Australia is up there on everyone’s bucket list. Australia is one of the most sought after destinations in the world and for good reason.
Maybe it’s the tropical climates, the wildlife, the laid-back beachy lifestyle, the epic road trips or the backpacker goals lifestyle that has you dreaming of a trip down under, or maybe it’s a combination of them all?
If you’re wondering what all the fuss is about, what the best things to do in Australia are, where the best places to visit in Australia are and are perhaps beginning to put together your Australia bucket list… you have come to the right place.
I have been to Australia on 5 separate occasions now and honestly, it feels like a second home. The moment you touch down in Australia you’re already wondering how to extend your visit so that you can soak up more of the sunshine and ocean vibes.
I have solo travelled in Australia, backpacked through Australia, worked remotely in Australia and now, have many friends dotted along the coastline hotspots. (Plz universe can we travel again soon).
From my experiences, I can absolutely advise on on what to do in Australia, where to go in Australia and how best to spend your time in Australia.
Are you ready to dive into a bucket list of Australia inspiration?
Other blog posts / guides you may find useful:
- A complete guide to solo travel in Australia
- Farm work in Australia: Finding a job, top tips and advice
- Visiting Fraser Island and The Whitsundays: Australia on a backpacker budget
- A guide to freedom camping on the east coast of Australia
- Hiring a camper van in Australia and New Zealand: Your questions answered
- A complete guide to budgeting for backpacking Australia
- 13 ways to save money whilst backpacking Australia
43 best things to do in Australia...
1. Backpack the East Coast of Australia.
Well, I guess we should start with the obvious! I absolutely LOVED backpacking the East Coast of Australia, and would do it all again in a heartbeat. There’s something about the freedom, independence and fun vibes that makes backpacking like no other mode of travel. Australia is a great place to go for first-time backpackers, because there are so many people there in the same boat as you!
Thinking about backpacking the East Coast? Check out these posts:
2. Drive a 4x4 on Fraser Island.
Fraser Island is the world’s largest sand island, and exploring is should be fairly high up your list of things to do in Australia! As well as driving across the sand in a 4×4, you’ll get to experience the natural tea tree lakes, Maheno shipwreck, Indian Head, Champagne Pools, Eli Creek and the tropical rainforest. Don’t forget your International Driving License so that you get a turn behind the wheel!
Not sure where to start when planning your Fraser Island trip? Check out…
3. Learn about Aboriginal history and culture.
Visiting Australia without learning about the history and culture of the First Peoples, which dates back over 50,000 years, shouldn’t be allowed. Predating Egypt’s pyramids and Greece’s acropolis, it’s amazing that this culture can still be experienced today. Australia’s Indigenous peoples are the world’s oldest living culture and their identity continues to exist in every corner of the country. As you travel through Australia, take the time to experience the culture that you find there and learn from the people who want to share their stories; Aboriginal culture is diverse and what you experience in each land will be different yet beautiful.
4. Take the Happy Coach to Nimbin.
Nimbin is one of the most relaxed places on the planet, and I love it! Nimbin is the capital of alternative lifestyle, so don’t miss the indepedent shops and galleries, beautiful jewellery and amazing food as you explore this quirky town.
On your way to Nimbin, you’ll get off the 70s style coach to see some of the countryside surrounding Byron Bay, as well as Killen Falls and Nimbin Rocks!
Check out my experience of this Byron Bay – Nimbin road trip here.
5. Go wine tasting in the Hunter Valley.
The Hunter Valley is one of my favourite day trips from Sydney. There’s so much to do in this area: the vineyards, a brewery, a cheese factory, a chocolate factory, and local wildlife to say hello to at a wildlife park!
6. Marvel at the horizontal waterfalls in the Kimberley region.
David Attenborough described the Horizontal Waterfalls as “one of the greatest natural wonders of the world”. This natural phenomenon in Western Australia is as intriguing as it is stunning. The tidal current is particularly fast here, so as the water squeezes through the narrow gorges of the McLarty range, it is pushed into “rapids”, which move through the gap so fast that they produce a horizontal waterfall in this turquoise bay. You can’t access the waterfalls by car, but it’s well worth a boat or plane tour to see them.
7. Explore the Great Barrier Reef while it still exists.
The Great Barrier Reef could disappear entirely by 2050… which is really not that far away. Less than 20 years ago this ocean-based National Park was thriving, but due to pollution and coral bleaching it is in significant danger. Diving here is really a once in a lifetime experience that future generations may not get to experience if nothing changes, so make the most of it and marvel at the marine life under the sea.
8. Take a hot air balloon ride over the Gold Coast.
Start the day off with a glass of champagne and then get ready to take off! This hot air balloon experience allows you to see the area around the Gold Coast, Brisbane and the Scenic Rim from a completely unique perspective. Marvel at the views as you take in the fresh air and then head to the vineyards for a treat afterwards.
See my experience of hot air ballooning over the Gold Coast and find out more here.
9. Head to Perth for a city break.
Home to world-class beaches, the amazing Swan River, the largest inner-city park in the world, quokkas (one of the world’s cutest animals)… Perth is not your average city break! Yes, it’s far from the East Coast (where many backpackers will spend most of their time), but I think it’s worth the trip. It’s also got a great foodie scene and a great nightlife, so it’s perfect for a weekend away to see the other side of Australia!
10. Explore some of Australia's National Parks.
Australia has over 600 National Parks… yes, really. 6 of these are managed by the central government, and the rest are managed by the states they are in. You could spend years just exploring National Parks in Australia and barely scratch the surface! They’re home to a variety of landscapes and habitats: Daintree rainforest, eucalypt forests in NSW, desert in Uluru-Kata Tjuta, waterfalls and gorges in Girringun National Park, wetlands in Kakadu, coral reef in the Great Barrier Reef, wilderness in Freycinet in Tasmania, mountains and wildflowers in the Grampians, beaches and coastline on the Whitsundays, Australia’s highest peak in Kosciuszko… there’s so much nature to be explored, and so many unique plants and animals to see here.
Kakadu is the largest of the National Parks at a whopping 20,000 square kilometres! It’s also a great place to see ancient Aboriginal rock paintings.
11. Take a road trip along the Great Ocean Road.
The Great Ocean Road is one of Australia’s most scenic drives, and a 3-5 day road trip is the best way to experience is. Hire a car or a van and take in the sights such as Torquay, Apollo Bay, Port Campbell and its famous 12 Apostles, Port Fairy and more. This road trip had been on my Australia bucket list for as long as I can remember before I completed it, and to this date, it’s one of the best road trips I’ve ever been on.
If you want to do a road trip on the Great Ocean Road, check out how to plan your Great Ocean Road trip and my five-day itinerary.
Watch our Great Ocean Road trip come to life here…
12. White water rafting on the Tully River.
Regarded as one of the best white water rafting locations across Australia and New Zealand, rafting on rapids through the rainforest is definitely one of the best things to do in Australia. Take a full day trip from Cairns to get your adrenaline pumping!
13. Take a boat trip to the Whitsundays.
We’ve all seen the iconic blue swirl on Instagram and Pinterest… well head to the Whitsundays to see it for yourself! The white sands of Whitehaven Beach, right in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, are perfect for relaxing, and don’t forget your snorkel so you can jump off the boat and say hello to the fish! You can also go on rainforest hikes or treks if you head inland on one or more of the 74 islands.
Not sure where to start with planning your trip to the Whitsundays? Let me help you out with these blog posts…
14. Have fun on the beach in Byron Bay.
Byron Bay has something to offer everyone and is one of my favourite places to visit in Australia for this very reason! Head down to the beach in the morning for a yoga class with the sound of the waves, and then into town for some brunch and a wander round. When you’re ready for some more fun in the sun, why not try the dolphin kayaking experience! See what I got up to in Byron Bay with the Global Travellers family here.
Heading to Byron Bay? Check out these posts…
15. Stargaze at the Pinnacles.
The pinnacles are one of Western Australia’s most iconic attractions, located about 200km north of Perth in Nambung National Park. The towers were created over 25,000 years ago when the sea receded and left behind sea shells. Once the coastal winds removed the remaining sand, the towers were exposed and are now one of the most popular places to visit in Australia. Admire the Pinnacles at golden hour while the sun sets, and then stay out once night falls; the remote location is far away from all the bright, city lights and the perfect place to see every start twinkling in the sky.
16. Skydive at Mission Beach.
Mission Beach in Queensland is the only place in Australia where you can skydive with a beach landing! Get the adrenaline rush you’ve been craving and admire the view from above as you fall through the sky.
17. Explore the Australian outback.
The Red Centre is famous for a reason. It’s very hot, and it’s dusty (it’s in the middle of the desert!) but the rock formations such as Uluru and Kata Tjuta are absolutely stunning, particularly at sunrise and sunset. If you can tolerate the desert heat for a few days, then this should definitely be near the top of your list of things to do in Australia.
18. Go skiing on Mount Kosciuszko, Australia's highest peak.
Australia is not somewhere I usually associate with winter sports, but it can be done! Head to Thredbo via the Kosciuszko chairlift for the longest ski runs in Australia! Check out my packing list for a ski trip here.
In the Kosciuszko National Park wilderness you can also try cross-country skiing!
19. Take a cable car through the Daintree rainforest and then the Kurunda scenic railway.
Let yourself glide across the rainforest canopy as you take in the sights and sounds of one of the most extraordinary UNESCO World Heritage sites. It’s a great way to visit the oldest continually surviving tropical rainforest on Earth sustainably, as you are fully immersed in the rainforest without leaving a footprint behind. Check out more sustainable travel tips on my blog here.
Check out Skyrail to see their cable car prices and options here.
While you’re in the Daintree rainforest, hop on a river cruise to see the crocodiles; it’s one of the best places in Australia to see them! And make sure you don’t miss Cape Tribulation!
After you’ve finished, head back to the Kurunda terminal to take the scenic railway back to Cairns, where you continue to travel through and admire the rainforest. Find out more here.
20. Swim in the fairy pools in Noosa.
Along the coast of Noosa National Park you will find natural tidal rock pools, where you can swim in the ocean water without the fear of being taken by the waves. They’re about a 45-minute walk from Noosa Heads; head there in the morning to beat the crowds.
21. Experience the creative vibes in Hobart.
Hobart, the capital of Tasmania, is one of the most relaxed cities in Australia. The air is clean and fresh, the pace of living is slow and relaxed, and is has a thriving creative, music and food scene. Mount Wellington is right on the doorstep if you enjoy hiking, and so is the Derwent River for a lazy riverside picnic.
22. Swim with whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef.
The whale shark is the largest fish in the ocean, and you can swim with this gentle giant on the west coast of Australia. At Ningaloo Marine Park between March and July you can get up close and personal with Australia’s big 3: the whale shark, the humpback whale, and the manta ray.
23. Hug a tree in the Valley of the Giants.
Take the treetop walk through the forest of the Valley of the Giants to get up close and personal with nature and enjoy some tree time. The Tree Top Walk is suspended 40 metres high in the canopy of the ancient tingle forest, some of the tallest trees in the world.
24. Experience the community at Burning Man Australia.
Burning Seed (NSW) and Blazing Swan (Perth) Australia’s regional version of Burning Man, a community festival which I love. The participants create the invent, encouraging you to pool your skills and creativity to make for an unforgettable week.
Check out the Burning Man Australia website for tickets and information here.
Find out more about Burning Man and what it involves on my blog here.
25. Play beach volleyball on Bondi Beach.
You can’t visit Australia without visiting Sydney, and you can’t visit Sydney without going for a swim at Bondi Beach. This 1km stretch of gorgeous sand stretches back over 100m, leaving plenty of space for locals and tourists alike in summer.
26. Enjoy a glass of wine at Wineglass Bay.
Wineglass Bay in Freycinet National Park (Tasmania) gets its name from its unique shape. It’s about a 1.5-2-hour walk from the car park, and if you pop a mini bottle in your backpack, you can enjoy your wine there! (please take all your rubbish with you). Just wait for the view as you emerge from the forest… soft, white sands and a clear, turquoise ocean… pure bliss!
If you want to stay, there is a small campsite near the beach, but remember you’ll need to carry your camping things on the trek and have enough food and water to last you.
27. Go whale-watching in Hervey Bay.
The best time to go whale watching in Hervey Bay is in August and September, as this is when the whales are with their calves and they are most playful. However, you can see whales in Hervey Bay most days between July and November, when they relax in the waters that are sheltered by Fraser Island.
28. Enjoy the freshest oysters at Coffin Bay.
Take a boat tour of the oyster farm, pick the oysters fresh from the sea while you’re on the boat and eat them immediately! Delicious!
29. Do a DIY retreat in the hinterland.
After weeks (or maybe months!) of backpacking, having fun, going out, and potentially working, treat yourself to a few days of tranquility in the hinterland. I did this with my friend Lydia and the escapism was just what we needed.
30. Watch the sun set over the Indian Ocean at Cable Bay.
The bright hues of red, orange and pink make the sunset here particularly stunning.
31. Watch the sunrise at the Bay of Fires in Tasmania.
The Bay of Fires coastline stretches for over 50km along the east coast of Tasmania, lined with beautiful white sand, clear blue water and striking orange boulders. Set yourself up on one of the secluded inlets to watch the sky turn pink as the sun comes up.
Find out more about improving your travel photography in this blog post.
32. Go surfing at Burleigh Heads.
Burleigh Heads is home to some of the best surf swells in all of Australia. This surfing haven is suitable for surfers of all levels (depending on which stretch of coast you head to), so grab a board and jump in!
33. Drive across Stockton sand dunes.
Let your tyres down, wind the windows down and let the wind blow through your hair as you drive across the magnificent Stockton sand dunes, just outside of Newcastle.
Check out my guide to visiting Stockton sand dunes here, and my full list of all my favourite day trips from Sydney here.
34. Climb up Cradle Mountain.
Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park is full of lush, protected rainforests, rugged peaks, Tasmanian wilderness and an abundance of wildlife (wombats, wallabies, platypuses, the Tasmanian Devil and more!). The summit up Cradle Mountain in good weather is so worth it for the stunning views across Cradle Lake and Dove Lake.
35. Escape the hustle and bustle of Sydney's CBD in Manly.
Manly is one of my favourite suburbs in Sydney: something about the slower pace of life here makes it just that bit more ‘me’. Make sure you grab a coffee on the harbour front, do the Manly to Split walk, and get some Vitamin D on the beach while you’re here.
36. Fall in love with Australian coffee in Melbourne
Trust me, once you’ve had an Australian coffee, you’ll never look back. Melbourne is one of my favourite cities in Australia, and home to a thriving cafe culture, so there are plenty of places to get your fix!
37. Take a self-guided trip to the Blue Mountains.
Australia has a reputation for being expensive, but not everything has to be! This trip to the Blue Mountains cost me 12 AUD, an absolute bargain! Hop on the train and spend some time hiking through the Blue Mountains National Park, followed by a nice swim in Wentworth Falls or Empress Falls.
Check out my guide to a self-guided trip to the Blue Mountains here.
38. Museum hop in Canberra.
Canberra, the capital of Australia, is often one of the most underrated cities on the map. It’s perfect for history and politics lovers who will enjoy learning about Australian politics and history as they meander through the museums. The Australian War Memorial is a must-see too. Canberra can be done in a day trip, but it’s best to spend a few days there if you can!
39. Rent a van and go freedom camping.
Absolutely nothing beats the freedom of van life… especially in a country as beautiful as Australia!
40. Say g'day to the local wildlife.
Australia is known for its abundant wildlife, so make sure that you (respectfully) get to see some while you’re here. Consider…
- Lone Pine koala sanctuary in Brisbane
- a river cruise in the Daintree rainforest to see the crocodiles
- visiting the kangaroos in Morisset
- saying hi to the cutest quokkas on Rottnest Island
- witnessing the penguin parade in Victoria
- visiting Kangaroo Island, not only for the kangaroos but for all the other animals that reside there too.
41. Hike Mt. Warning at sunrise.
It took us about 1.5 hours to get up, but it was well worth it for one of the most stunning sunrises in all of Australia.
42. Watch the NYE fireworks in Sydney.
Sydney puts on a huge show at New Years, so if you find yourself in Sydney for the performance then be sure to check it out!
- Check out my complete guide to Sydney here.
- See all the best things to do in Sydney here.
- Looking for a Sydney itinerary? Check out this one if you have 3 days and this one if you have 4 days.
43. Stay for longer!
If you’ve been to Australia for a short trip and you want to stay longer, apply for a Working Holiday Visa!
And if you’ve got your WHV and it’s coming to an end, consider doing a second year buy doing some farm work to extend your visa!
Which of these best things to do in Australia have you done?
What are your top things to do in Australia? Anything you’d add to this Australia bucket list?
Love as always and happy adventuring,
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