Enjoying a day in the Blue Mountains is one of the best day trips from Sydney you could hope to go on.
I highly recommend visiting the Blue Mountains, and it must be done if you’re in Sydney at some point.
If I lived in Sydney, I’m certain I would have visited the Blue Mountains at least twenty times. I’d definitely keep on visiting because there’s so much to see and do in the area.
The most famous tourist attraction in the Blue Mountains is the Three Sisters. Yep, you will need to see it if it is your first visit to the Blue Mountains.
Then there are other places of interest, including Olympian Rock Lookout, Elysian Rock Lookout, the Giant stairway, Water Nymphs Dell, Scenic World, and that’s only for starters.
The truth is that are at least twenty great things to do in the Blue Mountains, but in this post I will concentrate on seven of the best to give you a feel for what can be done in one day.
It is great to know that the Greater Blue Mountains Area is a World Heritage Site.
There are beautiful waterfalls, numerous hiking trails to walk, stunning views, spectacular rock formations, art galleries, and so much more to discover.
Plus, it’s a great place to escape from the hustle and bustle of Sydney.
If you’re a tourist in Sydney for a few days, you really do need to keep the Blue Mountains at the back of your mind.
The biggest dilemma you’ll find is that spending one day in the Blue Mountains probably won’t feel long enough.
Even so, enjoying a day in the Blue Mountains will be a gratifying trip.
My day trip to the Blue Mountains turned out to be fantastic, even though I wish I had another full day to explore this amazing destination. It was so good that I’m hoping to go back there one day.
Ideally, staying for 2 days or even 3 days in the Blue Mountains is the way to go.
That said, one day in the Blue Mountains is still an incredible experience you will be glad to have done.
A Guide to the Blue Mountains for a Day Trip
In this post, I’ll give you details about my day trip to the Blue Mountains. This will give you a glimpse into what I managed to see and do in one day when visiting the Blue Mountains and the itinerary I followed.
The following guide to the Blue Mountains should make it much easier for you to plan an awesome day in the Blue Mountains.
Alternatively, you can visit the same places as I did. My Blue Mountains day trip itinerary turned out pretty good.
I ticked off most of the key attractions in the Blue Mountains that interested me most, and it felt like I squeezed in a lot.
Taking a guided tour of the Blue Mountains would probably be a great experience as well, but I personally think doing it on your own terms is the better option.
It’s easy enough to do, and the great thing about visiting the Blue Mountains is that you don’t need a car to visit.
All you need to do is catch the train from Sydney, and maybe a bus at some point, such as when returning from the Three Sisters.
I’ll tell you more about how you can get to the Blue Mountains later on in the post.
Let’s get straight into things. Here’s my list of the seven best things to do in the Blue Mountains in one day when you visit by train, which is especially good for first-time visitors.
1. Olympian Lookout in Leura – Blue Mountains
My first point of call in the Blue Mountains was to visit the small charming town of Leura.
After I stopped at the railway station in Leura (the stop before Katoomba), I walked down the Leura’s pretty main street.
Leura is a quaint village and suburb of the Blue Mountains, with a main street lined with shops and places to eat. I immediately knew that this is where I wanted to have lunch.
The reason why I started my adventure in the Blue Mountains in Leura was because of the strong associations with Greek Gods and Greek mythology.
Olympian Lookout was where I was headed. The lookout is situated on Olympian Rock and offers fantastic views over a section of the Blue Mountains.
The twelve Olympians, aka the Greek Gods, would love this scenic lookout.
Olympian Lookout gave me incredible views straight across the Jamison Valley and out to Mount Solitary. You can even make out the back of the Three Sisters from this spot.
Apart from the awesome views, you can also relax on a bench seat within the fenced-off lookout area to ponder over the Greek Gods and the Blue Mountains.
Standing on Olympian Rock almost felt like being initiated into the Blue Mountains. I’m very happy to have gone there first.
Some of you may be wondering:
How did the Blue Mountains get their name?
The Blue Mountains gained its name due to a blue haze over their peaks when viewed from a distance.
This unusual phenomenon occurs because of an extremely dense population of Eucalyptus trees in the Blue Mountains area, which you can probably see in some of the photos.
Leaves from the Eucalyptus trees end up secreting oil in the air, which combines with dust particles and water vapor.
When sunlight hits, it creates an optical illusion of a blue haze. I should have taken more notice at the time.
How to get to Olympian Lookout
Getting to Olympian Lookout is an easy walk down Leura’s main street (Mall Street). As you approach the end of the main street, turn left onto Olympian Parade. Here’s a helpful map of Leura I found on a street corner. You can see Olympian Rock at the bottom.
When walking along Olympian Parade, you’ll come across a sign directing you toward Olympian Rock on the right. You can’t miss it. It only takes a minute to reach the lookout from the street sign.
It’s not like hiking Mount Olympus to get there. It’s all very flat, so anyone who can walk can visit Olympian Lookout in Leura, no problem.
It will take you about 20 minutes to walk to Olympian Rock from the train station.
2. Elysian Rock Lookout
Elysian Rock Lookout is situated to the left side of Olympian Rock and is situated about 100 meters away.
It’s a very quick walk from Olympian Rock to Elysian Rock. You’ll need to walk over a metal footbridge known as Buttenshaw Bridge to get there when walking from Olympian Rock.
Elysian was the paradise from Greek mythology. So technically, once you’ve stepped foot on Elysian Rock, you would have ticked off two Greek myth attractions in the Blue Mountains in the space of no time at all.
Those two big attractions being Olympian Rock Lookout and Elysian Rock Lookout. This is a fantastic way to start a day trip to the Blue Mountains in my opinion.
Meeting the Photography Guy
While I was standing on Elysian Rock, another guy came over to enjoy the stunning views at the lookout.
We started talking, and he told me that he was planning to take some photos there. He was sussing out the place, as he was part of a photography group.
If you’re into photography, the Blue Mountains offers so many opportunities to take incredible photos.
I asked him whether he knew anything about Olympus cameras.
The evening before, I had taken photos of the Sydney Opera House. This is the time when it had been lit up in blue colors of the Greek flag to mark 200 years of Greek independence celebrations.
Actually, now that I think about it, it seems weird.
Here I was in the Blue Mountains asking a guy about my Olympus camera because of concerns I had about blue Sydney Opera House images.
You can read all about it in my one-day guide to Sydney. This post will also show you some of the pictures I took of the Sydney Opera House blanketed in bluish Greek flag lighting.
As I was leaving, the keen photographer mentioned that the path to the Leura Cascades was closed due to recent landslides.
These cascades are relatively close by (about 600m away), but I didn’t go there after that. I don’t think I would have had the time to visit anyway.
He also asked me whether I planned on visiting Wentworth Falls, another major attraction in the Blue Mountains. I wasn’t sure about that either due to time constraints.
There are many desirable things to do in the Blue Mountains, and you can only do so much in one day.
At that precise moment, I realized I should have stayed for another day in the Blue Mountains, but I couldn’t because I had other plans locked in.
3. Other Attractions in Leura
Olympian Rock Lookout and Elysian Rock Lookout were the main attractions that fuelled my imagination when I visited Leura.
However, I should have added at least one of the following attractions.
Gordon Falls Lookout
Gordon Falls Lookout is very close to Elysian Rock. After you leave Elysian Rock, all you need to do is follow the Prince Henry Cliff Walk path towards Gordon Falls Lookout.
I never realized it was so close. It is only 200m away, so it’s definitely well worth a visit.
Leuralla Public Gardens Amphitheatre
One of the best things to do in Leura for romantics would have to be a visit to the Leuralla Public Gardens Amphitheatre.
This is another attraction I could have squeezed into my itinerary, but unfortunately I missed out on.
Leura Weddings uses this very scenic spot situated between Elysian Rock and Olympian Rock for marriage ceremonies. I have to say this is a winning location.
You can find this special place easily enough as you head back along Olympian Parade.
When you walk back to Leura’s main street, you’ll come across a road named Elysian Place, which is about halfway between Olympian Rock and Elysian Rock.
Walk down there, and you should be able to find the Greek-style amphitheater.
When I was there, I knew the amphitheater was somewhere in Leura, but I wasn’t sure where to look.
I was happy enough to have stood on Olympian Rock and Elysian Rock, so it didn’t bother me too much.
I really should use my iPhone more often to find places, but for some reason, I don’t.
My normal tactic is to hopefully stumble upon places, but this means that I often miss out on great stuff. I really don’t know why I have this poor travel habit.
During this day trip to the Blue Mountains, I missed out on visiting Gordon Falls Lookout and the Amphitheatre in Leura, even though they were so close.
Leuralla Toy and Railway Museum
As I was making my way back to Leura’s main street (Leura Mall), I noticed a grand historic home at 36 Olympian Parade.
It was the Leuralla Toy and Railway Museum of New South Wales, which also has 12 acres of gardens to wander about.
I could see a sign out the front indicating a $15 charge for adults and a $5 charge for children to enter.
Everglades House and Gardens
For breathtaking views of the Jameson Valley inside beautiful grounds, Everglades House and Gardens is the place to visit.
It would have to be the most beautiful house and garden setting in Leura. Entry fees apply, but I think it would be worth it.
I think this would have been a wonderful place to visit in Leura. Everglades House and Gardens also have tea rooms in the 1930s house and courtyard.
You can visit the Leura Cascades on a day trip to the Blue Mountains if you wish, but that will soak up some of your valuable time, which is very precious on a day trip. Think about it carefully if you do decide to go.
It’s roughly a 700m walk to get to the Leura Cascades Picnic Area from Olympian Rock. You would then obviously want to walk around and explore the area.
That’s the problem if you only have one day in the Blue Mountains to play with because you will miss something.
You probably still have enough time to squeeze it in, but it’s most likely going to make you rush elsewhere.
Lunch in Leura
When you make your way back into the main street of Leura, grab yourself some lunch.
I went to a bakery and had a tasty pie and a cake. Get something quick and easy so that you can maximize your time sightseeing in the Blue Mountains as much as you can.
4. Norman Lindsay Gallery – Blue Mountains
My next point of call was visiting the Norman Lindsay Gallery, where the Australian artist lived and worked for over 60 years. I had wanted to visit for ages mainly because of the movie Sirens. I’m a big fan.
Coming from Leura may not have been the smartest move since the train ride journey went back towards Sydney.
The smarter move is to visit the Norman Lindsay Gallery first. However, this may end up having other repercussions, which I’m not aware of.
All up, I probably did lose a couple of hours in the day by visiting Leura first, followed by the Norman Lindsay Gallery.
Lucky for me I didn’t have to wait when catching the train at the Leura railway station.
On arrival to Leura, I had one of the train station ladies write down all of the train departure times to help me know when I should catch the train. I noticed that the trains seemed to depart at about an hour apart.
While I was walking along the main street of Leura, I looked at the time and noticed that a train would be leaving in only a few minutes to Faulconbridge, where the Norman Lindsay Gallery is located.
I knew that the next train would leave about an hour later, so I really wanted to catch the train coming in a few minutes.
To make it in time, I had to run frantically for a few hundred meters. I somehow managed to arrive in time just before it left.
After arriving at the Faulconbridge railway station, I walked to the Norman Lindsay Gallery. It was a long walk (about 6.5km), but it didn’t bother me too much. The walk was pleasant enough.
The Norman Lindsay Gallery is a mecca for Greek Goddess lovers. You can read all about it in my Guide to the Norman Lindsay Gallery.
In my opinion, the Norman Lindsay Gallery is a must-visit destination in the Blue Mountains.
Don’t miss visiting the Norman Lindsay Gallery, especially if you enjoy romantic comedy movies with Greek mythology themes. After all, this is where the movie Sirens was filmed.
5. Katoomba – Walk down the main street to the Three Sisters
You can easily catch a bus in Katoomba’s main street to the Three Sisters, but I highly recommend walking there.
All you need to do is walk down the main street of town which is easy since it is downhill. This photo was taken in the other direction, looking up the hill.
As you do, you’ll pass by the legendary Paragon Cafe, which has a strong Greek heritage.
I was keeping my eye out for this historical establishment on 63-69 Katoomba Street. Unfortunately, I couldn’t go inside at the time due to its closure for renovations.
This is also a heritage-listed property which for one reason is due to carvings of classical figures in alabaster which were attached to the maple-wood walls in the main cafe.
The same artist also did the winged horse, Pegasus, high on the Amalgamated Wireless Australia building in Sydney.
The Paragon Cafe was started by Zacharias Simos in 1916. He arrived in Australia at the age of fifteen, after migrating from the Greek island of Kythera in 1912.
What is unbelievable about this story is that many consider this to be the first cafe in Australia.
It was initially known as the Paragon Cafe and Oyster Palace. Then in 1921 the establishment advertised as a Sundae and Candy Shop.
A chocolate shop resided in the premises for many years. It then changed locations in Katoomba, but it took the chocolate brand name with it. They even have a Paragon Waratah chocolate bar. I should have bought one.
The walk from Katoomba railway station to the Three Sisters is pretty much a downhill walk all the way, so it doesn’t take much effort.
There are plenty of signs pointing how to get the Three Sisters as well. You won’t get lost, trust me. Just walk down the main street and follow a few of the big signs to the Three Sisters.
Interesting fact: Katoomba comes from the Aboriginal word ‘Kedumba,’ meaning ‘shiny falling water.’
I didn’t visit Scenic World in the Blue Mountains, which was probably my biggest disappointment, mainly because it was too late in the day.
This attraction is quite close to the Three Sisters, and you will come across signs pointing you there.
By this time of the day, I was getting pretty tired.
The beauty of visiting Scenic World is that you see the Jamison Valley from a bird’s eye view from a Skyway cable car.
You can also take ride down to the forest floor on one of the world’s steepest railways.
If I ever do go back to the Blue Mountains, visiting Scenic World will definitely be high on my agenda.
6. Three Sisters at Echo Point
The first thing you’ll notice on arrival is the huge viewing platform at Echo Point.
There are a couple of viewing platforms at different levels, but the views are pretty much the same from every angle and platform. Echo Point is the main platform where visitors congregate for view of the Three Sisters.
On the left side you’ll be able to see the Three Sisters, an iconic Australian view. It looked exactly like I expected.
The Three Sisters would be the last tourist attraction in the Blue Mountains for me on my day trip. It seemed like a great way to end the day, a bit like saving the best for last.
Travel Tip: You can walk to the first stack of the Three Sisters. I didn’t bother to go, but if you have the energy, you may want to see one of the Three Sisters up close. It will take you about half an hour to get there. I should have gone.
When leaving, you catch the bus back to Katoomba’s main street. The bus stop is right next to the viewing platform.
Legend of the Three Sisters
The Three Sisters has a fascinating Aboriginal dream-time legend behind it, which the first Australians have passed down through the generations.
Three brothers from the Nepean tribe fell in love with three beautiful young women, Meehni, Wimlah, and Gunnedoo, who were part of a Katoomba tribe.
Due to tribal law, the brothers weren’t allowed to marry the young women who lived in the Jamison Valley. This upset and angered the men so much that they decided to take them anyway.
The outrage caused a bloody conflict between the two tribes.
A witch doctor decided to help protect the sisters from harm by turning them into stone. He ended up being killed in the fierce battle, so he couldn’t change them back to flesh, which was the plan after it was all over. No one else could do it.
The beautiful Three Sisters remain in the Blue Mountains to this day as a solid reminder of the tragic battle between the two tribes.
It’s one of Australia’s most treasured wonders for this reason. Sounds a bit like a tragic Greek myth to me.
7. Dinner in Katoomba
This is no lie. I ate the best sushi rolls ever in Katoomba. They were so big and so fresh.
The Asian food restaurant and take-away was bustling with people lining up for sushi rolls, so I had a good hunch it would be tasty.
There are plenty of places to eat and restaurants to choose from in Katoomba. You even have the option of eating at one of the restaurants close to the Three Sisters.
This is why I would definitely save a trip to Katoomba as a last stop when going on a day trip to the Blue Mountains.
After you finish eating, you can catch the train straight back to Sydney. The last train to leave Katoomba for Sydney departs at about 9 pm.
This will give you plenty of time to enjoy dinner in Katoomba, so there’s no need to rush.
Staying in the Blue Mountains for one night in Katoomba
If you’re smart, you may be thinking of staying the night in Katoomba. This is genius!
That way, you can go to Scenic World first thing in the morning, without all of the maddening crowds, however they’ll most likely show up soon after.
After visiting Scenic World, you can go and explore another part of the Blue Mountains.
Other Great Attractions in the Blue Mountains
If you have the luxury of a second day in the Blue Mountains, you may want to visit one of these attractions in the Blue Mountains:
- Govetts Leap Lookout – One of the best lookouts in the Blue Mountains
- Wentworth Falls – Water Nymphs Dell (1.8 km trail)
- Jenolan Caves – go with a tour from Katoomba (otherwise you need a car)
- Jellybean Pool in Glenbrook – if you love the movie Sirens
- Red Hands Cave – for Aboriginal rock art
- Katoomba Falls – waterfall circuit track
- Giant stairway walking track – more than 800 steps to the Jamison Valley
- The Grand Canyon Hike – One of the best hikes in the Blue Mountains
- Hanging Rock in Blackheath – Popular with Instagrammers
- Hydro Majestic Hotel – for a classic High Tea and spectacular views
Getting to the Blue Mountains by Train
I highly recommend catching the train to the Blue Mountains, which departs from Sydney’s central station.
It will take about 2 hours to get from Sydney to the Blue Mountains by train. If you do decide to go by car, it will take you about 90 minutes.
Try and catch the train from Sydney Central station to Katoomba by 9 am at the very latest. If you do, then you’ll arrive in the Blue Mountains somewhere around 11 am.
Train stations in the Blue Mountains include Glenbrook, Springwood, Faulconbridge, Wentworth Falls, Leura, Katoomba, and Blackheath. Keep them in mind.
Bus in Katoomba
This map may be helpful if you want to get around Katoomba and Leura.
There you have it, seven things to do in the Blue Mountains in one day. I hope this helps you out when planning an awesome day trip to the Blue Mountains.
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