15 Top Tourist Attractions in Australia
15 Best Places to Visit in Australia
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. An overview of the best places to visit in Australia:
Perhaps Australia’s best-known tourist destination, Sydney is the gateway city for many tourists, as well as being the largest city in Australia.
A vibrant metropolis of over 4 million, Sydney is famous for its excellent cuisine, nightlife, shopping, and cultural attractions; and, of course, the Sydney Opera House! You’ll want to spend at least a few days here, but if you’re in a rush, some of the best inner-city attractions are the Powerhouse Museum, Manly, Darling Harbour, Circular Quay, Paddington Markets, Taronga Zoo, and the Royal Botanic Gardens.
Or catch the hop-on, hop-off bus – with 34 designated stops, and insightful commentary, you’ll see some of Sydney’s most popular sites and have a great time!
2 Great Barrier Reef
One of the top destinations for underwater explorers and scuba divers is the world’s largest barrier reef system, famously known as the Great Barrier Reef. Located in the Coral Sea, the Great Barrier Reef encompasses a huge area of more than 2,900 coral reefs and hundreds of islands and cays. 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 also offer cruise operations.
3 Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
Deep in the heart of the Australia’s Red Centre, Uluru (formerly Ayers Rock), is one of the most photographed natural wonders in the country. The striking red monolith forms the centerpiece of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, a World Heritage Area jointly managed by Parks Australia and the traditional landowners, the Aṉangu people. Uluru, meaning “shadowy place” in the local aboriginal dialect, rises to a height of 348 m from the surrounding plain with most of its bulk hidden beneath the earth’s surface. Also in the park are the red dome-shaped rocks called Kata Tjuta (the Olgas). As the sun dips in the sky, visitors gather to watch Uluru and Kata Tjuta transform in the shifting light. A great way to appreciate these sacred structures is to join a tour around the sites led by Aboriginal guides and rangers.
4 Kakadu National Park
Located in Australia’s Northern Territory, about three hours north of Darwin, Kakadu is the country’s largest national park. There is a lot to see in Kakadu National Park, including a large concentration of Aboriginal rock art; some of which are estimated to be up to 20,000 years old. This park is also home to many different species of wildlife, including wallabies, dingoes and crocodiles. In addition, Kakadu National Park, which is home to one-third of Australia’s bird species, is a birdwatcher’s dream.
5 Blue Mountains National Park
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, beautiful Blue Mountains National Park lies 81 km west of Sydney and is a popular day trip from the city. Named for the blue haze emanating from the many eucalyptus trees, this stunning park protects more than 664,000 acres of bush land and encompasses dramatic gorges, waterfalls, aboriginal rock paintings, and 140 km of hiking trails. The most famous attractions in the park are the towering sandstone rock formations called the Three Sisters. Other highlights include the Katoomba Scenic Railway, the world’s steepest, which whisks passengers down the Jamison Valley through a cliff side tunnel into an ancient rain forest. Hiking, abseiling, rock climbing, mountain biking, and horseback riding are all popular things to do in the park.
6 Whitsunday Islands
This stunning collection of 74 islands lies in the middle of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, making them a perfect jumping off spot for travelers looking to explore the amazing and colorful marine life that live in the waters of this area. Although most of the Whitsunday Islands are deserted, seven do have outstanding resorts on them, including the world-famous One&Only on Hayman Island, a favorite of celebrities and the rich and famous. One of the most beautiful of the Whitsunday Islands is Whitehaven Beach, which boasts blinding white sands. These islands are the perfect choice for travelers seeking a blissful vacation on a lovely tropical island or for those who enjoy hours of snorkeling and scuba diving.
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. A well-planned city known for its shopping, fine restaurants and sports venues, Melbourne is the ideal destination for travelers who appreciate the good life.
8 Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road, which is located in Victoria, is considered to be one of the most beautiful drives in Australia. This 243 km (151 mile) drive starts in Torquay, which is located about 100 km (60 miles) from Melbourne, and ends in Allansford. As it travels along Victoria’s beautiful southwest coastline, the Great Ocean Road passes by some of the most stunning scenery in Australia, including The Twelve Apostles, which are pretty limestone stack formations that rise out of the ocean near Port Campbell National Park. There are also a number of places along the Great Ocean Road where you can spot some of Australia’s famous wildlife, including kangaroos, fur seals and emus.
9 Bondi Beach
Bronzed bodies, blond sand, backpackers, and surf – throw it all together and you get one of the world’s most famous beaches. Only 15 minutes by car from the city center, Bondi Beach is home to one of the oldest surf life-saving clubs in the world. It’s also a great spot for a seaside stroll or picnic. The scenic Bondi to Bronte coastal walk begins at the southern end of the beach and follows the coastline for 6 km along sandstone cliffs. Shops, cafes, and restaurants lie across the street from this famous coastal strip, and the beach is a hotspot on Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. Tourists and locals alike visit the Sunday markets and frolic at the ocean pool and skate park. Strong rip tides often sweep unsuspecting swimmers out to sea, especially at the southern end of this kilometer-long strand, so swimmers should stay between the flags. There’s a reason the Aussies made a reality TV show called “Bondi Rescue.”
10 Fraser Island
World Heritage-listed Fraser Island, between Bundaberg and Brisbane off Australia’s east coast, is the largest sand island in the world and one of Australia’s most unique four-wheel-drive adventures. Along windswept Seventy Five Mile Beach, visitors can see the rusted hulls of shipwrecks, the colored sandstone cliffs of The Cathedrals, and the bubbling fish-filled rock pools called Champagne Pools.
Venturing inland, highlights include crystal clear freshwater creeks and lakes, some fed by springs, others perched amid towering sand dunes, and ancient rainforests filled with an amazing diversity of plants and animals. Sharks, dolphins, and whales prowl the waters and the island’s fauna includes wild horses, dingoes, bats, sugar gliders, and more than 300 species of birds. Access to Fraser Island is by ferry from Rainbow Beach and Hervey Bay. Four-wheel drive vehicles are essential as the island has no sealed roads.
11 Cable Beach, Broome
Cable Beach is located in Broome in Western Australia and is considered by some to be this state’s most popular destination. It is a stunning beach, known for its white sands, beautiful sunsets and the brilliant blue waters of the Indian Ocean. Cable Beach is also famous for its camel rides on the beach. Those who prefer motorized transportation can choose to cross the sands in a four-wheel-drive vehicle instead.
12 Daintree National Park
A Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, Daintree National Park in Far North Queensland is among the most ancient ecosystems on earth. The area belongs to the Eastern Kuku Yalanji Aboriginal people, and many of its natural features hold great spiritual significance. The park encompasses two main sections: Mossman Gorge where crystal clear waters gush over granite boulders, and Cape Tribulation where rainforest meets reef along the white sandy beaches of the Coral Sea. The stunning stretch of coast is one of the few places in the world where two of the planet’s richest ecosystems converge. The park’s astounding biodiversity includes more than 18,000 plant species and a vast array of animal species including the cassowary, crocodile, giant blue Ulysses butterfly, and the secretive Bennett’s tree kangaroo. The resort town of Port Douglas, just south of the park, is a great base to arrange wilderness safaris into the park.
Hobart is the capital city of the Australian island of Tasmania, as well as Australia’s second oldest city after Sydney. With a population of about 250,000 Hobart is small and intimate compared to larger mainland Australian cities, reflecting the small size of the state. There are many fine examples of Georgian and Victorian architecture in Hobart, such as Salamanca Place, which has a terrace of warehouses dating back to the whaling days of the 1830s. It has a mild temperate oceanic climate, with four distinct seasons.
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. Few coastal destinations feature more wildlife diversity and more opportunities for travel adventures than pretty Cairns.
Hugging the coastline of Northern Territory, Darwin has long been the most international of the country’s major cities. Its close proximity to other countries in the Indian Ocean has made the city a transportation hub since its earliest days. Devastated during WW II, Darwin is a resilient town with a spirit that can’t be defeated. Today, the city of around 75,000 people is a popular holiday destination