With its immense natural beauty and vibrant cities, Australia offers unique adventures for every type of traveler. From the gleaming skyscrapers and beaches of Sydney, to the remote Kimberley wilderness, few places tempt travelers with such diverse landscapes and experiences.
Iconic attractions like the Great Barrier Reef, Uluru, Kakadu National Park, and the Twelve Apostles capture imaginations worldwide. Yet beyond the big sights, Australia rewards intrepid explorers with rainforest hikes, Indigenous culture, fantastic food and wine regions, wildlife encounters, and endless open roads.
This stunning country spans tropical north to temperate south, wild interior to welcoming coasts. Discover more as we spotlight the top travel destinations in Australia.
Sydney is often considered the jewel of Australia. This vibrant and cosmopolitan city is located on the southeast coast of the country. Some of the top attractions in Sydney include the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Bondi Beach, The Rocks historic neighborhood, and Darling Harbour.
The Sydney Opera House is an architectural marvel and one of the most recognizable structures in the world. Taking a guided tour of this iconic performing arts center is a must. You can take a 1-hour walking tour to learn about the history, design, and backstage areas. Or opt for a 2-hour early access tour to explore the venues before crowds arrive. Watching a performance here is a memorable experience, with opera, theater, dance, and music on offer year-round.
The soaring Sydney Harbour Bridge provides spectacular views over the harbor and city skyline. You can walk across the bridge on the pedestrian walkway, join a guided climb up the arch to the summit, or skywalk on top of the bridge while attached to a safety harness. The Pylon Lookout at the southeastern end provides panoramic views from inside the bridge structure.
For sun, surf, and an invigorating ocean swim, head to the famous Bondi Beach. Don’t miss the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk for postcard-perfect views of golden beaches hugging the Pacific coastline. Stop at one of the ocean pools carved into the rocky cliffs for a safe swimming experience. Grab fish and chips to enjoy on the sand while you watch surfers carve up the breaks.
The bustling waterfront district of The Rocks is home to restaurants, bars, and art galleries housed in heritage buildings. Wander the cobblestone lanes to browse markets, souvenir shops, and colonial-era architecture. History buffs will appreciate the Museum of Contemporary Art and Susannah Place Museum for insights into colonial life. Pop into one of the old pubs to sip craft beer and listen to live music.
Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the natural wonders of the world. Stretching for over 1,400 miles off the coast of Queensland, this vibrant marine park comprises over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands. Snorkeling and scuba diving on the reef provide an opportunity to get up close with sea turtles, tropical fish, manta rays, and if you’re lucky, humpback whales during their annual migration.
Popular launching points for reef tours include Cairns, Port Douglas, Townsville, and the Whitsunday Islands. From island resorts like Hamilton Island, day trips transport visitors to pristine patches of reef for snorkeling, diving, glass bottom boat tours, and semi-submersible submarines. Most day tours include reef activities as well as a buffet lunch, learning about the reef’s ecology, and a chance to swim and snorkel at your own pace.
For the ultimate Great Barrier Reef experience, consider booking a multi-day liveaboard dive boat. These specialized charters allow you to dive multiple reef locations as you sail along the reef system. With a focus on scuba diving and snorkeling, they offer day and night dives, equipment rental, and dive masters to guide your reef encounters.
Deep in the heart of the Australian Outback lies Ayers Rock, or Uluru as it is known by the indigenous Anangu people. This huge sandstone formation has significant cultural importance. Visiting Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park allows you to learn about Aboriginal legends and traditions tied to the site.
Watching Uluru switch colors as the sun rises and sets is an awe-inspiring experience. Optimal times to see the color changes are at dawn and dusk, as the shifting light transforms the rock through various hues of orange, red, and purple. Sunrise tours depart very early to catch the first light hitting Uluru, while sunset tours conclude with sparkling wine and nibbles as the rock glows at dusk.
You can walk around the base, hike through the surrounding rock domes of Kata Tjuta, commune with native wildlife, and gaze up at the starry night sky far from any light pollution. While climbing Uluru itself has been closed out of respect for indigenous wishes, hiking the 9.4 km Base Walk lets you view ancient rock paintings and sacred caves.
The Valley of the Winds trail at Kata Tjuta weaves through the 36 red rock domes, delivering panoramic views of the surreal natural landscape. Join Aboriginal people from the Anangu community for guided walking tours, insight into local culture, and traditional art workshops.
Great Ocean Road
Stretching 150 miles along the dramatic coastline of Victoria, the Great Ocean Road is a magnificent drive with plenty of places to stop and admire the scenery. The road winds past beaches, cliffs, rainforests, and powerful waves crashing against rock formations like the Twelve Apostles limestone stacks.
Top stops include seaside towns like Lorne and Apollo Bay, Otway National Park’s towering waterfalls, the surfer’s paradise of Bells Beach, the impressive rock arch of London Bridge, sprawling farmlands, and islands just offshore with colonies of fur seals and penguins.
In the resort town of Lorne, check out the pier and main beach, browse boutique shops, dine at bistros and cafes, and stroll the sculpture trail along the foreshore. Further west in Apollo Bay, wander the harbor and Fisherman’s Co-op, sample local seafood, and enjoy beaches with resident maremma guardian dogs protecting little penguins.
Adrenaline seekers shouldn’t miss riding the raging rapids of the Gellibrand River along the 12 Apostles Sea Kayaking tour. After paddling to lofty sea cliffs, get an up-close look at the towering Apostles themselves standing tall in the ocean.
Melbourne rivals Sydney as Australia’s most exciting city. It’s famed for its passion for sports, food, fashion, and culture. Melbourne is also known for its changeable weather, going from four seasons in one day. Iconic attractions include the Royal Botanic Gardens, Federation Square, Queen Victoria Market, the Melbourne Cricket Ground, and the National Gallery of Victoria.
Melbourne’s laneways are filled with street art, boutiques, and hip cafes. The city has a robust coffee culture, with roasteries, cafes, and award-winning baristas crafting stellar cups. Walking food tours introduce visitors to Melbourne’s diverse culinary scene, from Greek to Vietnamese influences.
For shopping, the city offers everything from upscale boutiques to vintage stores and markets. Check out Chapel Street for fashion, Brunswick Street for retro wares, and the Queen Victoria Market for fresh produce and souvenirs under one immense roof.
Nature lovers shouldn’t miss the Royal Botanic Gardens established in 1846. Wander ornamental lakes, discover Australian native flora, and spot wildlife from butterflies to possums and bell birds. The gardens regularly host events, exhibitions, festivals, and concerts.
Catching an AFL game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground offers an immersive sport experience with passionate fans. If you can’t get tickets, take a stadium tour for behind-the-scenes access to locker rooms and sporting memorabilia.
Gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest, Cairns serves up plenty of natural attractions. Snorkel or dive the reef, wander along the Cairns Esplanade lagoon, explore Daintree’s ancient rainforest trails, and paddle out to the reef on a kayak tour.
Cairns itself also has lots to offer with craft breweries, hip small bars, botanic gardens, and trendy eateries. The tropical climate means outdoor activities thrive all year round. Hike scenic trails to waterfalls with swimming holes in pools carved from basalt. Go white water rafting and canyon swinging along the Tully River. Bungee jump off a giant tower. Or soar over the Atherton Tablelands on a skydiving adventure.
Nearby tropical islands like Fitzroy Island and Green Island provide more immersive reef experiences with pristine beaches and coral gardens. Snorkel straight from the beach to see colorful fish and giant clams. Join a glass bottom boat tour or take a helicopter joy flight for aerial views of the reef’s full expanse. Fitzroy Island has short hiking trails through rainforest and coral beaches to explore.
For youthful energy, catch some live music at bars like The Pier Bar with backpacker deals on food and drinks. Check out the lively markets held daily, or food truck events at Cairns popup park. Night markets sell handicrafts and global street food.
South Australia Wine Regions
South Australia is known as one of the great wine regions of the new world. Adelaide serves as a gateway to premium wine country. Head to the Barossa Valley to visit Jacob’s Creek, Penfolds, and smaller boutique wineries, tasting your way through shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, riesling, and more.
In the Clare Valley, enjoy cycling between cellar doors and vineyards. Riesling thrives in the cool climate and limestone soil of this riverland hub. Book countryside cottages or luxury retreats and spend a few days exploring heritage towns, relaxing at wineries, and dining at acclaimed restaurants.
McLaren Vale prides itself on organic and sustainable winemaking practices. The region benefits from rich soil, reliable rainfall, and a warm Mediterranean climate. Sample grenache, shiraz, and chilled dry whites at family-run and modern estates. Seafood paired with vintages at winery restaurants enhances the visit.
The cooler climate of the Adelaide Hills also produces top notch pinot noir, sauvignon blanc, and chardonnay. Hahndorf is South Australia’s oldest surviving German settlement, with pubs, shops, and cafes along its main street. Uraidla, Stirling, and Oakbank offer more boutique wineries to discover.
Kakadu National Park
Located in Australia’s remote Northern Territory, Kakadu National Park offers a rugged landscape of wetlands, rocky escarpments, cascading waterfalls, ancient Aboriginal rock art, and diverse wildlife. Kakadu is especially well-known for its saltwater crocodile population, so heed park warning signs when hiking, fishing, and boating here.
Some of Kakadu’s highlights include cruising along Yellow Water Billabong at sunrise to spot birds and crocs, rock climbing up the red cliffs, and 4WD adventures to sites like Jim Jim Falls and Twin Falls. Aboriginal rock art lines the walls of Nourlangie and Ubirr, depicting creation stories and mythology.
Join an Aboriginal-guided tour for the best insight into indigenous history and culture in Kakadu. Indigenous guides share ancient myths, demonstrate traditional skills like spear throwing, and explain how their communities coexist safely with crocodiles. Seeing ancient sites like Nanguluwur and Nourlangie brought to life through storytelling is a memorable experience.
The Bowali Visitor Centre offers an orientation to the park’s habitats, wildlife, and rock art. Hike the steep path up Ubirr Rock at sunset to see rock art by the indigenous Mimi spirits followed by panoramic vista views. Don’t miss a scenic wetlands cruise to see crocodiles sunning themselves along the yellow waters.
Broome & the Kimberley
Famous for its pearl industry, the beach town of Broome on the northwest coast makes a great base for exploring the remote Kimberley Outback region. Stroll Cable Beach for its camel rides at sunset, learn about indigenous history and culture at local galleries, or browse the famous Broome courthouse markets.
From Broome, take 4WD expeditions into the vast Kimberley, with its desert gorges, hidden waterfalls, Aboriginal art galleries like Wandjina and Gwion Gwion, and stunning geology like the Bungle Bungles and Windjana Gorge. Stop at El Questro Wilderness Park to hike Emma Gorge and take a dip in Zebedee Springs.
Luxury wilderness retreats marry glamping with the Kimberley’s raw tropical beauty. Eco and station stays balance remote outback adventures with creature comforts. Try heli-fishing and champagne breakfasts, stargazing and gourmet cuisine, guided hikes and sunset drinks at dusty outposts.
Visit Cape Leveque to snorkel turquoise waters and relax on Kooljaman Beach. Take scenic flights over the majestic Mitchell Falls cascading down red rock cliffs. Join a cultural tour of Aboriginal communities to purchase art and crafts direct.
The island state of Tasmania boasts some of Australia’s most unspoiled wilderness and national parks. Central Highlands hiking trails lead past alpine lakes and forests. Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park highlights include Dove Lake, Wineglass Bay, and the Overland Track, Tasmania’s iconic multi-day trek. The wild Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park encompasses the remote Franklin and Gordon rivers. Southwest National Park is known for its rugged coastline, tall karri forests, and rivers carving through deep gorges. The rugged Tasman Peninsula impresses visitors with sea cliffs, rock formations, and colonies of seals and seabirds.
Cradle Mountain is carved from dolerite rock, glaciated valleys, and alpine vegetation. Hike around Dove Lake for postcard views of Cradle Mountain reflected in the still waters. For multi-day hiking, the Overland Track stretching 65 km from Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair challenges experienced trekkers with steep terrain, changeable weather, and natural splendor. Or walk a portion to sample alpine vistas, mountain lakes and tarns, unique flora, and possible wombat sightings.
On the east coast, Freycinet National Park is beloved for the iconic hike up to the Wineglass Bay lookout, with its perfect crescent beach framed by pink granite peaks. Continue down to the bay for an invigorating swim in turquoise waters. Friendly wallabies, pademelons, and potoroos inhabit the bushland.
Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park safeguards the last wild major river system in Tasmania. Raft down the wild Franklin River, or take helicopter rides over untouched wilderness, rainforest, and the mysterious shadowy Gordon Splits.
Known for its laidback surf town vibe, Byron Bay remains a perennially popular destination, especially in summer. Great beaches like Wategos, The Pass, and Main Beach provide fantastic surf breaks, while the Cape Byron lighthouse offers scenic views. Byron’s atmosphere can be both relaxing and lively, with beach bars, buskers, surf shops, yoga studios, and artisan boutiques lining the streets.
Don’t miss the bustling Byron Bay Market each Sunday. Shop for locally made fashion and jewelry, sample fresh produce, sit in on a drum circle, catch some live music, and watch surfers carrying their boards to the beach afterwards. The community vibe combined with artisan wares and global cuisine makes it a hugely enjoyable event.
Take coastal walks to spot dolphins and whales. Humpback and southern right whales pass by the cape during annual migrations. Join a whale watching cruise, hang out at the Cape Byron lighthouse viewpoint, or walk the coastal track to spot these magnificent creatures.
Visit hinterland villages like Bangalow, Mullumbimby, and Nimbin for a little rainforest magic. Bangalow’s historic main street brims with restaurants, cafes, bookshops, galleries, and the popular Bangalow Market on Saturdays. Atmospheric Nimbin hosts the colorful Mardi Grass festival each May. And Mullumbimby offers alternative lifestyles, organic farms, and the weekly Farmers’ Market.
Main Beach is great for learning to surf with its gentle breaks, surf schools, and lifeguards. After your lesson, rehydrate at the Top Shop above the beach. At Wategos Beach, watch experienced surfers catch waves or sit atop the rocks at the beach’s southern end.
Perth & Fremantle
As Western Australia’s largest city, Perth serves up big city attractions combined with a relaxed pace of life. Nearby Fremantle provides a charming port town vibe. Top sights include Kings Park botanical gardens, Swan River views, Rottnest Island’s beaches and quokkas, the WA Maritime Museum, and great surf at Trigg Beach.
Fremantle highlights range from the Fremantle Markets to historic streetscapes to maritime attractions like the WA Shipwrecks Museum and Fremantle Prison. Wander through the Victorian port town lined with well-preserved heritage buildings. Stop by craft breweries situated in restored warehouses. And learn about maritime history at museums housed in old prisons, asylum buildings, and archaeologically excavated shipwrecks.
Also spend a day exploring the Swan Valley wine region with picturesque vineyards dotted among the gum trees. Or visit charming beach towns like Cottesloe, famed for its iconic Indiana tearooms overlooking white sands and turquoise surf.
Take a sunset cruise on the Swan River from Perth or Fremantle. Departing daily, the cruises include live commentary on attractions like Kings Park and Optus Stadium, along with wine, beer and canapes as you gaze at city lights reflecting on the water.
Rottnest Island off Perth has secluded coves, sparkling bays, and a population of quokkas, which are small furry marsupials. Cycling is a popular way to explore the car-free island, stopping to snorkel coral reefs, swim at the Basin, tour colonial sites, or snap selfies with friendly quokkas.
The photogenic islands dotting the Queensland coast provide the quintessential Aussie tropical escape. The Whitsunday Islands boast stunning beaches and coral fringed bays, while island resorts offer luxury stays. Hamilton Island has its own airport, golf course, and wildlife sanctuary. Fraser, Moreton and Magnetic Islands combine easily accessible adventures with laidback village life.
From hiking forest trails, to snorkeling pristine reefs, swimming at Whitehaven Beach, or just camping under the stars, Queensland’s islands have it all. Sail through the Whitsundays Island hopping for snorkeling and beachcombing. Camp and hike at World Heritage-listed Fraser Island, the planet’s largest sand island. Hand feed wild dolphins fish at Tangalo
Darwin & Kakadu National Park
As the capital of Australia’s Northern Territory, Darwin makes a good base for Top End adventures. The city itself offers attractions like the waterfront Wave Lagoon pool, excellent markets, and historical sites related to the city’s role in WWII. But many head to Darwin as a jumping-off point for Kakadu National Park’s natural wonders and rich indigenous culture.
Further afield, Litchfield National Park impresses visitors with its thundering waterfalls, spring-fed pools and tropical woodlands. The highlights of Litchfield are the plunging falls and swimming holes of Florence Falls, Tolmer Falls, and Wangi Falls. Along the Tabletop Track, observe the spectacular eroded sandstone formations that resemble a tabletop layout.
For city history, visit Fannie Bay Gaol, the East Point Military Precinct, and the Pearls and Bombing of Darwin displays at the Darwin Museum and Art Gallery. At East Point, see the gun emplacements used to defend Darwin during WWII bombing raids.
Mindil Beach Sunset Market is a beloved Darwin attraction held during the dry season. Wander food stalls sizzling with global flavors, browse crafts by indigenous artists, and enjoy live music performances as the sun dips behind the Arafura Sea.
As Australia’s capital, Canberra offers some compelling attractions in a very green city. For insight into the nation’s history and democracy, tour the Australian Parliament House with its sleek modern architecture and extensive art collection.
The expansive National Museum of Australia delves into 50,000 years of history using innovative exhibits and Aboriginal guidance. The sobering Australian War Memorial commemorates military efforts and covers WWI, WWII, and conflicts through detailed dioramas, aircraft, war vehicles, uniforms, and more.
Canberra’s art galleries are world-class, including the National Gallery of Australia, National Portrait Gallery, and National Museum of Australian Contemporary Art.
The city’s lush natural beauty shines at Commonwealth Park and Gardens, Black Mountain Reserve, and Namadgi National Park with scenic hiking. Take a hot air balloon ride for panoramic views over Canberra’s buildings, lakes and bushland.
Located in the Brindabella Ranges is Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, home to kangaroos, platypuses, lyrebirds and endangered northern corroboree frogs. Tidbinbilla is also an excellent place for bushwalking, nature photography, and wildlife spotting.
The Daintree Rainforest
Far North Queensland is home to the ancient Daintree Rainforest which dates back over 135 million years. Forming part of the Wet Tropics of Queensland World Heritage Site, the Daintree represents the largest continuous rainforest in Australia.
Lush green leaves, fast-growing vines, and towering trees thrive in the tropical climate. Take guided day tours to learn about unique plants and wildlife including the primitive Wollemi Pine, giant migratory cassowaries, Boyd’s Forest Dragon lizards, and endangered Bennett’s tree kangaroos. Go birdwatching to spot everything from colorful parrots to elusive birds-of-paradise.
The Daintree River winds through the rainforest, with crocodile spotting cruises offering a chance to observe these reptiles in their natural habitat. Stay in luxury lodges and eco cabins tucked within the forest canopy for an immersive rainforest retreat. Sign up for night walks to glimpse difficult-to-see nocturnal marsupials.
Indigenous Kuku Yalanji guides offer culturally rich tours in their ancestral home, sharing Dreamtime stories, bush food tastings, and explaining the traditional uses of healing plants. Don’t miss a swim at Mossman Gorge surrounded by vibrant rainforest.
The Great Ocean Road
Stretching 243km along the dramatic coastline of Victoria, the Great Ocean Road is a magnificent drive with plenty of places to stop and admire the scenery. The road winds past beaches, cliffs, rainforests and powerful waves crashing against rock formations like the Twelve Apostles limestone stacks.
The Twelve Apostles are one of the most iconic sights, with seven apostles still standing tall against the churning Southern Ocean. Capture a breathtaking sunrise or sunset here when crowds are thinner and day trippers have left. For a unique perspective, take a helicopter ride over the Twelve Apostles to appreciate their scale from the air.
Top stops include seaside towns like Lorne and Apollo Bay, adrenaline-pumping experiences like waterfall rappelling and sea kayaking tours, koala spotting in the wild, unspoiled national parks, and surf beaches perfect for learning to surf.
Visit scenic Port Campbell National Park to admire additional rock formations including Loch Ard Gorge, the Island Archway, London Bridge, and the Grotto. Take the Gibson Steps down the cliffs for a close-up look at the Twelve Apostles. Wander through temperate rainforests and stretch your legs with cliff top walks absorbing nonstop coastal views.