Train ride from Sydney to Katoomba and checking out the Blue Mountains

Nature
The wow factor for nature - does it show nature at its best? Doesn't need to be the wilder-beast migration or diving with hundreds of hammerheads. Rather make you pause as you realise just how awesome the natural world can be
8
Culture
How much does this experience showcase some of the better and finer things that us humans can offer? Sure, it can be ancient ruins and renaissance churches, but it can also be festivals or soaking up some of the great modern cities of the world
3
Fun factor/activity
Very simple - was it fun? This is usually linked in with doing some kind of activity - i mean, walking along some cliffs is nice, but paragliding from them, now that is fun. Its a vastly underrated factor in a truly great experience
6
Avoid the crowds
Big tour groups and being surrounded by loud fellow tourists can sap the life out of even the greatest of travel experiences. This score is to reflect just how much you can avoid this. But. . . The score also takes into account if the crowds actually add to the experience, such as with a party town or a bustling food market
4
World famous
How world famous is the experience?
4
unique
How hard is it to have a similar experience in other places round the world?
6
Overall Score
The highest score of nature or culture, + fun factor, + avoid the crowds, + the highest score of world famous or unique. Then turned into a score out of 100. More details at the bottom of the page
60 *What the scores mean and where do they come from
continent
Oceania
country
Australia
Length of time
1 day or less
Rough cost
Obviously people have different tastes, so this will depend on those tastes, but this is a rough idea of price of the whole experience based on 2 people able to split the accommodation costs and excluding travel there and back
$ 50
Time of year visited
January
Primary Tags
Click on any of the tags to see all travel experiences with the same tag
RANKING
How this travel experience ranks compared to all the other experiences on this site
204th/334 This travel experience's ranking compared to all the other experiences on this site
Top 70% SUMMARY RATING: Worth doing

Summary

The Blue Mountains are one of the (many) natural highlights of Australia, with their scenic lookouts over rugged sandstone cliffs, blue-tinged eucalyptus forests and sweeping canyons for some excellent bush-walks, so it is no wonder they have been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.  The added benefit is that they are very accessible on a day trip from central Sydney, which takes 2 hours to Katoomba and includes some wonderful scenery on the way

 

Three top tips:

#1 If possible, limit your time in Katoomba – when getting the train, the stop you want is Katoomba which is also where many of the famous sites and activities are, and where the majority of the fellow tourist traffic is.  For sure give yourself the time for Echo Point to see the Blue Mountains’ most famous site – the Three Sisters Rock Formations that stick out across the canyon and the prime photo taking spot.  But see if you can head out of Katoomba to get away from the crowds.  That being said, if the crowds aren’t too busy, the Skyway Gondola and Scenic Railway are great fun, especially the 2.5km / 1.5miles forest boardwalk at the foot of the railway

#2 Head to Blackheath and the Grand Canyon Walk – Blackheath is 2 stops up from Katoomba and you find the fellow tourist numbers dropping substantially.  From Blackheath, take a taxi to Evans Lookout and from there its a spectacular 5km / 3miles of the Grand Canyon Walk.  Will take around 3 hours and very much worth it

#3 Stay overnight – whilst you can easily check out the Blue Mountains on a day trip from Sydney, the best way to experience them is the evening and early morning before the masses of tourists arrive.  Wandering around looking over the distant views of the Three Sisters in the early evening and waking up early to have some of the trails largely to yourself – magical

highlights

#1 Walking the spectacular 5km / 3miles of the Grand Canyon Walk from Evan's Lookout

#2 Seeing the famous Three Sisters from the Echo Point Lookout in Katoomba

#3 Taking the Scenic Railway literally through parts of the mountains for the forest boardwalk at the bottom

Experiences nearby

The below map shows experiences nearby with a colour that reflect the Overall Score of those experiences

Score Detail

Background - how many times have you asked someone what a travel experience was like and the response was "amazing" or "awesome"?  That response is nice to know, but it makes it hard to differentiate that experience compared to others.  That is exactly what these scores are trying to do - differentiate the experience by giving a score out of 10 based on 6 categories and then giving an overall experience score

This overall experience score is calculated by:  take the highest of the "Culture" or "Nature" score (1-10) + "Fun factor" (1-10) + "Avoiding the crowds" (1-10) + highest of the "Unique" or "World Famous score" (1-10).  Then convert into a score out of 100

Extra detail - the logic being that I find all of the 6 individual scores important, but I don't want to mark an experience down just because it doesn't cover both "Culture" and "Nature", or because it isn't both "World Famous" and "Unique".  Take the examples of Safari in The Serengeti and walking through Rome - they both appeal at opposite ends of the nature / culture spectrum, and you can have a fantastic time without needing to appeal to both sides.  So, their overall scores aren't penalized for their lack of one or the other, and I've done the same for "World Famous" vs "Unique".  But . . . I do think that the "Fun factor" of an experience is important, irrelevant of other factors, and so is "Avoiding the Crowds" (or where there are crowds that add to the experience).  So, both of these scores are standalone