Welcome to our series “A Simply Awesome Day in...” where we share an excerpt from one of our family vacation destinations. Today, we offer a fun day from our "5 Days in Sydney" Itinerary.
Our goal is to help simplify your trip planning by sharing all the details you need for an enjoyable family vacation.
Day 5 In Sydney
Coastal Walk From Coogee Beach To Bondi Beach
Bondi to Coogee is the most famous of all of Sydney’s amazing coastal walks and deservedly so, the views are stunning. (The walk is commonly referred to as Bondi to Coogee although many people, like me, prefer to walk it in the opposite direction.)
Take an Uber or public transportation to Coogee Beach to begin the walk.
Walk about 6 km (3.5 miles) north to Bondi Beach. It will take you 2-3 hours depending on how often stop along the way for pictures, snacks, and swim breaks.
Eat lunch in one of the cute beach towns along the coastal walk or in Bondi itself.
Hang out in Bondi Beach for the rest of the day or continue north up the coast to Watsons Bay for more coastal walks and marvelous views.
Tips For This Day
The Coastal Walk from Coogee to Bondi is not a particularly strenuous walk at only 6 km, but it is not stroller friendly. The path is paved but there are quite a few stairs as it climbs up and over the headlands and cliffs surrounding Sydney’s most famous beaches.
Kids that are mobile though should have no problem doing the whole thing, especially if you plan on some snack stops along the way. We took 4 kids (12, 10, and twin 8 year olds) and had no problems, especially after promising an ice cream of their choice at the end!
If you have really tiny tots, I would just go to Bondi Beach and play for awhile, then take the bus up to Watsons Bay and play there for the rest of the day. You could do a very short stretch of the coastal walks from both of those destinations if you wanted, without too much of an effort as long as you can do it without strollers.
If you want to do this hike with the least chance of crowds, go early on a weekday.
Know the dates for Sculpture By The Sea if you are going in October or November because this really cool festival will bring lots and lots of people, especially on weekends.
Bus service is decent in the towns along the Coastal Walk if you get started but then decide you don’t want to finish. Uber/ Lyft is also a good option for an emergency bailout.
Water fountains and public toilets are found at almost all the public beaches along this walk. You might want to take some snacks though. Cafes and restaurants are dotted along the walk but as always, food in Australia is expensive. We stopped for sandwiches and drinks at a cafe, but supplemented lunch with granola bars along the way.
If you are planning on walking in the summer, I definitely would start early, bring sunscreen, and wear your bathing suit. It gets hot and there isn’t much shade on the majority of the walk, so take advantage of Sydney’s famous ocean pools to cool off along the way.
Starting Point- Coogee Beach
Start the day at Coogee Beach, a beautiful beach in the southeastern suburbs of Sydney. I like to walk north from Coogee (instead of south from Bondi) because there is a beautiful overlook of Bondi as you get near. But really, either direction is fine.
To Get To Coogee Beach
Bus 373 runs from Circular Quay in downtown Sydney to Coogee Beach. Buses run 24/7, leave every 10-15 min during the day, and it is a 30- 40 min ride. You get off at the last stop, right next to the beach, near the corner of Arden Street and Dolphin Street. Use your Opal Card and it will cost you about AUD $3.66 for an adult and AUD $1.83 for a youth 4-16.
We used Uber for convenience and because we had a family group of 8 (including the 4 kids). It cost about AUD $20 per car from central Sydney to Coogee and the driver gave us his unvarnished opinion about all the construction for the new tram system. (He wasn’t a fan.) It was a memorable ride and very educational.
Breakfast At Coogee Beach
If you want a big meal before your hike, stop at Coogee Pavilion which is conveniently located next to the beginning of the Coastal Walk. They have a large breakfast menu, a kids menu, and prices typical of Sydney.
If you would rather just grab a coffee and some snacks for the walk, you’ll find a convenience store on Dolphin Street, just down from Coogee Pavilion.
There are also plenty of cafes on Arden Street, which runs along the beach.
First Section Of Coastal Walk - Coogee to Clovelly Beach
1.5 km, 30 min walking
It is easy to see the start of the coastal path at the north end of Coogee Beach. Start walking on the paved sidewalk heading through the park. Use the public toilets along the path (WC on the map) as it will be a while before you come across anymore.
Look for the Bali Memorial Sculpture which is dedicated to victims of the Bali Bombing in 2002 that killed 88 Australians, including many from Coogee. Also look for the impromptu shrine to the Virgin Mary near the sculpture. She was spotted here in 2003 and the Unexplained Australia website does a good job of explaining the sighting and why some people think she appeared after the bombing.
The path is paved but you can detour off the paved path to follow the fence line as you go up the hill to Dunningham Reserve. This will take you over the sandstone, close to the cliff edge for some awesome views. Then you walk back through the bush to the main path. It is not a big detour and I wouldn’t do it with very small children but it is a fun bit of a rock scramble for older kids.
Next, you’ll go down some stairs to walk around Gordons Bay which has wooden rails covering most of the sand. Lots of little dinghies will be pulled up on these rails, part of the local fishing club.
The local diving club has also put in an underwater nature trail in Gordons Bay, so look for snorkelers and divers on the north side of the bay.
* Trivia Alert- If you are wondering why Australia seems to be missing all of its apostrophes on its place names, it is because the Geographical Names board starting removing them in the 1960s, arguing that these places don’t belong to their namesakes. As in Gordon doesn’t actually own Gordons Bay. It drives the grammar gremlins crazy. Read Who Took The Apostrophe Out Of Badgerys Creek to see what I mean.
Climb the stairs back up to the next point where you’ll see a large car park. Walk out over the flat bit of sandstone cliffs here to see the waves. Just don’t get too close to the edge because every once in awhile a huge one smacks up against the rocks.
As you round the corner from the parking area, heading towards Clovelly Beach, the Seasalt Cafe is up the hill on your left. They serve breakfast and lunch in the cafe and have a takeaway kiosk for beach picnics. Public toilets are located by the cafe.
The waves and current looked pretty strong just outside the cove where Clovelly Beach is located, but because the cove is so narrow and gets shallow, the waves had mostly dissipated by the time they reached shore.
Section 2 Of Coastal Walk: Clovelly To Bronte Beach
1.7 km, 45 min
From Clovelly Beach, you round the corner to pass by Burrows Park, a football and lawn bowling club. You can detour from the paved path to walk along the cliffs but we chose to stay on the path so we could watch the lawn bowling.
We had a good time sitting on a bench for awhile and watching people bowl. The kids were fascinated that you could bowl without a bowling alley-how very American of them.
I loved this next section of the walk because of the cliff- hanging boardwalk alongside the humongous Waverley Cemetery. (Talk about an eternal view!)
The boardwalk section has been recently redone after being wiped out in a storm, and the new section is gorgeous. It has lovely landscaping and benches perfectly situated to take advantage of the views so stop and soak it all up for awhile.
From the cemetery, you climb up a small hill and then descend down to Bronte Beach. This descent is partly on a road without a sidewalk (it cuts through a rock outcropping) but the traffic goes slow since it is one lane and one way. It is a very short section before the sidewalk picks up again on the right side.
Look for the steps down to the beach on your right as you come into town. The Bronte Pool is on the right side of bay here and you’ll find public restrooms by it. There are also public toilets at the Lifesaving Station (the big building by the beach).
Bronte Beach is far less well known than its neighbour Bondi Beach up the road but that’s a good thing. A little less crowded, a lot less touristy, with a large green area and playground, all are reasons why this is a fun place to stop for awhile.
There is a snack kiosk right on the beach attached to the Lifesaving Station, but you can also find several little cafes lining the street as you come into town.
We had tasty sandwiches and coffee at the Bogey Hole Cafe along this street. It serves breakfast (all day) and lunch.
The good-sized playground is towards the back of Bronte Park, behind the Lifesaving Station. You'll find covered picnic tables near the playground and elsewhere in Bronte Park, so grab some sandwiches to go from one of the cafes and have a picnic.
If you have tiny train aficionados with you, check out the Bronte Train, a small model train ride that takes kids in a circle. It is located right by the beach and costs AUD $5 (1 adult rides free with kids under 5). At first glance, it seems a bit like an overpriced gimmick but the train has been operating since 1947 by the same family so I guess that qualifies it more as a bit of local history. Open on weekends and daily during the summer holidays.
Last Section Of The Coastal Walk - Bronte Beach To Bondi Beach
2.5 km, 1 hour
Walk up the steps leading north from Bronte Beach, around the corner and back down almost immediately again to Tamarama Beach.
A small beach that is not actually super safe for swimming, Tamarama does have a nice cafe, a new playground, and popular volleyball courts. The playground is easily accessible from the coastal walk by the stairs right next to it.
The locals call it “Glamarama” because of the penchant for trendy people to sunbathe here.
The Coastal Walk veers to the right next to the Lifesaving Station on the north side of Tamarama Beach. (We missed that on our walk as we continued on the sidewalk by the road for too long, but no fear, we joined back up to the path on the next bend.)
From here it is a short distance to Bondi Beach and you’ll notice that the path gets considerably more crowded.
Stop to take lots of pictures at Mackenzies Point. You might have to wait in line for some of the better spots but you will get a perfect Instagram- worthy shot of Bondi Beach in its entirety. Then continue on your way, staying close to the water as the path forks.
The very last section coming into Bondi is fun because of the rocks overhanging the path and all the surfers to watch. You will pass right by Bondi Icebergs (Bondi’s famous ocean pool) before arriving at the beach itself.
*Pro Tip - If you are visiting between mid- October and early November, this section of the coastal walk (Bondi to Tamarama) hosts the annual Sculpture By The Sea exhibit, the world’s largest free public sculpture exhibit. It is a very cool exhibit but it also means this section will be extremely busy, especially on weekends. Check out the website and map so you know where all the sculptures are going to be.
Lunch In Bondi Beach
Bondi is large and there are tons of places to choose from, anywhere from takeaway counters to white tablecloths and champagne. If you aren’t sure what you feel like, walk along Campbell Parade and take your pick.
The Woolworth Metro is a mini- grocery store and a good place to stock up on picnic supplies.
We often eat along the way and just have celebratory ice creams in Bondi while hanging out at the beach for awhile.
Afternoon And Evening Of Day 5
Hang Out on Bondi Beach
Spend the rest of the day enjoying one of Sydney’s most famous beaches. There is a playground in Bondi Park next to Bondi Pavilion as well as the time honored tradition of just sitting on a beach towel.
If you can’t bring a beach towel with you, then check out Bondi Beach Hire where you can rent towels, lounge chairs, umbrellas, surf boards, wetsuits, etc. They have a big blue flag on the beach itself seasonally as well as trailer near the WC on the north end of the beach. You can also buy cheap towels, sunscreen, and all manner of other beach accouterments in the stores lining Campbell Parade.
If you want to go full local, take some surf lessons with Let’s Go Surfing, Bondi’s only licensed surf instructors. They are located at the north end of the beach, next to Speedo’s Cafe.
If you want to do even more coastal walking or just want one of the best sunset views in Sydney, then take the bus north towards Watsons Bay.
After 20 minutes, get off at Macquarie Lighthouse and take the magnificent coastal path 1.7 km north to Watsons Bay itself.
Bus 380 has several stops on Campbell Parade in Bondi and a bus will come by every 10-20 minutes, 7 days a week. You must have an Opal Card to board the bus. Get off at “Old South Head Rd near Macquarie Rd.” Or you can always Uber.
*Pro Tip- When you board the bus, make sure it is going all the way to Watsons Bay. On some days, every other bus will stop the route at Vaucluse, about a 15 min walk from Macquarie Lighthouse. Just ask the driver and let them know where you are headed.
For more on all of the fun activities available in Watsons Bay, check out our blog about it:
Where We Stay In Sydney
Stay as near to Circular Quay and Sydney’s CBD as you can afford. It will make getting to the majority of the major tourist sites much easier.
Try to get a place with a view of the Opera House and/or Sydney Harbour Bridge. It is worth the extra money to be able to relax after a busy day of sight-seeing and enjoy both of those architectural icons lit up at night.
Heads up: This is our personal list of places that we have stayed in or have bookmarked as possibilities for future visits. We are not sponsored in any way--no free stays. We may get a small commission from some of our links because you entered through our “gate” versus, say, Google’s, but you do not pay a penny more. We also recommend places where we do not receive any commission. If it’s good, it’s good. Full Disclosure Statement.
Best Western Stellar A nice hotel in an excellent location by Hyde Park. Has rooms with 2 queens plus kitchenette for one of the best prices you’ll find in the CBD.
Hyde Park Inn has hotel rooms and mini- apartments, all with kitchenettes, in an excellent location near the Museum train station. Splurge for the deluxe family room with 1 double and 2 singles plus a balcony overlooking the park. Simple continental breakfast delivered to the room each morning and free parking.
Veriu Broadway has a Family Tribe Suite with a double bed, bunk bed, and sofa bed plus a full kitchen, sitting area, and washer/ dryer. Located in Ultimo, about a 15 min walk from Central Station or the light rail lines near Paddy’s Market.
Rocks Boutique Cottage B has 3 bedrooms and 2 baths and is across the street from the Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel, making it also extremely close to Barangaroo Reserve and all of its family-friendly activities. A 15 minute walk to Circular Quay. Has WiFi (slow) and a washer/ dryer. VRBO #9026474
Sydney City Home in Historic Rocks is a 2BR/ 1.5 BA home, also across the street from Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel. The host has 348 great reviews and the price is certainly very decent for the location. Has WiFi, washer/ dryer, but no AC or central heat (will provide heater if you ask). Airbnb #750274
Great Direct Views Harbour & Opera House. New Listing A 1 BR/ 1 BA, North Sydney apartment with a million dollar view of Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. Couch is a pull-out so can sleep 4. Comes with WiFi, washer/ dryer, and a waterfront pool in complex. The building is adjacent to the ferry wharf at McMahons Point so it is easy to get to Circular Quay. VRBO #9204526
Harbour Views. Massive Apartment We have stayed in this 3BR/ 2BA, Woolloomooloo apartment on different trips and loved it each time. It really is spacious, reasonably priced for Sydney, the hosts are responsive, and the view is impressive from the large deck. It is a 5 minute walk to the Kings Cross train station, a grocery store, and a pharmacy. The WiFi is good and the apartment comes with a parking spot.
The train does go into a tunnel across the street so you can hear it from the deck but it wasn’t a problem for us. The Botanic Garden is a 10 minute walk, and the Opera House was 30 minutes away, walking through the Botanic Garden. The address is 183 Brougham St. Airbnb #79024
I hope you enjoyed this simply awesome day in Sydney. It is one of my favorites as it incorporates many of the things I love--the beach, hiking, gorgeous scenery, and good food. Sydney has some of the best scenic walks of any city in the world so take advantage of that fact when you visit and get outside!
Get The Entire 5 Day Itinerary For Sydney
If you loved this day, we have four more like it in our Sydney With Kids guidebook.
It lays out each day with what to see and do in Sydney plus lodging and restaurant recommendations are included-- no hours of research needed from you. Packed with detailed maps and tips to make your trip simply awesome!