Welcome to Australia!
One of the most popular destinations in the world and with good reason, Australia has it all – exciting cities, amazing nature experiences, incredible wildlife, an interesting history, great food, nice people etc. I’ve loved Australia since the first time I visited back in 2007, in fact so much that I decided to move there for 1,5 years back in January 2017. Australia is a must visit, and I sincerely hope you will love the country as much as I do!
Australia is located in the South Pacific Ocean with Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand as its closest neighbours. Australia is the sixth largest country in the world and offers very diverse sceneries and climates – from the humid rainforest to the dry desert, from the vibrant big cities to the remote areas, from the multicultural melting pots to the sacred Indigenous lands. There is something for everyone in Australia!
Where to go
Cairns is located in Northern Queensland and is the gateway to the amazing Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest that should be main reasons for you to visit this East Coast city. Experience colourful corals and underwater wildlife on a snorkel or diving trip at the biggest reef in the world. And head north towards the rainforest and see amazing nature experiences at among others Mossman Gorge and Cape Tribulation. Don’t forget to stop at the little fashionable town Port Douglas that is located one hour drive north of Cairns.
This little paradise island is located outside Townsville and offers fantastic coastal sceneries, amazing wildlife and a laid-back and relaxing vibe. Magnetic Island is the ideal holiday destination, and both locals and tourists enjoy spending time there.
Despite its small size, there are many things to do on Maggie, as the locals tend to call it. Take the Forts Walk where you most likely will spot dozing koalas, feed rock-wallabies and experience the most incredible sunsets from some of the many bays around Magnetic Island.
Experiencing the Whitsundays is a must do in Australia. You’ve probably seen lots of incredible photos of Hill Inlet with the chalky white sand and bright blue water twisting together and of Whitehaven Beach. However, the photos can’t capture the beauty of the natural attractions at all.
The best way to explore the Whitsundays is by boat, and I can highly recommend spending two days and two nights on one of the many sailboats or catamarans that sail around the islands for the ultimate experience.
Most people probably haven’t heard about Cape Hillsborough, even though it has lately become a more and more popular tourist destination. And there is one particular reason for this. During sunrise, lots of kangaroos and wallabies come to Cape Hillsborough Beach to eat seaweed and mangrove seed pods, which gives you an amazing opportunity to experience the characteristic Australian animals up close and an opportunity to see the sunrise from a stunning spot at the same time.
Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world and is a must visit. Giant sand dunes, stunning lakes, clear blue creeks, lush rainforest (surprisingly), amazing views and wildlife are some of the things you can experience on Fraser Island. Don’t miss Lake McKenzie, Lake Wabby, Eli Creek, the Champagne Pools and not least a scenic flight over the island!
On Fraser Island, you can either drive yourself, go on a tag-along tour or go with a bus company. We did the latter, and it was great.
I can highly recommend spending a few relaxing days in lovely Noosa. Noosa is located less than two hours drive from Brisbane and is a popular destination for both national and international tourists – and with good reason. Noosa offers amazing beaches, tropical rainforest and a nice and vibrant town centre. There are plenty of great places to eat, drink and shop in all three main zones; Noosa Heads, Noosaville and Noosa Junction. An hour’s drive away is the Glasshouse Mountains that you should make sure to visit too.
Brisbane is the largest city in Queensland and is a nice place to stay for a few days. It’s a vibrant city that among others is known for its arts. In addition, Brisbane also offers great places to eat, drink and shop. Make sure to go to the cultural South Bank and the bohemian and quirky Westend.
One of my favourite places in Australia is Byron Bay. The little beach town located at the most easterly point in the country is a vibrant place that is full of hippies and surfers. The Byron Bay lifestyle is very relaxed and laid back. However, the town centre can get very crowded during high season where both national and international tourists want to experience the unique atmosphere.
Byron Bay has a lot to offer. A must do is to take the Cape Byron Walking Track that ends at the famous Cape Byron Lighthouse from where you’ve got a stunning view of the coast. Another must do is to go surfing. Byron Bay is one of the best surf spots in the country and offers ideal waves for both beginners and professionals. When you’re not out and about, explore great restaurants, cafés, bars and shops in the town centre.
Not surprisingly, my all-time favourite place in Australia is Sydney. Sydney has been my home for 16 months, and I absolutely love everything that this beautiful city has to offer – big city life, world-class beaches, famous sights, amazing food and great shopping opportunities.
Obvious things to do in Sydney include experiencing the Sydney Harbour with the Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge and the Royal Botanic Garden etc. and famous Bondi Beach. In addition, I can highly recommend spending some time in cultural Surry Hills, cool and quirky Newtown, fashionable Paddington and summery Manly.
Adelaide is a relaxed city where it’s all about cultural experiences and eating and drinking. The capital of South Australia offers arts and music, plenty of festivals and lots of places to grab a bite and a drink. Especially Peel St has several great restaurants and bars.
One of the biggest experiences I’ve had in Australia was exploring Kangaroo Island. The island located outside Adelaide is an adventurer’s paradise with numerous stunning sceneries and amazing wildlife.
I can highly recommend driving around Kangaroo Island to explore the island’s diversity and beauty. Don’t miss going to Baudin Beach, Admirals Arch, Remarkable Rocks and Hanson Bay for amazing sceneries and Flinders Chase National Park for incredible wildlife experiences.
Barossa Valley is one of Australia’s many great wine areas and is a must visit if you like wining and dining and cultural experiences. The area is quite compact, but the around 80 vineyards in the valley produce around 20 % of Australia’s wine. Barossa Valley is most famous for Shiraz and Riesling, and you can taste various varieties at the many cellar doors.
The Great Ocean Road is probably Australia’s most famous route and with good reason. The Great Ocean Road offers amazing nature experiences along the way. Drive by the majestic Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge and London Bridge all located near Port Campbell, look for koalas in Great Otway National Park, experience lush rainforest and the beautiful Erskine Falls near Lorne and watch the surfers do what they do best at Bells Beach – there is something for everyone along the Great Ocean Road.
Most people drive from Melbourne to Port Campbell, but I can highly recommend taking the trip all the way to Adelaide for the ultimate experience.
Melbourne is the second largest city in Australia and is a perfect place for a city break. Melbourne is a cultural melting pot and offers great art, both fine art and street art, amazing food and probably Australia’s best coffee. Even though the city centre offers great experiences such as the Queen Victoria Night Market on Wednesdays and the street art on Hosier Lane, I’ve really fallen in love with the quirky area of Fitzroy that among others has so many nice restaurants, bars and shops.
If you want to experience the Australia that was portrayed in movies like Crocodile Dundee, you should go to Darwin. Darwin is the biggest city in Northern Territory and is the gateway to amazing nature and cultural experiences. I can highly recommend immersing yourself in the Indigenous culture and stories in Arnhem Land and exploring the Northern Territory’s amazing nature in both Arnhem Land, Litchfield National Park and Kakadu National Park.
In the centre of Australia and in the middle of nowhere is Uluru – a world-famous rock that isn’t just a rock. Uluru is majestic, grandeur and an amazing sight that you’ve to experience.
Even though Uluru is what draws most people to Australia’s centre, there are other amazing sights in the area. Kata Tjuta is the name of the most beautiful domed rocks and Kings Canyon is the term for a canyon made up of majestic red sandstone cliffs and cliff walls that are as amazing as Uluru and definitely also have to be visited.
Best time to visit
Australia is a huge country and the best time to visit is different depending on where you plan to go. The northern part of the country has two seasons; wet season and dry season, where dry season that runs from May to October is the best time to visit. The temperatures are around 20-30 degrees and the humidity is low.
The southern part of the country has four seasons where late spring and summer that runs from November to February are the best times to visit. The temperatures are around 25-30 degrees. This time of the year, the cities are more vibrant and lots of events and festivals are held. However, the popular attractions can be very crowded and prices may rise.
The red centre is a dry desert with very hot temperatures around 30-40 degrees during summer and colder temperatures around 10-20 degrees during winter.
Getting there and getting around
For most people, Australia is far away and getting there requires a flight. Momondo (affiliate link) is my preferred site for finding cheap flight tickets. There are major international airports in Cairns, Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne, Darwin and Perth and various domestic airports throughout the country. The biggest Australian airlines are Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Australia.
A popular way of exploring Australia is by car or campervan. Most of the different cities and towns are connected by highways, making it very easy to get around. However, you should know that the Australian’s drive on the left side of the road. As an alternative, bus companies like Greyhound, Premier Motor Service and AAT Kings offer bus trips around the country.
Time: +8 GMT on the West Coast to +11 GMT on the East Coast.
Population: 24 million.
Currency: Australian Dollars (AUD) (1 AUD ≈ 0,76 USD). You can pay with credit card pretty much everywhere. There are ATMs in most cities and towns. It’s not common to tip in Australia except for excellent service. In that case, leave a maximum of 10% gratuity.
Visa: All visitors except for New Zealanders need a visa to enter Australia. You can read more about the visa requirements and apply for a visa for up to 90 days on this site. The typical tourist visa (eVisitor subclass 651) is free of charge.
Safety rating: 12/163 on the Global Peace Index.
Accommodation in average hotels cost around 100-200 AUD per night for a double room. Free wifi is common, however, some places only offer free wifi in the main areas.
Accommodation in average hostels cost around 25-50 AUD per night. Most hostels have several room options from private double rooms to big dorm rooms that accommodate several people. Wifi is typically available, but be aware that wifi isn’t always included in the price.
In addition, Airbnb is widely available in Australia, and there are various campgrounds throughout the coast.
Food and drinks
Eating out is typically expensive in Australia. A meal at an average restaurant costs around 25-40 AUD while fast food costs around 10-15 AUD.
Drinks range from around 10 AUD for a glass of wine to 20 AUD for a cocktail.
Not surprisingly, the price for flight tickets varies depending on where you fly from. However, it’s often quite expensive to fly to Australia. Likewise, domestic flight tickets are typically quite pricey.
The price of renting a car or campervan is decent. 20 days with different pickup and drop off locations cost approximately 750-1000 AUD for a compact car and approximately 750-2000 AUD for a campervan.
Attractions and activities
The price level on attractions and activities is generally high. However, Australia has so many amazing things to see and do that you can’t miss out on.
Day trips to the Great Barrier Reef cost around 180 AUD for snorkellers and around 250 AUD for divers.
Sailing tours on the Whitsundays cost around 500 AUD for a two days and two nights-tour.
Bus tours on Fraser Island cost around 350 AUD for a two days and one night-tour.
Surf lessons cost around 65 AUD for a two-hour lesson.
Bridge climbs on the Harbour Bridge cost around 320 AUD.
Other expenses you should consider are travel insurance and visa (if necessary). Travel insurance for three weeks in Australia costs around 90-160 AUD.
3 weeks: The East Coast
3 days in Cairns
2 days on Magnetic Island
3 days at the Whitsundays
1 day at Cape Hillsborough
2 days on Fraser Island
3 days in Noosa
2 days in Brisbane
5 days in Byron Bay
4 weeks: The best of Australia
4 days in Sydney
3 days at Uluru
2 days in Adelaide
4 days at Kangaroo Island
2 days in Barossa Valley
5 days along the Great Ocean Road
5 days in Melbourne
3 days in Sydney
10 weeks: The big trip
5 days in Sydney
4 days at Uluru
5 days in Darwin
4 days in Cairns
2 days on Magnetic Island
3 days at the Whitsundays
1 day at Cape Hillsborough
3 days on Fraser Island
5 days in Noosa
3 days in Brisbane
7 days in Byron Bay
7 days in Melbourne
7 days along the Great Ocean Road
3 days in Adelaide
5 days at Kangaroo Island
3 days in Barossa Valley
3 days in Sydney