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. There's an abundance of things to do in Bowral, but most of all, it’s a foodie and shopping destination, making it the perfect base for a weekend getaway. And, like the other Southern Highlands’ villages, it’s bursting with country charm.
Here’s how to make the most of your weekend trip with our list of the best things to do in Bowral.
Things to do in Bowral: Eat
Tuck into a hearty breakfast at The Press Shop.
This chic café doubles as a couture stationery store, so be warned you will leave with stunning stationery (we won’t judge you 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.
No list of things to do in Bowral would be complete without mentioning Flour Water Salt. A 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 fresh clotted cream. Afterwards, check out the retro homewares and vintage furniture out back.
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 when you're working your way through your list of things to do in Bowral.
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.
Start your morning at Rush.
There is no skirting around it, the thing to do in Bowral is eat really good food. And there is no better way to start a weekend of eating than with a coffee at this boutique roastery, which is known for serving up the best cup in town.
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 awhile. This is one thing to do in Bowral that locals swear by.
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.
Things to do in Bowral: Drink
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. Meaning you can't go wrong here when looking for things to do in Bowral.
Things to do in Bowral: Play
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.
One of the best things to do in Bowral is the Mt Gibraltar Reserve walk. 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 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. Otherwise, wander up and down Bong Bong Street to discover all the different shopfronts.
Things to do in Bowral: Local Attractions
These gorgeous gardens are best known for their tulips, which are in full bloom during the Tulip Time Festival in September. By far one of our favourite things to do in Bowral, 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 weekend getaway is a guaranteed good time, and this country winery is as charming as it gets.
Treat yourself and that special someone 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 must on every list of things to do in Bowral is Bendooley Estate. 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 wood-fired pizzas and charcuterie boards paired with Bendooley wines.
If you 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 Spa at 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.
Things to do in Bowral: Stays
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!
Not only is one of the best things to do in Bowral (Wellness Spa, anyone?), it is also a great place to stay. 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, and a restaurant.
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 a swimming pool.
As you can see, when it comes to things to do in Bowral, there is so much on offer. From foodie destinations to book lover delights and must-visit wineries. If you're after more ideas for when you're in the Southern Highlands, be sure to check out our weekend guide to Berrima.