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A guide for visiting the Blue Mountains, New South Wales, Australia

Standing above the clouds looking across the Blue Mountains range in New South Wales, Australia

The Blue Mountains above the clouds

The Blue Mountains are a jewel in the crown of New South Wales. The vast mountain range is known for its dramatic scenery, with rugged sandstone ridges, waterfalls, cascades and lush forests. The Blue Mountains get their name from the blue haze which surrounds the mountain range and valleys, caused by the vast eucalyptus forests and it is simply stunning.

A trip to the Blue Mountains is one of the best things to do in New South Wales and a must-see if you are in Sydney, which is just 2 hours away!

Looking for something to do in nearby Victoria, instead? Consider a trip to the Grampians National park. The Grampians is another amazing National Park in Australia, with plenty of waterfalls and hiking trails, just a couple of hours drive from the city of Melbourne.

Before I get into some of the best things to see in the Blue Mountains in two days, here's some practical information to help you plan your own trip to the Blue Mountains.

A practical guide to visiting the Blue Mountains, New South Wales

When is the best time to visit the Blue Mountains?

The proximity to Sydney means that many 'Sydney-siders' will flock to the Blue Mountains at the weekends and during holidays to get a slice of the beautiful nature right on their doorstep. So, if you can, try and plan your visit on a weekday.

The weather in the Blue Mountains is so changeable. We visited in the summer month of February and one day we had pouring rain and thick clouds and the next day glorious sunshine! Although it was the height of summer, the forest protected us from too much sun exposure, but it was hot! The best time to visit the Blue Mountains, especially if you are going to be hiking, is either the spring months of September - October or between March - May in the Autumn.

Admiring the view of thick green forest over the Blue Mountains National Park from a shady spot along the Prince Henry cliff walk

Admiring the view over the National Park from a shady spot along the Prince Henry cliff walk

How to get to the Blue Mountains?

If you don't have a car, the easiest way to get to the Blue Mountains is by taking the train from Sydney to Katoomba. The journey takes just 2 hours and if you sit on the top deck of the train, you'll get great views over the Blue Mountain range as you get closer!

How to get around in the Blue Mountains?

If you don't have your own transport and arrive in Katoomba by train, don't worry, it's quite easy to get around the Blue Mountains National park using public transport, or on foot.

The public bus network in the Blue Mountains is easy to navigate and you can find various maps and timetables here.

There is also a tourist 'Explorer hop on / hop off bus', which takes you to the main viewpoints and areas of interest in the park. We chose not to buy the tourist bus because once we looked into it more, we realised that Scenic world (the main hub, where the cable car and scenic railway is located) was only a 35 minute walk from our hostel. We also realised that each of the main lookout spots in the Blue Mountains were within walking distance from one another and being the eager hikers that we are, we much prefer to walk than take a bus. Personally I think that you see much more when you get out on foot and explore – plus it saved us $110 as we didn’t have to buy the explorer bus passes!

Where is the best place to stay in the Blue Mountains?

As we didn’t have our own transport, we stayed in the town of Katoomba, so that we could walk from the train station to our accommodation. Katoomba is one of the best places to stay in the Blue Mountains National Park as it is the easiest to get to, and has plenty of amenities such as cafes, bars and shops, making it a great base to explore the mountains. Katoomba is the most visited town in the Blue Mountains, so if you prefer something a little quieter and more surrounded by nature, then you should take that into consideration when choosing where to stay. Perhaps the pretty, upmarket village of Leura might be more your cup of tea, or if you are happy to be away from the amenities then a self contained unit in Wentworth Falls could be just the peace and quiet you're looking for.

Now that you know some of the practical stuff like how to get to the Blue Mountains and when to visit, let's have a look at some of the best things to see in the Blue Mountains National Park and how we spent two days hiking and exploring there.

The Best things to see and do in the Blue Mountains National Park, in just two days

The Katoomba Cascades, in the Blue Mountains National Park

Katoomba Cascades

Two days is a good amount of time to explore the Blue Mountains. Of course, if you wanted to have more time hiking some of the less popular trails, then you could easily spend a few days longer, but two days will allow you to see some of the best (and most accessible) parts of the Blue Mountains.

Visit Scenic World - the hub of the Blue Mountains

The main hub of the Blue Mountains is 'Scenic World', which is just outside of Katoomba town. Several trails and cliff walks start from Scenic world and you'll find lots of information here if you're not sure which trail to do. There's also a cafe, gift shop and interactive exhibitions for children at Scenic World.

If hiking is not your thing, or your not able to walk the trails, then there's three other great options available. From Scenic World you can take a cable car to the base of the forest, a mountain railway to Katoomba falls or a cable car across the valley to Echo point. These options mean that seeing the beauty of the Blue Mountains is accessible for all.

There are several buses that will take you to Scenic world, or if you are staying in the town of Katoomba, you can walk there in around 35 minutes. Just head out of Katoomba town, down Katoomba road until you reach signs for the Katoomba cascades. From here, follow the signs to the Katoomba falls and further through the forest until you arrive at Scenic world.

Day 1 - Hike the most popular trail in the Blue Mountains

A great walk with gorgeous scenery is the Prince Henry cliff walk, which skirts the edge of the cliff, looking out across the valley. Walking the Prince Henry cliff walk is one of the most popular things to do in the Blue Mountains and the trail boasts some of the best views in New South Wales.

The full trail is 7km one way from Katoomba falls, near Scenic World to Gordon Falls, near Leura village, but the most popular section is between Katoomba falls to Echo point, where you can also walk to the Three Sisters viewpoint. This section of the trail is suitable for most fitness levels, and if you want, you can walk one way to Echo point then catch the cable car back to Scenic World.

The Prince Henry Cliff walk also passes the Furber lookout viewpoint, which is close to Scenic World and offers fantastic views over the Blue Mountains (on a clear day!) Unfortunately the first day we were in the Blue Mountains, we had terrible weather, it rained all day and a thick layer of cloud covered the whole area!

We had pretty poor visibility and pouring rain on our first day in the Blue Mountains

Because the weather was so bad on our first day, we ended up just walking to Katoomba Cascades then through the forest to Scenic World, where we warmed up with a hot drink and then decided to call it a day. We were soaked through and couldn't see a thing! So we planned a longer walk for our second day and hoped for better weather!

See below for the view from Furber lookout on the first day versus the second day!

A wall of thick cloud hides any views at the Furber lookout Viewpoint
Admiring the Blue Mountains and valley on a clear day with blue skies from Furber lookout Viewpoint

Same viewpoint, different day, different view!

Day 2 - A more challenging hike through the Blue Mountains Valley

After warming our legs up on day 1, it was time to take on a more challenging hike on our second day!

We combined a couple of different trails, so that we could experience the Blue Mountains both from the high aspect of the cliff walks and also from the forests of the valley floor. Once again, we started in Katoomba and walked out of town to the Katoomba cascades, where we headed in the direction of Scenic world to begin our walk. From Scenic world, here's the route we took:

From Scenic World, walk to Furber lookout for stunning views over the national park. After admiring the view, take the Furber steps down into the valley. The Furber steps are really steep, but the views are amazing!

Standing above the clouds at the Furber Lookout viewpoint in the Blue Mountains National Park
Making my way down the side of the mountain by taking the incredibly steep Furber steps in the Blue Mountains National Park

Making our (long) way down the steep Furber Steps!

Once you've reached the bottom of the Furber steps, follow the Federal Pass trail through the forest. This is a really beautiful trail, leading you through the valley and along the side of the mountains, taking in views of the mountain range and the Three Sisters.

Eventually you will arrive at the base of the Giant Stairway. The Giant Stairway is called that for a reason! A total of 998 steep steps will lead you up the side of the mountain to the base of the Three Sisters. It's tough going, especially in the heat, but it's a fun challenge!

Climbing back up the mountain and above the treetops via the Giant Stairway in the Blue Mountains National Park
One of the Three Sisters rocks in the foreground, with the valley and mountain range in the background, in the Blue Mountains National Park

Back up we go!… up to the Three Sisters

From the top of the Giant Stairway and the Three Sisters, you are only a short walk from Echo Point visitor centre. This is a great opportunity for a refuel and a rest - trust me, your legs will need it after all those steps!

We enjoyed a picnic at the Echo point viewpoint with gorgeous views across the mountain range.

Standing at Echo Point viewpoint with sweeping views across the valley of the Blue Mountains National Park

Smiles back at the top

From Echo Point, you have several options, you can either catch the cable car back to Scenic world, or, the most popular option is to walk along the Prince Henry cliff walk back to Katoomba Falls and Scenic World, choosing either of these options will create a full loop.

This loop from Furber Lookout to the Giant Stairway to Echo Point, and then back to Scenic World is one of the most popular routes in the Blue Mountains park as it takes in some of the most beautiful viewpoints and highlights in the Blue Mountains. I would definitely recommend doing this loop on your visit to the Blue Mountains.

We, however, decided not to complete the loop and instead of heading back to Scenic World, we headed in the opposite direction to explore more of the park! From Echo Point visitor centre, we took the Prince Henry cliff walk towards Leura Village, following the path to Bridal Veil lookout and Leura cascades.

There's a lot less people on this section of the cliff walk, so if you want to avoid some of the crowds, then head in this direction. This section of the cliff walk also has some stunning views of dramatic waterfalls and cliff edges. Looking out across the mountain range to Bridal Veil Falls was one of my favourite moments on this hike in the blue Mountains.

Water fans out and flows down the rocky mountain side at Bridal Veil Falls in the Blue Mountains National Park

Bridal Veil falls

We eventually reached the Leura Cascades, where we decided to end our hike. (We'd covered a lot of ground in one day in an attempt to make up for getting rained off on day 1 and we were ready to put our feet up!)

From Leura Cascades, we cut through the forest until we reached Cliff Road and followed the road around to the left until we reached Katoomba road then headed into town for a well deserved ice cream!

Looking across to Bridal Veil Falls, and walking up Leura Cascades

There are many companies offering day trips to the Blue Mountains from Sydney, and depending on how much you wanted to see and how much walking you wanted to do, you could visit the blue mountains in one day if you set off early and planned your route beforehand so you knew what you wanted to see before arriving.

However, I would recommend two days so that you are not rushing and have time to visit all the spots you want to see and really take it in. It’s a beautiful place and great for hiking – all paths are well sign posted, making it really easy to navigate. There is so much more we could have seen but we fitted a lot into the time we had here and loved every minute.

Australia is blessed with so many amazing National Parks, spread across the whole country.

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