Bowral is all about the finer things in life: sipping wine by a crackling fire, waking up to misty mountains, strolling through gorgeous gardens, and feasting at chefs-hatted restaurants. It’s a foodie and shopping destination, making it the perfect base for a girly getaway and, like the other Southern Highlands’ villages, it’s bursting with country charm.
Here’s how to make the most of a weekend in Bowral.
On a girls’ weekend to Bowral, be sure to….
Wander through the Milk Factory.
The exhibitions at this contemporary art gallery are beautiful, and change all the time. When you’re done, pop into the shop for resin jewellery and glass homewares.
Check out the Bowral Public School Markets.
Held on the second Saturday each month, these markets are brimming with arts and crafts, produce, plants, clothing and jewellery, along with jams, cakes and preserves.
Pack a picnic and walk to Mt Gibraltar Reserve.
At 864 metres, it’s the highest point between Sydney and Canberra, and the views are incredible. Roll out a rug and catch up on each other’s lives while soaking up the scene.
Shop up a storm at Bowral’s best boutiques.
Be sure to hit Highland favourites like Babilonia (warning: you will want to buy the entire store), Cloth & General and Suzie Anderson Home for covetable clothing and homewares, along with The Potting Shed for all things gardening, and Three Wise Monkeys for colourful bric-a-brac you won’t find anywhere else.
Start your morning at Rush.
Chit-chat over coffee and magazines at this boutique roastery, which is known for serving up the best cup in town.
Tuck into a hearty breakfast at Ludo.
Formerly known as Red Tree Café, this eatery whips up creative dishes that go outside the brekkie box.
Pop intoThe Press Shop.
This chic café doubles as a couture stationery store, and going there with the girls means you won’t be judged for stocking up on everything.
Indulge in a pastry at Gumnut Patisserie.
It’s wildly popular, so you can expect to wait in line – but it’ll be worth it when you sink your teeth into a fresh fruit tart.
Pick up a croissant at Flour Water Salt.
On day two, head to this Bowral institution for deliciously buttery croissants, and loaves of crusty sourdough.
Sit down to high tea at Dirty Janes.
Nibble on tiers of sandwiches and fluffy, homemade scones with freshly clotted cream. Afterwards, check out the retro homewares and vintage furniture out back.
Cosy up at the humble Elephant Boy Café.
Credited with kick-starting Bowral’s café culture, it’s famous for its coffee and pies. Pluck a book from the heaving bookshelves and stay a while.
Linger over lunch at Harry’s on Green Lane.
Part of the new Acre precinct, the café is prettied up with plants and serves crowd-pleasing dishes for lunch.
Find out what the fuss is about at Raw and Wild.
The market-slash-cafe is a local favourite for its delicious and nutritious menu. If you’re stuck, get the carrot pancakes or the chicken potpie – it’ll warm you from the inside out.
Feast on Italian food at Onesta Cucina.
At this lively, family-run restaurant, every plate stars fresh, regional produce. It’s a must-visit at least once.
Treat yourselves to a fine dining dinner at Biota.
The Highlands’ most iconic (and hatted) eatery, Biota plucks produce straight from the region’s vegetable growers, dairy and livestock farms. If you’re willing to fall into a food coma, get the 10-course tasting menu.
Wind down with dinner at The Grand Bistro.
The rustic bistro is open all day, but its hearty, oh-so-satisfying food tastes even better with a glass of wine at dinner.
Indulge in wine with a side of cheese at Hickory’s Restaurant and Bar
The restaurant and bar overlook the manicured gardens of Peppers Craigieburn, and they serve up a too-pretty-to-eat cheese board that pairs nicely with a wine or two.
Share a bottle of wine at Harry’s Wine Bar.
The bar has an alfresco area that’s perfect for catching those late afternoon rays, plus an impressive wine list of drops from around the world.
Sip on creative cocktails at Harvey’s Bar.
Tucked inside the Gibraltar Hotel, the sleek cocktail bar has live music every night from Thursday to Sunday.
Mingle with the locals at the Royal Hotel Bowralor the Imperial Hotel
Both watering holes serve up a solid selection of beers, wines and spirits, along with pub grub if you’re peckish.
Make time to visit…
These gorgeous gardens are best known for their tulips, which are in full bloom during the Tulip Time Festival in September. The festival also features live music and market stalls.
Welcome to one of NSW’s best cellar doors! Tertini makes small-batch, boutique drops, and has won awards for its pinot noir and Riesling. Visiting a vineyard on a girls’ trip is a guaranteed good time, and this country winery is as charming as it gets.
Treat the girls to the Pamper Tour. You’ll begin with a massage or facial, and then stop at four cellar doors to taste-test cool-climate wines. The Truffle Tour is another goodie.
A short drive away in Berrima, Bendooley is a wine and book lover’s idea of heaven. At the Book Barn, cosy up in front of the fire and feast on woodfired pizzas and charcuterie boards paired with Bendooley wines.
If the girls fancy a bushwalk, hike through the national park until you reach the cascading Fitzroy Falls, or do the Fairy Bower Falls loop. Pack your cossies!
The Wellness Spaat Milton Park Country House & Spa
After all that eating/exploring, you deserve a pamper session. This luxe day spa delivers – you’ll be floating on a cloud after its signature massages.
Near Mt Gibraltar, this stylish retreat has lush lawns, two king bedrooms, a wood-burning fireplace and a pool to lounge around. It sleeps four people comfortably.
Run by two friendly locals, this colourful cottage has everything you need for a cosy stay, plus a sunny garden – and breakfast is included. Win!
Set on 120 acres of hilltop woodlands, this five-star resort is quintessentially Southern Highlands. It has four-poster beds, marble bathrooms, and a heated pool, tennis courts, restaurant and wellness spa.
If you’re travelling with a larger group, splash out on this striking home. Perched on a cliffside, its floor-to-ceiling glass walls offer panoramic views of the bush and Wingecarribee River. It also has four bedrooms, BBQ facilities, a balcony and swimming pool.