Australia is all about being unique – it’s the planet’s smallest continent in terms of land size, but the largest country that’s also its own continent. It has some of the world’s most diverse native flora and fauna, including the platypus and the kangaroo.
Although many early visitors came to the area under duress when it was a British prison colony, today, plenty of people around the world come voluntarily to enjoy the beautiful scenery and friendly people.
Depending on what your interests are, how much time you have, and what parts of the country you’re interested in exploring, there’s plenty to see and do, as well as some great places to stay in Australia.
Why You Should Visit Australia in 2023
Australia and the Greater Oceania area is the greatest getaway you can have. It does take some time to get to the South Pacific from anywhere in the world, but once you’re here, there’s no end to things to see and do.
Though Australia is small, at least relatively (just under 3 million acres), it’s diverse geologically, with forests, beaches, deserts, mountains and more. There’s a blend of big cities and rural communities but everyone is considered friendly and hospitable, since it’s part of the culture.
The weather is generally moderate and temperate, and is the reverse of the Western Hemisphere, so it could be a lovely spot for a winter vacation, since it’s summertime.
The country is absolutely delighted to welcome back visitors too – during the COVID pandemic, it had some of the strictest health restrictions, especially for tourists. But today, visitors are encouraged to come and enjoy everything the country has to offer.
The 4 Best Areas in Australia
There’s plenty to explore in Australia, with six states and two territories. Some travelers may enjoy spending their whole time in one geographic area, while others look forward to visiting as many of these areas as they can.
Prime areas in Australia worth visiting include:
- Great Barrier Reef (Cairns/Port Douglas). This amazing underwater destination on the east coast attracts divers, snorkelers, and aquatic fans from around the world, plus general fans of taking life easy on the beautiful beaches.
- Sydney. See the Opera House, Harbour Bridge, and other noteworthy landmarks.
- Melbourne. The international influences in Australia’s largest city can be seen in everything from wonderful architecture to colorful art displayed in galleries and even on walls and buildings.
- Tasmania. This Australian state is known for beautiful scenery and a significant wildlife population. It has also been documented as having the world’s cleanest air.
Where to Stay in Australia: 4 Best Areas
You can’t go wrong with pretty much any of the lodging options in Australia, from independently-owned inns in the outback to chain hotels in the more urban areas, plus no-frills hostels for the budget-conscious.
Hospitality is important to most Australians, and there is a general appreciation of tourists and tourism dollars. This means that there are usually all sorts of lodging options available, especially near popular attractions. Some lodging establishments even combine restaurants and bars, so you can enjoy local culture without having to travel too far away.
Places to stay also range in price and quality. Some travelers may be fond of rustic accommodations if they want to rough it in the backcountry, but others may prefer comfort and style when possible, especially if their Oz adventure is a trip of a lifetime. Everyone should easily be able to find the right fit.
1. The Great Barrier Reef (Cairns/Port Douglas)
Travel experts recommend staying in the Cairns region of Tropical North Queensland for those interested in exploring the reef area.
You’ll find an assortment of small communities, including Cairns City, that each include unique restaurants, cafes, and shops, as well as places to book tours and buy supplies for reef expeditions. Fresh seafood is always on the menu, plus a variety of local wines.
One thing to note is that if you go here in the offseason (I visited in February), there are very few shops and restaurants open. If they are open, their hours are significantly reduced.
We stayed at a youth hostel, so we were able to make friends and hang out on the beach and at the club with them. But if we’d have stayed at a hotel during this time, it’d have been very lonely, as we’d have been cooped up in a hotel room without much to do.
Things to Do
- Reef Cruises. Even if you don’t want to get wet, the reef is worth checking out by boat.
- Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park. Learn about the area’s indigenous culture and how it’s still celebrated, along with an overview of sacred sites.
- Cairns Esplanade. This shopping district has a little bit of everything. Be sure to try the Indian restaurant; they have amazing curry!
- Daintree National Park. Enjoy getting close to nature in this protected rainforest.
- Kuranda Scenic Railway. See the reef and coastline in style aboard a slow-moving train.
Where to Eat
- Ochre. Adventure is on the menu, with an assortment of local game, local herbs, and locally-caught seafood.
- Piato Cairns. Known primarily for ‘reef and beef’ – seafood and steak – the restaurant has a little bit of everything.
- C’est Bon. This French bistro adds to the area’s international flair.
- Bayleaf. Enjoy traditional cuisine from Bali and Indonesia at this casual indoor spot.
- Tamarind. One of the more luxury restaurants in the area is known for an Asian fusion menu plus a relaxed vibe.
Where to Stay
- The Jack Motel and Backpackers. Guests receive private rooms with attached bathrooms as well as access to a common area that includes a TV and lockers. There’s a bistro as well as concerts each weekend.
- Global Backpackers Waterfront. This waterfront hostel includes private rooms with balconies plus shared dormitories. There’s a rooftop lounge and a kitchen. Members of the Global Backpackers club also receive discounts at participating merchants.
- Hotel Tropiq. The hotel offers easy access to shopping and reef tour starting points. Rooms emphasize the view and some of them offer longer-term options like kitchenettes. There’s also a hot tub and pool.
- The Benson. Many of the rooms provide a great look at the city skyline. It’s located in the area’s business district and includes a restaurant/bar. It’s near the Convention Center and Reef Casino.
- Hilton Cairns. If you want comfort before and after your reef journey, it’s hard to beat this. The hotel is only 2 minutes from the Reef Departure Terminal. It also offers air conditioning and a separate pool.
- Pullman Reef. Besides offering easy access to the reef and Esplanade, guests can visit the in-house casino plus four bars. There’s also an indoor Wildlife Dome in the lobby, featuring kangaroo and wallaby families.
Though there’s plenty to see in Australia, many of the most recognizable photos come from this region, including the architecturally-impressive Opera House. The sizeable New South Wales community includes plenty of destinations that are popular with tourists as well as locals.
Things to Do
- Royal Botanic Gardens. You’ll find more than 27,000 plants at the country’s oldest scientific institution. Admission is free, although some special exhibits may include a small charge.
- Opera House. Even if you’re not a fan of this particular musical genre, the concert venue is especially welcoming and scenic. It’s located right on the water and includes a rooftop café plus a luxury restaurant tucked into one of the sails.
- Harbour Bridge. This well-photographed arched steel structure is fun to look at or travel on, whether you’re walking or a passenger. It connects the Central Business District to the North Shore.
Where to Eat
- The Butler. A small, intimate restaurant at Potts Point provides plenty of scenery, including an amazing view of the city skyline. It’s enjoyable in the daytime or the evening.
- Bennelong. This location is within the sails of the Sydney Opera House. It specializes in local produce and seafood.
- Catalina. This restaurant is easy to access, and is within easy reach of the airport, ferry terminal and boat docks. It’s known for coastal seafood plus other local ingredients.
- Quay. The location at the Overseas Passenger Terminal on Circular Quay has received all sorts of dining awards for not just the food and service but the impressive view.
Where to Stay
- London Plane Backpackers. Travelers at this hostel can access a shared lounge, kitchen, and grill. Family rooms are available. It’s not far from the prime Sydney-area destinations, including Central Station.
- Summer House Kings Cross. This Backpacker destination includes a variety of dorm rooms, from smaller private ones to larger group dorms. There’s also a private area for women. It’s a short walk to locations like the Botanical Gardens and Opera House.
- St. Marks Randwick. This guest house outside of Sydney is on a main bus route and can take you to all the main attractions plus several nearby stores and cafes. It also offers several guest rooms and private bathrooms. Guests can also have a coffee station and a refrigerator in their room.
- Ibis Styles. This location is right in the middle of the Sydney Business District. It includes a fitness center and restaurant, plus easy access to other dining and drinking establishments. It’s also within an easy walk to several museums and Chinatown.
- The Darling at The Star. This hotel is right by Cockle Bay and is known for great views of the city. Guests can access a day spa, 20 bars and restaurants, a scented outdoor pool, and a casino. It’s less than 10 minutes to drive to the Opera House and the Convention Center.
- Pullman Quay Grand Sydney Harbor. Visitors can access private one-bedroom apartments that come with a spa bathtub, a gourmet kitchen, and a private balcony. There’s an indoor pool plus the Hyde Hacienda restaurant, which serves Cuban cuisine, and the Q-Dining restaurant, which serves Australian fare.
Some call Melbourne Australia’s cultural capital. It’s in the State of Victoria, and offers plenty of international flavor plus all sorts of exciting choices of things to see and do.
Art is definitely a focus here, from fine galleries to the laneways, which are narrow streets and alleys where area artists fully decorate the narrow walls and other surfaces with incredible murals.
These bright displays go far beyond classic graffiti/street art and are truly magnificent. The area is also vibrant with world-class bars, restaurants, and more
Things to Do
- National Gallery. The country’s oldest and largest collection of art includes more than 70,000 pieces in all sorts of styles, including original aboriginal creations.
- Federation Square. This central area of downtown is a great hub for people-watching, enjoying coffee, or heading to galleries and other hot spots.
- Skydeck. The best view around takes visitors 285 meters up and provides a panorama of the whole city and beyond. You can also step onto The Edge, a transparent area of the observation deck to feel suspended in space.
- Melbourne Zoo. Though you may be able to randomly spot various animals here and there if you explore in the bush, checking out the zoo is a good way to see them up close and safely, along with some rarer specimens. There are also other exotic animals from other parts of the world, including elephants and gorillas.
Where to Eat
- Palermo. This Argentinian steakhouse offers a variety of charcoal-grilled meats, fine wines from the Southern Hemisphere, and even some vegan options.
- Il Bicaro. Enjoy fine Italian dining, plus some clever desserts and locally-sourced ingredients.
- Sunda. Fusion is the name of the game in many Melbourne restaurants, including this popular spot that blends Australian cuisine with Southeast Asian flavors. You can enjoy meat dishes plus non-meat choices.
- Sezar. Armenian food isn’t all that common to run across, but this place has found a great location to present area diners with all sorts of delicacies including lamb kebabs, tabouleh and more.
Where to Stay
- The Village. This 18-person hostel can be ideal for larger groups, or perhaps smaller groups that are fine being in close quarters with other travelers. It’s near Queen Victoria Market, which is a noted location for shopping and dining. The dormitory-style location includes a dining area, kitchen, and laundry area on every floor, plus a central lounge.
- Elizabeth. Guests can receive free WiFi in their room for 30 minutes a night, as well as access to a shared kitchen and shared bathroom. It includes options for double rooms or a dorm style with more beds. On the upside, it’s in the middle of the Melbourne Business District and provides easy access to the nearby shopping district.
- The Marker Apartments. This private set of apartments on the west side of the town includes a kitchen. The owners have designed the place with sustainability in mind, including a garden. Private bathrooms are available with each unit. It’s near Marvel Stadium, Melbourne Central Station, and other points of interest.
- Imagine Wrap. The executive set of apartments is near the National Gallery and Southbank Promenade. Rooms include mini-refrigerators, a dishwasher and electric teapots. Guests also receive use of linens and towels, which aren’t always available at budget locations.
- Quincy Hotel. Plenty of amenities are available in-house, including an indoor pool, a sunroom, an a la carte breakfast, and a fitness center. There’s also a bar and restaurant on site and other places to eat and drink nearby. The location is also close to the Crown Casino Melbourne and Block Arcade Melbourne.
- St. Kilda Beachfront. This beachfront penthouse includes three bedrooms, views of a garden and the ocean, and a flat-screen TV. Guests receive access to a mini-market. It’s also near Middle Park Beach and Elwood Beach, two popular beach destinations.
Although it’s part of Australia as a state, Tasmania is geographically separate from its larger neighbor to the north by a body of water. More than 40 percent of the island has been designated as public land, including parks and wildlife reserves.
This means there’s an abundance of wildlife, mountains, rainforests, and beaches, plus plenty of opportunities for general tourism.
There are also many urban cultural offerings in Hobart and other cities, including art galleries, museums, restaurants, bars, and more. Staying in the area while you are exploring the countryside is definitely a good idea, especially since there’s no easy way in and out except by boat or plane.
Some people like to have their route around the island precisely planned out, while others may simply enjoy driving around on a sightseeing expedition.
Seeing and fully appreciating much of the good stuff here may require more than a day trip, so there are a variety of lodging accommodations on the island.
Things to Do
- Devils Tasmanian Devil Sanctuary. Cradle Mountain Lodge includes an area dedicated as a conservation and breeding program for these unique marsupials. Visitors can watch them in their natural habitat.
- Port Arthur. When Australia was an active British penal colony, this area had one of the largest prisons. Today, there are a variety of tours available, including evening ghost tours.
- MONA Museum of Old and New Art. The region’s largest privately-funded museum includes the extensive collection of antiquities and art owned by David Walsh.
- Bincheno Penguin Tours. Some penguin species have made their way north from Antarctica. Visitors interested in learning more can take part in various expeditions to respectfully and safely visit penguin rookeries and observe them going back and forth to the sea.
Where to Eat
- The Glass House. This elegant place offers fine dining plus amazing views of the city. It’s at Brooke Street Pier in Hobart, the largest city in the area. Some describe the cuisine style as a combination of authentic Japanese and authentic Tasmanian, which mostly means lots of local spices, meats, and vegetables.
- Fico. This Hobart location is always changing its menu, so every visit here is always a little different. It’s designed to be appealing to residents as well as guests visiting from other parts of the continent.
- Pigeon Hole. The owners of this café in West Hobart wanted to come up with something tasty as well as something sustainable. What they found was that bread is a key ingredient in any meal, and they take pride in the quality of the bread they make and bake each day.
- The Source. The food here is always good, but the glass walls really add to the overall ambience at this Berriedale spot. The restaurant is part of the MONA gallery but it is also a good location from which to explore the area.
Where to Stay
Travel experts estimate it could take 20 hours to drive around the island, since it’s bigger than many people expect. However, since almost half of the island is public land, this means it isn’t very populated. The bulk of places to stay are in and around the Hobart area.
Here, people can stock up on supplies, arrange transportation if they haven’t brought their car along, or plan routes into the rest of the island. Visitors will find a wide range of amenities when searching for places to stay.
- Strahan Beach Tourist Park. You could certainly pay a lot for a room at a beachfront hotel. Or you can pay less for a beachfront cabin. Either way, you’ve got a great place to start your adventure. These cabins on Strahan Beach are about 15 minutes from town. They offer private baths, a lounge area with TV, a dining area and a cooking area. There is also a central area for laundry, plus a place to check out board games.
- Base Camp. These units are in New Norfolk, about 30 minutes outside of Hobart. Visitors can access small units that contain a microwave, toaster, refrigerator, kettle, and stove. Packed lunches are available as well as continental breakfast supplies.
- Travelodge Hotel Hobart Airport. A room by an airport is always quite convenient for the start or the end of a journey – or both. At this location in Cambridge, visitors can rest in sound-proof rooms and suites and access transportation into Hobart and the rest of the region, including a free shuttle to and from the airport. Air-conditioned rooms include coffee pots and some have spa baths. There’s also a restaurant on site if you’re not ready to explore the surroundings in search of food yet.
- The Old Woolstore Apartments. This private hotel is in the middle of Hobart’s Central Business District. The waterfront and many area restaurants are within walking distance. There’s also an on-site restaurant, bar, and fitness area. Guest rooms come in studio and two-bedroom sizes.
- Piermont Retreat. Private beach access. A tennis court. Bathrooms in each room. Outdoor pool. A fine restaurant on site. Choice of cottages or suites. This is a perfect getaway from the hubbub of life and an excellent place to recharge one’s batteries and enjoy the Tasmania experience.
- Georges Bay Apartments. Located near St. Helens on the east side of the island, this high-end four-bedroom apartment offers plenty of space for travelers to relax. Each unit includes a kitchenette, microwave, refrigerator, and private bathroom. There’s also a space to tie up boats and a place for families to have picnics.
So, Where Should You Stay in Australia in 2023?
|🥳 Best area for nightlife||Melbourne|
|🚤 Best area for watersports||Sydney Harbor|
|🍾 Best luxury area||Hayman Islands (Great Barrier Reef)|
|💸 Most budget-friendly area||Hobart|
Not all travelers are necessarily seeking a great place to stay, especially if they’re coming to check out the Great Barrier Reef or other noted attractions in all their glory.
But choosing a classy, comfortable place can also make sure you’re fully refreshed for the journey ahead – or perhaps rest well at the end of your expedition. So what are you waiting for — book your trip to Australia today!