Katoomba is the funky and fabulous capital of the Blue Mountains. Take a walk down the bustling main street and you'll find lots of well-preserved Art Deco storefronts, plus a fantastic range of local shops and great value food from a huge variety of countries.
We could be biased, but we reckon there's nowhere else in Australia that's quite like our home town. Katoomba combines the diversity of an inner city suburb with the friendliness of a small town. And as the capital of the Blue Mountains it boasts the kind of vibrant arts, culture, music and festival scene that much bigger towns can only envy. All this, and a World Heritage listed wilderness right over the back fence.
Katoomba is almost certainly going to be your first introduction to the Blue Mountains. Many people skip straight through on their way to the big views, but we highly recommend spending a little time to get to know this fascinating little town.
Shopping in Katoomba Street
Whether you're looking for art, antiques, outdoor gear or supermarket staples, Katoomba has what you need.
The antiques and vintage shopping scene is renowned among Sydney antique hunters: don't miss Mr Pickwick's and the Antiques Emporium on Katoomba Street, and the Katoomba Antiques Centre on Station Road.
Men in need of a new wardrobe should definitely check out Skin Deep, for high-end (and far-out) suits, bespoke tailoring and awesome T-shirts. This iconic tailor used to be a Sydney landmark. Now it belongs to us!
The Hattery has hundreds of hats in pretty much every possible style for men, women and kids.
Wollemi Gems is a good place to pick up an extra-special gift, with a great selection of Australian opal jewellery and Aboriginal art.
If you need an emergency rain jacket or supplies for a serious wilderness expedition, Katoomba Street boasts an exceptional number of outdoor shops. Major brands with stores here include Mountain Designs, Paddy Pallin and Macpac. Also check out Katoomba Workwear for bargain thermals, hats and cold weather gear.
For a unique gift for the music lover in your life, check out the locally-made cigar box guitars at Katoomba Music. And vinyl collectors should definitely head down the alley to Velvet Fog.
For food supplies, there are branches of Coles, Woolworths and Aldi on and around Katoomba Street. Also search for the wonderful Blue Mountains Food Co-op, tucked away in one of the arcades down near the bottom of the shopping strip, for organic fruit and veggies and bulk foods.
Cafes and Restaurants
Katoomba has a huge choice of good value places to eat. They're packed together in two clusters – one at the top of Katoomba Street near the station, and another about 300 metres further down the hill – so it's easy to walk around and check out all the options before you pick a place to eat.
Upper Katoomba Street
With at least 12 eateries within a few steps of the Explorer Bus stop and railway station, this is a convenient place to get a snack at the start of your day, or a meal and a beer to celebrate a full day of exploring.
Some of our favourite spots here include Bamboo Box for good value Asian food (show your Explorer Bus Pass for a discount on your meal), Mountain Ridges for breakfasts and cafe food, Upbeet for vegetarian and vegan dishes (and awesome iced coffee and chai) in hip surroundings, and Papadinos for pizza.
There are a couple of good pubs here too – the Old City Bank and the Station Bar both serve a range of craft beers and good food.
Lower Katoomba Street
Down at the bottom of Katoomba’s main shopping street you’ll find another cluster of cheap and cheerful places to eat. This is a good place to head for dinner, or a convenient place to stop when you’re visiting the Street Art Walk, Blue Mountains Cultural Centre and World Heritage Exhibition.
It's also very close to our Stop 2 – so you can head down here for lunch and jump straight on the next bus when you're ready to go on exploring.
There’s a huge variety of food from all over the world here – Korean, Malaysian, Indian, Tex-Mex, Thai, Sushi, Chinese – as well as typical café food. The Explorer Bus drops you off right in the middle of it all.
Places we love include Season Sushi, Unique Patisserie for Malaysian food and soft and fluffy cakes and pastries, Bluez for great Indian food, Thunderbird for Mexican food and hot chocolate, and the Hatters Cafe for breakfast and potato rosti (the house special).
And if you’re looking for a quick takeaway feast, you can’t do better Cedars, a tiny hole-in-the-wall kebab shop that sells one of Australia’s best falafel rolls.