Destination / Wish You Were Here

13 NSW holiday destinations you’ll want to visit

Australia is one of the most broad and diverse landscapes in the world. With scorching desert, white coastlines, snow-capped mountains and lush rainforest some times all within just a few hundred kilometres of each other.

New South Wales is certainly a brilliant example of Australia's wonderful ecosystem diversity. If you're looking to holiday locally, you're absolutely spoilt for choice. Here are some of the top holiday destinations in New South Wales.

And if you're looking to holiday west, make sure you read our guide to Western Australian holiday destinations.

 

The Blue Mountains

 

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This region is named for the grey-blue tinge these mountains take on when you look our across the valley. A short one to two hour drive from Sydney, depending on where you live, this is an easy escape for city folk. This region has plenty to offer for couple's weekends and family holidays. From great food to visual beauty, there's plenty to see and do.

Scenic World gives you an exciting look at the aesthetics of this region from the temperate rainforests to the Three Sisters rock formations - plus you can ride the steepest train in the world. High tea at the beautifully restored Hydro Majestic Hotel is a must. Stop in at Logan Brae orchard for the best apple pie you'll each. Hunt for antiques in Blackheath, discover art in Katoomba and please stop in at Josophan's Chocolate in Leura. You won't regret it.

 

The Hunter Valley

 

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This rich and internationally renowned wine region had plenty to offer. Even after four or five visits, you're unlikely to have even made your way through half of the wonderful vineyards you'll find here. Make sure you come with an empty stomach because the restaurants here are world class. Try Éremo or Botanica if you're looking for lunch with a view.

While you're here, try stopping in at the Hunter Valley Gardens. If you go around Christmas, you'll see a wonderful light show come nighttime.

 

Byron Bay

 

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A stunning location that still hasn't managed to lose its coastal town charm, even though it's now an international hot spot. There's something just so wonderfully captivating about Byron Bay. And it's not something you'll understand until you venture there yourself.

The town is filled to the brim with fabulous restaurants for all palates. There are plenty of shops that house boutiques and local designers. For beaches, there are a few. Main beach is a convenient pick, but Watergos is very pretty and much more secluded and Tallows is long, scenic with usually fewer people.

The lighthouse walk is a must, the Byron arts and industries district is a cool place to visit, heading out to The Farm is always fun and anytime there are markets on, take a look.

 

The Sapphire Coast

 

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Looking for a path less travelled? Try the Sapphire Coast. This is still a popular holiday spot, but doesn't quite have the crowds you'll find in the Northern beachside destinations.

This region got its name from the spectacular colour of the ocean in the area. It's a sight to behold. If you're into whale watching, this area has some of the best whale spotting in the entire state and there are plenty of stunning walking tracks to keep you occupied. A great pick for those that want to get outdoors.

 

Perisher

 

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One of New South Wales' top skiing and snowboarding locations. This destination is all about snow sports and enjoying a white winter. You can stay in the Perisher Valley or find cheaper options in the nearby Jindabyne. A perfect spot for skiiers of all levels

 

Coffs Harbour

 

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Coffs Harbour is all about getting outside and enjoying the scenery. This Northern coastal destination has whale watching, bird watching, plenty of coastal walks, some fabulous beaches and even rainforest. If you want to get adventurous, try one of the rainforest walks, it's unbelievably pretty. This is another destination that is best appreciated outdoors. And let's not forget the Big Banana.

 

Lord Howe Island

 

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Did you say tropical island getaway? No need to head to Bali, our very own Lord Howe Island has everything you'd want from a lush island vacation.

This is not your destination for restaurants and plenty of shopping, this is where you go if you love to snorkel, lay on the beach and enjoy the scenery. And it's pretty incredible scenery. You won't want to leave.

 

Bowral

 

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Foodies and winer lovers will want to head straight to Bowral. Nestled in the Southern Highlands, Bowral is a quaint town with plenty of old-world charm. Get ready to eat, because there are more than a few fabulous restaurants here. Harry's at Green Lane is wonderful, San Fior is lovely and you'll want to try breakfast at the Post Office cafe in nearby Moss Vale.

Bowral is about 10-15 minutes from the Southern Highlands wine region, so put a few wineries (including Bendooley) on your to do list. Also make sure to check out Dirty Jane's, a huge antiques market. Also, before you leave, you'll want to pick up something from the multi-award-winning Gumnut Bakery - just be prepared to wait in the hour-long line.

 

Port Stephens

 

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Back up on the North side, there's Port Stephens. Great food, great views and plenty of things to do. Walk up to the top of Shoal Bay for epic views of the entire coastline, ride camels at Anna Bay and go whale and dolphin watching - and we promise you'll see more than a few. Port Stephens is known for having loads of dolphins. You usually spot them swimming around the marina.

This is great spot for luxe vacationers because you'll have your pick of high-end hotels. Try the Anchorage or Bannisters. And make sure you stop in at the wonderful Shoal Bay Country Club restaurant and bar.

 

Dubbo

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A slice of the countryside and perfect for a trip with the children. Probably Dubbo's most well-known attraction is it's zoo. The wide, open country mimics the plains of Africa so it's the perfect home for elephants, giraffes and more. A little bit like a safari but in our own backyard.

Of course, there are a few other things to do like exploring the historic town, strolling through the farmer's markets and hitting up some of the scenic walking tracks.

 

Shoalhaven

 

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A wonderful region of the South Coast that includes Jervis Bay, Berry and Mollymook. If you love beaches, you'll have more beautiful choices down here than almost anywhere else in the whole state. Shoalhaven also includes Hyams Beach which claims to have the whitest sand in the world - you be the judge.

Hotel lovers can opt for Bannisters in Mollymook, but the region also welcomes campers and those who prefer Airbnbs. Bring your swimsuit and your hiking shoes.

 

Canberra

 

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Our nation's capital is definitely a bucketlist destination, technically in another state, but still within NSW for all intents and purposes. Explore the wonderful gardens, see Parliament House and then there's Questacon. There is no discussion here, this place is a whole heap of fun even as an adult.

If you manage to go during March, you'll witness Canberra's wonderful Enlighten Festival which illuminates the whole city at night. And if you're an early riser, you can catch the Balloon Spectacular and watch hundreds of hot air balloons decorate the rising sun skyscape.

 

Mudgee

 

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Come with an empty stomach, Mudgee is a foodie and wine destination. A great one for couples or groups that are looking to do some serious wine tasting. This gorgeous, little regional town is filled with character and charm. It's a great place for a sleepy and restful retreat while sampling some of the best eats NSW has to offer.