The historic Blue Mountains town of Katoomba is a vibrant, creative enclave filled with attractions from outdoor excitement to cosy places to sit and sip.
The lofty town of Katoomba is at the heart of the Blue Mountains. Set on the fringe of the heritage-listed national park, this heritage centre is usually the first stop on any excursion into the high-country and is a great place to base oneself. While there’s plenty of natural attractions a stone’s throw from town, you certainly won’t be left wanting for things to do in Katoomba once you unlace your walking shoes. Here’s our pick of the must-do and see experiences from the streets to bush.
1. Visit the Three Sisters
Perhaps the most iconic Katoomba sight, the Three Sisters rise almost one kilometre above sea level from the north escarpment of the Jamison Valley.
Prepare to be awe-struck at the majestic Three Sisters. (Image: Destination NSW)
Steeped deeply in lore and of great significance to the Traditional Owners, these monolithic pillars are awe-inspiring for anyone who glimpses their majestic beauty. The sisters can be easily discovered on a gentle 800-metre walk in Katoomba, making them a must-see on any Blue Mountains jaunt.
Witness incredible sunrise views over the Jamison Valley and Three Sisters. (Image: Destination NSW)
2. Try a beer at Mountain Culture
This Blue Mountains-born craft brewery barrels out interesting and high-quality beer that’s adored around Australia, but you’ll only find the Brewpub in Katoomba.
Try the award-winning brews at Mountain Culture Beer Co. (Image: Destination NSW)
Located in a restored historic 1912 building, which once housed the local paper, a video store and a home for ‘lost or belated drunks’, the Mountain Culture brewery is a convivial place to sink a cold one after a day hiking. Stop by for a fortifying burger and beer, such as the award-winning Status Quo Pale Ale or the Scenic Route Session.
It’s a great place to sink a cold one back in town after a day of exploring. (Image: Destination NSW)
3. Discover Scenic World
A veritable theme park with nature as the star attraction, Scenic World is a collection of jaw-dropping rides that show the magnitude of beauty in the Blue Mountains National Park. There’s the 2.2-kilometre Scenic Walkway for those who prefer to stay on the ground, but the real showstoppers are the eight-minute Scenic Cableway some 216 metres above ground; the Scenic Skyway that’s elevated 270 metres; and the historic 1878 Scenic Railway, which travels at a thrilling gradient of 52-degrees to take out the gong for the steepest railway in the world.
Take in the sights on a cable car ride at Scenic World. (Image: Destination NSW)
4. Check out Katoomba Falls
Thundering 150 metres from the Kedumba River to the Jamison Valley below, Katoomba Falls is one of the Blue Mountain’s most captivating waterfalls. Starting from Scenic World, you can take the short, two-kilometre circuit to take in the beauty of the falls with a photo op along the way at Juliet’s Balcony, which overlooks the dramatic Witches Leap.
Make your way to one of the most captivating waterfalls in the Blue Mountains. (Image: Destination NSW)
5. Descend the Giant Stairway and take in the view at Echo Point Lookout
For those keen to tackle a physical challenge, make for the Echo Point to Scenic World walking track via the Giant Stairway. Absorb the vistas from Echo Point before making your way to the Jamison Valley below.
Take in the beauty of this icon from Echo Point Lookout. (Image: Destination NSW)
Forged from steel and stone in 1909, the 998 stairs lead to Honeymoon Bridge, which connects to the first of the Three Sisters. Once at the base, you can take the Scenic Railway back to the top, should you not feel inclined to tackle the stairs in reverse.
Hike to Honeymoon Bridge for rewarding views of the Jamison Valley. (Image: Destination NSW)
6. Wild swim at Katoomba Cascades and Minnehaha Falls
There’s nothing like a dip in a cool mountain pool come summer. There are a few spots to wash away the heat in Katoomba, but our top picks are the layered Katoomba Cascades, where, after rain, the gentle falls plunge with force and kids can splash in the lower level, while adults enjoy a spa-like experience higher up. Also head to the deeper waterhole at Minnehaha Falls, where you can frolic under the gentle cascade and loll about in the water or sun yourself on the bank.
7. Enjoy a luxe stay at Lilianfels
A graceful place to relish the mountain air, this five-star resort is set amid deftly tended, cool-climate gardens and sprawls out across 89 guest rooms and suites styled with a luxe settler aesthetic. Lilianfel’s onsite fine-dining restaurant, Darley’s, is housed in a heritage-listed homestead and offers up splendid vistas of the Jamison Valley. It’s special occasion territory for escapes that require a little indulgence.
Breathe in the fresh mountain air during your luxe stay at Lilianfels. (Image: Destination NSW)
8. Sip high tea at the Hydro Majestic
Scones and the Blue Mountains go hand-in-hand and one of the most stylish ways to take tea in the region is with a high tea experience at the grand Hydro Majestic. With dramatic views overlooking the Megalong Valley, tea is served daily between 11am and 3pm in the elegant Wintergarden room and consists of three tiers of finger sandwiches and petit pastries.
The Hydro Majestic Hotel pairs their high tea with incredible views. (Image: Destination NSW)
9. Find clifftop thrills with Blue Mountains Adventure Company
With cliffs to climb and valleys to traverse, Katoomba and the Blue Mountains region is an adventurer’s playground. If your idea of a good time sees you dangling from a canyon tethered by a rope, you’ll love to slip into a harness for a guided experience canyoning, abseiling and climbing. Blue Mountains Adventure Company offers all these activities for beginner to advanced thrill-seekers, plus gentler walks to multi-day hikes.
Book with Blue Mountains Adventure Company for memorable thrills. (Image: Destination NSW)
10. Ride an e-bike in the Blue Mountains National Park
Not all exploration of the UNESCO World Heritage Blue Mountains National Park need be done by foot. For an energetic but less taxing experience, taking a guided e-bike tour ticks all the boxes for most fitness levels aged 12 to 70-plus.
You’ll head off the beaten track on the latest e-mountain bikes that assist your pedalling with a little motorised push, so you can spend your time admiring the bush surrounds rather than working up a sweat. Blue Mountain Biking Adventures offers tours that include a helmet, bike, snack and guide through Katoomba’s Narrowneck Plateau and other locations.
Explore the Blue Mountains National Park on a mountain bike. (Image: Destination NSW)
11. Join Gundungurra Indigenous Tours at Scenic World
Long before the area was named the Blue Mountains, it had been given the name Gundungurra Country. Learn about local lore with a first nations guide as you explore the endemic flora and fauna and hear stories from the Dreamtime. Leaving from Scenic World, you’ll take the Cableway and Skyway as you learn about the rich culture of the region.
12. Hike the Six Foot Track
Serious walkers will be keen to follow the trail from Katoomba to Jenolan Caves on this three-day hike that follows an 1884 horse track.
Join a three-day hike to witness the beauty of Kanangra-Boyd National Park. (Image: Destination NSW)
Weaving through Kanangra-Boyd National Park and state forests, enthusiastic nature-lovers will relish camping under the stars as they meander through the Megalong Valley to arrive at the caves. If the full Six Foot Track requires too much commitment, you can also tackle it in shorter sections.
The trek ends at Jenolan Caves, an impressive limestone attraction in the Blue Mountains. (Image: Jenolan Caves)
13. Indulge in some Blue Mountains spa time
When wintry, snow-dusted days suggest a little pampering, book in for a massage or treatment at one of Katoomba’s day spas. Spa Sublime and Aspara Day Spa both offer a window into wellness on a weekend away in the mountains, where you can work out any tension from daily life or soothe limbs after a bush hike.
Pamper yourself at Spa Sublime. (Image: Darren Edwards; Destination NSW)
14. Follow the Katoomba Night-Lit Walk
While the Blue Mountains is undeniably spectacular by day, it also has an ethereal beauty by night. The Katoomba Night-Lit Walk is illuminated from dusk to 11pm, giving walkers a chance to safely experience the sights and nocturnal sounds of the bush come dark. Follow the forest path on the 2.4-kilometre return route that passes Katoomba Cascades, Katoomba Falls, Orphan Rock and Witches Leap, at some parts you can also see the Three Sisters all aglow.
15. Take in the sunset at Boars Head
It would be remiss of anyone to visit the Blue Mountains and not find a position to admire the nightly light show at sunset. With vibrant orange and pink hues bathing the ancient rock cliffs and swathing the bush in a spectrum of colours, this is a free spectacle not to be missed. For prime viewing, make your way to Boars Head Lookout and join the audience for a picnic and a show. Be sure to rug up, though, it can get windy and chilly.
16. Tour Katoomba’s street art
The energy of the mountains imbues its residents with an abundance of creativity, which can be seen through the many galleries and bespoke craft boutiques, but also on the streets of Katoomba.
Get a group selfie along the Street Art Walk, Katoomba. (Image: Destination NSW)
A joint venture between Blue Mountains Cultural Centre, University of Western Sydney and Street Art Murals Australia, the Beverly Place precinct has been decorated with large-scale murals that showcase the talent of street artists from the region and around Australia. Have your camera at-the-ready to snap a few selfies along the walk.
The street art here is truly striking. (Image: Destination NSW)
Keep reading our Blue Mountains travel guide for more insider tips and hidden gems to discover in this unforgettable part of Australia.