One of the big advantages of living in Australia is the many exciting travel opportunities that are within easy reach. You needn’t feel you’re missing out down under as Australia can rival everything that Europe, North America and Asia has to offer.
Australia is a dream destination in itself, so how on earth do people work out where to go on holiday? Given the size of the country, you might be forgiven for assuming that some places are just too remote for easy travel – but you’d be wrong. Australia has an excellent infrastructure and travel is easy by both air and road. There is also a good rail service and most towns and cities have well-structured local public transport.
Given that Australia is huge, there’s a wealth of incredibly diverse landscapes to discover here; from tropical Queensland’s lush scenery and forests to South Australia’s Flinders Ranges with miles of awe inspiring desert landscapes to discover.
For many people considering whether to move to Australia, the amazing landscape and sightseeing opportunities are a big attraction. Water sports, quaint villages, coastal walks and bush exploration are all popular holiday options.
City breaks and of course seaside destinations are also a popular choice, with many people enjoying a remote camping trip one week and a sophisticated city break the next.
There’s one thing you won’t be short of in Australia and that’s variety! So if you’re ready to start planning your next holiday or if you’re still in the process of organising your move to Australia, here is our list of the top 21 picks for holidays in Australia.
1: Explore the tropical wilderness of the Top End
Let’s begin at the very top. The Top End to be precise. The Top End refers to the northern areas of the Northern Territory, which is huge, and at the coastal end, also pretty remote and beautiful.
There’s Nitmiluk (Nit-me-look) or Katherine, which is known as the place where the outback meets the tropics. The area is known for thermal springs, misty waterfalls and the stunning Nitmiluk National Park. A 4WD is a must here; you’ll experience wildlife, historical Aboriginal rock art, hikes, canoeing and climbing.
2: Explore Darwin and Swim With Crocodiles!
No trip to the Northern Territory would be complete without seeing Darwin. Darwin is growing fast and it’s actually closer to Indonesia than it is to Sydney. It’s known for its beautiful, remote location, for extreme weather and for its multicultural population.
There’s a strong Asian influence in Darwin and you’ll find some of the most amazing food here; it’s also known for its extremely lively nightlife, a reputation that’s been going strong for over a century!
Darwin is unique as one of the only places in the world where you enter the Cage of Death at Crocosaurus Cove and get up close to swim with saltwater crocodiles!
3 Go whale watching and marvel at the sea life on the Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is famed for its stunning and diverse coral reef system, the largest in the world. The Great Barrier Reef is actually made up of 5 precincts and each one is different. Because the reef is actually enormous (2,300km long) with 3000 separate reefs, visitors need to decide which they want to visit. Whichever they decide on, there’s no doubt that the experience will be unforgettable. Rare wildlife, such as whales and turtles, sharks and dolphins, abound along with stunning tropical fish and amazing water activities. You could return to The Great Barrier Reef every year for your entire life and still have surprises.
For a spectacular highlight to your holiday take a flight over Queensland’s beautiful Whitsundays and famous Heart Reef.
4: Visit Uluru and The Red Centre – the spiritual heart of Australia
Central Australia, sometimes called The Red Centre because of the colour of the earth here, is the enormous wild outback region which is officially in the Northern Territory, but to many it’s just the middle of Australia.
Here you can take a trip to see Uluru, the famous and spiritual monolith. Uluru isn’t a mountain, nor is it a rock – it’s an inselberg, which is a geological term meaning ‘island mountain’. Uluru is sacred to the Anangu Tribe and has been such for over 10,000 years.
Visiting the amazing site is just part of what you can do in Central Australia. You can take a quick trip to Alice Springs, a town made famous by the novel A Town Like Alice and movies such as Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Walkabout and Kangaroo Jack.
5: View The Buzz of Brisbane From A Roof Top Bar
Beautiful Brisbane, the capital city of Queensland. Known affectionately as “Brissie” by locals, this is a cultural hotspot and it’s full to the brim of history, art, amazing food and nightlife – not to mention shopping and water sports!
The city sits along the banks of the Brisbane River with the CBD located on the north bank and surrounded by residential suburbs. The city’s heart is based around Queen Street and George Street and is full of gourmet cafes, historic, sandstone buildings and upmarket stores.
Going to the north we move towards a more Bohemian area and you’ll find even more diverse shopping and food experiences. Brisbane also happens to be a hotspot for festivals and, depending when you visit, you can expect to see amazing sights at events such as The Brisbane Festival (arts, music and theatre), Fête de la Musique (free outdoor music across the city) and Supafest (Urban music).
There’s a lot to this city and it will take much more than a flying visit to see it all. After a busy day exploring the sights there is no better way to relax and take in the views than from one of Brisbane’s famous rooftop bars.
6: Mission beach – a tropical paradise
Mission beach is situated halfway between Cairns and Townsville and is actually made up of 4 different beach villages all joined by 14km of clean, golden sand. This area is often referred to as the place where the rainforest meets the reef, and the flora and fauna is stunning.
7: Iconic Sydney – including a walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge
Sydney, famous for more than just its beaches, is a melting pot of cultures – the arts are a major part of city life and there are many excellent theatres here.
Some of the most iconic things to do in Sydney include taking a trip on the famous Manly Ferry where you can enjoy the scenery, You’ll get views of Sydney Harbour including the famous bridge, the Sydney Opera House and Taronga Zoo. You’ll also see beaches including Shark Beach and Camp Cove.
While you’re in Sydney enjoy swimming in Bronte Baths, which is an amazing ocean pool built into the rocks at the famous Bronte Beach. Eat out at one of the many amazing restaurants nearby and catch a show at one of the many world-class theatres here.
But for the adventurous and a truly spectacular view of the city, we recommend the 134 meter climb to the top of Sydney Harbour Bridge!
8: Hire a Campervan or Motorhome in charming Berry
Berry is just two hours south of Sydney and has all the charm of an old-fashioned country town at its best. Minutes from some stunning beaches there are also some lovely restaurants in Berry and great camping options. The first Sunday of each month sees the Berry Fair take over the town and you can purchase some wonderful crafts whilst the children enjoy the rides.
There are many camping grounds and camping parks to choose from – all with first class facilities, so you’ll be able to campervan in style.
9: Stay on a country estate in Bowral
Set in the heart of New South Wales’ Southern Highlands, Bowral is just 90 minutes by car from both Sydney and Canberra, and the town has some great sights. Bong Bong Street has some beautiful architecture and great shopping, with stylish boutiques and independent shops galore.
A holiday for the cultured, you can enjoy great coffee, antique shops, fine dining and The Bradman Museum and International Cricket Hall of Fame. There are also a number of wineries nearby.
10: A Sunrise Hot-Air Balloon Ride over Canberra
Australia’s capital city of Canberra. This sophisticated gem of a city is teeming with the arts and there are many museums and galleries both large and small to visit.
In addition to this, Canberra is home to many great bars and clubs and the outskirts are studded with beautiful natural scenery where you can find fun activities to take part in, such as mountain biking, climbing and sailing.
But to really appreciate this stunning capital city, we recommend taking an unforgettable hot-air balloon at sunrise.
11: World class Skiing and snowboarding in the Snowy Mountains
Australia isn’t all about sun and beaches – they have world class ski resorts too!
The Snowy Mountains are a beautiful phenomenon just two hours from Canberra. Pristine and sparkling snowfields attract visitors from across the globe. Skiing and snowboarding is just part of what you can enjoy here. There’s also mountain biking, fishing and hiking to enjoy.
In the spring you can return to climb Mount Kosciuszko, at 2,228m Australia’s highest mountain. You can get a head start with the scenic ride aboard the Kosciuszko Express Chairlift and, from December to March, see the beautiful alpine wildflowers bloom.
12: Art and culture in the world’s coffee capital
Melbourne, famous not just for the TV soap Neighbours, but, more importantly, for being the coffee capital of the world. They take their coffee pretty seriously here and the amount of high quality coffee shops proves it!
Not just about eating and drinking, this is a creative city full of art and artists. Expect to be wowed with street performance to rival those in the bigger world capitals, as well as fantastic shopping opportunities. Melbourne is riddled with fascinating history; learn all about those who braved migration to Melbourne in its early days, and who the latest arrivals are, at The Immigration Museum. Take in some of the seamier side of the city’s history at The Old Treasury Building where you can find out about the Gold Rush and some of Melbourne’s “wayward women’ of the past!
13: Have a Christmas beach barbeque on Lord Howe Island
Lord Howe Island has become one of the go to Christmas getaways for Aussies and it’s easy to see why. A World Heritage Site, set in the Tasmin Sea between Australia and New Zealand, it is a real paradise.
There are ample activities available on the island from snorkelling and Scuba diving on pristine coral reefs, bushwalking, kite boarding, bird watching or you can simply just laze on the beach.
One catch though – you’ll need to book early as the Island has 350 residents and only allows 400 visitors at any one time!
14: Take a trip along the stunning Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road stretches for 243km along the south-eastern coast between the Victorian cities of Torquay and Allansford. It was built between 1919 and 1932 by returned soldiers and is the world’s largest war memorial.
A tourist attraction in itself, it covers miles of beautiful coastline and allows travellers to take in many sights including the Twelve Apostles, a natural formation which is awe inspiring to view.
15: Koala spotting, cooling off under waterfalls and surfing on the beaches of Lorne
Lorne is a small Australian town which lies along the Great Ocean Road route. A forest of waterfalls including Erskine Waterfall and a stunning surfing beach are enough attraction in themselves but you can also use Lorne as a base to explore the Great Ocean Road even further.
Just half an hour’s drive from Lorne are some of the best koala spotting opportunities in Australia at the Kennett River Koala Walk. Don’t worry if you’re feeling as lethargic as a koala as it’s not actually a walk but a slow cruise along Grey River Road! The best time to go is early in the morning or evening when they are more active.
16: Sleep Under the Stars and Go Camel Trekking in the Flinders Ranges
At some time you’ll definitely want to experience the outback of South Australia and what better way than to spend a week in the Flinders Ranges?
The rugged, weathered peaks and rocky red gorges are some of the most dramatic and iconic landscapes in the Australian outback. There are plenty of opportunities to explore Aboriginal history and culture.
You can sleep under the stars in a luxury campsite and meet a vast array of local wildlife. We’d also recommend a unique day camel trekking at the Camel Sanctuary where you can learn to be a cameleer. Australia really does have it all!
17: Visit Adelaide for the Fringe Festival
The often forgotten southern city is actually a brilliantly entertaining place. The only city in Australia not built as a penal colony, Adelaide has everything a visitor could desire.
The city itself is home to many festivals including the world-famous Adelaide Fringe and there are markets galore all year-round. The city is slow and friendly, some liken it to a ‘big country town’ but don’t mistake that country attitude for ignorance, Adelaideans are well-known for their ambition and their forward-thinking and the city was the first to give women the vote, the first to recognise Aboriginal land rights and the first to criminalise racial discrimination.
18: Get close to Australia’s unique wildlife on Kangaroo Island
Kangaroo Island is just off the mainland of South Australia, a couple of hours drive from Adelaide. It’s a real one-off, a distinctive place thanks to its pristine and unspoiled landscapes. It is home to many protected native species including the endangered short-beaked echinda, platypus, tammar wallabies, brushtail possums, koalas and, of course, kangaroos!
In addition to some of the regions most beautiful natural features such as Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch, you can visit the Kangaroo Island Ocean Safari where you can swim with wild dolphins, watch fur seals and sea lions cavort in their natural environment and spot a variety of sea birds.
19: Learn to scuba dive among the wrecks and corals in Perth, Western Australia
Western Australia offers some of the best diving opportunities in the world, so what better than to spend a week learning to dive among it wrecks and corals? For the more experienced you can upgrade your skills with everything from underwater photography to cave diving.
A few of the many popular diving opportunities include the honeycomb reefs of Rottnest Island, the limestone caves of Marmion Marine Park and the many ship wrecks, including the Royal Australian Navy destroyer, HMAS Swan.
20: Take a trip along the Ned Kelly Tail and walk in the footsteps of Australia’s legendary outlaw
The UK has Robin Hood, the USA Billy the Kid, so if you are into history, why not
take a tour through Victoria’s Kelly country and visit the towns and sites where one of Australia’s most famous bushrangers roamed?
At Beveridge you can visit the family home of the Kelly family, see the bank the Kelly Gang held up in Euroa, visit Glenrowan where the Kelly Gang made their last stand against the police and The Old Melbourne Gaol where 135 inmates, including Ned Kelly, were hanged on 11 November 1880. The gallows are still there, as well as a number of other gruesome artifacts like the whipping post complete with male and female versions of cat o’ nine tails.
21: See the breathtaking Aurora Australis in Tasmania
Australia can rival anything the Northern Hemisphere has to offer and that includes its own alternative to the Northern Lights – the Aurora Australis in Tasmania.
Tasmania, an island state, is an incredibly beautiful and fascinating destination. Europeans arrived there in 1803 and used the island as a penal colony. Back then, the island was seen as a place to escape from and not to! These days it’s a wonderful holiday getaway no matter where you live in Australia.
Hobart is the state capital and is a picturesque and quaint place with elegant old buildings and a lovely harbour where yachts and motor cruisers mix in with fishing boats to create a gorgeous sight. Shops and cafes are numerous, as is great accommodation.
Tasmania is a lot more than just Hobart though and there are some beautiful coastal towns and beaches situated across the length of the island, including Wineglass Bay, regarded as one of the top ten beaches in the world.
Where will you choose to visit for your first holiday down under?
Australia is one of the most naturally diverse continents in the world – history, wildlife, cultural experiences and sporting adventure all sit alongside some of the best entertainment and shopping you could hope for.
Whether you’re looking for an inspiring and exciting city break or an off-road escapade, you’ll never have to leave the country to find it.
Travel in Australia can be addictive though – so be warned! If you’re planning to emigrate to Australia soon, you may just find yourself planning more breaks than you’d have imagined possible!