Exploring the Blue Mountains
from a Hop-on, hop-off bus
When you’re enjoying the hustle and bustle of Sydney, it’s hard to imagine that just 50kms away lies a tranquil magical mountainous region called The Blue Mountains. This area, famous for its spectacular scenery and high mountains, is part of a World Heritage site that comprises seven different national parks and a conservation area.
On your scenic hop on, hop off tour you will explore some of the breathtaking Blue Mountains area, which is home to a host of wildlife, flora and fauna, breathtaking waterfalls, magnificent sheer sandstone cliffs and towering rocks. You will also visit a few historic villages, and, if you’re up to it, you can even embark on an exhilarating walking trail.
The beauty of this tour is that it’s so versatile. You can hop on and off the bus to explore, whenever you want, and as this particular tour is only 50 minutes long from start to finish, you can also choose to stay on the bus for the duration and listen to a live commentary (although you really MUST get off the bus and explore the gorgeous lookouts and mountain creeks…).
What does it cost?
A 48 Hours Unlimited Travel Ticket costs US$ 39 for an adult and half of that (US$ 19.5) for a child. Students and seniors are required to pay US$33 per ticket, while a family pass for up to a maximum of 2 adults and 3 children costs US$97.50
First tour departs Katoomba at 9.45am. Buses leave every 30 min until 4.05pm. Last tour finishes at Katoomba at 5pm
Note: Times are subject to change due to local traffic conditions and seasons.
Getting to Katoomba
- Purchase a return Cityrail ticket (Blue Mountains Line)
- Catch train from Sydney Central Station to Katoomba (check the screens for platform number)
- Train takes 1.5 to 2 hours from Sydney to Katoomba
- Hop off in Katoomba, walk up the railway station stairs and find the hop on bus stop
Places to see and things to do along the route
Katoomba Railway Station is your starting and end point. This quaint little town is the largest in the Blue Mountains area, and the centre of the Blue Mountains National Park. It was founded in 1879 when the Katoomba Coal Mine was opened here. Coal was mined from the side of the mountain near Orphan Rock using a cable car to bring the coal to the top. The famous Scenic Railway still operates here, on the original line cut out of the mountainside.
The bus stops at several places along Katoomba Street and Lurline street to pick up more explorers and drop off those who would like to visit the town’s many craft and antique shops and numerous art galleries for souvenirs.
The first stop out of town is on Cliff Drive, near the Skyway Eastern Station, where you can take an easy stroll to nearby Prince Henry Cliff Walk and Cliff View Lookout, from where you can enjoy a stunning panoramic view of the gorge beneath you and the mountains around it (Cliff View Lookout is wheelchair-accessible). You can also board the Scenic Skyway here, which is a giant glass-bottomed cable car that travels across the gorge above the Katoomba Falls, 200 metres above the valley floor, all the way to Scenic World.
Katoomba Falls Reserve, just a short drive from here, boasts a nice picnic area and a kiosk, from where you can take the relatively easy 1-km Round Walk that offers magnificent views, as well as birdlife and lush rainforest.
Scenic World, our next stop, is perhaps the Blue Mountains' most noteworthy attraction, boasting a few thrilling and exciting rides, of which the most famous is the Katoomba Scenic Railway: The steepest cable-driven funicular railway in the world, which descends through a cliff side tunnel, down to the floor of the Jamison Valley. From here you can take a walk along the Scenic Walkway, which boasts almost 3 kms of boardwalk through the ancient rainforest (of which 380 metres are wheelchair-accessible). This is doubtlessly one of the most beautiful walks in this part of Australia… Step into a picturesque postcard rainforest gorge full of cascading waterfalls and ferny grottoes. Enjoy the breathtaking scenery and see a variety of beautiful Australian birds as you jump across creeks and descend from the cliffs down into the valley, to explore this tranquil paradise up close.
Other attractions in the Scenic World include the Scenic Skyway (which we already mentioned), as well as the Scenic Cableway, which prides itself as the "steepest aerial cable car in the Southern Hemisphere!"
The Blue Mountains Chocolate Company, where we stop next, is a sweet tooth's heaven, offering Chocolate making demonstrations and free tastings... This boutique chocolate manufacturer specializes in gourmet chocolates, and you can also indulge on their real hot-chocolate or luscious ice-creams.
Echo Point / Three Sisters Plaza is where you can get the best view of the world-famous rock formations called the "Three Sisters", which make one of the most beautiful landmarks in the entire Blue Mountains range. According to legend, three sisters from the Katoomba tribe were turned to stone by a sorcerer to prevent them from marrying the unsuitable husbands they had chosen from the Nepean tribe. The brothers killed the sorcerer, but the sisters were trapped in stone for eternity.
From this stop you can also embark on the Prince Henry Cliff Walk, which starts at the Gordon Falls Picnic Area and follows the cliff top past Leura Cascades and Echo Point, includes Three Sisters and ends near the top of the Scenic Railway in Katoomba. You can also embark on the walk from the following two stops on the route (It is also possible to walk from here to the Eastern Skyway Station, which we already mentioned before. Click here for details).
Still on Prince Henry Cliff Walk, Honeymoon Lookout is our next stop on this breathtaking route, followed by Kiah Lookout, from where you can get a fabulous view of Leura Cascades… Solitary Restaurant & Kiosk, just a stone's throw from Kiah lookout, is where you should go if you want to enjoy the view in style, while indulging on fresh scones, or muffins and a cappuccino… Make sure you explore this section of Prince Henry Cliff Walk, if you've got enough time on your hands, as wherever you walk along the trail, you will have magnificent views into the valley below.
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Leura Cascades is a tranquil stop and an ideal stepping stone to a number of beautiful waterfalls in the area, including Leura, Linda, Lila and Bridal Veil Falls. The walk to Bridal Veil Falls is particularly easy, so if you just want a gentle stroll, this is the waterfall to visit. The name Leura is Aboriginal, and means ‘lava’, and the area is called this because of the many volcanic stones found here.
You can either opt for the Leura Cascades Circuit, or the Leura Cascades Loop, as both are quite short and easy (Don't forget to download the PDF mini-guide after clicking on the link/s, as it provides far more details than the webpage).
Gordon Falls is our last stop along the cliff. An easy walk of just 10 minutes or so leads to the lookout, where you can enjoy the view of Gordon Falls, as well as a great view along the escarpment to Sublime Point, across to Mount Solitary and over to the Three Sisters.
And now for something completely different! Next stop is at the Toy and Railway Museum, located in a historic garden and family mansion built in the early 20th Century. This famous museum is a treasure trove full of toys from all over the world, from Barbie and Popeye to Alice in Wonderland and Tintin. It’s an adventure playground, no matter how old you are, with Interactive displays and a variety of fun exhibits, including dolls, teddy bears, toys and model trains.
Lyrebird Dell is another hidden gem, although it is quite easy to access… It boasts a small and gorgeous waterfall, as well as a nice picnic area and a sandstone cave with quite some history… Click on this link for more details (and do not forget to download the PDF mini-guide, after opening the webpage).
Leura Village is the capital of the Blue Mountains area and your next exciting stop on the route. Step back in time as you visit this quaint little town’s historic, beautifully preserved main street. Aside from its lovely historic buildings, the town also boasts magnificent gardens which are open to visitors at selected times. And the variety of cafes and restaurants make this an ideal stop. Once you’ve explored the village, you can enjoy some souvenir shopping, fine food or good coffee.
The next stop, at Everglades Gardens, is a must. This is one of the most beautiful gardens in Australia, created by millionaire Henri Van de Velde as part of his country retreat in the 1930s. Famous Danish landscape artist Paul Sorensen took great care to incorporate the area’s natural beauty and the result is a little slice of paradise. Stroll along formal European-style terraces, past towering trees and winding paths lined with rose bushes that lead to a contemplative Reflection Pool.
Leura Resorts is an ideal stop off if you would like to reach the town’s hotels and restaurants.
Leura Railway Station, which opened in 1890, is the next stop. This regional railway station serves Leura Village.
Katoomba Railway Station is your last stop. From here you can catch the train back to Sydney.
Click here now to book your seats on the Blue Mountains hop-on hop-off Explorer Bus and get a good price.
Did you know ??? Taking a hop on hop off bus tour is one the best ways to see any large city, as it saves you plenty of precious holiday time and takes you EXACTLY where you want to go... (Not to mention the great cityscape views you can enjoy on the way...). Our "Hop on hop off guides" cover quite a few cities across the world, including Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland, Wellington, Singapore, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai and many other destinations..... (Click on the links to go directly to the city-guide of your choice, or click here to go directly to our world hop-on, hop-off guide).