These are some of the less-travelled paths by Sydney’s beautiful waterways. From coastal routes and harbour views, to quiet bridge walks, there’s no need to take a shower when you’re done, just dive right in.

Manly to Spit Bridge – 10 kilometres

This popular track stretches through some of the best beaches and bays in the city. And it has a good mix of surrounds; coastline, bush and suburban areas. Allow a couple of hours for the walk and throw in a ferry ride to or from Manly Beach, and you’ve got yourself the perfect spring day.

Rose Bay to Watson’s Bay – 8 kilometres

This harbour walk takes you by some of Sydney’s nicest beaches, but without the crowds. Catch a bus or ferry to Rose Bay, and allow four-and-a-half-hours to reach Watson’s Bay. Highlights include the historic former Strickland House hospital in Nielsen Park and the harbour views at Bottle and Glass Rocks. If you’ve got extra time Parsley Bay is a beautiful spot for lunch; it has picnic facilities, an enclosed swimming area and a bushwalk circuit with waterfall views. For a shorter version of this walk begin instead at Nielsen Park or Vaucluse Bay.

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Seven Bridges Walk – 27 kilometres

This ambitious 28-kilometre walk starts and ends at Milsons Point, and will take you over seven bridges: the Harbour Bridge, Pyrmont Bridge, ANZAC Bridge, Iron Cove Bridge, Gladsville Bridge, Turban Creek Bridge and Fig Tree Bridge.

Chinamans Beach to Balmoral Beach – 2.4–3.4 kilometres

You can take this short coastal trek in either direction, although be aware the rocky path to Chinamans Beach is only accessible at low tide. At the northern area of Mosman the beach is small, has no waves and is perfect for families. One kilometre south of Balmoral Beach you’ll find brilliant views of beautiful yachts, the Sydney Harbour National Park, and some of Sydney’s most impressive houses. Bring your own picnic before taking a dip in the enclosed swimming area.

Bundeena to Otford Coastal Track – 26 kilometres

This journey spans 26 kilometres in one direction so we’re stretching it over two days, camping overnight in the North Era Campground. While it’s a rigorous walk, the beauty of the Royal National park, coupled with ocean-and-cliff views make it a must for the seasoned hiker. There are swimming spots at Garie Beach and North Era Beach, and opportunities to whale-and-bird watch at multiple lookouts. You might spot a humpback between May and early December.

Hermitage Foreshore Track – 1.8 kilometres

This is the walk for you and your visiting relative, perhaps as an accompaniment to a day of sightseeing. Starting at Bayview Hill Road, walk past Shark Island, Fort Denison and all of Sydney Harbour’s famous landmarks to Neilsen Park. Less than two kilometres one-way, this walk will take you less than an hour, so there should be plenty of time for photos, or to double back. After working up an appetite, you’ll have earned a waterside lunch.

North Head

North Head Sanctuary at Manly is a great option for a bush walk with a coastal outlook and has the advantage of being peaceful and highly accessible. The Sanctuary Loop will take you less than two hours to complete, with both city and beach views along the way, and an array of plants and birdlife. You can also walk the historic North Head Army Barracks on a guided tour, and maybe even spot an echidna. Afterwards, enjoy a well-earned coffee at Bella Vista Cafe in the Heritage Listed Building.

Manly to Bondi
This 80-kilometre walk opened at the end of 2019, linking two of Sydney’s most famous beaches. A series of pre-existing paths between the two beaches were linked to create the track, thanks to a partnership between six local councils. The beast of a walk will take most punters seven days (but some have done it in two). The path winds past a number of landmarks, including the Opera House, and over the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It takes in beaches such as Parsley Bay and Balmoral Beach, and a host of significant Indigenous heritage sites.

Explore some of Sydney’s best picnic sites here.

This article was updated on May 14, 2020.