Sightseeing in Australia
What are the best places to visit?
Australia is a fascinating place to explore. This sightseeing guide will take you through this vast land with so many unique places to visit. From rainforests to deserts, rugged coastline, white sand beaches and snowy mountain tops, you could spend a lifetime sightseeing in Australia and never see it all. I asked 14 travel bloggers & photographers to recommend their must-see spots in Australia as well as a few of my personal favourites. If you are looking for inspiration for your Australian adventure you can’t go past these 18 unique destinations.
Top Tourist Destinations In Australia
The Green Adventurers acknowledges and pays respect to the past, present and future Traditional Custodians and Elders of this nation and the continuation of cultural, spiritual and educational practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Whitehaven Beach + The Hill Inlet, Whitsundays, Queensland
The Whitsunday Islands are a chain of 74 islands off the coast of mainland Queensland. The iconic swirling sands of The Hill Inlet have to be seen to be believed. The silica sand is so fine that the water pushes it around creating mesmerising patterns.
The Hill Inlet is right next to the northern end of Whitehaven Beach. This spot is only accessible by boat so you can go on a tour from Airlie Beach or one of the nearby islands. Beware that some of the tours only go to the main part of Whitehaven Beach to the south which doesn’t give you the views seen above. Make sure the tour you book includes a visit to The Hill Inlet – I recommend THIS ONE with Explore Whitsundays. This tour island includes snorkelling in these pristine waters and a visit to The Hill Inlet and Whitehaven Beach for water activities.
Steep Point, Western Australia
Recommended by David Priddis Photography
To reach Steep Point is a proper Aussie adventure. It’s in the middle of nowhere, or woop woop as the Australians say, with no tour groups. This makes up a large part of its charm. Only accessible by 4WD you’re going to have to gear up with camping kit, fuel, food and water for your stay. Plus the sand driving is not for the faint hearted. With single way tracks and small but steep sand dunes to climb. You’ll also need to pick up a camping permit from the Ranger station on the way toward the national park area that Steep Point is part of. If you put in the hard work to make this trip happen, you are rewarded with wall to wall stars at night and epic views along the coast. I would recommend staying two nights to really appreciate the location. As you arrive on your first day you’ll want to get your photo by the world famous sign and settle in at your camp with a cold beer, after the hot drive in. Then you can really explore and enjoy the place on day two.
While I loved the remoteness of the camping right on the point. If you’re happy with a few neighbours in a vicinity of 100m. Then camping a few KM back from the point at Colaert Bay or Shelter Bay, gives you direct access to the sea for swimming and fishing. However the clue is in the name of the wider area, Shark Bay, and you will have to be careful while taking a dip. The good news is you don’t have to worry about salt water crocs as you are too far South.
Victor Harbor, South Australia
Recommended by Zoe Adventura
Victor Harbor is one of the many unique attractions of South Australia. Located on the Fleurieu Peninsula, just 80km from the capital of South Australia, Adelaide, Victor Harbor is filled with stunning views, colonial architecture and many pubs cafes and restaurants, as well as world-class hiking. It’s a destination that will tick a lot of boxes.
Victor, as it’s known locally, is well known for the Cockle Train and the horse drawn tram which crosses from the mainland to Granite Island. One of the most popular experiences in Victor Harbor is taking a ride on the Cockle Train. The train runs from Goolwa to Victor Harbor and back a few times a day, almost every day of the year. But if you are lucky (or go on a school holiday or weekend), you will get to run on a traditional steam train!
The Cockle Train has been running in Victor Harbor for over 120 years, and some of the trains are over 100 years old, dating back to 1913. The Cockle Train travels on the oldest steel railway in Australia. It is named the cockle train because back in the day, people used to ride that train route to
collect cockles from the beaches of the Murray Mouth.
Another very popular activity in Victor Harbor is the horse drawn carriage that brings passengers across the bridge to Granite Island. If horse drawn isn’t your style, you can also walk across to the island, it’s an easy and flat walk of about 600m. Once you are on Granite Island, there is a trail that leads all the way around the island which features stunning views of the rugged southern ocean. You may even spot the last remaining Little Penguins, whic inhabit the island. Unfortunately, their population has been decimated in the past decade as a result of human interference and the Australian Fur Seal.
For longer hikes, check out the bluff, which is just outside of town. It’s a large hill directly on the Southern Ocean, and is part of the world-famous Heysen Trail. In fact, it’s easy to get a taste of the Heysen Trail by taking the tracks that lead off the Bluff. The views are unbeatable, but I definitely recommend doing this in the warmer months because the wind coming off the Southern Ocean can bite through just about any cold weather clothing. A special treat that is not found very often in Australia is seeing the Southern Right Wales, which visit Encounter Bay between May and October to mate and calve. You can learn more about whales at the SA Whale Centre.
Outside of the town of Victor Harbor, there are plenty of attractions including the Victor Harbor Winery, Mount Billy Conservation Park and Hindmarsh Falls.
Bondi Beach, New South Wales
Recommended by Aimee of Snap Happy Travel
Bondi beach in Sydney’s eastern suburbs is the epitome of the laid-back lifestyle Australia is renowned for. At all times of the year you’re likely to see beautiful people sunbathing or working out. Bondi just oozes that healthy sun-kissed lifestyle so many of us crave.
But Bondi is not without its faults, many living in Sydney try to avoid the beach during the Summer months because it gets too busy and as a result of its popularity the bars and restaurants here tend to be more pricey than other beaches in Sydney.
As you can imagine, many of the best things to do in Bondi beach involve the sea – whether that’s learning to surf at one of the many surf schools here or simply swimming in its warm waters. One of the best things to do in Bondi is to walk the 3.7 mile coastal trail from Bondi to Coogee, stopping at some awesome beaches along the way including Tamarama and Bronte. You may need to fuel up for the walk, especially during the warmer months so why not grab a vegan snack from Eden Bondi at Campbell Parade or a delicious vegan gelato from Chacha’s Gelato also on Campbell Parade.
Another Sydney icon is Icebergs, an award-winning restaurant with epic views and one of the best outdoor pools in the world. Icebergs is located at the start of the Bondi to Coogee walk and if you want to dine here, you will need to book in advance as it’s very popular. If you don’t fancy dining here (it’s pretty pricey) you can pay a fee to swim in the pool here.
Bondi is also a great sunset-watching spot, the sky turns a gorgeous shade of candyfloss pink and is especially pretty during the Winter.
As for places to stay in Bondi, you can’t go wrong with QT hotel which has bright and airy rooms, most with a seaview!
Cradle Mountain, Tasmania
Recommended by Angela Price of Where Angie Wanders
One of Australia’s best places to visit is Cradle Mountain in Tasmania. This iconic wilderness world heritage site in the heart of Australia’s largest island is a truly magical place to spend time reconnecting with yourself and the nature all around you. Here, you can leave the stresses of everyday life behind and find complete solitude.
It is all about the outdoors in Cradle Mountain with many accessible walking routes, including the incredible 6k Dove Lake Walk, offering the most stunning scenery imaginable. Wander through the ancient rainforest, discover the glacial lake and, for the more adventurous, climb to the top of Cradle Mountain. Visitors can also start the famous six-day overland trek from Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair.
There is plenty of wildlife in Cradle Mountain ranging from possums and echidnas to wallabies and pademelons. The Tasmanian Devil is, of course, one of the wildlife highlights in Cradle Mountain and is the island’s namesake. It is doubtful to see one in the wild, but ‘Devils at Cradle Sanctuary’ offers a chance to see these unique animals up close and learn more about why they are now on the wildlife endangered list.
With eco credentials including a fifth of Tasmania listed as wilderness and measured as having the cleanest air on the planet, it is no wonder this is one of the most spectacular places to visit in Australia and a place you won’t forget in a hurry.
Rainbow Beach, Queensland
Recommended by Eloise of My Favourite Escapes
Rainbow Beach is a stunning destination only three hours north of Brisbane. It’s mainly famous for being the getaway to visit the nearby K’gari (Fraser Island), but there are many things to do in Rainbow Beach too.
Rainbow Beach is mainly known for its coloured sand. As you drive on the beach, you can admire sand cliffs with dozens of different shades of colours. A short walk in the forest will take you to Carlo Sandblow, an impressive 15ha sand mass with stunning views on both sides of the dune. It’s pretty unique and a must-do when visiting Rainbow Beach.
Rainbow Beach is also famous for its nearby Double Island point. It’s only accessible by 4WD, but tours can take you there too. It’s one of the most reputed spots for surfers, and you can also kayak with dolphins and turtles or walk to the top of the headland to spot whales in winter. You may notice rocks popping out of the water: they’re called Wolf Rock, and it’s a very reputed dive site to see grey nurse sharks and rays all year round.
Back in town, you’ll find a very relaxed atmosphere with a few restaurants and bars – sometimes with sea views. The beach there is lovely too.
Falls Creek, Victoria
It sometimes comes to a surprise to people that there is snow in Australia. There are actually 15 ski resorts in Australia and Falls Creek is one of the biggest & most popular. If you want a unique winter experience when sightseeing in Australia you can’t go past a visit to the the alpine region.
Falls Creek is a beautiful alpine village in the Victorian Alps in northeast Victoria. The village is within the ski resort which includes 450 hectares of skiable terrain. The hotels, lodges, restaurants and bars are accessed by roads that are completely covered in snow during the winter months so you can ski or snowboard right to the door!
The village sits at an elevation of 1600 m above sea level and the highest point reached by a chair lift is 1,780m. The ski area is accessed by 14 different lifts including chair lifts, poma lifts and magic carpets. Falls Creek is a great beginner mountain with plenty of green runs but there are some fantastic steeper slopes and tree runs for expert riders. Falls Creek also offers a wide range of activities for all ages such as cross country skiing, tobogganing, tubing & snowmobiling.
Tamborine Mountain, Queensland
Recommended by Lanie of Make More Adventures
Just an hour south of Brisbane is Tamborine Mountain, a perfect escape from the city and crowds.
By the time you drive up to Tamborine Mountain, it feels like you left the city behind. For adventurer seekers, art enthusiasts, and nature lovers, Tamborine Mountain offers it all.
Keep your eye out for farm boxes of produce located by mailboxes. These items are available to purchase through an honesty box and are generally cheaper and more delicious than the fruit and veggies sold in the shops.
For those looking for an adventure, go up on a hot air balloon at sunrise, zip line through the trees at Tree Top Adventures, or paraglide above the gorgeous mountain views.Want a drink after your adventure? There are plenty of choices on Tamborine Mountain. Enjoy a wine tasting at one of the vineyards such as Witches Falls or Cedar Creek, drink a beer at Fortitude Brewing Company, or learn about coffee with a tour and a tasting at Tamborine Mountain Coffee Plantation.
There is plenty of hiking for all levels on Tamborine Mountain, and also a Rainforest Skywalk. Head high above the trees on this eco-adventure set in 30 acres of rainforest. Gallery Walk, the main road on Tamborine Mountain, has a large variety of shops and restaurants. There are plenty of choices for vegan meals and treats as well as art galleries and unique gift shops.
Tamborine Mountain is an easy day trip from Brisbane or the Gold Coast, but it also offers a large variety of accommodation for those who wish to stay and enjoy the mountain a little bit longer, on every budget. From camping to cabins, bed & breakfasts to rainforest lodges, Tamborine Mountain offers plenty of choices not just in accommodation but also for meals, shops, activities, and adventures.
Coober Pedy, South Australia
Recommended by Helen of Differentville
When summer temperatures reach over 40 degrees, it’s a good idea to have somewhere to keep cool – and the solution for the residents of Coober Pedy, a small town located in the middle of the South Australian outback, is to head underground.
You’ll find homes, hotels, bars, cafes, and more than one rather ornate church, located in intricate spaces carved out in the cliffs. It definitely makes for one of the most interesting places to visit in South Australia.
Like so many outback towns, Coober Pedy attracts its fair share of intriguing residents and, if you’re looking for some more unusual things to do in Coober Pedy, then visiting the uniquely decorated home of local legend Crocodile Harry is a must-do; also take a trip to Boothill Cemetery, where you’ll find some rather interesting gravestones with some tall tales behind them.
Back on the Main Street you’ll find opal mines, a drive-in cinema, the cutest kangaroo orphanage – oh, and an abandoned spaceship from the movie Pitch Black just lying by the side of the road. At sunset, you can take a tour out to the Breakaways which were the backdrop to the movie. The area was once an inland sea and the flat-topped coloured mesas carved out by the water are incredibly beautiful.
There’s more than enough to do here for two or three days – although it’ll help to have a car as the main sights are quite spread out. If you want to embrace underground living, also make sure you book into one of Coober Pedy’s many underground hotels. It’s a not-to-be-missed hotel experience.
Sunshine Coast, Queensland
Recommended by Peta and Jonas of Exit45 Travels
No matter what you like to do and are interested in, it is easy to spend a week or more exploring all of the attractions the Sunshine Coast has to offer. The Sunshine Coast is the ideal place for outdoor lovers who enjoy hiking, beach days, surfing, snorkelling, scuba diving, swimming in waterfalls, and shopping.
Discover the many beautiful beaches along the coastline from Bulcock Beach in Caloundra all the way north to Noosa Main Beach. You will find amazing surf beaches, rock pools perfect for exploring, and calm quiet waters which are ideal for kayaking.
If you prefer to be a little more active, head to Buderim Forest Park for an easy hike to the beautiful Serenity Falls which is a great spot for a quick dip and to cool off. Alternatively, you will be rewarded with breathtaking views by some more challenging hikes at the Glass House Mountains National Park, Noosa National Park and Mount Tinbeerwah at Tewantin National Park.
The whole family will enjoy spending the morning at the Eumundi markets and a visit to The Ginger Factory in Yandina. For the animal lovers, Australia Zoo is a must-visit award winning attraction, as is Sea Life Sunshine Coast Aquarium. If you are visiting between the months of May and November, this is a great time to go whale watching!
Just a short 35 minute drive inland from the beautiful beaches of the Sunshine Coast you will find the Sunshine Coast Hinterland which makes for the perfect day trip. There is a little something for everyone from cute little towns, mountain views, lakes, and waterfalls to unique art galleries, quirky cafes, wineries and craft breweries, there is something to suit every type of traveller.
Uluru, Northern Territory
Recommended by Monique Song of Overland Lady
You will never see anything like this anywhere else – A giant red rock formation in the middle of a flat desert. If you’re taking a trip to the Red Center, Uluru will likely be one of your top destinations.
Sitting at almost 350 meters high, Uluru is, in fact, the world’s largest monolith, with a history of 550 million years! The local Aboriginals hold special spiritual significance to this place as they pass on ancient wisdom and stories through the different faces of the rock.
Although very remote, you can easily take on this outback experience in a 2WD. No crazy off-road rig is needed. If you are coming from one of the major cities in Australia, more than likely there’s quite some distance to be spread out in multiple days. Take your time and be ready for the high fuel price (at $2/L range).
The township of Yulara was built for the sole purpose of servicing Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. You can find different types of lodging here, from camping to luxury resorts.
There are many activities for every travel preference. Go for a hike in Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) – a group of 36 smaller domes, ride the camels, watch the sunrise and sunset casting Uluru in different shades of colours, visit the culture center, or follow a guided tour that walks you through the ancient tales around Uluru.
Keep in mind that Uluru is in a national park, so be sure to buy your park pass before entering.
Lake Macdonnell, South Australia
The pink lakes of Australia are a magical phenomenon caused by algae and bacteria. One of the most insta-worthy is Lake Macdonnell in the far west of South Australia. Known as “Watermelon Avenue” the double coloured lake with a road down the middle is an absolute delight.
The lake is found not too far from Penong which is a tiny town made famous by a grand collection of windmills. The windmill museum is definetely worth a look when you visit Lake Macdonnell as are the magnificent sand dunes found nearby.
This iconic spot is a massive 850km from Adelaide so it’s best combined with a road trip of the Eyre Peninsula. There are actually quite a few pink lakes in South Australia and all are worth a visit!
Recommended by Chris of The Aquarius Traveller
You can’t miss touring around Australia without heading into the Outback. One of the best places to do that is the small town of Birdsville in remote Queensland. It has a tiny population of only 140 people but can receive anything from 40,000 to 60,000 tourists each year. Tourism is primarily for the Big Red Bash music festival and the Birdsville Horse Races, running over two weekends each year. However, Birdsville has so much to offer in the off-peak times too.
The Queensland, Northern Territory, and South Australian borders meet here at Poeppel Corner, and where you’ll find 1100 parallel sand dunes in the Munga-Thirri National Park. This is where you can tick off a bucket list activity by taking the challenge and driving up the largest sand dune in Australia.
“Big Red” is the first sand dune, standing at 40 metres and the tallest of the whole series. If you’re travelling in a four-wheel drive, then it’s only a matter of lowering your tyre pressure and changing to a low gear. Once you’re up the top, you can wander around as much as you like, take in a sunrise/sunset, or admire the wind-formed ripples. There are options for a tour instead and take the hassle out, which is the exact same experience and meeting some other travellers.
Most of the buildings in Birdsville have been around for over 100 years or more. Therefore, checking out the architecture at the local Pub, Carcory Ruins, and the Royal Hotel might be on the list. The Birdsville Hotel is also a great place to stay and the best spot for a great country meal and a nice cold beer. The Birdsville water is supplied by an underground artesian Bore head and cooling system, and you can learn about how it works right here.
You can easily spend a week in Birdsville and find plenty to fill your time. Learn about outback life and appreciate the unique way in which these folks live.
Blue Mountains, New South Wales
Recommended by Holly of Best of the Blue Mountains
Roughly an hour from the Sydney CBD the expansive Blue Mountains National Park is found. The mountains appear blue on approach due to the vapour emitted by the Eucalyptus trees plentiful throughout the park.
The region is the traditional land of the Gundungurra and Dharug peoples, and Aboriginal sites can be found spread throughout the area. These include shelters, rock carvings, grinding grooves and rock art, and includes the oldest site of Aboriginal occupation in the Sydney basin. Kings Tableland has been dated at 22,000 years, and it was from here the Gundungurra watched the approach of the European explorers who first crossed the mountains.
The 11,000 square kilometre area of the park contains hundreds of tracks which feature epic views of vast bush landscapes with sandstone cliffs and tumbling waterfalls, some of which offer a cool oasis to take a dip on a hot summer afternoon. Check out the Grand Canyon for one of the best walks in the mountains, or Lockleys Pylon for a shorter and easier route which offers amazing views. The lovely little Horseshoe Falls track offers five small waterfalls and a cavern of glow worms at night behind the falls the track is named for. This walk is dog-friendly, but be sure to keep your four-legged friend on their lead and clean up after them!
For a more ambitious trek check out the six-foot track, a three-day hike which runs from Katoomba to Jenolan Caves along the historic route. There is the option to stay at the eco lodge located on the Cox’s River if you are passing through on a Friday or Saturday night.
Rottnest Island, Western Australia
Recommended by Victoria of Guide Your Travel
Rottnest Island is a dream destination on the west coast of Australia and home to some of the best beaches in the entire country. Located just a quick ferry ride from Perth, the island is easily accessible and well worth a trip. Tickets cost around 70 Australian dollars which includes the ferry ride but not bike rental which will cost an additional 30 AUD. Renting a bike is a great choice since it will give you enough flexibility to see the island at your own pace.
If you’re visiting during the Australian summer you should plan to go swimming or snorkelling. The beaches are absolutely beautiful with crystal clear waters and white sand. Salmon Bay and the Basin are some of the best around and should be high on your to do list. The historic lighthouse is also a scenic location which is good for photos.
You can easily see most of Rottnest Island on a day trip but since the island is larger than most people expect you can also spend two days or a weekend here without getting bored. Explore more remote beaches or bike around the iconic pink lakes on Rottnest Island which are incredibly beautiful.
Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park, South Australia
Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park is found at the bottom of the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia and features some of South Australia’s most incredible coastline. With a mix of rugged cliffs and calm beaches, Innes National Park showcases the best of what nature has to offer.
Just a 3 hour drive from the city of Adelaide, this scenic National Park makes a perfect weekend getaway. You can camp in the National Park or stay in the historic town of Inneston. The town was abandoned long ago but has now been restored and made into accommodation for travellers. You can book campsite or Heritage Accommodation through Parks SA. Another great option is to stay in Marion Bay which is right next to the National Park.
The waters off the coast here are treacherous and have taken many a ship including the Ethel which is now a wreck on the beach. There are a couple of lighthouses to guide sailors through the water – The Cape Spencer Lighthouse & The West Cape Lighthouse.
Plan your trip to Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park with our ultimate travel guide.
Paronella Park, Queensland
One of the most interesting places to visit when sightseeing in Australia is Paronella Park. The ruins of a once grand castle, these structures are not as old as they appear. This was the work of Jose Paronella who migrated to Australia from Spain and had a dream of building a castle.
Construction began in 1929 and for 6 years Jose worked tirelessly to bring his vision to life. By 1935 the park was ready to open to the public and featured a castle, a ballroom with a disco ball, a tennis court, a grand staircase and refreshment rooms. A pretty impressive feat for someone with no experience in the building industry!
Jose hosted many guests to the park until 1948 when he passed away from cancer. The park stayed in the family until 1977 but faced some horrific floods which caused a lot of damage. After the park was sold a fire started in the ballroom and caused irreparable destruction and the park closed to the public in 1979.
The following decades brought 3 cyclones and more flooding events. The biggest downfall of the structure was that the ever resourceful Jose used local river sand in the construction which had a high mica content. Mica is a mineral which dissolves in water so the buildings were not able to stand up to constant battering by the wild tropical weather of Northern Queensland.
The current owners took over the park in 1993 and have worked to preserve the structures and history. Now a Unesco heritage site, Paronella Park is an incredible place to visit and experience the magic of a man who dared to dream.
Karijini National Park, Western Australia
Recommended by Steph from A Nomad’s Passport
With its red walls that frame natural swimming pools and flowers, Karijini National Park is one of the best places to visit in Australia. It is located in the Pilbara Region in Western Australia and due to its remoteness, it is a real hidden gem. Karijini National Park is 325 km south of Port Hedland and 640 km away from Exmouth, so the drive there is an adventure in itself.
Once there, you can explore gorges and hikes. Hereby, the best ones are the Weano Gorge with the amazing Handrail Pool, which is surrounded by towering red walls, and the nearby Hancock Gorge in which the hike ends at Kermit’s Pool.
If you want an even bigger thrill while exploring this amazing Australian national park, you should climb down Joffre Gorge to reach the amphitheater-like area at the foot of the Joffre Falls.
Should you dream of a simpler hike that leads you to three stunning natural swimming holes, Dales Gorge on the east side of the national park is your best option. Hereby, the serene Fern Pool at the very end of the hike is especially stunning as the sun is setting, so be sure to bring a flashlight!
If you love camping, you can stay at one of the three campgrounds within this national park. Hereby, one of them is part of the Karijini Eco Retreat that also offers deluxe tents.
Your Australian Sightseeing Adventure Awaits!
I hope you have found some inspiration for places to visit in Australia. This list is the tip of the iceberg so there are endless possibilities for travel in Australia. If you have any questions about any of these spots or anything else I can help with please email at [email protected] or drop me a message on socials and I would be happy to help!