An easy 90 minutes from Sydney, the Southern Highlands suits every kind of holiday mood. Whether you want to eat and drink with no judgement, chase waterfalls, hike the day away, or pamper yourself at a fancy spa, it has you sorted. Bowral is the gem of the Highlands, and it’s dripping in country charm…
WHAT TO DO IN BOWRAL
Check out The Milk Factory.
This art gallery is cute, and the gift shop is even better. It sells one-of-a-kind resin jewellery and glassware, in case you’re hunting for homewares or a pressie for mum.
Satisfy your flower fetish at Corbett Gardens.
They’re known for their colourful tulips, which are so famous they have their own festival: the Tulip Time Festival, held every September.
Stroll through the Bowral Public School Markets.
We’re a sucker for a Saturday market, and this one is full of plants, clothes, jewellery, and homemade jams and cakes.
Soak up the views at Mt Gibraltar Reserve.
Once you’ve stocked up on goodies at the markets, pack a picnic and head to the mountain. At 864 metres, this peak’s the highest point between Sydney and Canberra and the views are epic.
Go for a bushwalk in Morton National Park.
Wear your sneakers and swimwear, because your reward for huffing and puffing through the park is Fitzroy Falls – the most impressive waterfall in the region. Fairy Bower Falls are also worth chasing (and the hike is a little shorter).
Shop at Bowral’s best boutiques.
We like Babilonia, Cloth & General and Suzie Anderson Home for beautiful clothes and homewares, and Three Wise Monkeys for knick-knacks for nan.
Sign up for the Pamper Tour.
Run by Highlands Food and Wine Tours, this is pretty much the only organised tour we’ll ever do. It starts with a massage or facial, and then stops at four cellar doors so you can ‘taste test’ wines all arvo.
Splash out on a treatment at The Wellness Spa.
Inside the Milton Park Country House & Spa, this day spa is seriously luxe, and the massages are AMAZING.
Stock up on stationery at The Press Shop.
This café-slash-stationery shop is like a grown-up Kikki K. With planners this pretty, you’ll swear never to use your iCal again.
Take a cooking class… with a twist.
Biota is one of the Southern Highlands’ most iconic restaurants. It has a celebrity chef, and a hotel upstairs so you can fall into your food coma in peace. It also hosts ‘Gather & Cook Adventures.’ If you’re a foodie, you’ll froth on this. You’ll spend the morning with Biota’s chefs finding fresh ingredients around the region, and then cook them up by a campfire.
WHERE TO EAT IN BOWRAL
Caffeinate at Rush, then get brekkie at Ludo.
Rush roasts its beans in-house, so it’s the go-to spot for coffee snobs, and Ludo is the BEST for big breakfasts and people-watching.
Treat yourself to a buttery croissant at Flour Water Salt or Gumnut Patisserie.
Both bakeries are v popular, so don’t be surprised if you have to line up for your danish.
Pop into Dirty Janes for high tea.
We’re not sure where the ‘dirty’ came from – this place is pretty swish! Anyway, Jane puts on a lovely spread of fluffy scones and petite sandwiches and sells a range of retro homewares out back.
Cozy up with a book at Elephant Boy Café.
The bookshelves are stuffed with all kinds of stories, so grab one and then sink your teeth into one of the café’s famous pies.
Try the carrot pancakes at Raw and Wild.
This café makes healthy options for all your fav treats, and they do a fab job. If you’re there in winter, order the chicken potpie.
Order a burger at Hunger Therapy.
Sometimes, you just need a bloody burger. This spot will cure your hangover faster than a Berocca will.
Dress up for Italian at Onesta Cucina.
This is the kind of the lively, family-run place where the owner knows everyone’s name. Definitely go at least once.
Settle in for a 10-course meal at Biota.
Celebrating something special? This is a great gift for anyone who really, really loves food. The restaurant is hatted, and every ingredient comes from local growers and farmers so it’s fresh AF.
Or a long lunch at Harry’s on Green Lane.
A café by day and buzzy wine bar by night, Harry’s is like a mini botanic garden – there are that many plants!
Sit down to a casual meal at The Grand Bistro.
The ricotta hotcakes are insane (Bills has some competition!) and the 7-hour roasted lamb sandwich will keep you feeling full for hours. The Imperial Hotel and Colosseum Pizza & Ribs also serve up simple pleasures.
Pop into Ms Peacock Fine Chocolates.
This adorable shop is a chocoholic’s dream. If you’re more of a lolly gal, Bowral’s Sweets and Treats has candy from all around the world.
WHERE TO DRINK IN BOWRAL
Hit the wineries!
Tertini is beyond charming and has won awards for its pinot noir and Riesling (not that you really care). A few minutes outside of Bowral, Centennial Vineyards sits on 80 acres of lush land and is perfect for a long lunch with the girls. Over in Berrima, Bendooley Estate is our top pick. The restaurant is called the Book Barn, and it’s as cozy as it gets, with wall-to-wall books, fireplaces, woodfired pizzas and charcuterie boards.
Sip on cocktails at Harvey’s Bar.
Hidden inside the Gibraltar Hotel, this chic cocktail bar is great for a pre-dinner drink. There’s live music from Thursday to Sunday.
Go to the Royal Hotel Bowral or Imperial Hotel.
To hang with the locals, head to one of these old-school pubs for a beer and a burger.
WHERE TO STAY IN BOWRAL
This two-bedroom cottage has a fireplace, pool, and panoramic views over Bowral, and you’re going to want to stalk the interior designer on Instagram. It’s conveniently located near Mt Gibraltar, but it’s so cool you might never want to leave…
Old Bank Hotel.
This was a bank dating back to the 1880s, before being turned into a boutique hotel a few years ago. There are five rooms inside, two self-contained cottages out back and a restaurant and wine cellar in the old bank vault.
Woodland Retreat Guest Studios.
On a romantic getaway? For total privacy, book this baby. It’s cheap, colourful and cozy. When you come up for air, look outside – chances are, you’ll spot a wallaby!
Your weekend plans courtesy of Katia Iervasi.