Discover Australia's east coast with three of its most glowing cities. Start in Brisbane with a visit to the Australia Zoo, which houses over 1,200 wildlife species. Head to Cairns, a tropical paradise with sparkling waters and white sandy beaches. Snorkel in a sheltered lagoon near the Great Barrier Reef, followed by viewing this natural wonder from up close in a glass-bottomed boat. Next is Sydney, where you'll visit the most iconic sites of this dynamic, multicultural metropolis.

Highlights

  • Learn about the region's rare marine life at the Cairns Aquarium
  • Snorkel with the fish near the Great Barrier Reef
  • Enjoy the most famous lookout points in the Blue Mountains
  • Take a bike tour of Sydney and hit the top sites of the city

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Brisbane & First Nations Dinner Experience Brisbane
Day 2 Guided Tour of the Australia Zoo Brisbane
Day 3 Fly to Cairns, Visit Cairns Aquarium  Cairns
Day 4 Full-Day Great Barrier Reef Cruise Cairns
Day 5 Mossman Gorge Adventure with River Drift Snorkeling Cairns
Day 6 Fly to Sydney & Cruise Sydney Harbour Sydney
Day 7 Guided Bike Tour, Sydney Opera House Tour Sydney
Day 8 Blue Mountains Hiking Day Trip Sydney
Day 9 Depart Sydney  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Brisbane & First Nations Dinner Experience

Brisbane Skyline
Brisbane's skyline at dusk

Welcome to Queensland's capital, Brisbane! Upon arrival, you'll transfer to your hotel and take some time to relax before you discover the city. This modern and diverse sub-tropical metropolis has a friendly and relaxed environment with theaters, museums, and international cuisine. Explore on your own or arrange a city tour to see some of the top sites. Don't forget to climb Mount Coot-Tha—an excellent spot for panoramic views of the city and Moreton Bay.

In the evening, you'll attend Spirits of the Red Sand. This interactive live theater experience celebrates First Nations history and culture. Be transported back to 19th-century Australia with the country's leading First Nations performing troupe as they weave the captivating tale of over 60,000 years of history through indigenous song and dance. During the performance, you'll enjoy a three-course traditional Australian meal with kangaroo and emu dishes. 

Day 2: Guided Tour of the Australia Zoo

Baby Koala at Australia Zoo
Baby Koala at Australia Zoo
Visit the Australia Zoo today, made famous by Steve and Terri Irwin; it is now a living legacy of Steve and his wildlife conservation efforts. Home to over 1,200 native and exotic wildlife species, including Australia's unique fauna, there will be plenty to learn from your tour guide during this visit. If time allows, you can also visit nearby lush rainforests, the charming Montville village, white sandy beaches, or stunning lookout points. 

Day 3: Fly to Cairns, Visit Cairns Aquarium 

Cairns Crystal Clear Water
Cairns' crystal clear water

In the morning, catch a flight to Cairns, the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. Upon arrival, you'll meet your driver, who will take you to your hotel. The morning is free to explore this tropical venue. You could visit the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary, Australia's largest butterfly flight aviary exhibit. Take the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, a 4.66-mile (7.5-km) scenic ride up to Kuranda, which passes over Barron Gorge National Park

In the afternoon, visit the Cairns Aquarium, the world's only aquarium dedicated exclusively to the habitats and species of tropical north Queensland. Learn about the natural wonders of the Great Barrier Reef, the Wet Tropics, the Gulf Savannah, and the Cape York regions. With over 16,000 marine life species, you have an incredible opportunity to get close to some of the world's most fascinating, elusive, or deadly creatures.
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Day 4: Full-Day Great Barrier Reef Cruise

Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef
Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef
Spend a perfect day visiting the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef by boat. This experience provides a small team of local experts who offer informative commentary throughout the journey. Snorkel in a sheltered coral lagoon, relax while soaking up the tropical warmth, and enjoy lunch on a spacious sundeck. View the reef up close from the glass bottom boat, and there are also viewing options at the underwater observatory. 

Day 5: Mossman Gorge Adventure with River Drift Snorkeling

Mossman Gorge
Mossman Gorge

Immerse yourself in a rainforest experience like no other! After being collected from your accommodation, you will travel to Mossman Gorge to experience a traditional Kuku Yalanji smoking ceremony. You will be cleansed of evil spirits and have traditional rainforest body paint applied.

Explore the Daintree National Park during a 1.5-hour interpretive walk, giving you a deeper understanding of this breathtaking rainforest. After lunch, travel to the Mossman River for a one-of-a-kind River Drift snorkeling tour. Search for turtles, water dragons, and the elusive platypus. 

Day 6: Fly to Sydney & Cruise Sydney Harbour

Welcome to Sydney!
Welcome to Sydney! 

Fly to Sydney today, where a driver will collect you from the airport and drop you at your hotel. There's free time in the morning, so why not soak up the city's iconic harbor, outdoor lifestyle, and natural beauty? Learn to surf at Bondi Beach or swim in the calm waters of Coogee. Lose yourself in the cobblestone cul-de-sacs of The Rocks. Visit the markets, boutiques, cafés, and pubs of Paddington. In addition to Sydney's sparkling beaches, dine on the multicultural fare before taking on Sydney's legendary nightlife.

In the afternoon, board the Harbour Experience Cruise and discover the world-famous Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. You'll see pristine beaches, national parks, and much more natural beauty intertwined in this urban setting. Enjoy stunning views and fascinating stories that bring the history and culture of the harbor city alive.

Day 7: Guided Bike Tour, Sydney Opera House Tour

Guided Bike Tour
Take a guided bike tour of Sydney

See Sydney on two wheels today with a scenic bike tour that takes you to all the iconic sights and many more you might miss on your own. Learn interesting facts from your expert guide to get the most out of your trip. See the Sydney Opera House, Darling Harbour, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Hyde Park, Chinatown, Sydney Tower, Museum of Contemporary Art, Art Gallery of NSW, and over 30 more great attractions! You'll even stop at a friendly, local pub halfway through your tour. (But just for a quick drink...there's a lot to see on this tour.)

In the afternoon, see inside the world's most recognizable sails with a backstage tour of the Sydney Opera House. Learn how this iconic architectural feat came into existence against impossible odds to become one of the world's most famous performing arts centers. Your guide will take you on an unforgettable journey, engrossing you in a story to rival any opera plot with its dramatic twists and turns.

Day 8: Blue Mountains Hiking Day Trip

The Three Sisters , Blue Mountains
The Three Sisters, Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains are just west of Sydney, a UNESCO World Heritage-listed site known for staggering cliffs, secluded lookouts, waterfalls, and eucalyptus forest. In an outdoor enthusiast's paradise, you'll encounter kangaroos, emus, wombats, and koalas at a working farm. Then hike across stunning valleys and ridges as you approach Jamison Valley Lookout. Experience the majesty of the changing colors at the Three Sisters Lookout as the sun moves throughout the day.

Reach Govett's Leap, one of Australia's most famous lookouts, and marvel at the sweeping view across Grose Valley, Australia's Grand Canyon. Your final stop is 3,280 feet (1,000 m) above sea level at the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden. See hundreds of different plant species worldwide and discover the many birds, lizards, possums, and insects that call the park home.

Day 9: Depart Sydney

Gardens, sydney
Sydney's Paddington Reservoir Gardens
Your holiday in Australia concludes today. Check out of your hotel, and a driver will take you from your hotel to the airport for your departing flight. Safe travels!

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Map

Map of Australian East Coast Adventure: Brisbane, Cairns & Sydney - 9 Days
Map of Australian East Coast Adventure: Brisbane, Cairns & Sydney - 9 Days