Local Escapes

8 Cosy Winter Getaways In NSW To Book In 2022

By Tim Piccione
7th Mar 2022

A woman in warm clothing watching the sunset over Mudgee NSW

NSW is world-famous for its coastline and beaches filled with sun-obsessed swimmers in the summer months. But while towns like Byron Bay or Yamba and suburbs like Bondi or Manly are our go-to’s for a good chunk of the year, where are the best winter getaways?

NSW has plenty of cosy destinations ideal for those colder months—from the famous Snowy Mountains with its hiking-rich national parks and powder-covered ski slopes, to quaint towns packed with fireplace-warmed restaurants and cellar doors.

Here are the best winter getaways in NSW.

Bowral

Just a 90-minute drive southwest of Sydney, Bowral is a charming little town found in the sprawling green hills of the Southern Highlands. And at almost 700m above sea level, it offers some much-needed, crisp winter fresh air in an appropriately cosy setting.

The town’s lengthy main strip is brimming with cafes, boutique shopping, and antiques. Find locally-made vintage gems, bespoke furniture, and unique decorative pieces at the maze-like Dirty Janes Antique Market. Line up for the award-winning and uber-popular pastries, gourmet pies, and sausage rolls of Gumnut Patisserie. Then make your way around the Southern Highland’s many suburbs, and warm up with a winter stout at Eden Brewery, a glass of full-bodied red at Artemis Wines (the area is certainly not short on cool-climate vineyards and cellar doors), or by trekking a nearby national park.

Check out our complete guide to the Southern Highlands here.

Where To Stay

Enjoy the rural views in the hills above Bowral inside this funky “Book Shed” house or get amongst East Bowral’s natural bushland with this bespoke cabin stay. Otherwise, Book a room at the Milton Park Country House, a converted manor house inspired by the country hotels of Europe. 

The Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains, about 1-hour drive west of Sydney, is as prepared to be a winter destination as anywhere in Australia. Don’t get us wrong, the region is an absolute masterpiece of nature all year round with its dramatic scenery, waterfalls, caves, hikes, historic sites, valleys, and UNESCO World Heritage-listed bushland (the Three Sisters are an obvious itinerary must). But there’s an extra something in the air during the colder months, where villages like Katoomba, Blackheath, and Leura really come to life.

But don’t worry, you’ll easily escape the freeze inside fine dining establishments like Turkish restaurant Ates, with its famed 150-year-old woodfire oven, or Blaq, an all-day eatery championing sustainable and local mountains produce inside Kyah, a recently opened motel-turned-boutique-hotel. Or inside Mountain Culture Beer Co brewery, enjoying a schooner and an American-style burger right by the fermenting tanks.

Read our full guide to the Blue Mountains here.

Where To Stay

You’re absolutely spoilt for choice on winter accommodation in the Blue Mountains region. Like the aforementioned Kyah boutique hotel. Meanwhile, Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley, located just outside the region, is as breathtakingly picturesque as it is luxurious (private fireplaces included). For Airbnbs, we love the Scandi-inspired "Wondernest" cabin and, in Wentworth Falls, the "Falls Rest" cabin, which features a fireplace and a stunning claw foot bath. 

Jindabyne

We couldn’t possibly write a list of winter getaway destinations without including the Snowy Mountains—that would be madness. For snow-related adventures, we’re heading to the winter wonderland town of Jindabyne. Sat on the shores of Lake Jindabyne and surrounded by alpine scenery, the town is the ideal spot to explore ski resorts like Perisher and Thredbo or to trek the spectacular Mount Kosciusko Summit Walk reaching Australia’s highest peak at 2,228 metres. The mountain is often snow-covered in winter, so it’ll be a challenging but rewarding cross-country ski or trek to get up there. If you take it on, reward yourself with a pale ale from Kosciuszko Brewery or with a belly-warming pie from Sundance Bakehouse.

Where To Stay

Recluse mountain escapes are the name of the game for accommodation in the Snowies. Stay warm and cosy in this scenic tiny house just outside of town, or Big Yard Escapes, which includes bushland and an outdoor fire space. Or allow yourself a little luxurious seclusion with this winter-ready mountain cabin.

Orange

The Central Tablelands city of Orange is no stranger to a bit of winter snowfall. If there’s one thing we’re lusting after in the depths of winter here, it’s the region’s incredible wineries and scenic cellar doors. The area’s extinct volcano Mount Canobolas won’t do much to warm you but a matching cheeseboard and shiraz by the fire certainly will. Have your pick of the bunch, with wineries like Bloodwood Wines, De Salis Wines, and Heifer Station all offering unique experiences and products. As for a bite to eat, you’ll find winter-appropriate restaurants like Charred, which plates up slow-charred meats with a local farm-to-plate philosophy and a relaxing fireside degustation. Come August, the whole town celebrates the cold with the Orange Winter Fire Festival, complete with a bonfire night and heaps of arts and entertainment. 

Check out our complete guide to Orange here

Where To Stay

For a place to store your wine, book this renovated 1885-built cottage or this stunning design hotel, both located in the heart of town. Otherwise, book your stay on the scenic grounds of a winery.

Gundagai

A 4-hour drive from Sydney, the Riverina town of Gundagai is steeped in First Nations and colonial history. Sat on the Murrumbidgee River, Gundagai offers plenty of fresh country air, endless green scenery, hiking and cycling trails, historic pubs, and sights. Like the famed statue of “The Dog on the Tuckerbox”, which has stood since 1932 and still contributes its wishing well donations to the local hospital.

Where To Stay

Nearby Kimo Estate is an absolute panoramic view paradise, with beautifully designed huts and outdoor, wood-fired hot tubs overlooking green hills on offer. Otherwise, book an elegant and cosy stay at Flash Jack's, a cute boutique hotel just off the town’s main strip. Or look for this off-the-grid and wildlife-friendly eco-hut, equipped with an outdoor veranda bathtub.

Mudgee

A 3.5-hour drive northwest of Sydney sits the Central West NSW town of Mudgee. Nestled on the banks of the Cudgegong River, this rustic town ticks off a few key winter getaway boxes. Like heritage architecture to explore, plenty of unique activities, endless winery cellar doors, amazing dining options, and picturesque, rolling hillsides to soak in.

Take a heritage walking tour of the town centre, see a live gig at Roth’s Wine Bar or get your vino straight from the source at any winery. Enjoy a degustation with organic wine pairings at Lowe Family Wine Co, a tasting flight at Huntington Estate Wines, or the views at Moothi Estate. And if you’re looking to fill the hours between winery hopping, why not see the region from the unreal vantage point of a hot air balloon ride.

Check out our complete guide to Mudgee right here.

Where To Stay

It’s hard to go wrong with any accommodation in or around Mudgee, but consider this light-filled farm stay studio just outside of town or this cosy winemaker's cottage located amongst the vines and grounds of Burnbrae Wines. Or try your luck with a booking at Gawthorne's Hut,  a uniquely designed, award-winning eco hut with awesome views and an outdoor firepit. Lastly, if you love glamping—you should cosy up this winter at Sierra Escape

Kangaroo Valley

If you’re already visiting the Southern Highlands for a winter getaway, why not add Kangaroo Valley to your itinerary for a night or two? Just a 30-minute drive from Bowral or a 2-hour drive from Sydney, this green secluded valley is perched in the hillsides between the highlands and the sea.

Stay in the historic village or amongst the thick bushland, with cool climate wines, cafes, old school pubs, canoeing (just don’t fall in), and plenty of hikes. The pick of local treks has to be the Three Views walking track in Morton National Park, a 9.5km return track that offers plenty of late winter wildflowers and cliff edge views over the Shoalhaven gorge. Expert tip, the nearby town of Berry (which could have just as easily landed on this list) is home to a cinnamon doughnut van you absolutely must visit.

Where To Stay

Into a sleek-designed tiny house, picturesque setting, outdoor bathtub, and outdoor firepit for your winter weekend away? Kangaroo Valley has you sorted with either this house or this one. Or give yourself a little more space amongst the forest’s depths by booking this luxe treehouse perched over the Kangaroo River (yes, another outdoor bath included) or this cliffside three-bedder and its gigantic deck overlooking the valley.

Port Stephens

Who said winter getaways only meant going inland—why not consider a beachside destination in the colder months? You might not choose to brave the colder waters (although, how good is a winter swim?!), but beaches, hiking paths, and main streets are far less crowded, even in our state’s most popular hot spots. Top of our coastal winter list is Port Stephens, a 2.5-hour drive north of Sydney just past Newcastle. In this case, less crowds will mean you're more likely to see the region's local inhabitants—pods of dolphins and, if you're extra lucky, koalas too. 

Warm-up before that chilly swim by trekking the Tomaree Head Summit Walk, which starts at Shoal Bay. The 2-hour return hike will definitely work up a sweat but reward you with killer views of the Port Stephens coastline. Winter also happens to be prime whale-watching season, with humpback whales migrating north past Port Stephens from May to September. You might catch them from the land if you’re lucky or book in a cruise for an up-close look. Finally, take full advantage of the region’s Stockton Bight Sand Dunes, which can reach upwards of 30m high at 60-degree angles, prime for 4WD or sandboarding.

Where To Stay

For a touch of luxury, we love Bannisters Port Stephens. Book this waterfront apartment overlooking Shoal Bay or this waterfront, Hamptons-style hotel for a home base. Or, for something totally different, consider a cabin in nearby bushland in the middle of the Port Stephens koala sanctuary.

For even more great getaway ideas, check out our local escapes section

Image credit: Destination NSW 

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