Long summer holidays are awesome, but planning them isn’t.
There’s so much to factor in—which weeks to take off work, what airline to fly, to Airbnb or not to Airbnb (that is the question). But within two hours drive of Sydney, you can escape the city for a quick weekend getaway and still be home in time to put out the bins. No need to board a plane, just get in the car and go.
Drive two hours south of Sydney and you’ll arrive in Gerroa, a picturesque coastal town in the Kiama area that boasts the incredible Seven Mile Beach. Stretching—you guessed it—seven miles long, it’s the perfect spot to soak up some sun, take a long stroll, or catch a few fun waves. Renowned for producing the perfect conditions for learners, it’s a super safe beach to take the kids for their first surfing lesson. Book a cabin at the local Holiday Park, or explore options in the neighbouring suburb of Gerringong, where you’ll also find a cool shopping strip with cafes, surf shops and boutique stores. At night, head to Gerroa Boat Fishermans Club for an authentic South Coast experience, and before you head back to Sydney, take a 15-minute detour through Berry for a visit to the famous Donut van.
In the same direction as Gerroa but inland from the coast, you can spend a relaxingly rustic weekend in a country town. Widely considered one of Australia’s most beautiful valleys, this place feels a world away from the city even though it’s only a two-hour drive. Known for its incredible views (hello Fitzroy Falls) and even better food, there’s a surprisingly long list of things to do here—but most of it involves eating. There’s the award-winning cheeseburger pie from local legends Southern Pies, the (true to its namesake) Friendly Inn pub, and the best brunch in town at The General Café. Once you’re full, float down the Kangaroo River in a canoe or hit up one of the local wineries for a tasting.
If heading north is more your scene, the Central Coast has a bunch of options worth exploring—but none more so than Copacabana Beach. Obviously, the roadtrip playlist is already sorted (Alexa, play Barry Manilow), and in good traffic you’ll be there in an hour and a half. It’s the kind of place you can enjoy as a quiet and relaxing couples getaway or a family trip with the kids. The beach is pristine (and dog friendly!) but if the surf’s too rough, there’s the Cockrone Lagoon to float in. The hills are lined with coastal holiday homes to rent out, all equipped with incredible ocean views. There’s a small and charming ‘main strip’ consisting of a café to grab a decent coffee and juice in the morning, and at night, your options are pizza, fish n chips, or whatever you’re cooking.
Okay, full disclosure, this one is pushing the whole ‘within two hours’ premise by at least 20 minutes. But the drive is well worth the hassle, because waiting for you is an endless supply of award-winning wine. With over 150 wineries perched throughout the region, the Hunter Valley feels like a trip to Napa without the accents. They’ve has been juicing the grapes for somewhere close to 180 years here, so best believe they know what they’re doing. There’s also a pretty competitive foodie scene going on, so pair your pinot with a perfectly cooked steak or smelly cheese. Insert picnics, a river dip, and luxury accommodation, and you’ve got yourself the perfect weekend getaway destination. Top winery picks? Near impossible to choose—but Ivanhoe, Hanging Trees and Leogate Estate wines are all worth a sip.