In Sydney, we are really spoiled for choice when it comes to walking tracks with water views.
Australians generally like to lead active lifestyles so many of the high profile sites have established walking tracks woven into the landscape.
Sydney Harbour runs deep into the city and you can find walking trails on the north and south side running as far as the water.
Then we have the beaches of the Eastern suburbs and the Northern Beaches. All showing off their own unique combination of sand, surf, parklands, and clifftops.
We live in Sydney and frequent all of these tracks. But if you are visiting and only have a few days we wanted to share the list of our favorite waterfront walks in Sydney so you can see the best that we have to offer.
In this post:
7 of the Best Coast Walks in Sydney
1. Federation Cliff Walk
- Distance: 4.6kms (2.9 miles)
- Region: Eastern Suburbs
- From CBD: 8.6kms (5.3 miles)
This is our top pick due to the epicness of the scenery that you will see along the way, the challenging length of the walk, and the impressive houses you also see perched on the clifftops. It is a blue ribbon area for housing and being able to walk along the narrow stretches of land between these multi-million dollar homes and the views that make them so prestigious is an awesome way to spend a sunny morning.
An added bonus is that most of the pathways being almost deserted. This is a nice change compared to many of the other walks on this list where you are constantly dodging runners, dog walkers, and stragglers (I can’t stand slow walkers!).
In many sections of this walk, we were all alone – even though the weather was magnificent!
If you wanted to stretch this out to a full day you could start as far away as North Bondi. We started about 2.5kms (1.6 miles) north of there at Dudley Page Reserve which sits above a hilltop and boasts an uninterrupted view of the Harbour Bridge.
From there you can head in the opposite direction down a small unassuming street (Lancaster Road) which opens up into one of the most glorious clifftop views you will see anywhere in the world.
Highlights along the way include Diamond Bay, the Macquarie Lighthouse, Signal Hill, and of course The Gap which sits just up the hill from your destination at Watsons Bay.
The only downside to warn you about is that you are likely to encounter a lot of wind! So if you are sensitive to this then you may not enjoy it as much.
We can’t recommend this walk enough!
2. Bondi to Bronte (Via Tamarama)
- Distance: 1.5kms one way (0.9 miles)
- Region: Eastern Suburbs
- From CBD: 9.4kms (5.8 miles)
On a sunny day the only way you can describe this walk as glorious!
We recommend that you start in Bronte and head north. If for no other reason than when you first get a glimpse of Bondi Beach it is probably the most epic view you will get of this world-famous spot.
There are numerous places to stop along the way. Our favorites are:
- Tamarama beach where there is a cafe, public toilet, and a park area that will be less busy than both Bondi and Bronte.
- Just past the beach is Tamarama Point. There will be gaps in the walkway fence that open up onto a rocky shelf that provides a great clifftop platform with great views.
- There is an elevated rocky platform atop the headland outside of Mark’s Park. This is about ⅔ of the way through your walk. Outstanding views on both sides, and your first glimpse of Bondi.
When you arrive in Bondi you can have a rest in the large park or on the beach, or head to the main strip for something to eat. We prefer the eating options at Bronte so usually only take five minutes sitting under a tree and then start the return leg.
If you are in a hurry you can take the inland route back to Bronte and be back there in 20 minutes. But there isn’t much to see so we recommend just going back the way you came.
3. Circular Quay to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair
- Distance: 2.5kms (1.6 miles)
- Region: Sydney City
- From CBD: 1.5kms (0.9 miles)
One of the most famous waterfront walks you will find anywhere in the world, with the Harbour Bridge and Opera House as your backdrop.
Starting at the ferry terminal at Circular Quay, you can walk along the water’s edge to the Opera House. A better view of the Harbour Bridge you will not find.
You then have the option to hang out on the Opera House steps or walk the long way around to the water on the other side of the structure. Here you will be right opposite Kirribilli point and you will get a great view along Sydney Harbour in both directions.
Past the Opera House is the entry to the Royal Botanic Gardens, and the walkway along Farm Cove. This long horse-shoe shaped track is surrounded by the lush greenery and colorful flowers of the gardens on one side, and the water on the other.
Lady Macquarie’s chair is located at the tip of the next point adjacent to the Opera House. So as you get closer to that end the view back to the west is the Opera House, with the Harbour Bridge in the background. It is worth the walk for this view alone.
There is a cafe on the way so you can grab a coffee and hang out on the grass, or the stone walls overlooking the water to hang out and get some happy snaps.
Once you reach your destination you then have a few options of where to go next:
- Keep following the water’s edge into Sydney Cove and Woolloomooloo where there are plenty of restaurants and pubs to check out.
- Walk through the Botanic Gardens back to Circular Quay.
- Return the same way you came – this time walking towards that magnificent view to the west.
This is a very easy walk with the track almost completely flat from start to finish.
4. Watsons Bay to North Head
- Distance: 4.5km circuit (2.8 miles)
- Region: Eastern Suburbs
- From CBD: 11.7kms (7.3 miles)
Watsons Bay is one of our favorite spots in Sydney. This narrow strip of land that separates the Tasman Sea, and Sydney Harbour, and you can walk from one side to the other in less than five minutes.
So we will start our journey by doing just that. From the ferry wharf, we will walk uphill through Robertson Park, and in just a few minutes we are standing on top of The Gap.
You can spend some time walking from one end to the other of this notorious cliff edge, and when you head to the northern side where there is an elevated lookout you can see all the way to the Sydney Harbour bridge. But the cliff edges right in front of you is the star of the show.
From here you just keep heading north until you link up with the South Head Heritage Trail. This will take you on a loop past Lady Bay Beach, Hornby Lighthouse, and of course, you can get right up to the edge of south head – the entry point for Sydney Harbour.
On the return journey, you can either hang out at Camp Cove Beach or continue on to Watsons Bay for a Seafood lunch from Doyles to enjoy in the park.
5. Bay Run
- Distance: 7km circuit (4.3 miles)
- Region: Inner West
- From CBD: 7.9kms (4.9 miles)
We get deeper into the Harbour with this addition to the list. A very popular circuit for residents in Sydney’s inner west due to the pleasant scenery, and relatively flat walking track.
It is constantly busy on weekends though so best to get in early in the day.
The track is a circuit that hugs the waterfront around Canada Bay and Iron Cove. So you will be seeing the same view just from different angles, so it is difficult to talk to highlights along the way.
But, there are plenty of parks and cafes that you can stop at if you wanted to take a break. On a sunny day, the harbor really glistens so you can stop anywhere you like on this track to take it all in.
6. Malabar Beach to Maroubra Beach
- Distance: 3.7kms (2.3 miles)
- Region: Eastern Suburbs
- From CBD: 15.6kms (9.7 miles)
This is a far less glamorous walk compared to some on this list, with the walking track mostly dirt and rock that weaves its way between cliff edges and shrubs.
There are no views inland with a high fence for a shooting range all you will see here.
But, due to the height of the cliffs and the shape of the cliff edges you get some incredible views up and down the coastline. Plus you can witness some pretty rough seas crashing up against the base of the cliffs also.
Magic Point and Boora Point are highlights along the way. These are the two areas that stick out into the ocean the furthest so you can see along the cliff faces in either direction.
The track is slightly more challenging with some steeper sections but it is still suitable for all fitness levels.
We always start in Malabar and walk to Maroubra for something to eat. The walk is far enough where you will want a decent rest – especially if you plan on returning via the coastal route.
If you wanted to cut it shorter you can walk behind the shooting range and through the parkland.
There is less to see but there are some spots where you are much higher and can see over the national park all the way to the ocean.
7. La Perouse to Yarra Bay
- Distance: 2.8kms (1.7 miles)
- Region: Eastern Suburbs
- From CBD: 17.4kms (10.8 miles)
This walk is less of a hike, and more of an easy stroll with some great opportunities to explore along the way.
Starting at La Perouse you have the choice to stick to the footpaths, or follow the water’s edge and get down on the rocks. We usually opt for the latter and first climb onto the rocks at La Perouse point – just opposite Bare Island Forte.
From here if you look directly south you can see Kurnell on the other side of Botany Bay, which is where Australia was first discovered by British explorers.
As you follow the rocks around to the north you will find all kinds of old boat ramps, mini beaches, and rock formations to climb over. Eventually, you will come out at the top of Frenchman’s Beach.
You have the option here to walk along the sand or follow the walking track. Once you reach Yarra Point you have the same choice again. Depending on how much of a hurry you are in, we think the beach option is much nicer.
However, the scenery gets more and more industrial as you get closer to Yarra Bay with Port Botany the next stop. You will likely see a couple of cargo ships coming and going on your walk.
There is a cluster of these walks around the more popular tourist areas to the north and south of Bondi Beach. The ferries from Circular Quay can also get you access to the walks featuring Watsons Bay, Drummoyne and Manly while also giving you a chance to get out onto the harbor.
So even if you are in Sydney for a few days you can tick off a handful of these easily in a couple of day trips, while having the chance to see some of the most famous sites around Sydney Harbour.