Sydney is undeniably one of the most beautiful cities in the world. There is no better way to experience just how Sydney sparkles than to allow her to show off during an adventure along one of our bushwalking trails that wind their way around the coastline. There are so many Sydney coastal walks you could add to your list. But, these are five of the most well-known and scenic, offering the perfect place to ignite your love affair with Sydney’s trails.
5 Breathtaking Sydney Coastal Walks
Bondi to Bronte Walk
The Bondi to Bronte walk is one of the most famous Sydney coastal walks. It is also one of the easiest and most accessible on the list.
A daily running route for me at one stage, if you are hoping to run this route, you will need to start at sunrise before it becomes too busy to enjoy it. Also, avoid trying this walk on the weekend as it becomes super busy.
This isn’t a walk to take if you are hoping for some solidarity and thinking time in the bush (like some of the others below). However, it is a wonderful way to see this stunning stretch of coastline, featuring Bondi Beach, Tamarama, Mackenzie’s Bay with plenty of people watching along the way.
If you have a little more time and energy, continue on from the end of Bronte Beach on the track that will take you from Bondi to Coogee. It adds on about an additional 4 kilometres, but it’s a lovely, easy track, taking you through Clovelly and past Gordon’s Bay.
You will arrive at Coogee beach stretching out in front of you and conveniently at the front door of Coogee Pavilion, the perfect place for a refreshment break before you walk or catch the bus back.
Time: 1 hour+ / to Coogee 2.5 hours+
Terrain: Easy pathways. Suitable for children and prams (but you will need help lifting and lowering the pram up and downstairs in sections).
Watsons Bay Walk
The Watsons Bay walk is another very accessible track taking you from Watsons Bay to Hornby Lighthouse and back.
The walk starts at the Watsons Bay ferry terminal near Robertson Park (the central park at Watsons Bay featuring a small playground and views of the boats in the bay), walk the wharf side on the water towards Camp Cove via Cove Street. Camp Cove is one of Sydney’s best-kept secrets and a lovely place to spend a day with the family having a picnic, swimming, snorkelling and relaxing.
At the north end of Camp Cove beach, the South Head Heritage trail starts. This 1-kilometre loop track takes you past Lady Bay Beach and the historic Hornby Lighthouse.
Simply make your way back again by retracing your steps back to Watsons Bay.
Once you are back in Watsons Bay, make sure you take the time to walk over to The Gap Park, a panoramic viewing spot with a tragic history. Then, stop in for some lunch at the Watsons Bay Hotel or the quaint Dunbar House across the park.
Avoid this track on weekends if you are able to as there are many visitors arriving in Watsons Bay on the weekends, particularly in Summer.
Parking is also a challenge on weekends, so if you are only spending a weekend in Sydney, try to catch a bus up to Watsons Bay from Rose Bay or a ferry from Circular Quay or across from Manly if you are staying in northern Sydney.
Time: 1.5+ hours return
Terrain: Very easy walk.
Map: Access the Watsons Bay Walk map here.
Related: How to Spend a Weekend in Sydney
This is a trail I used to run a couple of times a week. If you love an easy trail run or walk, this is a lovely way to get from the Spit Bridge to Manly along the foreshore and well away from the roads.
You’ll find yourself in narrow, winding bushland tracks one minute and popping out at Clontarf beach the next. The terrain is varied; taking you through the bush, along the sand, footpaths and offering incredible views from vantage points the likes of Dobroyd Head.
Getting back home is simple; either grab the bus back towards the lower North Shore, the Northern Beaches or jump on the ferry or Jetcat to Circular Quay in Sydney city.
To add more of a challenge or some extra distance, start at Balmoral beach and work your way up the hill and back down over Spit Bridge before starting the Spit to Manly Coastal trail.
Distance: 10 km
Time: 3.5 hours+
Terrain: Medium. Not suitable for small children.
Map: Access the Spit to Manly Coastal Walk map here.
Related: Where to Find the Best Bondi Brunch
Sydney’s most exciting new walk is an epic 80 kilometres long, connecting two of our most famed beaches. Work your way through sections at a time, or take on the whole trail over a series of days with one of the organised tours (including accommodation stops).
Most of the trail takes you through well-maintained public bushland, with the remainder on marked public footpaths.
This is the ideal way for an active traveller to take in some of Sydney’s most iconic sights while avoiding one of our worst traits; the dreaded Sydney traffic. Highlights on the walk include Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, South Head, Cremorne Point and many more Sydney vantage points.
Time: Depends on how you break up the route.
Terrain: Difficult due to the distance. Well maintained bush tracks and public footpaths. For the avid hiker or ultra-distance walker or runner.
Map: Access the Bondi to Manly Walk map here.
Related: Q Station Manly Review
Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk
A quick, steep climb, the Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk is a good option for those who love more of a vertical hike.
Starting at Palm Beach, the narrow track carries you up to Barrenjoey Lighthouse. You will be rewarded by a scenic panorama featuring Palm Beach outstretched below to the left and Pittwater to the right.
Starting at Station Beach carpark follow the signs to Smugglers Track, keeping the water on your left. You will find signs to the lighthouse to guide you on the rest of the climb.
If you are visiting on a Sunday, join for a tour of the lighthouse. They take about 30 minutes and run between 11 am and 3 pm.
Don’t run away from Palm Beach straight away after your walk. The Boathouse Palm Beach is a lovely spot to enjoy lunch.
Distance: 2.3 km (return)
Time: 1 hour+
Terrain: Parts of this walk are very steep.
Map: Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk map here.
Related: A Healthy Travel Guide to Byron Bay
What to Wear for a Sydney Coastal Walk
Sydney is agreeable weather but it can become stiflingly hot on high summer days. So, it is really important to make sure you dress appropriately when taking on any of these Sydney Coastal Walks. Wear comfortable, sweat-wicking activewear.
Wear appropriate footwear. For most of these walks, a good pair of sneakers with grip should be fine. If you are taking on the mammoth Bondi to Manly route, you may want to consider more sturdy hiking sneakers.
Many of these trails carry you through scrub and bushland. You may come across small water crossings or rocky sections. Please ensure you carry a map with you and you are of an adequate fitness level before taking on each.
Carry a water bottle and a snack and wear sunscreen and a hat.
Skye is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Fit Traveller. She is a journalist, writer, photographer, intrepid traveller and a former personal trainer with a passion for helping others reach optimal health. As a TV journalist and producer, Skye has worked for household names such as 60 Minutes, Sunrise, TODAY and Nine News. She has also written for Women’s Health, Fodor’s Travel and Yahoo7 Travel, among many others.
Skye created The Fit Traveller as a beautiful online space and community where people feel inspired to escape the desk to move and explore more.
Equally comfortable in a 5-star resort or hiking a far-off mountain, Skye loves the unexpected and enriching life experiences that each trip brings and can often be found in a backstreet chatting to locals with her camera in hand.
Skye is based in Sydney, working to master the balance between motherhood and her insatiable appetite for adventure.