One thing I really miss in Singapore is outdoor activities. SG is so tiny – there’s really not much outside of the “city.” Technically, there’s only one city! Singapore, Singapore is everyone’s City/State/Country. While our proximity to other countries makes it super easy to hop on a plane and jet off for the weekend, it’s not as easy to, say, go for a hike, or get out to the “countryside.”
It’s nice to be able to seize that opportunity when we travel and the Blue Mountains outside of Sydney were the perfect outdoor adventure for our second day!
There are more than a dozen tour groups that offer full day and half day tours through the Blue Mountains complete with guides to navigate the hikes, take you to the best lookout points, and make sure you have a safe, enjoyable experience.
To be honest, anyone looking into visiting the Blue Mountains for the first time would be hard-pressed to find an option that wasn’t a guided tour. We were all ready to book into a tour group when TT stumbled across a tiny blog post by a woman who had decided to visit the Blue Mountains solo and opted for the “hop-on, hop-off” bus instead. She detailed how easy it was to find the bus station, how convenient the bus routes were, and how easy it was to navigate into the mountains and through the trails once you left the bus and entered the bush.
We decided to try our luck with the bus, especially since we were concerned about booking into a tour if the weather turned out yucky. Opting for the bus allowed us to make a game-time day-of decision whether he wanted to make the journey or not.
After a two hour train ride from Central Station in Sydney to Penrith, we exited and found the bus information office right next door, secured our tickets, and headed out to ol’ BIG RED!
IMPORTANT: OPTING FOR THE BUS WAS THE ABSOLUTE GREATEST DECISION!!!
Not only was it 1/4 of the price of a guided tour ($50 each vs. $170), it gave us the chance to explore on our own, not bogged down by slowpokes or rushed through the spectacular views. The fleet of buses drove the route of 26 stops continuously throughout the day. The most they claimed you might wait was 30 minutes but we never waited more than 5. The drivers were knowledgeable and eager to share their bouts of local history and anecdotes as they shuttled us along. It was completely safe, and the mountain hikes were more akin to trail strolls than vertical climbs. The trails were clearly marked and you encountered lots of other people in the bush who let you know how much farther you had to go for the next checkpoint.
We hopped on and hopped off the bus about 6 times during our 12 hour day. Your bus ticket was a giant leaflet about the Blue Mountains complete with maps of the different sections, information about each bus stop, and fun facts about the scenery. Armed with your map guide, you could hop off the bus and walk from trail point to trail point, never having to get back on the bus! We opted to since it was a nice respite from walking and got us to the next trails we wanted to see faster.
It was also an absolutely wonderful option for older folk or families with young children. The bus route took you through incredible vantage points so even if you never alighted from the bus, you’d still be able to say you experienced the Blue Mountains in all their glory. If you did get off the bus, you knew you always had Big Red ready to pick you up if you were tired or didn’t want to go any further.
The Blue Mountains get their name from the blue haze that’s created by the eucalyptus trees spanning the forest. Droplets of eucalyptus oil get released from the trees and mix with water vapor and sunlight to produce the blueish hue.
There are trails up the wazoo so literally just pick one and start walking.
You can even stay overnight in the area and could EASILY spend a few days trekking through the mountains. It was stunning – really stunning.
There are info points all throughout the site and volunteers who are more than excited to share some information and history of the Blue Mountains with you. We waved at passersby, stopped for lunch, and walked till our legs gave out!
We only went for the day but I would not be against going back and cozying up in a little lodge somewhere in those mountains looking out over the vast, blue peaks.