The New South Wales Bucket List

You haven’t truly “done” NSW unless you’ve done these 100 experiences.

#20 - Shop at the Queen Victoria Building

Where is it? George St, Sydney, NSW

This elegant and historical shopping centre is as much an impressive feat of architecture as it is a quality place to buy high-end products. Located in central Sydney, the Queen Victoria Building features construction and craftsmanship that harks back to the older days of interior design; intricate tiling and facades, quality metalwork, stained-glass windows and the frequent use of wood throughout add a premium feel to the cavalcade of retail opportunities it contains within. The building is divided up into levels that ascend both in price and quality as you walk towards the top - its upper levels are dotted with impressive and lavish stores selling suits, jewellery, brand accessories and many other high-end goods that most of us can only marvel at.

#19 - Visit Nan Tien Temple

Where is it? Wollongong, NSW

One of the most unexpected combinations of architecture versus location on this list comes courtesy of Wollongong's impressive Nan Tien Temple - the Southern Hemisphere's largest of its kind that boasts a truly striking facade. Emanating an atmosphere of peace and solitude both within and amongst the immaculately kept surrounds, the temple was established to focus on the interchange of western and eastern cultures and shines as a beacon of cultural enlightenment. While it's a stark contrast to what one might picture when imagining "The Gong", the temple is well worth a visit and offers interesting meals, lessons in meditation and serene gardens within which to contemplate your existence.

#18 - View the lightshow at Vivid Sydney

Where is it? Sydney Harbour, NSW

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This annual festival of light and sound is one of the most innovative in the world, taking advantage of the many distinctive monuments of Sydney Harbour and incorporating them with creative minds to make for some truly dazzling projections. With the Sydney Opera House as its star, the Vivid Festival lasts for 2 and a half weeks during which the sails of the Opera House, the facade of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and various other parts of the harbour are transformed into an incredible canvas for patterns, designs, themed displays and more. You'll have to fight the crowds, but the visual delights on offer are more than worth it.

#17 - Soak in the view atop Gan Gan Lookout

Where is it? Nelson Bay, NSW

Many regions in Australia boast an iconic lookout point from which to take in some pleasant views, but few can compare to Nelson Bay's Gan Gan Lookout in the Port Stephens region of the NSW central coast. Situated on the town's outskirts, the 160m-high viewing area offers a commanding panorama of Port Stephens' characteristic blue waters and vast stretches of beach as well as views spanning all the way to Newcastle in the distance. The view is unobscured and the lookout comes equipped with various plaques that detail the history of the lookout and the region as a whole, providing context for first-time visitors. Throw in some wonderful nature surrounding it, and you've got a spot that provides one of Oz's best regional views.

#16 - See the animals at Taronga Zoo

Where is it? Mosman, Sydney, NSW

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One of Australia's premier wildlife facilities, Taronga Zoo scores high points not only for its wide variety of native and exotic animals, but for its picture-perfect location overlooking Sydney Harbour. Accessible via ferry and featuring an excellent balance between Australian animals and those from abroad, the zoo has been continually improved and updated over the years to now be in a state befitting its status as one of the country's best zoos. Koalas, giraffes, kangaroos, Sumatran tigers and many more favourites can all be seen here, and combined with the outlook it makes for a memorable experience that kids will love. For a "Zoo with a View", Taronga is hard to beat.

#15 - Enjoy the wineries of the Hunter Valley

Where is it? 3 hours north of Sydney, NSW

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One of Australia's biggest and best wine regions, the verdant Hunter Valley is one of the top weekend getaway destinations for Sydneysiders and a true delight for both the eyes and tastebuds. Serving as host to some of Australia's most acclaimed cellar doors and boutique wineries - including the likes of Lindemans, Ivanhoe, Scarborough, Peppertree, Tyrrells and more - the Hunter Valley is a wine aficionado's delight, while quality local food and produce makes for great dining as well. The region is famed for producing a mixture of Semillon, Chardonnay, Shiraz and more and boasts over 90 cellar doors in which to visit and indulge in the grape's bounty.

#14 - Explore the Capertee Valley

Where is it? Blue Mountains, NSW

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Australia's answer to the Grand Canyon, the expansive Capertee Valley is part of the greater Blue Mountains region and features some breathtaking panoramas for visitors to take in. Vast sandstone cliffs surround a deep and far-reaching main canyon that is best viewed from the recently upgraded Pearsons Lookout, and the view on offer is simply stunning. The peak of Pantoney's Crown jutting out of the earth, the greenery of the Wollemi National Park and much more making for an incredible tableau and a beacon of opportunity for aspiring photographers wanting that ultimate landscape shot.

#13 - Do the Byron Bay Lighthouse Walk

Where is it? Cape Byron, Byron Bay, NSW

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This popular northern NSW getaway hotspot is renowned for many things, but there are few more distinctive than its iconic lighthouse which sits perched atop sea cliffs on the easternmost point of mainland Australia. The lighthouse walk - which can be done either from the base of the hill (strenuous) or via a drive-then-walk combination (for the lazier among us) - grants wonderful views of the open ocean crashing against the rocks below, and hang gliders can often be spotted circling the skies above. Spanning a leisurely 3.7km loop, it's doable for all ages and easily Byron's must-do activity for first time visitors.

#12 - Explore Ku Ring Gai Chase National Park

Where is it? 45 minutes drive north of Sydney, NSW

For a concentrated dose of greenery and exploration that's easily accessible from Sydney, it's hard to look pass the expansive Ku Ring Gai Chase National Park. This heritage-listed cavalcade of nature blends historical Aboriginal sites with an array of scenic highlights that range from rocky cliffs to secluded beaches and dense eucalypt forest, and is popular amongst both campers and mountain bikers. The park is also abundant in both wildlife and waterways, and is an excellent area for birdwatchers and wildlife viewing as it's home to numerous bird species as well as kangaroos, wallabies and more. Bring the picnic gear and the family along, and indulge in a dose of much-needed fresh air for a wonderful city escape.

#11 - Hike Mt Kosciuszko

Where is it? Kosciuszko National Park, Snowy Mountains, NSW

Australia's highest peak is also home to one of the country's most epic walking tracks that is surprisingly accessible for the average hiker. Located within the Snowy Mountains, a hike at Kosciuszko features geography that blends ancient glacial landscapes with vibrant alpine flowers and snow-dusted peaks to make for a visually stunning alpine area. There's excellent variety in walking tracks on offer here as well, and as a result all ability levels can find a section of track that best suits them - single-day walks from the likes of Thredbo, Dead Horse Gap and various other departure points are popular, with the ultimate being the Charlotte Pass to the Kosciuszko summit adventure.

nswmapNew South Wales is a state that’s far more than simply home to Australia’s most famous city, Sydney – it’s a large and varied state that offers stark contrasts between its coastal, central and inner regions, with a diversity of both landscapes and people that makes for some impressive variety in travel opportunities.

From its often wild and beautiful coastline dotted with some of the country’s best beaches to its inner reaches that transition from lush greenery draped in national parkland and eventually give way to the harshness of the Australian outback, New South Wales’ diversity is remarkable. It’s this variety that make for such an extensive range of experiences, and due to popular demand and frequent requests by our customers – and as the result of years of both feedback and extensive polling – we’ve put together this list of the “Top 100 NSW Experiences to do before you die”.

There is so much to see and do in the whole of New South Wales but we managed to cut the seemingly never ending list down to 100. We’ve covered the gamut of experience types here – from free, to paid, to natural, to man-made – and from both urban centres through to more hidden regional treasures.

So go through the top picks to see what experiences you have already ticked off your list and what New South Wales sights, activities and attractions are next!

The New South Wales Bucket List Map

The Best of New South Wales on Instagram

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