Bowral holidays & travel guide Bowral holidays & travel guide

The ultimate travel guide toBowral

Bowral has a long history as the Sydneysiders summer retreat thanks to the allures of its tranquil country setting, antique wares, cosy cafes and picturesque gardens. Its streetscapes ooze romance and elegance, while the nearby vineyards, limestone caves, fishing spots and national parks provide plenty of fodder for daytime activities. As the largest town in the Southern Highlands, it is also the perfect place to base yourself to explore the many charms of its neighbouring towns and villages, starting with Mittagong, Moss Vale, Bundanoon, Robertson, and Berrima.

Getting to Bowral

Bowral is an easy 90-minute drive south of Sydney or a two-hour drive north of Canberra, making it an ideal day trip or weekend escape for city-dwellers. Bowral and many of the towns of the Southern Highlands are also linked via a direct two-hour train journey from Sydney.

Top Things to Do in Bowral

Festivals & Events

The Corbett Gardens in Bowral are home to the renowned Tulip Time festival that is held annually in spring. Marvel at the kaleidoscope of colours as you walk among the 75,000 mass-planted tulips that bloom throughout the gardens and enjoy a variety of market stalls, musical entertainment and special events throughout the duration of the festival.

The Southern Highlands Food and Wine Festival showcases the best of the region’s local produce each year in October at Bradman Oval. Enjoy free wine tastings from local award-winning wineries, delicious food samples, culinary activities and educational talks.

Wineries & Vineyards

There are over 60 vineyards in the Southern Highlands producing a stellar line-up of cool climate wines featuring chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, riesling, pinot gris, pinot noir, merlot and cabernet sauvignon varieties. Stop by the 17 cellar doors along the wine trail, starting with Tertini to sample the multi-award-winning boutique wines. Other standouts include, Centennial Vineyards, Cherry Tree Hill, Bendooley Estate, Artemis Wines and the Tractorless Vineyard by Eling Forest Estate.

Attractions & Activities

Get your fill of antique and boutique shopping in Bowral and surrounds. Dirty Jane’s Emporium boasts all manner of antiques, vintage finds and upcycled treasures with over 80 independent stallholders setting up shop on site. Stock up on stationery at Bespoke Letterpress within The Press Shop café, grab a book at The Bookshop Bowral, get a fresh vision for your home garden at The Potting Shed, and pick up one-of-a-kind furniture pieces at The Bronte Tram and Barbara’s Storehouse.

Visit the Bradman Museum and International Cricket Hall of Fame to learn about Australia’s cricketing great, Sir Donald Bradman, in his hometown and the origins of the game. Featuring state-of-the-art interactive experiences that take visitors through the history of cricket up to the inception of the Big Bash League.

The Corbett Gardens, home to the annual Tulip Time festival, date back to 1911 when the local tourist association purchased the empty land in the middle of town and transformed it into the bountiful gardens they are today.

Take the walking trails to the highest point between Sydney and Canberra to admire the views at the three lookouts (Jellore, Mittagong and Bowral) at Mount Gibraltar Reserve. Or opt for a day trip to Wombeyan Caves (around 90 minutes from Bowral) to take a guided tour of its maze of underground caverns, streams and passages within the Wombeyan Karst Conservation Reserve. You can also hike the Waterfall track for scenic waterfall views and Mares Forest Creek track.

Best Places to Stay in Bowral

Hotels & Motels

The Gibraltar Hotel Bowral boasts a luxury day spa, golf course and fine dining restaurant and bar with seven different sized suites to choose from.

Alternatively, opt for a stay at The Sebel Bowral Heritage Park, which blends modern décor with all the comforts of home inside the recently refurbished studio and two-bedroom apartments.

The elegantly restored Berida Hotel is another option that is within walking distance to the main streets of Bowral. Formerly built as a residence in 1925, all 43 rooms of varying sizes and styles radiate grandeur and old world charm.

Luxury Accommodation

Surround yourself with the beauty of meticulously curated gardens and the verdant countryside during a stay on the nineteenth century Rift Estate. The heritage Coach House accommodation, formerly the estate’s stables, sleeps 13 people within its six luxuriously-styled bedrooms, boasts three fireplaces, four bathrooms and claw-foot bathtubs to soak in at the end of the day.

Stay in one of the two wings, Elms Wing and Morton Wing, at Peppers Craigieburn. The property has been refurbished to maintain the charm of the original homestead with the addition of more modern comforts. Peppers Manor House, located 15 minutes from Bowral in Sutton Forest, is another charming alternative offering 43 uniquely styled rooms and suites on a country estate.

Located just east of Bowral in the secluded hilltops is Milton Park Country House Hotel & Spa. Formerly a grand mansion built at the turn of the 20th century, the secluded country retreat offers 44 deluxe guest rooms and suites to choose from, with most featuring two seat baths, open fireplaces and views of the hotel’s internationally renowned gardens.

Sleep in the luxurious wood-panelled cottages of the Bendooley Estate. Not only are you guaranteed a uniquely memorable stay – with each individually designed cottage featuring deep free-standing baths and lake vistas – but you also have access to the estate’s cellar door, restaurant and iconic Berkelouw Book Barn.

Caravan Parks

For an entirely different escape to the Southern Highlands, opt to stay at one of the caravan parks near Bowral. The Mittagong Caravan Park offers cabin accommodation as well as powered sites in a peaceful bushland setting in the town of Mittagong. The Moss Village Caravan Park is set on 10 acres of gardens with a range of sites to suit caravans and tents of all sizes in addition to executive, deluxe and standard cabins all within 10km of Bowral.

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Best Restaurants & Cafes in Bowral

For a sophisticated breakfast or lunch inside an elegant but relaxed setting head to Ludo and taste the blue swimmer crab omelette or the hearty Full Ludo. They are also open for dinner Friday through Sunday.

The Press Shop café partners with a long list of local producers and suppliers to create a seasonal breakfast and lunch menu that focuses on healthy, clean eating – try the simple yet delicious whipped ricotta on sourdough with strawberries and honey.

Alternatively, Raw & Wild Market & Cafe has an extensive breakfast, lunch and dinner menu. Start with the maple infused French toast for breakfast, organic vegan Buddha bowl for lunch and chilli prawn and zucchini linguini for dinner. Stock up on market haul from the store before you leave.

Fill up on carbs at Flour Water Salt, a bakery and deli on Bong Bong Street famed for its sourdough and deli fridge overflowing with delectable cakes and pastries. Or opt to join the line of pastry-lovers at the award-winning Gumnut Patisserie to take your pick from the long list of cakes, tarts, slices, biscuits and all manner of sweet and savoury treats.

Onesta Cucina (Italian for honest kitchen) serves up authentic Italian home-style cuisine in a warm and inviting setting. The menu changes daily but often features carb-laden favourites such as housemade pappardelle with braised duck ragu or slow roast Inglegreen pork belly with radicchio, mustard fruit and cherry tomato insalata.

Or, for something entirely different, head to Moss Vale for burgers and hotdogs at the 1950’s American-inspired Bernie’s Diner. Sit inside the red leather booths and order Bernie’s house made smoked pastrami sandwich with a side of ‘slaw and dill pickle.

Tours and Packages for Bowral

Tailor your own wine-tasting cellar door tour of the Southern Highlands wine trail with Grape Escape or opt for a wine and produce tour with Highlands Food and Wine Tours.

Take a self-guided walking tour of the Bowral historic walk or explore further afield with the Heritage Trail through the Southern Highland towns that takes in historic inns, houses and churches as you discover the region’s convict past.

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