16 Best Things to do in Katoomba, Blue Mountains [2023]

Looking for the best things to do in Katoomba? Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Mountains in Australia, Katoomba is a charming and quirky town that has become a popular destination for travellers looking to explore the surrounding mountain region.

Katoomba features beautiful waterfalls to swim under, spectacular views and sunset spots and a variety of walking trails perfect for nature lovers.

The Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains can be seen on many Blue Mountains walks.

I have spent many months exploring the Blue Mountains and I particularly enjoyed exploring Katoomba.

This list is exclusively for things to do in Katoomba, but if you want to check out other areas of the Blue Mountains I have written a detailed guide of the best walks in the Blue Mountains that cover Wentworth Falls and Leura.

Read on to discover the 16 best things to do in Katoomba.

Best Things to do in Katoomba

1. Visit Katoomba Falls

Overlooked by many, Katoomba Falls is one of the most stunning waterfalls in the Blue Mountains region. 

Its captivating beauty comes from being part of the 20km long Kedumba River which flows into Jamison Valley – a mesmerising sight that drops almost 150 metres! 

Katoomba Falls are a magnificent sight to behold, so taking advantage of the numerous viewpoints is key to revealing its full awe-inspiring beauty!  

I highly recommend taking the under-falls walk for an intimate, picturesque view of the falls and then popping to the Katoomba Falls Lookout where you can take in the stunning valley in all its glory. The Katoomba Falls walk is

Katoomba Falls stands just a stone’s throw away from Three Sisters-the impressive landmark that tops many travellers’ bucket lists when visiting New South Wales. 

2. Ride the Katoomba Scenic Railway at Scenic World (the steepest railway in the world!)

Immerse yourself in the breathtaking scenery of Australia’s Blue Mountains with a ride along Katoomba Scenic Railway.  Known as the steepest railway in the world, the Scenic Railway is perfect for those who want to take in the amazing views of Katoomba without the trek!

The daring journey weaves through sandstone cliffs, plunges into rock tunnels and emerges with incredible views of the rainforest and Jamison Valley. I highly recommend disembarking at the bottom station and walking along 2.4 kilometres of Jurassic forest terrain!

It may be worthwhile noting that Scenic World does not seem to offer single trip passes and instead you need to purchase an Unlimited Day pass, whether you want to ride the scenic railway once or 100 times! The cost of this is approximately $49.50, but it means you can go to the other attractions at Scenic World such as the Scenic Cableway rises and Scenic Walkways.

I think you need to be careful when planning a trip to the Scenic Railway because on misty/ foggy days you will miss a lot of the fantastic scenery and may find that it is simply not worth the cost of the pass.

However, the rainforest walk can still be enjoyable even on a rainy day, so pack a light rain jacket as the canopies do not cover all the rainforest! 

3. Climb the Giant Stairway

Take the journey of a lifetime and embark on a challenging walk to Katoomba’s Giant Stairway! 

With 998 steps, this popular walking track takes you from Echo Point down to Honeymoon Bridge – connecting its visitors with the first of the Three Sisters. 

I refer to the Giant Starway in Katoomba as a hike as it is challenging for people who do not lead a daily active lifestyle. It is advisable to go at your own pace, if you start the hike and feel it may be too challenging you can always turn back. 

The hike should take just 1.5 hours for experienced hikers or actively fit people; while those less familiar might find it more challenging, depending if they opt for the cable car backup (costing $49.50 per person), which is advised particularly when travelling with kids and older people who have difficulty descending all steps safely. 

Though difficult at times, it provides magnificent views along the way as well as a brilliant photo opportunity once reaching the Honeymoon Bridge.

I highly recommend wearing good-fitting closed shoes for the Giant Stairway, plus bug repellent for protection against leeches!

4. Echo Point Lookout

Whilst I love the quiet and secluded spots of Katoomba, there is a reason that Echo Point Lookout is so popular and deserving of a place on the list of best things to do in Katoomba. 

Located on the traditional land of the Gundungarra and Darug people, Echo point lookout is the perfect place to see magnificent views of Jamison Valley, Three Sisters and the iconic ruined Castle Rock formation. 

Echo point lookout has been upgraded to allow for more viewing platforms, which helps spread the crowd out in such a busy spot.

Eco Point lookout is the gateway to many great walks; If you’re looking for a stroll, try out Three Sisters walk – it’s an easy-level track that even has wheelchair access! But if you want something more adventurous there are tougher routes like Prince Henry Cliff Walk or Giant Stairway among others. 

Also worth a visit is Echo Point visitor centre open from 9 am-5 pm daily; staff have lots of info about this amazing area! You can also pick up maps of the area, which are always useful. 

🎈 Join this amazing small group tour, that includes a picnic lunch at Echo Point Lookout. It sells out really fast so click here to check for availability!

5. Katoomba Street Art Walk

Take a journey of discovery and see the stunning transformation in Katoomba’s Beverly Place Precinct with colourful murals from Street Art Murals Australia (SAMA) in partnership with the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre, which has transformed the area into a stunning constantly evolving streetscape.

The artwork is brilliant and is on par with artwork on Melbournes Hosier Lane, just without the crowds as Katoomba street art remains somewhat of a hidden gem. 

The colourful display features work by acclaimed street artist Matt Adnate. Local artists have also contributed to this ever-evolving streetscape, bringing bursts of life into views thanks to Mary Schone Salter’s floral explosion pieces! 

Looking for things to do in Katoomba when it is raining? Katoomba street art walks will add a pop of colour on the greyest of days, so be sure to pack your umbrella! 

The tour takes around 10 minutes however I would allow at least half an hour, that way you’ll have plenty of time to soak in all these amazing artworks and truly appreciate their beauty.

There is one-hour free street parking on the street, however, I recommend finding a street to park on nearby. The reason for this is actually that cars being parked on the street obscure parts of the stunning gallery, which is a real shame, especially if you were hoping to photograph some of the works. 

The Katoomba Art walk is stop number 2 on the Blue Mountains Hop-on Hop-Off Bus Tour!

Looking For The Best Way to Get Round Katoomba?

  • Blue Mountains Explorer Bus stops at 29 points of interest in the Blue Mountains!
  • Hop on and off as many times as you like over a 3-day period
  • Visit iconic Katoomba landmarks such as the Three Sister and Echo Point Lookout.

6. Blue Mountains Chocolate Company

If you’re looking for things to do in Katoomba after a day of hiking, then a visit to the Blue Mountains Chocolate Company is an absolute must! Located near the iconic Katoomba Scenic Railway and other free things to do in Katoomba, it’s the perfect place if, like me, you adore hot chocolate!

From more than 20 flavours of chocolate bars, individual treats such as hand-dipped organic dried figs and truffles, to ice cream and luxurious cakes. The menu is so good, I try something different each visit!

However, I always purchase one of their famous hot chocolate drinks melted over a romantic candle – It is the best hot chocolate in Katoomba, if not Australia, and I have tried a lot of hot chocolate!

They are open till 6 pm, much later than most cafes in the area. 

🎈 The Blue Mountain Chocolate Company is stop number 17 on the Blue Mountains Hop-on Hop-off Bus tour!

7. Swim at Katoomba Cascades

The Katoomba Cascades is an impossibly picturesque water spectacle, featuring a roaring torrent that cascades through the Kedumba River, a 20km long perennial river, in the Katoomba area of the Blue Mountains. 

Its beauty makes it one of the most sought-after attractions in the Blue Mountains and a must-see if you are looking for family-friendly things to do in Katoomba! It is not uncommon to see kids splashing beneath the falls at the base, or adults trying to get under the flow for a waterfall shower.

The Katoomba Cascade falls are my favourite waterfall in the Blue Mountains, none more so than when it rains when they are transformed from a gentle cascade to a roaring torrent. For the best experience, I highly recommend visiting in the morning as it gets seriously busy in the afternoon. 

Just be aware there are limited car parking spots available at the dedicated Cliff Drive car park during peak times. You may want to consider stopping by the nearby Katoomba falls reserve (further down)  to look there for parking spots. 

8. Epic Sunsets at Boar’s Head Lookout

There are many great sunset spots in Katoomba but Boar’s Head Lookout is known as the best place to watch a sunset. 

It takes a leisurely 5-minute walk up some stairs, but it’s worth braving the windy conditions for. It does get quite cold, so I would recommend a warm layer even in summer. 

I spoke to a Blue Mountains local who swore that this spot was the greatest place to watch a sunset, and they had been to most spots! In my opinion, this spot was even better than the three sisters to watch the sunset. 

Bring snacks for a picnic on one of their tables or just take your time soaking in all those beautiful hues at dusk.

There is free car parking and picnic tables nearby which are only a short stroll from the lookout.

9. Picnic at Castle Head 

Katoomba has plenty of great picnic spots however if tranquillity and spectacular views are high up on your list then Castle Head is the perfect place to lay down your picnic blanket. 

Just 1.3km each way from the start point along Narrow Neck Plateau with just one small hill, it is all worth it once you are there! 

You can sit back and relax as you enjoy breathtaking views of Jamison Valley – including a magnificent view of the Three Sisters- all whilst enjoying an al-fresco lunch on the flat terrain.

Finish off the day by carrying on up to the magnificent lookout point nearby afterwards if you wish; it’s worth making time for both in one trip!

10. Swim at Minnehaha Falls 

If you’re looking for a slice of wild nature, there’s nothing quite like taking an invigorating dip under Minnehaha Falls on a sunny day- one of the most stunning wild swimming spots in the mountains.

Minnehaha Falls is all about towering sandstone cliffs that line the deep emerald waters that cascade down Yosemite Creek in North Katoomba, it is simply breathtaking!

To get there, drive to the end of Minni Ha Ha Road, The access track is only 1.5 km long; while it has some rough patches along with steep sections, the journey promises to be worth every step you’ll take as a reward awaits at end of this scenic route.

Don’t forget to bring your swimsuit if you’re planning on taking a dip! Even if you are not planning to swim, the magnificent views are worth the visit alone.

11. Visit Mountain Culture Craft Brewery

After a day of hiking and exploring the sights in Katoomba, there’s no better way to end your adventure than by visiting Mountain Culture Craft Brewery.

Located near some of the best things to do in Katoomba such as the iconic Katoomba Scenic Railway, this contemporary bar offers more than 14 beers on tap and even has a dog-friendly back porch where you can watch the sunset!

The interior of Mountain Culture Craft Brewery is both modern and contemporary, making it stand out from any other bar in Katoomba (and a much-needed addition to the pub scene. in my opinion). With exposed brick walls, high ceilings, and vintage-inspired furniture, the atmosphere inside the brewery is truly one of a kind.

With delicious burgers on offer from their food menu (I highly recommend the OG Burger), it’s worth checking out if you’re looking for things to do in Katoomba.

12. Katoomba Night Walk

Explore the beauty of Katoomba’s nocturnal scenery on an unforgettable night walk! 

Take a 2.4km return journey beneath starlit skies along forest paths, if you don’t fancy doing the full walk, I personally feel like you can see all the main attractions in around half that. 

All the lights turn on at dusk and floodlights are turned off at 10.30 pm and path lights at 11 pm.

Stroll through atmospheric spots showcasing Katoomba Cascades,  that look especially captivating and lit up in all their glory; feel free to get your feet wet – we saw countless kids having a great time splashing about in the pools of the cascades! 

Katoomba Falls Night Walk Map
Katoomba Falls Night Walk Map – Map from Blue Mountains City Council

The Katoomba night walk starts at the Prince Henry Picnic area near the kiosk, park your car in the main Katoomba Cascades car park or beside the old Katoomba kiosk. 

If you want to avoid the crowds I highly recommend doing the walk on a weekday or perhaps a Sunday night. I went on a Friday night and found it to be extremely busy. 

You don’t need to bring a torch as the walk is adequately lit however some people did opt to bring one – though a simple phone torch will suffice! 

13. Learn about Local History at The Gully

Nestled within the stunning Blue Mountains of New South Wales, The Gully (also known as Katoomba Falls Creek Valley) is an incredibly important site for Aboriginal people all around Australia. 

This culturally sensitive place was home to Gundungurra and Darug nations up until 1972 when they were tragically forced out by a racing track development. 

Their story is shared via a series of informative boards along an easy stroll through this culturally sensitive spot. 

Although there may be sadness across parts of The Gully’s landscape, it remains one of those unforgettable places which help us better understand our country’s past.

To reach your destination, find a spot in the parking lot by Katoomba Sports and Aquatic Centre on Catalina Avenue. Then set off down the path that winds through the park, you will then be able to see the start of the walk. 

14. Blue Mountains Cultural Centre 

Immerse yourself in the vibrant art scene and spectacular landscape of Katoomba at the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre. Located in the heart of town, it’s home to a City Art Gallery brimming with exhibitions from both local and national artists alongside popular public programs. 

Stretching your visit even further is Into The Blue; an interactive exhibition delving into the unique history and natural environment that shape this stunning area – not forgetting its amazing viewing platform affording jaw-dropping views across Jamison Valley! 

If you’re looking for something special or just need refreshment after exploring all there is on offer here, why not check out the one-of-a-kind shop stuffed full of gifts & homewares as well as books & toys? There is also an onsite cafe to eat at.

15. Ruined Castle Walking Track 

If you are in Katoomba a visit to the Ruined Castle is an absolute must! Located near some of the best things to do in Katoomba such as the iconic Katoomba Scenic Railway, this ancient formation offers views that are simply breathtaking.

The walk is graded as hard by the National Parks Service but is actually more on the moderate side and takes 2.5 – 3.5 hours to complete.

To reach the top of the castle, one short scramble must be negotiated so bring a friend if you are not used to scrambling. The views from atop this historical formation are incredible and are worth the extra effort. 

16. Shopping at Katoomba Vintage Emporium

Located inside the former Katoomba post office building, Katoomba Vintage Emporium is open 6 days a week (closed Wednesdays) and offers two floors of vintage, retro and contemporary wares, antiques, furniture, clocks, lighting fixtures and homewares as well as unique gifts. 

The reviews on the Vintage Emporium can be quite mixed, some say it is overpriced bric-a-brac whilst others I have spoken to say they have found some hidden gems, so I guess it just depends on the stock available when you go.

Where to Stay in Katoomba

📍Best Budget Spot Blue Mountains YHA – Looking for a budget-friendly spot in the Blue Mountains? The YHA has you covered! With cosy en suite double, twin and family rooms close to Katoomba Train Station as well as free parking onsite, it’s just 20 minute’s walk from the famous Three Sisters. Plus with a BBQ area, games room and an old ballroom complete with fireplace – all at great value prices – this is one stop not to be missed! Check prices and availability here.

📍Best Mid-Range Spot Carrington Hotel – Located just 200 m from Katoomba Train Station, The Carrington is an elegant heritage-listed hotel with something for everyone. Some rooms feature a stunning city view or balcony plus spa baths for those looking for more pampering during their stay. Check prices and availability here.

📍Best Luxury Spot Echoes Boutique Hotel & Restaurant – This stunning destination offers panoramic views and private balconies, just a five-minute walk from Three Sisters. Soak up some R&R with their luxurious day spa, hot tub and sauna before indulging your tastebuds at their onsite restaurant where you can dine while taking in a breathtaking mountain scenery. Check prices and availability here.

Getting to Katoomba

Katoomba is a beautiful area in the Blue Mountains, located about 90 minutes drive from Sydney. It’s full of things to do and attractions to explore, making it an ideal day trip destination for those looking for a short getaway.  But how exactly do you get to Katoomba? Let’s take a look at your options:

By Train & Bus: The fastest way to Katoomba from Sydney is by train and bus. Trains depart every hour from Central Station on NSW Trainlink, stopping at Parramatta, Penrith and Springwood before arriving at Katoomba station.

To travel on NSW TrainLink services including to and from the Blue Mountains you will need an Opal card. Once you arrive at Katoomba I highly recommend buying a Blue Mountains Explorer hop-on hop-off bus ticket. It stops at all the best spots in Katoomba and is great value for money!

By Car: Alternatively, if travelling by car is more convenient for you then head west along the M4 route which takes you past Wentworth Falls and Leura before arriving in Katoomba. This journey should take approximately 1-2 hours depending on traffic conditions so it’s best if you plan your trip ahead of time.

When is the best time to visit Katoomba

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Visiting Katoomba: Frequently Asked Questions

Don’t worry if it is raining on your trip to Katoomba, there are plenty of things to do in Katoomba when it is raining:

  • Blue Mountains Cultural Centre
  • Visit Katoomba Vintage Emporium
  • Indulge at Blue Mountains Chocolate Company
  • Lunch at the Carrington Hotel
  • Katoomba Street Art Walk – just bring your umbrella!

Katoomba Falls Walk is a 2km circuit that is regarded as moderate difficulty, including some steep climbs. A leisurely stroll will usually take 1-1.5 hours and can be an enjoyable experience for all ages!

Yes, you will need to tap on/off with your Opal card when travelling to the Blue Mountains from Sydney.  NSW TrainLink Intercity departs every hour and you can reach Katoomba in two short hours. 

The coldest month in Katoomba is July, with an average low of 29°F and high of 51°F. In Katoomba snow is known to fall on average 2 times per winter.

No, the Three Sisters is an important Indigenous site, our of respect for the aboriginal culture it should go without saying that walking on the Three Sisters is strictly prohibited.

Conclusion: Things To Do in Katoomba

Katoomba is a beautiful place to explore and there’s so much to do regardless of the weather.

Make sure to purchase the Blue Mountains Explorer Bus Pass to save some money and make sure you see all the best parts of Katoomba and the Blue Mountains!

If you are unfamiliar with the Blue Mountains, I highly recommend starting your adventure at Echo Point lookout which provides exquisite views of the valley, perfect for making lifelong memories.

So don’t let anything hold you back – take the plunge and see all that Katoomba has to offer! You won’t regret it!

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