When we arrived in Sydney one of the things we really wanted to do was actually to get out of the city and go explore the blue mountains for as cheap as possible. I first heard of the blue mountains from a colleague at my previous job, when I told her I was going to Australia she made me promise her that I would see the blue mountains and this was a promise I was happy I kept.
Our main concern was the budget – we have only a limited amount of money to last us as we travel up the East Coast and the tours we found were around the $100 mark. We asked at our hostel reception what the best way to get there was and the receptionist told us about the train.
So What’s The Cheapest Way To Explore The Blue Mountains?
From Sydney Central Station there is at least one train an hour (more around morning and evening rush-hours) that takes flying out of the city and up toward the Blue Mountains. If you go during peak time this train ride will cost you around $8, outside of peak times this goes down to a mere $6!
(Side note: We were lucky on our way out because we asked an employee what platform we should go to for our train and he rushed us through the barriers as the train was departing soon so we didn’t touch-on our Opal cards meaning we didn’t get charged for the trip out. I consider this a win!)
What’s An Opal Card?
An Opal card, which we mentioned above is a travel card like you will find in most major cities around the world. In London they have the Oyster, Wellington they have the Snapper, Melbourne has a Myki and in Sydney they have the Opal Card.
When planning your cheap Blue Mountains trip you should definitely consider getting an Opal card – it also helps you get around the city of Sydney too and allows you to use the Buses, Trains, Trams (aka the Light Rail) and the Ferries!
We were lucky enough to be given two free Opal cards in Melbourne with $10 preloaded on them already as someone left them in our Airbnb with a note saying they’re free!
Where Do I Catch The Train Too?
From Sydney Central Station you want to head towards the town of Katoomba (which is very pleasant to say…go on, say it out loud!) The train takes around 2 hours and once you arrive in Katoomba you can either walk for 20 minutes to the Three Sisters viewing platform or take the bus using your Opal card.
If you’re looking to do the Blue Mountains on a budget then I would definitely recommend saving the bus fare and walking to the viewing platform as this is the cheapest way. There are also lots of nice little coffee shops if you are feeling like splashing out and treating yourself.
Once at the Three Sisters viewing platform you can follow the signs to go along the cliff edge walk and take in the sheer beauty of the Blue Mountains at your own pace instead of being rushed around by a tour guide who is trying to beat the rush hour traffic back to Sydney.
After you’re done exploring the beautiful Blue Mountains you can either get the bus back to Katoomba Station if you’re feet are aching or make your way back on foot and stop for a quick bite to eat before catching your train back.
Remember though that if you’re staying until when peak travel starts the train fare goes back up to around $8 so if you do want to be as frugal as possible and get the cheapest deal in the blue mountains head back for a train that departs before 4pm.
In total, our trip to the Blue Mountains cost us (2 people) less than $20. If you consider the tour that we were looking at was $100 each taking the train saved us $180 and I don’t feel like we lost out by not having a tour guide and the train ride out to the Blue Mountains was very scenic.
So, if you’re deciding whether to get the train or take a tour to the Blue Mountains then we recommend the Train as the cheapest way to explore the Blue Mountains from Sydney!