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If you didn’t already know, Sydney is one of our favorite destinations in Australia. We’ve visited Australia’s largest city multiple times, and Bailey even lived there for a while. What brings us back to Sydney time and time again is the adventures waiting around every corner!
There are so many amazing things to do in Sydney. You can relax on gorgeous beaches, explore the Blue Mountains, or take in a show at the Opera House. But if you want to explore a bit further, I suggest heading to the beautiful Hunter Valley! Less than a three-hour drive away, the Hunter Valley is a must-visit destination for wine connoisseurs and foodies alike.
This gorgeous region of Australia is not only known for its world-class wines but also has many gourmet restaurants and distilleries. And being so close to Sydney, it makes a perfect day trip. But let’s be honest – no one should drive themselves to go wine tasting! So the best way to explore this region and make the most of your day is on a tour!
To make your planning easy, we’ve gathered the 5 best Hunter Valley tours from Sydney below. They each bring something different to the table (literally), whether you like your wine with a side of cheese, chocolate, gin, or wildlife!
Don’t have time to read the full article? Wine tasting in the Hunter Valley is a must-do and the best way to experience it is on a day tour from Sydney. Our favorite tour is this Hunter Valley Wine Tasting Tour, which includes luxury transportation and 3 boutique winery visits. You’ll enjoy wine tastings paired with local cheeses and chocolates, a visit to an organic vodka and gin distillery, and lunch overlooking a vineyard!
About the Hunter Valley
The Hunter Valley is the birthplace of Aussie wines and is Australia’s oldest wine region. Established in the 1800s, the Hunter Valley is home to over 150 vineyards. Plus, it is a great destination to visit year-round! You can even come here to escape the cold this winter.
The Hunter Valley produces a variety of different wines but is famous for Hunter Valley Semillon and Shiraz. If you want to try the best of the best, we recommend Tyrrell’s Vat 1 Semillon and Brokenwood’s Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz. They’re so good you may want the whole bottle!
What sets the Hunter Valley apart from other Aussie wine regions is that it’s a well-rounded gourmet getaway. Other than wine, it’s also known as an agriculture center and produces cheese, chocolate, olives, and olive oil. Farm-to-table dining is a big hit here, and you can easily find many fine dining establishments, cozy cafes, and country pubs throughout the region.
The Hunter Valley region is quite large (over 22,000 square kilometers/8,494 square miles!). Many of the vineyards are spread out from one another, making it (almost) impossible to walk between wineries. This is why we found the best way to explore the region and maximize your time is by taking a day tour from Sydney. You just get to sit back, relax, and enjoy the experience!
The Viator tours below take care of all the logistics and bring you to the absolute best places the region offers. So keep reading to find out which tour suits you (and your taste buds) the most!
What are the BEST Hunter Valley Tours from Sydney?
1. Hunter Valley Wine Tasting Tour with Lunch, Cheese, Chocolate, and Distillery
I mean, doesn’t the title of this Hunter Valley wine-tasting tour immediately sell itself? That’s all my favorite things right there! You’re going to want to start this tour on an empty stomach because it will be full by the end. Your inner foodie will be in heaven!
This is a full-day tour with a maximum of 14 people. It provides pick-up around 7:30 am from 3 different areas in Sydney in a luxury Mercedes Benz vehicle. Relax and listen to the stellar road trip playlist while your guide/driver fills you in on some fun Hunter Valley facts. But once you hit the valley, you might be too distracted to listen as you’ll be mesmerized by the rolling hills and vineyards!
Your tour starts by visiting 3 boutique wineries where you can sample both red and white varieties while learning about the wine-making process from the experts. At one stop, you pair wine with cheese, and at another, it’s wine and chocolate. Are you in heaven yet?
Next, it’s lunchtime at a local restaurant. You can enjoy your meal alongside another glass of wine or craft beer while taking in the scenic vineyard views. Plus, this tour caters to a variety of dietary requirements, such as vegetarian, gluten-free, and vegan.
The final stop is Hunter Distillery for organic vodka, schnapps, gin, and liqueur tastings. If you’re feeling brave, try one of the unique liqueur flavors such as Choc Mint, Turkish Delight, or Chili Schnapps! Then it’s time to head back to Sydney. When we took this tour, everyone left with big smiles and full bellies (and a little buzz!).
Oh, and make sure to stock up on lots of wine, local cheese, chocolate, and fudge to enjoy during the rest of your time in Sydney – I know we sure did!
Now, when I say full day, I mean it. This tour takes about 11 hours and only costs between $239-$249 AUD depending on the season. There are no hidden costs, and it includes everything we mentioned above – so I think it’s a great bang for your buck! However, I definitely recommend budgeting a bit more for all the foodie souvenirs you’ll want to take home.
There’s no surprise this tour has so many 5-star reviews! Make sure you secure your spot by booking here.
Related Read: There are so many amazing things to see while you’re in Sydney. Make sure you don’t miss out on anything by checking out the best sightseeing tours here!
2. Hunter Valley: Wine, Gin, Cheese, and Chocolate Tour
This Hunter Valley tour from Sydney is very similar to the option above. It makes a great alternative if your preferred date is sold out! After all, you won’t want to miss all the foodie delights in store.
This option is also a full-day tour but has a maximum of 28 people, so it’s a larger group than the first tour on our list. It has two starting points, either Central or Circular Quay in Sydney. The previous tour also picks up near Hyde Park, so if that’s more convenient, that might be the better option for you.
After pick up around 7:30 am, your guide will drive you in an air-conditioned vehicle to the beautiful Hunter Valley. The nice thing about a tour versus driving yourself is you can sit back, relax, and take in the gorgeous views – or just have a nap like I did!
Like the tour above, you get to visit three boutique wineries and enjoy guided wine tastings at each. Yes, cheese and chocolate pairings are also included. There’s also a behind-the-scenes wine production tour where you MUST wear closed-toe shoes – so make sure to wear some or bring some along with you!
After filling up on wine and local delicacies, it’s time for a relaxing lunch at a local restaurant with sweeping Hunter Valley views. Pair your lunch with more wine or a local craft beer or cider to shake things up! Your final stop is a local gin and vodka distillery! Here you can sample organic vodka, gin, schnapps, or unique liqueurs. Then it’s time to take your full belly and your local goodies back to Sydney.
This tour is a similar length and cost to its counterpart above – 11 to 12 hours with prices starting at $250 AUD.
So if you’re ready to taste your way through the Hunter Valley, click here to book this tour now!
Why We Book Tours with Viator
Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:
- Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
- Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
- Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
- Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.
3. Small-Group Hunter Valley Wine Tasting Tour
Who wants the chance to sample up to 20 red, white, and sparkling wines? (“Raises hand”). Then let me introduce you to this spectacular Hunter Valley wine tasting tour. This is one of the best tours in Sydney and is a great choice for wine connoisseurs and newbies alike!
Your group (maximum 20 people) sets off from Sydney around 7:30 am and your first stop is the award-winning Iron Gate Estate Winery. If you like white and red wine, make sure to try both the Semillon and Shiraz!
The next stop is Hermitage Road Cellar Door, which stocks a range of wines from smaller local winemakers. Here your samples will be paired with local cheese. Then it’s time for lunch at Hunter Valley Resort and Farm. You have a choice between six main meals paired with either wine or beer.
Next, it’s onto Hunter Distillery, the region’s only certified organic distillery, where you can sample vodka, liqueurs, or their award-winning Copperwave Distilled Gin. Just when you think your stomach can’t take any more, there’s one more stop to go!
Pokolbin Estate Vineyard offers a wine with chocolate tasting. I love ending the day with a sweet treat so this is the perfect way to cap off a wonderful wine tour. Afterward, you have time to browse the local Olive Centre where you can buy homemade delights like olives, dukkah, and jams. Then it’s time to return to Sydney with a full stomach (and an empty wallet)!
Please note that this tour requires closed-toe shoes for the winery tour, and the venues listed may be subject to change. It also doesn’t run on Mondays during certain seasons so make sure to plan ahead when booking!
This tour is about 11 hours from start to finish and is slightly more affordable than the other options. Prices range from $199-$219 AUD depending on the season and where you’re picked up in Sydney. Plus it includes everything, from tastings to lunch to transport. You also get the choice of three central pick-up points in Sydney.
This is the best tour for people who want to experience the Hunter Valley but are more budget-conscious. If that’s you, we highly recommend booking this amazing tour in advance before it sells out!
4. Chef-Led Hunter Valley Gourmet Food and Wine Tour
Did someone say, chef? You know with a chef onboard, this unique Hunter Valley Gourmet Food and Wine Tour is going to be an unforgettable, delicious experience!
What set this tour apart from the others, is that we didn’t head straight to the Hunter Valley. Instead, our professional chef and guide first took us to the Sydney Fish Market (aka the world’s third-largest fish market!). It’s one of the coolest places to visit in Sydney! We learned about the seafood auction and what to look out for when buying seafood. He then bought some food to prepare for lunch later.
We then headed to the Hawkesbury River where our amazing chef, Jimmy, whipped us up a hot breakfast while we enjoyed the beautiful scenery. This was definitely needed as our next stop was the Hunter Valley to visit three boutique wineries to do some tastings!
What made the day extra special was the freshly prepared food that paired with the wine at the second and third wineries. We even got to try regional delicacies like barramundi and kangaroo steak!
For only $257 AUD per person, this memorable full-day experience includes breakfast, lunch, snacks, wine tastings, water, transport, AND pick-up/drop-off from select Sydney hotels! Pick up starts around 6:30 am, but your guide will give you an exact time the day before. With a maximum of 16 people per tour, you are guaranteed an intimate and educational experience.
While most wine tours to the Hunter Valley don’t allow children, that’s not the case with this tour! It is an experience the entire family will love. Mind you, there’s a minimum drinking age of 18, but there’ll be plenty of yummy food to keep the little ones happy.
We think this is the absolute BEST Hunter Valley tour for foodies. But, it’s only available on select Mondays and Wednesdays, so be sure to book in advance to secure your spot!
5. Luxury Hunter Valley Wildlife and Wine Tasting Tour from Sydney
Departing from the meeting point in Sydney, your first stop is Walkabout Wildlife Sanctuary, Australia’s largest working wildlife sanctuary! You can view animals such as kangaroos and koalas in their natural habitats. A ranger will even join your group for the koala experience (but please note that holding koalas is now illegal in New South Wales).
Then it’s off to the Hunter Valley to visit D’Vine Treats, which has a truly “divine” selection of local cheese, olive oils, and chocolates. Get ready to spend all your savings! Next, it’s time to visit Pokolbin Estate Vineyard, where you can enjoy a wine tasting.
Oaks Cypress Lakes Resort is the stunning lakefront property you stop at for lunch. Indulge in a burger or pizza while soaking up the view.
Our final stop is the appropriately named Wombat Crossing Vineyard for another wine tasting. This was one of my highlights because the property was beautiful and you can tell the staff care a lot about the local wombats. In fact, one of the reasons I love this tour is because all the animals we saw were so well treated and cared for.
This small-group tour (maximum 11 people) lasts for about 10 hours and is priced at $125 AUD per person. However, you need to pay $70 AUD on the bus for the wildlife park, and the wine-tasting fees are not included. You must also purchase your lunch. But, roundtrip transport in a luxury minibus with professional commentary, free wifi, and USB connectivity is included.
This tour is BEST for animal lovers who also want to indulge in all the Hunter Valley has to offer. So if you’re ready to see some adorable wildlife and drink some wine, book this 5-star Hunter Valley tour today!
Is visiting the Hunter Valley worth it?
Not only is it the best wine region near Sydney, but one of the best in the entire country! If you’re a wine lover visiting Sydney, you don’t want to miss a day trip to the Hunter Valley. Your tastebuds will be forever grateful!
Other Things to do While You’re in Sydney
Sydney is a city full of exciting things to do and see, so you’re going to want to fill your schedule while visiting this iconic city. Below are a few of our favorite activities that you should consider adding to your Sydney itinerary:
- Helicopter Ride – Sydney is a beautiful city – there’s just no doubt about it! And one way to take in all the sights is on a helicopter tour! We did this helicopter ride the last time we were in the city, and it was incredible! We got the most amazing views of the bridge and Opera House, not to mention the beautiful coastline. And to top it off, we even saw whales!
- Day Trip to the Blue Mountains – The Blue Mountains is a beautiful wilderness area where you can enjoy hiking, waterfalls, mountain views, and charming local towns. It’s about an hour’s drive and makes for a great day trip from Sydney or even a weekend getaway. This Blue Mountains day full-day tour is our top choice as it includes a gourmet lunch, Scenic World, the wildlife park, as well as a cruise! Plus, the almost 4,000 5-star reviews are pretty reassuring that it’s an excellent tour!
- Visit Manly Beach and/or Bondi Beach – There are some pretty amazing beaches right in Sydney, so you should definitely plan for a beach day (or three!). Manly Beach is one of our favorites and you can easily get there via the public ferry. Or, head to the famous Bondi Beach! Once there you can do the walk to Bronte or Coogee Beaches – they are both also stunning!
- Explore Darling Harbour – One of our other favorite areas in Sydney is Darling Harbour, which features more restaurants, bars, and cafes than I can count! Plus, almost everything is waterfront! Here, you can enjoy the Chinese Garden of Friendship or walk across the Pyrmont Bridge. You can also visit popular attractions like Madame Tussauds, the Sea Life Aquarium, and Wild Life Sydney Zoo (which are all included on this Sydney Attractions Pass!).
- Tour the Sydney Opera House – Did you even visit Sydney if you didn’t go to the Opera House?! You can walk around for free, but if you want to see the inside, then you’ll have to join a guided tour of the Opera House or buy tickets to a show. We did this guided tour and found it super interesting! They took us to all of the different theatres, and we learned all about the history of the building – all for only $43 AUD!
Where to Stay in Sydney
If you’re planning a trip to Sydney, you’re going to need a place to stay – even if you’re just in town for one or two days! Luckily, Sydney has a huge variety of accommodations to fit every budget. If you’re overwhelmed with where to start, check out our top picks for places to stay, from luxury rooms to budget-friendly hostels. We’ve got you covered!
Four Seasons Hotel Sydney – $$$
For stunning views of Sydney Harbour and the iconic Opera House, book a room at the Four Seasons Hotel Sydney. You’ll have unobstructed views of the city from the comfort of your room. The hotel is located in the city center right within The Rocks neighborhood.
It’s also just a 10-minute walk to the Circular Quay, where several of the Hunter Valley wine tours pick up from. Rooms here start at $400-$500 AUD per night and can be reserved with Booking.com.
Meriton Suites Kent Street Sydney – $$
Stay right in the heart of Sydney in a modern luxury apartment at Meriton Suites Kent Street. The suites are air-conditioned and have laundry facilities, and either a kitchenette or full kitchen to make longer stays more comfortable. You’ll also have access to an indoor swimming pool, fitness center, and hot tub.
These full apartments are $230 AUD nightly when booked in advance with Booking.com.
Sydney Harbour YHA – $
For a hostel with a view, head to the rooftop terrace at the Sydney Harbour YHA. This is also located right in The Rocks by Circular Quay. You’ll also have amazing views of the harbor and be within walking distance of all the major sights. You can opt for a shared dorm room or a private room here. There’s a communal kitchen, TV lounge, billiards, and a 24/7 reception desk.
Don’t get Caught without Travel Insurance!
We never travel without travel insurance! We’ve had a few instances during our travels when one of us has ended up in the hospital, and travel insurance has saved us thousands of dollars over the years!
SafetyWing is our go-to insurance, we both have policies with them whenever we travel.
They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $45 USD per 4 weeks!)The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.
We’ve personally used SafetyWing for many different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada in full when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive!) While most travel insurance companies left people stranded, SafetyWing fully reimbursed us for our last-minute, pricey flights!
Also, because it is so affordable, there really is no excuse not to take out a policy. Check prices and get a quote online here with SafetyWing (you can even take out a policy if you’re already traveling!)
Thanks for reading!
As wine lovers, we can’t recommend a trip to Hunter Valley enough. Hopefully, this guide has given you an idea of which Hunter Valley tour is best for you. As Australia’s oldest wine region, it has many established wineries and culinary delights that you are sure to love!
As you plan your trip to Sydney, be sure to take a look through all of our Australia blogs. Or click on one of the popular ones below: