A Paradise for All Seasons: 11 Nature Spots in Sydney & New South Wales

A Paradise for All Seasons: 11 Best Places in Sydney & New South Wales for Nature Lovers

Your gateway to the great outdoors.

Summer, autumn, winter, or spring — no matter the season, the natural beauty of Sydney and New South Wales knows no bounds. Take the scenic route and embark on an epic road trip through the state. Driving from city to coast to countryside is superb any time of the year — and many say that it’s the best way to explore Sydney and New South Wales. 

Ready to begin your breathtaking journey in Sydney and New South Wales? With autumn and winter coming up, this is the best time to enjoy the cool climate and weather! Here, we’ve rounded up the very best places to visit for every season of the year.

Feel the sense of wonder in Sydney and New South Wales! Book the UOB Travel tour packages and unlock a multitude of natural delights in this sprawling state.

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Autumn (March to May)

autumn in sydney and new south wales

Image credit (Clockwise from top left): Destination NSW; Destination NSW; lillipinc; CP

Temperatures drop as Sydney and New South Wales welcome autumn. The state transforms into a photographer’s dream from March, with fall foliage road trips taking travellers through a blazing golden landscape. 

1. Blue Mountains National Park

mount wilson in autumn

Image credit: Destination NSW

Few places in New South Wales inspire as much sheer awe as the Blue Mountains National Park. A 90-minute drive west of Sydney, the UNESCO World Heritage Site is an outdoor lover’s paradise of rolling mountains, dramatic cliffs, and verdant valleys. 

During autumn, when the weather is crisp and the landscape glows in fiery fall colours, the Blue Mountains will take your breath away. Some of the best places to watch the colours turn is Mount Wilson, home to quiet tree-lined streets and magnificent private gardens for leaf-peeping travellers. There are more brilliant autumn spots in the Blue Mountains, including the Blue Mountains Botanic Gardens in Mount Tomah and the blazing tunnel of trees on the way to Wentworth Falls.

three sisters blue mountains new south wales travel

Three Sisters | Image credit: lillipinc

On your next family vacation, why not take the family to the wilderness and hit a few of the most incredible natural sights in Australia? Here in the Blue Mountains, the 200-million-year-old sandstone formation Three Sisters is an essential stop, especially from the Echo Point lookout. 

Take in jaw-dropping views of forested valleys and secret waterfalls at Govetts Leap lookout, then hop on the world’s steepest railway deep in the Jamison Valley. Trust us, this thrilling cruise through the forested valley is more memorable than your typical rollercoaster ride!

blue mountains stargazing

Image credit: Destination NSW

Sunrises and sunsets paint the landscape in different hues throughout the day. But when evening falls, the skies are just as spectacular. If you can, embark on the Blue Mountains Stargazing Tour at the park! Blessed with clear, dark skies and a remote location away from city lights, the Blue Mountains is a fantastic destination for travellers who want to gaze up at the cosmos. 

Wander in the Blue Mountains

2. Berrima, Southern Highlands

autumn berrima

Image credit: Yolanda Romeo via Canva Pro

Drive to the Southern Highlands next, a picture-book destination just two hours south west from Sydney. Also known as the Highlands, its blend of lovely heritage towns, gently rolling hills, beautiful vineyards, and unspoilt bushlands make it one of the most popular places to visit near Sydney for weekend road trips in New South Wales. Autumnal hues paint the Highlands in eye-catching shades of gold each year with golden elms, red oaks, and beech trees covering the landscape.  

Our advice? Find an idyllic hideout for the weekend. Berrima is one of the heritage villages dotting the Southern Highlands, a fun autumn destination filled with pretty landscapes, superb wine, historic colonial sites, quirky little shops, and local galleries. Pop in Bendooley Estate, a must-visit for its delicious wine and lovely fall foliage. 

bowral nature spots in sydney and new south wales

Bowral | Image credit: CP

After Berrima, you may as well explore other nature spots. Fall foliage is remarkably pretty in the Southern Highlands Botanic Gardens in Bowral. Or, if you’re craving a little time in the wild, hit the trails at the pine-filled Penrose State Forest

3. Vivid Sydney – 26 May to 17 June 2023

vivid sydney new south wales

Image credit: Destination NSW

Most importantly, head to the capital in the chilly weeks between autumn and winter when Sydney stages Vivid Sydney, an annual festival of light, music, and ideas. A vibrant weeks-long spectacle celebrating Sydney’s creative spirit, it sets the capital alight with brilliant light installations, live performances, and various workshops by the city’s movers and shakers. 

And this year, Vivid Sydney will be toasting the city’s renowned culinary culture, too. The festival is launching Vivid Food, putting together tasty food-centric events such as degustations, culinary pop-ups, and one-of-a-kind menus from visiting acclaimed chefs. A true homage to Sydney’s incredible foodie scene, this new festival mainstay is not to be missed.

Sounds exciting? Join in the revelry and celebrate Vivid Sydney from 26 May to 17 Jun 2023 to find out more. 

Celebrate Vivid Sydney

Winter (June to August)

winter at sydney and new south wales

Image credit (Clockwise from top left): Studio Australia via Canva; Andrea Cairone; Destination NSW; grafvision via Canva Pro

From snow-capped mountains to truffle dogs, NSW invites travellers to an unforgettable winter getaway. Winter weekends in the state are cool and cosy, guaranteed to offer you a blissful experience whether you spend it in snow or not.

4. Snowy Mountains

snowy mountains

Image credit: Destination NSW

Up in the wild peaks of southern New South Wales is the Snowy Mountains. The tallest mountain range in mainland Australia, it’s a jaw-dropping alpine paradise with astounding summits, sparkling rivers, graceful slopes, and glacial lakes. Among the many places to visit in New South Wales, the Snowies is hands down the best destination for snow sports like skiing and snowboarding, as well as kid-friendly snow play like tobogganing and snowball fights. 

And so if you want to spend winter in an icy wonderland, join the slew of skiers and snow sports enthusiasts hitting the slopes of the Snowy Mountains. It’s really the only place in Australia for an alpine adventure. So, dress warmly, step outside, and make the most of the snow-swept season! 

After getting your fill of ski runs, savour hearty comfort food and panoramic views at Eagles Nest. Perched up 1,973 metres on Thredbo Village, it’s Australia’s highest restaurant and a Snowy Mountains essential stop. And if you’re on a ski tour, hit the slopes at Perisher Ski Resort; as the country’s largest ski resort, it’s a big draw among powder hunters looking for a variety of runs. 

At the same time, the Snowy Mountains can be just as alluring beyond the winter months. Once the snow melts, adventurers can segue into warm-weather activities such as hiking, cycling, and horseback riding. 

5. Robertson, Southern Highlands

truffle dog in australia

Image credit: pixelia from Pixabay via Canva Pro

Filled with endless country charm, the Southern Highlands is a treat all year round, but we’re pretty enamoured with it in winter when it’s truffle hunting season. Delicious black truffles lie in wait and ripe for picking. That is, if you can find them! Don’t worry; skilful dogs will help you hunt down these wild truffles. 

Plenty of truffle farms invite travellers to join truffle hunts on weekends — one of the best and uniquely New South Wales activities to enjoy during winter. Added to that, many of these farms also host truffle tastings for foodies who want to sample these quality spores. 

Spend a day at Robertson in the Highlands foraging for wild truffles with trained pups. The town is one of the first truffle farms in the country; and Robertson Truffles is where travellers can join a truffle hunt during the winter months. After wandering the sprawling farm in search of the rich and earthy fungus, tuck into a delicious tasting menu featuring a few dishes generously topped with — what else? — fresh truffles. 

Spring (September to November)

spring sydney new south wales

Image credit (Clockwise from top left): Destination NSW; Ben George; Destination NSW; Destination NSW

Spring break, anyone? Nature comes alive this season, with warm weather and blossoming fields calling travellers to enjoy the great outdoors. Snap-happy tourists will be drawn to colourful blooms, with jacarandas, tulips, canolas, and paper daisies all in season in NSW.

6. Mudgee Region

mudgee region hot air balloon nsw

Image credit: Balloon Aloft Australia Official Facebook Page

Nestled in the Cudgegong River Valley, Mudgee Region (3.5-hour drive north-west of Sydney) is surrounded by fertile land and blossoming vineyards. Expect small-town charm, exquisite local cuisine, and lovely people — it’s one of the best places to visit in New South Wales for a quiet getaway full of gourmet food and drink. 

Prefer travelling on two wheels? This historic town is a startlingly pretty place for cycling around New South Wales, especially in the vibrant spring. Sunny and balmy weather promises a pleasant sightseeing experience, while the scenic countryside provides a memorable backdrop for bike rides. 

Cycle in Mudgee Region

7. South Coast

grand pacific drive sydney new south wales

Image credit: Ross Tomei via Canva Pro

When it comes to the best places to visit in New South Wales for beaches, the South Coast reigns as one of the supreme. Blessed with secret coves, white-sand beaches, and majestic swells, this rugged region has everything. Driving or cycling down the Grand Pacific Drive will take you on one of the most stunning road trips in Australia, passing by the famously scenic Sea Cliff Bridge.

kirribilli jacaranda

Image credit: Edward Howard

Keep cruising and take a detour to Sydney, where jacarandas bloom in spring and transform the city into an enchanting wonderland of purple flowers. 

During the jacaranda season, these flowers are everywhere. Take a stroll under a soft purple canopy on McDougall Street in Kirribilli, or soak up the sun at Lavender Bay against a backdrop of violet blooms. When the weather’s good, you’ll want to head to Sydney parks for a nice picnic under lavender-hued trees. 

kiama blowhole south coast

Kiama Blowhole | Image credit: tai zhang via Canva Pro

Blindingly white sands welcome travellers to Jervis Bay (2.5-hour drive south of Sydney), home to bottlenose dolphins as well as algae that make the clear waters glow at night. Strangely shaped rock formations are photographer favourites, including the Cathedral Rocks and Australia Rock. Meanwhile, marvel at the largest blowhole in the world in Kiama (two-hour drive south of Sydney).

If you’re in town from late May to November, keep an eye out for whales on their northern migration. Jervis Bay is a prime spot for whale watchers, but Kiama Coastal Walk also offers platforms for spotting the passing mammals. Grab a bike for a relaxing ride along one of the most beautiful coastal paths in the world. 

Cruise the South Coast

8. Port Stephens

port stephens new south wales and sydney spots

Image credit: Tommy Pequinot

Next on the list is Port Stephens, a 2.5 hour drive north of Sydney, New South Wales. This idyllic seaside escape features an abundance of golden beaches, thrilling water sports, and thriving marine life. 

At the top of our list: the Stockton Sand Dunes. Known as the largest moving sand dunes in the Southern Hemisphere, this attraction lets travellers experience a Saharan adventure in the heart of Australia, complete with a camel ride! The sand dunes make for a one-of-a-kind coastal side-trip, whether you’re just taking in the views or trying out sandboarding, quad biking, and other thrilling activities. 

Insider tip: Book a tour during the magical golden hour just before sunset, when the sand dunes are at its most beautiful. Keep in mind that you’ll need a 4WD to reach the sand dunes. 

whale port stephens

Image credit: IainStych via Canva Pro

If you’re in Port Stephens during winter, keep an eye out for thousands of migrating whales swimming past from May to November. Marvel as pods of humpback whales put on a show, leaping from the water and crashing back down with a magnificent splash. 

Lookout points scattered across the coast mean that you can spot these gentle giants from land, but there’s nothing quite like seeing them up close on a whale-watching cruise. Either way, prepare to be awe-struck — even in wildlife-rich Australian waters, these creatures are something special. 

Eager to see more of Port Stephens’ wildlife? Besides being on the route of migrating whales, it’s also home to over 100 bottlenose dolphins. Port Stephens offers a variety of dolphin-watching cruises — some tours will even allow you to jump into the waters and swim with the friendly mammals!

Marvel at coastal sights

9. Bowral, Southern Highlands

sydney and new south wales

Image credit: Destination NSW

When it comes to floral landscapes, Bowral makes its mark in spring. This idyllic town in the Southern Highlands is home to the Tulip Time Festival, one of Australia’s oldest and most beloved flower festivals. For more than six decades, bloom lovers from all over the country have flocked to Bowral’s Corbett Gardens every year for the rainbow-coloured tulips that blanket the Southern Highlands. 

Even for travellers who aren’t keen on horticulture, it’s impossible not to marvel at the tens of thousands of tulips bursting with colour at Corbett. And after the festival, there’s plenty more to explore in Bowral, from art galleries and antique shops to quaint cafes and restaurants. Also located in Bowral is the Southern Highlands Botanic Gardens, a community-funded public garden borne out of the locals’ deep affection for plants.

Summer (December to February)

summer in sydney and new south wales

Image credit (Clockwise from top left): Gagliardi Photography via Canva Pro; Jennefer Zacarias; PocholoCalapre via Canva Pro; StephenBridger via Canva Pro

Sun-soaked summers in Sydney and New South Wales mean it’s the perfect time of the year to lounge on pristine beaches. Take in the salty air, sandy shores, and sunshine — with soaring temperatures, there really is nowhere better to spend the season. 

10. Bondi Beach

bondi beach

Bondi Beach | PocholoCalapre via Canva Pro

Bask in the quintessential summer experience at world-famous surf spot Bondi Beach in Sydney. Consistently good waves make it part of many surfers’ bucket list. But it’s just as appealing to non-surfers, with bustling workout stations, stylish cafes, and Instagram-famous ocean pools. A hip crowd of swimsuit-clad sun-seekers from around the world rounds out the laidback beach vibes at Bondi.

Swimming pools usually wouldn’t stand out when the sea is right there, but the swoon-worthy Bondi Icebergs may be Australia’s most famous exception! Facing the sea and nestled in a prime spot above the water, these stunning ocean pools have been around for more than a century. Dive in the salty waters anytime — this ocean pool is open all year round. Avoid going on Thursday mornings, when the pools undergo regular cleaning. 

coogee sydney new south wales

Image credit: ai_yoshi via Canva Pro

Insider Tip: We highly recommend taking the iconic coastal walk from Bondi to Coogee, which will take you to beaches, cliffs, and stylish cafes. Speedos Cafe, called the world’s most Instagrammable cafe, is also a good stop — at least peek in, even if you’re not in the mood for a cup. 

Image credit: Jonny Clow

This one is definitely another one of the most Instagrammable spots in Sydney and New South Wales: the Bondi Beach Graffiti Wall. Originally a wall where young local kids would experiment with spray paint, it’s now a world-famous mural wall where established graffiti artists can leave their mark on the vibrant city. 

Swim and surf at Bondi Beach

11. Hunter Valley

hunter valley australia

Image credit: Jennefer Zacarias

Hailed as the birthplace of Australian wine, Hunter Valley, a two-hour drive north of Sydney, is one of the non-negotiable places to visit in New South Wales for wine aficionados. In the summer, the valley enjoys pleasantly crisp weather, lush fields, and emerging grapes on vine. Not only is it extra beautiful this time of year, but great weather makes it the perfect time to spend outdoors.  

While many natural gems in Sydney and New South Wales embrace the rugged outdoors, Hunter Valley offers a more refined experience. This is a place for indulgence — not just with wine but also cheese, chocolates, spas, and fine-dining restaurants. And so, indulge we will! 

hot air balloon hunter valley new south wales

Image credit: StephenBridger via Canva Pro

Luxe villas and glamping spots promise a vacay that looks as good as it feels. And when it comes to outdoor activities, hot air ballooning and horse riding are popular in Hunter Valley.

Insider Tip: Bask in the holiday spirit and giant illuminations at the Christmas Lights Spectacular illuminating Hunter Valley Gardens from November to January every year. 

Luxuriate in good wine and laidback exploration at the scenic Hunter Valley. Join UOB Travel’s 3D Sydney Wine Train Experience for an unforgettable railway journey through the valley, Ku-Ring-Gai National Park, and the Hawkesbury River.

Cruise through Hunter Valley

Also read: 10 Best Destinations Around The World For Epic Road Trips – Get Your License Ready!

If you ask us, a road trip in New South Wales is an experience that should be on every explorer’s bucket list. Instead of rushing from one tourist spot to another, go slow. Take it easy behind the wheel while soaking up all the natural attractions and beautiful places to visit in New South Wales. Begin your breathtaking journey in Sydney and New South Wales. Let’s go!

Feel the call of the great outdoors on a road trip in Sydney and New South Wales with UOB Travel. Discover natural gems, heart-stopping views, and unique experiences on one-of-a-kind tours suited for every kind of traveller, no matter the season.

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About Author

Celia Grace Nachura
Celia Grace Nachura

There are very few things Celia won’t do for a good story, but her favourite ones always involve the beach, animals, or any type of outdoor activity. She’s been writing for as long as she can remember, and can usually be found typing away at home with her cute dogs at her feet. Away from work, she spends most of her time trying out every hobby she can get her hands on, from running to crocheting to baking (she’s pretty okay at most things that don't involve cooking).