See kookaburras, beaches, the harbour and jump into a lake at the end of your slog. Here’s a list of routes and pit stops that will make your run fun.
Bondi to Coogee
This 14-kilometre run is Sydney’s most popular. Weekday runs are best – between the waves of tourists and other runners, the pathways can get packed on the weekends, unless you’re an early riser. Start with a smoothie at Bondi’s Side Room before setting out. Begin the coastal run at Bondi Beach and trace the dramatic coast along Mackenzies Bay to Bronte. From there, go past the gothic Waverley Cemetery. Take a breather at a shady kiosk at Clovelly Beach, or push through to Coogee. You’re done: treat yourself to a well-earned shower and dip into Wylies Baths.
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Skirting the waterfront, this run is great for either a lunch break or a longer test of endurance set against the picturesque tour of the harbour-front. Cut and chop the route where you need – because it’s in the heart of the city, each stage of the run is never too far away from a pit stop, bus ride or train station.
For the fully-fledged 14-kilometre route, start at Circular Quay and head towards the Opera House. Follow the harbour towards Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, or take the steps near the Opera House and cut through the Botanic Gardens. Next, jog through the Domain and Hyde Park, and head down Liverpool Street towards Darling Harbour. Follow the boardwalk north to the recently finished Barangaroo Reserve before weaving between the piers at Walsh Bay. Follow Hixson Road around the waterfront and congratulations, at Circular Quay you’ve come full circle.
For a shorter path, either finish at Hyde Park or turn left instead of right at Circular Quay, heading towards Barangaroo Reserve and back again – both runs are a solid six kilometres.
Kings Cross Track Club
Every Monday, Thursday, and some Sundays, both novice and established runners meet underneath the Coca-Cola sign in Kings Cross. Michael Griffiths started the Kings Cross Track Club in January 2015 as an approachable, social fitness group that actually has fun. It has a couple of favourite tracks, such as the Rushcutters Rush, which goes up and over the public parks on the Rushcutters Bay waterfront. But generally, the group likes to keep things fresh. Griffiths has kept the Track Club free both of cost and of what he calls “#cleanliving #fitspo hashtaggers”.
Lane Cove National Park
Just across the Harbour Bridge, Lane Cove National Park is a 20-minute drive from the city but feels like remote bushland. There’s a handful of tracks to choose from, surrounded by Australian wildlife and fauna. Enjoy the sounds of the reserve – you’ll run faster when you’re egged on by a kookaburra’s mocking laugh.
Western Sydney’s Parramatta Lakes offers three tracks at its reservoir, which is also home to native fauna and flora. Runs are 1.5 kilometres, 2.4 kilometres and 4.2 kilometres. The Lakes also offer a pristine and quiet place to do some laps.
St Peters Park Run
Each Saturday at 8am, Sydney Park in St Peters has a free-to-enter run, fit for avid fitness freaks and novices. Register for Park Run online before the event and pin your barcode on to your running top so you’ll get a time at the end of the five kilometres. That way, you’re not competing against anyone but yourself. It also holds runs in Parramatta, Mosman and more.
Sydney Olympic Park
Sydney Olympic Park is huge. With 640 hectares and more than 35 kilometres of leafy running trails, it’d be easy to never take the same route twice. It’s shielded from traffic, so the Park is a perfect locale for a day out of the city. After your run, jump into the pool at the Olympic Park Aquatic Centre.
Whale Beach to Barrenjoey Lighthouse
At the northern-most point of the Northern Beaches is Barrenjoey Lighthouse, overlooking Palm Beach. While the four-kilometre run – starting at Whale Beach – might seem short, the steep incline at the end is not for the faint of heart.
High above, the Lighthouse is a visible goal to pull you along. Run towards it along Whale Beach Road before taking the steps down towards Palm Beach’s Rockpool. Follow the beach, and then the signs to the Lighthouse and the only division between you and a sweeping view over Pittwater’s bay is roughly 200 steep stone steps. Afterwards, take a breather at Casa, the new all-day eatery from The Boathouse Group bringing breezy breakfasts in the mornings, and Amalfi-inspired small plates and pizzas from lunchtime.
This article was first published on May 5 2017, but was updated on October 20 2023 to reflect current information on venues and walks.