If you’re someone who loves to strap on their walking or hiking boots, or lace up their walking shoes and get outside for hours, days or even weeks on end just walking, then Sydney is the place for you. The city is home to numerous coastal tracks, and, if you’re prepared to drive a short while outside of the main city, you’re treated to some of the very best bushwalks in the entire country.
It’s with this in mind that selecting the best walks in Sydney is no easy task, as there are numerous on offer. However, we’ve curated a list of the walks we think you really should be heading out on, both for those new to Sydney and those who may have already ticked off a couple and are in need of some inspiration.
Difficulty levels have been taken into account too, since we know not everybody is capable of walking for hours on end, up and down steep inclines and declines or across various terrain. The result is a selection of best Sydney walks that will have you seeing a great deal of the city and wider area, as well as helping you to get fit in the process.
Walking not your thing? How about trying one of Sydney’s best running routes instead?
Adventure is out there.
Bondi to Coogee Walk
We’ll get this one out the way first, since it’s the one the majority of readers may have already conquered. This walk is one of the top attractions for any visitors to Sydney and for good reason. It’s recommended you start in Bondi, although we’d suggest you start at the Coogee end first so that you can end by lying on the sand of Sydney’s most famous beach (of course, a finish in Coogee will give you permission to check out the Coogee Pavilion, and a drink there always goes down well). Regardless of where you start, however, this walk is all coastal and passes Tamarama, Bronte and Clovelly beaches along the way, as well as Gordon’s Bay.
It’s predominantly paved, with walking tracks and lookout points strategically placed for quick pitstops before heading on. To this end, it’s suitable for everyone and at around 6km, is easily completed within three hours.
Manly to Spit Walk
Once you’ve completed the Bondi to Coogee walk, the next level comes in the form of the Manly to Spit walk – although, again, we’d suggest starting at the Spit end so that you can finish on Manly beach. This walk has it all: length (it’s around 10km one way), some steep and uneven ground (so maybe leave the thongs at home) and it offers some unbelievable views of the ocean and Sydney Harbour, with several secret beaches along the way (so pack your swimmers).
During the migration season, the Manly to Spit can also be a great walk to offer up views of whales passing by Sydney’s east coast, but if you don’t get to see the real thing, then there are Aboriginal rock engravings along the way that provide a great history lesson.
Bondi to Manly
This is the big one. The Mac Daddy of walks and not one for the ill-prepared or the faint-hearted. Realising Sydney is home to a number of enthusiastic walkers, the six councils represented along the walk commissioned the building of a walking track from Bondi Beach, all the way round to Manly in the North. It’s some 80kms in length – so we’d be impressed if you managed the whole thing in one day – and joins together several previous walking tracks.
It has its own app, so you know where you are along the trail, and it also provides recommended itineraries (it’s broken down into 8 sections) so that you can complete it in style. These start from two days but can extend into a seven day walk if you have the time, patience and the need to break it down.
Figure 8 Pools
The Royal National Park, south of Sydney city, is simply teeming with various bushwalks, which combine together to create one mammoth 26km trail that can be completed over a course of a few days. However, one of our favourite, smaller walks within that is the trek to Figure 8 Pools. The Figure 8 Pool itself (it’s just the one pool) is a naturally-occurring pool that literally resembles the number 8. It’s certainly Instagrammable, although just how much you’re impressed by it will depend on how much you hype it up beforehand.
But the walk to the Pool is one for slightly more experienced walkers. There is a car park (which you’ll need to pay the National Park day pass fee to access) which provides direct access to a 3.5km path. It can be incredibly steep in sections, and not all of it is proper boardwalk. Once you’re down the path you’re greeted by Burning Palms beach, which is well worth spending some time on as it’s usually pretty empty (don’t quote us on this during particularly hot summer weekends) and it’s simply stunning.
Now the tricky bit, a short walk over large rocks, followed by a few sections of slippery flat rock to reach the Figure 8 Pools. Beware, however, only attempt to access the Pools during low tide. If you go during high tide, the crashing waves and swell will pour over the flat rock you need to walk over, and despite the Pools being beautiful, they’re not worth being washed out to sea for.
Barangaroo Reserve Foreshore Walk
If the thought of being washed away to sea after a steep decline isn’t your idea of a fun time, then perhaps the walk at Barangaroo Reserve is more up your alley. Barangaroo Reserve is still a work-in-progress that aims to be completed in 2024. It’s been designed to offer a vast public space that will also eventually include a longer version of this walk, taking you all the way to Darling Harbour.
For now, this 2km walk is incredibly easy, being all one level and flat for the duration. It’s been designed with several stopping points along the way so that you can take in the various views of Sydney Harbour, Luna Park and Darling Harbour (and have ample time to people watch). It’s dog-friendly too, so an ideal spot to walk the pooch and a playground is on standby to entertain your children.
Botany Bay Coastal Walk
Another one for the real walking nuts out there is the coastal track from Botany Bay to Cronulla. Strap on your hiking boots and make sure you have plenty of water for this one, as it’s 12.7km one way and is expected to take you just over four hours to complete. A fair chunk of the walk takes place over cliff tops, with the ocean in a constant frame, however, also along the way, you’ll come across sand dunes (the ones at Greenhills are heritage-listed) hanging swamps and the Cape Baily Lighthouse. Plenty to upload to your Instagram Story, then.
The terrain underfoot can get pretty rocky and rough along the way, so make sure you have good footwear and are of a good level of fitness. For those not so fitness-minded, you can complete a smaller section of the walk, from Cape Solander (a great place to view migrating whales and huge waves during big swells) to Cape Baily Lighthouse.
Bradleys Head to Chowder Bay
This walk forms part of the much longer Harbour Bridge to Spit Bridge (16.5km one way), and is much more manageable at just 4km one way. Graded at a level 3, this walk is suitable for most people, regardless of fitness level. Along the path, you’re presented with sublime views of Sydney Harbour and its landmark buildings, along with views of millionaire’s paradise, Rose Bay. Sections of the walk pass through forested areas, giving you a chance to see some Australian wildlife up close.
You’ll need to start at Taronga Zoo (perhaps after making a morning visit) and follow the path to Chowder Bay, which is a prime picnic, swimming and scuba diving location.
Couranga Walking Track
Back to the Royal National Park now and the Couranga walking track. This walk isn’t coastal – so offers something completely different to the vast majority of other walks on this list – as not everybody needs to see the ocean every time they want to go walking. Instead, this walk caters to those who want to get lost in nature, with sprawling sections of wildflowers in the spring. Rainforest trees shield you for the majority of this walk, so you’re well-protected from the sun (although still wear sun cream during summer months, of course), which are also home to various wildlife, so make sure you have your camera fully charged.
At 5.1km one-way, the Couranga track is relatively easy and is suitable for walkers of all abilities.
Grand Canyon Track
Leave the coastal tracks of the Eastern Suburbs and Royal National Park behind and drive out west to the Blue Mountains. The renowned area is home to its own fair share of walking tracks, encompassing a variety of difficulties, but each with their own merits and spectacular views.
The Grand Canyon Track is perhaps one of the better walks within the Blue Mountains, due to the views it offers, coupled with the fact it’s relatively easy by Blue Mountain standards. Along the 6.3km loop, you’ll come across waterfalls, sandstone walls and plants native to both the area and Australia and you can also take into account the fact the same path has been trodden by many a walker since 1907.
If you venture out to the Blue Mountains looking for a real challenge, then you’ll want to complete the Federal Pass walk. At 13km one-way, you’d best make sure you have appropriate rations and plenty of water, not to mention a can-do attitude and some serious footwear. Once those are ticked off, head off on one of the most rewarding walks within the Blue Mountains and, to be honest, the whole of Sydney.
The walk has a few starting points, but the one that makes the most sense is in Leura, a small town just a short drive from the main Blue Mountains entry point. It winds its way along the base of the cliffs all the way to Ruined Castle, and will take you past various waterfalls and sections of forest. You’ll also pass the Three Sisters rock formation, being gifted a different point of view to the tourists that flock to take their picture with it.
Anzac Bridge to Pyrmont Bridge
Bringing it back to flat, glorious tarmac is this short but sweet walk from Anzac Bridge to Pyrmont Bridge. Heading over the Anzac Bridge towards the City will take you past the Sydney Fish Market, so a prime spot to stop for a bite to eat, no matter if you’re passing by in the morning or during the day.
From there you just need to follow Pyrmont Bridge Road towards the Australian National Maritime Museum where you’ll be able to head over the Pyrmont Bridge and bam, you’re in the heart of the city. What you do next is up to you, a bit of shopping perhaps, or you have immediate access to some of the coolest bars Sydney has to offer.
Sydney Walks FAQ
How long is the Coogee to Bondi Beach walk?
The Coogee to Bondi walk is six km long and can take two to three hours to complete. However, with several beaches and lookout points to stop at along the way, you'll want to set aside a full day to finish the walk.
How do I get to the Spit to Manly walk?
If you start from the Spit Bridge end (and you should) you can catch a bus from Wynard train station that will drop you off at Spit Bridge. You then need to cross the bridge and take the path around to the left as you exit it. This is the starting point of the Spit to Manly walk.
How long does it take to walk the Bondi to Manly walk?
At some 80km, the Bondi to Manly walk should be completed in a minimum of two days, so you'll want to make sure you take camping gear with you, or that you stop somewhere you can find a hostel, hotel or Air BnB. If you're a serious runner, you can complete it in about 15 hours.