When you’re ready to make the long trek Down Under, you want to make the most of your vacation. Here are the best places that you should visit in Australia!
The 16 Best Places to Visit in Australia
Australia is truly a place like nowhere else. It is the only country that is also a continent. Its isolation from the rest of the world means that nature evolved here to create species you can’t find anywhere else, like kangaroos and koalas.
The otherworldly landscapes in the desert often seem like they were shot in space. Australia also has a rich culture. Take time to learn from Aboriginal groups, who have rich histories dating back thousands of years.
Explore the vibrant cities with great coffee culture and music scenes. Of course, a trip to Australia wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the beach — a bonus if you decide to try your hand at surfing.
It’s hard to narrow down the best places to visit in Australia, but this list will give you an idea of the best places to go. Let us be your guide!
The massive red sides of Uluru are jaw-dropping when you see it for the first time in real life. This massive sandstone formation juts out of the Australian desert, creating an imposing table-like formation.
Today, Uluru is housed within the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. The park also contains a lot of other things to do, such as exploring the Kata Tjuta rock formations, cycling, and learning from the local Anangu Aboriginal peoples about their history and culture.
You may have seen images of people climbing the rock, but this is illegal since 2019 due to its spiritual significance for the local people. It’s just as awe-inspiring when viewed from the ground, anyway.
Sydney isn’t Australia’s capital, but it is the country’s largest city. It has something to offer for everyone, from the sophisticated urbanite to the adventurous traveler.
Start your exploration of Sydney at the famous harbor, where you can take in the Harbour Bridge and the otherworldly Sydney Opera House. If you can, explore the harbor via ferry or guided boat tour to learn about the history as the city sprang up around the harbor.
Sydney is also famous for its beautiful nature. It has many beautiful beaches within city limits, including the famous but often-crowded Bondi Beach.
If you want to do a little more than tan, you can go on a day trip to a nearby national park or nature area such as Manly Wharf, which is perfect for aquatic sports.
Read Next: The Best & Worst Times to Visit Sydney in 2023
3. The Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the seven natural wonders of the world, and the first time you get a glimpse of the world’s largest coral reef system, you’ll see why.
The thousands of reefs, islands, and cays that make up this complex, living ecosystem have to be seen to be believed. The best way to see the Great Barrier Reef is to go underwater.
Organized tours leave from the nearby towns of Cairns and Port Douglas and dock near the reef so you can snorkel or dive, swimming with the local wildlife. If you don’t want to swim, you can still get a glimpse of paradise by going on a glass-bottom boat tour.
4. The Whitsundays
If all you want to do during your Australian vacation is relax on the beach, then the Whitsundays are one of the best places to do so. This island chain off the northeastern coast of Australia, close to the Great Barrier Reef, is a true tropical paradise.
The Whitsundays are mostly uninhabited, so it’s best to base yourself out of Airlie Beach on the mainland.
Then, go on boat tours to explore local landmarks such as ancient Aboriginal sites, Heart Reef, and other sites. Or just pick an uninhabited island and pretend you’re an old shipwrecked sailor.
Melbourne is Australia’s coolest city and a must-visit if you want to get an idea of what the cutting edge of Australian culture is like.
The City Center has the most landmarks, such as the observation deck on the Eureka Tower and the Melbourne Museum. For a change of pace, head to one of the city’s many parks or to the beaches, including retro-chic St. Kilda Beach.
The best thing to do in Melbourne is not any one landmark, but to walk around and take in the culture. Explore the street art going down narrow alleyways.
Visit one of the many rooftop bars. Of course, no trip to Melbourne is complete without sitting down at a café and sampling one of the coffee-mad city’s famous brews.
6. Kakadu National Park
Australia has many natural wonders, and Kakadu National Park is one of the best places to get a taste of what the country has to offer. The park covers over 7,000 square miles a few hours away from Darwin, so you’re going to want a lot of time to explore the lush green landscapes.
Fans of the film Crocodile Dundee will probably recognize sites like the Gunlom rock pool and Jim Falls waterfall, but you don’t need to be a movie buff to appreciate the beauty. Other important sites in the park include the five thousand ancient Aboriginal rock art sites.
Tasmania may be home to the popular Tasmanian devil, but its natural beauty is positively heavenly. If Australia is another world, then the even more isolated island of Tasmania is another galaxy with its strange wildlife and unique biodiversity.
Base yourself out of the laid-back capital of Hobart and go on a road trip around the island. You can explore the bush country, climb alpine mountains, relax on the beach, and of course, visit wildlife sanctuaries that are home to the famous devil.
8. Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road is Australia’s most famous road trip route, with good reason. The views of the ocean and craggy landscape along this stretch of southern Victoria state are just spectacular.
The most famous landmark along the Great Ocean Road is probably the rock formation known as The Twelve Apostles, which juts out of the ocean (this is also known to be one of the best hikes in the world).
Other worthy stops are Bell’s Beach, a surfer’s paradise, and the picturesque town of Port Fairy. Of course, the best part of the journey is the road itself, with beautiful vistas weaving along the coast and adjoining rainforest.
9. Byron Bay
Most people perceive Australians as affable, relaxed surfer types who adore spending time on the beach. Most stereotypes have some truth to them, and nowhere will you see this side of Australia on display more than in Byron Bay.
Visit this town perched on a stretch of sandy shore for some fun in the sun and relaxing on the beach.
The town itself has turned into a great beach getaway, with delicious food and craft beer for all budgets. Plus, you’ll get to make friends with Australians also here on vacation.
10. Barossa Valley
The rolling hills of South Australia are home to one of the world’s best wine-producing regions. Of those, the picturesque Barossa Valley is probably the most famous.
Drive around this region and explore nearly 200 wineries and wine cellars, from world-famous big brands to passionate local producers.
The best thing to do in Barossa Valley is obviously to visit different wineries and sample their wares plus accompanying small plates. The region is most famous for red wine, so be sure to try some Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz.
11. Kangaroo Island
A trip to Australia would probably be disappointing without spotting some of the famous kangaroos, but that is not the only reason you should visit Kangaroo Island. This large, isolated island has some beautiful landscapes that will satisfy any nature lover.
On Kangaroo Island, check out the Remarkable Rocks, which are a series of craggy boulders up high that turn spectacular colors at sunset.
Sample some local produce while relaxing on the beach. Of course, you will want to see kangaroos, and the best time to do that is at dusk when the nocturnal animals begin moving about.
12. Blue Mountains
Australia is not just about sandy beaches and sandier deserts. It has beautiful mountains as well, including the famous Blue Mountains. When you visit the spectacular range, you’ll find it hard to believe that the bustling metropolis of Sydney is just a short drive away.
The best thing to do in the Blue Mountains is to go hiking. You can try to reach famous viewpoints such as Echo Point. When you get to the top, don’t be surprised if your view is covered by a blue haze — that’s due to the special oil eucalyptus trees give off.
13. Daintree Rainforest
Daintree Rainforest is another spectacular natural destination within Australia’s borders. This national park in Queensland has one of the oldest tropical rainforest ecosystems in the world.
A visit to Daintree Rainforest is a lifelong dream for many birdwatchers as hiking through the trees will bring you close to a number of different bird species, from chirping tropical birds to the dinosaur-looking cassowary.
There are plenty of organized activities to do in Daintree, such as night tours, canopy walks, paddleboard excursions, and more.
14. Gold Coast
Detractors say that the Gold Coast is tacky, and it is — but sometimes tacky is fun. See one of Australia’s most famous stretches of beaches for yourself and get a taste of Australian beach culture.
The most famous spot is Surfer’s Paradise, where many of Australia’s professional beach bums congregate.
Even if you’re not a surfer yourself, you’ll enjoy watching them conquer the waves. Nearby Brisbane, one of Australia’s largest cities, is also worth a visit.
15. Pinnacles Desert
Most visitors to Australia spend most of their time along the coast, ignoring the vast desert inland called the Outback. That’s a shame because then they miss sights such as the Pinnacles Desert.
Located in Nambung National Park, this stretch of desert features mysterious limestone pillars jutting out of the sand. The thousands of pillars combined with the ever-shifting sand dunes make for a beautiful yet eerie photo opportunity.
You can spend a whole day admiring the view and spotting the kangaroos, dingoes, and other wildlife that call the desert home. Try to spend the night as well, as the colors during sunrise and sunset are spectacular.
16. Broken Hill
Australia was a gritty industrial country for much of its modern history. Broken Hill, a former mining town, is one of the best places to take in that history.
Movie fans will recognize the otherworldly setting from Mad Max 2 or Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, but even if you’ve never seen those movies, you’ll appreciate the desolate desert landscapes.
Art lovers will want to make the trip north of town to Living Desert State Park, which features a series of magnificent sandstone outdoor sculptures. Broken Hill shows that the desert is a living entity, and people can live here, after all.
Things to Consider
Here are some things to keep in mind before heading Down Under. First, one of the best ways to see Australia is by car, but remember that Australians drive on the left, not on the right like most countries.
Second, the sun in Australia is no joke. Australia is closer to the sun due to a quirk in Earth’s orbit and is located closer to the thinning part of the ozone layer. Make sure to wear plenty of sunscreen.
Finally, the jokes about Australian wildlife aren’t a joke either — shake out your shoes before putting them back on, especially if you’re in the countryside!
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some other things you may want to know before heading to Australia:
What is the prettiest place in Australia?
The Great Barrier Reef and the surrounding areas are probably some of the prettiest places in the whole country. There is no other place on Earth with such beautiful tropical waters and elaborate coral reef systems.
Which part of Australia is best to travel to?
The state that probably has the most attractions that are interesting to tourists is Queensland. However, you don’t want to limit yourself to just one part of Australia.
Is seven days enough to visit Australia?
Seven days is probably not enough to visit Australia. You’ll want to spend at least ten days in Australia, and even then, you’ll have to limit yourself to one region of the country since getting from coast to coast will take up an entire day of your trip. Don’t forget to budget in time for recovering from jet lag!
What can’t you miss in Australia?
Even if you’re a certified city slicker, don’t miss the opportunity to spot some of Australia’s unique wildlife, such as kangaroos and koalas.
Why is Melbourne better than Sydney?
Many people prefer Melbourne because it has a more vibrant cultural and dining scene and is less expensive. However, to be fair to Sydney, it does have more iconic landmarks.
The Best Places to Visit in Australia: Final Thoughts
Australia has a lot of natural beauty to explore, but also cities that are global cultural powerhouses. The best thing to do is to try to hit all of the places on this list for a true taste of what Australia has to offer. Happy travels!