May 15, 2023
7 mins Read
The Blue Mountains is one of Australia’s most enchanting regions, a haven of quaint villages, delectable cafes and vast valleys to explore year-round.
As you wind your way up the Great Western Highway, choosing which village to pull into for the night or a meal quickly becomes the most challenging part of the journey.
Leura and Katoomba are firm favourites with day-trippers from Sydney, but they’re far from the only towns worthy of a visit. We’ve rounded up the top 10 unmissable towns to add to your journey to the Blue Mountains.
Glenbrook should be your first stop on a jaunt up to the Blue Mountains. The town has a village vibe, complete with a main street full of cafes and shops. Grab breakfast or a coffee at either 2773 the cafe that has its own petting zoo, The Church, a quaint cafe in the old village church, or Kickaboom, Glenbrook’s hip new injection coffee joint.
Must do: Step into the old-world charm of Glenbrook Cinema for a movie and a choc-top.
Address: Cnr Great Western Hwy and Ross Street, Glenbrook
Lawson is halfway up the mountains and offers visitors the perfect range of activities to stretch the legs after a long drive. Embark on a walking trail through a tract of pristine rainforest on the South Lawson Waterfall Circuit. Alternatively, ride the 27-km Oaks Trail bike track in nearby Woodford that loops down to Glenbrook. It’s an all-day activity that’s perfect for an adventurous family.
Address: 3 Badgerys Crescent, Lawson
Leura represents mountain village life at its most luxurious, and boasts some of the best shopping in the mountains. Here, you’ll find a great selection of edible treats, homewares, antiques and boutique stores selling a mix of well-known labels.
Tucked a little further down the road is the Art Deco Everglades Historic House and Gardens. Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy on the lush green slopes or, better still, time your visit for when it hosts the summer Shakespeare plays by Sport for Jove.
Must do: Don’t leave Leura without a sticky handful of sweets from the magnificent Candy Store.
Address: Shop 6, 178 Leura Mall, Leura
Ancient pine trees line the streets of Wentworth Falls, a historic train station still stands and an array of patisseries and cafes bring a taste of Europe to the mountains.
Make the most of a cold day by snuggling into a cosy corner of Fed café with a steaming cup of coffee before you duck into Wentworth Fall’s Bakery Patisserie Schwarz for a warm pretzel to go.
Drive to Kings Tableland lookout to enjoy your pretzel as you admire one of the most breathtaking views in the Blue Mountains.
Around the corner, you’ll find Wentworth Falls Lake, which has a picture-perfect park with playgrounds and barbeques for use.
Must do: A short bushwalk will take you to Empress Falls, a 30-metre cascade of water that’s as grand as it sounds.
Address: Fletcher Street, Wentworth Falls
The creativity of the mountains is on full display in Katoomba. Embrace the knitted wool, quirky stores and hippy eccentricity of its streets before stepping into the cinnamon aroma of the Gingerbread House for a creamy hot chocolate.
Don’t miss the phenomenal Three Sisters that overlook the colossal Jamison Valley before strapping into the world’s steepest railway at Scenic World for a thrilling ride from the clifftop to the bottom of the valley.
You can take a short stroll along the boardwalk through the rainforest or catch the Scenic Cableway, the steepest aerial cable-car in the Southern Hemisphere, back to the top. As a Green Travel Leader, Scenic World is the best place in the mountains to experience natural beauty in a responsible way.
Must do: Base yourselves for a weekend getaway at the truly beautiful Lilianfels Blue Mountains Resort & Spa, a boutique hotel with an award-winning spa and historic formal English garden. If you’re in the mood to be spoilt, book a table at its award-winning fine diner Darley’s Restaurant.
Address: 5/19 Lilianfels Avenue, Katoomba
You’ll find Medlow Bath nestled between Katoomba and Blackheath, where the biggest drawcard of this blink-and-you’ll-miss-it town is the iconic Hydro Majestic Hotel.
Balanced alongside the highway and overlooking Megalong Valley, the hotel oozes romance and old-world glamour and the grandeur of the exterior is even more impressive on the inside.
Relax into the plush seats and enjoy a scrumptious high tea with spectacular views.
Next door, the historic Boiler House Restaurant is a more relaxed dining option with equally stunning views of the valley.
Must do: High tea at the Hydro Majestic
Address: 52-88 Great Western Hwy., Medlow Bath
Blackheath will welcome you with unrivalled small-town hospitality. Perched on the very top of the mountains, its historic roots make it a hotspot for amazing antique shopping. If you love the thrill of a vintage find, drop by the Victory Theatre Antique Centre & Café and pick up a treasure. Blackheath also boasts some of the most picturesque gardens in the mountains, including the Campbell Rhododendron Gardens, and its 18 ha of stunning gardens and bushland.
Must do: Snag the window at the Anonymous Cafe, sip on some of the best coffee in the region, and choose a seasonal, locally produced meal or treat from the menu.
Address: 237 Great Western Hwy, Blackheath
Welcome to the garden town of the Blue Mountains. Mount Tomah was recently hit hard by the devastating bushfires of 2019, so there’s more reason than ever to go and visit this beautiful part of the world and help local businesses get back on their feet.
Must do: Spend a few hours wandering The Blue Mountains Botanic Gardens. Despite nearly 80 per cent of its land being ravaged by the recent fires, there’s still more than enough greenery left to explore.
Indulge in some fresh scones at The Potager Mount Tomah, a terrace restaurant in the gardens with an unrivalled view of the surrounding valley.
Address: Bells Line of Road, Mt Tomah
A town with more apples than people, Bilpin is the orchard village of the mountains. It’s next to Mt Tomah and accessed by driving along the Bells Line of Road.
Famous for its Bilpin Cider Co, you can visit the place it’s made, Cellar Door, as well as the home of Hillbilly Cider, at Shed Door.
Spend your money at the Bilpin Apple Pie Cottage Orchard cafe and then stroll down the road to The Hive, where you can stock up on delectable Bilpin honey.
Must do: Get a glimpse of the rural idyll Bilpin Fruit Bowl Farm, which has just reopened after the bushfires. You’ll probably meet the friendly Tadrosse family and their children who manage the orchards and stock their delightful shop full of apple pies and cakes.
Address: 2093 Bells Line of Road, Bilpin
Surrounded by towering bushland-covered cliffs, Wolgan Valley remains one of the most secluded regions in the Blue Mountains.
You will need to book a safari drive tour to take in the vastness of the valley and access the furthest reaches of the region. Better still, Wolgan Valley Stables offer riding classes that will allow you to roam the grasslands and valleys with a guide, just as the drovers did.
Must do: Sitting amid the valley’s grasslands is the five-star luxurious Emirates One & Only Wolgan Valley, which is a stay you won’t forget in a hurry.
Address: 2600 Wolgan Road, Wolgan Valley
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I’ve lived in the Blue Mountains for 12 years now, having moved up for a tree change from the rat race in Sydney. It’s been the best move for our family; we went from renting a 2br semi to owning a 4br house on a leafy block for the price of a tiny apartment in Sydney. I now share my experiences with others thinking of making the move on a half-day ‘Living in the Blue Mountains’ tour through my business Higher Ground Tours. If you’re thinking of a tree change – just do it!