Although there’s plenty to see and do in Canberra, there’s also an abundance of destinations to explore in the regions outside the nation’s capital. Pristine beaches, national parks, charming rural communities and seaside towns decorate the state of New South Wales.
Whether you’re a Sydney local looking for a quick and unique weekend getaway or you have some extra time during your stay, we recommend hitting the road from Sydney to Canberra to discover some of the most beautiful and fascinating destinations lined up for you on a smooth and easy route that you can take at your own pace.
There are two routes to choose from when travelling from Sydney to Canberra: the inland route (via M31) or the coastal route (via A1/B52). The inland route is quicker, spanning 285 km and taking around 3 hours and 10 minutes. You could leave Sydney by breakfast and arrive in Canberra by lunchtime if you wished. But it’s impossible to resist the inviting country towns that lie dotted along the highway - and it would be a shame to!
Whilst the coastal route is lengthier at 355 km and takes around 4 hours and 45 minutes, it’s certainly worth the drive. For beach dwellers, it’s an unmissable journey alongside some of the state’s most exceptional beaches and coastal scenes. But the quaint towns offer something for everyone, whether it be delicious food from any number of fantastic cafes and restaurants, boutique shops bursting with unique finds for the shopaholic, or thrill-seeking activities for the adventurous spirit.
Two stunning scenic drives, each with their own incredible experiences to offer on your mini road trip. But why choose when you don’t have to? We recommend taking your time along the coastal route on the way down, and exploring attractions along the inland route on the way back.
For day one of the road trip, take your time cruising along the coastal route. About an hour and 45 minutes in, you’ll arrive at your first stop: Kiama.
At the top of the itinerary are the world-famous blowholes that Kiama is known for. A popular sight for tourists, Kiama Blowhole and Little Blowhole were formed from volcanic lava over 260 million years ago. Periodically, ocean spray shoots from the mouth with a mighty ’whoosh’, truly showing off the striking power and beauty of Mother Nature.
From here, take some time to explore the beautiful coves and beaches along the jagged coastline, find something special to take home with you from the local markets, or take a stroll along the breathtaking Kiama Coastal Walk, where lush rolling hills meet coastal cliffs.
Refuel at Little Earth Roasters, one of the best coffee spots in Kiama, before setting out to your next destination.
If you close your eyes and imagine your ultimate beach paradise vacation destination, you’d be picturing Jervis Bay. Home to the whitest sand in the world and crystal clear aqua sea, the scenery is surreal. Soak up some sun on Hyams Beach, or escape the crowds to some of the town’s more secluded spots. Can’t sit still? Explore the bay from the water and join a kayak or SUP tour.
Below the ocean’s surface, marine life thrives. Head to Jervis Bay Marine Park to spot dolphins, fairy penguins, seals and whales (in breaching season).
By now, we’d imagine you’re famished! For a real treat, head to the internationally renowned restaurant, Rick Stein at Bannisters. The exquisite menu of fresh local seafood with bursts of Asian-influenced flavours will make for a truly memorable experience. Or for a more laidback feed, head to the local brewery and Jervis Bay Brewing Co. for a tasty casual bite from the food truck and a pint of deliciously refreshing craft beer.
Before steering inland towards Canberra, we have one final stop. Head just shy of two hours south to find yourself at Bateman’s Bay. Nestled along the captivating coastline, Bateman’s Bay beckons with its breathtaking vistas and laid-back atmosphere.
Renowned for its beaches like Surfside, Malua Bay, and Long Beach, it’s no surprise that water activities are a favourite for tourists and locals alike. From surfing and kayaking to fishing and boating, there are plenty of options for everyone to enjoy.
Beyond the beaches, explore the abundant biodiversity of the Eurobodalla National Park, boasting lush forests and diverse wildlife. Alternatively, take a step back in time with a visit to the Bateman’s Bay Heritage Museum or the Nelligen Heritage Area.
If you’re a seafood lover, this is the place for you. Recognised as the heart of Australia’s Oyster Coast, indulge in fresh seafood at your pick of the incredible local restaurants, although it doesn’t get much fresher than the famous Innes family Boatshed.
After a long day of driving, the last thing you want to do is head back out again. Book your stay at Deco Hotel to unwind in your luxurious art deco-themed room. For dinner, simply head to Restaurant Two14 in the lobby for a delicious Italian-inspired menu of share plates and classic dishes. Too comfortable to leave your room? Order from our room service menu instead and we’ll bring your dinner straight to your doorstep.
After you’ve enjoyed eating and sightseeing your way through Canberra, we recommend taking the inland route back to Sydney for a change of scenery.
In just under two hours after departure, you’ll arrive at the charming town of Bundanoon in the Southern Highlands. Take some time to explore the quaint country town, renowned for its delightful cafes, local markets, and friendly community. Immerse yourself in the relaxed culture and cruise through the streets, stopping into any hidden gems that pique your curiosity.
It’s time to stretch your legs and get some fresh air, so the next stop is Morton National Park. Here is where you’ll find the magnificent Fairy Bower Falls. The trail is relatively easy and accessible for most visitors and should take about an hour for the round-trip.
After driving another 30 minutes towards the coast, stop off on the eastern side of the national park to see one of Australia’s most beautiful and dramatic waterfalls: Fitzroy Falls. Watch as the powerful cascade plummets over 80 metres below the crest of the waterfall.
Then, the town of Bowral is just a 20-minute drive north, and where you’ll experience the epitome of the fairytale Southern Highlands charm. Known for its vibrant gardens and landscapes, this small country town is a haven for nature enthusiasts. The exquisite Corbett Gardens are a must to explore during your stop, dating back to 1911. A historical timepiece and extravagant floral exhibit in the centre of the town, the gardens also host the Spring Garden Festival and Tulip Time Festival.
If your timing aligns, you may also be able to pay a visit to the Southern Highlands Food and Wine Festival in December for a taste of the region’s award-winning produce and wine.
For cricket fanatics, the Bradman Museum and International Cricket Hall of Fame celebrate Australia’s iconic cricketing legacy.
There are countless locations between Sydney and Canberra that you could stop at and explore, and these are just a few! If you’re looking for a unique experience on your next getaway, a road trip between the two cities is a fantastic option for a quick overnight escape or an extended getaway.
Book your trip today - click here to explore our rooms at Deco Hotel and see available prices.