One day in the Blue Mountains is just enough time to soak up the views, hike a short trail or two, and ride the railway and cable cars and Scenic World.
The Blue Mountains sit to the west of Sydney, Australia. To get here, you can take the train or drive here, if you have a car. Spend the day hiking, visiting the viewpoints, and filling your memory card with photos of this gorgeous place.
In this guide, we cover the best things to do in the Blue Mountains with limited time and how to plan your day trip from Sydney.
Let’s get started.
Table of Contents
Overview of the Blue Mountains
The Blue Mountains are located in New South Wales to the west of Sydney.
Blue Mountains National Park is a 270,000 hectare park located within the Greater Blue Mountains.
This is the most visited national park in New South Wales and it is spread across several different towns and areas in New South Wales, including Katoomba, Blackheath, Lower Grose Valley, Mount Wilson, and Glenbrook.
Our one day Blue Mountains itinerary is primarily focused on the sights in and around Katoomba, since this area is easy to get to from Sydney and packed with the top sights in the park.
Best Things to Do in the Blue Mountains
Here is a list of the best things to do if you only have one day in the Blue Mountains (the to-do list is actually much longer than this, which you can see in our article Best Things to Do in the Blue Mountains).
- Echo Point Lookout
- Scenic World
- Wentworth Falls Loop
- Fletchers Lookout
- Queen’s Cascade
- Eagle Hawk Lookout
- Cahill’s and Boars Head Lookouts
Optional things to do include the Grand Canyon Walking Track and venturing north to Govett’s Leap and Pulpit Rock viewpoints, but you will need a car and lots of time and energy to add these on to the day.
The Blue Mountains (photo taken at Boars Head Lookout)
How to Get to the Blue Mountains
You can get to the Blue Mountains by train and by car.
By train, it takes 2 to 2.5 hours to travel from Sydney to Katoomba, depending on your starting point in Sydney. Get train schedules and pricing here.
Once in the Blue Mountains, you can get around on the Blue Mountains Explorer Bus, which is a hop-on hop-off bus. It goes to popular spots like Echo Point, Scenic World, and the town of Katoomba but does not go to Wentworth Falls.
By car, it is an hour and a half drive from Sydney (100 kilometers). Having a car gives you the advantage of visiting viewpoints that are inaccessible by public transportation or a tour and allowing you to travel on your own schedule. We rented a car in Sydney for this day trip.
One Day in the Blue Mountains
This itinerary is written as a day trip from Sydney, so your day will start and end in Sydney. You have the option to spend the night in Katoomba, which gives you a little more time in the Blue Mountains.
For this itinerary, it is best to have a car. Some places we list in this itinerary are not accessible by the Blue Mountains Explorer Bus (for example, the bus does not go to Wentworth Falls). You can still follow our itinerary, but you will have to make some adjustments.
Below I list times, but these are just rough estimates to give you an idea of timing throughout the day. Scenic World, the first place to visit, has opening hours that vary by the day of the week, so this will have an impact on when you get started.
9 am or 10 am: Scenic World
The best place to start your visit is at Scenic World. At this one spot, you can ride the world’s steepest railway, stand on the roof of the Skyway, ride on the Southern Hemisphere’s steepest cable car, and walk on boardwalk trails through the rainforest.
The Scenic World Skyway | One Day in the Blue Mountains
The Scenic World Railway | One Day in the Blue Mountains
The view from the Scenic Cableway | One Day in the Blue Mountains
Scenic World is open 7 days a week, but opening hours vary by the day of the week. I recommend checking the opening hours on the official website for the date of your visit, because some days it opens at 9 am and other days it opens at 10 am.
For the best experience, plan on arriving at Scenic World at opening time. Mid-morning, there can be long lines to board the cable cars, so if you get an early start, you can avoid these lines, which gives you a lot more time later in the day to visit more places in the Blue Mountains.
PRO TRAVEL TIP: If your visit will be during the summer months, purchase your tickets in advance because they can sell out.
For more information about things to do at Scenic World (plus more photos), take a look at our Guide to Scenic World. Below is a sample itinerary for Scenic World, which is an efficient way to experience all of the various cable car rides and do a little walking.
Planning Your Time at Scenic World
1. Scenic Skyway: ride the Scenic Skyway out-and-back from the Scenic World top station.
2. Scenic Railway: ride the Scenic Railway from the top station to the valley floor.
3. Scenic Walkway: walk from the bottom station of the railway to the bottom station of the Scenic Cableway. This walk takes 10 minutes. You have the option to walk more of the boardwalk trails on the valley floor.
4. Scenic Cableway: ride the Scenic Cableway back to the Scenic World top station.
If there are no lines during your visit, it takes about 1.5 to 2 hours to visit Scenic World.
PRO TRAVEL TIP: If you are visiting the Blue Mountains when Scenic World opens at 10 am, I recommend visiting the viewpoints on Cliff Side Drive from 9 am to 10 am, which makes the best use of your time.
11:00 am: Viewpoints on Cliff Side Drive
Eagle Hawk Lookout, Landslide Lookout, and Cahill’s and Boars Head Lookouts are three viewpoints on Cliff Side Drive. These are all located near Scenic World and it takes about 30 to 45 minutes to visit all of them.
Eagle Hawk Lookout
This is the best of the three viewpoints on Cliff Side Drive. It’s a short, easy walk to an overlook protected by a railing. From this spot, you get a view of the Three Sisters, the cableway of Scenic World, and sweeping views of the Blue Mountains. It’s just a 5-minute drive from Scenic World.
Eagle Hawk Lookout | One Day in the Blue Mountains
This is another great viewpoint of the Blue Mountains. From the parking area, it is a downhill walk on a dirt trail to the viewpoint. At times, there are some steep steps thrown it, to keep things interesting.
The trail ends at a wide, rocky cliff edge where you get panoramic views of the park. There is no railing here so watch young kids and stay away from the edge.
Landslide Lookout | One Day in the Blue Mountains
Cahill’s Lookout and Boars Head Lookout
Cahill’s and Boars Head Lookouts are two viewpoint that are located on one paved walking trail. It’s a downhill walk to the farthest point, so you’ll have to do a little bit of work to get back to your car, but it’s worth it, as this was one of my favorite viewpoints of the Blue Mountains.
The trail leads to Boars Head Lookout, and then Cahill’s Lookout, and if you keep going, the third viewpoint is also called Cahill’s Lookout.
Of the three viewpoints on Cliff Side Drive, you’ll do the most walking to get to Boars Head and Cahill’s Lookouts, so if you want to save time, this is a good one to skip.
Cahill’s Lookout | One Day in the Blue Mountains
Boars Head Lookout | One Day in the Blue Mountains
12:00 pm: Lunch
The easiest place to go to lunch is at Scenic World. At Scenic World, have lunch at the Terrace Café & Bar, where you can dine with a view of the Blue Mountains. Even if you left Scenic World to visit the viewpoints, you can return for lunch (no ticket is necessary to dine at the Terrace Café but your entrance ticket gives you access to Scenic World all day).
Option #2 is to go to Katoomba, the small town that is the gateway to the Blue Mountains. In Katoomba, we recommend Station Bar & Wood Fired Pizza, Basil Nut Café and Restaurant (Thai and Vietnamese), Little Paris Café, and Aunty Ed’s Restaurant and Bar.
1:00 pm: Echo Point & the Three Sisters
This is one of the best viewpoints of the Blue Mountains.
This easy to visit viewpoint gives you the best view of the Three Sisters. There is a ton of parking, it’s free to visit, and just takes a few minutes of your time.
There are several vantage points from this one spot, so it takes about 15 minutes to enjoy the views and take photos.
Echo Point | One Day in the Blue Mountains
View of the Three Sisters from Echo Point
Optional: Three Sisters Walk & the Giant Stairway
This is one of the best short walks to do in Blue Mountains National Park. It takes 30 to 45 minutes to walk this 1.1 km (0.7 miles) trail out-and-back to a viewpoint of the Three Sisters and Honeymoon Bridge. It’s a downhill walk on a paved trail to the viewpoint and an uphill walk back to Echo Point.
This is a good option for those who want to do a little hiking and get up close with one of the most famous rock formations in the Blue Mountains.
View along the Three Sisters walk | One Day in the Blue Mountains
2:00 pm: Sublime Point
This viewpoint offers panoramic views over Jamison Valley. It is located at the end of a peninsula of sandstone and is one of the best viewpoints of the Blue Mountains. Note: The Blue Mountains Explorer Bus does not go to this viewpoint.
Sublime Point | One Day in the Blue Mountains
2:30 pm: Take Your Pick: Wentworth Falls or Grand Canyon Walking Track
Spend the afternoon either hiking to viewpoints of Wentworth Falls (one of the best waterfalls to see in the Blue Mountains) or hiking the Grand Canyon Walking Track, which is often listed as the best hike to do in the Blue Mountains. Both require some amount of hiking and both require a car to get to them.
Wentworth Falls is a three-tiered waterfall and getting a view of this waterfall is one of the best things to do in the Blue Mountains.
From the Jamison Lookout and Wentworth Falls Lookout, you get a decent view of the waterfall, but for the best experience, hike part or all of the Wentworth Falls Loop.
Wentworth Falls Loop | One Day in the Blue Mountains
The Wentworth Falls Loop is a 2.6 km (1.6 miles) hike that takes 1 to 2 hours. On this hike, you’ll get great views of Wentworth Falls and Jamison Valley, walk across steppingstones in front of the Queen’s Cascade, and walk the Undercliff Walk, which is one of the most interesting walks in the park.
Learn more about this hike, and see it in photos, in our Guide to the Wentworth Falls Loop Hike.
Grand Canyon Walking Track
On this hiking loop, you’ll walk past small waterfalls, through lush forests, and have stunning views of the Blue Mountains. This hike is 5.8 km (3.6 miles) and takes 2 to 3 hours.
Grand Canyon Track | One Day in the Blue Mountains
It’s a gorgeous hike, but it can be challenging at times, with long series of steps and hills to climb.
Learn more about this hike, and see it in photos, in our Guide to the Grand Canyon Walking Track.
Late Afternoon/Early Evening: Dinner
Before heading back to Sydney, you have the option to get dinner in Katoomba Falls.
PRO TRAVEL TIP: If you are doing well on time during the day, there are more short walks and viewpoints you can add into this itinerary, such as the short walk on the Prince Henry Cliff Trail to Katoomba Falls and other viewpoints near Sublime Point. See our Best Things to Do in the Blue Mountains for this list.
Tours of the Blue Mountains
If you like the idea of visiting the Blue Mountains from Sydney, but don’t want to rent a car or take the train, you can also visit the Blue Mountains on a tour. Some tours also include a ferry ride or a visit to a zoo, which may or may not be things you want to add on to your day.
Here are several highly rated tours of the Blue Mountains. You also have the option to hire a driver, but this can be pricey, so keep that in mind.
If you have any questions about how to spend one day in the Blue Mountains, let us know in the comment section below.
More Information for Your Trip to Australia
BLUE MOUNTAINS: Get started with our article Best Things to Do in the Blue Mountains. We also have a guide on how to visit Scenic World, how to hike the Wentworth Falls Track Loop, and a detailed trail guide for the Grand Canyon Track.
SYDNEY: Get started with our Sydney Bucket List, which contains 40 of the best things to do in Sydney. We also have a guide to 20 great restaurants and bars in Sydney, the best beaches in Sydney, where to stay in Sydney, the Spit to Manly walk, and a Guide to Skydiving in Sydney.
PLACES TO GO IN AUSTRALIA: Spend some time in Sydney, go wine tasting in Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale, explore Uluru and the Red Centre of Australia, go scuba diving or snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, and don’t miss Tasmania, one of our favorite places in Australia.
GREAT OCEAN ROAD: Driving the Great Ocean Road is one of the most scenic drives in the world.
Read all of our articles about Australia in our Australia Travel Guide.
Note: This post contains affiliate links. When you make a purchase using one of these affiliate links, we get paid a small commission at no extra cost to you.
All rights reserved © Earth Trekkers. Republishing this article and/or any of its contents (text, photography, etc.), in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited.