While city life has its perks; eateries aplenty to suit every kind of taste bud; stretches of shops to satiate the biggest of spenders; hot goings on, new club launches, and art galleries galore – sometimes taking a break from the hustle and bustle of urban living is vital in order to relax and recharge one’s soul and general wellbeing. While Australia is known – and indeed loved – for its stretches of sea, sand and sunshine, its mountainous regions are just as bountiful and beautiful and the Blue Mountains is the perfect example.
About a two hour drive from Sydney, the Blue Mountains (so called due to the blue haze blanketing the picturesque region) is the perfect destination for anyone needing a break from the bright lights of the city in favour of mountain air and endless cliff-side walks. What this rugged region lacks in Instagrammable brunches and beautiful boutiques it makes up for in droves with its slower pace of life, cute and quirky cafes and breath-taking views that match the picture perfect postcards of this stunning destination.
While the Blue Mountains’ most famous town is Katoomba, you’ll often find it teeming with tourists due to the Scenic World attractions. The cable car and railway trip offer a great way to see some of the best views in the Blue Mountains, but you’ll find much more untouched beauty if you veer off the beaten track. Here are my picks for the best things to do during a relaxing weekend escape to the beautiful Blue Mountains.
Where to Stay
Parklands Country Lodges | 132 Govetts Leap Rd, Blackheath
Due to its popularity among walkers, there’s a variety of motels and guesthouses that offer overnight accommodation, but if, like us, you enjoy a bit of luxury while on a weekend break, opt for Parklands Country Lodges.
Located in pretty mountain town Blackheath, this secluded retreat is nestled in 28 acres of manicured lawns and is far from the trodden tourist trap. With a sweeping driveway flanked by fir trees, a private lake and 7 gorgeous cottages, Parklands perfectly fuses style with setting, and their cottages are both sumptuous and homely, with fireplaces, underfloor heating, and unbeatable views of the grounds.
Offering both a buffet and a la carte breakfast, that includes pastries, fresh fruit and perfectly poached eggs, it’s the ideal spot to fuel up before a day of walking. If post-hike, you need somewhere to ease the aches and pains of sore limbs and tired muscles, their in-house spa offers a range of luxury treatments from the Volcanic Stone Ritual, to the Mineral Healing Mud Wrap that will leave you refreshed and rejuvenated in no time.
What to Do and See
Three Sisters | 23-31 Echo Point Rd, Katoomba
With countless walks to chose from, visitors are spoilt for choice when it comes to picking which look-out point they want to visit. While the Three Sisters is the mountains’ most famous, it’s also the most overrun with other walkers. By opting for lesser-known spots, you’ll be afforded endless mountain landscapes, and the chance to cover some serious ground without sharing your space with others.
Wentworth Falls Loop | Wentworth Falls Railway Station
Try the Wentworth Falls loop for a scenic walk that passes through waterfalls a-plenty, rugged cliff edges and an abundance of look outs with breathtaking views. A 7km circuit that takes approximately 3 hours, stop at the Conservation Hut for a refreshing drink and an unbeatable mountain vista.
Govett’s Leap Walk | Govetts Leap lookout
If you’re visiting Blackhealth, the Govett’s Leap Walk is not to be missed. A twenty-minute stroll from Parklands Country Lodges, this walk is one of the Blue Mountain’s very best, though with a steep descent and ascent, it’s certainly not for the faint hearted. The views are picture-perfect, the landscape endless and though the paths may be steep, they’re oh-so worth it.
Blue Mountains Botanical Gardens | Bells Line of Road, Mount Tomah
The Blue Mountain’s Botanical Gardens – though a fair distance from the main mountainous hub – are well worth the extra mileage. Boasting 28 hectares of heritage listed botanic garden, they’re not only free to the public, but abundant in their splendour. Located at Mount Tomah, the gardens boast a number of walks, a rustic café – offering homemade lemonades and ciders – with mountain vistas, and a jungle lodge that sleeps ten.
Jenolan Caves | 655 Jenolan Caves Road, Jenolan Caves, Blue Mountains
Keen to see more than just mountains? Visit the Jenolan Caves. The world’s oldest and Australia’s most awe-inspiring caves, the Jenolan Caves are made of limestone and located just west of the Blue Mountains. Worth a visit for the stunning countryside en route alone, visitors are able to drive through the caves before parking and taking a tour. With dazzling formations and underground rivers, the caves offer the perfect day trip for challenge-seekers, allowing visitors to wind their way through undeveloped caves, using just a headlamp to light the way.
Beautys Treasured Teapot Museum & Tearooms | Cnr Grose & Megalong Sts, Leura
While the Blue Mountains doesn’t boast the stylish boutiques city-dwellers may be accustomed to, there are antique dens and shops a-plenty. Offering homewares from days gone by to vintage jewellery and well-thumbed books, the options are endless; the bargains bountiful. Perfect for anyone with a keen eye for a stunning steal; the selection of vintage shops offer the perfect place to while away a lazy afternoon. Bygone Beautys Treasured Teapot Museum & Tearooms in the quaint village of Leura is a good place to whet your antique hunting appetite, housing the world’s largest private collection of teawares.
Where to Eat
The Hydro Majestic | 52-88 Great Western Highway, Medlow Bath
For food with a view, it doesn’t get better than the Hydro Majestic. Located on the mountain’s edge in Medlow Bath, this iconic hotel offers diners unrivalled views of the mountain range, that can be covered with a veil of mist in a matter of minutes. Try their sumptuous afternoon tea for a post-hike treat. With a standard, Asian Fusion or vegetarian option on offer, wash the warm scones with clotted cream and jam down with a glass of their finest champagne.
Echoes Boutique Restaurant | 3 Lilianfels Avenue, Katoomba
Nestled in the heart of Katoomba, and much like the Hydro Majestic, the views from Echo Point take some serious beating. With a refined wine and cocktail menu, and an a la carte that includes soft-shell crab, seared scallops and zucchini flowers filled with prawns, Echo Point boasts city sophistication dining in a peaceful rural location.
Avalon | 18 Katoomba St, Katoomba
Katoomba’s Avalon Restaurant is the go-to for anyone wanting hand-picked wines and hearty dishes. A converted theatre, the restaurant boasts retro décor with a cocktail lounge and mountain views. After a day in the mountains enjoy a well-deserved glass of wine by the fireplace, alongside their tasty antipasto plate or their famous fillet steak if your feeling hungry.
Leura Garage | 84 Railway Parade, Leura
For locally sourced food in the heart of beautiful Blue Mountains town Leura, head to Leura Garage. Combining rustic chic interiors with stone baked pizzas and a seriously soothing atmosphere, it’s a great place to relax and recharge. If you don’t feel like pizza, opt for one of their banquet menus. With Tasmanian Salmon gravlax, baked sweet potatoes and charred vegetables on offer it’ll satisfy the fussiest of foodies.