Choose your own adventure. Made up of a collection of stunning coastal villages, Wollongong has something spectacular for everyone.
Once only a busy industrial port, these days Wollongong has emerged as one of the country's most beautiful seaside escapes, packed with potential adventure and a burgeoning culinary and cultural scene.
Its picturesque cliffs and coves will have you yearning to venture into the great outdoors, but there's plenty more beyond its menu of adventure sports, surf beaches, bushwalks, and coastal drives.
Here's how best to spend 24 hours in and around Wollongong and its seaside villages.
Getting there: Sea Cliff Bridge
If you are travelling south from Sydney, we can guarantee it’ll be worth your while to take the scenic route. The 90-minute drive cuts along the wiry ridge of NSW's Royal National Park, and if you take a left off the highway towards Stanwell Tops on Lawrence Hargrave Drive, you’ll wind along dramatic green coastal cliffs, and eventually cross the spectacular Sea Cliff Bridge.
Connecting Wollongong’s northern coastal villages of Coalcliff and Clifton, it’s a dramatic finale to the drive—wrapping around cliffs and curving out across white-capped waves and glassy ocean.
Sea Cliff Bridge at sunrise
If the journey’s left you famished, stop at the iconic Scarborough Hotel. Pitched on the crest of the cliff, the beer garden, bar, and dining hall all have uninterrupted ocean views. Breakfast runs daily from 9 – 10.45am, lunch runs from 11.30am until 3 pm on weekdays and 4 pm on weekends.
10:30 AM: Coffee at Opus Coffee Brewers
Drop into this airy and light pint-sized espresso bar for expertly roasted coffee from around the country. You'll find beans and blends from 5 Senses, Single Origin Roasters, Sample Coffee, and Mecca Coffee. As well as a smooth latte, Opus offers cups of chilly cold brew and hot filter coffee. For something to eat, there's house-made bagels with a variety of toppings and spreads.
You can also shop co-owner Mel Cox's ceramic bowls, cups, and plates, which she designs from scratch under the label Atelo Ceramics.
11:30 AM Choose your own adventure
For the outdoorsy among us, Wollongong offers a full spectrum of fresh air activities, ranging from picturesque beachside strolls to sky-high adrenaline pumping action. The Illawarra Region scenery surrounding Wollongong is simply breathtaking to behold—whether by foot or by sky.
And there's plenty of ways to soar. If you're game to glide, Adventure Plus Paragliding hosts tandem sessions that sail above South Coast cliffs and beaches. Sydney-Wollongong Sky Dive does a terrifying tumble down to North Wollongong Beach from 15,000 feet and is the country's only beach skydive. Or, for something a little more historic, take flight in a fire-engine red 1940s-era open cockpit biplane with Southern Biplane Adventures.
To take it all in at a slower pace, the 5km Mount Kembla walking track loops around a significant indigenous site and through leafy rainforest. If you're after something a bit more challenging (read: steep) and with more views, set off on the Sublime Point Walking Track just north of Thirroul. On the track, a series of ladders and a giant staircase allow you to rock-hop your way down to Austinmer.
Or, if you prefer to be off your feet, why not cruise the coastline in a classic Porche? Cliff to Coast offers scenic drives in beautiful classic cars that come complete with gourmet lunch and a glass (or two) of wine.
1:30 PM Fish and chips at Levendi
For lunch, head to Wollongong Harbour for fish and chips. Local favourite Levendi is nestled on the edge of the small cove, and serves fresh fish and chips, burgers, salads, handmade artisan gelato, cakes, and Vittoria coffee. Grab a takeaway box and pick a place on the grass, or wander around to two historic lighthouses: the Wollongong Head Lighthouse, built in 1936, and the Wollongong Beacon Lighthouse, built in 1974.
3:30 PM Afternoon swim
A trip to Wollongong wouldn't be complete without a visit to one of its 17 stunning beaches. Surfers will flock to the breaks at Woonona, Bellambi, Port Kembla, and Standon Point, but for a calmer splash among the waves—North Wollongong Beach is your best bet.
Stanwell Park Beach
5:30 PM Cocktails at Howlin' Wolf or The Throsby
With over 250 whiskeys sourced from all around the world, 50 rotating craft beers, 16 different gin varieties, and a menu packed with classic and inventive cocktails, the Howlin' Wolf is widely regarded as one of the regions hidden gems. The cosy, dimly lit American-inspired space also hosts live music a few nights a week.
If you're after a glass of wine, we recommend checking out The Throsby. The 50-seater winebar focuses on small winemakers from Australia and further afield. Oh, and their cheese platters, freshly shucked oysters, and charcuterie are a must.
7:00 PM Dinner at Babyface Kitchen
The menu at Babyface is Japanese-inspired with a few modern Australian ideas thrown in, making it one-of-a-kind in Wollongong. Think mixed sashimi plates, wholemeal duck dumplings, and dry aged pork loin with mushroom butter, quandong ketchup, and shio kombu. The drinks list focuses on organic, natural, and minimal-intervention wine—meaning less of a hangover if you decide to indulge.