Australia, the land down under, is a vast country with many fascinating places to visit. The country has everything from sandy beaches dotting the coastline to lush rainforests and national parks to modern cities, pristine islands and an abundance of wildlife. But with so many options, choosing a place to visit can be daunting.
So here we are to help you discover and visit some of the best places to visit in Australia.
An almost picture-perfect city; that’s what Sydney is. The city has a lot going for it. It is a modern city with a long history. The region’s first inhabitants lived along its scenic harbour for thousands of years. The harbour was also the site for convicts sent to Australia during the 1780s. Today ferries take visitors for cruises under the famous Sydney Harbor Bridge and past the iconic Sydney Opera House.
Apart from the city delights, the city also has other things to offer. Travellers with an adventurous streak can take a ferry to Manly Wharf, rent kayaks to paddle the inlets of Sydney Harbor National Park or even sign up for surfing classes. Here is also the option of taking a 5 km walk at the Federation Cliff Walk, which provides spectacular views of the sea, harbour and the Macquarie Lighthouse, Australia’s first and longest operating lighthouse.
The city has some beautiful beaches, perfect places to spend a warm summer day swimming or relaxing on the sands. The most popular ones are Bondi Beach, Manly and Coogee, although there are several others.
A visit to Sydney will be incomplete without a tour of the Sydney Opera House. Designed by Danish architect Jorn Utzon, this sailing-ship-inspired performing arts complex is one of the world’s most distinctive architectural structures.
If you have an adventurous streak, you could go for a heart-thumping climb on the harbour bridge.
Other attractions include shopping at the historic Queen Victoria Building, hitting the Rocks District clubs and restaurants, and visiting the world-class Taronga Zoo. There is something for everyone in this city.
2. Gold Coast
Australia’s glimmering Gold Coast lies south of Brisbane on Queensland’s southeastern coastline. Blessed with year-round warm weather and sunny skies, this coastal city is one of the most popular holiday destinations. It has a lively yet laid-back vibe with the right mix of sun, sea and surf.
The capital is Surfers Paradise which is where most people flock to. It is home to large shopping malls, lively nightclubs, countless bars, restaurants, water parks, amusement parks, nature reserves, and accommodation options. The expansive beaches are great for swimming, sunbathing and other watersports. The glittering high-rises that overlook the beach add to the place’s vibe. The biggest attraction is the stunning sunsets which cannot be missed.
Melbourne has been voted the world’s most livable city, and it also happens to be one of the coolest cities in Australia. The city has plenty to offer to all types of visitors. Whether you want to eat some incredible food, admire the street art, catch a sports game, shop, or visit a quirky café or a vintage shop, there is a lot you can choose from. You can also visit other destinations from Melbourne, like the Great Ocean Road, Phillips Island and Yarra valley.
Perth is the capital of Western Australia. Although it is isolated from the rest of the country, it is considered one of the most livable cities thanks to its laidback vibe, cultural sites and an array of things to do.
Many of the city’s attractions are located near the water, whether the beaches along the Sunset Coast to the north or the parks, walks and picnic spots around the Swan River. Fremantle, known as ‘Freo’ by the locals, is the city’s port, a bustling marina known to be a haven for artists and students. Cottesloe Beach is the most popular beach just a few miles from Fremantle.
The city has one of the largest city parks in the world, the thousand-acre Kings Park, which encompasses Mount Eliza, a hill overlooking the city, a botanical garden with aerial walkways and the State War Memorial Park. The Perth Zoo offers visitors encounters with kangaroos and other animals native to Australia. Ferry service in Perth takes visitors to car-free Rottnest Island or the closer Penguin Island to watch daily feedings of the flightless birds.
5. Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is a natural wonder that you cannot miss. It is the world’s largest barrier reef system, with over 300 individual reefs and 900 islands covering the distance between New York City and Miami. You can take a scenic flight over the reef, take a luxury tour on a catamaran and stay on one of the islands. This is a UNESCO World Heritage sight.
6. Fraser Island
Fraser Island is the world’s largest sand island. It is 76 miles long and 14 miles wide. Visitors to the island can experience one of the country’s most unique four-wheel-drive adventures with no sealed roads and just pure sand. The island has fantastic sights like lush rainforest growing on top of dunes, over 100 freshwater lakes and creeks, spectacular sandstone cliffs and one of the best places to see baby humpback whales. No wonder, then, this is a UNESCO World Heritage site! What is more, even the highway is actually a 75-mile beach. You could take a day or 4×4 tag-along tour to explore the place.
7. Kangaroo Island
The third largest island in the country, Kangaroo Island, lies just off the coast of South Australia, about a 45-minute ferry ride from Cape Jarvis. This beautiful island, with its untouched landscapes, is home to incredible scenery and abundant wildlife.
Its numerous nature reserves are home to massive dunes, towering cliffs, large caves and remarkable rock formations. One can spot echidnas, koalas, kangaroos, penguins, sea lions and dolphins. The diverse landscapes lend themselves to all kinds of outdoor activities like hiking, sandboarding and scuba diving.
Besides this, the island has lots of delicious local produce and fine wines for visitors.
The city of Darwin is another popular holiday destination in Australia and its proximity to other countries in the Indian Ocean has made the city a transportation hub. Darwin’s main attractions include its wide sandy beach lined with seafood restaurants, beer bars and shops.
Darwin is also the hub for tours to the Kakadu National Park, the Litchfield National Park and the Katherine Gorge. Other attractions include the Crocodylus Park, the Aboriginal-owned Tiwi islands, the region’s mangrove forest and the city’s esplanade. Visitors can opt for cruises lasting up to 12 hours to explore the various attractions.
Canberra, the capital of Australia, nicknamed the ‘Bush Capital’, lies among stunning nature reserves and low-lying mountain ranges in the north of the Australian Capital Territory. A city of politicians and civil servants, the now thriving metropolis is home to world-class museums, art galleries and national monuments. The city’s large student body means it has a pounding nightlife with all kinds of bars, restaurants and shops. The city has lots of interesting historical sights, many of which are related to its parliament and government institutions.
Due to its rural setting, the city is a fantastic place to explore the great outdoors. The natural reserves are lovely to hike and cycle around, as are the city’s numerous parks, gardens and human-made lakes.
Cairns is another popular holiday destination owing to its tropical climate, easy-going ambience and proximity to the Great Barrier Reef. The city has a lot of natural beauty, bordered by mountains and the Coral Sea and surrounded by sugar cane plantations and rainforests. For entertainment, there are several bars, restaurants and shopping options.
One of its biggest attractions is the saltwater lagoon located in the middle of the city. The Cairns Esplanade along the shore is lined with trendy cafes, bars and boutiques. Numerous beaches to the north of the city are easily accessible by bus or car. The City Botanic Gardens contain plants used by Aboriginal people. Opposite the gardens is a Broadwalk that leads visitors through the rainforest to the Centenary Lakes, a crocodile habitat.
The city offers several opportunities for adventure sports like snorkelling and scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef, skydiving and whitewater rafting. The hike along an aerial walkway over the Daintree Rainforest is an experience many visitors would not want to miss.
Adelaide, Australia’s fifth largest city, is situated on the eastern shores of Gulf Vincent and is the capital of South Australia. The city is located on a plain between the rolling Adelaide Hills and the Gulf and is bordered by many of Australia’s famous wine regions. These range from Barossa Valley and Claire Valley regions in the north to the McLaren Vale and Langhorne Creek regions in the south to the Adelaide Hills region in the east.
Named ‘The City of Churches’, the city boasts several beautiful churches adding to its picturesque nature and lovely parks and green spaces. The city has a unique multicultural element owing to the immigrants from Europe and Asia. It has many gourmet food options, cafes and arts festivals, making it quite a hub.
This island may be isolated from the rest of the country, but it remains one of Australia’s best places to visit. Almost half of the area is protected as the government looks to preserve the natural bounty. Tourists can have a fantastic time exploring its terrain with desolate wilderness and alpine plateaus interspersed with beaches, waterfalls and forests. Taking a boat trip along its craggy coast is equally rewarding, as you can see dolphins, penguins and seals along the way.
The capital city of Hobart has several eating and drinking options. The island also hosts an eclectic range of fantastic festivals throughout the year where you can enjoy local beer and wine along with art and music events.
13. The Blue Mountains
Australia has many natural wonders, but this is one of the most accessible and awe-inspiring. These mountains lie to the west of Sydney in New South Wales. They get their name from the misty haze that the oil from the eucalyptus trees growing in the area give off. This is a must-visit if you crave spectacular scenery, majestic mountains, plateaus and escarpments. It could be a day trip or a weekend getaway.
You can do many things here, from hiking to mountain biking to trekking and enjoying the stunning views. The views from Echo Point and Govett’s Leap are not to be missed.
Since the mountains have long been the home of the Gundungurra and Darug peoples, they are a great place to learn about Aboriginal history and culture. Besides the natural wonders, the area is also home to charming towns and villages like Springwood, known for its art galleries and Leura, for its craft shops and restaurants.
Brisbane is a top-rated tourist destination. It is a lively and dynamic city that is bathed in sunshine all year round and is the third largest city in Australia, after Sydney and Melbourne. Located in the Sunshine State, many visitors stop by the city on their way to the fabulous resorts and beaches that lie to its north and south.
The city is set on the banks of the Brisbane River. Its fantastic climate means that outdoor activities are very popular here. You could choose from a number of them, from biking, climbing and hiking. It’s a friendly city with a vibrant music scene, making it one of the world’s music capitals. It has lots of lovely restaurants and bars, making it a city not to be missed.
15. Byron Bay
Byron Bay lies in New South Wales, off the Pacific Highway connecting Brisbane to Sydney. This beautiful beachside town is known for its idyllic beaches, fabulous surf spots, art and culture festivals and the weekly farmer’s markets. There is a wide variety of water sports, from scuba diving to surfing to sky diving and even whale watching. It’s a favourite holiday destination for families, artists, surfers and hippies. Several trendy bars, restaurants and art galleries have also sprung up in the area.
16. The Great Ocean Road
This 243-kilometre-long Great Ocean Road is one of the world’s most scenic drives. It runs along the south coast of the state of Victoria. This highway was built in 1932 by soldiers returning from WWI and is dedicated to those who lost their lives during the war.
The road runs from the seaside resort town of Torquay near Melbourne to the small and quiet Allansford, passing epic limestone sea stacks, secluded coves and spectacular surf spots. It also meanders through pockets of rainforest, fertile Winelands, endless eucalyptus forests and sleepy seaside towns.
Popular attractions include Bell’s Beach, Great Otway National Park and the Twelve Apostles.
17. The Daintree Rainforest
This beautiful rainforest lies on the northern coast of Australia in a national park of the same name. It is one of the world’s most diverse tropical rainforests in Queensland. It boasts some fantastic fauna and flora, ancient ecosystems and lots of wildlife.
Apart from the rainforest, Daintree also consists of rugged mountains, teeming rivers, rich coral reef systems and beautiful beaches. Cape Tribulation boasts some of the best white sandy beaches in Australia.
A three drive from Cairns, Daintree is a nature lover’s delight with lots of fun outdoor activities like hiking, wildlife watching, paddleboarding, ziplining and cruising along one of the rivers.
18. King’s Canyon
Lying in Watarrka National Park in the country’s Northern Territory, King’s Canyon attracts tourists due to its staggering size, scale and stunning scenery. One of its major attractions is the gaping gorge formed more than 400 million years ago as the ruddy-coloured sandstone eroded.
The canyon is a natural wonder. Cutting through the desert landscape, its walls tower over a hundred metres, with a small creek and sparse vegetation down below. There are jagged cliffs, interesting rock formations and beautiful scenery that you can enjoy while strolling or hiking.
For the people here, it has been a source of water and a place of refuge and respite from the scorching sun. It is a sacred place to visit for them.
19. The Whitsundays
These are 74 breathtaking islands situated in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Airlie Beach. They are surrounded by lush rainforest, turquoise water and white sands. As most of these are uninhabited, they are unspoilt and so the visitors can experience paradise on earth.
The best way to explore these islands is either by taking a catamaran day cruise or a 2-day sailing trip which will give you the opportunity to snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef, visit Whitehaven beach, the second best in the world and sleep under the stars in the middle of the ocean. You could go skydiving or enjoy luxurious overnight stays on one of the four uninhabited islands. There is no other place where you can relax the way you can on these islands.
20. Kakadu National Park
This park has been occupied by Aboriginal people for over 40,000 years and has over five thousand ancient rock art sites, which are fascinating to visit. The place has a lot of cultural and natural significance. The park is vast and has some stunning natural sights, which make it a must-visit, especially the Kakadu Escarpment.
This small, scenic, secluded town is located on the northern coast of Western Australia. It is perched on a small peninsula that juts into the Indian Ocean. Darwin and Perth are the two cities that lie closest to it, but they are more than 2000 km away.
The most popular place to relax and unwind in Broome is Cable Beach, considered one of Australia’s most beautiful beaches. Besides sunbathing on its white sands and bathing in its turquoise waters, visitors can enjoy cocktails and spa packages at its luxury resorts and camel rides along the beach.
Visitors can visit the rock formations at Entrance Point and the red cliffs and dinosaur footprints at Gantheaume Point. Further afield are the breathtaking Horizontal Falls with other wild and untouched landscapes found around the Dampier Peninsula and the Kimberley Region.
22. Alice Springs
Located almost in the centre of the country, Alice Springs lies in the endless outback of the Northern Territory, nearly 1500 km from the nearest city. It is a great place to visit if you want to know about the rich history, heritage and culture of the Aborigines. The city is home to several museums, indigenous Australian art galleries, restaurants, bars and hotels.
Its main attractions, however, are the awe-inspiring desert landscapes, rock formations and gorges that lie all around it. While the iconic Uluru attracts the most visitors, the Kata Tijuta rock formations and the Kings Canyon make for spectacular sights.
23. Barossa Valley
Located in Southern Australia, Barossa Valley is home to Australia’s most famous vineyards. Amongst the well-known wineries are Wolf Blass, Lehmann and Penfolds. Located just an hour outside Adelaide, this region boasts gorgeous countryside. It’s a beautiful place to spend a few days enjoying the wines and the natural beauty.
24. Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
Located in the Northern Territory is one of the most famous sites of the Outback- Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock. It is located near Alice Springs and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The National Park is instantly recognizable due to its ruddy hue. The incredible rock structure is why people love to visit this national park, and this is one of Australia’s most prominent landmarks. While Uluru is the main draw, the equally mesmerizing rock formations of Kata Tijuta are fantastic to wander around, with lots of activities for visitors to enjoy.
Owned by the Anangu Aboriginal people, this site is of great cultural and spiritual significance to them. The cultural centre is a great place to learn more about their way of life. The park boasts lots of great walks, bike rides and tours. Its beauty is truly astounding.
25. The Pinnacles
Situated within Namburg National Park, The Pinnacles can be found not far from the small town of Cervantes in Western Australia. Due to their remote setting, these spectacular limestone formations largely remained unknown till 1967, when a reserve was formed to protect these prominent pillars.
Rising dramatically out of the desert floor, The Pinnacles resemble weathered tombstones and number in thousands. Together these make for an incredible sight as sand, and coastal dunes constantly blow through the landscape.
While debates continue about how their distinctive shapes got formed, it is generally agreed that they are made out of limestone from seashells. The Pinnacles are a popular tourist attraction, and often Western grey kangaroos can be spotted between them and the occasional emu, dingo and honey possum.
This is a list of some of the best places to visit in Australia, you could choose and have a great vacation.