Sign in


Forgotten your Password?

Enter your email address below and we'll send instructions and a link to reset your password


Unlock Sydney's hidden gems

All the latest and greatest places to eat, drink, stay and play in your city.

By signing up, you agree to periodic email marketing from Sitchu to the email address you provided. Terms and Conditions. Privacy Policy.
  • Sydney
  • Fitness
  • The Best Walks in the Northern Beaches to Explore

The Best Walks in the Northern Beaches to Explore

Pop on your activewear and prepare to tackle one of the best walks in the Northern Beaches.

Curl Curl

A rugged coastline, picturesque waterfalls, lush rainforests and jaw-dropping views at every turn, it’s easy to see why Sydney’s Northern Beaches is a favourite hiking destination for Sydneysiders. 

Whether you’re a hiking fanatic, nature novice, or weekend wanderer, these are the best walks in the Northern Beaches ready to be explored. And don't worry if you're not an outdoorsy type, the beauty of many of these routes is that they're flat and gentle (with fabulous local cafes dotted along the way — a must in our books). 

The Best Walks in the Northern Beaches

Shelly Beach, Manly

Queenscliff to Shelly Beach

Considered one of the best walks in the Northern Beaches thanks to its beautiful beach views and gentle terrain, the Queenscliff to Shelly Beach walk may be a short relaxing stroll, but the views are spectacular, and the Eco-Sculpture Walk is a nod to the Cabbage Tree Bay’s unique marine life.

Starting at Queenscliff Beach, make your way along the beachside promenade past Manly Beach and Manly Surf Club and onto Shelly Beach at Cabbage Tree Bay. There are plenty of places to take a dip along the way, but we strongly recommend enjoying a post-stroll brekky and coffee at Boathouse Shelly Beach.

30 minutes

Queenscliff to Shelly Beach

Narrabeen Lake

Narrabeen Lagoon Trail

A scenic 8.6-kilometre looped track, the Narrabeen Lagoon Trail winds around stunning Narrabeen Lagoon and is the perfect outdoor jaunt for all fitness levels. Elevated walkways take you past wildlife, running waterfalls, and under bushland canopies, allowing you to soak up the magnificence of one of Pittwater’s most striking ecosystems.

Jamieson Park and Berry Reserve are the preferred starting points with ample parking available. In need of refreshments? Stop off for a coffee at one of several cafes scattered along the eastern side of the lake.

2 to 3 hours

Narrabeen Lagoon

Avalon Beach

Bangalley Headland

The highest point on Sydney’s northern coastline, Bangalley Headland, is a gathering spot for native birds and plant life. Nestled between Avalon Beach and Whale Beach, the Bangalley Head lookout is the eventual destination of the rugged climb, which takes around 1.5 hours and is a three-kilometre loop.

Your ascent starts on Marine Parade in Avalon; you’ll come across a profusion of birds and sweet florals as you go up the trail. Spectacular views north to Broken Bay and the Central Coast await you at the top of the track.    

1.5 hour loop

Avalon and Whale Beach

Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk

Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk

This is one of the most popular walking trails on the Northern Beaches, and for a good reason. The iconic lighthouse track is located in Palm Beach and rewards walkers with some of the most spectacular views the coastline has to offer.

Starting at the Boathouse Palm Beach, don your most comfortable walking shoes and get ready to climb 1.5 kilometres up to the historic lighthouse on either the Smugglers Track or Access Path. Both trails lead to sweeping views across Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, Broken Bay, the Hawkesbury River, and Pittwater.

1-hour loop

Palm Beach

Narrabeen Lakes to Manly Lagoon

Narrabeen Lakes to Manly Lagoon

Combining all of the best walking tracks along the Northern Beaches, the 25-kilometre Bicentennial Coastal Walk is more than just a mid-morning stroll. The Narrabeen Lakes to Manly Lagoon 10-kilometre walk is one section of the three-day trail and is a visual feast for the eyes and a workout for the legs.

Starting at Narrabeen Lakes, the scenic trail takes you across beaches, headlands, lookouts, lagoons, rock pools and boardwalks as you make your way through Collaroy, Long Reef, Dee Why, Curl Curl, Freshwater, Queenscliff and Manly.

8-hour loop

Narrabeen to Manly

Manly to Spit Bridge

Manly to Spit Bridge Scenic Walk

The Manly to Spit Bridge Scenic Walk is a must for a more advanced trek. Take in a bit of Sydney Harbour and Northern Beaches in one hit, the Manly to Spit Bridge track can be walked either way, beginning with a ferry ride to Manly or bus to the Spit Bridge.

This 10km track will take you through beautiful Sydney Harbour National Park with breathtaking views of Manly, Watson’s Bay, and the heads. Whether you end up at Manly or the Spit Bridge, you will easily find a cold drink and a warm patch of sand to stretch out on while you enjoy a well-deserved rest.

3-4 hours

Seaforth to Manly (via Balgowlah)

Curl Curl to Freshwater

Curl Curl to Freshwater

This two-kilometre track hugs the beach and rugged coastline between North Curl Curl Beach and Freshwater Beach, traversing nature reserves, beach boardwalks and rock pools.

Starting at North Curl Curl Beach, navigate the dog-friendly nature reserve adjacent to Carrington Street and past the South Curl Curl Lifesaving Club. From here, you can enjoy the views out to sea as you make your way across the elevated boardwalk and onto the breathtaking McKillop Park lookout. Gusto on the Beach at South Curl Curl is the perfect rest stop.

1-hour loop

North Curl Curl Beach to Freshwater Beach

Dee Why Beach to Long Reef Headland

Dee Why Beach to Long Reef Headland

This picture-perfect walk up to Long Reef Headland is well worth the uphill effort. Start on Dee Why cliff and walk down past the ocean pool before taking the walkway to the sand. Take in the ocean breeze and sandy walk from Dee Why Beach to Long Reef Beach.

At the end of the beach, you will join the Long Reef Headland Walk. A 3km loop around Long Reef Golf Club, at the cliff's peak, you can take in ocean views that span from Manly to Palm Beach. What makes it one of the best Northern Beaches walking trails is that it is an awesome whale-watching vantage point, best enjoyed over the winter months. 

1 hour

Long Reef

Conquered the best walks in the Northern Beaches and looking for more places to explore? Check out our edit of the best hikes in Sydney and our round-up of the best hikes in NSW.

Stay in the loop