When planning my trip back to Sydney, I knew I wanted to take Sammi to the Blue Mountains for a day hike. She’s the outdoorsy one of the three of us, plus I wanted her to see the famed Three Sisters. We looked at a number of options, but really wanted the flexibility of going on our own terms. The hop on hop off bus proved to be unnecessary and expensive. The idea of driving a rental car on the “wrong” side of the road still terrified me. And tours don’t exactly let you take your time.
I kept Googling “walking the Blue Mountains” or “independent Blue Mountains” without finding many results. In the end, we took a gamble by booking return train tickets to Katoomba, picking a hike and hoping for the best. I can say that I’m glad we did. After the two-hour train journey from Sydney’s Central Station, we arrived in Katoomba Station, the major town in the Blue Mountains. We were told it was a 30 minute walk from there to the Three Sisters Visitor’s Center. Along the way, we stopped for a hearty breakfast (Turkish bread, poached eggs, grilled haloumi FTW) before the walk, which was mostly downhill. A fast walker could have done it in less. The area is well marked for those who, like us, wanted to avoid unnecessary costs.
After giving ourselves a chance to see the Three Sisters from the main lookout point and the Great Stairway, Sammi chose a hike for us that would take around 2 hours, which happened to go from Katoomba to Leura Station, a secondary Blue Mountains town, along the Prince Henry Cliff Walk. In the end, we couldn’t have chosen a better hike for our day trip, due to the ease of the trail and the lack of other hikers along the way. It gave us great views of the Leura Cascades and the Jurassic Park-like landscape of the forest. Bridal Veil View Lookout is easily the best viewpoint on the whole walk.
If you’re interested in visiting the Blue Mountains, you first have to ask yourself a few questions:
What’s your length of stay? If you’re only interested in a day trip like we were, I recommend getting there as early as possible to avoid crowds and the heat. It also gives you time to walk slowly and enjoy yourself if you like. If you want to stay longer, there are plenty of accommodation options nearby, including hostels, guesthouses and bed and breakfasts. This way, you can do different hikes each day to see the most of the national park.
What do you want to see? If you only really want to see the Three Sisters, I wouldn’t bother staying for much longer than the afternoon. And while the rock formation is stunning, especially next to the surrounding valley, it isn’t really worth the two hour trip each way unless you’re seeing other things. The area has small museums, caves and other activities for you to enjoy if hiking isn’t your thing.
How do you want to go? Tours, hop on hop off buses, driving, and the train are all options for how to see the Blue Mountains, so it really depends on your interests and fitness level. I found it easy to walk around Katoomba and Leura without the assistance of a bus and I am a moderately average athleticism level.
How to DIY? Catch the Blue Mountains Line train from Central for $14 round trip or drive/hitch a ride up to Katoomba on your own. Continue along the road directly across from the train station where there are shops and restaurants and continue all the way down the hill until you see signs for Echo Point and the Three Sisters.
Additional tips: Be prepared for any type of weather. It was cold when we first arrived, but within an hour, the sun had come out and it was humid. Wear sunscreen and a hat, as the sun is unrelenting, as well as a bottle of water and bug spray.
Have you visited the Blue Mountains? Do you have any additional tips?
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