20 Awesome Things to Do in Wollongong, Australia (2020 Guide)

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Wollongong is a charming coastal city in Australia that doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves. 

Located just one hour south of Sydney, Wollongong has all the best elements of Australian natural beauty and culture. 

There are enough restaurants, bars, shops, cafes, and attractions to make Wollongong classify as a city, but it has the residential feel and relaxed atmosphere of a small beach town. 

It has two amazing beaches, rock pools, a few nature reserves, a biking trail along the coast, and two mountains nearby. So you can go surfing, cycling, and hiking all in one day!

There’s an art gallery, live music venues, a shopping mall, and weekly street markets. 

READ MORE: Don’t miss our ultimate round-up of the best places to visit in Australia!

There are fancy hotels and upscale restaurants, as well as budget accommodation and cheap little local restaurants. 

There are so many things to do in Wollongong that appeal to everyone, whether you’re looking for entertainment and culture, or natural beauty and adventure. 

It’s also an extremely accessible place to visit. If you have a car, just head south of Sydney along the stunning Grand Pacific Drive. 

If you’d rather not drive, you can just jump on the Southern Trail Line from Sydney. The journey is only an hour and goes directly into Wollongong Train Station. 

Once you arrive, you can start exploring all the best Wollongong attractions!

Botanic Gardens things to do in Wollongong!
Checking out the local Botanic Gardens is one of the best things to do in Wollongong!

The Best Best Things To Do In Wollongong

Wollongong is quite small, so a 2-3 day weekend trip from Sydney is perfect.

If you want to take more day trips to the surrounding areas of Wollongong, you could even stay for up to a week and visit nearby areas like the Blue Mountains or the Southern Highlands.

So for anyone wondering what to do in Wollongong, Australia, there is no shortage of attractions and activities in this beautiful coastal city of NSW!

Here is our list of the 20 best things to do in Wollongong!

1. Drive Over the Sea Cliff Bridge

If you’re driving from Sydney to Wollongong, you’ll have to pass over one of the most famous bridges in Australia. 

The Sea Cliff Bridge is a massive, white bridge that curves away from the seaside cliffs and sticks out over the ocean. 

So when you drive across it, you feel like you are flying over the sea. 

It’s a gorgeous view, and the bridge has a little pedestrian walkway next to the road so you can walk along it as well. 

2. Check out the Wollongong Art Gallery

Whether you’re an art enthusiast or not, visiting the local art gallery is one of the best things to do in Wollongong. 

This small but entertaining art museum is full of paintings, photographs, and other pieces from talented local artists. Lots of the art depicts scenes from the surrounding areas, so it’s a cool insight into the local culture, scenery, and wildlife. 

The Wollongong Art Gallery is located right in the town centre, and only takes about an hour to explore but it’s a fun activity especially for a rainy day. 

  • Address: 46 Burelli Street, Wollongong, NSW 2500
  • Hours: Tuesday through Friday from 10 am to 5 pm, Saturday and Sunday 12 pm to 4 pm
  • Cost: Free!

3. Stroll Through the Botanic Gardens

One of the best Wollongong attractions is the Botanic Gardens. 

This huge green space is free to enter, so even if you’re not interested in all the plants you can just come relax in the gardens and read or have a picnic. 

There are so many cool things to see at the Wollongong Botanic Gardens. 

There’s an entire rainforest section full of giant palms and tropical trees with sprawling roots. There’s a beautifully landscaped rose garden. 

There is a small pond and stream with an adorable Japanese bridge. There’s also an entire desert section full of huge cacti and succulents. 

  • Address: Murphys Ave, Keiraville NSW 2500
  • Hours: Open every day from 7 am to 6 pm
  • Cost: Free
Wollongong Botanic Gardens
The desert section of the Wollongong Botanic Gardens feels like another world!

4. Shop at the Forager’s Market

Every Friday morning, the main pedestrian street of Wollongong fills up with an incredible local market. 

This is the Forager’s Market, where you can shop for fresh fruits and vegetables, homemade pastries, desserts, and bread, trendy clothes and accessories and a whole bunch of other products. 

All the vendors are well-loved locals who run small businesses, so shopping here is a nice way to support the community and pick up some interesting souvenirs. 

So if you’re in town on a Friday, this is one of the top things to do in Wollongong. 

  • Address: Crown Street, Wollongong NSW 2500
  • Hours: Every Friday from 8 am to 2 pm

5. Go for a Run or Bike Ride Along the Cycleway

One of the best things to do in Wollongong is going for a bike ride along the Cycleway. This long pedestrian-friendly strip of sidewalk runs from Wollongong and up the coast all the way to the town of Thirroul. 

The whole trail is 17 km long, so this is a great way to get some exercise and explore the small towns along the coast. 

There are also some nice cafes right on the beach along the cycleway, like the North Break Cafe in Woonona, Olive’s Cafe in Bellambi, and Ruby’s Cafe in Bulli

These are perfect for grabbing a coffee or a smoothie to fuel you up for your ride. 

For bike rentals in Wollongong, visit:

Boomerang Bikes

  • Address: 2-14 Cliff Road
  • Hours: Visit their website for contact information.

Simple Cycles

  • Address: 80 Market Street
  • Hours: 9 am to 6 pm, closed on Sundays

READ MORE: Check out the perfect 1 day in Sydney itinerary!

6. Learn to Surf at North Beach

Wollongong has two beaches right in the city center. 

North Beach is an amazing place for swimming, sunbathing, and learning how to surf. 

If you’ve never learned to surf but always wanted to try, the waves here are small and easy so it’s a great place to learn. 

There are a couple of surf schools with experienced local instructors who can teach you the basics. 

Pines Surfing Academy is located right on North Beach.

Australian Surf Tours is based in the town of Thirroul about 20 minutes north of Wollongong, but they host surf lessons in the entire Wollongong area. 

Wollongong Surf
Wollongong is an amazing place to learn how to surf.

7. Hike Mount Kiera

The nearby Mount Kiera is one of the best things to see in Wollongong. 

It’s pretty incredible that this coastal city has its own mountain, so hikers and lovers of the outdoors will not be disappointed here!

The Mount Kiera Ring Track is a 5.5km loop that trails around the mountain. The walk takes between 3 and 5 hours depending on your fitness level. 

Visit the official NSW National Parks website for more detailed information.

If you’re not up for hiking, you can also drive to the top of Mount Kiera for an amazing lookout point over the landscape. 

8. Explore Puckey’s Estate

Those looking to explore nature without going as far as Mount Kiera can visit Puckey’s Estate, a nature reserve between North Beach and the next town north of Wollongong, Fairy Meadow. 

Mout Kiera is only about a 15-minute drive away from the city centre, but Puckey’s Estate is around 5 minutes away. You can even walk there from central Wollongong, as it lies right on the Cycleway. 

Once you reach Puckey’s Estate, enjoy a couple of hours exploring the bush and walking, running, or biking along the woodland trails. 

You can also emerge from the forest and walk along the inlet, or see the sand dunes that line the ocean. 

9. Sky Dive

What better to enjoy the coastal scenery of Wollongong than by jumping out of a plane? 

Believe it or not, sky diving is actually one of the top things to do in Wollongong. 

There is a very reputable sky diving company in Stuart Park near North Beach, and they are constantly taking adrenaline-seekers on jumps. 

You can fully trust their equipment and their guides, but this activity is definitely not for the faint-hearted!

10. Check out Nan Tien Temple

For a fun and insightful day trip from Wollongong, drive about 20 minutes away to the town of Berkeley, NSW, and check out the Nan Tien Temple. 

This is actually the largest Buddhist Temple in the Southern Hemisphere, which is quite unexpected! Australia isn’t a Buddhist country, but this temple is extraordinary. 

The temple complex includes a large main temple and courtyard, a towering pagoda, a gift shop, museum, tea room, classrooms and retreat spaces, and a landscaped garden. 

So if you’re looking to see something majestic and unexpected in Wollongong, the Nan Tien Temple is the perfect place to go. 

  • Address: 180 Berkeley Rd, Berkeley NSW 2506
  • Hours: 9 am to 5 pm, closed on Mondays 
  • Cost: Free
Buddhist Temple Wollongong
The southern hemisphere’s largest Buddhist temple is only 20 minutes away from Wollongong.

11. Eat Ice Cream on a Hot Sunny Day

Australian summers can be scorching, so you’ll need to cool down on a sunny day. 

After swimming in the sea, head into town and treat yourself to ice cream. 

Here are some delicious ice cream shops in Wollongong that feel like absolute heaven on a hot day. 

Normie’s Ice Cream and Gelato

  • Address: The pink van parked up at Flagstaff Road near the Lighthouse
  • Hours: Not specified but they’re there almost every day!

Gelatissimo

  • Address: Shop 2/219 Crown Street
  • Hours: 1 pm to 8 pm

Cold Rock Ice Creamery

  • Address: 3/22 Market Street
  • Hours: 12 pm to 9 pm (closes at 10 pm on weekends)

Wendy’s Milk Bar

  • Address: 200 Crown Street
  • Hours: Monday to Friday 9 am to 5:30 pm, Saturday and Sunday 10 am to 4 pm

READ MORE: Check out these great day trips from Sydney!

12. Drink Tea on a Rainy Day

When it’s raining, ice cream and swimming don’t seem that appealing. Luckily, Wollongong has a charming little teahouse called Ziggy’s House of Noms where you can relax during inclement weather. 

This Asian style teahouse has a long list of loose-leaf teas, matcha and chai lattes, coffees, and more heartwarming drinks. 

You can also order dumplings, noodles, and other delicious foods to warm you up. 

  • Address: 3/163-169 Keira St
  • Hours: 11 am to 2:30 pm, 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm, closed on Mondays
  • Cost: Between $4-$6 for a drink, between $10-$20 for a meal

13. Visit the Eat Street Night Market

For more food adventures in addition to ice cream and dumplings, the Eat Street Night Market is one of the most enjoyable Wollongong attractions. 

Every Thursday evening, Crown Street fills up with food trucks selling everything from Indian curries to Greek wraps to Ethiopian dishes to handmade pasta to sugary churros and more. 

Tea lights fill the trees along the street, and street musicians serenade you while you eat. This is definitely a must-have experience in Wollongong. 

  • Address: Crown Street (same location as the Friday Forager’s Market!)
  • Hours: Every Thursday from roughly 5 pm to 9 pm

14. Go to the Cinema

Another one of the most enjoyable Wollongong activities is going to the cinema. 

Whether you’re looking for entertainment on a rainy day or something fun to do in the evening after dinner, the movie theatre in Wollongong is always showing the best new films. 

Treat yourself to some popcorn and get cozy!

Greater Union Cinemas Wollongong

  • Address: 68 Burelli St, Wollongong NSW 2500
  • Cost for tickets: Varies depending on day and time, check their website for details!

15. Swim in the Rock Pools

The local rock pools are some of the most beautiful things to see in Wollongong. 

Whether you visit at low tide to soak in the serenity, or at high tide to witness the wild waves tumbling over the edges of the pool, the rock pools are a truly beautiful addition to the Wollongong coastline. 

You can swim laps if you’re feeling ambitious, or just splash around and dry out on the rocks afterwards. 

There are some small and shallow rock pools up on the headland near the lighthouse, and there are deeper ones called the Gentlemen’s Baths located just to the south of North Beach. 

Both are incredible scenic spots, especially at sunrise or sunset. Come here for a quick dip during the day or to just absorb the stunning coastal views. 

Wollongong Rock Pools
Splashing around in the rock pools is one of the best things to do in Wollongong on a hot day.

16. Sunbathe at City Beach

Spending some time at City Beach is one of the best things to do in Wollongong. 

This is the city’s biggest beach, stretching for 3.1 kilometers along the coast. There are lots of fun waves here for swimming, bodyboarding and surfing, and the water is a brilliant shade of sapphire on a nice day. 

The sandy portion of the beach is super wide and long, so it’s perfect for lying out in the sun or going for a long walk. 

On weekends, the beach gets quite lively with locals playing sports and blasting music. 

There are also a few cafes and restaurants right next to the beach if you get hungry!

17. Eat Brekkie at a Local Cafe

Cafe culture is strong everywhere in Australia, and Wollongong has some particularly great cafes. 

Most of them open early and close around 2 or 3 pm, so breakfast is the best time to visit. 

Whether you’re in the mood for something savoury, like smashed avo on toast or a bacon and egg roll, or something sweet like an acai bowl, a homemade pastry, or yogurt with muesli and fruit, there is no shortage of delicious food options at the local cafes. 

They all serve incredibly high-quality coffee as well. 

Here are some of the top cafes in Wollongong:

Diggies Cafe

This trendy cafe is located right on the North Beach Pavilion. Grab a smoothie and stroll along the beach!

  • Address: 1 Cliff Road
  • Hours: 6:30 am to 3 pm every day, closes at 4 pm on weekends 

Quotes Cafe

This tiny cafe in the town centre has adorable quotes plastered all over the walls; perfect for Instagram shots.

  • Address: 91 Crown Street
  • Hours: Monday through Friday 7 am to 2:30 pm, Saturday and Sunday 8 am to 12:30 pm

Opus Coffee Brewers

This traditional cafe serves its delicious coffee in gorgeous homemade ceramic mugs.

  • Address: 118-120 Keira Street
  • Hours: Monday through Friday 7 am to 2:30 pm, Saturday and Sunday 8 am to 2 pm

Lettuce B. Frank

This health-conscious cafe has lots of vegan and gluten-free breakfast and lunch options.

  • Address: 337 Crown Street
  • Hours: Monday through Friday 6 am to 4 pm, Saturday and Sunday 7 am to 3 pm

READ MORE: Plan your trip to Australia using our travel guide with everything you need to know!

18. Hike Mount Kembla

Believe it or not, there are actually two mountains in Wollongong! This city has it all. 

Mount Kembla is just south of Mount Kiera, and you can see both of them in the distance while driving into Wollongong. 

Mount Kembla is a bit bigger than Mount Kiera, but it’s not as popular to climb. 

However, it also has its own Ring Track that trails around the peak. This trail is marked as a Grade 4, meaning previous bushwalking experience is recommended. 

The loop is 5.3 kilometres long and can take between 2 and 4 hours.

This is an amazing way to immerse yourself in nature and maybe see some local wildlife like echidnas or cockatoos. It’s also free! 

Visit the NSW National Parks website for more information about the hike.

19. Hang out at the Illawarra Brewery

For anyone who likes beer, socializing, and an ocean view, head to the Illawarra Brewery. 

This is the perfect place to come on a weekend afternoon, or on a weekday evening for some casual drinks and hearty pub food. 

There are plenty of craft beers to choose from at the Illawarra Brewery, and they often have happy hours and theme nights on for guests. 

You can also get fancy grazing boards to snack on while you sip. 

  • Address: Eastern Terrace of the Win Entertainment Centre, Crown Street and Harbour Street
  • Hours: Monday through Friday 11 am to 9 pm, Closes at 12 am on weekends

20. Watch the Sunrise at the Wollongong Head Lighthouse

In any coastal Australian town, sunrise is one of the most beautiful and pure times of the day. 

The streets are quiet, the sky is colourful, and the atmosphere is promising. 

One of the best things to do in Wollongong is to watch the sunrise at the lighthouse. There are actually two lighthouses in Wollongong, but the biggest one is located on Flagstaff Hill

Up at this vantage point, you get incredible sweeping views of the entire coastline. You can also see the mountains in the background. 

This is the best spot to see the sunrise, so try to get up early one day and witness it. 

Watching a Wollongong sunrise by the ocean is the best way to start the day.
Watching a Wollongong sunrise by the ocean is the best way to start the day.

Wollongong Travel Guide

Now that you know what to do in Wollongong, here are some of the best accommodations and places to eat in the city.

Best Accommodation – Where to Stay in Wollongong

Anyone wondering where to stay in Wollongong will be happy to know, there are lots of options!

There are some lovely hotels in Wollongong located super close to the beach. The budget accommodation options are more limited, but there is at least one great cheap hostel.

The Best Hostel in Wollongong – Wollongong Backpackers Kieraleigh

This big, cozy backpacker hostel feels more like a home than a hostel!

It has a beachy decor, friendly staff, and is within walking distance to the town centre and to the beach.

A dorm bed costs around 27 AUD per night.

Best Budget Accommodation for Couples – Wollongong Surf Leisure Resort

Located in North Wollongong near Stuart Park, this is an affordable and private place to stay for couples travelling on a budget.

This budget resort is close to the beach and gets great reviews based on the amazing customer service.

Best Mid-Range Hotel in Wollongong: Coniston Hotel

This four-star hotel is quite affordable, especially when you consider the quality you get. The rooms are crisp and clean with refreshing, modern decoration.

It is close to the train station and town, though it is a little far from the beach so this is an ideal place to stay if you have a car!

Best Luxury Hotel in Wollongong – Adina Apartment Hotel

For travellers who want their own gorgeous apartment in Wollongong, this is the best place to stay.

Even though this hotel is walking distance from the beach and town, there’s a pool, hot tub, sauna, and restaurant on-site so you have the choice of going out or staying in.

Best Restaurants in Wollongong

Wollongong has so many restaurants of all different price ranges and cuisines. You can splurge on fresh seafood and wine or find a flavorful Thai curry for less than 20 AUD, and both are delicious!

Budget: Thai Gong Restaurant

Thai Gong Restaurant is a small and humble local restaurant that sells authentic Thai dishes for under 20 AUD. Visit at lunchtime and the prices will be even cheaper!

Mid-range: Kneading Ruby

For heartwarming food and great wine, head to Kneading Ruby. This place specializes in Italian cuisine, and the homemade pizzas are incredible.

High-End: Steamers Bar and Grill

One of the best restaurants in Wollongong is Steamers Bar and Grill. Located right next to City Beach, this classy and modern restaurant has ocean views, specialty cocktails, and plenty of mouthwatering dishes and desserts.

DISCLAIMER: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, which means if you book accommodation, tours or buy a product, we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. These commissions help us keep creating more free travel content to help people plan their holidays and adventures. We only recommend the best accommodations, tours and products, and regularly review these. Thanks for your support, kind friend!

About the author

Gabby Boucher

After four years of working in hospitality, volunteering abroad and travelling for fun, Gabby has developed a knack for budget travel and admiration for different cultures. Her travels have taken her through the cloud forests of Ecuador, into the villages of eastern Europe, across the islands of Thailand, and to the beaches of New South Wales, Australia, where she is currently living with a working holiday visa. She plans to continue her adventures around the world for as long as possible. Follow her on her blog, and on Instagram.

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