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Australia has all the ingredients for a memorable vacation, from sophisticated cities to magnificent landscapes and astonishing wildlife. The idyllic, seemingly endless coastline is a playground for beach lovers, divers and surfers. The outback entices hikers and outdoor enthusiasts – as do the thousands of national parks. Meanwhile, cities like Sydney, Melbourne and Perth dominate lists of the best places to live. However, planning a trip to Australia when there’s so much on offer can be tricky. Read on for some ideas to help you create your perfect Australia itinerary.
Many week-long Australia tours cover the country’s famous highlights (such as Uluru, the Great Barrier Reef, Sydney) using local flights to transport you from place to place. This isn't really the best way to see Australia, as you’ll end up spending lots of time traveling. A better way to see the country is to explore one area in depth. In a week, you could tackle a stretch of coastline like the Gold Coast or get to know a couple of iconic cities like Sydney and Melbourne. Or, explore a single region like New South Wales.
We recommend spending at least 10 days in Australia, but the longer your trip is, the better. In ten days or a fortnight, you could venture into the outback or visit national parks. With three weeks or more you could overland through the heart of the country, explore the Northern Territory or tour Tasmania. However long you decide to stay, plan your Australia travel itinerary carefully to ensure you don’t spend all your time on the road. Read on for some ideas to get you started.
A week in Australia is long enough to properly explore the sensational city of Sydney. Climb the 134-meter-high Harbor Bridge, watch a show at the Sydney Opera House and visit some of the many great restaurants. Sydney has islands, beaches, mountains and rainforests on its doorstep, so you can enjoy a varied holiday without much traveling by taking day trips from Sydney.
Alternately, you can travel to Western Australia, visit Ningaloo Reef in Exmouth, Monkey Mia or Margaret River near Perth. If you’re driving, you could also plan a classic Australia road trip itinerary. Spend some time in the hip, cosmopolitan city of Melbourne before setting off along the winding Great Ocean Road to the 12 Apostles. Take a detour to Great Otway National Park. Wildlife lovers could squeeze a trip to Kangaroo Island (an hour's flight from Melbourne) into this itinerary, and hike trails leading to beaches populated only by sea lions and penguins.
A 10-day Australia vacation itinerary could include a couple of cities as well as some time in the interior or along the coast. Wildlife fans might want to choose a route between Adelaide and Perth. Stop off to swim with dolphins and sea lions at magical Baird Bay. Spot wallabies in the Flinders Ranges. Relax on the white sand beaches of Cape Le Grand National Park. Explore the ancient Stirling Mountains – one of the most biodiverse places on Earth. If you like food and wine, you could include the foodie Margaret River Region in this itinerary too.
Pick a route between Brisbane and Cairns for some memorable sea adventures. Known as the Queensland Coral Sea Coast, this stretch of coastline has arguably some of the most beautiful reefs and beaches in the world. Dive the Great Barrier Reef, kayak and surf in Noosa, try your hand at beach fishing on Fraser Island, and swim in the clear waters of Whitehaven beach. Whatever you choose to do, this trip is full of bucket-list-worthy adventures.
Check out our 10-day tours in Australia for inspiration.
Intrigued by the remote open spaces of Australia’s outback? 14 days is long enough to camp and hike in this mysterious wilderness. The journey south to north from Adelaide to Darwin encompasses mining villages, dramatic rock formations and ancient aboriginal art. Hike in the Flinders Mountain Range, watch the sunrise in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and spend some time in the Aboriginal city of Darwin.
Two weeks is also enough time to journey between Darwin and Broome, exploring the most unspoiled territory in Australia — the rugged Top End. A north Australia trip itinerary could include bush camping, star gazing, hiking and wild swimming. Take in spectacular views in the Nitmiluk Gorge and cool off in the waterhole at Emma Gorge. Explore the famous Bungle Bungles and visit authentic outback towns and remote cattle stations.
21 days or more means you can take your time exploring Australia’s east or west coast. To see the best of the east coast, map a route between Sydney and Cairns. Take it easy — Australia's slow pace of life means you won’t be able to rush even if you want to. There is a wide variety of things to do on the east coast, on land and in the sea. Pamper yourself in Byron Bay — Australia’s wellness capital, and dive into the surf in laid-back Noosa. Explore outdoorsy Brisbane. Visit Fraser Island and Airlie Beach, sail the Whitsundays and fulfill that bucket list wish to visit the Great Barrier Reef. Finish your trip exploring the ancient Daintree Rainforest near Cairns.
In three weeks, you could tackle the 2500 km journey up the West Coast from Perth to Broome. Explore Perth’s sandy beaches, the beautiful Swan River, historic Fremantle and Rottnest Island. See the Pinnacles at Nambung National Park and the spectacular gorges in Kalbarri National Park. Swim with marine wildlife at Shark Bay National Park and snorkel or swim with whale sharks on the stunning Ningaloo Reef. Save some time for Broome, with its tropical white sand beach and sunset camel rides. Visit the town’s famous dinosaur footprints and learn about pearl fishing. Beyond Broome, the Kimberley —a vast desert-filled landscape— beckons those seeking adventure.
Travelling to Australia? Chat with a local travel specialist in Australia who can help organize your trip.
Cameron Kangaroo Travel Expert in Australia
Kevin Mattaboni Travel Expert in Australia
Brett Eldershaw Travel Expert in Australia