The World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains National Park is one of the most popular national parks in all of Australia. And the great thing about it is that there are plenty of things to do in the Blue Mountains by train. The 2.5-hour train ride from Sydney (Central) to Mt Victoria stops at, at least, 17 different villages in the mountains, most of which can be used as starting points for walks accessible by train.
Within an hour’s ride from Sydney, you are already in the Lower Blue Mountains that stretch roughly from Lapstone to Falconbridge, followed by the Upper Blue Mountains from Linden to Mount Victoria. The trains depart every hour and the ticket from Central to Katoomba costs $8.86.
The train journey to the Blue Mountains is very picturesque, taking you along the top of the escarpment with beautiful views of the surrounding landscape. The trains are comfortable with bathrooms onboard. You can even have a snooze on the way in the quiet carriages where talking is kept to the absolute minimum. Conversely, if you prefer to spend the ride chatting, make sure you don’t board a quiet carriage.
So what can you do at the Blue Mountains by train?
Quite a lot. If you don’t mind some extra walking, you can explore the iconic lookouts, see picturesque waterfalls, access a huge variety of walking trails and even see glow worms in the Blue Mountains within easy reach from a train station.
Some areas, like Katoomba, Leura and Blackheath have bus services that get you even closer to the start of walking trails. There is also a taxi service, Katoomba Taxi (02 4782 1311), that services the upper Blue Mountains area. On occasion, we’ve taken a taxi back to the train station when we lingered at lookouts for sunset. The most we’ve paid was about $16 from Lincoln’s Rock lookout to Wentworth station.
So if you are planning to visit the mountains and don’t want to drive, have a look at this list of things to do in the Blue Mountains by train. I have organized the list by train stations to make planning easier.
Horseshoe Falls – Waterfalls and Glow Worms
Walking time: 20-30 min (1.4 km) to the start of the trail. 2 hrs on the trail (2.8km return)
Starting on a high note – Horseshoe Falls walking track in Hazelbrook is a very special spot in the Blue Mountains. By day, this track is a waterfall wonderland and by night, the waterfalls turn into a mesmerizing glow worm spectacle. And these are not your average waterfalls either, you can walk behind three of the four waterfalls on this track. Most of this trail is quite flat, but the side trail leading to the waterfalls is quite steep and a little washed out. So while it is not a difficult trail, it may be a little challenging for anyone with sore knees or ankles.
The train ride from Central to Hazelbrook takes just over 1.5 hrs. Then it’s a 1.4 km walk to the start of the trail on Oaklands drive which takes about 20 minutes. Once you follow the trail into the forest, you’ll have 2.8 km (return) of beautiful scenery interrupted by 5 stunning waterfalls. Read my guide to Horseshoe Falls walking track for more details about this walk.
To see a completely different side of Horseshoe Falls you need to visit them at night. Once the last rays of the sun disappear, the cave behind the waterfall lights up with hundreds of small blue lights, looking for all intents and purposes just like the starry sky. The lights are produced by the glow worms that are the larval stage of a flying insect – fungus gnat.
Make sure not to shine your light directly on the glow worms. Not only will that disturb them, but they will also decrease activity, so you’ll be jeopardizing your chances of seeing them at their best. Let’s not lose this wonderful spot as we have the glow worm tunnel in Helensborough that has been closed to public access.
If you don’t feel comfortable walking in the forest at night on your own, you can join a local tour to see the glow worms offered through the Airbnb experience.
South Lawson Waterfall Walk
Walking time: 20 min (1km) to the start of the trail. 2hrs (2.8km return) on the trail.
South Lawson waterfall circuit trail is another waterfall wonderland that takes you to 4 different waterfalls. The last waterfall on the trail – Cataract Falls has a sizable cave behind it. It’s nowhere near as large as the cave behind Horseshoe Falls in Hazelbrook, and you can’t stand up to your full height in it, but if you are flexible enough, you can shimmy into the cave and sit on the rocks watching the world through a veil of the falling water.
But before you get to Cataract Falls, you have 3 different waterfalls to explore, each of them different from the others. And one of the best things about this trail, apart from the incredibly picturesque landscape, is that it is not very well known and doesn’t get crowded like some of the more popular trails in the Blue Mountains. In fact, if you are visiting the Blue Mountains by train and would like to escape the crowds, this trail is your best bet, followed by the Horseshoe waterfall trail.
To get to the start of the trail, walk 1 km along Honor Avenue until you get to the car park on the corner of Honour Ave and Livingstone St. Read my guide to South Lawson Waterfall Walk for more details.
Now we are getting into the more popular areas of the Blue Mountains National Park. Wentworth Falls is an all-in-one kind of destination. You’ve got it all here: a big waterfall, dramatic lookouts and one of the most epic hikes in the mountains.
The trails to all the landmarks described below all start from Wentworth Falls Picnic Area. To reach it from the train station, cross Great Western Hwy, walk to the start of Falls Road and follow it to the end. This entire 2.7 km walk takes about 35 min.
Walking time: 15 min (520 meters) from Wentworth Falls picnic area
From the Wentworth Falls picnic area, follow the signs to Wentworth Falls – one of the biggest and most beautiful waterfalls in the Blue Mountains. But before you get to the falls, you will reach Fletchers Lookout. While this lookout doesn’t give you 180-degrees views typical of Blue Mountains lookouts, it is one of the most interesting views in my opinion.
The view of Jamison Valley from Fletchers Lookout is bookended by two sandstone walls and makes you feel like you are looking into Jurassic Park. The monumental wall on the right has a somewhat concave shape and is covered with a thick blanket of lush green forest, all of which gives it an unusual primeval appearance. To the left, Wentworth Falls flows over a 187-meter cliff.
Waking time: 5 min (150 m) from Fletchers Lookout
A short (150 m) detour from Fletchers Lookout brings you to one of the most picturesque waterfalls in the Blue Mountains – Weeping Rock Falls. An interesting bit of trivia to keep in mind as you walk from the lookout to the waterfall is that Charles Darwin passes this way in 1836. Weeping Rock Falls is actually part of Charles Darwin Reserve that stretches back to the Great Western Hwy along the Falls Road.
The waterfall is aptly named. Jamison Creek flows over a large rock here just before it tumbles down the cliff as Wentworth Falls. It is a very atmospheric setting and a good spot to kick off your shoes and wade through the refreshingly cold water of the creek. Just be careful on the rocks closer to the falls, they are exceptionally slippery.
Top of Wentworth Falls
Walking time: 4 min (130 m) from Weeping Rock
Another 130-meter walk along the main trail brings you to the top of Wentworth Falls. You can walk across it via a series of stepping stones. On your left, there is another pretty waterfall on Jamison Creek – Queen’s Cascades (I doubt any queens passed this way) and on your right, the mighty Wentworth Falls flows over the sloping edge of the cliff and drop to Jamison Valley below.
There is a protective railing on Wentworth Falls side, which is particularly handy after a few days of rain when there is enough water in the falls to flood over the stepping stones. Take a moment here to appreciate the view of Jamison Valley as you feel the rush of water under your feet. You may not see much of the waterfall from this angle, but you will feel it, especially if you visit after a few days of rain.
Rocket Point Lookout
Walking time: 30 min (500 m) from top of Wentworth Falls
To see the first drop of Wentworth Falls (you can see the entire waterfall only from Wentworth Pass), take the short (450 m) round walk to Rocket Point Lookout. The start of the walk is signposted from the other side of Wentworth Falls (after you walk across the stepping stones). It is a fun walk that at the end takes you through a cave just before you emerge at the lookout.
The views from Rocket Point are quite inspiring. Right in front of you is the imposing concave sandstone wall that you saw at Fletchers Lookout. And to your extreme right, you can see Wentworth Falls from the top all the way to the plunge pool at the bottom of the first drop.
Walking time: 4-5 hours (5km loop). Hard Track
This trail is currently closed due to landslides. Check the National Parks website for updates.
By far the best way of seeing and experiencing Wentworth Falls is by walking the Wentworth Pass track. It is one of the most epic hikes in the Blue Mountains with steep descents along the cliff all the way to Jamison Valley, dramatic views of Wentworth Falls and one of the most picturesque spots in all of the Blue Mountains – the Valley of the Waters.
It is quite a challenging walk but a very rewarding one. It takes steeply down the side of the cliff to the bottom of the first drop of the falls, then to the bottom of the second drop where you can have a swim in the plunge pool.
Back on the trail, you will walk along m the valley floor and then start making your way back up via the stunning canyon of the Valley of the Waters. This incredibly scenic part of the walk takes you past five beautiful waterfalls.
After the final climb to the top of the escarpment, you emerge at the Conservation Hut Cafe. From here it’s a 20-minute walk back to the Wentworth Falls picnic area. Check out my guide to the Wentworth Pass walk for more images and details of the walk
Valley of the Waters
Walking time: 20 min (1.1 km) from Wentworth Falls picnic area, plus 1hr 30 min (1.5 km return) for the trail.
This trail is currently closed due to landslides. Check the National Parks website for updates.
If you don’t fancy the challenging Wentworth Pass track, you can still visit the Valley of the Waters by walking just the end section from Conservation Hut.
The Valley of the Waters walk is still a hard track, but it is much shorter and not as steep as the Wentworth Pass track. To reach Conservation Hut cafe, take the 1.1 km Shortcut trail from the Wentworth Falls picnic area. And from the cafe, the Valley of the Waters trail is well signposted.
It takes you down into the canyon down a winding path that descends deeper and deeper as you walk from one stunning waterfall to the other. Since it’s not a very long track, you can bring your tripod along and take some fantastic shots of the waterfalls with a slow shutter speed.
Lincoln’s Rock Lookout
Walking time: 30 min (1.6 km) from Rocket Pont, 1 hr from Wentworth Falls station
Lincoln’s Rock is another famous lookout you can visit in the Blue Mountains by train, especially if you are already at Rocket Point Lookout or at the top of Wentworth Falls. The trail to Lincoln’s rock is not signposted, but it’s not difficult to find the way. From the falls, follow the signs to Rocket Point Lookout and from the lookout, follow the signs to the Kings Tableland.
You’ll be walking mostly along Little Switzerland Drive which is a misnomer since it is a fire trail rather than a sealed road. After the initial incline, the trail is largely flat.
Lincoln’s Rock is a large flat rock on the top of the escarpment at the edge of the cliff. What makes it particularly popular is a ledge that protrudes from the cliff face that people like to sit on and have their photos taken. In the photos, it looks like you are sitting on the edge of a cliff (which you are) with a vast landscape of Jamison Valley stretching below you.
I’m not a fan of extreme cliff edges, so I like Lincoln’s Rock for sunsets. And this is when a taxi service comes in handy. You could return to Wentworth Falls station via Hordern & Tableland Rds (4.4km), but you may not feel like a 1hr walk at the end of your day of exploring. The taxi from Lincoln Rock to Wentworth Falls station is only $16.
Leura is one of the most charismatic villages in the Blue Mountains. If you would like to combine bushwalking with small-town charm, this is the place for you. While Leura’s two most popular walk to Leura Cascades has been closed since early 2020 due to landslides, there are plenty of other walks, lookouts and waterfalls to explore.
Prince Henry Cliff Walk
Walking time: 20 min (1.4 km) to the start of the trail (at Gordon Falls)
Prince Henry Cliff Walk is one of the most stunning (and popular) walks you can access in the Blue Mountains by train. The entire walk runs for 6.8 kilometres from Leura to Scenic World in Katoomba, but because the walk is so easily accessible by train, you could choose to walk from Leura to Echo Point (2.5 hrs; 4.8 km) or all the way to Scenic World. Check my guide to Prince Henry Cliff walk and keep in mind that the Leura Cascades section of the walk is closed and detours are in place.
Most of Prince Henry Cliff walk runs along the cliff tops and you walk from one stunning lookout over Jamison Valley to the next. There are some steep sections on Leura to Echo Point section but most of the walk is relatively flat. Whether you finish the walk at Echo Point or Scenic World, take the local 686 bus (check schedule here) back to Katoomba train station.
Pool of Siloam & Lyrebird Dell
Walking time: 20 min (1.4 km) to Gordon Falls Reserve; and 1.5 hrs (2.1km) on the trail.
For something a little more adventurous, check out the Pool of Siloam and Lyrebird Dell walking track. Starting from Gordon Falls Reserve, the trail descends sharply via a series of switchbacks until it reaches an unexpected oasis in the bush where a waterfall flows over a sandstone ledge to a tranquil plunge pool below. The pool is not deep enough for swimming, but it is a very picturesque spot to have a break and kick off your shoes for a wade in the pool.
From the Pool of Siloam, the trail follows a creek, crossing it a few times before opening up as you arrive at Lyrebird Dell where you find a series of caves and another waterfall with a picturesque pool surrounded by a sandy beach. The return trail is very easy – it follows a fire trail over the flat ground for about 500 meters back to Gordon Falls Reserve. Read my guide to Pool of Siloam and Lyrebird Dell walk for more details and images.
Once you are done exploring the mountains have a stroll through the charming streets of Leura. On Leura Mall road, you will find some of the best chocolate at Josophan’s Fine Chocolates, the softest alpaca wool jumpers, gloves and scarves at the Australian Alpaca Barn and a range of curiosities at Teddy Sinclair.
Away from the main street, you’ll be strolling past adorable cottages shrouded in aromatic gardens that seem to bloom all year round. If you feel like staying in town for dinner, make a booking at Madame Wang’s – a fun and fabulous local favourite.
Katoomba is the tourist heart of the Blue Mountains. It is the most accessible and the most crowded area of the mountains. It doesn’t mean that you can’t get away from the crowds though. You’ll just have to work a little harder for it.
Getting to the trails in Katoomba
Most of the attractions in the section can be easily reached from the Katoomba train station either by walking or by taking the local 686 bus, which is a loop service covering Katoomba village, Echo Point, Katoomba Kiosk and Scenic World. You can also cat the 698 bus here that takes you closer to the walks and lookouts in the Blackheath area (to minimize the walking time from the train station). More on this in the Blackheath section below.
Echo Point / Three Sisters
Walking time: none
Yes, Echo Point is going to be very crowded, but the view of the Three Sisters and the sweeping panorama of Jamison Valley are spectacular and absolutely worth having a look. The lookout at Echo Point has recently been upgraded and expanded so you won’t have to wait long for a free spot at the railing.
If you are planning to take one of the walks I suggest in this section then you might find that the crowded thin out by the time you get back to Echo Point. Rainy days are particularly good deterrents of crowds. Once we found Echo Point virtually deserted on a stormy Saturday afternoon during the covid pandemic. It was quite an eerie experience to have all this infrastructure to ourselves.
The easiest way to reach Echo point is by taking the 686 bus from Katoomba Village. It is a loop service that goes between the village and Scenic World via Echo Point and Katoomba Kiosk.
Walking time – 1 hour (800 meters return)
After you’ve admired the Three Sisters from Echo Point lookout, take the opportunity to get up-close and personal to these iconic rock formations. Honeymoon Bridge is a narrow metal bridge that takes you from the escarpment to the first of the Sisters.
It can be reached by an easy 400-meter trail that starts at the arch behind the Visitor Center at Echo Point. The final descent to the bridge is quite steep but it’s not long. The stairs and the bridge itself are pretty narrow and it can get uncomfortable when it’s busy. So it’s best to visit Honeymoon Bridge in the morning before the tour groups arrive or in the late afternoon after they leave.
Giant Stairway Track
Walking time – 3 hours (4.8 km Circuit). Hard track
If you feel like an epic and challenging walk, you could continue descending down the side of the first Sister. This incredible stairway, aptly named Giant Stairway, counts 910 massive stone steps and 32 narrow steel staircases that are even steeper than the stones. But don’t worry, you won’t have to climb them back up.
The Dardanelles Pass walk takes you down to Jamison Valley where it meanders through gorgeous Leura Forest before winding its way up past cascades and waterfalls. There are some steep stairs on the way up but the entire assent is gentler and spread out over a longer distance than the Giant Stairway. You return to Echo Point via a section of Prince Henry Cliff Walk described in the Leura section. Have a look at my guide to Dardanelles Pass walk to get a better idea of what it entails.
Prince Henry Cliff Walk & Katoomba Falls
Walking time: 45 min – 1 hour (2km) one way
Echo Point lies in the middle of Prince Henry Cliff walk so you can walk in either direction from here: either to Leura (see Leura section) or to the Scenic World. The Scenic World section is shorter, only 2 km, but it packs a lot of sites in this relatively short stretch. Following this easy cliff top walk, you’ll see lookouts, Katoomba Cascades, and Katoomba Falls, plus amazing views of Jamison Valley from the cafe at Scenic World. See my guide to Echo Point to Scenic World walk for more photos and details of the walk.
Once you are finished at Scenic World, you can either catch bus 686 (check schedule here) back to Katoomba train station, retrace your steps back to Echo Point, or catch bus 686 to Echo Point for more adventures.
Walking time: 1 hr via Prince Henry Cliff walk, or none via bus 686
Scenic World attractions are quite touristy, but it doesn’t make them any less spectacular. Especially during the pandemic-associated lull in tourism, since you can take the rides in (very) small groups.
There are two packages currently available at Scenic World, both cost $50 (purchase tickets here). One is the standard package of three different scenic rides (skyway, railway, and cableway) and the other is more children-oriented and includes a visit to the Dinosaur Valley.
The last time we visited Scenic World was just before Christmas in 2020 and we did all our rides with just 3 more people, while the typical operational capacity of these rides is 84 people per ride. Floating above the epic expanse of Jamison Valley in a large skyway gondola with only 3 other people and a guide was a phenomenal experience. Everyone had front-row views of Katoomba Falls from above. If you find yourself on skyway during the busy period, you’ll need to choose the side you want to see. If you are facing forward, pick the left side for views of Katoomba Falls or the right side for views of Jamison Valley.
The descent into the valley on the scenic railway, the steepest passenger train ride in the world and the return to the top of the escarpment in a cable car are equally unique experiences in the Blue Mountains. And the views from the cable car landing are superb. To return back to Katoomba Village, catch bus 686 or walk to Echo Point and then catch the same bus to the Village.
Walking time: 25 min (1.9 km one way)
Cahill Lookout offers some of the most expansive views in the Blue Mountains taking in Megalong Valley and Narrow Neck Peninsula. It lies away from the tourist hub in Katoomba and is not often visited by people who come to the Blue Mountains on public transport. This is a shame because it’s only 1.9 kilometres west of the Scenic World, which is a 20-25 min walk along the pretty residential streets. And there are some picnic tables at the lookout where you can rest and have a snack.
The lookout itself is quite epic even by the Blue Mountains standards. It juts out quite far from the escarpment and incorporates another viewpoint – Boar’s Head Lockout. You get the best of both worlds here: the sweeping 180-degree view of the valley and close-up views of monolithic escarpment walls. And while you are here, make sure to check out the Boar’s Head Climbing Area viewpoint (details below)
Boar’s Head Climbing Area Lookout
Walking time: 3 min (250 meters) from Cahill Lookout
Right next to Cahill Lookout, there is a secret spot – Boar’s Head Climbing Area lookout. Not to be confused with Boar’s Head Lookout that’s part of Cahill Lookout, this secret spot lies on Boar’s Head Rock itself, or rather right next to it since Boar’s Head is a free-standing structure.
This is a fun lookout that can be reached by an understated trail from Cliff Drive (opposite Brougham Street). At the end of the short trail (takes 4 min to get here from Cahill Lookout) you come to an untended edge of the cliff with a distinctly wild feeling. Boar’s Head Rock dominates the view in front of you and Narrow Neck Peninsular towers to the left.
It’s a great spot for photographing along Neck – you can frame your images with some funky rocks at the edge of the lookout, similar to those at Butterbox Point. As with all unfenced lookouts, be careful not to step too close to the cliff edge. And if you are feeling weary after all the walking, you can call a taxi to take you to Katoomba train station ( $15) or to Scenic World ($10).
Blackheath is one of my favourite villages in the Blue Mountains. It is slightly further away from the popular tourist attractions and doesn’t get as busy as Leura and Katoomba. It is also a gateway to many stunning viewpoints and walks in Grose Valley.
Sadly Blackheath area suffered significant damage in the 2019 fires and many of the walking trails remain closed. Those that are open, however, are certainly worth a little extra effort to get to them by public transport.
Walking time: 35 min (2.9km one way) from the bus stop.
The view from Evans Lookout is one of the most breathtaking in the Blue Mountains. It takes in the huge expanse of Grose Valley, Greaves Creek running along the valley floor and huge walls of the escarpment towering over the valley. But because it is not as easily accessible by public transport as the more popular lookouts over Jamison Valley, it doesn’t typically feature on the itineraries for exploring the Blue Mountains by train.
But in fact, it is not that difficult to visit. You can catch bus 698 from Katoomba Street (the main street in Katoomba) and it will take you to St Andrews Avenue, 2.9 km from Evans lookout, which is about a 30-35 minute walk each way along Evans Lookout Road. And if you are a keen adventurer, I suggest that you combine your visit to Evans Lookout with the Grand Canyon walk – one of the Blue Mountains’ most famous walks (see below)
Grand Canyon Walk
Waking time: 2.5 – 3 hours (6.3 kilometres loop) from Evans Lookout. Hard track.
This is my favourite walk in all of the Blue Mountains. It is a hard 6.3-kilometre track, it takes an additional 2.9 kilometres each way to reach the start of the trail from the bus stop (see above for how to get to Evans Lookout), but trust me, it is absolutely worth it. Alternatively, you could start the Grand Canyon walk at Neates Glen and walk in the counter-clockwise direction. Check my guide to Grand Canyon walk for all the details.
It is one of the most unique walks you can access in the Blue Mountains by train (and bus). From Evans Lookout, the trail descends to the bottom of the canyon and this is the most magical place on the walk. Shrouded in ferns and closed in by the epic walls of the canyon, it feels like the world of the dinosaurs. It is, in fact, quite similar in appearance to the ancient supercontinent of Gondwana that Australia used to be a part of.
Walking time: 10 min walk (800 meters) to the start of the trail. 1 hour (2 km return) on the trail.
If you would like a shorter trail in the Blackheath area that still offers some canyon experience then Walls Cave walk is for you. It is only a 10-minute walk from the bus stop on St Andrew’s Avenue (bus 698) and about an hour’s walk on the trail.
The main attraction of this walk is the Walls Cave – an enormous rock overhang that has a rich history as an Aboriginal occupation site. But my favourite part of the trail is the little canyon you go through just before you get to the cave. There is even a little secret on this walk – a side trail that leads you inside a small slot canyon. Check out my guide to Walls Cave walk for details.
Govetts Leap Lookout
Walking time: 7 min (550 meters one way)
Govetts Leap is a rare mix of a Lookout and a waterfall. The lookout is one of the most expansive in the Blue Mountains. It is particularly popular with photographers at sunrise and sunset. And the waterfall that you can see from the lookout – Govetts Leap Falls, is the biggest single-drop waterfall in the Blue Mountains. It plunged 180 meters from the top of the escarpment to Grose Valley below.
There are a number of walking trails that run from Govetts Leap in different directions, but at the moment most of them are closed due to the damage caused by the 2019 fires. You can however do a section of Cliff Top walk that will take you across Govetts Leap Brook just before it plunges off the cliff and onto Barrow Lookout. Once the rest of the trail re-opens, you will be able to follow it all the way to Evans lockout.
To reach Govetts Leap Lookout, catch bus 698 from Katoomba and get off at Blue Mountains Heritage Center. The centre has some excellent maps of the area and information about various landmarks and walking trails, so it’s definitely worth a visit. It’s only a 550-meter walk from the centre to the lookout.
As you saw in this post, there are a plethora of things to do in the Blue Mountains without a car. The majority of walks are accessible by train if you don’t mind a slightly longer walk from the train station. You could easily spend a weekend in the Blue Mountains and have full days of exploring and not need a car, especially if you stay in Leura or Katoomba villages.
More Things to do in the Blue Mountains
- The Lost World of the Grand Canyon walk in the Blue Mountains
- The Giant Stairway and the Dardenelles Pass – An Epic Walk in the Blue Mountains
- South Lawson Waterfall Circuit Walk – One Walk, Five Waterfalls
- Prince Henry Cliff Walk in the Blue Mountains – Epic Views and Waterfalls
- Leura Cascades to Gordon Falls – a picturesque walk in the Blue Mountains
- Kangaroos, cockatoos and a riverside walk at Euroka campground
- Gordon Falls to Pool of Siloam and Lyrebird Dell – one walk, endless waterfalls
- Glow worms and Waterfalls of Horseshoe Falls Walking Track in Hazelbrook
- From Wentworth Falls to the Valley of the Waters – Waterfall Wonderland Track
- Fireflies in the Blue Mountains – Secrets of Cathedral Reserve