New South Wales (NSW) is Australia’s oldest and arguably most diverse state. Home to some of the country’s most well-known destinations, the region manages to beautifully reflect the varied landscape of the entire continent, from dazzling beaches to striking deserts. Considering its size and the vast amount of unique and rewarding opportunities, it’s difficult to choose the best places to visit in NSW. However, these five spots represent some of the most popular destinations no traveler should miss when exploring Australia:
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Being the region’s capital, Sydney is undoubtedly one of the most popular and alluring destinations in NSW. And it’s not hard to see why. This vibrant city is graced by iconic architecture such as the Sydney Opera House and harbor bridge, its Royal Botanic Gardens represent a true urban oasis, and its high-end eateries, museums, galleries, and festivals can leave anyone in awe. While Sydney’s Bondi Beach and other excellent seaside spots may be famous, the city also offers plenty of boating, birding, and bushwalking opportunities in its stunning surrounding national parks.
Located on the North Coast, the coastal town of Byron Bay is a true hotspot for surfers and followers of more alternative lifestyles. Golden beaches front the crystal-clear ocean here, and an enjoyable hike on the Cape Byron Track leads to the famous lighthouse and Australia’s most easterly point. Dolphins and whales can be spotted frolicking in the waters here, with adventure sports opportunities abound. Wollumbin National Park and its tranquil waterfalls and rainforests can also be explored in the hinterland, while Byron may charm with its luxury boutique hotels, spa resorts, yoga retreats, and colorful markets.
Situated in the most charming areas of the NSW South Coast, Jervis Bay is a truly magical place. Hyams Beach’s pure white sands represent some of the most iconic sceneries of the region, while the protected areas of the surrounding national parks offer stunning images of natural wonders. Here, you can find beautiful Jervis Bay accommodation that consists of some of the best and coziest rentals in the area. This corner of NSW is also home to impressive native wildlife, interesting Indigenous heritage, as well as endless water activities, thus truly offering something for everyone.
The Blue Mountains are undoubtedly among the most picturesque spots to visit in NSW. As the region’s top getaway for lovers of the outdoors, these steep rocky mountains combine magnificent gorges, rock formations, stunning waterfalls, and sacred Indigenous sites with brilliant tourist facilities. The mountains are named after the blue haze often created by the endless eucalyptus trees, representing a truly breathtaking sight. But apart from taking in their spectacular beauty, the most popular activities in the Blue Mountains also include mountain biking, hiking, abseiling, rock climbing, exploring open cave systems, and more.
Approximately a two-hour drive away from Sydney is the breathtaking Hunter Valley, one of the most iconic grape-growing regions in Australia. It’s a top spot for wine connoisseurs wanting to try the best this country has to offer, but it’s also popular among foodies who enjoy gourmet restaurants, farm-fresh produce, and cooking schools. Highlights of this region include a number of wonderful art galleries, the stunning Hunter Valley Gardens, as well as the endless unspoiled bushland. Hikes through the rainforests and impressive waterfalls of the Barrington Tops National Park are also well-liked, while Wollemi National Park delights with canoeing, rock climbing, and bushwalking opportunities.
Evidently, New South Wales hides mesmerizing natural beauty and some of the most unique experiences you will come across in Australia. While every part of this region is worth exploring, the destinations mentioned above are just some of the top spots you simply must visit.
Peter is an LGBT travel and lifestyle writer at Queer Voices magazine, living between Australia and Europe. Besides writing, he also worked as a freelance fashion stylist for many magazines. A true craft beer and soy latte aficionado, he loves spending his days at the beach and visiting second-hand stores on a daily basis. Follow Peter on Twitter below for more tips.