Wander With Jo

8 Days DIY Australian Road Trip Itinerary + Planning Tips

A self drive trip, especially in a campervan, around Australia gives the occupants a unique opportunity to soak up the scenery of this beautiful country in a leisurely manner and at one’s own pace. In fact, a trip by road these days has become a popular way to explore any new place. Not only does it allow you freedom to travel as you please, any hidden nook and corner can become an incredible destination . This article here is for those folks who wish to hire a vehicle and self drive instead of opting for a tour.

Australia is a vast country to see, with numerous driving routes to choose from. While some are popular than the others, like the East Coast trip and the Pacific Highway, the distances involved are very long in all cases, making the trip all the more challenging. To see the country from all perspectives, the Top to Bottom route which starts at Adelaide and ends at Darwin, or vice versa, is highly recommended. The total length of the trip is about 3600 km and can be comfortably completed in eight days.

Easy and Fun Australian Road Trip Itinerary for 8 Days

Here is a recommended Australian road trip itinerary though there are no set rules and you can go at a slower, more relaxed pace to soak in the settings.

road trip

DAY 1 ( Adelaide to Flinders Ranges – 348 km)

Your epic Australian road trip starts begins at Adelaide and takes you through the famous wine region of Clare Valley before bringing you up close to the stunning outback at Flinders Ranges . One will come across miles of open spaces, inhabited by emus and kangaroos, derelict railway lines, and sunsets so vibrant than any you may have witnessed anywhere else in the world.

DAY 2 ( Flinders to Coober Pedy – 544 km)

There are choices of many routes to Coober Pedy, but the one via Maree and William Creek is the best. Maree makes a nice stopover as it has a hotel and a camping site. From Maree towards Oodnadatta one can come across old relics of the railways. From Oodnadatta to Coober Pedy one can reach by taking a diversion through the Painted Desert.

DAY 3 ( Coober Pedy to Uluru – 751 km)

This is a long drive, but can be easily completed in a day. Start early, and you may be lucky with the sunrise too, to take photos in the morning light of the weird landscape as you exit Coober Pedy. Once you reach Marla, remember to fill up the tanks, as the petrol stations in the outback are almost 200 km apart. Leave the Stuart Highway at Kulgera and proceed towards Uluru.

DAY 4 ( Uluru )

Spend a day at Uluru to rest and relax ahead of the long journey. There is an excellent powered campsite at Ayers Rock Resort, complete with hotels, bars, supermarket and place for hundreds of cars to park.

australia diy tour

DAY 5 ( Uluru to Alice Springs – 462 km)

This five hour trip passes through some of the most desolate stretches of road in Australia. One should take extra care to keep an eye open for wild animals which may cross the road at any moment. There are three roadside stops, roughly 60 km apart, where one can rest and refuel.

DAY 6 ( Alice Springs to Banka Banka Cattle Station – 610 km)

Drive north from Alice Springs, along the Stuart Highway, towards the Banka Banka Cattle Station, which served as an army camp during WWII. Located in the Northern Territory of Australia and has on display animals and other memorabilia and is an enjoyable place for the whole family.

DAY 7 ( Banka Banka to Katherine – 573 km)

To enjoy the real flavor of the outback region, this five hour trip will take you past many road houses, inns, hotels and gas stations all the way to Katherine. Do not forget to stop at Tennant creek or Katherine Gorge to sample the local hospitality.

DAY 8 ( Katherine to Darwin – 318 km)

Take the road to Pine Creek and onto the Kakadu highway to the town of Jabiru. From here take the Arnhem highway and spend quality time at the Litchfield National Park before heading off for Darwin.

Planning Tips for Driving in the Outback

Australia, as amazing it may seem, is an extremely difficult place to drive, simply because of its size. The outback areas are very remote so one should be ready for everything. Very few people will be encountered, so should there be a breakdown, it may take a while for help to arrive.

So follow these tips :-

Be sure you rent 4×4 cars for the rugged outback terrain.

Carry lots and lots of water and extra food

Carry 20 liter extra fuel

Make full use of the road shops for snacks and rests. At least once every 200 km.

Wild animals often cross the road without any notice, especially during dusk and dawn. So be alert.

australian road trip itinerary

An Australian road trip itinerary can be a easily designed on your own. This is once in a lifetime experience but only if you drive to the limitations of your vehicle and most importantly based on your personal driving experience level.

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Your Perfect Australia Itinerary For 1-4 Weeks

  • Post last modified: January 3, 2024
  • Post category: 10+ Days / Australia / Itineraries

Australia is huge! Like the size of the continental U.S. huge. So don’t assume you can see it all in a few days. You need a month or more to travel to all of the territories in Australia. And Australia can be expensive. However, Australia is also the most amazing place we’ve ever been! And we want you to have an amazing Australian vacation too. So we’ve put together our three week Australia itinerary that includes all the best stops along the Eastern coast. We’ve also included plenty of suggestions to help you plan a 1, 2, 3, or 4 week Australia itinerary that is perfect for you.

Stuff In This Post

How Many Days In Australia Is Enough?

You need at least one week to see just one or two regions of Australia. If you want to see all the main tourism areas you’ll need at least one month.

Great Ocean Road

How To Plan Your Perfect Australia Itinerary?

First, you need to decide how much time you have. Next, you need to decide what you really want to see. Sure Cairns has the Great Barrier Reef , but if you don’t like snorkeling or scuba diving, do you really want to spend time there? So what is important to you?

We’ve broken down popular travel regions and listed how many days we think you need to visit that location. You can easily piece together your own itinerary with all of these mini itineraries.  

New South Wales – 1 week

  • Sydney – 3 days
  • Sydney Day Trips – 1-2 days
  • Pacific Coast road trip – 3-4 days

Northern Territory – 4 days

  • Alice Springs – 1 day
  • Uluru – 3 days

Queensland – 1+ week

  • Cairns – 4 days ( Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest)
  • Brisbane – 1 day
  • The Queensland Coast   – 4-5 days

South Australia – 3 days

  • Adelaide – 2 days
  • Kangaroo Island – 1 day

Tasmania – 5 days

Victoria – 5 days

  • Melbourne – 2 days
  • Phillip Island – 1 day
  • Great Ocean Road – 2 days

Western Australia – 9+ days

  • Perth – 2 days
  • Western Coast Road Trip – 1+ week

Australia road

How To Get Around Australia?

First, several areas of Australia are perfect for the road trip! And traveling by car in Australia is easy to do. It’s also much cheaper to rent a car in Australia than in the US – something about insurance – which was really nice. Road trips are an affordable way to get around Australia. However, gas can be expensive so make sure you get a vehicle that has good gas milage.  

However, Australia is HUGE – did we mention that already. So you can’t drive everywhere unless you have unlimited time. And quite honestly there are some places that you wouldn’t enjoy the drive either. This is where domestic Australian flights come in. Those are also really cheap compared with domestic flights in the US.  

By buying from the links below, we'll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Read the full Terms and Conditions here.

So using a combination of domestic Australian flights and scenic road trips you’ll be able to see all of Australia without breaking the budget.  

Sydney Opera House

Three Week Australia Itinerary  

This is the three week Australia itinerary that we followed. It was our favorite vacation we’ve ever taken and also one of the cheapest per day. Feel free to use the entire vacation or pick and choose days to make your own perfect Australia itinerary.

Day 1 – Arrive in Australia

A big portion of your morning will likely be spent arriving in Australia and getting your rental car. Most international Australian flights from the U.S. arrive in Sydney so you’ll likely have to take a connecting flight to Melbourne to start this Australia itinerary. We arrived in Melbourne around 11 AM and started this itinerary from there.

First things first, listen to Down Under by Men At Work to start your vacation right!

Then drive straight through Melbourne and on to Phillip Island.  

Stay overnight on Phillip Island in a cute home rental.

Day 2 – Phillip Island

On our first day in Australia, we took it easy as we adjusted to the time difference. And what is more relaxing than seeing Australian critters and walking the beach?

While you await the nightly Penguin Parade, consider walking along the beaches or visiting the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit . We would have liked to visit the Grand Prix for a tour but there was an actual event happening when we visited so we walked the beaches instead. However, we did notice that most beaches in the area were beautiful but the waves were too aggressive for swimming when we visited.  

Phillip Island

Next, head to the Phillip Island Nature Park . Here you’ll get great views of the ocean and you’ll probably spot your first kangaroo/wallaby.

PS: We asked several Australians how to tell the difference between kangaroos and wallabies and the answer was size. When we asked how to tell the difference between a big wallaby and a small kangaroo, no one could tell us.

Grab a quick dinner before it gets dark.

Penguin parade

Once it gets dark, the Penguin Parade begins. Grab your tickets ahead of time and come ready to spot the cute tiny penguins as they go to their burrows from the ocean at the end of the day.

Stay overnight on Phillip Island again.

Old Melbourne Gaol

Day 3 – Melbourne

First, wake up early to start your journey back into Melbourne .  

Spend the day exploring Melbourne. Keep in mind that there is a free tram that goes through the Central Business District of Melbourne that you can use for all of your transportation needs. So find somewhere to park your car for the day. We chose Melbourne accommodations that had free parking.

For a full list of fun things to do in Melbourne, check out our post here.

Our most highly recommended piece of Melbourne advice for your day is to visit the Queen Victoria Market for lunch. This farmers market meets flea market is a great place to sample some of the local Australian fare. We bought little snacks throughout the market to make up our lunch.

Melbourne Cricket Grounds

Next, spend your evening enjoying a game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. There are games almost every night and any game is impressive in this stadium.  

Stay overnight in Melbourne.

Twelve Apostles

Day 4 – The Great Ocean Road

First, drive west of Melbourne to take the greatest road trip of all time, The Great Ocean Road . This is one of the best road trips we’ve ever been on. The views are gorgeous.  

For this part of your Australia itinerary, you’ll drive as far west as you can get in the day along the coast. The Twelve Apostles are the show stopper along this road trip so plan to spend most of your time enjoying these viewpoints.

For more information on visiting the Twelve Apostles, check out the guide here.

Stay overnight along the Great Ocean Road; we stayed in a home rental in Port Campbell .

Day 5 – The Great Ocean Road

You may be able to spend a bit of your day continuing west to finish up any Twelve Apostle sights that   you weren’t able to see yesterday.

Then, head back east to Melbourne along the inland road.  

Maits Rainforest Walk

Here, you’ll want to spend plenty of time exploring the oldest rainforest and looking for koalas in the wild.  

For more details on this two day Great Ocean Road Trip, check out our complete itinerary here.

**Alternative transportation option** We like driving ourselves around and the freedom that gives us. However, if you don’t, you could forgo the self drive options here and ditch the rental car. There are Phillip Island half-day trips and Great Ocean road overnight trips that you can take with tour companies from Melbourne. By buying from this link , we’ll earn a commission at no extra cost to you so we can afford to keep this blog up and running. 

Head back into Melbourne and stay overnight near the airport .

Barron Falls

Day 6 – Travel and Kuranda

First, catch an early morning flight from Melbourne to Cairns. This flight, with airport and travel time, took about 6 hours. You’ll need an early morning flight if you want to have time to visit Kuranda.

Next, take a taxi from the airport to your accommodations and get your bags stored before heading to Kuranda . You will not need a rental car in Cairns as you can rely on tours to get you around. Take the tram car up to the mountain to explore Kuranda before taking the railroad back down.  

Finally, spend the evening walking along the Esplanade Boardwalk and exploring the town of Cairns. Most shops along the boardwalk stay open late.

For more ideas on things to do in Cairns, check out our post here.

Lastly, eat at Prawn Stars . Period. The coolest seafood restaurant we’ve ever been to.  

Stay overnight in Cairns . Try to stay somewhere with free luggage storage so you can leave extra luggage on land when you explore the Great Barrier Reef. Lots of hotels in the area offer this as reef tours here are popular. 

Scuba divers

Day 7 & 8 – The Great Barrier Reef

Next, spend two days on a live aboard dive trip or an overnight snorkeling trip exploring the Great Barrier Reef . This is a bucket list worthy adventure and you need two days to do it. This is because most of the best dive sites are farther out and take several hours to get to. Two days exploring the Great Barrier Reef is totally worth the extra money this overnight tour will cost you. Read more about our tour here.  

Return to Cairns in the evening and stay another night there.  

Overlook - Cairns

Day 9 – Daintree National Park

Take a day tour into the Daintree National Park . Most day trips include visits to Port Douglas, Cape Tribulation and plenty of time in the rainforest.  

Stay overnight in Cairns.


Day 10 – Brisbane

First, get another early morning flight from Cairns to Brisbane for the final leg of your trip. We caught another early flight and were in Brisbane before lunch. Once in Brisbane, rent a car as you’ll be driving the Pacific Coast from Brisbane to Sydney.

You’ll likely arrive in the afternoon and there are two great options. First, you can drive a few hours to the Australia Zoo .   Alternatively, you can drive a little less for an amazing beach just outside of Brisbane. Some of the best beaches are along this stretch of the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast. Whatever you choose to do it will be fabulous.

Stay overnight in Brisbane.

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary - kangaroo feeding

Day 11 – Brisbane

Next, spend the day exploring Brisbane.

For a full list of activities, check out the things to do in Brisbane here.

Whatever you end of doing, make sure to check out the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary . This is one of the best zoos we’ve ever been to and the opportunity to interact with Australian critters here is amazing.  

Check out our full post on what to expect at Lone Pine here.

Cape Byron Walking Track

Day 12-15 – Australia’s Pacific Coast

Spend 4 days making your way down the sunshine coast as you drive one of Australia’s best road trips.  

Want more information on all of the stops, we wrote all about our road trip here.

One the end of day 14 of this Australia itinerary, stay overnight in Newcastle .  

Orient Cave

Day 16 – The Blue Mountains

Start early in the morning so you can spend one full day exploring the Blue Mountains . Additionally, don’t forget to take a tour of the Jeolan Caves as well.  

To learn more about our one day Blue Mountain itinerary, check out our post here.

Stay overnight in a home stay in Katoomba.

Bondi Beach

Day 17 – Bondi Beach

First, spend the morning driving to Sydney, specifically Bondi Beach . Spend a few hours here relaxing and soaking up the sun. After you’re done at the beach, do all or part of the Bondi to Coogee Coastal walk .

Next, return your rental car. You won’t need it to get around Sydney if you are staying near public transport so this will save you a bit of money. Then head to your Sydney accommodations to get checked in a drop off luggage.  

Stay overnight near public transportation in Sydney .

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Day 18 – Sydney Sights

Spend the first day in Sydney doing a hop-on-hop-off tour of Sydney . We love these types of tours in large cities as it gives us an opportunity to learn about everything but only focus time on the things that interest us.  

However, there are two sights that every Sydney visitor needs to see and that is the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera house .  

For the breakdown of how we spent our time in Sydney, check out our detailed Sydney itinerary here.

Sydney Opera House

Day 19 – More Sydney

Spend the final day of your Australia itinerary, exploring more of Sydney. There is plenty of history and nature to explore in Sydney. Don’t forget to stop in at the Australian Museum to learn all about the country you’ve been tramping around for the past three weeks of this Australian itinerary.  

For a full list of popular things to do in Sydney, check out our list here.

Day 20 – travel home.

Finally, wake up and enjoy your last breakfast in Australia on this final day of your Australia itinerary. Catch a flight home.  

Australia's Pacific Coast

Want To Adjust the Australia Itinerary?

One australia itinerary.

With one week in Australia, most people stick to New South Wales. Honestly, this wasn’t our favorite area in Australia . However, it is the region with the most to do packed into the smallest area, which makes it a great spot if you are short on time. It also makes it cheaper as you have to spend less on transportation costs.

  • Day 1-3 – Sydney – follow Days 17-19 above
  • Day 4 – Blue Mountains – follow Day 16 above
  • Day 5-7 – Drive Australia’s Pacific Coast from Sydney to Brisbane, make sure to stop at least one night in Byron Bay

Additionally, with one week in Australia, you could pick two cities to base yourself in and then explore farther afield with days trips.

Our suggestion would be Melbourne and Cairns, our two favorite cities in Australia.

  • Day 1 – Melbourne
  • Day 2-3 – Great Ocean Road trip
  • Day 4 – fly to Cairns, see Cairns
  • Day 5-6 – Great Barrier Reef liveaboard
  • Day 7 – Daintree Rainforest tour

However, we understand that most people want to see Sydney on a Australian vacation . So this one week in Australia itinerary includes Cairns and Sydney.

  • Day 1-2 – Sydney – follow Days 17-18 above
  • Day 3 – Blue Mountain day trip

Sydney Opera House

Two Week Australia Itinerary

Two weeks in Australia is possibly the hardest Australia itinerary to decide upon. Because you can see a ton of different things OR you can really delve in to a few areas and do some road trips. We would recommend visiting Cairns, Sydney and Melbourne and doing short trips from those areas.

  • Day 1-2 – Melbourne, with a day trip (or half day trip) to Phillip island
  • Day 3-4 – Great Ocean Road trip
  • Day 5 – fly to Cairns, see Cairns
  • Day 6-7 – Great Barrier Reef liveaboard
  • Day 8 – Daintree Rainforest tour
  • Day 9 – fly to Sydney
  • Day 10-12 – Sydney , follow days 17-19 above
  • Day 13-14 – Blue Mountains

Twelve Apostles

Four Week Australia Itinerary

With four weeks in Australia, you can add in a visit to Uluru. Honestly, most three week Australia itineraries include a visit to Uluru and skip Victoria. However, when we visited Australia, we’d just got done spending a lot of time in Arizona, so we were kinda desert rock-ed out. However, with four weeks in Australia, you can visit Victoria, then South Australia, the Northern Territory, then Queensland and lastly New South Wales.

  • Days 1-5 – Victoria – follow the Day 1-5 itinerary above
  • Day 6 – Continue driving the Great Ocean Road on to Adelaide
  • Day 7 – Take a day trip to Kangaroo Island
  • Day 8 – Explore Adelaide in the morning, Fly to Alice Springs in the afternoon
  • Day 9 – Explore Alice Springs
  • Day 10-13 – Explore Uluru , including Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon
  • Day 14-17 – Queensland – follow the Day 6-9 itinerary above
  • Day 18-28 – New South Wales – follow the Day 10-20 itinerary above

We hope that this three week Australian itinerary has helped you to plan your own Australia vacation. If you need more inspiration for planing your Australian vacation, check out all of our Australia posts here.  

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Road trip in australia: an itinerary for the whole country.

australia diy tour

G’day mates, I’m here to take you on a 6 month long road trip in Australia.

Well, I’m not actually taking you (although maybe I’ll get the chance to do guided road trips around this beautiful country at some point, watch this space!), but, with this 6 month itinerary for the ultimate Australian road trip, you’ll know exactly where to go and when .

This Australia road trip planner is customizable depending on your wishes, but I’ve added suggested lengths of times in each location. I

’m recommending at least six months to orbit Australia (this Australia road trip itinerary takes you into the centre as well).

Australia is big and some days will consist of just driving.

Also, this itinerary doesn’t include for rest and admin days – so do take that into account when you plan your road trip in Australia.

I’ve also got dozens of more detailed itineraries for different segments of the road trip, as well as city and region itineraries for different parts of the country.

You can click through to them using the links below – all links open in a new window.

So wherever you’re visiting on this island, and whether you’re backpacking in Australia or on a road trip with toddlers , you can use this 6 month itinerary to plan your ultimate Australia road trip.

Shall we begin?

When to take the road trip in Australia?

australia diy tour

I recommend that you begin the road trip in Melbourne in March or April.

Of course, you don’t have to begin at this time, or even in Melbourne. Most travellers fly into Melbourne or Sydney, and as Melbourne is the most temperamental weather – wise, I thought it would be nice to give you two chances to see it in its glory.

Plus, Tasmania, which I’ve put on the end of this road trip Australia itinerary, is accessible from Melbourne.

I’d recommend starting your road trip from Melbourne in March or April, as this should give you the best weather everywhere – it’ll be a bit cold in the south at first, but it will quickly warm up.

Then once you’ve returned to Melbourne, you’ll have a summer there!

Of course, if you want to start in Darwin (which is the cheapest place to fly into from Asia), then you could do this loop starting in September or October, skipping the rainy season in the north and arriving back there for the high season.

Bear in mind that some parts of the north, like Kakadu and the Gibb River Road, are inaccessible during the rainy season.

The south is still great during the winter, but may be a bit chilly and it is more rainy. Some rough outback roads all over the country can be closed when it rains.

What to pack for the Australia road trip

australia diy tour

I’m going to be writing a full road trip Australia packing list very soon, but here’s some staples you’re not going to want to forget:

  • A car or van (just in case you forget!). If you want a car like my Subaru, you can find deals on a Subaru model on KBB, BCP, Edmunds and other huge sites. For my budget, I couldn’t have asked for a better car in Australia. It’s a great vehicle for road tripping, with AWD capacities and a fantastic reputation for reliability – actually, its Outback model is on the Consumer Reports’s best road trip vehicle lists!
  • High quality tent if you’re not sleeping in your car/ van
  • High quality sleeping bag suitable for both tropical and temperate climates
  • Mattress – a blow up, camping mat or full on double inflatable mattress (you might want to opt for the latter if you’re camping for six months).
  • An esky – that’s Australian for coolbox, by the way – or a cooler bag .
  • A camping stove
  • Gas for said stove
  • Pots and pans
  • High quality torches
  • Coolant, oil, jump leads, and a spare fuel tank for the car
  • Ask for some of these gifts for campers for Christmas as some extras!
  • If you’re planning on doing some serious off-roading and have a 4×4 (only do off-roading in a 4×4!) You might also want some quality 4×4 accessories. Check out Lifestyle 4x4s range here. 

If you haven’t left your home country yet, check out my what to pack for Australia list to check you’ve got all of the essentials covered.

Where to stay during your road trip around Australia

australia diy tour

I’m presuming you’ll be camping around most of Australia – download the app WikiCamps to help you find free and paid campsites, and check out my free camping in Australia post to get the basics.

In places where campsites, free or paid, aren’t readily available, I’ve recommended some hostels and hotels.

You can also of course use Airbnb (click here for money off your first booking) and Couchsurfing, depending on your travelling style.

Road Trip Australia Itinerary for 6 Months on the Road

Melbourne: 3 days.

australia diy tour

There are so many things to do in Melbourne; it’s been voted the world’s most liveable city time and time again for a reason.

From the wealth of museums to the amazing coffee, to cultural attractions like the AMCI and the Victoria Art Gallery, to the many vintage stores, to the beautiful library, you certainly won’t get bored during your time here!

You might not quite have seven days in the city, but this Melbourne itinerary will help you get to grips with the place.

Oh, and are you conscious of not spending too much at your first stop? I got ya! I had an erm… interesting time in Melbourne where I only had about $14 to my name.

Check out my tips for visiting Melbourne on a budget here.

There aren’t many places to free camp near Melbourne – I stayed at Urban Central Hostel, which is decent (although no free parking). You can book in by clicking here .

Victoria Hotel Backpackers is 5km from the city centre, but does have free parking. Click here to book .

Want to stay somewhere a bit more upscale? The Novotel Melbourne is a good option, close to the centre and with free parking. Click here for rates and to reserve .

Melbourne to Sydney: 1 week

australia diy tour

The Melbourne to Sydney road trip is one that’s well-trodden with travelers, but it still isn’t hard to find somewhere that’s a little off the beaten path.

Highlights include Wilson’s Promontory National Park , Lakes Entrance , Eden , camping in a NSW state forest and Jervis Bay .

Once you reach Jervis Bay, if you want, you can take a detour inland to Canberra , the nation’s capital and to the beautiful Blue Mountains National Park – a must-see about 3 hours west of Sydney.

Sydney: 3 days

australia diy tour

Sydney’s the most famous city of Australia, and one that all tourists want to visit, but there’s more here than just an opera house. Once you’ve seen the crowning glory from a few different angles – from Darling Harbour, Mrs Macquaries Seat and of course, up close are my favourites – check out some of the other things to do in Sydney.

It’s famous for its beaches of course; Bondi, Glebe and Manly are firm favourites. Click here for my three days in Sydney itinerary. There are some really great hostels in Sydney – although they’re bladdy expensive.

Bounce is really well facilitated, but it’ll set you back around $40 for a dorm room. I also really like YHA Railway Square, where you can stay in dorms in train cabins! Click here to book .

If you want free parking, you’ll need to stay a bit further out. I’ve also stayed in Cambridge Lodge Budget Hostel which is near Newtown – it has cheap dorm rates (for Sydney) and free parking. Click here to book .

If you’re looking for a hotel, Veriu Broadway is in a good location and has free parking. Click here to book .

Sydney to Brisbane: 1 week

australia diy tour

The Sydney to Brisbane road trip takes in some amazing nature spots, as well as my favourite place in the world, Byron Bay.

Driving north, you’ll reach Newcastle fun things to do in this town here (check out some ) and Port Macquarie before turning inland towards the Waterfall Way .

This hinterland is beautiful, so give yourself a bit of time to properly absorb it all.

Then head out toward Coffs Harbour and up to Yamba , a chill beach town with some great natural spots.

Then it’s time for Byron Bay and its surrounds – check out these great things to do in Bryon Bay and don’t forget to see its hinterland.

Then you’ll cross into Queensland – the Gold Coast is your first point of call, with Surfer’s Paradise being a place to let your hair down before relaxing on some of the other beaches!

Finally, you’ll arrive into the capital of the sunshine state, Brisbane .

Brisbane: 3 days

australia diy tour

Brisbane is often an overlooked Australian city, but it’s well worthy of a spot on your road trip around Australia. It’s a chilled out, breathable place, with lots of attractions to pass a few days in.

Check out the Brisbane Botanical Garden, the Brisbane Museum, the City Beach and the sunset from Kangaroo Point Cliffs.

If you’re already missing nature, head to Stradbroke Island which is very close to the centre and feasible as a day or overnight trip. You could even go camping at Adder Rock if you don’t want to return to the city for accommodation!

City Backpackers HQ is my preferred Brisbane hostel – and it has free parking! It’s reasonably priced and has a bar, a pool, a terrace with city views and $10 nightly dinner deals. Click here to book .

For a hotel option, Ibis Styles is a great option in the middle of the city. Click here for rates and book today .

Brisbane to Cairns: 3 weeks

australia diy tour

The most popular one of all the Australian road trips, Brisbane to Cairns is the one where you’ll see the most travellers – and for good reason.

There are tons of amazing spots here, and it’s also the perfect spot to make some friends!

Highlights include Noosa National Park , Fraser Island , surfing at Agnes Water , the Aboriginal cultural centre at Rockhampton , the Whitsunday Islands , Magnetic Island , diving or snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef , and the beautiful Daintree Rainforest .

Cairns is another place you’ll probably be wanting to stay in a hostel – all of the free campsites are quite far out.

Gilligans has free parking, and the rest – it’s a really well facilitated place, with lots going on, but is only for those who are dedicated to partying!

If you want somewhere a bit more chilled, Cairns City Backpackers has free parking as well and has a calm courtyard and good atmosphere. It’s a 15 – 20 minute walk from the centre. Click here for rates and book today .

Want a hotel? Double Tree Hilton Cairns is a great place to relax and unwind! Click here for rates and book today .

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You’ll need a four-wheel drive for this segment of the road trip; and it’s somewhere really off the beaten track. Think rainforest, crocodiles, rugged tracks and beautiful beaches, eventually making it to the tip of Australia.

Accommodation on the way will be free camping, and there’s only the odd roadhouse or pub – this is proper off the grid living.

Cape York was a spot I didn’t make it to (and I can’t wait to return to Australia and go!) – here’s a great 7 day itinerary for the trip to the tip .

Cape York to Uluru: 1 week

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From the base of Cape York, rejoin the highway and head westwards, towards the Northern Territory border .

You’ll see a really distinct landscape here as the terrain changes, and experience towns like Karumba and Burketown (if you take highway one) or Charters Towers and Mount Isa (if you take the A6).

Either way, it’s a lot of country towns, desolate scenery and hot temperatures! Once you reach the Stuart Highway, turn down and head towards your ultimate destination: Uluru .

You’ll be able to see the attractions on the Stuart Highway on the way back up, but by all means stop at them on the way down as well!

Uluru is an unmissable place in Australia and at least 2 full days should be spent here.

Take some time to walk around the base and see the rock art, do some of the walks in the area to the gorges, and see Katja Tutja on the Valley of the Winds walk.

Uluru to Darwin: 2 weeks

australia diy tour

After some time at beautiful Uluru, make your way north. If you have a 4WD or an AWD (or you can do it in a 2WD if you’re daring – do double check road conditions before you head out though!) take on the Red Centre Way .

This is a loop that takes you to King’s Canyon and then to Alice Springs the back way.

You’ll get to check out the West McDonnell Ranges , which are really spectacular, and drive along rough, outback roads. You might see wild ponies and camels!

Then head to Alice Springs for a couple of nights.

Next, head north to Tennant Creek , stopping in Wycliffe Well – the UFO capital of Australia – and at the Devil’s Marbles . You’re approaching the top end now; after Tennant Creek spend a night at Daly Waters , a fantastic pub and campground.

Mataranka has some beautiful springs and sweltering Katherine is your next stop, with the Nitmiluk National Park . Then it’s on to Kakadu National Park and finally, to Darwin .

Darwin: 3 days

I love and hate Darwin at the same time.

It’s a great place to let your hair down and party, if that’s your scene – but the backpacker crowd is typically pretty OTT.

There are some fun things to do in Darwin , however – the Military Museum is a must, as is the Art Gallery and Museum of the Northern Territory.

If you have the funds, a day trip to the Tiwi Islands is a must-do as well.

Plus there’s Charles Darwin National Park and the lagoon which is perfect for a dip on a sweltering Darwin day.

Darwin hostels are… interesting. If you’re there to party and don’t mind sacrificing on sleep and erm a certain standard of cleanliness, Youth Shack is an option – I found the dorms and bathrooms not the cleanest, but there is a really nice pool area. (Have I sold it? Click here if you want to book after my rave review 😉 )

Melaleuca has higher cleanliness, but is even more of a party place (if possible!). Click here for more information .

If you want somewhere chill on a budget in Darwin, I’d recommend staying at a campsite out of the city, finding somewhere on Airbnb – use this link for $44 off your first booking – or Couchsurfing .

I’ve done all of these in Darwin!

The Argus Hotel is modern, comfortable and clean and has a pool and on-site restaurant. Click here for rates and to book .

Darwin to Broome (via the Gibb River Road): 2 weeks

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Heading south, your first stop should be Litchfield National Park .

I don’t find it as breathtaking as Kakadu, but it’s worth the stop.

Then head west, towards the border with Western Australia. It’s a long old drive, but once you’ve crossed it, head into Kununurra and check out some of the town’s attractions.

Then it’s time for Lake Argyle – this beautiful spot is perfect for kicking back in for a couple of days. Make sure you stay in the Lake Argyle campsite and enjoy its amazing infinity pool!

If you have a 4WD or AWD (I did it in an AWD, much to a lot of people’s disbelief!), take on the Gibb River Road .

This is my favourite part of Australia – 660 kilometres of gorges, waterfalls, secluded campsites and unmissable nature.

You’ll get off the road at Derby, from which it is a 2-hour drive to Broome.

Broome to Perth: 3 weeks

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Spend a few days recharging in beautiful Broome , making sure you don’t miss a sunset!

If you’re there during Staircase to the Moon, it’s well worth checking out.

Gantheaume Point is amazing for dinosaur footprints and cliff jumping, and if you have a 4WD Cape Leveque is a great spot to head up to.

Broome town centre has some interesting attractions which nods to its Indigenous heritage and history as a pearling town. If you’re wanting to stay in the heart of Broome or Cable Beach, you’ll need to pay for accommodation.

I spent a month at Cable Beach Backpackers, which is a small hostel with a really nice atmosphere. Click here for more information and to book .

If you want to stay in Broome town Kimberley Klub YHA is a good option. Click here for rates and book today .

For somewhere a bit more private, try Broome Vacation Village. Click here for more information and to book .

Once you hit the road again, your first stop will be 80 Mile Beach and then Port Hedland .

From Port, you can head southwards to Karijini National Park – one of the best in Australia.

Then head out to the west coast to Exmouth and the Ningaloo Reef .

If it is the right time of year, you can go snorkeling with whale sharks here; a bucket list experience.

Diving at the Navy Pier is also incredible. From Exmouth, head south to the country town of Canarvon and then Shark Bay .

Going south more will take you to Kalbarri National Park , Geraldton and then the Coral Coast .

The Indian Ocean Drive here is incredible, as you drive right next to the sea. The Pinnacles, Lancelin and New Norcia round off your west coast itinerary before arriving in Perth.

Perth: 4 days

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Perth is my favourite Australian city .

I love the spaciousness, the blue skies, the copious amounts of water. Spend a day in the CBD, seeing the attractions there like Elizabeth Quay and King’s Park.

Day two should be spent in funky Fremantle, a hip suburb with lots of attractions .

On day three, head to the Perth Hills to see another side of the city.

Finally, take a ferry over to Rottnest Island for a slice of island livin’. Billabong Backpackers in Perth offers free parking and also has a pool, a large common area and free breakfast. Click here for more information and to book .

If you’re wanting to stay in Fremantle, the Old Fire Station is the one – check out my review here and book using this link .

OFS does have parking but it’s kind of expensive – I used to park at South Beach and take the free CAT bus there.

For a hotel option, Tribe Perth is clean, contemporary and has free parking. Click here for more information and to book .

Perth to Esperance: 1 week

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Once you’ve had your fill of Perth, head back down south (you could stop back into Freo on the way down, I wouldn’t blame you!) toward Margaret River .

This is a beautiful area where you could easily spend a few days. Next on your trip is the karri forests of Pemberton and swing by D’entrecasteaux national park .

There are some amazing beaches around Denmark and Albany , as well as some intriguing natural attractions. Then head to Fitzgerald River National Park and check out the unique biosphere here.

After, it’s time for Esperance , which has a picturesque ocean drive. Head to Cape le Grand National Park after, which has famous white sand beaches and lots of kangaroos.

If you have a 4WD, Cape Arid National Park is worth a visit too, before you head back to Esperance and start the drive north to the Nullarbor Plain.

The Nullarbor: 3 days

australia diy tour

The Nullarbor Plain is a place of mystery; it’s a long, arid stretch of road with not much at all to see. But it’s really beautiful, and the feeling of being so in the middle of nowhere is unbeatable.

Take three days to drive it, as you’ll want to take it in properly and avoid driver fatigue. Highlights include Australia’s longest straight road, various quirky road houses and the beautiful Great Australian Bight .

You can free camp near here and watch the sunrise in the morning – it’s a magical experience. At the end of the Nullarbor, the seaside towns of Ceduna and Streaky Bay are worth popping into.

The Eyre Peninsula: 2 days

australia diy tour

The Eyre Peninsula juts down at the bottom of South Australia, and is a great destination for 4WDing, beautiful beaches and wild camping.

The terrain varies from what you’ve just experienced on the Nullarbor, and there are a few small towns that are worth checking out around the peninsula.

Port Augusta to Coober Pedy: 4 days

things to do in Coober Pedy - big winch viewpoint

At the top eastern side of the Eyre Peninsula, arriving in Port Augusta will feel like you’ve reached a city. It’s time to head north, up the Stuart Highway, to a town called Coober Pedy.

This is a 550-kilometre detour (plus the return trip) to see a population 3,500 town where everyone lives underground; and I do think it’s worth it.

If you love the weird and wonderful, you’ll find lots of entertaining things to do in Coober Pedy . The drive up there is pretty mesmerizing as well!

Coober Pedy to the Flinders Ranges: 5 days

australia diy tour

And the good news is you don’t have to go back the way you came; from Coober Pedy, you can head south east on the Oodnadatta Track – an unsealed but generally in good condition (check before you head out) road connecting the Stuart Highway with the Outback Highway.

You’ll drive around the south side of Lake Eyre (if you have a 4WD and a sense of adventure you might have the chance to go off the track and see it more) and experience even more outback living.

It’s hard to ever get enough, really!

The Flinders Ranges are a beautiful national park that twin mountains and outback – looking otherworldly.

Adelaide: 3 days

australia diy tour

From the southern end of the Flinders Ranges, it is about a fiv hour drive to Adelaide (and this is their local national park – told ya Australia was big!).

Adelaide, like Perth, seems to get a reputation for being ‘boring’ but it’s actually a bundle of joy.

The city is really gorgeous, with markets, museums, a great state library and there’s lots of nature around the city, including beaches and vineyards. Make sure you check out the Barossa Valley.

Backpack Oz in Adelaide has a great atmosphere with a bar and organized trips, and is set in a historic building. There isn’t free parking right by the hostel, but there are spots nearby – the hostel staff can advise you. Click here for rates and to book .

If you’re after a hotel, Pullman Adelaide is a good option with free parking. Click here for more information and to book .

Adelaide to Melbourne: 1 week

australia diy tour

Between Adelaide to Melbourne, there are a few great attractions, both coastal and inland. Coolong National Park and Mount Gambier are great spots to visit with South Australia, and once you cross over the border, head north towards Gariwerd (The Grampians) National Park .

A couple of hours east from here is the historic city of Ballarat , with attractions geared around its gold-rush history.

From here, zig-zag back down to Warrnambool, where you can enjoy the gorgeous Great Ocean Road. Spend a few days here enjoying the beaches and attractions before completing your loop and reaching Melbourne city once again.

Tasmania: 3 weeks

australia diy tour

But your trip doesn’t stop here!

From Melbourne, catch the Spirit of Tasmania over to Devonport .

From here, you can do a circuit of the island state, enjoying attractions like the Bay of Fires, Wineglass Bay, the Tasman Peninsula, the capital Hobart (which is worthy of a few days in itself) and the mighty Cradle Mountain . Make sure you check out the north coast and the beautiful town of Stanley as well.

Three weeks is a great time to see everything properly, although because Tasmania is small compared to the rest of Australia, you can do it in less.

You’ll be able to free camp most of the way around Tasmania, but in Hobart, I recommend staying at Montacute Bunkhouse. It’s a beautiful boutique hostel with lots of features to make a really pleasant night’s stay. Click here for rates and book today .

If you want a bit more space, Riverfront Motel and Villas makes you feel like you’re still in nature while being very close to Hobart city! Click here for rates and to reserve .

Then take the spirit back over to Melbourne and conclude your road trip around Australia!


You’ve done it! You’ve circumnavigated Australia, seeing the very best of the country.

If you’re in the country on a year’s working holiday visa, you’ve arrived in Melbourne just as the summer kicks off and the city comes alive. You’ve even got time to do your regional work for another year down under!

Pin Me if You’re Happy!

Planning a road trip in Australia? This road trip Australia itinerary takes you to the best spots in every state. It is a 6 month Australia itinerary covering more or less the whole country. Check out the Australia highlights by visiting this post! #australia #roadtrip

13 thoughts on “ Road Trip in Australia: An Itinerary for the Whole Country! ”

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Oh my goodness, this itinerary is AMAZING!!! What an adventure you would have had!! This is a total dream for my husband and I. I’ve stayed at the Urban Hostel in Melbourne, it’s a great little hostel. I wonder did you do much freedom camping? We dream of kitting out a van or minibus but we’ve heard it can be hard to find places to camp free. Will be bookmarking this itinerary to come back to if we’re lucky enough to get to do this trip someday!

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I’m glad you enjoyed this Rhiannon! Are you based in Australia currently? It’s a cool spot isn’t it! Yes I did mainly free camping 🙂 Wikicamps has lots of options and I never had any issues – many of them are serviced by pubs or roadhouses so I just spent a little in the establishments. I have an article about free camping in Australia as well! I hope you get to do this trip, it’s not too expensive and it’s the adventure of a lifetime!!

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Hi Claire! Going to Australia early in may to do my 3 months of work asap after arrival. Hopefully i will be ready to kick off my roadtrip somewhere in september starting in Southwestern Aus and travelling the country in a –> (N) <– looking route if you can understand what i mean. Doing this because a want the eastcoast summer and will probably stay there for a while. Im guessing this will take me approximately 7 moths to complete, I dont really have a timeline, but would like to get a full year on my second year visa to settle down and work etc.

What do you think about the route, does it make sense to you considering the weather and all or does it sound completely crazy?

Thank you for your inspo, noted many tips from you! 😉

I think it’s a great idea to do your farm work as soon as you get there. You should be able to find something in Southwestern, I’m not sure what the harvest seasons are like in Margaret River but I know it’s a popular spot for farm work.

In September I actually think I’d go the other way. It’ll be warming up by then down south, you’ll get over to the east coast around November and will still be there for summer (although you don’t really need to be there then above Brisbane, I’d say spring/ autumn are better weather, it is rainy season during the summer as well!), and then after summer you’ll get to enjoy the NT and the Kimberleys after the wet season (when waterfalls are at their best).

The other way would work too, but you’d need to rush the west coast/ Kimberleys/ NT to get it done before the wet season starts and they’re not places you want to rush, trust me!

But do whatever you think is best depending on your preferences 🙂 Let me know if you have any more questions and I’m glad the blog helped!

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This looks like an awesome trip! I will probably fly to Australia at the end of august/ beginning of september. Not sure where I will be landing yet, keeping my options open for now. If I would want to start this roadtrip , where would you suggest me to start if i would want to start in september?

Your blog is very helpfull btw!

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Hi Claire, We are a family of four (kids 3y and 5y) living in Rocky for one year. We are thinking of a roadtrip Rockhampton-Cairns-back to Townsville-Alice springs- Kings canyon- Aderlaide-Melbourne in 1,5-2 months. What do you think about that? We have a 2w car at the moment, would that be enough? Also thinking about getting a camper trailer for this roadtrip, or du you think it would be enough B&B, motels or hostel on the way to be ok? And we are thinking about doing it between May-August sometime. Or is it preferable a 4W car doing that roadtrip? We are just in the beginning of this plan, so I am happy with every advice you can give me. Regards Frida

Amazing! Your itinerary sounds good, although I’m guessing with kids you’ll want to add some time on so I’d definitely go towards 2 months in your case. As far as I know the only way you’d get from Townsville to Alice Springs on a 2WD track is via Tennant Creek, certainly doable but it will take a while. There is the Outback Way that stretches from Queensland all the way to Western Australia via the red centre but that’s 4WD only.

I love camping and would always recommend it, it does save a lot of money as well. If you’re happy to use tents they’re a great option without having to get a camper trailer! If not, you could probably just about get by without (staying at roadhouses and hostels in bigger places) but I wouldn’t want to say 100%.

May – August is a good time! It might be a bit cold in the south, so you might want to opt for some indoor accommodation then, but it’s still beautiful.

Let me know if you have any other questions!

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Claire, I have been planing a solo Australian cross country driving trip from Sydney to Darwin. What have learned is that car rental in Australia is different then USA. My original plan was to land in Sydney, rent a suv and start driving but it doesn’t seems that easy due to your car rental laws.

That said would you be able to advise the best approach to achieve my goal.

Kind regards Tom K. [email protected]

So I’m actually British but spent a long time in Australia, I bought a car in Melbourne no problem and sold it again 8 months later. I did however rent a car in Australia and didn’t have any issues. What is the problem that you are finding with the car rental? Let me know and hopefully I can help!

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Hi Claire, I am planning to do road trip with roughly the same itinerary, and I was wondering wether you think a 4*4 car is necessary or not ? And weather 4 or 5 months would be enough to do it? Thanks, Taís.

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Myself, my partner and our 2 yr old son are planning to go from Melbourne to Broome via Perth along the West Coast. Then possibly up to Darwin and back down through Alice Springs to Melbourne. We are taking a caravan with us. Firstly, do you think it’s going to be too long and uncomfortable for a 2 old to cope with being on the road so long. And also is 2 months long enough for this trip?

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This is a great itinerary! I’m looking to come to Aus and do a roadtrip of as much of the country as possible without rushing too much. I’ll be there late May-August. How much do you think is doable for 3 months? What would you cut out to squeeze this itinerary down?

Thank you!!

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hi lovely! wow your trip looked incredible! what an experience. i have 2 months with hubby and 2 kids to do round trip… any tips? i am using some of your stop off as the base 😀

starting in canberra.. wondering if we should head clockwise or anticlockwise? will be starting in june next year (ideally). driving in a 4wd with pop top tent.

thank you any feedback would be amazing. i have no idea where to start..

love from an amateur

Comments are closed.

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Planning a Trip to Australia: Where to Start, When to Go, What to See

By Author Jurga

Posted on Last updated: November 10, 2023

Planning a Trip to Australia: Where to Start, When to Go, What to See

Planning a trip to Australia , but not sure where to start with the preparations for your dream vacation? This article is for you!

Australia is one of those countries that everybody dreams of going to one day. But then the day is finally there and you have not the slightest idea on where to start. Don’t rush to the travel agency just yet! First, figure out what YOU want so that your dream trip becomes a reality!

Below you can find some advice on how to plan Australia trip and make a good trip itinerary. Find out!

How to Plan a Trip to Australia – Our Experience & Tips

We were lucky to have had an opportunity to travel to Australia twice: once as a couple, and ten years later, with our three kids of 3, 3, and 5 years old.

Our first trip to Australia and New Zealand ten years ago was also our first road trip, and there were lots of things we didn’t know . We just booked the most popular road trip itinerary and relied on the road book we got from our travel agent. We saw many amazing places, yet we were disappointed. We went to New Zealand on the same trip as well, and we loved every single day there. So what went wrong in Australia?

We knew that Australia is huge and that driving times can be very long. What we didn’t know is that it is really boring on the road most of the time. Often, there is not much to see in between the places which are well worth visiting.

We saw so many dead kangaroos on the road and black, burned forests that it was even depressing with moments… We visited quite some towns along the Eastern Coast which were really not worth it – at least not for someone who only has 3 weeks in Australia.

So when we were preparing our second Australia trip with kids, we knew that we had to make an itinerary in such a way that it would be fun for the whole family. We were not going to make the same mistake twice!

So here are some general tips and recommendations to help you plan your dream Australia vacation. Read on!

Sydney Opera House and Harbour as seen from the water

Planning Australia trip – what you need to know in advance

Below you can find some essential tips that will help you plan a trip to Australia. Not just any trip, but a really well-thought-of bucket-list trip that you always dreamt of. Take a look!

How to prepare a good travel plan for Australia

Before you start planning your Australian trip itinerary, you have to figure out the following:

  • What are your INTERESTS ? If traveling with kids, make sure to take their interests into account as well.
  • WHEN do you want to go?
  • HOW MUCH TIME do you have?
  • WHERE – which places do you definitely want to see?

1. What do you want to see and do in Australia

The very first thing you have to figure out is what you expect from your trip to Australia. Do you want to see the beaches, go diving or snorkeling? Do you want to visit some cities, or maybe none at all? Or maybe you are mostly interested in beautiful nature and diverse wildlife?

For most people, it’s a combination of all. Still, you have to set priorities.

When we were preparing our trip to Australia with children, we were also struggling to come up with a good plan. We wanted to see as much as possible, but also had to try to estimate how much sightseeing a three- or a five-year-old can actually handle.

In the end, we chose nature destinations and limited city visits to just two days in Sydney and one day in Melbourne . Wildlife and nature are the most important factors for us when traveling with kids, and so we added Kangaroo Island , Tasmania, Great Ocean Road , and some other locations to our itinerary.

We also visited a few wildlife sanctuaries so that the kids could cuddle a koala, feed a kangaroo, and touch a Tasmanian Devil. We didn’t go to a zoo or a theme park as it was not in our interest and also didn’t fit our itinerary. But it might be something you as a family wants to consider, especially if you are passing near such a place anyway.

You are the one who knows your family and their interests best. So make sure that your Australia vacation is fun for everybody!

Children chasing wild kangaroos in the Grampians NP Australia

2. What is the best time to travel to Australia?

You can travel to Australia at any time of the year as long as you choose the right places in the right season. You can either decide on what you want to see and then find out when it’s the best time to go there OR you can select the places to fit your holidays. Just do some research before you book!

Remember that the best times are also the busiest times, so book early and be prepared to pay more. If possible, avoid Christmas and Easter vacations.

Here is a short destination guide to help you decide where to go in Australia and when:

  • Sydney can be visited all year round. See our 1-day Sydney itinerary for the must-sees.
  • North Australia (Darwin area) is not a good idea in Australian summer as it is also the wet season and the roads are often impassible. The best time to visit is May to October. Here you can find our suggested Darwin itinerary .
  • Southern Australia ( Melbourne area, Adelaide, Great Ocean Road , Kangaroo Island …) is probably best visited in the warmer months. By the way, we absolutely loved Kangaroo Island! Here you can read more about our visit to Kangaroo Island .
  • Tasmania is a summer destination unless you don’t mind the cold and the wind, or want to go skiing. The best time to visit Tasmania is between November and March. Here you can find more info about things to do in Hobart, Tasmania .
  • Red Centre (Alice Springs, Uluru) – can be visited all year round, but it’s VERY HOT and can be very wet in the Australian summer months. It’s a good destination in winter when Europe and the US have long summer holidays, but it will be much busier as well. Here you can find more information about visiting Australia’s Red Centre . The best time to visit the Red Center is from May to September.
  • Queensland (The Great Barrier Reef and the East coast between Cairns and Brisbane) is warm all year round, but the summer months are also the wettest. Tropics can be beautiful when it rains. The best time to travel to Queensland is from May to October.
  • South-Western Australia (Perth area) is probably best in spring or autumn. Summers are hot and winters – wet. Locals say that August and September are the best months to visit Perth.

Beautiful red rocks of Kata Tjuta, also called the Olgas in Australian outback

3. How much time do you need in Australia?

It’s very important to understand that you cannot see everything in Australia unless you have unlimited time and budget. So be selective when you choose where to go.

The first time we traveled to Australia we had 3,5 weeks and we did a road trip from Cairns to Sydney. Despite the fact that this tour is presented as the most popular way to see Australia by most of the travel agencies, I wouldn’t do it again. I know more people who had a similar trip itinerary and they were all disappointed. Driving time is much too long on this trip, you spend hours in the car, and it’s not like you see the most amazing landscapes or landmarks every day.

In 3-4 weeks time, you can see the Great Barrier Reef, some of the Eastern coast, Sydney and the Blue Mountains, plus some other places like, for example, the Red Centre or the Great Ocean Road. That means you have to fly instead of driving , and that you have to be more selective as to where you go.

TIP: Domestic flights are not necessarily the more expensive option. In fact, it can be cheaper to fly than to spend days on the road. The costs of car rental, fuel, accommodation, and food for the extra days will quickly add up, not to mention the precious time you save.

When you travel to the other side of the world for just a few weeks and you want to actually see some of this diverse continent, you better go to fewer places that are really worth it than to many places which are not as worthwhile . Spend fewer hours driving and more sightseeing!

The Great Ocean Road coastline near the Twelve Apostles Australia

4. Top places you shouldn’t miss in Australia

In my opinion, you really should try to see Sydney, the Great Barrier Reef, Uluru (Ayers Rock), and the Great Ocean Road. These are the very best places to keep in mind when planning a trip to Australia.

However, these places are also very far from each other. So it’s not really feasible to see them all if you only have a week or two. Try to pick at least two of these top spots – that way you at least get a taste of what Australia has to offer.

If I had to choose just one place to go to in Australia, I would recommend the Red Centre (Uluru- Kata Tjuta National Park, the Kings Canyon, West MacDonnell Ranges …). It is so very different from all the rest and it’s also what makes Australia so unique. Of course, it’s just my personal opinion, but you really have to experience it in order to understand how special it is. Uluru is not ‘just a rock’.

Uluru or Ayers rock from a different perspective

So, these are our main tips for planning a trip to Australia. To summarize: good trip itinerary stands or falls with these four factors: WHAT, WHEN, HOW LONG, and WHERE. Once you figure that out, the rest is easy.

It goes without saying that the budget is a very important factor as well, but leave the money worries for later, after you figure out your trip itinerary.

Whether you’ll love Australia depends so much on how well you’ll prepare your trip. This is the most important step, so take your time and plan well!

TIP: If you are looking for ideas on where to go in Australia, check this post with our 5-week Australia itinerary . It covers some of the most beautiful regions, some of the must-see places in Australia. Even if you don’t have as much time in Australia, you will get a good idea of what there is to see and how much time you need for each region.

TIP: If you are planning to visit Australia with a family, check out our tips for traveling to Australia with kids .

READ ALSO: Top Places to See on the Great Ocean Road

If you found this post helpful, don’t forget to bookmark it and share it with your friends. Are you on Pinterest? Pin this image!

Planning Australia trip - practical tips and recommendations #Australia

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Thursday 18th of April 2024

Hi! I planning a trip to Australia, and I only have 10 days total. We're planning to fly into Sydney. But also want to go to Melbourne. I was wondering if I should book a roundtrip to Sydney (with a roundtrip to Melbourne in between)? Or should book a one-way, and then fly home from Melbourne? What's the best way to go about this? I will add that we are looking to fly with Jetstar since it’s the cheapest.

Hi Denise, unless you have a very good reason to do a round-trip to/from the same city, I would definitely fly in and out of different airports (with a domestic flight in-between). That way, you can spend more time sightseeing instead of at the airports and on the planes. Have a great trip!

Adrian Crowson

Wednesday 21st of February 2024

Hopefully when we've sold our business we plan to have 5-6 weeks over there, I take it there's more to see over the east side?

Friday 23rd of February 2024

Hi Adrian, Australia is huge and there's a lot to see all over the country. But the best-known and most popular places are indeed more to the east side, plus also the Red Center, Darwin, Adelaide - Melbourne, Tasmania. I hear good things about Perth, on the west coast, as well. However, the distances are huge so you have to make choices and 5-6 weeks isn't much for such a big country. Trying to see 'everything' will just result in more time spent on planes and in the car than exploring, so pick several areas that interest you the most and spend more time there. Good luck!

michelle battaglio

Monday 8th of January 2024

Hi interested in doing Australia next December I have 13 days to do this. Where do I start and please help me plan an itineray. thank you

Hi Michelle, as you can imagine, there are hundreds of different ways how one could spend two weeks in Australia. Unfortunately, helping craft a truly good itinerary that suits our readers' interests, budget, and travel style would take up much too much of our time. Therefore, we do not offer this service. I suggest that you take a look at our 5-week Australia itinerary. It covers several different regions all over the country. Pick the ones that interest you and you can easily plan your own trip using our detailed suggestions in that article. If you read previous comments under that article, you may find some additional suggestions in there as well. Good luck and have a great time in Australia!

Saturday 30th of December 2023

Hi did you pre-book all your hotels and car rentals and flight before you got to the land of Oz?

Hi Maureen, yes, we always prebook car rentals and accommodations in advance. Usually, we also book tours/excursions before the trip, especially those that we absolutely want to do. It saves you a lot of hassle and is usually much cheaper too. Plus, if you are visiting remote places, there may be very limited options to start with. If you are traveling on your own, in the low season, in popular places with lots of facilities, and have complete flexibility, you can probably just wing it. But otherwise, I would definitely book ahead.

Monday 28th of August 2023

Hi, I’m wanting to go to Australia for the first time for my 60th! It will be for 3 weeks. Would like to go to Sydney but where else should my husband and I visit. We love history, culture, nature! Just don’t know where to start! Please could you advise? Regards Gail

Wednesday 30th of August 2023

Hi Gail, I have covered this info in the article. A lot depends on the season when you visit, your personal preferences, etc. On the first trip, most people visit Sydney (+Blue Mountains), Melbourne (+Great Ocean Road), Red Centre (Uluru), and the area around Cairns (Great Barrier Reef). You may want to take a look at our Australia itinerary for more info, it will give you an idea of what can be done in different parts of Australia. Unfortunately, I really have no time to help our readers with individual trip planning. Good luck with the planning!

Australia Your Way


Our 2 two-day Great Ocean Road Itinerary takes you on one of the most iconic drives in Australia. The jewel of the journey, the 12 Apostles, is the third most famous natural site in Australia after Uluru and the Great Barrier Reef. It’s not surprising that over 2 million people visit the area each year.

This trip is 48 hours of jaw-dropping beauty, with both coastal and hinterland views to keep your camera busy. The area also boasts some of the state’s best spots for meeting local wildlife. To top that off, some talented local food producers mean any calories burnt walking and climbing stairs are quickly found again.

Frequently asked questions about the 12 Apostles

Day one – coastal views and wildlife, pitstop – great ocean road memorial arch, where to stay at port campbell, day 2 cliffs, waterfalls, and a redwood forest, 2 day great ocean road itinerary map.

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While you can cover this distance in 10 hours return (please use two drivers if you do!), this trip is much better if you allow an overnight stop or two or more!

The Great Ocean Road officially begins at Torquay and ends 243km (151mi) later just outside of Warrnambool

Spending the night at one of the small towns near the 12 Apostles will allow you the joy of both sunset and sunrise, both of which you will remember for a very long time!

If you don’t have time for an overnight stay, I highly recommend letting a specialist handle the driving and book one of these small group tours.

How much do you know about these stunning rock formations? We have tried to cover the most popular questions, but if you have one we have missed, pop over to our FB group and ask us!

How old are the 12 Apostles?

These limestone stacks are believed to be over twenty million years in the making.

Why are they called the 12 Apostles if there are only 7 of them?

Until the 1960s, the rock formation was known as Sow and Pigs. The Sow was Muttonbird Island, and the stacks her piglets. In the 1960s, a marketing campaign saw them renamed from Sow and Piglets to the 12 Apostles even though there were not technically 12 visible. There were nine at one point, but two have collapsed; one in 1995 saw two visitors trapped on the stack away from the shore.

When is the best time to visit the Great Ocean Road?

If you are flexible, we strongly recommend you do not visit between Dec and mid-February – these are Australian school summer holidays, and prices are at a premium, as is the crowd. It detracts from the experience. Other dates to avoid include the Falls Festival and the Bells Surf Classic. We think the best time to visit is after Easter or between September and November.

Advice about driving on the Great Ocean Road

Do not drive at night – Australian country roads attract Kangaroos at dusk and dawn, and accidents are not uncommon. The road is only one lane in each direction, so be careful, particularly when overtaking. It’s a good idea to watch your speed with it changing between 50kph and 100kph quite regularly. Read our guide to driving in Australia if you are an international visitor.

Accidents are sadly not infrequent. When stopping to admire a view, please only use the official areas. If you are flying in from interstate and this is your primary destination, consider a flight to Avalon Airport in Geelong. It will save about an hour of your travelling time, and you can arrive car collection here.

Where are the best places to see on the Great Ocean Road?

In two days, you won’t have time to stop everywhere, so you will need to make a few tough choices. In our itinerary, we made the following cuts:

  • We skipped the Torquay – Australian National Surfing Museum , and surf shopping
  • Instead, we stopped at the Split Point Lighthouse
  • Erskine Falls – near Lorne – a popular stop but we decided to leave it out to make the day a little less rushed.
  • Lorne for lunch or Kennett River Reserve for a Koala spotting picnic you don’t have time for both?

Here’s how we spent our two days on the Great Ocean Road.

We left Melbourne at 6 am, having collected our car the night before. We knew we wanted to be on the road before they opened, so we decided the extra expense of having the vehicle one extra night was worth it.

The total driving time on day one is 4 hours and 30 minutes, not allowing for stops.

The first section of road to Cape Otway is the Surf Coast, from here to Port Fairy is the Shipwreck coast.

Stop 1. Bells Beach

Bells Beach is best known for its annual Easter surf competition, the world’s longest continuously running pro surfing event. The drive here from the centre of Melbourne will take about 75 minutes if you get away early. A late start will add up to 30 minutes to the trip. Is it a must-see? For me, probably not, but it is nice to stretch the legs.

Bells Beach on the Great Ocean Road

On a previous visit with our daughter, we had stopped in Torquay, where you will find a bunch of wholesale surf shops – this is a popular stop if you are interested in shopping and you have left late enough in the morning for them to be open.

We spent about 10 minutes here – literally a photo, and away we go.

Stop 2. Aireys Inlet

When we arrived at Aireys Inlet, we were ready to stretch our legs, and there was no way we could miss The Round the Twist Lighthouse, aka Split Point Lighthouse .

Split Point Lighthouse was used in the children's TV show Round the Twist.

There are two options if you want to go inside the lighthouse. The guided tour takes 45 minutes and costs $15. For $10, you can do the express tour, which is probably enough unless you are really into lighthouse history. You get to climb the four levels to take in the view at the top. Even if you don’t fancy a lighthouse visit, the outlook from this point is lovely.

We spent about 45 minutes here, including a quick run up to the top of the lighthouse and time for photos.

Great Ocean Road QR Trail combines augmented reality, film and art to tell the story of the road

Just before you reach the memorial, keep your eyes peeled for the Pole House

In August 1918, work began on a road designed to serve as a memorial for the servicemen who lost their lives in World War 1.

The Great Ocean Road is the world’s biggest war memorial.

The road took 13 years to build, and over 2300 servicemen made up the 3000-strong workforce. It was completed in 1932.

Memorial scuplture near entrance to the Great Ocean Road in Australia.

A museum details the history and construction of the road at 15 Mountjoy Parade, Lorne.

Decision time – a sit-down lunch or a walk to a waterfall with a sandwich along the way?

Stop 3. Lorne or Kennett River

Lorne is one of the most significant towns along the GOR, and it’s tempting to stop here for lunch. It’s not a bad decision, there is some excellent food here, but we decided we would prefer to see more and eat less, so we kept driving to Kennett River Coastal Reserve. We did make one detour to stop at Teddy’s Lookout; it’s a short walk from the car park to the viewing platform to where St George River meets the ocean.

We regret missing is Erskine Falls – a 20km round trip detour – if you have more than two days be sure to add it!

The reserve is best known for the many Koalas found in the gum trees here. It’s called Koala Walk and is one of the best places in Australia to see Koalas in the wild. When you arrive at the Koala Kafe, head along Grey River Road, I suggest going past any tour buses a further km or so till you find some space. Koalas are not fans of noise, so while there may be some near the crowds, you will likely see more further down the road.

We spent about an hour here, including Koala viewing and a takeaway lunch from Koala Kafe.

Stop 4. Apollo Bay

From Kennett River, it’s about 25km to your next stop Apollo Bay the midway point on your drive to the Apostles. It’s now time to take stock. You want to be on the lookout a good 30-45 minutes before sunset, and it’s just under 2 hours drive from here, so depending on how you are going for time, you might need to limit your stop here.

Did you know you can walk the Great Ocean Road? The Great Ocean Walk is a 104 km trail that follows the coast from Apollo Bay to the 12 Apostles.

One view not to miss is Mariners Lookout; you will find it about 3km before you reach the town centre at Apollo Bay. We spent about 30 minutes on this detour and only had a quick drive through town as we wanted to get to our destination in time to stop at the visitor’s centre before sunset.

Apollo Bay Lookout Great Ocean Road Vic.

We spent about 30 minutes at the lookout and 15 minutes in town grabbing coffee.

Once you hit Cape Otway, you are on the “Shipwreck Coast”. Over 50 boats are thought to have been shipwrecked here, and commemorative plaques mark the coastline from here to Port Fairy. Explorer Matthew Flinders said he had never seen a more fearful section of coastline anywhere in his travels, and he circumnavigated the country!

The next part of the drive is through the Cape Otway National Park – If you follow our itinerary, you will be spending tomorrow afternoon here, so resist the urge to stop.

Cape Otway Lighthouse

However, if you are making good time and fancy another lighthouse, make the side trip to the Cape Otway Lighthouse. Built in 1848, it is the oldest surviving on the Australian mainland. It keeps watching over the southernmost tip of Australia, where the Bass Strait and the Southern Ocean meet.

Apollo Bay is the starting point for the Great Ocean Walk which is the next multi-day walk we want to tackle

This detour will add about 25km return to your travel time, but I think it’s well worth it. Along the road down to the cape, you will see Mannagum Drive (follow the signs for Otway Ebikes), which is another excellent spot to see Koalas.

Stop 5. 12 Apostles Visitors Centre

Stop in at the official visitors centre and pick up some maps for tomorrow morning’s sightseeing. If you arrive in time, take a walk down Gibsons Steps to Gibson Beach – from here, you can feel how mighty these limestone “stacks” are. The 86 steps down are not too difficult for anyone with average fitness, and your effort is well rewarded. Once on the beach, you are at eye level with two small stacks known as Gog and Magog – they are not part of the official Apostle group. Please don’t swim here. The tide can be quite dangerous. Gibson Beach stairs are closed in rough weather.

Great Ocean Road close view from Gibson Beach

There are two parks on this part of the coast, The Port Campbell National Park and about 30km further along, the Bay of Islands Coastal Park. Be sure to pick up a map of the various walks in both parks and spend some time this evening choosing a couple for tomorrow. You can download a PDF here if you like to plan.

Stunning view of Twelve Apostles from helicopter, Australia.

Sunset at the Twelve Apostles is the main highlight of the day, but shortly after sunset, keep your eye on the beach for the fairy penguins who are returning to sleep. There are two viewing platforms where you are likely to spot them, one here and one at London Bridge. From Loch Ard Gorge, you can also spot mutton birds returning home each evening in season (Sept-April).

Photographers may want to make this a 3-day itinerary to allow time for bad weather and to shoot the other rock formations along the way.

Another popular nighttime activity for those who spend the night on the Great Ocean Road is shooting the Milky Way.

The prime choices for your overnight stay are:

  • Princetown – 6km before the Apostles
  • Port Campbell – 12km from the Apostles
  • Peterborough – near London Bridge 30km from the 12 Apostles

We chose Port Campbell itself and stayed at a small motel called the Port of Call. When I next go back, I would like to book something self-contained and spend a few more days in the area.

We suggest you spend the morning exploring Port Campbell National Park and the afternoon taking in some of the waterfalls in Otway National Park. There are 21 stops marked on today’s map, but several are in the same location, so don’t worry; it’s not as bad as it sounds. If the budget will stretch and you are not scared of heights, a chopper ride is worth every cent.

Aerial view of Great Ocean Road coastline at sunset, Australia.

Stop 1. A 12 Apostles sunrise

The main reason to base yourself here for at least one night is to experience a Great Ocean Rd sunrise. Try to get to the lookout about 30min or so before the sun comes up for some fantastic light. If you sleep in, don’t fret, the light is excellent for the first few hours of the day, and the crowds are much thinner than at sunset with fewer tour buses around.

Despite their name, according to Parks Vic. there have never been more than 8 “Apostles” the 8th collapsed on July 3, 2005, leaving us with just seven today.

Today there is a fair bit of jumping in and out of the car. You can minimise this by choosing fewer lookouts to cover and perhaps adding a couple more walks. There is a well-reviewed discovery 3.8km walk at Port Campbell that will take you about 90 minutes to complete. We decided against this, as we wanted to be on the road to Otway before midday. The total driving time between your starting point at the 12 Apostles Lookout and the Bay of Islands National Park is only 35 mins (36km). Still, I would allow 2-3 hours to cover all of these viewpoints depending on how long you spend walking to the various tracks and composing your photos.

Stop 2. Loch Ard Gorge

This spot commemorates the Shipwreck of the Loch Ard in 1878. Only two people, Irish teenagers, survived the wreck, and the nearby Tom and Eva Lookout are named for them. While we were walking on this beach, a wave came from nowhere and almost drenched us. The ocean here can sneak up on you so take care, and please resist the temptation to swim here. There are several lookouts off this car park, including Tom and Eva, my favourite view at this stop. You will also find Razorback, a very detailed rock, Island Arch, Muttonbird lookout, and Thunder Cave. You can park at Loch Ard car park and walk to all lookouts, each less than a km return except Thunder Cave, which is a little longer. There is a car park closer if you prefer to drive to this one.

Check out some professional shots of these locations to help you decide where to stop

The Razorback at Loch Ard Gorge

Stop 3. Port Campbell breakfast

Port Campbell is the biggest of the towns along this stretch of the road and an excellent choice for breakfast. We stopped at Forage on the Foreshore and can highly recommend it. Their all-day breakfast features some great local cheese and plenty of healthy options. They open at 9 am, so if you are still too early, you could switch this and the next stop.

Stop 4. The Arch, London Bridge, and The Grotto

This next bit has you in and out of the car every few minutes, and by now, you may be starting to tire of lookouts no matter how pretty. The Arch and The Grotto are similar formations, with The Grotto being superior, so perhaps consider skipping the Arch.

London Arch Great Ocean Road Day 2

The Arch is impressive though, as it is a chance to see how their erosion forms these stacks over time. London Bridge was once a double arch but has had a couple of collapses. Until January 1990, you could walk across it, but it collapsed, leaving two visitors needing helicopter rescue. These days it is referred to as London Arch. If you walk to both viewing platforms, allow about 30 minutes.

The Grotto is a cave and sinkhole; the best view is from the lower platform. It is recommended that you stick to the paths and stairways here. The ground can be unstable. Allow about 20 minutes here.

Stop 5. The Bay of Islands Coastal Park

This coastal park covers 32km between Peterborough and Warrnambool. The two bays we stop at today are every bit as pretty as the Port Campbell National Park, and they attract far fewer visitors. If you enjoyed the 12 Apostles but thought it felt like a bit of a circus, then this park will delight you. The stacks are smaller, but there are quite a lot of them, and you may find you have the whole place to yourself. First up is the Bay of Martyrs, Home to Massacre Bay and Massacre Point; sadly, its history is as dark as its name suggests. Many of the original inhabitants of this land, the Karrae-Wurrong people, were said to be herded off the cliffs into the ocean to their death by the newly arrived Europeans, decimating the local population to almost nil.

Bay of Martyrs Great Ocean Road

The Bay of Islands is just a few km down the road,

Stop 6. Cape Otway Waterfalls

This afternoon it’s all about the waterfalls .

Great Otway National Park has a lot to offer, but its biggest draw cards are its waterfalls and old forest, including a section of Californian redwoods. The area gets decent rainfall year-round, and the waterfalls are almost always flowing. Download this guide to all the walks and waterfalls in the park for your planning. Unless you have made good time this morning, you will find seeing all the main sites here in one afternoon wildly rushed. I suggest you pick one section, either Triplet Falls and the Otway Fly or Hopetoun/Beauchamp Falls and Redwoods. However, if you want to see it all, put your skates on! Triplet Falls are only 3km away from the Otway Fly Treetop Adventures and the first spot you see reach when you enter the park from the south. The walk-to-view Triplet Falls is a 1.8km circuit on a raised boardwalk that is relatively easy and can be completed in one hour. We read that the best route was to do it clockwise, which worked for us.

Triplet falls, Otway National Park, Australia

Otway Fly Treetop Walk – The big attraction of this canopy walk is the 600-meter-long, 25-meter-high elevated walkway, the longest and tallest elevated walk in the world. There is also a 47-meter high tower and a 1.9km rainforest walk. Adrenalin junkies can sign up for the zipline adventure.

From here, you are about a twenty-minute drive to Hopetoun Falls

hopetoun falls and a tree fern near the great ocean road in victoria, australia

Hopetoun Falls – It’s a 15-minute trip from Beauchamp to Hopetoun Falls. The first lookout is 20 metres from the car park and looks over the falls from the top. You can take a 1km walk to the lookout at the bottom of the falls, but there is no official access to the fall’s base. The trip is 20 minutes to return. From here, it’s a 5-minute drive to the next stop. Californian Redwoods – I had no idea you could see redwoods in Australia, did you? Only a few minutes drives from Hopetoun Falls, this detour is a must. It’s less than a 500m return to the car, so it won’t add much time to your day. These forests were planted by a local ranger back in 1936. Beauchamp Falls (pronounced Beechum)- to reach the lookout at the base of this fall requires a bit of effort. The round trip will take you an hour, and you need a decent fitness level. The walk is quite steep and a little challenging. There is no access directly under the falls.

I guarantee the time you spend in the Otways this afternoon will have you planning a return visit before you leave.

So by now, you are probably exhausted – time to head home; we recommend going via Colac. The drive should take you about two and a half hours. If you are spending more time in Melbourne, you might like some of these walks .

If all this has you exhausted and you would prefer someone else to worry about the timing, these tours are worth considering.

Want more road trip inspiration? Check out these ideas :

  • Adventures in Lightning Ridge
  • The Must-See Stops on the Waterfall Way
  • Visit Port Macquarie on the NSW Mid-North Coast

Save your Great Ocean Road Itinerary and map for your trip.

Got a question? Head over to our Australia Travel Tips Facebook Group and ask a local.

1 thought on “2 Day Great Ocean Road Itinerary”

Gosh, you had me from that very first picture of the 12 Apostles! This looks like the most incredibly beautiful journey. When we can travel again, I might have to consider a “boy’s gone to uni, so I can travel more freely” trip to Australia 🙂

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Plan Your Trip to Australia: 7 Top Itineraries

Written by Karen Hastings Updated Jul 26, 2022

Australia is a land of staggering contrasts spread out over a landmass almost as big as the continental US, so planning the perfect itinerary entails pinpointing your preferences. Coral reefs, islands, rainforests, and ravishing beaches rim the coast, and rugged canyons and red deserts of haunting beauty stretch across the interior.

Kangaroo on the beach

To get the most out of your visit to Australia, it's best to fly between the top places to visit and concentrate on a particular area of the country. If it's your first visit to the Land Down Under, you might want to start with a version of the top Australia itinerary on our trip planner: Sydney, Rainforest, & Reef, highlighting the east coast's most popular tourist attractions. Then, depending on your interests and time constraints, you can use the other Australia itineraries, organized by region, as building blocks to customize your adventures.

Travel to Australia can require some long flights — especially if you're visiting from the Northern Hemisphere. A week to 10 days is the minimum recommended time to visit Australia, as distances are vast, and jet lag can take a couple of days to pass. Note that if you're planning to see the highlights of both the east coast and the west coast, it takes about five hours to fly from Sydney to Perth.

Wherever and whenever you decide to go, Australia is one of the world's most rewarding places to visit, with spectacular scenery, incredible wildlife, and some of the friendliest people on the planet.

Plan your trip with these top Australia itineraries.

1. Sydney, Rainforest & Reef

2. the northern territory: the top end & the red centre, 3. queensland: the sunshine coast, fraser island, & the whitsunday islands, 4. melbourne and the great ocean road, 5. western australia: perth, coral reefs, broome, and the kimberley, 6. south australia: adelaide, the barossa & clare valleys, and kangaroo island, 7. tasmania: the apple isle loop, map of australia: top itineraries, when is the best time to visit australia.

Sydney Harbour

East Coast Itinerary Highlights : Sydney, Blue Mountains, Cairns/Port Douglas, Daintree Rainforest, Kuranda, the Great Barrier Reef

Visiting Australia for the first time? This itinerary is ideal if you only have about a week to 10 days to see the highlights. It offers a quintessential slice of the stunning east coast.

Start in Sydney and visit all the iconic attractions such as the Sydney Opera House , the Sydney Harbour Bridge , Bondi Beach , and the Rocks . After exploring the top attractions in the city , choose from an alluring line-up of day trips from Sydney . The Blue Mountains is one of the most popular.

From Sydney, fly up to Cairns , the most popular gateway to Far North Queensland's top tropical attractions, including the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest ; the quaint rainforest village of Kuranda ; and Cape Tribulation , where two of the world's richest ecosystems (rainforest and reef) merge in a sublime mingling of blues and greens.

Alternatively, you can base yourself in the sleepy tropical town of Port Douglas (about 60 minutes' drive north of Cairns). It lies a little closer to the reef, and charms visitors with its relaxed tropical feel and friendly locals. If you have more time, consider adding on some of the itineraries below.

Read More: Top-Rated Beaches in Sydney, Australia


Northern Territory Itinerary Highlights : Darwin, Kakadu National Park, Nitmiluk National Park (Katherine Gorge), Alice Springs, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Watarrka National Park (Kings Canyon)

The Northern Territory offers a taste of the Australian Outback. Stark red deserts, magnificent rock formations, and spectacular wilderness areas are some of the top things to see here.

Fly into Darwin, the main gateway for the tropical Top End, as it's called in Australia. Stay a night or two here soaking up all the fun attraction in Darwin , such as the famous Mindil Beach Sunset Market , the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory , and Stokes Hill Wharf. Thrill seekers can cage-dive with saltwater crocodiles at Crocosaurus Cove .

From Darwin, rent a car and drive about 255 kilometers to World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park , Australia's largest national park and one of the planet's most awe-inspiring wilderness areas. Take a Yellow Water or Guluyambi boat cruise to see crocodiles and water birds, or hike to ancient Aboriginal cave paintings.

From Kakadu, you can drive about 180 kilometers to Katherine Gorge in Nitmiluk National Park , with its series of 13 stunning steep-walled gorges. Explore the area on a scenic cruise, hike the trails, or paddle along the Katherine River in a kayak or canoe.

From the nearby town of Katherine, fly to Alice Springs in Australia's Red Centre. This is the gateway to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park , where Uluru (formerly Ayers Rock), one of Australia's top tourist attractions, rises 348 meters above the red-hued desert. About 40 kilometers from here, you can explore the dome-shaped rocks called Kata Tjuta (the Olgas).

If you have time, drive about 290 kilometers from Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park to Watarrka National Park (Kings Canyon) for more breathtaking outback scenery and one of Australia's top hiking trails : Kings Canyon Rim Walk .

  • Read More: Top-Rated Things to Do in Australia's Northern Territory

Whitsunday Island beach

Central & Southeast Queensland Coastal Itinerary Highlights : Brisbane, Sunshine Coast, Fraser Island, Hervey Bay, Airlie Beach, the Whitsunday Islands

Sun, sea, sand, and sailing are the top attractions of this tour through Southeast and Central Queensland. Fly into the Sunshine Coast airport in Marcoola (one hour and 35 minutes flight time from Sydney), and explore some of the Sunshine Coast's surf-lapped beach towns and gorgeous beaches .

Soak up the scene with a stroll along the Mooloolaba Boardwalk, one of the top things to do in Mooloolaba ; surf some waves at Coolum Beach ; or bask on the beaches of Caloundra . Traveling on a budget? Take your pick from some of the best campgrounds on the Sunshine Coast .

If you're looking for a stylish base, stay in the beautiful beach resort of Noosa Heads . You can rest your head at some of the Sunshine Coast's top resorts. While you're here, hike through Noosa National Park ; spend an afternoon on magnificent Main Beach , swimming, surfing, or sunning; and stroll along Hastings Street , with its fantastic restaurants and boutique shops.

From Noosa, you can take day trips to explore all the top things to do on the Sunshine Coast . Save time, too, for a visit to the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. Here, you can visit cute country towns like Maleny and nearby Montville.

You can also join a tour to K'Gari (Fraser Island ), the world's largest sand island, or rent a 4WD and embark on a self-drive tour of this stunning UNESCO World Heritage site. Stay a night or two exploring the sparkling freshwater lakes, sweeping beaches, dunes, shipwrecks, and rainforests.

Hervey Bay , the gateway to Fraser Island, is also worth a visit. Whale watching is one of the most popular activities here, as well as fishing, sailing, and a range of other water sports.

From Marcoola, fly to Whitsunday Coast Airport in Proserpine (PPP). It's about 25 kilometers from Airlie Beach , the gateway to the idyllic Whitsunday Islands . From here, charter a boat and sail around these sun-soaked islands strung along the southern stretches of the Great Barrier Reef, or hop aboard a multi-island cruise.

Popular islands include family-friendly Daydream Island , Hamilton Island (the only Whitsunday island with its own airport), Long Island , and Hook Island . For a luxury island hideaway, hop aboard a helicopter to Hayman Island . With its silky soft silica sand, Whitehaven Beach is one of the top beaches in Australia and a must-see destination on your island-hopping adventure.

  • Read More: Top Tourist Attractions in Queensland

Great Ocean Road

Victoria Itinerary Highlights : Melbourne, The Great Ocean Road, Phillip Island Penguin Parade, Mornington Peninsula, Grampians National Park, Wilsons Promontory, the Yarra Valley, and Dandenong Ranges

Australia's rugged south coast is home to one of the country's most staggeringly beautiful stretches of coastline. Fly into Melbourne, the vibrant capital of Victoria , and explore all the fantastic restaurants, shops, museums, galleries, and other attractions.

From here, you can choose from an adventure-filled list of Melbourne day trips . The most famous is a self-drive or guided tour along The Great Ocean Road , one of Australia's most breathtaking scenic drives. In Port Campbell National Park , gape at the Twelve Apostles , the wind-sculpted rock formations rising from the thrashing surf. Hike the Great Ocean Walk or, for a bird's-eye view, fly over the coast in a helicopter. In Torquay , surfers can ride the legendary swells of Bells Beach or visit the Australian National Surfing Museum .

In the hinterland, lush forests, zipline adventures, and treetop walking tours await. Other popular day trips from Melbourne include the Phillip Island Penguin Parade and the golden beaches of the Mornington Peninsula .

For fantastic hiking and bushland scenery, venture to Grampians National Park (260 kilometers from Melbourne), Wilsons Promontory (200 kilometers from Melbourne), or the Yarra Valley and the Dandenong Ranges (25 kilometers from Melbourne).

Roebuck Bay, Broome

Western Australia Itinerary Highlights : Perth, the Margaret River, Ningaloo Reef, Broome, the Kimberley

About a five-hour flight from Australia's east coast, Western Australia is a wonderland of wilderness areas, wildlife, coral reefs, and beautiful beaches. This diverse and sparsely populated state is often overlooked by international travelers due to its distance from Sydney, but it delivers jaw-dropping beauty without the crowds.

Look at a map of Australia, and you'll see the ebullient state capital of Perth flung in the southwestern corner of this vast state. Start your tour here, and spend a day or two exploring all the attractions in the city .

Save time to venture out of the city, too. Day trips from Perth are particularly appealing. Take a cruise up the winding Swan River to the Swan Valley , or down river to Fremantle , Perth's vibrant port city. From Fremantle, you can also catch a ferry to ravishing Rottnest Island , rimmed by beautiful white-sand beaches and turquoise shallows.

Spend a few days at the Margaret River , about a three-hour drive from Perth. This prime grape-growing district offers great surf breaks, beautiful beaches, scenic coastal hikes, and a bounty of fresh produce and artisan foods.

After a taste of the city and surrounds, fly from Perth to Broome (flight time 2.5 hours) and ride a camel at sunset along the sweeping sands of Cable Beach . Want to get your heart pumping? Head to Horizontal Falls. One of Australia's top outdoor adventures , this exhilarating experience usually includes a seaplane flight over the falls and the rugged red cliffs of the northwest coast to Cape Leveque . Then you touch down for a succulent seafood lunch on the water, and a jet boat ride through the falls.

If you have more time, venture deep into the rugged Kimberley to see spectacular Purnululu (Bungle Bungle) National Park , a UNESCO World Heritage site, and Mitchell Falls, or plan a rugged 4WD adventure along the Gibb River Road . Return to Perth.

Still more time? Fly from Perth to Exmouth (a two-and-a-half-hour flight to Learmonth airport) and explore nearby World Heritage-listed Ningaloo Reef , the world's largest fringing reef. Easily accessible from shore, this rich ecosystem is famous for the whale sharks that swim here from March through October, and you can swim with these gentle giants on an organized tour.

With more than 500 species of fish and 300 species of coral, the marine reserve is also a prime diving, snorkeling, and fishing destination . From here, drive 50 minutes to Cape Range National Park with its red-hued gorges and rugged canyons.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions & Places to Visit in Western Australia


South Australia Itinerary Highlights : Adelaide, the Barossa & Clare Valleys, Kangaroo Island, Flinders Ranges National Park

Sophisticated yet refreshingly slow paced, Adelaide is one of Australia's underrated cities and the gateway to the top places to visit in South Australia .

Spend a day or two in this gracious state capital exploring the many museums, galleries, and gardens. Then rent a car and drive about an hour from the city to the beautiful Barossa Valley (about 60 kilometers north of Adelaide) and the Clare Valley . These fertile lands are prime grape-growing regions and favorite foodie destinations, thanks to their bounty of fresh produce and fantastic restaurants.

From Adelaide, you can also drive about 45 minutes south to the pretty Fleurieu Peninsula. This scenic region offers golden beaches, great surf, farms, and more fabulous restaurants.

From the Fleurieu Peninsula, catch a ferry to Kangaroo Island, one of the state's top tourist destinations. You can also fly here in about 30 minutes from Adelaide. The island is famous for its pristine beaches and abundant wildlife. Fresh local produce is also a highlight — among the many gourmet delights are fresh seafood, free-range eggs, and Ligurian honey.

Close-up wildlife viewing is one of the top things to do on Kangaroo Island . In addition to the island's namesake marsupials, you can also see koalas, seal lions, New Zealand fur seals, echidnas, penguins, whales, and many species of birds. Save time to visit Flinders Chase National Park, with its strangely contorted rock formations and scenic hiking trails, as well as the fascinating limestone caves of Kelly Hill Conservation Park .

If you have more time, consider adding a safari to your itinerary and plan a road trip to Flinders Ranges National Park. About a five-hour drive from Adelaide, it's a favorite haunt of artists and photographers who appreciate the rich hues of shifting light on the arid landscapes.

Mount Field National Park

Highlights : Hobart, Port Arthur Historic Site, Freycinet National Park, Launceston, Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park, Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park, Mount Field National Park

Tasmania (affectionately called "Tassie" by the Aussies) is a nirvana for nature lovers. The island is Australia's smallest state and an ideal destination for a self-drive tour. Almost half of its landmass is protected by national parks and World Heritage Areas, providing a pristine playground of wild rivers, misty peaks, lakes, and densely wooded forests. It's also called "the Apple Isle" because it was once one of the world's major apple producers.

Today, the state is famous for its fabulous fresh produce and artisan foods. No matter where you go, save time to savor some succulent seafood, fresh fruits, and creamy cheeses along the way. This loop through some of Tasmania's top attractions takes about five or six days plus a night or two in Hobart at each end.

Fly into Hobart, the state capital, and drive or hike to the top of kunanyi (Mount Wellington) for spectacular views over the city. Browse the shops and galleries at Salamanca Place and see cutting edge art at MONA.

After exploring Hobart , drive about an hour southeast of Hobart and tour the Port Arthur Historic Site , a former penal colony and one of the top things to do in Tasmania . After this sobering dose of convict history, explore the rugged sea cliffs and sheltered coves of nearby Tasman National Park . About 55 minutes from Hobart by car and ferry, Bruny Island is also worth a visit. Take a tasting tour of the island's gourmet treats and artisan produce, or explore the natural beauty of South Bruny National Park .

From Hobart, drive 2.5 hours northeast to World Heritage-listed Freycinet National Park for superb scenery and the perfect slice of white-sand beach at dazzling Wineglass Bay . You can explore the park on scenic drives and hiking trails — the Wineglass Bay Circuit is one of the top hikes in Australia .

From Freycinet National Park , drive about two hours to charming Launceston , Tasmania's second largest town. Here, you can admire the elegant Victorian architecture on heritage trails, visit beautiful Cataract Gorge, and tour World Heritage-listed country estates not far from the city.

From Launceston, drive south to Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park and explore stunning landscapes featuring alpine heathland, glacier-carved crags, sparkling lakes, and ancient forests. From here, drive about two hours to Strahan , a great base to explore the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park . Cruise along the Gordon River, or raft the whitewater rapids of the mighty Franklin River, one of Australia's top outdoor adventures.

From Strahan, drive 300 kilometers back to Hobart through Tasmania's World Heritage-listed wilderness areas. If you have time, stop by Mount Field National Park on the way. Hike the beautiful nature trails and see triple-tiered waterfalls.

The best time to visit Australia depends on where you want to go. To maximize your sightseeing, it's a good idea to avoid the tropics in the wet season (December to April), but every season offers unique experiences.

Winter (June through August) is a wonderful time to visit the Red Centre, when desert temperatures are milder during the day. Winter is also the dry season in Far North Queensland and the Whitsundays, which typically means sunny days and comfortable temperatures for swimming and island hopping. And of course, winter is a prime time to play in Australia's best ski resorts .

Summer (December through February) is a great time to visit the southern states, especially Tasmania. At this time of year, the warm, sunny days are perfect for basking on some of Australia's best beaches .

Planning to visit several destinations? Spring and autumn in Australia are usually good times to visit most parts of the country.

More Related Articles on PlanetWare.com


More Australia Travel Itinerary Ideas : If you're planning a trip around Australia and you're looking for some thrills, check out our article on the Top Outdoor Adventures in Australia , from snorkeling with whale sharks to four-wheel driving on the golden beaches of Fraser Island.

Anglers will find some fantastic fishing. Discover the top spots with our list of the best fishing destinations in Australia . You can fly fish for trout, hook a marlin, or cast to cobia on crystal-clear flats.

Is trekking more your style? Add some of the top hikes Down Under to your Australia itinerary. Tackle the rugged Kings Canyon Rim Walk in the Northern Territory or climb to the summit of Mount Kosciuszko, Australia's highest peak.

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The PERFECT 1, 2 or 3 Week Australia Itinerary [2024]

Picture of Gabby Boucher

  • Last Updated: January 30, 2024

Whether you have 1, 2, or 3 weeks in Australia, here are some suggestions for an Australia itinerary that will help you make the most of this huge, diverse, and stunning country!

Planning a trip to Australia can be quite difficult, simply because the country is so huge. 

Lots of its best attractions, cities, and natural landmarks are very spread out, so it’s impossible to see everything in a short amount of time. 

Australia is also an expensive country to visit, so most backpackers and average travellers won’t be able to visit every single point of interest without spending a lot. 

Despite these challenges, planning an epic trip to Australia is definitely possible. 

You just have to be smart about your Australia itinerary, sticking to one or two major areas and picking travel routes that are logical. 

For example, you won’t be able to fit Sydney, the Great Barrier Reef, Melbourne, Uluru, Tasmania, and beaches and national parks of Western Australia and the Northern Territory into a 1 week Australia itinerary. 

To see all those incredible places, you’d need at least one month, and even then you’d be rushing to get everywhere. 

What you can do, is pick the areas that appeal to you the most and plan your trip accordingly. 

READ MORE: Check out our comprehensive guide with everything you need to know about travelling in Australia !

So you’d be better off picking either the east coast or the west coast and hanging around there if you only have 1 or 2 weeks in Australia. 

In this article, I’ll provide a few sample Australia travel itineraries. 

Each Australia itinerary will include a few of the country’s best places to visit, while maintaining reasonable travel times.

Whether it’s your first trip to Australia or you’ve been here for a while, there is always something incredible to see!

Table of Contents

How to Get Around Australia

Days 1-2: sydney, days 3-5: brisbane , days 6-7: airlie beach and the whitsundays, days 1-3: sydney, days 3-6: melbourne , day 7-8: the great ocean road, day 9-10: adelaide, day 11: kangaroo island, day 12-14: perth, days 3-4: byron bay, days 5-6: the gold coast, days 7-8: cairns, days 9-10: port douglas and the great barrier reef, days 11-13: cape tribulation and the daintree rainforest, day 14: darwin, days 15-17: kakadu national park, days 18-20: uluru and the red centre, the ultimate australia itinerary travel guide.

Having travelled all around the country, we’re excited to share these epic 1, 2 and 3 week Australian itineraries that’ll cover the best places around.

But first, a tip…

It’s also important to consider how you’ll get around Australia during your visit. 

As I mentioned, the country is huge and public transport like buses or trains is expensive. 

If you’re staying in one area, it’s worth renting a car for a few days so you can explore and do day trips, but driving from one city to the next may take 12+ hours of driving. 

The best way to get around is to rent a car and explore on your own! We recommend Rental Cars , which has the largest range of vehicles for the best value on the market.

Catching cheap domestic flights is the best way to jump from one state to the next, and you can take public transport or drive within smaller areas. 

Though every traveller will have their own unique preferences and modify these itineraries as necessary, here are some sample Australia itineraries that will hopefully help you plan your dream trip!

Qantas Plane Australia Itinerary

7 Day Australia Itinerary

One week in Australia goes by quickly, but some people can’t afford to take much longer off of work or their other responsibilities. 

You can still manage to experience some of the Aussie culture and natural beauty in one week. 

In this 7 day Australia itinerary, you’ll be sticking to the middle east coast. 

You’ll begin in Sydney, then head up to Queensland to enjoy the Great Barrier Reef. 

This plan is perfect for 7 days in Australia because it doesn’t require huge amounts of travel time. 

READ NEXT: 25 Amazing Things to Do in Australia

Sydney Harbour Australia

After arriving in  Sydney  and getting settled, you have two days to enjoy the city. 

You can spend one day visiting all the popular tourist attractions, like the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Tower Eye, the Royal Botanic Gardens, and maybe some of the museums. 

Another day can be spent swimming and sunbathing on one of the city’s main beaches. 

The northern beaches around Manly, or the western beaches around Bondi and Bronte are great options for a fun day in Sydney.

Bondi Beach has a very strong health and fitness scene, so they have lots of incredible healthy cafes where all the locals like to fuel up. 

Visit  Berri Bar Bondi Beach  for a refreshing Acai bowl,  Porch and Parlour  for a healthy breakfast on homemade bread, or  Umu  for some nourishing organic lunch bowls. 

After 2 days in Sydney, you can catch a quick, 1-hour flight up to Brisbane. 

Check out this post on how to spend one day in Sydney if that’s all the time you have.

Bondi Iceberg Pools

Brisbane is another incredible city to visit in Australia. 

After 2 days in Sydney, however, you may be sick of the crowded city streets. 

Luckily, Brisbane makes a great gateway for exploring more peaceful areas of Queensland. 

There are tons of amazing day trips from Brisbane that allow you to explore nature and see more of Australia, including:

  • Burleigh Heads:  a charming coastal town with a massive beach and national park
  • Hervey Bay:  one of the best spots in Australia for whale-watching
  • Lamington National Park:  full of hiking trails and waterfalls
  • Stradbroke Island:  a beautiful location that’s great for kayaking, paddleboarding, and trying other water sports
  • Fraser Island:  the world’s largest sand island

After exploring Brisbane and the surrounding areas, catch another cheap domestic flight from the city up to Airlie Beach. 

Read our list of the best things to do in Brisbane for more inspiration!

Brisbane Sign

Airlie Beach is known as one of Australia’s most stunning beaches, complete with soft white sand and clear turquoise water. 

From here, you can soak in the postcard-worthy views in the Whitsundays Islands and do a day trip to the Great Barrier Reef and the famous Whitehaven Beach. 

Book an  ocean rafting day tour  that include all your snorkelling gear and takes you to Whitehaven Beach and the best locations in the Whitsundays.

BONUS –  Booking ahead of time ensures you won’t miss out on the tour, and get the best price too! And just for NOMADasaurus readers, if you use the Klook discount code  “NOMADS10”  on the website when checking out, you’ll get $10 off your first booking!

Snorkelling, scuba diving, and sailing through the Great Barrier Reef will make an unforgettable ending to your 7 day Australia itinerary.

At the end of your week in Australia, you can fly from Airlie Beach back to Sydney for your departing flight. 

Island Whitsundays

2 Week Australia Itinerary

Two weeks in Australia allows you a bit more time to see different areas of the country. 

This two week Australia itinerary will start in Sydney, move down to Victoria to explore Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road , and will then curve up to Adelaide in South Australia and end in Perth in Western Australia. 

So with two weeks in Australia, you can still manage to visit 4 states! If you’d prefer to spend more time in one place rather than jumping around so much, you can always modify this. 

For example, you could skip Perth and spend a few more days exploring New South Wales, Victoria, or South Australia. 

But here is a sample two weeks in Australia itinerary. 

Opera House

Once again, you’ll fly into Sydney and begin your Australian adventure in the capital city of New South Wales. 

In addition to all the touristy stuff like the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House and touring a local art gallery, you could spend one of your days in the lush nature surrounding the city. 

Two perfect day trips from Sydney are:

The Blue Mountains:  Full of waterfalls, scenic lookouts and hiking trails, connected to Sydney by train so you don’t even need a car. Here’s what you should do there .

The Royal National Park:  Dramatic coastal scenery with rugged cliffs and secluded beaches. Check out these awesome Royal National Park walks .

After 3 days in Sydney, hop on a plane for a 1-hour flight down to Melbourne.


As one of the most vibrant and cosmopolitan cities in Australia,  Melbourne  is a favourite among travellers and locals alike. 

Spend your days in Melbourne visiting street markets, sipping cocktails from rooftop bars, checking out all the cool cafes and restaurants, and experiencing the wild nightlife. 

You can also visit St. Kilda Beach in the south of Melbourne, or head to Brighton Beach to photograph the colourful Brighton Bathing Boxes.

Or take a day trip to Phillip Island or tour the Melbourne Cricket Ground .

After you visit Melbourne, continue on to the famous Great Ocean Road.

Melbourne Skyscape And Trees

One of the highlights of Victoria is the natural wonders of the Great Ocean Road. 

This coastal road runs for 243 kilometers in total and is full of Australian wildlife, quaint little towns, surfing spots, picturesque viewpoints, campgrounds, and overall gorgeous scenery.  

Be sure to see the Twelve Apostles, Split Point Lighthouse, Port Campbell National Park, Apollo Bay, Loch Ard Gorge, and other stunning landscapes along the way.

You can either rent a car from Melbourne and drive the road on your own, or  book a day tour . 

It only takes one day to see all the best spots along the road, but you’ll need to save some time to make your way back to Melbourne and you don’t want to rush. 

You can also stop by the Australian National Surfing Museum in Torquay at the start of the Great Ocean Road.

Fly from Melbourne to Adelaide. 

12 Apostles

Spend the next days of your two weeks in Australia itinerary soaking in the culture of  Adelaide . 

Enjoy the delicious food, the museums and galleries, and the laid-back charm of South Australia’s capital. 

One of your 2 days in Adelaide should definitely be spent touring a vineyard and wine tasting in the Barossa Valley. 

Again, you can either rent a car in the city and drive yourself around the vineyards (make sure you don’t drink too much!), or you can book a day trip. 

Adelaide University

As one of the most unique places in South Australia, Kangaroo Island makes a super fun day trip from Adelaide. 

Take photos of the interesting rock formations in Flinders Chase National Park , stroll along the pristine golden beaches, or search for some local animals like wallabies, koalas, and of course, kangaroos. 

Head back to Adelaide after Kangaroo Island and hop on another quick flight to Perth to finish up this two week Australia trip.

Read next: 8 Amazing Things to Do in Kangaroo Island, Australia

Kangaroo Island Sunset

Your last few days of visiting Australia will be well-spent in Perth, the capital city of Western Australia. 

Enjoy the beaches, explore the Fremantle Markets, visit wineries and wildlife parks, and more.

You could also treat yourself to one last epic adventure in Australia by taking a day trip to Rottnest Island . 

This island is full of fun activities, natural wonders, beautiful views, and cute little quokkas, which are small, native Australian marsupials similar to wallabies. 

After a few days in Perth, either catch your departing flight from here or fly back to Sydney if your flight leaves from there. 

You could also consider a day trip to Margaret River , one of the top wine and surfing regions in Western Australia.

It’s a 3 hour drive from Perth to Margaret River, so only make the trek if you feel like you have time.

Arial View Of Perth Western Australia

3 Week Australia Itinerary

3 weeks in Australia allows you to visit some big cities and tourist spots, but it also allows you to venture out to more remote and isolated areas. 

In this 3 week Australia Itinerary, you’ll visit Sydney and Byron Bay at the start. 

Then you’ll head up to The Gold Coast, and tropical north Queensland to the Daintree Rainforest. 

Continue your journey up north by travelling to Darwin and Kakadu National Park, and then venture inland to Uluru (Ayer’s Rock). 

Koala Australia

Again, spend your first couple days in Australia checking out Sydney and maybe doing a day trip to the Blue Mountains of the Hunter Valley Wine Region.

Be sure to visit Sydney Harbour, Darling Harbour, and the famous Bondi Beach during your time in Australia’s largest city.

Then fly to Ballina, a small airport 30 minutes away from Byron Bay. 

Check out our Sydney to Brisbane road trip guide if you’d prefer to rent a car and drive up the east coast.

Byron Bay  is a hub for backpackers, and it is a very fun place to experience when you visit Australia. 

From bar crawls and drum circles on the beach, to night markets and street art, to coastal walks and lovely beaches, a couple days in Byron Bay will feel like bliss. 

Even if you aren’t on a strict backpacker budget, Byron Bay has so many great hostels that it’s worth immersing yourself in the backpacker scene. 

Some of the best hostels in Byron Bay include Wake Up! Byron Bay and Byron Bay Beach hostel. 

Both of these have hundreds of great reviews from travellers cost around $30 per night, which is pretty cheap for Australia. 

If you want to meet other cool people and take part in all the fun social activities of Byron Bay, you may want to stay in one of these fun hostels instead of a hotel!

You can choose to hang out in Byron Bay for a few more days, or catch a flight from Ballina to the Gold Coast for a taste of the Sunshine Coast surf vibes. 

Byron Bay Lighthouse

The  Gold Coast  is one of the best places to learn how surfing when you visit Australia. 

You can take a surf lesson from an experienced local and ride the waves, or just relax on the beach, eat some great food, and hit the bars and nightclubs in the evening. 

The Gold Coast combines the excitement of the city with the salty air and water sports of a beachside town, so it’s a diverse and fun place to visit. 

Fly from the Gold Coast up to Cairns. 

Gold Coast Cityscape

The next few days of your 3 week Australia Itinerary will take you up along the coast of Tropical North Queensland. 

This corner of Australia is hot, humid, and jam-packed with rich jungles, Aboriginal culture, waterfalls and the marine life of the Great Barrier Reef. 

Keep in mind that during the rainy season, from October to April, you can’t swim in the ocean here because there may be crocodiles and jellyfish. 

Cairns  is the gateway to tropical north Queensland. 

The real beauty lies outside the city, but spend a couple days adjusting to the heat, partying with the many backpackers, shopping at Rusty’s Fruit Market, and swimming in the big public swimming pool called the Lagoon. 

Also check out Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park and the nearby Barron Gorge National Park near Kuranda.

Then you’ll take the local bus up to Port Douglas. You can buy your bus ticket from any tourism agency or from the main bus station, and take the Cairns to Cooktown route. 

Barron Falls Cairns Australia

Only about an hour north of Cairns is Port Douglas, a small, relaxed town with one backpacker hostel, a few amazing restaurants, and a nice park lined with palm trees for viewing the sunset. 

This is one of the best places to book a Great Barrier Reef  snorkelling or diving tour  because up here, the reef isn’t as crowded as near Cairns. A snorkelling reef trip is one of the most popular Australia tours and shouldn’t be missed!

So spend one of your days in Port Douglas swimming in the crisp, blue waters of the reef and seeing some incredible, colourful marine life. 

From here, get back on Cairns to Cooktown bus and continue north up to Cape Tribulation in the Daintree Rainforest. 

Great Barrier Reef

Located in the midst of the jungle, Cape Tribulation is the perfect place to disconnect from technology and reconnect with nature. 

There is only one main road running through the town, if you can even call it a town. 

Cape Tribulation has a few resorts and hostels, a couple tourism companies and about two shops, and that’s it. 

But the powerful presence of the rainforest is more than enough to entertain you for a couple days.

The Daintree is the oldest rainforest in the world, and is one of the true natural wonders of Australia.

Go hiking, ride horses on the beach, book an ATV sightseeing tour, do an exotic fruit tasting at Cape Trib Farm, visit the Daintree Discovery Center, or take a boat cruise on the Daintree River to spot some crocodiles. 

Try to avoid visiting Tropical North Queensland in December through February, however. This is the wet season and many roads may be flooded and tours will be closed.

On your third day, take the bus back to Cairns then fly to Darwin. 

Cape Tribulation Daintree Rainforest

Darwin is the capital city of the Northern Territory, and it is a convenient starting point for a trip into Central Australia and Ayers Rock, in the south of the state.

Use this day to walk around and sightsee a bit, relax and unwind, and plan your journey into Kakadu National Park. 

Check out our guide for the best things to do in Darwin!

Darwin Nt Australia

Rent a car in Darwin and spend the next couple days exploring the largest national park in Australia!

You can swim in waterfalls, find ancient Aboriginal rock art, and go hiking through some incredible landscapes. 

If you have a van or a tent, you can camp at one of the park’s campgrounds. Otherwise there is a handful of resorts where you can stay overnight in Kakadu. 

Most of the accommodation in Kakadu is located in Jabiru, the main town of the park. 

You could also  book a guided tour  to Kakadu as a day trip from Darwin. This is a good option for those who want to take a break from planning and driving. A tour will take you right to the best spots in the park, which is handy because the park is so huge.

After exploring the national park, drive back to Darwin and then fly to Alice Springs at the heart of Australia’s Red Centre. 

(Alternatively if you don’t want to keep travelling so much, you could stay in the Northern Territory and explore more natural wonders like Nitmiluk National Park.)

Kakadu National Park

From Alice Springs in the center of the Northern Territory, it’s time to begin your journey to Uluru!

The Red Centre is the central desert area of Australia, consisting of Alice Springs and the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park.

Uluru, or Ayers Rock, is a sacred monolith and it one of the most famous places to see on a trip to Australia.

You have two options for getting to Uluru. 

Option 1:  Rent a car in Alice Springs and complete the 5-hour drive on your own. Keep in mind it’s also 5 hours to get back, so that’s a 10 hour road trip in total. You should also have your own camping gear and pack enough food and water for the road trip.

Option 2:  Book a tour from Alice Springs if you are tired of driving. You can  choose a straightforward day trip . It’s a bit pricier to do a guided tour, but it takes away a lot of the effort on your part. 

Either way, watching the sunrise and sunset bathe Uluru in soft, natural hues is a sight you’ll never forget, so the journey is worth it. 

If you are renting a car and doing your own road trip, consider also heading out to Watarrka National Park and Kings Canyon. This amazing spot is a 3 hour drive from Ayers Rock, which is a short drive for the Outback!

READ MORE: Check out all the incredible things to do in Uluru !

Uluru Nt Australia

Your final day of the 3 week Australia itinerary will mostly be spent travelling. 

Drive back to Alice Springs, then fly back to Sydney for your flight home.

I just want to add that there are many other natural wonders that I didn’t get to mention!

Australia is massive so it’s hard to fit in so many cool places in a short time.

For example, the north of Western Australia is stunning, but it’s very remote and not convenient to add to a few weeks in Australia.

Few Australians even make it out here on holiday.

But riding a camel on Cable Beach , snorkelling with Whale Sharks in Exmouth , or camping in Cape Range National Park are amazing experiences that you can have if you have the time to venture out there.

Tasmania is also one of the most gorgeous places in Australia. The island is home to some of the best hiking and camping in the country , but it requires lots of prior planning and preparation and gear.

You could also road trip around Australia, taking more time to see all the attractions and not having to rush.

But it would take you months or even years to road trip all of Australia!

Regardless of how much time you spend here, don’t stress about seeing everything!

It’s impossible to see everything, and no matter where you go, you’re sure to have an epic time.

Camel Riding In Broome

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Have you got any info/tips about Central Australia? Adelaide, Coober Pedy, Alice Springs to Darwin (Stuart Hwy).

Would like more information on all inclusive 3 wk itinerary for family of about 12.

All the best with your research. Have a great trip.

Terrific article. Thanks so much for the insight!

Thank you so much. Glad the article was helpful 🙂

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Sydney Walking Tour to Top Sydney Landmarks by JetSettingFools.com

Self-Guided Sydney Walking Tour to Top Sydney Landmarks

Welcome to JetSetting Fools, here you will find our best travel tips for destinations worldwide. Some of the links on this site are Affiliate Links and if you use them to make a purchase, we may earn a commission. For more information, read our Disclosure Policy .

Sydney, Australia has a fascinating history and world-famous sights. Home to iconic Australian landmarks – like the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge – a Sydney walking tour should be on every visitor’s to-do list.

The top Sydney landmarks are found in the compact Central Business District, making it easy to see the sights on foot. We created this self-guided free walking tour of Sydney for visitors who want to see the famous landmarks in Australia at their own pace. 

That said, visitors interested in booking one of the Sydney guided tours will find our top recommendations for the best guided Sydney walking tours later in the article. 

Best Sydney Walking Tour

We love touring cities on our own and have created what we feel is the best Sydney Self Guided Walking Tour. 

Our easy-to-follow, free tour of Sydney is a great way to see Sydney in a day. We have included information on each sight and a useful Sydney walking tour map at the end of the post. Plus, to help visitors find their way on our walking tour in Sydney, we share step-by-step walking directions and a link to Google Maps to easily get online walking directions. 

That said, we also recommend stopping at the Sydney Visitor Centre kiosk at Circular Quay (where our self-guided Sydney walking tour starts) to pick up a map and ask any additional questions you might have.

Save, Pin or Bookmark our Free Walking Tour of Sydney for your vacation to Australia!

Self-Guided Walking Tour Sydney: Top Sydney Landmarks

View of Opera House, Sydney, Australia from Harbour Bridge Pylon

Our Sydney self-guided walking tour loops around the city and highlights the best sightseeing in Sydney for free . And who doesn’t want the best tours in Sydney for free?!

The route of our Best Free Walking Tour Sydney is nearly 8 miles long (13.5 km) and will take about 4-5 hours to complete. More time will be needed to enter any of the museums and attractions listed along the route.

Most of the Sydney walking tour is on foot, however, we include one short ferry ride to get from Darling Harbour back to Circular Quay. The route is ideal as a Sydney one-day tour, but visitors with more time can split it into two days of sightseeing.

Our free city tour of Sydney starts at Circular Quay. 

#1 Circular Quay

View of arriving at Circular Quay, Sydney, Australia

MAP . Circular Quay is an ideal place to start exploring the city, which is why it is the first stop on our Sydney City Tour Itinerary. Located on the north side of the Central Business District, Circular Quay is the beating heart of Sydney. A steady pulse of buses, ferries and trains transit through the harbor that is a must-see for tourists.

While the harbor hosts top Sydney landmarks, it also has historical significance. Circular Quay was the landing site for the first ships carrying European convicts to Australia. It was from the penal colony built on these shores that Sydney grew into the city it is today.

From the Circular Quay harbor, begin walking east and follow the shoreline north to the Sydney Opera House.

#2 Sydney Opera House

Evening View of Sydney Opera House, Australia

MAP . The Opera House is, by far, the most recognizable Sydney landmark. The iconic building took 14 years to complete (1959-1973) and stands today as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The massive staircase – nearly 100-meters-wide – leads to the entrance, but we recommend staying on the ground level and completely circling the structure to gain perspective before climbing the stairs.

Two halls of ‘stacked shells’ make up the award-winning structure that features amazing acoustics. The theaters inside (of which there are multiple) have hosted world-known musical and theatrical talents.

The facilities can be toured (for a fee), but it’s free to walk around the exterior of the building. Walking along the west side of the Sydney Opera House, visitors can see and touch the tiles (which alone took three years to develop) that give the building it’s sailboat appearance.

Find out more information about visiting the Sydney Opera House and tour options . 

From the Sydney Opera House, leave Circular Quay (don’t worry, we return later to see other Sydney Harbour attractions, including the bridge and The Rocks). Walk through the gates to the east, then follow the path south to the raised grassy area of The Domain

The Domain and Surrounding Sights

Skyline view from The Domain, Sydney, Australia

Originally used as a small farm for the penal colony, today the Domain comprises the expansive green space to the east of the Sydney city center. Paths crisscross through the park that are used for recreation and relaxation. Many historic government buildings and the Royal Botanic Gardens are found in or near the Domain.

Continue following the path to the south to the Government House.

#3 Government House

The Government House on the Domain in Sydney, Australia

MAP . Built in the Gothic Revival style in the 1840s, the Government House is the vice-regal residence of the New South Wales’ Governor. The grand interior is open to visitors , as is the garden, which provides stunning views of the harbor and Sydney Opera House.

Note: If the Government House is closed for official business, visitors can take in the view from Tarpeian Precinct – a small elevated park between the Government House and the Opera House. 

From the Government House, walk southwest into the Domain to the Royal Botanic Garden.

#4 Royal Botanic Gardens

Paths through the Royal Botanic Gardens

MAP . Established in 1816, the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens feature an array of plant life. Free for visitors to stroll and admire, the park also offers a range of programs and tours.

From the Royal Botanic Gardens, continue your Sydney city sightseeing tour and walk northeast to the point to Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair.

#5 Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair

Mrs. Macquarie's Chair - carved of sandstone so Mrs. Macquarie could sit and take in the view

MAP . Hand-carved by convicts in 1810, the stone bench – now known as Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair – was a gift to the wife of the New South Wales governor. The viewpoint of the harbor – and especially of the Opera House and Bridge – makes it one of our favorite spots in all of Sydney.

From Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair, follow the walking path along the eastern shoreline to Woolloomooloo.

#6 Woolloomooloo and Finger Wharf

Finger Wharf at Woolloomooloo Bay

MAP . The Sydney inner-city suburb of Woolloomooloo developed as a working-class neighborhood around the bay of the same name. Extending into Woolloomooloo Bay is Finger Wharf, the longest wooden-piled wharf in the world, measuring 1,345-feet-long.

The wharf was built in 1915 and used for 70 years as a busy shipping center. It fell to disuse in the 1970s, but has been completely revitalized with an upscale hotel/housing/restaurant complex.

On the southern shoreline of Woolloomooloo Bay, find Harry’s Café de Wheels and stop for an iconic Sydney snack. 

#7 Harry’s Café de Wheels

Harry's Café de Wheels - a Sydney institution serving up Pies 'n Peas

MAP . A Sydney institution, Harry’s Café de Wheels has been serving ‘Pie ‘n Peas’ since the late 1930s and is claimed to be Sydney’s best pie. Although not an original location, the restaurant displays old-time photos that show the history of Harry’s.

If you are hungry, we recommend ordering a beef pie tiger-style. The three-inch, piping-hot beef pie is topped with mushy peas, mashed potatoes and gravy. The inexpensive pie can serve as lunch or a mid-morning snack.

From Harry’s Café de Wheels, walk west on Cowper Wharf Road to the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

#8 Art Gallery of New South Wales

Exterior of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney

MAP . Opened in 1874, the Art Gallery of New South Wales is one of the largest galleries in Australia. The Art Gallery exhibitions – which are free to the public – include a range of art, including works from Australian and European masters, as well as entire galleries dedicated to Aboriginal and Asian works. 

From the Art Gallery of New South Wales walk northwest across the park to Shakespeare Place and Macquarie Street. Continue the Sydney city sights tour and stroll south past the historic government buildings.

Historic Government Buildings in Sydney

Not to be missed on your walking tour of Sydney are some of the top historic buildings of government.

#9 State Library of New South Wales

The State Library of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia

MAP . Established in 1826, the State Library of New South Wales – or Mitchell Library – is the oldest library in Australia. The building dates to the early 1900s and is open to the public (also in case you’re looking for a toilet!).

Next to the library, to the south, is the Parliament building.

#10 Parliament of New South Wales

MAP . The New South Wales legislature offices and chambers are housed in a complex on Macquarie Street.

Although the structure was expanded and renovated over the years, the historic Parliament House dates to the early 1800s. The unassuming structure was originally part of a hospital, but the space was converted to Parliament chambers in 1829.

Today, visitors can take a tour, visit the art exhibitions or enjoy high tea in the on site restaurant. 

Next to the Parliament building, to the south, is the Old Sydney Hospital.

#11 Old Sydney Hospital

Good Luck boar statue at historic Sydney Hospital in Sydney, Australia

MAP . Nicknamed the Rum Hospital because profits from rum sales were used to fund the building, the Sydney Hospital is the oldest public building in the city. Built in 1811, the structure is still used as a hospital today, specializing in ophthalmology and hand surgery.

The bronze boar, Il Porcellino, that sits outside is said to bring you good luck if you rub its snout. Also, it’s worth peeking into the courtyard to see the tiered Robert Brough Memorial Fountain. 

Next to the Old Sydney Hospital, to the south, is the The Mint.

#12 The Mint

MAP . Originally built as a wing of the historic Sydney Hospital in the 1800s, the Sydney Royal Mint occupied the building from 1855 until 1926. The coining factory was the first outside of England.

Since the mint closed, the structure has been used by several NSW government entities and today is the office of the Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales. Additional Mint Info .  

Continue walking south into Hyde Park.

#13 Hyde Park

Archibald Memorial Fountain, Hyde Park, Sydney, Australia

MAP . Since the first European settlers arrived in Australia, the park was used as a recreational space. However, it was in 1810 that Governor Macquarie dedicated the space as Hyde Park (naming it after Hyde Park in London ).

The green space has been used as a Cricket Ground, a horse racetrack, an outdoor boxing ring, a rugby field and military exercise grounds. At the north end of Hyde Park is Archibald Fountain, which celebrates the relationship between France and Australia during World War I.

East of Archibald Fountain, continue the free city walk of Sydney to St. Mary’s Cathedral.

#14 St. Mary’s Cathedral

View of St. Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney, Australia

MAP . The grand façade of St. Mary’s Catholic Cathedral in Sydney features two Gothic spires. The towers stand at 245 feet – and make St. Mary’s one of the tallest churches in Australia.

Building commenced in 1868 after previous churches on the site were destroyed by fire. In 2008, Pope Benedict XVI visited St. Mary’s for World Youth Day.

South of St. Mary’s Cathedral is the Australian Museum.

#15 Australian Museum

MAP . Opened in 1857, the Australian Museum is actually the oldest museum in Australia. The collections are comprised of zoological and anthropological displays. Buy Advance Tickets .  

Re-enter Hyde Park and walk to the southern end where you will find the ANZAC War Memorial.

#16 ANZAC War Memorial

View of ANZAC War Memorial, Sydney, Australia

MAP . At the south end of Hyde Park is Sydney’s ANZAC Memorial. Opened in 1934 to remember the Australians who fought and died in World War I (the Great War), the memorial now stands to honor all Australians and New Zealanders who have served in military forces.

From the ANZAC War Memorial, walk north to Park Street. Go west on park and walk in centre Sydney to Sydney Town Hall.

#17 Sydney Town Hall

Clocktower, Town Hall, Sydney, Australia

MAP . Easily recognizable by its clock tower and grand staircase, the centrally-located Sydney Town Hall is a popular meeting place for locals.

Built on former burial grounds in the late 1880s, the town hall is home to the Sydney City Council Chamber, the offices of the Lord Mayor and the Centennial Hall. The concert hall features the Grand Organ, which dates to the late 1800s.

Just north of Sydney Town Hall is the Queen Victoria Building.

#18 Queen Victoria Building

Exterior of the Queen Victoria Building, Sydney, Australia

MAP . Filling an entire city block along George Street, the Queen Victoria Building – or QVB, for short – was built between 1893 and 1898. The landmark Victorian-Federation era arcade, which features multiple domes, is listed on the New South Wales State Heritage Register.

The spacious interiors include four floors of retail space, cast-iron railings, original tile work and two clocks: The Royal Clock and the Great Australian Clock. At the south entrance is a large statue of Queen Victoria.

From the north end of QVB, walk east on Market Street to the Sydney Tower. 

#19 Sydney Tower

Looking up at the Sydney Tower, Australia

MAP . A popular tourist attraction since it was completed in 1981, the Sydney Tower stands at 1,014 feet in the center of the city. The tower features dining options, event space and an observation deck, called the Sydney Tower Eye.

Located at 820 feet, the enclosed viewing deck provides 360-degree views of Sydney. Take the fast track to the observation deck with advance tickets ! 

Walk west on Market Street to Kent Street. Walk south on Kent to Liverpool Street. Walk west and pass Dixon Street for the moment and climb the stairs to the Chinese Garden of Friendship. Then, retrace your steps on Liverpool Street to Dixon and walk south through Chinatown.

#20 Chinese Garden of Friendship

MAP . The Chinese Garden of Friendship is a traditional Chinese garden in Sydney’s Central Business District. The gardens, which were designed by sister city, Guangzhou, represent the bond between Australia and China.

#21 Chinatown

Gates to Chinatown in Sydney, Australia

MAP . A significant Chinese population has lived in the city since the 1800s, but the current Sydney Chinatown was established in the 1920.

The most decorative part of Chinatown lies along the short, pedestrian-only street, Dixon Street, and features ornate Chinese gates, shops and eateries.

Continue walking south on Dixon Street to Paddy’s Market.

#22 Paddy’s Market

Paddy’s Market in the Market City, Sydney, Australia

MAP . Housed inside an enormous brick building near Chinatown, Paddy’s Market has wall-to-wall stalls hawking everything from junk souvenirs (most featuring koalas, kangaroos, boomerangs and anything with “I heart Sydney” on it) to purses, wigs and costumes – all priced to sell. A few places at Paddy’s Market peddle brand name clothes that may or may not be authentic.

It’s easy to get lost in the maze of booths, each aisle looks identical to the previous. A fun Sydney shopping experience and a feast for the senses, the Paddy Market is worth a look.

If you have worked up a hunger – and were not tempted by any of the Chinese restaurants – detour to the Sydney Fish Market. You can follow these directions on Google Maps . If you choose to skip the Fish Market, follow these directions from Paddy’s Market to Pyrmont Bay.

#23 Sydney Fish Market

Sydney Markets: Paddy's Market and Sydney Fish Market JetSetting Fools

MAP . The Sydney Fish Market takes it up a notch on the sensory overload scale. The pungent scent of gutted fish wafts through the air at every turn – yet, the Sydney Fish Market is actually more civilized than Paddy’s Market.

The market only has a handful of vendors – but a seemingly endless choice of seafood. Fresh caught fish, prawns, oysters and live crabs are appealingly displayed on ice. Less appealing options of salmon fish heads and slimy octopus are also for sale.

The food court stalls sell everything from fried fish to sashimi, which can be eaten inside or under umbrellas on the docks. Read more about the Sydney Fish Market . 

From Sydney Fish Market, make your way to Pyrmont Bay using these Google Maps directions.

#24 Pyrmont Bay at Darling Harbour

Pyrmont Bridge to city center in Sydney, Australia

MAP . A top Sydney entertainment district, Darling Harbour is a hub of activity. In addition to the many waterfront bars and restaurants, visitors will find popular Sydney tourist attractions such as the Sydney Aquarium, the Australian National Maritime Museum and Madame Tussauds.

SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium

One of the popular Sydney family attractions, SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium provides a home to more than 13,000 sea creatures. The aquarium displays are sectioned into themes, including the world’s largest Great Barrier Reef exhibit. Buy Your SEA LIFE Aquarium tickets now !  

Australian National Maritime Museum

Explore the educational and interactive Australian National Maritime Museum to learn about life along the coast. Visitors can board in-water vessels, including the HMAS Onslow submarine and the HMAS Vampire battleship. Buy advance tickets.    

Madame Tussauds Sydney

Walk the red carpet and meet your favorite celebrities…kind of. Get up close and personal with the lifelike wax figures for epic selfies and photo ops. Get your tickets early !

#25 Sydney Harbour Tours from Pyrmont Bay Ferry Wharf

Boats docked at the Pyrmont Bay Ferry Wharf, Sydney

MAP . Many public ferries and Sydney Harbour tours depart from Darling Harbour. Hopping on a boat is a phenomenal way to get a better vantage point on your one-day tour of Sydney, Australia.

Get a seat in the bow as you sail beneath the famed Sydney Harbour Bridge and cruise past the Sydney Opera House.

Take the public ferry that departs Pyrmont Bay Ferry Wharf and ride to Circular Quay. When you arrive back at the Sydney docks, walk Circular Quay to the west into The Rocks District. 

#26 The Rocks, Sydney

View of The Rocks, Sydney, Australia

MAP . The Rocks has a storied past, as the land was first settled by Aboriginal People – there is evidence of their presence dating to the 1400s.

By the late 1700s, the area had become home to convicts sent from England. In the mid-1800s, The Rocks had grown into a port city full of debauchery. Then, in 1900, the plague broke out and The Rocks fell to the slums. An aggressive government cleansing ensued and many historic homes were destroyed.

In the 1970s, Sydney residents took a stand against the destruction and fought to keep their community. Today, throughout the Rocks district, several historic Sydney buildings are preserved, including Cadmans Cottage House, Sailor’s Home and the Mercantile Hotel.

New buildings have also risen in The Rocks, like the Museum of Contemporary Art, which is free to enter. 

Another museum to visit is The Rocks Discovery Museum, which details the history of the district and of Sydney. Free to enter, the museum is housed in an 1850s building. Full of artifacts and stories dating back to the Gadigal people, the museum chronicles the events of The Rocks.

For even more information, read this detailed Sydney Rocks Walking Tour (which includes The Rocks Sydney Walking Map). 

From the Rocks Discovery Museum, walk south on Kendall Lane to Argyle Street. Walk west on Argyle under the Sydney Harbour Bridge to the stairs on the south side of the street that lead to…

#27 Sydney Observatory Hill Park

View of Harbour Bridge from Observation Hill, Sydney, Australia

MAP . The Sydney Observatory was built on this hill in 1858. The popular hillside park features stunning panoramic vistas of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, North Sydney, Miller’s Point and Darling Harbour.

On the east side of the park, find the stairs that lead to the pedestrian path on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

#28 Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney Harbour at Sunset, Australia

MAP . The Sydney Harbour Bridge is one of the most famous bridges in the world and an iconic Sydney landmark. Taking almost 10 years to construct, the bridge opened in 1932.

Nicknamed ‘The Coathanger’ because of its long arch, the steel bridge is used by trains, cars, bikes and pedestrians. The total length of the bridge is 3,770 feet. Two pylons stand at each end of the bridge at a height of 292 feet.

There are pedestrian paths on the famous bridge that allow visitors to cross it and take in the views – for free! 

#29 Harbour Bridge Pylon

View of Harbour Bridge from the Pylon, Sydney, Australia

MAP . Using the pedestrian walkway on the east side of the bridge, walk to the Pylon. The first pylon is open to visitors (for a fee) and guests are invited to climb 200 stairs for 360-degree views of Sydney Harbour.

If you want to bypass the climb (and the fee), just walk along the Sydney bridge’s pedestrian path for free. There is a safety fence that, while partially hindering the view, makes it safe to cross. 

BONUS: BridgeClimb Sydney

Group on the BridgeClimb, Sydney, Australia

Thrill-seekers might want to consider the BridgeClimb, where participants are led on an expedition to the top of the Harbour Bridge’s arch. Find out more about the epic Sydney Bridge Climb .

#30 The Rocks for Evening Entertainment

Sunset at the Harbour Bridge Sydney Australia

End your Sydney sights walking tour back in The Rocks for dinner and drinks. Of the numerous bars and restaurants, we have a few recommendations. 

  • Squire’s Landing – Modern brewpub on the harbor with views of both the Sydney Opera House and the Habour Bridge.
  • The Glenmore Hotel – Classic Australian pub with rooftop views of the Sydney Opera House.
  • Fortune of War – Claiming to be the oldest pub in Sydney, they have been slinging beers since 1828.
  • Lord Nelson Brewery – Operating as a hotel and pub since 1841 (and as a brewery since 1987), the classic Aussie pub has a good selection of local beer on tap.

Looking for some of the Best Australian Craft Beer? Read our article about a Craft Beer Walking Tour of Sydney !

Sydney Walks Map

When visiting Sydney sights, use this link to Google Maps for an online, interactive version of our Sydney Walking Tour Map of Attractions.

Self Guided Sydney Walking Tour Map by JetSettingFools.com

More Sydney Sightseeing Tours

Ferry Boat and Hornby Lighthouse on walk from Manly to Spit Bridge in Sydney, Australia

Although we think our walk is one of the best Sydney tours, it might not be for everyone. We have a few suggestions if our Sydney tour isn’t for you.

Sydney Harbour Walks

If our outlined Sydney in a Day Tour involves too much walking, perhaps a Sydney Harbour Walk will suit you better. Walks around Sydney Harbour include the most iconic landmarks in the city.

While travelers could easily wander the harbor, we think it is best to have a sightseeing plan. Therefore, we created a simple Self Guided Tour Sydney Harbor to help you find your way. 

Self Guided Walking Tour Sydney Harbour

Walk the coastline from Circular Quay to The Rocks. Visit the Museum of Contemporary Art and The Rocks Discovery Museum. Walk to the Sydney Observatory, then up the stairs to the pedestrian walkway on the Sydney Harbour Bridge. 

Next, retrace your steps to Circular Quay and proceed to the Sydney Opera House. Continue walking east along the shoreline path to Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair.

Find all these sights on our Sydney Harbour Walks map .

Guided Sightseeing Tours Sydney, Australia

If navigating the city sounds like too much of a hassle or you want to hear stories and history from a Sydney local tour guide, consider booking one of the Sydney group tours or Sydney private day tours. Here are just a few of the top guided and themed walking tours in Sydney.

3-Hour Guided Tour

See the highlights of Sydney on a guided tour. Rather than a Sydney City Walking Tour, this guided sightseeing tour is completed with a vehicle – allowing visitors to see more of the city in less time.  Get the details!

Aboriginal Tours Sydney

One of the in-depth Guided Walking Tours of Sydney, participants learn about the Aboriginal People and their history in Sydney. Along the way, the tour guide leads the small group through the Royal Botanical Gardens and Circular Quay – explaining the significance of the Sydney sights along the route. Find out more!    

Sydney History Tours of The Rocks

On a Rocks Walking Tour Sydney, Australia, guests get to discover the colonial past on one of the best historical tours of Sydney. Led by a historian, The Rocks Guided Walking Tour of Sydney, Australia is both captivating and entertaining. Learn more about this tour!  

Pro Tip: Is The Rocks Sydney Walking Tour that we highlight not the right tour of you? There are many guided tours delve into Sydney’s past in The Rocks. Whether you are looking for a private tour or a pub tour in The Rocks. Book it in advance !

Free Guided Tour Sydney

While our free Sydney tour allows you to go at your own pace, there are free walking tours in Sydney where a guide leads the way. On a Guided Sydney Free Walking Tour, participants are led to the top sights by local guides. 

Just bear in mind, however, that the guides of the Guided Free Sydney Walking Tour work for tips. If you are searching for a completely free tour, we recommend using our above Self Guided Sydney Free Tour. 

Money Saving Sydney Attraction Pass

If you are planning on visiting attractions, a Sydney tourist pass can save you money. Rather than buying individual Sydney attraction tickets, you can pay one fee for a Sydney sightseeing pass that allows entry into multiple sights.

Check out the Ultimate Sydney Pass , where you pay a flat fee for a specific number of sights. Some of the top Sydney tours and attractions included with the card are the Sydney Opera House Tour, Madame Tussauds, the SEA LIFE Aquarium, the Museums Pass, The Rocks walking tour and the Sydney Tower Eye.

Subscribe Packing Checklist by JetSettingFools.com

What You Need For Your Sydney Walking Tour

Camp Cove Beach House. Sydney, Australia

Before setting off on your Walking Tour Sydney CBD route, you will want to be prepared!

Shoes for Travel

Sydney is a walkable city…but only if you pack the right travel shoes ! Your shoes should be comfortable, lightweight and versatile – like these shoes by Columbia  and  Skechers . Kris prefers wearing these shoes by Merrell .

Appropriate Weather Gear

If the sun is shining for your Sydney Walking Tour – and it likely will be – then you will need proper sun protection. Make sure to use sunscreen – and it’s also smart to have a travel hat that shades your face, as well as your favorite sunglasses . 

Furthermore, it is a smart idea to bring a refillable water bottle for Self Guided Walking Tours Sydney. 

Of course, if rain is predicted, then don’t forget to bring a lightweight raincoat and travel umbrella for your city tour. 

Travel Camera

We’re certain you’ll be snapping tons of photos during your trip – Sydney is so photogenic! Rather than relying on your mobile phone to capture the sights, upgrade to an actual camera for higher quality photos. We always travel with a Canon Rebel and use a 18-135mm lens . 

The Canon DSLR camera is easy to use, comes with heaps of accessories and takes high quality photos – all of which makes it one of the best budget cameras for travelers .

Sydney Map and Australia Guidebook

We think it is much easier to complete a Self Guided Free Sydney Walking Tour when you have a good understanding of the layout of the city. Therefore, we recommend purchasing a  city map and/or guidebook before arriving in Australia.

A Durable Day Pack

Whether you travel with a backpack or a suitcase , you’ll want to be sure to have a great day pack to carry all your essential travel items in!

We carry small day packs when we tour cities on self guided walks – as they are comfortable to wear, have zippered pockets to keep our contents safe and are roomy enough to stow everything we need for the day. 

Australia Travel Insurance

Trip Insurance can come in handy when things go wrong – like lost luggage or getting sick abroad . 

If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip to Australia, consider traveling protected with World Nomads .

Sydney Trip Planning Advice

Planning a trip to Sydney, Australia is a big task! There are so many things to do in Sydney – and many overseas travelers plan on visiting multiple cities in Australia, as well. Our free, detailed Sydney guides can help you plan the best trip possible. 

  • How To Plan 3 Perfect Days in Sydney
  • Going on the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk
  • Setting off on the Spit to Manly Nature Trail
  • How To Plan a Blue Mountains Day Trip

Visiting other Top Destinations in Australia?

Good on ya! Get ready with our complete guides and insider tips for the best Australia destinations! 

  • Best Things To Do in Melbourne
  • Fun Brisbane Activities
  • Free Things To Do in Cairns
  • What To Do in Coollangatta on the Gold Coast
  • How To Visit Perth in One Day

Trip Organization

As you start planning your trip and making reservations, organization is key! Get (and stay) organized for your vacation to Australia using our Trip Planning Printables !

Travel Planner Printables by JetSettingFools.com

Start planning your trip to Australia ! Search for the lowest airfares , the best accommodations and fun things to do …then start packing !   Want more travel planning tips? Head over to our Travel Planning page for more information and tips on traveling – and for country-specific information, take a look at our Travel Guides page !

We want to know:  Are there any sights you would add to our self-guided Sydney walking tour? What are your must-see Sydney landmarks? Give us your best tips and advice in the comments below! 

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AUSTRALIA | A DIY Sydney Walking Tour

DIY Walking Tour Sydney

Our strides went longer and our pace quickened as dusk descended. We just came from the iconic Sydney Opera House, departing as the sun went below the Harbour Bridge. Our next query was food. We were on a strict budget, getting our meals mostly on supermarkets, Australia is extremely expensive, so we thought we’d just grab a bite on a small restaurant. Our friend M, who has just arrived that afternoon from Manila has other plans though, he’d like to eat on the revolving restaurant on top of the Sydney Tower. He’s treating, so alright, to the Sydney Tower it is!

We thought we’d save a bit by walking. We went through Pitt Street, one of the major roads running across Sydney, and in the process got to see a cross-section of the city. To be honest, we haven’t seen much of Sydney yet—we visited some of C’s relatives on our first day, and on the second, went out to the Blue Mountain Sydney .

I was actually surprised at how small downtown Sydney is (which they dub as the Sydney CBD). Before arriving, I thought it’s one huge megalopolis, similar, say with Tokyo or Bangkok. But it’s not. Every place we pinned on our map seemed reachable by foot. There’s a metro and tram, but we didn’t even find the need to board one to see the sights within the CBD area.

During our five-day stay here, lodging at the Sydney Central Inn and at Rydges World Square Hotel , we got to unintentionally see a few major sights in the city simply by walking from one errand to the next—like when we’re meeting a friend or needing to buy grocery for our meals. We haven’t totally explored Sydney yet, that I’m a hundred percent sure, but it was a great introduction to a city we’ll be surely coming back to during our travels.



Darling Harbour was one of the first places we saw in Sydney. Our initial visit was a meet-up with a friend for lunch and we got to explore the nearby Darling Quarter, Tumbalong Park, the waterfront esplanade, the historic Pyrmont Bridge, and Sydney’s National Maritime Museum (which has a real submarine docked along its pier!). The second time we visited was for an expensive lunch (another treat) at one of the many restaurants littering the harbor. The third time was that same night, when we tried looking for a place to drink—we were promptly turned away by bouncers since we were wearing slippers though, lol. The area is a good place to chill—sit right by the water’s edge and watch people go about their daily lives. If you’re into shopping, there’s the Harbourside Shopping Centre which are lined with branded shops, restaurants, and bars.

DIY Walking Tour Sydney Darling Harbour



One morning, trying to find our way to Chinatown, we stumbled upon the Sydney Town Hall. The structure, constructed during the 1880’s from local sandstone, stands proud at the corner of George and Druitt Streets, and strangely, was built over Sydney’s first permanent cemetery. According to Australia’s State Register, it is the most elaborate and exuberant work of Second Empire Style architecture in Australia. With corner towers, domed pavilions, pedimented breakfront entries, a hierarchy of decorative orders, columned and pedimented window treatment, venetian windows and elaborate decoration. It still functions as a town hall, housing the Sydney City Council and the chambers of Sydney’s Lord Mayor. Tourists can actually enter its premises on guided tours. But as expected, we weren’t able to book one in advance—we contented ourselves on admiring it from the outside.

DIY Walking Tour Sydney Town Hall



And right next to the town hall, on its left side, is the St. Andrew’s Cathedral. The Anglican church was erected in 1868, making it the oldest cathedral in the whole of Australia, and sports an original take on the Gothic Revival style. It’s quite petite for a cathedral but it’s superb proportion, high level of ornamentation, and characteristic sandstone material, makes for an extremely impressive façade. Daily mass services are held here, and like the town hall, visitors can also enter its doors. Unfortunately for us, it was closed at the time, and we weren’t able to see its grand interiors.

DIY Walking Tour Sydney St. Andrew's Cathedral



Finding our bearing, our feet finally led us to the Market City Hay and Paddy’s Market on Sydney’s Chinatown. We were told that this is where we can find the cheapest souvenirs to bring back home—and they were absolutely right. From shirts, and ref magnets, to actual boomerangs and aboriginal artworks, we didn’t find any other place that could beat their prices.

DIY Walking Tour Sydney Chinatown



The boat we boarded for our Sydney Harbour cruise was docked on one of the jetties in Circular Quay. From here, the famous Sydney Opera House is only a few minutes by foot away. And on the other side of the quay, set on a massive art deco brick building, you’ll find the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia. We spent too much time watching people around the quay, especially the buskers, that by the time we entered the museum’s doors—entrance fee is free, by the way—it was already closing time. Tsk.

DIY Walking Tour Sydney Circular Quay



Walking northward from the museum, we went for the southern end of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The steel through arch bridge connects Sydney’s CBD with the city’s North Shore. Nicknamed The Coathanger due to its form when seen form afar, it’s definitely one of the city’s most notable landmarks. Constructed in 1932, its design was actually taken from New York’s Hell Gate Bridge and currently has the title of being the sixth longest spanning-arch bridge in the world. People can actually book a tour to climb the top arches of the bridge , and we even considered booking one, but as always our lazy bones won over it.

DIY Walking Tour Sydney Harbour Bridge



Australia’s iconic Sydney Opera House is located on Bennelong Point, a few minutes away from the Circular Quay. We went here as the sun was setting, making its shells glow with the afternoon rays. I actually wrote a whole article regarding the construction and history of Sydney Opera House .

DIY Walking Tour Sydney Opera House


OPENING HOURS: 9:00AM TO 8:00PM | ADDRESS: 100 MARKET ST, SYDNEY | GPS COORDINATES MAP: -33.8704465, 151.2065713

Rising to a height of 309 meters, the Sydney Tower Eye, or simply Sydney Tower, is the city’s highest tower. It’s also the second tallest observation tower in the Southern Hemisphere, trumped only by Melbourne’s Eureka Tower. Restaurants and shopping areas occupy its lower floors while the observation decks, skywalk tours, and a revolving restaurant fill the upper levels. We had a very expensive dinner on the Sydney Tower Buffet restaurant. The food, which range from salads and pastas, to steaks and seafood, were actually just okay—with the exception of their kangaroo steak and crisply roasted pork belly which were really, really good. It’s main attraction, really, is the view. The restaurant slowly revolves around the evening view of Sydney, completing a full rotation after an hour and a half—and that actually signals the end of your dinner time.

DIY Walking Tour Sydney Tower Eye



As a bonus during our stay, we got to witness the culmination of the annual Sydney Mardi Gras. Sydney’s version started as a demonstration to end discrimination against gay people in 1978. It has since grown into a full blown festival attended by hundreds of thousands of people from Australia and all over the world. Parts of Sydney were closed to traffic as float after float filled with flamboyant performers from the LGBTQ communities—including the Cher —flooded the streets. Crowds gathered on the barricaded sidewalks, us included. We were quite lucky we got there early, as we found later that the police has actually stopped people from entering the parade area since it’s been filled to capacity. The after party, which spread through the roads and bars across Sydney, was even wilder!

DIY Walking Tour Sydney Mardi Gras

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Nice post thaanks for sharing

Enjoy Sydney!

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