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New South Wales Travel Guide

With world-renowned cosmopolitan cities, towering inland mountains, and sapphire bays encompassed by sweeping white sand beaches, New South Wales is Australia’s most well-known state for a reason. 

While Sydney often takes centre stage among international tourists thanks to its famous harbour and opera house, the state capital makes up only a small part of what makes NSW such an enchanting travel destination.

New South Wales offers incredible destinations such as the Blue Mountains

From the popular coastal havens of Bondi Beach and Byron Bay to the intrepid hiking trails through the Blue Mountains and across Lord Howe Island, NSW is one of the most diverse geographical states in Australia, promising seemingly never ending adventures across its varied regions.

Discover everything you need to know to plan the perfect trip within this New South Wales travel guide, including when to visit, the top tourist attractions, and other travel tips.

Facts & Information

  • Size – 801,150 km2
  • Population – 8.1 million
  • Country – Australia
  • Official Language – None (English is the predominant language.)
  • Major Airports – Sydney Kingsford Smith International Airport (SYD)
  • Time Zone – Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST)
  • Nickname – The First State; The Premier State
  • Currency – Australian Dollar (AUD)

Places To Visit In New South Wales

  • Sydney – Embrace cosmopolitan glamour at one of the most iconic harbour cities in the world.
  • Byron Bay – Escape to Australia’s thrifty beach town with world-class surf breaks and laid-back coastal luxury.
  • Blue Mountains – Trek through some of the most scenic landscapes of NSW and have unparalleled outdoor adventures.
  • Lord Howe Island – Immerse in the lush paradise of this UNESCO World Heritage-listed island.
  • Hunter Valley – Tour through the sweeping vineyards and peaceful surroundings of Australia’s oldest wine region.
Sydney Harbour is just one place to visit in New South Wales

Things To Do in NSW

  • Explore the state capital –Tour the heart of NSW and visit famous landmarks such as the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour.
  • Go whale watching – Visit in the winter or spring and marvel as 40,000 whales pass along the coast during their northern migration.
  • Hike to a waterfall – Trek through untouched landscapes to uncover majestic waterfalls and breathtaking natural landmarks.
  • Snorkel with marine life – Take to the water and swim with exotic aquatic life, including sea turtles, leopard sharks, and manta rays.
  • Embark on a road trip – Drive to the hidden white sand beaches of the coast or head inland along striking mountain roads.

NSW Beaches

  • Bondi Beach – Join the lively atmosphere of Australia’s most famous beach destination.
  • Hyams Beach – Kick back and relax on the world’s whitest sands, leading into the sapphire waters of Jervis Bay.
  • Ned’s Beach – Head over to Lord Howe Island to the sweeping white sands of a secluded beach.
  • Wategos Bay – Learn to surf along the world-class waves of Byron Bay.
  • Caves Beach – Explore thousand-year-old caves scattered throughout this rugged beach.
Bondi Beach is infamous on any New SOuth Wales Travel Guide

NSW Tourist Attractions

  • Sydney Opera House – Take a photo or catch a show at Australia’s most iconic landmark.
  • Sydney Harbour Bridge – Climb to the top and admire the views from 134 metres above the harbour.
  • Three Sisters – Venture into the Blue Mountains to marvel at this 200 million-year-old rock formation.
  • Cape Byron Lighthouse – Journey to Australia’s most eastern point for beautiful views and a stunning marine park.
  • Jenolan Caves – Tour stalactite-lined chasms in the most ancient open caves in the world.

National Parks NSW

  • Blue Mountains National Park – Enjoy striking vistas and abundant wildlife from the scenic highways or hiking trails of Australia’s most visited national park.
  • Royal National Park – Head just outside of Sydney to explore coastal cliffs, grasslands, and forests at the planet’s second-oldest national park
  • Oxley Wild Rivers National Park – Explore the Gondwana Rainforests of the Northern Tablelands along a scenic hiking trail or horseback trail ride.
  • Murramarang National Park – Trek across 44 km of dramatic coastline while stopping at pristine white sand beaches and striking coastal cliff vistas.
  • Kosciuszko National Park – Mountain bike, explore caves, or climb to Australia’s highest point for sweeping views of the Snowy Mountains.

Best Time to Visit

  • Summer (December – February) – With warm temperatures and plenty of sunshine, summer is the best time to visit NSW for pristine weather. However, this is also the peak season for international and local tourism, resulting in heavy crowds at popular tourist spots.
  • Autumn (March-May) – While slightly cooler, the autumn still promises comfortable weather conditions for exploring NSW, while fewer tourists mean fewer crowds and more affordable accommodation.
  • Winter (June – August) – Winter in NSW can be chilly. Still, this can be a great time to explore the mountainous inland while the coastal waters are filled with humpback whales making their northern migration.
  • Spring (September – November) – Like autumn, spring is a great time to visit Australia because of the fewer crowds and comfortable weather. It is the perfect season for outdoor adventures and hikes.
Spring is the best time to visit New South Wales

Getting Here & Around

  • Airports – There are dozens of regional airports to help you get around the state, including three international airports. Still, most international visitors arrive through  Kingsford Smith International Airport in Sydney.
  • Ferries – Sydney and Newcastle Harbour are popular stops for cruise ships, making them convenient points of entry for international visitors arriving by sea.
  • Trains – As the hub of Australia’s rail system, there are several train lines connecting Sydney to other state capitals, along with an extensive regional network connecting to other cities and tourist destinations in NSW.
  • Driving – While you can get around NSW without a car, having a private vehicle is a great way to experience the state, and allows you to explore those destinations inaccessible by public transportation.
  • Taxis – Taxis are widespread throughout NSW’s urban areas but can be an expensive way to get around compared to other options.
  • Public Transportation – Municipal and intercity buses are widely available and one of the most cost-effective ways to get around NSW.
  • Rideshare – Like taxis, rideshare services such as Uber are great for getting to your destination quickly but can become expensive for further distances.
  • Biking – Cycling can be an exciting way to get around the state, with well-maintained biking paths and trails featured throughout urban areas.
  • Walking – NSW features excellent walking paths within its tourist and urban areas, making exploring the city on foot a great option.

Travel Tips & Advice

  • Apply for your visa in advance – All international tourists require a visa. Plan to apply at least a month before your trip.
  • Tipping is not expected – While welcomed, tipping is not an expectation in Australia as in other parts of the world.
  • Plan a longer stay in Sydney – There is so much to experience in Sydney. Plan at least four days in the city.
  • Explore beyond the city – While Sydney is a highlight, NSW promises plenty of fantastic attractions outside of the city.
  • Opt for 4WD – If you do plan on renting a vehicle, opt for 4WD to easily traverse the state’s mountainous landscapes.

What to Pack

  • Layers – Temperatures in NSW can vary, especially at high-altitude destinations. Pack in layers to adjust for these changes.
  • Water Bottle – Pack a reusable water bottle. NSW has some of the best tap water in the world.
  • Bug Spray – Australia is infamous for its bugs. Pack insect repellent, even if you are staying in the city.
  • Swimsuit – Many of NSW’s popular attractions are found along the coast. Bring a swimsuit if you plan on getting in the water.
  • Hiking Shoes – Whether hiking the blue mountains or touring the city, you are going to be walking a lot. Pack comfortable shoes.

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