Located between the Pacific and Indian Oceans, Australia is the world’s largest island and its smallest continent. There’s room to move in the Land Down Under, and with so many sights to discover and enjoy, there’s a great incentive to go on a walkabout adventure. Whether exploring the traditional lifestyle of the nation’s Aboriginal people, relaxing on a sun-kissed beach or reveling the night away in a city hot spot, Australia has something special to offer every visitor. An overview of the best places to visit in Australia:
The capital of South Australia, Adelaide is Australia’s fifth largest city, with a population of over 1.2 million. More than three quarters of South Australians live in the Adelaide metropolitan area. The city is located on a plain between the rolling Adelaide Hills and the Gulf St Vincent and is bordered by many of Australia’s famous wine regions. Historically known as the City of Churches much of the architecture in the inner city is retained from the colonial era.
Hugging the coastline of Northern Territory, Darwin has long been the most international of the country’s major cities. Its close proximity to other countries in the Indian Ocean has made the city a transportation hub since its earliest days. Devastated during WW II, Darwin is a resilient town with a spirit that can’t be defeated. Today, the city of around 75,000 people is a popular holiday destination.
Hobart is the capital city of the Australian island of Tasmania, as well as Australia’s second oldest city after Sydney. With a population of about 250,000 Hobart is small and intimate compared to larger mainland Australian cities, reflecting the small size of the state. There are many fine examples of Georgian and Victorian architecture in Hobart, such as Salamanca Place, which has a terrace of warehouses dating back to the whaling days of the 1830s. It has a mild temperate oceanic climate, with four distinct seasons.
Brisbane is the capital of the state of Queensland. It has a population of about 2 million people, making it the third-largest city in Australia, after Sydney and Melbourne. Brisbane’s year-round warm climate, spectacular scenery and pleasant locals have been the draw-cards for many domestic and international visitors, making Brisbane the fastest-growing city in Australia.
Located on Australia’s southwestern coastline, Perth is the country’s fourth-largest city and the capital of Western Australia. Isolated from other major cities in Australia, Perth has developed its own unique character. Although the area has been inhabited for thousands of years, there’s a youthful atmosphere and a fun-loving attitude in this city of nearly two million people.
The capital of the state of Victoria, Melbourne is Australia’s second most populated city. Located near the southeastern tip of Australia on the large natural bay of Port Phillip, Melbourne is considered the nation’s cultural capital as well as an important port. A well-planned city known for its shopping, fine restaurants and sports venues, Melbourne is the ideal destination for travelers who appreciate the good life.
For its tropical climate, easy-going ambiance and close proximity to the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns is one of Australia’s most popular vacation destinations. Located on the northwest corner of Australia, Cairns is a provincial but stylish city with a population of around 150,000 people. Few coastal destinations feature more wildlife diversity and more opportunities for travel adventures than pretty Cairns.
Located in the heart of Australia about 1500 km (900 miles) from the nearest major city, Alice Springs is comprised of cavernous gorges, boundless desert landscapes, remote Aboriginal communities and a charming pioneering history. It embodies the hardy outback of the Red Centre, and is a travel hub for sights and hikes in the region, such as Uluru/Ayers Rock, Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) and Kings Canyon. Since the start of the tourist boom in the early eighties, the population has substantially grown to about 28,000.
One of the top destinations for underwater explorers and scuba divers, the Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest barrier reef system. Located in the Coral Sea off the coast of Australia’s state of Queensland, the Great Barrier Reef encompasses a huge area of more than 2,900 coral reefs and hundreds of islands and cays. Formed by millions of living organisms over a period of millions of years, the Reef is now one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world and of the best places to visit in Australia.
Located on Australia’s southeastern coast, Sydney is the capital of New South Wales. A modern city with a long history, Sydney is defined by its scenic harbor. The region’s first inhabitants lived along the harbor’s bank for thousands of years. The harbor was also the landing site for convicts sent to Australia during the 1780s. Today, ferries take visitors for cruises under the famed Sydney Harbor Bridge and past the iconic Sydney Opera House.
More great destinations can be found in the Explore Australia page.