mid-range accommodation: Thredbo Alpine (US$ 131/ AUD 174/ £94)
- Best luxury accommodation: Candlelight Lodge (US$ 150/ AUD 200/ £108)
Distance from Sydney: 7 hours – 9 hours
The town of Yamba was initially discovered in 1799 but only became an official town in 1854. Locals pride themselves on the quintessential uniqueness displayed in this town. This fishing town is perfect to sit back and unwind surrounded by a strong sense of community.
Beaches, surfing and farmer’s markets. Practice hanging ten with this 7-day surf camp, visit the best beaches like Convent beach, Pippi or Main beach, or catch an Instagram photoshoot at Turners Breakwall. End your day treating yourself at Karrakin restaurant.
Top Accommodation in Yamba
- Best backpackers accommodation: Yamba Central Backpacker Beach Resort (US$ 75/ AUD 100/ £54)
- Best hotel accommodation: Pacific Hotel (US$ 52/ AUD 69/ £37)
- Best resort accommodation: Blue Dolphin Holiday Resort (US$ 97/ AUD 129/ £70)
9. Byron Bay
Distance from Sydney: 8 hours – 10 hours
One of the best places to visit in Australia is Byron Bay and it sits right at the top of my personal list of best places to visit in NSW.
Best known for its barefoot surfer vibes, it’s an epic spot to score some umping waves during your Aussie roatrip and during June and November, you have to head down to the Captain Cook Lookout to spot the humpback whales.
A sense of adventure on a budget is one way to describe Byron Bay. Activities like whale-watching, scuba diving and snorkelling to hot air balloons, skydiving and hang gliding, Byron bay has it all. If you’d like to cleanse your soul, book some time with Awaken Meditation Retreats.
Top Accommodation in Byron Bay
- Best backpackers accommodation: Aquarius Backpackers Resort (US$ 60/ AUD 80/ £43)
- Best mid-range accommodation; Lord Byron hotel (US$ 497/ AUD 663/ £360)
- Best luxury accommodation: Victoria’s at Wategos (US$ 822/ AUD 1097/ £597)
10. Lord Howe Island
Distance from Sydney: 2 hours by plane
This one is a bit of a curveball, but well worth it!
Off the coast of Port Macquarie in New South Wales is the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Island of Lord Howe. A volcanic remnant in the Tasman Sea, this Island is well worth the 2-hour flight. With most of the population in the north, you can expect hills blanketed with forests in the south.
Lord Howe Island is spectacular for nature lovers. There are 14 species of seaboard to discover with a dedicated marine park to make this a top fishing destination. Explore the waters snorkelling or diving and you’ll definitely have to try kayaking or windsurfing.
Top Accommodation in Lord Howe Island
- Best budget option: Blue Lagoon Lodge (US$ 275/ AUD 367/ £319)
- Best luxury accommodation: Beachcomber Lodge (US$ 600/ AUD 801/ £435)
- Best apartment option: Ebbtide Apartments
Which stops are top of your best places places to visit in NSW?
Any others you’d recommend?