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.
With amazing national parks dotted around the country and some fantastic islands, visitors to Australia can be off exploring the delights of Tasmania one minute and Kakadu and Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Parks the next. On top of this, the beautiful beaches and turquoise waters that line its shores are home to the jaw-dropping Great Barrier Reef; one of the miracles of the natural world and one of Australia’s most popular tourist destinations. With loads of great things to see and do, you’ll have your job cut out trying to fit everything into your trip!
10. Cairns Find Hotels
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. The city is bordered by mountains and the Coral Sea and is surrounded by sugar cane plantations and rainforest. There are enough good bars, restaurants and shopping options to keep visitors entertained before they head off into the stunning nature nearby.
Instead of a beach, Cairns features a saltwater lagoon in the center of the city. The Cairns Esplanade along the shore is lined with trendy cafés, bars and boutiques. Numerous beaches are located just to the north of the city and are easily accessible by bus or car. The City Botanic Gardens features plants used by Aboriginal people. Opposite the gardens, a boardwalk leads visitors through the rainforest to the Centenary Lakes, a habitat for crocodiles.
Opportunities for adventure sports abound in Cairns and range from snorkeling and scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef to skydiving and whitewater rafting. The Daintree Rainforest to the north of Cairns is considered the world’s oldest tropical rainforest, and a hike along an aerial walkway over the forest is an experience that many visitors won’t want to miss.
9. Adelaide Find Hotels
Situated on the eastern shores of Gulf St Vincent, Adelaide is 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 and is bordered by many of Australia’s famous wine regions. The Barossa Valley and Clare Valley regions lie to the north, the McLaren Vale and Langhorne Creek regions to the south and the cooler Adelaide Hills region to the east.
Nicknamed ‘the city of churches’, the lofty spires dotted about here and there add to the picturesque nature of Adelaide and there are lots of nice parks and green spaces for locals and visitors alike to enjoy.
Proximity to premium wine and food growing regions, as well as waves of immigration from Europe and Asia have created a unique multicultural gourmet food and café culture in the city. This culture is supported by Adelaide’s arts festivals held in March including the Adelaide Festival and the Adelaide Fringe Festival.
The island state of Tasmania may be isolated from the rest of the country but it still remains one of the best places to visit in Australia; almost half of its area is protected as the government looks to preserve the natural riches. With desolate wilderness and alpine plateaus interspersed with stunning white beaches, waterfalls, and forests, exploring its terrain is simply mesmerizing. Taking a boat trip along its craggy coast is equally rewarding and you can even see dolphins, penguins, and seals along the way.
With lots of great local produce, eating and drinking in the capital city of Hobart is an absolute pleasure and the restaurants and bars are divine. The island also hosts an eclectic range of great festivals throughout the year, where you can enjoy local beer and wine or arts and music events.
7. Perth Find Hotels
The capital of Western Australia, Perth is very isolated from the rest of the country, yet is routinely considered one of the most livable cities in the world thanks to its laidback vibe, fantastic cultural sites, and a wide range of things to do.
Many of Perth’s attractions are located near the water, whether it’s the beaches stretching along the Sunset Coast to the north or the parks, walks and picnic spots edging the Swan River. Fremantle, known as “Freo” by the locals, is the city’s port, a bustling marina that has recently gained a reputation as a haven for artists and students. Cottesloe Beach, just a few miles north of Fremantle, is Perth’s most popular beach.
One of the largest city parks in the world, the thousand-acre Kings Park encompasses Mount Eliza, a hill overlooking the city, and boasts a botanical garden with aerial walkways as well as the State War Memorial park. The Perth Zoo offers visitors up-close 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.
Whether swimming with dolphins, firing up a barbie on the river’s shoreline or exploring the Aquarium of Western Australia, the country’s largest aquarium, aquatic adventures abound in sun-and-sea-loving Perth.
6. Brisbane Find Hotels
A popular tourist destination, Brisbane is a lively, dynamic place that is bathed in beautiful sunshine year-round. It has a population of about 2 million people, making it the third-largest city in Australia, after Sydney and Melbourne. Located in the Sunshine State, many visitors stop by on their way to the fantastic resorts and beaches that lie to its north and south.,/P.
Set alongside the Brisbane River, the city’s fantastic climate means that outdoor activities are very popular here; you can take your pick from a huge catalog, with biking, climbing, and hiking featuring prominently. A fun and friendly city, Brisbane’s vibrant music scene has made it one of the music capitals of the world and there are lots of venues in town where you can enjoy a great show. With loads of brilliant restaurants and bars for you to choose from, Brisbane is not to be missed.
5. Kakadu National Park Find Hotels
Occupied by Aboriginal people for over 40,000 years, Kakadu National Park has over five thousand ancient rock art sites which are fascinating to visit. It is a place of immense cultural and natural significance. The park is huge and contains some stunning natural sights which make it well worth a visit; the Kakadu Escarpment is particularly breathtaking.
With diverse ecosystems contained within the park’s boundaries, you can be hiking through deserted sandstone escarpments one minute and bathing in waterfalls and pools the next, before later on learning about some of the ancient rock paintings. While it can get very popular, Kakadu’s huge area means that you can easily enjoy all the park has to offer in peace and quiet if you step off the beaten path a little.
4. Melbourne Find Hotels
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. Due to its high quality of life, citizens from around the world have flocked to the streets. Its multicultural population is reflected in the delicious cuisine and the unique neighborhoods that make it such a fascinating place to explore.
Melbourne’s City Center district boasts the most attractions, including the city’s most recognizable landmark, the Flinders Street Railway Station. The multiple clocks hanging over the Edwardian Era station’s entrance is a popular meeting spot. The skyscraper Eureka Tower features an 88th-floor observation platform, the highest in the southern hemisphere. Visitors can step out onto a glass-enclosed compartment for panoramic views of the bay and the green Dandenong mountain range beyond.
In the Carlton district, visitors can explore the southern hemisphere’s largest museum. The Melbourne Museum showcases the nation’s rich social history, from its indigenous cultures to its fascination with football and horse racing, and has extensive exhibits illustrating Australia’s natural history as well.
Visitors looking for outdoor activities can enjoy the city’s parklands, many of which are shaded by large, mature trees. For swimming and sunbathing, Melbourne’s bayside beaches are ideal. For a retro feel, Brighton Beach features colorful bathing huts. St. Kilda Beach is one of the most popular beaches, both for its swimming and for the clubs and restaurants that line the shore. From dawn to dusk, visitors to Melbourne will never run out of exciting things to see and do.
Read more: Melbourne Attractions
The largest coral reef system on the face of the earth, the Great Barrier Reef is simply colossal. 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 world’s most diverse and complex ecosystems.
While always known and used by the Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal Australian peoples, the Reef today is protected by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. It is home to a remarkable array of marine life including 1500 fish species and 360 corals in addition to various species of whales, dolphins, marine turtles, sea snakes and birds, which breed among the small islands.
The best way to explore the Reef is by one of the numerous boat cruises that run along the northern coast of Queensland. The town of Cairns is regarded as the main gateway to the Reef, but other towns such as Townsville, Port Douglas, Yeppoon, Mission Beach and Cooktown also offer cruise operations. Ranging from single day trips to multiple day voyages, these boat cruises usually anchor at certain stops to allow for snorkeling and diving. Other options for experiencing the Reef include underwater observatories, glass-bottomed boat tours and helicopter flights.
World famous, spectacular Uluru is instantly recognizable due to its ruddy red hue; it is one of Australia’s most prominent landmarks. The immense rock is incredible to visit and the main reason the national park is such a popular destination. Its grandeur and uniqueness live long in the memory of those who gaze upon it. While Uluru is the main draw, the equally mesmerizing rock formations of Kata Tijuta are fantastic to wander around, and there are lots of activities for visitors to enjoy.
Owned by the Anangu Aboriginal people, the site is of great cultural and spiritual significance to them; you can learn more about their way of life at the brilliant cultural center. With lots of great walks, bike rides and tours, the astounding beauty of this national park really is awe-inspiring.
1. Sydney Where to Stay in Sydney
Almost picture perfect, Sydney is a fantastic city with a lot going for it. 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.
Adventurous travelers can take a ferry to Manly Wharf where they can rent kayaks to paddle the inlets of Sydney Harbor National Park or sign up for surf classes at Manly Beach. The Federation Cliff Walk is a 5-km (3-mile) long walkway that starts at the Raleigh Reserve Park, providing spectacular views of the sea, harbor and the Macquarie Lighthouse, Australia’s first and longest operating lighthouse.
Sydney’s beaches are the perfect place to spend a warm summer day, to swim or just relax on the sands. The most popular are Bondi Beach, Manly and Coogee, although many others have their own charms.
No visit to Sydney is complete without a tour of the Sydney Opera House. Designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon and completed in 1973, the sailing ship-inspired performing arts complex is considered one of the world’s most distinctive architectural structures. For adventurous visitors to Sydney, a heart-thumping climb on the harbor bridge is a must-do activity. For others, shopping at the historic Queen Victoria Building, hitting the clubs and restaurants the in Rocks district and visiting the world-class Taronga Zoo are can’t-miss activities. Visitors can count on cosmopolitan Sydney to accommodate every taste.
Read more: Top Sydney Attractions
Map of Australia
Click to enlarge