New South Wales Australia

New South Wales: Ultimate Australia

If you're heading to Australia for the first time, it's likely you'll arrive in New South Wales (NSW) - its capital city of Sydney, to be more precise. It's practically a pilgrimage for backpackers these days, iconic sights like the Sydney Opera House and Bondi Beach sitting high on many must-visit lists. This is the most populated city and state in the country, meaning there are plenty of reasons for travellers both old and new to visit NSW.

You probably know plenty about Sydney already. It's a cornucopia of backpacker-friendly hostels, bars, restaurants, and more, as well as an ideal place to pick up some temporary work. Many first-time visitors travel to NSW and stay here a while to get used to the Aussie way of life, and are rewarded with things to see and do like climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge, walking around the Royal Botanic Garden, and relaxing on Bondi Beach

New South Wales regions

Outside of the big capital city, New South Wales is the ideal state to get used to the size and variety of Australia's incredible natural spaces. Within its borders are outback deserts, rainforests, alpine regions, indigenous rock art sites, and more. It's no wonder many visitors stay here for months before feeling the urge to move on. The state has several must-see regions, including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, the Hunter Valley, North Coast (where you'll find surfing paradise Byron Bay) and the Snowy Mountains (yes, it is possible to ski in Australia!).

Soak up culture in New South Wales

Sydney is perfect for the culture vulture, with a multitude of events, festivals and fascinating Indigenous history on display, including Aboriginal artefacts in the Australian Museum. The Sydney Opera House is one of the world's best venues to catch a show, and events like Vivid Sydney see the city emblazoned in incredible light art installations. The Sydney New Year's Eve celebrations are world-famous, and culminate with a mesmerising firework display over the harbour, and the annual Mardis Gras parades create one of the most amazing street parties anywhere ever.

Food and wine in New South Wales

New South Wales is a fantastic destination for foodies and wine-lovers, and the gourmet treats extend well beyond the bright lights of Sydney - though you will find some of the world's best eateries and street food in the state's capital, so don't overlook it! Head over to the Hunter Valley for one of Australia's most celebrated wine regions, or alternatively check out the restaurant scenes in the Central and North Coast regions.

Getting adventurous in New South Wales

New South Wales was made for adventure travel, with activities all over the state that'll be sure to get the adrenaline pumping. The Blue Mountains region presents some truly awesome hiking and mountain biking trails that weave through stunning wilderness, while Wollongong is a top destination for skydiving and hang-gliding. Alternatively, you could get your kicks in Sydney itself, by climbing over the Sydney Harbour Bridge, sea kayaking around the surrounding beaches, or even careening around the harbour on a jet boat.

Work and play in New South Wales

For students and young travellers, New South Wales offers the perfect environment to combine work and play. With job opportunities and study options available all over the state, you won't have any trouble securing something either paid or a course to further develop you, and as you have already seen, you'd need a lifetime to enjoy all the various things to do.

Life's a beach in New South Wales

New South Wales enjoys some of the best beaches on the planet, making it a perfect spot to indulge in that sought-after surfer lifestyle. Sydney alone (as if it didn't have enough going for it!) is surrounded by epic beaches and adjoining suburbs, including Manly, Coogee and - most famous of all - Bondi. But you'll find stretches of paradise all the way up and down the coast. Byron Bay is hugely popular, and for good reason, while you'll find quieter, more off-the-beaten-track beaches on the South Coast, like in Killalea State Park.

Our Favourite New South Wales Tours

Most tours in New South Wales will begin when you visit Sydney, including many tailored to first-time visitors to Australia. This means you can go pretty much anywhere and do pretty much anything in this amazing state. Highlights on various tours include stops in the beautiful Blue Mountains region, the vineyards of the Hunter Valley and the laid back surfer town of Byron Bay.

Frequently Asked Questions

Most travellers arrive in New South Wales via Sydney, arriving by air, either internationally or taking a domestic flight from any major city within Australia. Cheap flights to Sydney are available from all over the country. You can also reach it easily by car or organised tour, driving down from Queensland or east from Victoria - this is an area of the country with some of the best road connections.

There are so many things to do in Sydney that it can easily eat up months of your time. They might be typical tourist things to see, but no trip here would be complete without visiting Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, and Bondi Beach. The Royal Botanic Garden is also an amazing place to escape the bustle of the city without leaving its boundaries. A little further out, the Royal National Park offers a glimpse of some of Australia's natural wonders, while Kosciuszko National Park in winter is a great place to enjoy the snow.

If you’re not Australian, you will need a visa to visit. There are a few available depending on what you're planning to do doing during your visit. If you’re visiting as a tourist, you need to apply online for an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA). This costs around £15. If you’re planning to stick around for a while and earn some money, you must apply for an Australian Working Holiday Visa. These must be arranged well before you’re due to travel, as they can't be acquired once you're in the country.

It really depends on when in the year you're visiting. The climate varies quite widely within New South Wales, so if you're planning to move around you may need to pack quite thoroughly to cover every kind of weather. If you're going to stay a while in Sydney you can expect hot temperatures in summer and cool to mild winters, so pack accordingly. You can always pick up anything else you need once you're there.

Many travellers flock to Sydney and New South Wales in summer (December to February), when days are reliably hot and sunny. Be warned though that temperatures often surpass forty degrees, so it can be uncomfortable. Travelling in late spring or early autumn can mean weather is a bit less predictable, but temperatures a little more reasonable.

How long do you have?! Sydney and New South Wales is definitely a region of Australia to be enjoyed. If you're looking to settle down and work for a while to raise some cash, this is a good area to do it. If you want to stay active and tick off all the sights, allow at least three to four weeks so you can be really thorough.

You're going to need a set of wheels to get around New South Wales, whether that be a hire car, a bus service, or an organised tour. Solo driving is a good option here as you can get used to driving in Australia without having to tackle too much extreme terrain. Bus connections are generally good, particularly along the east coast, but will limit your options a little.

It's possible to see a great deal of quintessential Australian wildlife without having to go too far outside of Sydney. The Blue Mountains National Park to the west is home to kangaroos, wallabies, parrots, and more, while the volcanic caldera in Border Ranges National Park is a bird spotter's paradise. There are also plenty of opportunities along the coast to see marine life, including humpback whale-watching cruises.

*A Note About Flight Prices: All prices were current at the time this was published. Prices are subject to availability and subject to change without notice. Prices are based on searches done in the last 14 days for one-way flights to select destinations in Northern Territory, Australia between April 2019 and August 2019. Flight prices vary by date, departure city, arrival city and availability. All taxes/fees are included in the price, except certain government taxes, change fees and fees imposed in destination and airline baggage fees if applicable.