Top Tips & Itinerary for a Blue Mountains Weekends Away
With the clear skies, crisp Mountains air, and so much to see and do, and less than 1.5 hours drive from the Sydney CBD, it’s no surprise that the Blue Mountains is such a popular destination for weekends away from the hustle and bustle of city life. With so much on offer in the local area though, how can you choose where to go, what to see, and where to eat? Growing up in the Mountains, I know a secret or two! Here I’ve put together some of my top tips and itinerary for the perfect Blue Mountains getaway from a local’s perspective.
Friday Night – Check in to Glen Isla
Leave the crazy traffic and stresses of city life far behind! If you can, try to leave work a little early to beat the peak hour traffic heading west on the M4 motorway. The drive from the CBD usually takes just over an hour with the new widening of the highway being completed last year. Typically you can check in to Glen Isla from 2.30pm in the afternoon although we are happy to allow guests to check in early if we can so be sure to check with us. The sooner you arrive, the sooner you can start to unwind and enjoy the weekend ahead.
Initially, you might like to relax and enjoy a glass of wine on our bullnose verandah. Or perhaps take a wander through our garden paths and explore what is in bloom in our 150 year old garden. Many people tell us that they feel a sense of calm just stepping into the house and garden which is lovely!
For dinner, you can choose to dine out at one of the many great restaurants – our favourites are the Leura Garage or for something special perhaps, or you can arrange delivery if you’d prefer to stay in and enjoy the house with your friends and family.
Saturday – See the Three Sisters
By far the most popular thing to see in the Blue Mountains is to see the famous Three Sisters rock formation. You can do this in two ways. If you’re on a bit of a budget, or would just like to take a quick photo of them, the quickest way to get a good view is to drive to Echo Point lookout. You can get there via car and park in one of the nearby streets, or if you plan to do more sightseeing in the area, you can take the red Blue Mountains Explorer Bus offers a hop on-hop off service every 30 minutes to all the main attractions in the area. From the lookout you get a lovely view of the valley and the Three Sisters themselves. For a closer look, you can take a 30 minute bushwalk (1km return) which starts near the lookout. You’ll also find the Visitor Information Centre which has a range of tourist information and staff who are happy to help with any questions you may have.
As a less busy and far more scenic option though (and my personal favourite thing to do in the area), is to visit nearby Scenic World. They have a range of experiences which include the Scenic Skyway (a cable car which takes you out into the middle of the valley for a spectacular view), or (my favourite since I was a child!) the Scenic Railway – the steepest passenger railway in the world which takes you through lust rainforest and through tunnels for an incredible view of the Three Sisters. Highly recommended!
After lots of activity in the morning, you’ll be looking for somewhere for lunch. My favourite place is the Blue Mist Cafe in Leura. You can watch the world go by in their dining area with lovely views back towards Katoomba.
After that, why not head back to Glen Isla for a lazy afternoon reading one of our many books in our library, or enjoying a game of pool with the family on our pool table.
Sunday – Morning Walk
They say the early bird catches the worm and that’s certainly true! Early mornings in the Blue Mountains are special with crisp Mountain air, and amazing sunrises. If you’re so inclined, a one hour walk to Wentworth Falls is a great way to start the morning. From Glen Isla, it’s only a short 200m stroll down Falls Road to the beginning of the bushwalk. The bushwalk itself is beautiful with lots of native ferns, pretty streams, and of course a spectacular view out across the valley and of Wentworth Falls itself. If you’re ultra-energetic you can continue the walk around in a loop and back up the other side via the Valley of the Waters walk. Otherwise, I always enjoy a nice walk up Fletcher Street from the house to the Conservation Hut for a hearty breakfast and milkshakes for the kids.
Check out at the house is at 10am, but if we don’t have another group checking in that afternoon we like to give our guests a later checkout so that they can enjoy some more time exploring the house and the local area – be sure to check with us!
‘Glen Isla’ – Self Contained Blue Mountains Accommodation
Of course, the best place to experience all that the Blue Mountains has to offer is from Glen Isla. We offer award winning historic, fully self contained accommodation in the Blue Mountains. Only a short 10 minute drive to all the major local attractions, it’s the ultimate place to stay!
We are so super excited to announce that we have just received notification that we have made finalist in an amazing FOUR categories in the Blue Mountains Business Awards 2016.
The Blue Mountains Business Awards are held annually to recognise excellence in local businesses. Last year we were thrilled to win the Young Entrepreneur category. We are hoping that this year we can win another award.
The categories we have made finalists for are:
- People’s Choice Award
- Accommodation Award
- Hospitality Award
- Young Entrepreneur Award
The People’s Choice Award is a hotly contested category which is all down to the number of online votes received. This year there were well over 200 businesses who were nominated in this category so we are really happy to be ranked in the top 10 vote getters for this very competitive award. Thank you so very much to all our guests, friends and family who took the time to vote for us. We really do appreciate your support. Thank you also to the Blue Mountains Business Chamber for all their hard work in running the awards each year. It is such a fabulous event that allows local businesses to strive towards excellence.
The winners will be announced at a black tie gala dinner at the Fairmont Resort next month. We are crossing all our fingers that we can take home another trophy to add to our collection. We will be sure to keep you all informed on how we go.
Thank you all so very much for all your support!!
It’s on again! The Blue Mountains Business Awards 2016 have just opened. This year there are a range of categories for local businesses to enter. Last year we were super thrilled to win one category, as well as be a finalist in the popular People’s Choice Award.
The Blue Mountains Business Awards are a fantastic way to recognise wonderful local businesses in the Blue Mountains. It is also a great way to take time out to analyse your business – your direction, what you do well, and what you can improve on, and your goals for the future.
Please vote for us!
Glen Isla is a very special place in the Blue Mountains. We hope that you agree! We would really appreciate your support by voting for us in the People’s Choice Award!
We are crossing our fingers to be finalists again this year! Thank you so much for all your support!
Blue Mountains Accommodation Availability
In other news, it has been a very busy few weeks at Glen Isla. Yulefest is by far the busiest time of the year in the Blue Mountains. We have lots of back to back bookings during the school holidays at this time of year so the whole team have been working hard to provide our guests with a wonderful experience.
Our dates from September 2016 onwards are also starting to book out so if you would like to book our beautiful self contained accommodation be sure to check our availability calendar and get in touch to secure your dates!
Does it snow in the Blue Mountains? This is a question we are often asked when guests book Glen Isla over the popular Winter season. The answer in short is YES! Sometimes. If you are very very lucky!
Last year in mid-July (2015) some of our guests arrived to be greeted by lots of snow all through our gardens.
What are the chances seeing snow in the Blue Mountains for our visit?
If you stay in the Winter with us – it’s definitely a possibility! In the 3 years that we’ve owned Glen Isla, we have had snow in 2 of those years. Once at the end of June (2016) and once in mid-July (2017).
If snow is what you’re looking for though, Wentworth Falls (where Glen Isla is located) isn’t the best place to go looking for it. This is mostly due to the elevation of Wentworth Falls where we are located. It does snow quite often higher up the Mountains – Mt Victoria and Blackheath see snow much more often due to their higher elevation. If snow is what you’re after, your best bet is to venture further during your stay with us and visit the township of Oberon – about one and half hours drive from Glen Isla.
Get booking for the remainder of 2016!
With our Winter dates almost completely filled (all our weekends are booked until mid-September, we have a few midweek dates available), our Christmas and New Years season is starting to book out. Be sure to get in touch to reserve your preferred dates! >> Check our availability here <<
All the very best!
Blue Mountains National Park
Blue Mountains National Park is a world famous 662,000 acre national park located 80 kilometres west of Sydney. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2000 in recognition of its cultural and geographic significance.
The Blue Mountains National Park is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Australia. Most tourists visiting Sydney make the journey west to see the park from one of the scenic lookouts between Wentworth Falls and Blackheath.
The most popular destination in the national park is the Three Sisters – a spectacular rock formation of three “sisters”, each being several hundred metres tall.
Things to do in the Blue Mountains National Park
The Blue Mountains are also famous for short walks, waterfalls, overnight and longer walks and activities such as canyoning, abseiling, rock climbing and mountain biking. Here is a list of our top recommended things to do in the Blue Mountains
- Get your adrenaline pumping by experiencing some of the great adventure activities on offer in the Blue Mountains National Park. Some of the activities on offer include horseriding, mountain biking, caving, rock climbing, abseiling and canoeing. You can do these on your own or as part of a tour.
- Experience all the beauty of the region by going on a short (or long!) bushwalk. There are lots of tracks to explore ranging from easy and accessible paths, to long and difficult treks taking several days. You can also find lots of lakes, swimming holes, waterfalls, caves and much more.
- Scenic World in Katoomba is an historic icon in the region (and one of my most favourite places to visit as a child!). The Scenic Railway (the steepest railway in the world), Cableway, Skyway and Walkway offer wonderful ways to experience the unique beauty of the region.
If you’re visiting Blue Mountains National Park, the best place to stay for groups of up to 12 is Glen Isla! Glen Isla is located in Wentworth Falls, only 200 metres from the escarpment and the beginning of some of the best walking tracks in the region. We are also only a short 10 minute drive from the Three Sisters, Katoomba and Leura. Be sure to check out our availability calendar and book in early as our dates (particularly during the peak Winter months) are very popular!
Kid Friendly Blue Mountains Accommodation
Award winning Glen Isla offers some of the best kid friendly Blue Mountains accommodation in the area. We have 6 large bedrooms and can sleep up to 12 people. Being fully self contained, we do our very best to create a beautiful weekend away for family groups to relax and enjoy. We have made Glen Isla very kid friendly:
For young children
Having young children ourselves, we understand how difficult it can be to travel with them. With this in mind have set the house up to make your experience as easy as possible. We have two permanent Boori sleigh cots set up in two of our bedrooms for families travelling with small children. Our private gardens are fully fenced so the kids can safely explore or play in our playhouse. We also have highchairs and an additional portacot if required. Our kitchen is supplied with plastic cutlery and plates for little fingers.
For older children
Our garage has a pool table and dart board. For the gaming fans we have a Playstation and a library of games to choose from. We also have kids puzzles, DVDs and books for rainy days. The loft room (above the garage) is popular with kids as it has 4 single beds.
(Our own daughter, aged 2, having fun throwing autumn leaves in the garden at Glen Isla. Photo by Amy Tong Photography)
Read one of our glowing reviews
Not convinced? Here’s a lovely review from previous guest Justine who stayed at Glen Isla in July 2015 with her family
“I couldn’t recommend Glen Isla highly enough. Amy gave beautiful and friendly service from my very first enquiry right through to my last. Amy was efficient and lovely and I really appreciated all of her help. Glen Isla is a magnificent property and it was the most beautiful house to celebrate my mum’s 70 birthday in. My mum was delighted and loved every second spent in Glen Isla with all of her family. Everything went really well. It was a very special weekend with memories we will all treasure. Our kids ranged in age from 3 to 15 years. They all had a ball. They were climbing up in the trees, playing in the garden, loving the outdoor fire pit, riding scooters, playing pool and more! It was close to Wentworth Falls walk which was beautiful. Totally recommend. Perfect for a large family gathering. We had 5 families.”
Want to find out more? Check out our gallery and availability calendar
It’s hard to believe that Christmas has almost arrived. This year, as well as every year, the Blue Mountains will be a wonderful place to spend the Christmas holidays. Here are just a few of the fantastic events planned for the Blue Mountains for Christmas 2015:
- Christmas Twilight Markets – Penrith
Enjoy some Christmas shopping at the Christmas Twilight Markets in Penrith. There will be a wide variety of stalls. The markets will run every Friday and Saturday night from Fri 13th November up until Christmas Eve.
When: Fri/Sat nights (13 Nov – 24 Dec 2015)
Where: Pop up park, High Street Penrith
- Springwood Late Night Shopping
Springwood Village will come alive for some late night shopping. Meet up with friends and soak up some festive Christmas spirit! There will be Christmas stalls, activities for the kids, carol singing and lots of entertainment.
When: Thurs 10 Dec 2015. 5:00pm – 8:00pm
Where: Macquarie Rd, Springwood
- Santa Arrives by Steam Train
Say hi to Santa and his elf as they arrive aboard the historic Sydney Steam Train. Catch the action at 11am or 2pm on the special open day. The admission fees include unlimited steam train rides and a free gift for the kids.
When: Saturday 12th December 2015
Where: Valley Heights Locomotive Depot Heritage Museum
17B Tusculum Road
Cost: Adult $14, Conc. $12, School Student $10 (Children 4 and under are FREE), Family: $45 (2 Adults, 2 Children or 1 Adult, 4 Children).
- Wentworth Falls Christmas in the Park
Join in the Christmas celebrations with carols, a puppet show, supper and a sausage sizzle.
When: Sunday 13 December 2015, 5 – 7pm.
Where: Holy Trinity Anglican Church Wentworth Falls
Merry Christmas from All of Us at Glen Isla
For me personally, Christmas is my absolute favourite time of year. Despite the stress that comes with gift-buying and getting organised for the holidays, it’s also an important time to reflect on the year that has come and gone, and the importance of family. 2015 has been an absolutely fantastic year for us at Glen Isla. We have hosted many wonderful groups who we look forward to seeing again soon. One of my favourite things about the house is how many people contact me afterwards and tell me how Glen Isla helped bring families together from all over Australia (and sometimes from overseas too!). Whether it’s for a milestone birthday celebration, a wedding, or just because it’s been a long time, the house is a wonderful location to make memories. Lets face it – life is short – we need to do all those things we want to do while we can, and make sure that those we love know it!
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their support again this year. Every year the popularity of the house seems to grow which is such a welcome surprise. When we bought the house in early 2013 and set about turning it into an accommodation venue, we never dreamed that we could achieve the amount of success we have. The icing on the cake for us this year was winning our award at the Blue Mountains Business Awards. Thank you to everyone who has helped us achieve this. We look forward to what 2016 has in store!
Very best wishes from our family to yours.
Last Friday I attended the Blue Mountains Business Awards Gala Ball at the Fairmont Resort. It was such a fantastic night celebrating businesses in the local area. I was so super thrilled (and a little shocked!) to win the Blue Mountains Young Entrepreneur of the Year for 2015. My first ever trophy! I’m now excitedly looking forward to the NSW Business Chamber State Awards which will be held at Darling Harbour next month.
Congratulations to all my fellow finalists and winners. The Blue Mountains is such a special region in the world and we are all truly blessed to be able to run our businesses in the area. Our fantastic community are essential in keeping the region a strong and prosperous one for the local economy.
I would like to publicly thank our fantastic support staff. Anna and Sophie our cleaners, and Will our amazing gardener and all-round guru. The success of Glen Isla is all down to your hard work.
Thanks again to all our past and future guests. Without you there would be no Glen Isla.
Crossing my fingers for the State Awards!
I’m so excited to announce that we are a finalist in the Blue Mountains Business Awards 2015. We are finalists in 2 categories which is such a wonderful honour! I would like to thank everyone for their support in voting for us. We are now nervously awaiting the official gala dinner on October 23 to find out who the winners are. We are crossing our fingers, eyes and toes that we might win at least one category although there are so many wonderful businesses in the area. Fingers crossed!
Follow Us on Instagram
In other news, we’ve recently signed up for Instagram! We would love for you to follow us https://instagram.com/glenislabluemtns/ to keep up to date with all the latest happenings at Glen Isla.
We also invite all our guests to tag us #glenislabluemtns or @glenislabluemtns for the chance to have your images featured on our website.
Snow in the Blue Mountains does happen occasionally, but not very often. Although the weather gets quite cold in the Winter, in the 3 years since we’ve owned Glen Isla we had yet to see snow there – until this year! In July, we woke to the news that Wentworth Falls and the Upper Blue Mountains had been blanketed in snow. The roads were closed temporarily but reopened by the afternoon so none of our guests’ plans were interrupted.
Our wonderful cleaner managed to get to the house in her 4×4 and was able to get these photographs for us. The house sure does look beautiful with snow in the garden!