Sydney is one of the best cities in the world with some of the best city hotels in the world. The best way to explore this city and the largest natural harbour in the world is to walk it and in this article we review the top 5 best walks in Sydney so that you can make the most of your next trip to this magical city.
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Coogee to Bondi 5 mile scenic coastal walk
Catch the regular and frequent buses to Coogee (373,374) from Circular Quay. You need to buy tickets (2 single journeys) from the kiosk near the buses, before you board the bus. This is a 30 min ride past Hyde Park, Kings Park and through the Sydney suburbs, look out for the prehistoric Ibis birds (white with a long curved black beak, they mainly walk around looking for scraps!) in Hyde Park as you pass.
The bus drops you in the centre of Coogee near the beach, where you can grab a coffee before following the paths to the left towards the headland past the lovely white beach and the surfers. The path has plentiful seats, a few walkers and joggers, but is never crowded, Australians generally walk on right. Gordon’s Bay emerges through the tropical vegetation – as you head onwards the path passes a multitude of small aluminium boats which are pulled up above the storm line. Carry on to Clovelly which is a scenic inlet with a seawater swimming pool, which the waves crash into on a stormy day (see photo) and a small sandy cove at the end. Then onward over the cliffs and down past a cemetery perched right on the cliff edge. It’s worth a detour to look at some of the graves of the early settlers.
The next headland has marvellous views past Bronte and Tamamarama to Bondi. Next is Bronte, which is a lovely bay, quieter than Bondi with picnic tables on the nice natural grass area behind the beach, water stations, and lovely soft sand and this would be my choice for a swim (it was too rough to swim on our walk, see photo). Walk up over the headland to Tamarama which is a small inlet suitable for surfing if the wind allows. This is known as Glamarama because of the beautiful sunbathers who frequent the beach. Finally up through a sculpted headland where the path has overhangs, caves and holes eroded by the wind and waves over the years and on down into Bondi. Bondi is always busy with lots of young people, the beach is well managed with areas for surfing and swimming and masses of restaurants and eateries to reward yourselves after the walk. Catch bus 333 or 380 back to Circular Quay.
Manly to Shelley Beach (45 mins/2miles)
Take the half hourly ferry from Circular Quay to enjoy a glorious panoramic view of Sydney Harbour passing inside the Sydney Heads. (Tip: sit outside, upper deck, at the front of the ferry for the best views). Cross the road from Manly Wharf and walk straight up the shopping/restaurant Corso to Manly Beach, which is a lovely long sandy beach, famous for surfing and backed by Norfolk pines. Turn right and walk towards the Manly Life Saving Centre and admire the surfing, then follow the path to the left along Marine Parade. This is a pretty coastal walk with plentiful seating, passing a nice coffee shop at Fairy Bower and a salt water swimming pool. Look out for “dragons”, these are large lizards which are visible sunning themselves on the rocks if you look carefully along the under-cliff. The path takes you to Shelley Beach with the Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic reserve on your left. Shelley beach is a favourite with families and snorkellers and is very sheltered for a swim and there are coffee shops and restaurants. You can still walk onward through the bush up around the headland and onto North Head along the Manly scenic walkway if you want a longer hike.
Cremorne Point Wharf to Mosman Bay/ Taronga Zoo
Take the Mosman ferry to Cremorne Point and turn right and up the hill. This is a gentle, scenic, bush walk that weaves around the harbour headlands and bays with beautiful views of the Opera House and the Harbour bridge. You pass lovely old Colonial houses and swanky new homes as you amble down past the Mosman rowing club, it is very peaceful with lots of bird song. At Taronga Zoo you can take the ferry back to Circular Quay, or carry on to Balmoral Beach (6km) or Chowder Beach (4km) with more million dollar homes.
The Sydney Rocks
From Circular Quay, go to the Sydney Visitors Centre on the corner of Argyle and Playfair street and get a fee map and walking tour leaflet. The walk takes you through “The Rocks”, historical Sydney, with the oldest buildings and you finish at the Observatory at the top for marvellous bridge and harbour views.
Botanical gardens and Mrs Macquarie’s Point
From Circular Quay, go past the Opera House and follow the sea wall to Mrs Macquarie’s chair, where the Governor’s wife sat on a rock ledge shaped like a chair watching for ships from England, lovely views of the harbour. Then walk back through the Botanical gardens and glass houses, one of Sydney’s gems. Look out for the fruit bats (huge and don’t stand underneath the trees where they roost!!) and the water pools with lotus flowers. This return will take you back to Circular Quay or central Sydney.
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