An itinerary for 1 week in Sydney, perfect for adventurous, active travelers who love being outside!
I love cities. I really do; they’re full of entertainment, art, and culture. But do I consider myself a city person? No.
I’ve now lived in London, Rome, and Sydney, three of the world’s most famous cities. Though I grew up in a small town, and I never pictured myself settling down in a big city, these places are really special to me.
I love the architecture and entertainment scene in London. I love the history and the delicious food of Rome.
But my favorite thing about Sydney is the nature.
It’s rare to find an abundance of natural beauty in a city. But Sydney is framed by beaches and national parks, making it a dream for outdoorsy travelers.
Personally, I’d choose to spend a day hiking, swimming, and eating snacks on the beach over shopping, touring museums and dining at restaurants or bar-hopping.
If you’re an outdoorsy traveler like me, don’t skip a visit to Sydney just because you think it’s all skyscrapers and crowds.
Just outside the CBD are plenty of natural attractions that are absolutely worth seeing.
So here is a 1 week in Sydney itinerary that includes all the best outdoor spots in and around the city.
1 Week In Sydney Itinerary
For each day in this Sydney travel itinerary, I’ll recommend a highly-rated and affordable hostel.
Staying in a hostel is the cheapest accommodation option in Sydney.
As for getting around, local trains are efficient and straightforward for traveling through Sydney.
For exploring the national parks outside Sydney, I recommend renting a car.
However, this entire itinerary is doable by public transport alone, so it just depends on your preferences.
I’ll get into all the details for each day on the itinerary.
(You need an Opal Card to ride public transport in Sydney. Just pick one up at a convenience store and add money to it!)
Day 1: Sydney Harbor
Even if big cities aren’t your thing, Sydney Harbor is not to be missed. It’s the heart and soul of the city, and it’s full of iconic landmarks that are really cool to see.
The best things to do in Sydney Harbor include:
- Admire the Sydney Opera House or take a tour
- Relax in the Botanic Gardens
- Walk across the Harbor Bridge or book a bridge climb
- Check out Darling Harbor
- Explore Chinatown
- Eat and drink at the Rocks, a historic neighborhood next to the Harbor Bridge
- Visit a museum, such as the National Maritime Museum or the Sydney Museum of Contemporary Art
Soak in the art, architecture, and culture today because the rest of this Sydney travel itinerary focuses on bushwalks and beaches!
Hostel Recommendation: Summer House Backpackers Kings Cross: $20 per night
Transport: You can walk everywhere on the first day of your 1 week in Sydney. It’s a 30-minute walk from the hostel to Sydney Harbor.
Day 2: Manly and Northern Beaches
On your second day in Sydney, take the ferry from Sydney Harbor to Manly.
This is an incredibly scenic boat ride that provides amazing views the whole way. Some consider the ferry ride itself to be one of the best things to do in Sydney!
Once you’re in Manly, there are plenty of beaches perfect for swimming, snorkeling, surfing, kayaking, and more.
Here are some fun things to do in Manly:
- Rent a kayak from Manly Kayak Centre
- Go for a coastal walk; Manly to Spit Bridge and North Head Sanctuary are two of the best walks
- Rent a bike and cycle along the coast
- Swim in the Fairy Bower Rock Pool
- Snorkel in Cabbage Tree Bay or Shelly Beach
- Visit a local pub or brewery (4 Pines Brewing Company is a local favorite)
- Check out Freshwater Beach, Manly Beach, and Queenscliff Beach, or head north to Curl Curl Beach and walk the coastal walk up to Dee Why Beach
There are honestly so many gorgeous beaches up here, and you’d need more than 1 day to really see them all. You can choose to spend day 3 of this itinerary exploring more of the Manly area. Or you can head further north to a beautiful area of northern Sydney which I’ll describe next.
Hostel Recommendation: Boardrider Backpacker: $34 per night
Transport: Take the ferry from Sydney Harbor, you can pay using your Opal Card. Within Manly, you can just walk or take Ubers.
Day 3: Avalon and Palm Beach
In the very northeast corner of Sydney is a thin peninsula framed by ocean, bays, and Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.
This area is very quiet and peaceful, and it’s visually stunning because of the diverse landscape.
At the very tip of the peninsula, to the north of Palm Beach, is the Barrenjoey Head Lighthouse. It is set atop a steep, bush-covered hill which takes about 30 minutes to hike.
The view from the top is nothing short of breathtaking.
After soaking in the views, head to the nearby town of Avalon. Full of cafes, bookstores, and quirky shops, it’s a very charming place to stroll around and grab some food before taking the bus back to Manly.
Hostel Recommendation: I’d recommend staying at the same hostel in Manly and just making a day trip up to Palm Beach. There aren’t any hostels in the northern tip of Sydney.
Transport: The local bus Route 199 goes from Manly to Palm Beach. It takes just over an hour. On your way back you can hop off in Avalon.
Day 4: Bondi
Bondi is one of the most iconic places to visit in Sydney. As crowded and touristy as it is, I still love Bondi.
There is so much to see and do, and it’s a great place for people-watching.
I think the absolute best thing to do in Bondi is the famous Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk. It’s a great workout, and the views of the curving cliffs and golden beaches are gorgeous.
Be sure to go for a dip in the Bronte Baths next to Bronte Beach, or the Giles Baths near Coogee Beach.
Other fun things to do in Bondi include:
- Browsing the trendy shops
- Treating yourself to a nice brunch at a healthy cafe
- Admiring the street art next to the beach
- Swimming in the Bondi Icebergs (it’s $9 to enter)
- Watching the sunrise over Bondi Beach
- Surfing at Bondi Beach
- Having a picnic on the grass next to the beach
Hostel Recommendation: Wake Up! Bondi Beach: $42 per night (A bit expensive, so you can always continue staying at a cheaper hostel near the Harbor and just take the train back there at the days end)
Transport: From Manly, take the ferry back to Sydney Harbor. Then walk to Martin Place Station and ride the train for 20 minutes to Bondi Junction. Once in Bondi, everything is within walking distance.
Day 5: Cronulla
After a day in Bondi, head to the southernmost beach suburb of Sydney: Cronulla.
Cronulla is like Bondi but smaller and with fewer tourists.
There is one main street where all the shops and restaurants are located. I’m not a huge shopping fan, but the Mindful Store is a must-visit. It’s full of aesthetically pleasing and health-conscious goods, like bath salts, candles, books, clothes, and more.
From the shops, it’s a 2-minute walk to Cronulla Beach.
Spend the day walking along the Esplanade Walk, a pedestrian-only sidewalk that trails the entire Cronulla coastline.
Stop for a swim in one of the 4 gorgeous rock pools: North Cronulla Rock Pool, South Cronulla Rock Pool, Shelly Beach Rock Pool, and Oak Park Rock Pool.
The 2 latter pools are situated next to grassy green parks that are perfect for picnics or barbecues.
Hostel Recommendation: Cronulla Beach Backpackers: $25 per night
Transport: Take the local train direct from Bondi Junction to Cronulla Station. Cronulla is small, so you can walk everywhere from the station.
Day 6: Royal National Park
Now that you’ve explored Sydney Harbor, the northern beaches, Bondi, and Cronulla, it’s time to venture to the best natural spots outside the city.
The last 2 days of this 1 week in Sydney itinerary will bring you to 2 stunning national parks.
Today, it’s the Royal National Park.
Located just south of the city, this massive expanse of protected wilderness is full of unique natural sights and enjoyable hiking trails.
Some of the best things to do in the Royal National Park include:
- Cliff jumping at Wattamolla Beach
- Hiking from Wattamolla to Curracurrong Falls, a waterfall that drops straight into the ocean
- Swimming in the famous Figure 8 Pools (click here for important info on visiting this spot)
- Surfing at Garie Beach
- Hiking from Garie Beach to North Era Beach
- Hiking from Bundeena to the Wedding Cake Rock
- Grabbing a coffee in the quaint little town of Bundeena
The park is very remote, with few facilities outside the town of Bundeena. I recommend stocking up on food and water in town before you set off hiking and exploring.
Hostel Recommendation: There are no hostels in the park. You can either camp at one of the campgrounds, stay at an Airbnb in Bundeena, or continue staying at your hostel in Cronulla and make this a day trip.
Transport: There is a local bus service in the Royal National Park that goes to all the hotspots. But for the last couple days of this 1 week in Sydney itinerary, I’d recommend renting a car. You’ll be visiting 2 national parks that are big and remote, so it’s much easier to drive yourself and make your own schedule.
Take an Uber or Taxi from Cronulla to the nearby town of Caringbah to rent a car. It’s around $75 for 1 day, so it’s pricier than public transport. But it’s worth it for the flexibility!
Day 7: Blue Mountains
For your last day in Sydney, head to one of the most beautiful places in New South Wales.
If you love fresh air, uncrowded hiking trails, and jaw-dropping views, the Blue Mountains will blow your mind.
The vast valleys of the Blue Mountains are framed with cliffs and waterfalls. There are plenty of challenging day hikes and scenic lookouts to satisfy any nature-loving traveler.
Some of the best activities in the Blue Mountains include:
- Walking the Prince Henry Cliff Walk, passing famous sights like Katoomba Falls and the Three Sisters
- Hiking to Wentworth Falls
- Riding the cable car at Scenic World
- Hiking the Grand Canyon Track
- Visiting Govetts Leap Lookout and Pulpit Rock
- Exploring the charming towns of Katoomba and Blackheath
- Seeing the stalactites and stalagmites of Jenolan Caves
- Canyoning or Abseiling down Empress Falls
Hostel Recommendation: Blue Mountains YHA, $22 per night
Transport: If you’ve rented a car, it’s a 1.5-2 hour drive from Southern Sydney to the Blue Mountains. If you’re still taking public transport, take the local train to Central Station then change for the Blue Mountains Train Line. The train stops at Katoomba and Blackheath!
You also have the option of booking a guided tour. There are many that include transport to and from Sydney and they cost around $150.
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Thanks for reading my suggested 1 week in Sydney itinerary for outdoorsy travelers!
The natural beauty in and around Sydney is too good to miss.
And for travelers who feel a bit lost and overwhelmed in big cities, Sydney’s beaches and hiking trails are the perfect escape.
Other things to note before traveling to Sydney, Australia:
☼ Check out my list of travel essentials! Things like hiking boots, a microfiber towel, and a universal travel adaptor will come in handy in Australia.
☼ Consider getting travel insurance, especially if you’ll be getting active and hiking or surfing in remote areas. I recommend Squaremouth Insurance; this platform compares different insurance plans and so you can pick the best one for you. I had such a good experience with them! (Read my Budget Traveler’s Guide to Travel Insurance for more info!)
For more articles about traveling in Australia, check out:
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