Sydney is more than just the Opera House and its city center. Coming all this way, you’ll want to get out and about to acquaint yourself with the diverse beauty beyond the metropolitan area. Although greater Sydney has a world-class public transportation system, car rental in Sydney is definitely your best bet for exploration outside the city. Whether you’re staying at the centrally located Hilton Sydney or at West Hotel Sydney, Curio Collection by Hilton in the hotspot of Barangaroo, renting a car in Sydney is convenient and quick; you’ll be on your way in no time.
Smaller is better when considering car hire in Sydney, as it will be easier for you to park and maneuver through the scrum of city traffic. Don’t be daunted by driving on the right; lanes are clearly marked. Deciding which dazzling destination to visit is the most difficult bit, so we’ve started you off with three of our favorites, From vineyards and Australian fauna to shopping and sipping, we’ve got you covered.
Take a road trip to wine country
Point your rental car north to the Hunter Valley (locals simply call it ‘the Hunter’); it’s well worth the two-hour drive from Sydney. This wine country (pictured above) is resplendent year-round, with its sweeping vineyard landscapes of mainly Semillon and Shiraz varieties. More than 150 cellar doors tastings beckon, from big names, including Audrey Wilkinson, to boutique beauties, such as Domaine de Binet. The cellar door tastings take place in breathtaking surrounds that allow you to gaze out on the vineyards where you’ll spot mobs of kangaroos languidly grazing.
The Hunter Valley is more than just wine country: cheese shops, local bistros and farm-to-table restaurants abound to satisfy your palate. You’ll also find art galleries that are on par with those in urban centers to tempt you to bring home something more lasting than last year’s vintage. (Another benefit of car rental in Sydney – you have a trunk!)
It’s easy to get lost in the beauty and offerings of wine country. Still, drivers shouldn’t forget: there’s a zero-tolerance policy for alcohol when driving, so imbibe wisely.
Audrey Wilkinson | Address: 750 De Beyers Road, Pokolbin, New South Wales, 2320 | Tel: +61 (02) 4998 1866
Domaine de Binet | Address: 469 Lovedale Road, Lovedale, New South Wales, 2320 | Tel: +61 (02) 4998 6505
Drive up for some mountain magic
Go west from Sydney for the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains. This 2.5-million-acre area comprising eight protected areas is merely a two-hour drive from the city center, and is so-named for its densely populated eucalyptus trees that dissipate oil and create blue light. Needless to say, the air up here is undeniably fresh.
Keep your camera handy for more than just the spectacular sandstone cliffs; you’re likely to spot kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas and blue-tongue lizards, and you’ll want to pull your rental car over for photos along the many scenic overlooks, such as Govetts Leap or Echo Point lookouts.
If you can’t tear yourself away from urbanization completely, get in a spot of shopping along the charming Leura Mall or visit the sensational Three Sisters landmark in quirky, hippie-centric Katoomba. Be sure to mind the kangaroo crossing signs, especially when driving at dawn and dusk, when these resident marsupials are most active.
The Southern Highlands, or simply “”The Highlands,”” is an incredibly enchanting region located about an hour and a half from Sydney. Known for its history (Europeans first came to the area in the late 1700s; the historic Berrima Gaol is here), extraordinary gardens with their immaculate flowerbeds and welcoming hospitality, the Highlands are where many Sydneysiders go for an escape from the city. With a cooler climate and low levels of humidity, it’s a delightful year-round getaway.
You simply cannot miss Dirty Janes emporium in Bowral for picking over treasures you never knew you needed, and The Bradman Museum’s International Cricket Hall of Fame is a satisfying must for any diehard fan. Pull up a chair and have a pint at one of the friendly pubs in Moss Vale, and be spoiled with choice for fine dining in Berrima. We recommend Eschalot.
Dirty Janes | Address: 13-15 Banyette Street, Bowral, NSW 2576 | Tel: +61 (02) 4861 3231
The Bradman Museum | Address: St Jude Street, Bowral NSW 2576 | Tel: +61 (02) 4862 1247
Eschalot | Address: 24 Old Hume Highway, Berrima, NSW 2577 | Tel: +61 (02) 4877 1977