**Post edited with updated information on 3/18/16**
Sydney has made it up the list as one of favorite cities I’ve visited. Getting around the city is incredibly easy, so we felt quite confident to venture out on two fun day trips during our 4-day stay. Our first trip was to the Blue Mountains, using the train and the Blue Mountain Explorer Bus for the experience at a fraction of the price.
How to Get to the Blue Mountains from Sydney Independently Without a Tour Group:
This post will be dedicated to those who have an interest in visiting the Blue Mountains on their own.
Getting to the Blue Mountains with an organized tour group can cost between AUD $117-$150 per person. If organized tours are your thing, then go for it; however, Dad and I found a way to see the Blue Mountains on our own using public transporation and the Blue Mountains Explorer Bus.Here’s how we did it:
Step 1: Go to www.131500.com. This is a great and easy-to-use transportation site.
Step 2: Plug in your hotel address, a nearby landmark, or the train station that’s closest to where you’re staying. In the “to” box, select destination: Blue Mountains.
Step 3: Your real-time directions will populate. Since we stayed at the Radisson Blu Sydney, we were instructed to take the train from Wynyard Station to Central Station (departs from platform 5 and is 2 stops away).
The train platforms can change, so please verify when you arrive. The train station information specialists are very friendly and helpful, so do not be intimidated to ask for directions.
Step 4: Once you get to Central station, purchase a train ticket towards Katoomba, the Blue Mountains train.
The train ride to the Blue Mountains is approximately 2 hrs and 13 minutes, so bring a book to read because it gets very boring. Some trips can take over 3 hours if you select a slower train, so try to pick an express train if it works with your schedule.
The first train from Central station is at 6:23 am and the last is at 12:09pm. The trains from Katoomba to Sydney start at 1:21 pm and last train back is at 11:25 pm.
We took the 7:21 am and arrived at Katoomba Station at 9:23 am. As you exit Katoomba Station, look for the “Blue Mountain Explorer” ticket office to buy your ticket (you can also buy tickets in advance on their online website). They will then give you a guide book with information, which serves as your hop-on, hop-off ticket.
The hop-on, hop-off bus starts running at 9:45 am, and continues mostly in 30 minute intervals, except for two one hour breaks. Look at your schedule and plan accordingly.
Here is an image of the most recent time table:
Key stops on the hop-on, hop-off bus:
- Stop 9 if you plan to take skyway ride $30.
- Stop 10 if you are not taking the skyway ride. You can hike to stop 11. (this is what we did).
- Then get off stop 15, Honeymoon Lookout, and walk back to stop 14, which is “The Three Sisters”.
After making our way around the various stops, we were hungry so we choose to hop off at stop 21, Leura Village, to have lunch. Leura Village is a very cute and quaint shopping village with many boutiques and restaurants. We had lunch at a place across the street from the Leura train station called “Leura Garage”, which was excellent.
After lunch, we walked across the street and down the steps to the Leura train station and took the 2:43pm train back to Central Station. We arrived back in Sydney at 4:45 pm.
If you have a few days to spend in Sydney and want to venture outside of the city, definitely consider visiting the Blue Mountains! Day trips don’t always have to cost a fortune. This was a great way for us to stay active and enjoy the great Australian outdoors!
Angelina and Dad.