I made it my mission to try as many coastal walks in Sydney as I could while I was living there, and I must say I outdid myself a little bit in this gorgeous city. There is so much walking and hiking to be done: bush walks, beach walks, and harbour walks are the thing to do in Sydney.
I get a little too excited when I talk about Sydney. This city encompasses EVERYTHING. It’s a big city, yes – one of the most prominent in the world, but it is set within so much nature…. more than I have ever seen in a city! Sydney is situated on one of the largest natural harbours in the world, with tons of inlets, harbors, small peninsulas, headlands, and points.
There are national parks that border it on all sides, even a national park WITHIN the city, and along nearly every single coast is some kind of fairly well-maintained trail or coastal track. Sydney really is a walker’s paradise – anywhere green you look along the harbour (which is everywhere) will more than likely have a really cool walking trail nestled in it amongst the trees, foliage, beaches, and cliffs.
And, once I discovered this, I made it my mission to discover each and every one that I possibly could. I’m pretty sure I did a solidly thorough job of it too – I have tried not to leave any of the coastal walks in Sydney unexplored. They are one of the best free things to do in Sydney! All photos are my own from my adventures; I hope you can enjoy some of these walks as much as I did!
Amazing Coastal Walks in Sydney:
Royal National Park Coastal Track
Length: up to 27km
Terrain: Up and down hills, through jungles and bush, across beaches – a bit of everything.
This walk is incredible! I even did a whole post on it. Royal National Park is definitely one of the most scenic coastlines I have ever had the privilege to set foot on. The coastal walk is usually done in two days (I did it in one- read my 27 in One Day Post to see how that went) and goes up and down headlands, through a forest, and basically any terrain you can think of really. This walk encompasses two pretty awesome landmarks – Wedding Cake Rock and the Figure 8 Pools, which you can also do as two separate coastal walks in Sydney. Make sure you give yourself enough time to check everything out!
Bondi to Bronte/Coogee/Maroubra
Length: 3-10ish km
Terrain: Hilly, nearly always paved, many opportunities to swim
This walk has many different possible names depending on how for you want to walk – some call it Bondi to Bronte, some say Bondi to Coogee, and if you’re a real explorer you can go Bondi to Maroubra. I think it’s just called the Eastern Suburbs coastal track and you can walk any portion of it that you want! 😛
Anyway, all names aside, this is one of the must-do coastal walks in Sydney. The views are simply spectacular, the water is the bluest of blue, and there are tons of rock pools to take a dip if you get hot. This walk gives me such a true Australian feel – starting with a view of the classic Bondi iceberg’s rock pool and Bondi Life Saving Club and with equally amazing coastal and cliffy views as you go along. If you continue all the way to Maroubra you can include some rock scrambling too!
Spit to Manly
Terrain: dirt paths through bush, across beaches, hilly at times, and paved track
Spit to Manly is also a really popular walk, amongst locals and travelers alike. On a sunny day you’ll find lots of people happily going along and snapping tons of photos of the views along the way. The walk starts at the Spit Bridge and goes around the whole Balgowlah headland, starting by going across Clontarf and a few other beaches before going up onto the cliffs for a great view of Manly and Sydney Harbour. Part of this walk goes through Sydney Harbour National Park, like a lot of the coastal walks in the harbour do!
Read More: See my Guide to Manly Beach after I lived there for 6 months!
Manly to Dee Why
Length: Any stretch of walk up to 7km
Terrain: Mainly beach boardwalks, with stairs, street, paths, and some bush between Curl Curl and Dee Why
This isn’t a specific walk per say, but it is absolutely beautiful to walk along the northern beaches. You can easily walk from Manly all the way up to Dee Why by following the beach boardwalks and basically staying on the path that’s closest to the water. You will go past a rock pool at each beach, around the headland and onto a path between Freshwater and Curl Curl, and up into the bush for a really nice coastal bush walk between Curl Curl and Dee Why. All amazing views!
Mosman Middle Head to Taronga Zoo – Bradley’s Head and Chowder Head Walk/Angophora Walk
Length: About 6-7k
Terrain: Dirt bush paths, wooden boardwalks, paved sidewalks
Yet another part of Sydney Harbour National Park, Middle Head is a bush area on the coast of Mosman with some amazing trails and actually a few war memorial sites. We started our walk near George’s Head, and explored some cannons they have left over there from WW2. We continued along the coast through Chowder bay, following the ‘Bradley’s Head and Chowder Head’ walk around the headland, around Taylor’s Bay, and all the way around the Bradley’s Head peninsula. At this point the trail apparently turned into the ‘Angophora’ walk, finishing off at the Taronga Zoo where you can catch a ferry, bus, or check out what the Zoo has to offer. I’m not really sure where they get the names for these walks, so I have just named them myself based on where they start and finish. You’re welcome for the simplification!
Mosman Bay to Cremorne Point
Length: About 5km
Terrain: slightly hilly, mostly paved coastal track
Now, I don’t think this walk has a ‘real’ name, but it was one of my parents and my favorite adventures while they were out here visiting. We parked and started our walk in Mosman Bay and followed the coastal track all the way to the very end of Cremorne point, where we checked out the lighthouse that looks out to the whole harbour. We then kept going around the other side of Cremorne point, enjoying lovely views of the Opera House and harbour, and crossed back over the peninsula when the trail ended. The flora and fauna were absolutely fantastic, we spotted and heard heaps of colorful birds, and walked through some beautiful gardens. Definitely one of my favorite coastal walks in Sydney.
Palm Beach – Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk
Length: 1- 1.5km one way (uphill)
Terrain: The long way is a paved steep track, and the short way is mostly dirt stairs through bush.
This is one of my favorite views in Sydney. Barrenjoey Head is at the very tip-top of the northern beaches, and offers a wonderful view down the isthmus-like stretch of land between Palm Beach and the Pittwater inlet and also of a very cliffy coastline to the north. You walk along a sandy path from the parking lot, veer left to walk along the inlet beach for a bit, and then have a choice to take a longer paved way or take the shorter way with stairs straight up the hill. We took the long way up and the short way down, which I recommend! Soak up some sun at the lighthouse, explore the bush, and make sure to get some good photos because the view is unreal. I wrote a post with very specific directions on how to get to the Palm Beach Lighthouse Walk Here!
Long Reef Point
Length: About 3k return
Terrain: Paved tracks to beach
Long Reef is another beautiful coastal area to explore. You can park at the south end of Collaroy and walk along the path to Long Reef point, where you can enjoy amazing views of all the northern beaches at the easternmost point in the area. The beach below is also amazing to explore, with beautiful rocks and shells to discover.
Manly North Head Trails
Length: Anything from about 2-9k, depending what you want!
Terrain: Dirt bush trails
North Head is just an endless area of discovery – they’re definitely some of my favorite coastal walks in Sydney. I lived right next to North Head, and honestly discovered a new trail every time I went there! A lot of people follow trails up into the bush from Shelly Beach, but you can also find heaps of trails by following Darley Road up to North Head Scenic Drive. T
The Fairfax lookout is an amazing place to see the harbour, and you really can find trails just about anywhere up here. You can also visit or stay at the old quarantine station “Q Station” to learn a bit about what it was like to come to Sydney by boat decades ago during outbreaks of illnesses, which is really fascinating. There are lots of old forts and barracks on North Head too because it was a base for defense of the harbour during WW2. North head is one of the best places to explore!
Shark Beach to Rose Bay – Hermitage Foreshore Walk
Length: about 2-3k one way
Terrain: Bush trails with occasional boardwalks and paved sidewalks, pretty flat
The ‘hermitage foreshore walk’ technically begins around the headland from Shark Bay and ends at the Hermitage Foreshore Reserve. But, if you want, you can walk all the way from Shark Beach to Rose Bay! This is a lovely little walk going through bush and across beaches, and has amazing views of the harbour (opera house and harbour bridge included) especially at sunset. There are tons of great picnic spots along the way, all of which are perfect to see the sun set over the harbour.
Length: 1-2k one way
Terrain: Paved boardwalk
This is a really flat and leisurely walk along the water with fantastic views. From Luna Park you can walk around Lavender Bay, and have a perfect view of the Opera House underneath the Harbour Bridge. You can continue to the next points, McMahon’s or Blues Points, if you don’t mind walking on the street a tiny bit, and there are great places for picnics throughout.
Manly To Shelly Beach
Length: 1km one way
Terrain: Paved Boardwalk
The Manly to Shelly walk is a very popular short walk in Manly that goes right along the Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve and the Manly Rock pool. The sea here is teeming with fish and marine life and is perfect for a snorkel; people even scuba dive here too! Shelly is a beautiful and more secluded little beach just outside of Manly and is great for BBQ’s and beach games. This walk can connect with trails to North Head near Shelly Beach, with the Manly to Dee Why walk in Manly, or just along the Manly boardwalk!
Cahill Walk – Harbour Bridge to Botanic Gardens
Length: Just over 2km one way
Terrain: Paved Sidewalks
It’s on many peoples’ bucket lists when in Sydney to walk across the Harbour Bridge, but many don’t know that that walk actually has a name! you can walk across the bridge from the north and follow the sidewalk around, past Circular Quay, and to the Botanic Gardens, and this walk is called the Cahill Walk because it follows the Cahill Expressway. It’s perfect for city, Opera House, and naturally Harbour Bridge views, and when you get to the Botanic Gardens there are plenty of walks and places to explore there too. While you’re at it, check out the Pylon Lookout on the harbour bridge – the same views as the bridge climb for 1/25th the price! Check out my blog post on that here.
Pussycat Island/Cape Banks – Little Bay
Length: about 2.5k return
Terrain: bush paths and rock
Considered as part of Botany Bay National Park, this coastal walk in Sydney is nothing short of beautiful. You can cross a small bridge over to what is known as Pussycat island, and traverse the rock a bit to come upon an old picturesque shipwreck. Continue on and watch the waves roll in over Cape Banks. There are even a few bunkers from WW2 still visible at the trailhead!
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