In the mood for a scenic country drive, bushwalking through spectacular gorges or a relaxing lunch in a classic country pub? Escape the city limits and hit the road for a magical weekend away in the iconic Australian countryside. Here are five of the best country towns in NSW to visit right now.
Distance from Sydney: 482km / 5.75 hrs
Elegant heritage meets modern comfort. This historic university town in the heart of the New England High Country is renowned for grand colonial buildings, vibrant art and great restaurants. Take a self-guided tour of the city’s heritage landmarks and tree-lined streets, and soak up the art and culture on offer at the New England Regional Art Museum.
Browse the Armidale Markets in the Mall on the last Sunday of the month or tuck into an award-winning parmi at the Railway Hotel. Armidale is also surrounded by World Heritage wilderness with four national parks less than an hour’s drive from the city centre. Discover spectacular waterfalls and dramatic gorges on scenic walking trails.
Where to stay in Armidale
The Comfort Inn City Centre Armidale is ideally located in the heart of town, close to cafes and eateries.
Distance from Sydney: 413km / 4.75 hrs
Food, wine and country charm. The world-famous music festival and Big Golden Guitar may be the headlining acts but Australia’s country music capital, Tamworth, is packed with fun things to do. Visit the Tamworth Regional Gallery, one of the oldest in Australia, or follow the iconic Australian Silo Art Trail.
Get up close to kangaroos, wallabies and other friendly native animals at the Marsupial Park and Adventure Playground. Indulge your taste buds at the annual Taste Tamworth Festival or relax with a drink in the timber-panelled bar at DECO Wine Bar & Restaurant.
Where to stay in Tamworth
For places to stay, check out these hotels in Tamworth, including the award-winning Quality Inn Ashby House and the CH Boutique Hotel, Ascend Hotel Collection.
Distance from Sydney: 460km / 4.75 hrs
The heart of Australia’s food bowl. Wagga Wagga is a vibrant regional hub situated in gorgeous Riverina farmland. Find laneway art and delicious eateries at buzzing Fitzmaurice Street. Enjoy a craft beer at family-owned brewpub Thirsty Crow, sip a Sparkling Brut at Borambola Wines or drop into acclaimed Boutique Wines by CSU.
Follow the scenic Wiradjuri Trail that loops around the city, and stop for a dip or a picnic at Riverside: Wagga Beach on a picturesque bend of the Murrumbidgee River. Take a stroll through the 22-acre Botanic Gardens with playgrounds, a zoo and miniature railway, which runs on the first and third Sunday of the month.
Where to stay in Wagga Wagga
For a place to stay and enjoy warm country hospitality, check out these hotels in Wagga including the Comfort Inn Heritage Wagga and the Quality Inn Carriage House.
Distance from Sydney: 732km / 7.5 hrs
The cultural capital of the Northern Rivers. Nestled in the rolling green hinterland of NSW’s Northern Rivers, laidback Lismore is the creative heart of the region and a gateway to some of the oldest rainforests in the world.
Settle in by exploring Lismore’s historic laneways and colourful street art in the Back Alley Gallery. 35km from Lismore, you’ll find the dramatic Gondwana Rainforests and Protestors Falls in Nightcap National Park. Refuel with a barista-made coffee at Benchtop Espresso then take the kids for a ride on the miniature Heritage Park Railway.
Where to stay in Lismore
The Comfort Inn Centrepoint is located in the centre of town, with comfortable well-appointed rooms and a restaurant onsite.
Distance from Sydney: 390km / 5 hrs
Safari adventures in spectacular NSW. Situated in the Macquarie Valley, Dubbo is a charming rural town with some famous attractions. Visit the acclaimed Taronga Western Plains Zoo for an unforgettable safari-style adventure and see big cats, rhinos and endangered animals in their natural habitat.
For a fascinating glimpse into 19th-century prison life, book an atmospheric After Dark tour of the historic Old Dubbo Gaol. Go stargazing at the Dubbo Observatory and enjoy an entertaining 75-minute guide to the galaxies and planets above.
Where to stay in Dubbo
Family friendly places to stay in Dubbo include the Quality Inn Dubbo International and the Comfort Inn Dubbo City.
Travelling with kids under 12?
From big country centres to the small towns in NSW, there’s plenty for the family to see on a NSW country road trip. Join Choice Privileges today for the Lowest Price Guaranteed when you book direct with Choice Hotels, as well as 4c/Litre off petrol at United Petroleum.* Plus, Kids Under 12 Stay Free at family friendly Choice Hotels when you Book Direct.* (**T&Cs apply).
Your Next Adventure: Midweek regional NSW getaways