Enjoy the sand, catch a wave, or climb the escarpment for magnificent views of a beach city less than an hour and a half from Sydney.

Wollongong is a great place to visit for beautiful beaches as well as excellent fishing and hiking, all within an easy drive from Sydney.

Grab a towel and some sunscreen, throw on your swimwear, and head to the water. There are over a dozen different beaches in Wollongong, with most patrolled throughout the summer months. Surfers will find good breaks on nearly every beach, but swim between the flags as conditions can be rough. Families should head to Austinmer for calmer waters and some great cafés. Anyone looking to avoid the crowds should check out Towragdi Beach. You’ll find plenty of space to lie back and relax.

If you can’t ride a board but want to give it a go, take lessons with a local surf school. Pick up the pace and rent out a jet ski or even go parasailing. True adventurers can go hot air ballooning or skydiving. Fishing fans will find some excellent shore spots or can jump aboard a charter boat for some deep-sea action.

For some great views of the area, make your way inland and climb Mount Keira or Mount Kembla. On the way you’ll get a good glimpse of local flora and fauna. Walk through Minnamurra Forest to see rainforest species before reaching the Minnamurra Falls.

Head back to town and relax in the Botanical Gardens or a good café. History buffs will want to visit the Illawarra Museum to learn about the city’s history. See some lovingly-refurbished aircraft at the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society hanger. For a relaxing stroll and a vegetarian meal, spend a couple of hours at the Nan Tien Temple.

Wollongong is about 90 kilometres (55 miles) from Sydney and is a popular spot for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle. The city was established in the early 1800s and quickly developed into a coal-mining and steel-works town.  Today, it is a relaxed and lively beach-side city. With great beaches and a much friendlier crowd than nearby Sydney, it’s an excellent place to unwind.

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