New South Wales is a state located in the south-east region of Australia. It is renowned for its stunning coastline, abundance of national parks, and of course the vibrant city of Sydney. NSW is justly one of the most popular backpacking destinations in Australia and even the world. The possibilities of places to explore in NSW are endless, and all regions are easily accessible by public transport or as a stop along your road trip. Here are some of the best backpacker regions in NSW that should not be missed during your backpacking expedition!

backpackers guide to new south wales sydney

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As an obvious first choice, Sydney is a must-visit during every backpacker’s trip to NSW. The glitzy city is home to some of the most iconic beaches and views in the world. But there’s more to Sydney than just Bondi Beach and Sydney Harbour. Sydney offers great culture, arts, adventure, food and nightlife, and there are luckily plenty of ways to enjoy the city on a budget. You’ll be spoilt for choice with backpacker hostels, and jobs for those on working holiday visas are pretty easy to come by. There’s no doubt why many choose to stay a few extra weeks, months, or years! Some enjoyable and budget friendly things to do in the city include:

  • Take a ferry trip from Circular Quay to Manly, and enjoy the ride while taking in stunning views of the harbour, and then spend the day at the lively beach.
  • Complete the coastal walk from Bondi to Coogee along the spectacular coastline. Stop along the way at beaches such as Bronte and grab yourself a fresh juice.
  • Explore Sydney’s oldest area, The Rocks. There’s plenty of history to discover about European settlement in Australia and it’s also home to some great nightlife.
  • Head over to the Art Gallery of NSW. Entry is free and it contains work from some amazing Indigenous, European, and international artists.
Sydney Backpacking New south wales australia

Image via CBRE Residential

Byron Bay & North Coast

Hit the road and head north up the coast of NSW. Dotted with friendly beachside towns and pristine national parks, the North Coast is a quiet step away from bustling Sydney.

  • Byron Bay – renowned for its sublime beaches, modern boho culture and chilled out vibes, Byron is a backpacker’s hotspot not to be missed. From what is seemingly a small town on the map, Byron attracts flocks of visitors every year and is a dream holiday location for people from all walks of life. Hang out with hippies, designers, surfers, and musicians at one of the many great beaches or open-air pubs, or watch fire twirlers perform on the beach alongside long-haired buskers.
  • Port Macquarie – Halfway between Sydney and Byron Bay, Port Macquarie is one of the most popular holiday destinations in NSW and is home to plenty of great backpacker hostels. In the summer, you can take advantage of the awesome water sports such as surfing, swimming, scuba diving, and fishing, or simply relax and unwind on the sand.
Byron Bay backpacking new south wales

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backpackers guide to new south wales sydne

Image via Lonely Planet

South Coast

The South Coast of NSW is home to an endless number of dreamy little towns and hidden gem beaches. It’s an ideal location for camping and wildlife spotting and feels like a world away from the big city of Sydney.

  • Kiama – A popular tourist stop along the south coast, Kiama is famous for the spectacular Blowhole, where you can observe ocean water being forced up 30 metres into the air from a narrow gap in the rocks. It’s far enough away from Sydney to escape the city life, but it’s less than a two-hour drive from the city. There’s also plenty of fantastic surf beaches in Kiama and the surrounding areas.
  • Jervis Bay – Here you will find the famous Hyams Beach, home to the whitest sand in the world (it’s in Guinness Book of World Records, so you know it must be legit). You can go whale watching, scuba diving, or simply take a walk through the stunning Booderee National Park. Jervis Bay attracts plenty of tourists and backpackers all year round, and although there isn’t a huge amount of hostels here, it’s the perfect location for camping out or road tripping in a campervan.
backpacking new south wales

Image via The Telegraph

Jervis Bay camping wildlife

Image via Visit NSW

Snowy Mountains

If you’re seeking a little more thrills than a simple beach holiday, head inland to the Snowy Mountains and get amongst the action of the great outdoors. The vast region begins near Canberra and extends all the way down to the border of New South Wales and Victoria. Discover the beautiful Kosciuszko National Park, where you can hike to the top of Australia’s tallest mountain. Mount Kosciuszko is 2,228 metres tall and is a moderately difficult trek to the top, make it there and you will see some pretty spectacular scenery of the alpine wilderness.

In winter, make your way to Perisher Blue or Thredbo, and visit the skiing and snowboarding parks. You can stay in several snow resorts and ski lodges in the area, and there are prices to suit all budgets. Both regions are popular with youth travellers and have great entertainment and nightlife to get amongst after you’re finished hitting the slopes.

backpacking new south wales

Image via Visit Snowy Mountains

About the Author

Bastian Graf

Bastian is the Sales & Marketing Manager here at Travellers Autobarn. He holds a Master of Commerce in Marketing and International Business Management, and 20+ years experience in campervan hire, road trips and travel.

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