Australia is huge! Seeing it all in one trip probably won’t happen for most people. If you are like us, you’ll have to go back again and again. These iconic places to visit in Australia might help you know where to start when you travel next to the land down under.
The Best Places To Visit In Australia
When you plan your trip, you must choose what you want to see and where you want to go. If you do have the time to drive around the continent spending a year or so in a campervan, you may be able to check off all the iconic places to see in Australia that cannot be missed.
It may be world’s smallest continent, but it’s ranked number 6 in the world by country size. So take your time, enjoy the ride and check out all the amazing things to see in Australia. From Dreamtime walks to the heavenly apostles, the landmarks of Australia are awe-inspiring.
1. Great Barrier Reef
It may be Australia’s most famous attraction but with good reason! The Great Barrier Reef is one of the seven wonders of the natural world.
Stretching 3000 km across the coast of Queensland, the Great Barrier Reef is a diver’s dream. Whether you are an avid scuba diver, casual snorkeller or first time underwater newbie, there is something for everyone.
You can book a liveaboard dive boat vacation to go out to the most remote dive sites of the reef, take a helicopter tour over the impressive waters, or you can try your hand at diving with a helmet. One of our favourite experiences. Plan your trip to the Great Barrier Reef with FlightCentre
2. Daintree Rainforest
Located in Queensland, the Daintree Rainforest is one of Australia’s natural wonders. At 180 million years old, it covers 1200 square km and visitors can take a Dreamtime walk with an Indigenous guide from the Kuku Yalanji Tribe.
Stay in the rainforest at Silky Oak Lodge and relax in your treehouse listening to the sounds of the ancient forest. You can also do some paddleboarding on the Mossman River. Don’t worry, the local saltwater crocodiles don’t come that far inland.
Fun Fact: Daintree Rainforest is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is twice as old as the Amazon Rainforest
3. Fraser Island
The Maheno Wreck on Fraser Island
Fraser Island is one of the coolest Australian places to visit in Australia because of its 75-mile long beach! It’s one of the longest in the world. Rent a four-wheel drive truck in the town of Noosa and start your adventure to one of the wildest drives you’ll ever have. It’s an island with sand dunes, dingos, tidal pools and shipwrecks.
Oh and one more thing, drivers share the beach with airplanes! Yes, there is an airport right on the sandy shores. There are hotels and resorts that you can book on the island to spend more time exploring. Read all about our trip at Fraser Island Tour – A 4X4 Adventure
The Whitsundays are a group of 75 islands off the coast of Queensland. When visiting the Great Barrier Reef, you must spend some time here. These islands are located right in the heart of it! Beautiful white sandy beaches, swirl effortlessly with the turquoise water.
There are luxury resorts, sailing and snorkelling. A must stop is the largest and most famous of all the islands, Whitehaven Beach.
5. Port Douglas
Port Douglas is a laid-back resort town in Queensland’s Tropical North. It’s the jumping off point for visiting the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest making it the perfect spot to spend a few days relaxing and exploring the beauty of Australia. Located along Australia’s most scenic coast, a road trip to Port Douglas is a must. See our scenic flight from Port Douglas over the Great Barrier Reef.
6. Gold Coast
Home to the world-famous Surfer’s Paradise, the Gold Coast of Australia offers an endless stretch beach with outstanding surf breaks. Highrise resorts and condos line the sand while beachgoers enjoy the many eateries and dining options.
You can enjoy surf lessons or you can simply rent a bike and ride to Currumbin Beach and Burleigh Head to watch the pro surfers catch a wave. For a great view, go to the Skypoint Observation Deck to take it all in from above.
7. Twelve Apostles
The Great Ocean Road is one of the most popular day trips from Melbourne. A Drive to the coast takes you to the incredible Twelve Apostles.
For us, the Twelve Apostles were the most awe-inspiring of places to visit in Australia. But to really experience this rugged coast, you must do the Great Ocean Walk. It takes you along the coastal route that is impossible to see from a car. If you can, make sure to take a helicopter ride over the Apostles to really take in its beauty.
Melbourne is quite possibly the coolest city in Australia. I know it was our favourite. It has been named the most livable city in the world and it’s a great place for tourists too! Highlights include Queen Victoria Market, The Arcades and Secret Lanes, Eureka Square, Federation Skydeck and Graffiti Lane.
9. Kangaroo Island
Kangaroo Island is located off the coast of South Australia and is an incredible place in Australia to tour for a few days. It is a spectacular wildlife haven for Kangaroos, Koalas, Seals and Pelicans. There is even a Birds of Prey rehabilitation centre where you can watch a show and learn about birds that are indigenous to the continent.
The landscape is beautiful here and at sunset, you must see the Remarkables; granite boulders have been sculpted into unique formations over 500 million years. Kangaroo Island also home to what is considered by many as the best beach in Australia.
10. Wilpena Pound
Wilpena Pound is a giant 80 Square kilometre amphitheatre of rock that is simply astounding. Located in the Flinders Ranges of South Australia, it’s a 450 km drive from Adelaide. A good place to stay is inside the National Park that is set within the backdrop of the mountains. Flinders Ranges is 100 million years old and a tour of the ancient landscape is truly fascinating.
It is also one of the best places in Australia to spy the endangered yellow-footed rock wallaby. Check out our visit to the Flinders Ranges and Wilpena Pound
11. Barossa Valley
Barossa Valley is home to Australia’s most famous vineyards. Here you can visit wineries such as Wolf Blass, Lehmann and Penfolds just to name a few. A tour through the valley will take you through a gorgeous countryside and it is best to hire a driver so you can truly experience all the wines of Barossa. Located an hour outside Adelaide, it’s is a beautiful region to spend a few days.
12. Burra Homestead
Made famous by Midnight Oil’s record album cover Diesel and Dust, the Burra Homestead has become an iconic stop for photographers in Australia. The homestead was abandoned by homesteaders years ago and still stands alone and empty by the side of the road. It’s easy to miss and we made quite the detour just to see it. Being huge fans of music, we just had to see this with our own eyes.
13. Lake Gairdner
Lake Gairdner is a Salt Lake in the Gawler Ranges of South Australia. It feels as if you have stepped on another planet when you visit the lake. The lake itself is an impressive sprawl of white landscape but being surrounded by the red hills of the Gawler Ranges make for the picture-perfect spot.
New South Wales
14. Sydney Opera House
It’s definitely Australia’s most iconic building and seeing it dominate the Sydney Skyline does not disappoint. The Sydney Opera House opened in 1973 and has become Australia’s top tourist attraction.
We never went inside the opera house when visiting Sydney, but walking around it and taking in the views from the waterfront will remind you why this is one of the most iconic landmarks in the world.
Side Note: I hear they are fixing the acoustics of the Opera House, so perhaps when we are back in Sydney, we’ll catch a concert.
15. Blue Mountains
Located just 50km (32 miles) from Sydney, the Blue Mountains are another famous view that attracts numerous visitors. The Three Sisters are the most iconic view of the Blue Mountains. Echo Point lookout offers an impressive view of the three sisters overlooking the Jamison Valley.
16. Sydney Harbour Bridge
Next, to the Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge is another of the city’s iconic landmarks. It connects the CBD to the North Shore and is the biggest steel bridge in the world.
If you really want a thrill, you should do the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb. We ended up doing the Harbour Bridge Climb in Brisbane which was awesome, but I wish we mustered up enough energy to include Sydney’s Bridge too!
17. South, West, North and East Australia
The Outback covers a huge expanse of Australia touching nearly every state of the country. When visiting Australia, you cannot miss a trip to the Outback. We took a multi-day journey in South Australia with Gawler Ranges Wilderness Safaris and had the chance to truly experience all the wonders of Australia’s famous Outback.
From salt lakes to red sands and rock formations, you truly feel like a pioneer. While it is dry and arid, people do live on the Outback and there are homesteaders raising sheep among the kangaroos and emus.
One of the most famous sites of the Outback is Uluru (also known as Ayers Rock) near Alice Springs. A UNESCO World Heritage site, Uluru is sacred to the indigenous people of the area. Standing 348 metres high it makes for an imposing site in contrast to the flat desert landscape. Spanning 3 1/2 km long and nearly 2 km wide, it is a popular stop on overland tours.
19. Hamelin Bay Stingrays
Photo courtesdy of Mr. and Mrs. Bucketlist,
According to Mr. and Mrs. Bucketlist, there is no better place to see stingrays than in Hamelin Bay. Located in the Margaret River Region, local stingrays frequent these waters to feed off local fishermen. The stingrays are so friendly, you can snorkel with them.
Plus, Hamelin Bay is picture perfect, so it’s a beautiful place to spend some time. Read about all the wildlife encounters you can have in Western Australia here by Mr. and Mrs. Bucketlist
If you are into unique landscapes, a visit to the Pinnacles of Nambung National Park is in order. Located about 200km from Western Australia’s capital, Perth, the Pinnacles are another one of those fascinating places to see in Australia.
The formations range to from heights of short stumps to pillars reaching 3 metres high, the Pinnacles are ancient formations formed when the landscape was underwater.
21. Cable Beach
Cable Beach is that place where you’ve seen all those images of camels walking in a silhouette at sunset, but probably never knew where it was. It isn’t Australia’s longest beach, but at 22km in length, it is nothing to sneeze at.
There are many tour companies that offer camel rides along the beach at sunset. Camels arrived in Australia from India in the 1800s to transport gear overland. The harsh Australian landscape proved to be a better environment for camels than horses and they helped shape the history of the continent.
22. Wine Glass Bay
Wineglass Bay, Freycinet National Park, Tasmania, Australia
We haven’t been to Tasmania yet, but you cannot include an Australia Guide without mentioning Tasmania. We nearly went once two years ago and did a lot of research of top places to see in Tasmania. From Cradle Mountain to Hastings Caves and a chance to spy the Tasmanian Devil, it seems like the perfect off the beaten path destination.
We’ve had so many friends share their favourite places on Instagram, and the one place the stands out to us is Wine Glass Bay. We’re suckers for beautiful beaches.
23. Maria Island
Photo courtesy of Mapping Megan
Mapping Megan wrote an article for us about Maria Island located off of Tasmania. Her photo of these Wave Rocks caught our attention.
As Megan stated in her article:
“We also took in the phenomenal Painted Cliffs – spectacular sandstone cliffs with wonderful honeycomb patterns formed through staining by iron oxide.
While this kind of rock formation is not uncommon, it is rare for it to be so exposed and accessible for tourism. A 2 and a half hour hike from the main port in Darlington, the cliffs weren’t overrun by tourism as we had expected. In fact, there were only one or two other people exploring the area when we arrived.”
And there you have it! A list of the most amazing places to visit in Australia as well as a few we have yet to explore, but have been on our list for years!
Like Canada, India, China and The United States and Russia, Australia is massive and you cannot see it all in a lifetime, but it is certainly fun to try!