July 6, 2020
It seems a simple question: how long does it take to walk from Bondi to Manly? But the answer is another question: how long do you have? Sure, the 80km Bondi to Manly walk can be completed in about 15 hours if you run, but for mere walking mortals, it can take anywhere from two-eight days.
A popular – and realistic – itinerary is to take four or five days, covering approximately 20km (12.5 miles)… about seven hours of walking each day.
Even though it’s not a difficult walk, for someone with a sedentary lifestyle that’s a lot of time on your feet. So either start training now – or choose a different itinerary!
How to Choose An Itinerary
Think about how much time you want to dedicate to the Bondi to Manly Walk in total, then choose an itinerary based on that. For example, if you have three weekends to walk, then choose one of the six day itineraries. You’ll simply be stopping at the end of days two, four and six.
If doing the Bondi to Manly Walk in one stint, it’s straight-forward. Simply pick the duration and distance you’re comfortable with and go from there.
Where to Stay
Each suggested itinerary is equally effective whether you’re staying in hotels or AirBnB’s along the route, or if you return to the city each night to the same accommodation, or if you return to a suburban base.
It works because of the abundant public transport options at the end of each walking day.
In the itineraries below, our directions to start and end each day’s walk assume a city centre base, but we also mention possible places to stay.
We really go in-depth on Bondi to Manly walk accommodation options here. We name every conceivable option both by geography (okay, you’ve chosen to finish in Rose Bay… what can you choose from), and by budget – from backpacker to luxe – and by travel style (walking with a group, or self-catering… we go into all the nitty-gritty!).
So once you’ve chosen your itinerary below, head over to the accommodation page to see where to stay on the Bondi to Manly walk.
About Walking Distances
A note on distance and walking times…
I comfortably walk over 5km/h on flat even ground so 10kms should take me 2 hours. However that doesn’t take into account me stopping to admire lorikeets drinking nectar from crimson bottlebrush, surfers whooping with joy riding their first wave or the Flying Squadron racing on the harbour framed by gnarled trunks of Sydney Red Gum.
The Bondi to Manly walk is far more than a walk. It’s a sensory delight that you’ll want to see, smell, taste, feel and hear. Take your time. Relish Sydney’s abundance.
I recommend allowing 4 hours to walk 12kms. That’s a walking pace of 3km/h and it keeps the maths simple.
Bondi to Manly Walk Summary
- Bondi to Watsons Bay | 9.92km
- Watsons Bay, via South Head loop, to Rose Bay | 10.67km
- Rose Bay, via Hermitage Foreshore Walk, to Darling Point | 7.61km
- Darling Point, via Sydney Harbour Bridge, to Milsons Point | 9.92km
- Milsons Point to Taronga Zoo | 10.42km
- Taronga Zoo to The Spit | 9.13km
- The Spit to Manly Wharf | 9.78km
- Manly Wharf, via North Head loop, to Manly Beach | 10.78km
Bondi to Manly Walk Itineraries
Two Days / 12km (4 hours) per day
- Day One 12km: Bondi Beach to Watsons Bay, including South Head loop out to Hornby Lighthouse
- Day Two 12km: Taronga Zoo to The Spit, including the Middle Head loop.
Day One: An ocean-side cliff-top amble leads from pulsing Bondi Beach past Macquarie Light, Australia’s first lighthouse, to quiet Watsons Bay. The highlight here is not the picturesque fish-and-chip village itself, but 360 degree views over the city, harbour and Pacific Ocean from Gap Bluff. The loop walk out to South Head and Hornby Lighthouse provides glimpses of tomorrow’s walk – swathes of green across the water atop the headlands that reach into the harbour.
Day Two: Is there a better way to start a Sydney day than a ferry on the harbour? Aquamarine views framed in twisted red trunks highlight the walk from Taronga Zoo’s wharf to Bradley’s Head.
Steep, uneven stairs take you to the cannon emplacements of Georges Head and the Middle Head loop gives a unique and worthwhile perspective of the harbour. Although not part of the official Bondi to Manly walk, Middle Head is a prominent feature of Sydney Harbour and well worth the detour. Genteel Balmoral Beach is the perfect place for a refreshing swim and a bus back to the city if you don’t want to put your shoes back on. Otherwise, continue to The Spit via the charming Chinamans Beach.
Tips for this Itinerary
It’s easiest to stay in the city centre close to the ferry. This gives a taste of Sydney; catch a show at the Opera House and dinner at a restaurant or noodles at Chinatown. If so, day two begins with a short ferry ride from Circular Quay to Taronga Zoo wharf to start the walk.
Or stay at Watsons Bay if you want the feeling of getting away from it all. The next morning will be an earlier start for the ferry to Circular Quay, then a second ferry across to Taronga Zoo.
Two Days / 21km (7 hours) per day
- Day One 21km: Bondi Beach to Rose Bay, including South Head loop out to Hornby Lighthouse
- Night One: City centre (preferably) near Circular Quay or The Rocks. Staying at Rose Bay is also possible.
- Day Two 21km: Taronga Zoo to Manly Wharf, including the Middle Head loop.
Day One: Highlights are Bondi Beach past Macquarie Light, Australia’s first lighthouse, to quiet Watsons Bay. Be sure to do the loop walk out to South Head and Hornby Lighthouse.
Parsley Bay Bridge is as photogenic as Sydney’s more famous bridge in its own rustic charming way and views of Parsley Bay Reserve from its middle are met with sighs as you imagine calling that place your local park. Nielsen Park is your afternoon swimming destination today, the shark nets somehow adding visual appeal to the safety value.
The Hermitage Foreshore Walk leads you past phenomenal city views, tiny secluded beaches and stately private schools to Rose Bay.
Day Two: Catch a ferry across the harbour to Taronga Zoo’s wharf and walk around Bradley’s Head. Up and over Georges Head, pausing at Balmoral Beach. Head past charming Chinamans Beach and onwards to The Spit to Manly Walk.
Ancient aboriginal engravings, surprising views that literally reveal themselves from behind a tree and real Aussie coastal bush (mate!) are the highlights of this section.
Reef Beach, North Harbour and Manly are linked by the Manly Scenic Walkway and scenic it is! Enjoy the massaging hypnotic rumble of the ferry back to the city or enjoy a beer on the Manly Fast Ferry. Sit up the front. The reveal of the city as you round Bradleys Head strikes me every time.
*** Three – Seven Day Itineraries Coming Very Soon ***
Eight Days / 10-15km per day
- Day One: Coogee to Bondi Beach
- Day Two: Bondi Beach to Watsons Bay
- Day Three: Watsons Bay to Double Bay
- Day Four: Double Bay to The Rocks. Optional side trip: Sydney City Walk.
- Day Five: The Rocks over Sydney Harbour Bridge to Cremorne Point/Mosman
- Day Six: Cremorne Point/Mosman to Balmoral. Optional side trip: Middle Head.
- Day Seven: Balmoral to Manly
- Day Eight: Manly and North Head
For those with time and an unwillingness to sacrifice a single centimetre of coast, this itinerary has it all. You’ll walk Sydney’s beaches – both the crowded and secret -, capture every harbour, city and ocean view, explore significant Aboriginal sites and early colonial remnants, spot darting wildlife and drink coffee with locals. Mark it off your list.
This is the most leisurely of all itineraries. It works equally well for staying in a new place each night as it does for using a consistent base (like staying in the city, or returning to a suburban base). This is because each day’s end is at a public transport junction, either a ferry wharf or bus stop.
Note that the first day walking from Coogee to Bondi is a bonus, as it’s technically the leg before the Bondi to Manly walk starts. But Bondi is such a highlight, and all other itineraries race away from here quickly, that we think it’s worth a short stroll on day one and a night at Bondi Beach to set the coastal tone for the week ahead.