Looking for things to do in Wollongong? Whether you’re just passing through on the Grand Pacific Drive or looking for a day trip from Sydney, there’s plenty of places to see when you visit Wollongong!
Wollongong is a cultural feast that is home to two incredible temples and loads of fun things to do for the family near Sydney. It’s even an Instagrammer’s dream with plenty of photo opportunities around the area including the famous Sea Cliff Bridge and the beautiful Nan Tien Temple.
In my experience, I’ve found some awesome things to do in Wollongong worthy of leaving Sydney for; you’ll have a fun-filled day out planned in no time.
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Best Things To Do In Wollongong
1. Start at Bald Hill Lookout at Stanwell Tops
Stanwell Tops is just passed the Royal National Park on the grand pacific drive and should be your first stop whilst exploring the Wollongong area. It’s a great picnic area and the views out to Sea Cliff Bridge and over to Stanwell Park beach are spectacular. In my experience, you’ll be snapping away for the perfect photo opportunity too!
If you want to stop at The Royal national park on your way, you must visit the figure 8 pools! Read our guide on tips to visit the Figure 8 Pools as you will need to time it right with the tide.
2. Check out the beautiful Sri Venkateswara Temple
The Sri Venkateswara Temple at Helensburgh is an excellent find in the Wollongong area. Here you’ll be able to try incredible authentic South Indian food, by far the best you’ll find anywhere outside of India – trust me we’ve tried it! The temple itself is stunning and worth a look.
3. Hike To Kelly’s Falls In Sydney
If you’re into hiking, you’ll find the track to Kelly’s Falls opposite the Sri Venkateswara Temple. This unknown hike is stunning with great picnic areas, but make sure you take your swimmers and wear hiking boots. Don’t take kids as there’s a tricky bit of rock climbing along the way to get to the bottom.
4. Visit Australian Wildlife At Symbio Wildlife Park
If you want to get up close to kangaroos in Sydney or any other Aussie wildlife, head over to Symbio Wildlife Park. You’ll be able to cuddle a koala, feed the kangaroos and get a selfie with some local wildlife. Just check out David Beckham’s selfies when he visited recently.
There’s also the awesome splash water park which has recently opened at Symbio wildlife park and will keep the kids entertained during the summer months.
5. Be brave and do a tandem paraglide
You can also try your hand at paragliding with Hangglide Oz tandem jump, which takes you right over Stanwell Tops, an experience that will certainly be memorable. See incredible views of The Royal national park and the coastal city of Wollongong. It always features on the best things to do in Wollongong and New South Wales, and for a reason too!
6. Check out the Helensburgh Tunnel for glow worms
Another great thing to do in Helensburgh is to check out the old Helensburgh tunnel and railway tracks. It’s popular for its haunted history and glow worms; you have to walk quite far in low lighting but it is so worth it to see the magical glow worms.
7. Hike to the Sea Cliff Bridge Lookout
Sea Cliff Bridge is the second most photographed bridge in New South Wales. Although you can walk and drive across it on the Grand Pacific Drive, there’s also a secret lookout point that gives a different perspective.
I would not recommend taking children on the track and you should wear hiking boots rather than thongs.
Watch our video to Sea Cliff Bridge below
8. View the Wollongong Breakwater lighthouse
In the heritage-listed Wollongong harbour, you will find two lighthouses, Wollongong Breakwater Lighthouse and Wollongong Head Lighthouse on Flagstaff Hill. Wollongong Head lighthouse is still in use today and assists vessels into Port Kembla beach. Wollongong harbour is the only place in the east of Australia with two lighthouses. There are lots of big grassy spaces and picnic areas to relax and enjoy.
9. Visit the largest Buddhist temple in the Southern Hemisphere
Did you know Wollongong is home to the largest Buddhist temple in the Southern Hemisphere? Nan Tien Temple is so beautiful to walk around and best of all you’ll find a stunning cafe serving up the best tea and Asian food.
If you’re visiting Nan Tien Temple, please be respectful and cover your shoulders, arms and above the knees. Nan Tien Temple is a great free thing to do in Wollongong if you’re looking for cheap day trips from Sydney.
10. Check out the views at Sublime Point
Sublime Point walking track is one of the most iconic treks in Wollongong. The steep 45-minute climb to the top has the most rewarding views overlooking Wollongong harbour and out to the ocean.
But, if hiking isn’t your thing, you can also just drive up to Sublime Point Lookout as well, as it’s just off the Princes Highway. There’s a cafe up the top, so if you’re walking you can stock up on refreshments.
11. Walk around Wollongong Botanic Gardens
The Wollongong Botanic Garden is lovely landscaped gardens you can spend hours here, it’s no wonder it’s always one of the best things to do in Wollongong. Not only does it offer loads of paths to explore the native and exotic plants and lush vegetation, but it also has a brilliant playground to keep the kids entertained, complete with a climbing net and a maze.
Wollongong Botanic Garden also hosts guided walks and workshops as well as a sunset cinema over the summer! Be sure to check out the gift shop!
12. Check out the largest blow hole in the world
A big draw card to the Wollongong area in New South Wales is the Kiama blowhole which draws in nearly 1 million visitors a year. Just thirty minutes drive down the road and you’ll find the largest blowhole in the world.
There are two blowholes in Kiama, the larger one next to the Wollongong head lighthouse and Little Kiama Blowhole 2km further south along the coastal walk. Time it right to get splashed by the blowhole and then relax on beautiful beaches such as Wollongong city beach or North beach.
Jamberoo Action Park is a brilliant day trip from Sydney during the summer for everyone and always makes the list of the best things to do in Wollongong.
Set in the country on the outskirts of the Southern Highlands, Jamberoo Action Park is a great day trip for the whole family and is just a 30-minute drive from Wollongong. Bring your swimmers and be prepared to have fun on the water slides here!
14. Illawara Fly Tree Walk
Just a 35-minute drive from Kiama you’ll come to the award-winning Illawarra Fly Treetop Adventures. It’s also one of Australia’s premier Treetop Walk and Zipline Experiences based in the Illawarra region.
Ziplining is amazing for adventure seekers but if the stomach-dropping feeling is not for you, there’s a treetop walk to enjoy the views. And they also do sunrise and after-dark tours too, yes, please!
15. Macquarie Pass Jump Rock Waterfall
Just a 25-minute drive from Illawarra Fly Treetop Adventures lies a beautiful 30-minute hike over to Jump Rock in Macquarie Pass.
Once you get to Jump Rock, you’ll arrive at the most beautiful swimming spot, with jumping platforms included. Fun for kids and adults alike but just be careful and make sure you read our guide for the Best Swimming Holes and Waterfalls In Sydney which features information about how to get here.
When you drive back over the Macquarie Pass back to Wollongong, the drive is so beautiful, that you’ll be hanging out of the window to take as many photos as possible.
16. Be blown away at Science Space
With a huge planetarium, interactive exhibits and an exciting calendar of new events and shows, Science Space is a must-visit when looking for things to do in Wollongong! The planetarium has a 4k laser system and a scifi cinema to immerse you in the story of the Universe. Science Space is a super cool day out for adults and kids alike.
17. Ride a heritage steam train at NSW Rail Museum
Just a 45 minutes drive inland, you will find NSW Rail Museum showcasing a huge collection of heritage trains that were once travelling around NSW. Every weekend, you can ride their heritage steam train and travel back in time to experience what it was like. They also have a full calendar of events including exhibitions like Thomas the tank engine!
18. Indulge in delicious food markets
Forage Markets host Eat Street markets in Wollongong every Thursday and Forage Fridays in Bulli beach weekly. Support local farmers and vendors whilst sampling the best street eats or stock up for the week on fresh farm food. Their Sunday forage markets in Bulli (a 10-minute drive away) also showcase the best vintage and homemade craft stalls so you can celebrate local artists and sellers.
19. Spend the day at the beach
You can spend a few days visiting all the beaches and swimming spots along the coast from The Royal National Park to Wollongong and be a very happy human. Our top picks:
Bulli Rock Pools – Dating back to the 1930s, this pool is a relaxing place to swim for anyone wanting to escape the hustle and bustle of Sydney
Wollongong city beach – Spanning over 3km, there is room for everyone to sunbath, picnic or play in this beautiful coastal city
Port Kembla Beach – Just south of Wollongong, this beach is incredibly popular for surfing
North Wollongong Beach – An awesome place for a BBQ, North Wollongong beach is great for families to explore the rock pools or playground.
20. Test your balance with SUP Boarding
If you have never tried your hand at SUP boarding then the calm waters in lake Illawarra are the best place to practice before you head back to Sydney and show off your new skills to your friends. Hire a board from SUP Shellharbour and build up your core strength, or just float and sunbathe, no judgements here.
The Scarborough Hotel easily has the best beer garden in Sydney so, of course, it is on the list of best things to do in Wollongong. It’s a bit unassuming from the outside but once you set foot inside the pub, you’ll see a huge garden out the back which sits on top of the cliffs. People sit on the grass whilst their kids run around and it’s the type of pub you could spend the entire day relaxing in the sun.
22. Continue Road Trippin’
Wollongong is an awesome place to kick off an excellent road trip along the South Coast. After you have spent a few days ticking off these things on this list, why not continue driving the grand pacific drive and check out our Things To Do In Kiama guide. Or if you’re heading further down the cost, check out our Things To Do In Jervis Bay Guide – you won’t regret it!
If the rolling hills of the countryside and heritage towns are more your vibe, head inland and use our guide to the huge but stunning Southern Highlands for tips to fill your road trip.
And if you’re continuing down the South Coast, we have loads of guides ready for you to check out. Get started with our 15 Things To Do On The South Coast – a complete guide from Sydney to Eden.