This 10-day journey explores the best of Australia's east coast. Starting in Sydney, you'll pedal across the city, ticking off the sights, then board a sunset harbor cruise. Skip south to Melbourne, where the city's creative laneway culture and bar scene await. Fly to the Gold Coast for endless sunshine, surf, and sand. Get behind the wheel for a mini road trip to Byron Bay, where you'll indulge in the local food scene, then cap off your trip cuddling koalas in Brisbane.


  • Cycle across Sydney, then board a sunset cruise and see the sights from the harbor
  • Experience Melbourne's creativity and culture with cocktail and laneway tours
  • Road trip between the Gold Coast, Byron Bay & Brisbane
  • Meet koalas at the world's largest koala sanctuary in Brisbane

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Sydney, Bike Tour, Sydney Harbour Dinner Cruise Sydney
Day 2 Full-Day Wildlife, Waterfalls & Wine Tour Sydney
Day 3 Burrawa Indigenous Climb, Fly to Melbourne, Evening Tales & Cocktails Tour Melbourne
Day 4 Day Trip to Phillip Island & Penguin Plus Dinner Melbourne
Day 5 Melbourne Laneways & Arcades, Fly to Gold Coast, Rainforest & Glowworm Tour Gold Coast
Day 6 Morning Dolphin Kayaking & Snorkeling Tour, Drive to Byron Bay Byron Bay
Day 7 Byron Bay Paddock-to-Plate: Self-Guided Food Tour Byron Bay
Day 8 Drive to Brisbane, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary & River Cruise Brisbane
Day 9 Full-Day Brisbane City Tour Brisbane
Day 10 Depart Brisbane  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Sydney, Bike Tour, Sydney Harbour Dinner Cruise

Sydney Harbour
Get to know Sydney by bike and then from the water today

G'day and welcome to Australia! A driver will meet you on arrival at Sydney Airport for your private transfer to your hotel. This metropolis feels like the heart of Australia thanks to its iconic landmarks, historic neighborhoods, world-class culinary scene, prime waterfront location, and pristine beaches. Drop your bags, then climb into the saddle of a bike. This afternoon you'll pedal across Sydney, ticking off all of the city's iconic sights, including the Opera House, Hyde Park, Darling Harbour, Chinatown, Parliament House, Queen Victoria Building, and more, with a local guide.

Sydney is known around the world for its scenic harbor, so what better way to experience it than via the water? This evening you'll take in the city's most famous sights and neighborhoods on a leisurely cruise around Sydney Harbour. Board the boat and soak up views of shimmering skyscrapers, national parks, golden beaches, secluded bars, and—of course—the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Relax on deck with a refreshing drink in hand while listening to colorful commentary. After, enjoy a nightcap at one of the many nightclubs and bars in Darling Harbour or Barangaroo.

Day 2: Full-Day Wildlife, Waterfalls & Wine Tour

Full Day Wildlife, Waterfalls and Wine
Get a special koala photo and hand-feed kangaroos with today's adventure

Say goodbye to the city and hello to quintessential Australian experiences with this full-day tour that takes you south of Sydney. Today you'll wind through Australia's oldest national park, take in spectacular coastal scenery along the Grand Pacific Drive, and then climb a sandstone escarpment to return via the forests and farmland of the picturesque Southern Highlands.

Along the way, you'll meet koalas and kangaroos with a private experience at Symbio Wildlife Park. You'll traverse the iconic Sea Cliff Bridge and pause for a local lunch (and maybe an ocean swim) at a seaside café. Then, in the afternoon, wander through fragrant eucalyptus forests to view a tumbling waterfall and sample some of the cool climate wines for which the region has developed a reputation. Finally, return to your accommodation in Sydney happy, tired, and ready to call it a day.

Day 3: Burrawa Indigenous Climb, Fly to Melbourne, Evening Tales & Cocktails Tour

Burrawa Indigenous Climb - Sydney Harbour Bridge
Climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge with an Indigenous guide

You saw the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge arching across the bay—now it's time to climb it. You're signed up for the Burrawa Indigenous Climb, a unique way to experience Aboriginal Australia. An experienced Indigenous guide will lead a special climb filled with stories, legends, and tales of traditions that have been passed down through generations—all while you enjoy panoramic views over the city. Once you're back on land, cap off the morning with a flat white by the harbor before a private driver takes you to the airport for your two-hour flight to Melbourne.

On arrival in the cultural capital of Australia, another driver will transfer you to your hotel. Drop your bags, dress up, and get ready for this evening's tour of Melbourne's elegant and lively nightlife. It's a stark contrast with the city's dark past, which was shaped by curious characters on both sides of the law. Begin with a dinner that reflects Melbourne's fantastic culinary scene, and learn about the city's history from a local guide. Next are some of the best spots in town, many of which are deliberately hard to find, but you're with a local who knows the city best. 

Day 4: Day Trip to Phillip Island & Penguin Plus Dinner

Phillip Island
Meet the wild penguins of Phillip Island today

Today you'll join a day trip to Phillip Island to witness the evening ritual of the "Penguin Parade." Stop first at the Moonlit Sanctuary Conservation Park, where you can see endangered species, greet adorable kangaroos, wallabies, and koalas, and admire an array of colorful birds and reptiles. After two hours, you'll reach Phillip Island, famous for the cute wild penguins that waddle up the beach every night—but there's much more to explore on the small island.

This afternoon you might visit Woolamai Beach to watch the surfers. From here, head to the western corner of the island to enjoy magnificent views of Bass Strait and the Nobbies, home to Australia's largest colony of fur seals. Before evening falls, you'll stroll along the boardwalk to the Penguin Plus viewing platform at Summerland Beach to witness the phenomena of the Penguin Parade. Watch the adorable little penguins come ashore as they hurry off to find their burrows. After, sit back and nap on the return drive to Melbourne.

Day 5: Melbourne Laneways & Arcades, Fly to Gold Coast, Rainforest & Glowworm Tour

Melbourne City Tour
Surf, sunshine, and sand meet skyscrapers at Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast
Plan your trip to Australia
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Get lost in Melbourne's back streets, laneways, and arcades with a local guide this morning. On this three-hour walk, you'll discover the city's best secrets and famous sights, including Federation Square, St Paul's Cathedral, and Flinders Street Station. Dive down Degraves Street, the heritage Block Arcade and Royal Arcade, vibrant Flinders Lane, and graffiti-covered Hosier Lane. Then, board a bus to explore further—you'll see Parliament House, the State Library, Queen Victoria Markets, Law Courts Precinct, the famous Melbourne hook turn, and more before parting ways.

Afterward, a private driver will transfer you to the airport for your two-hour flight to the Gold Coast, Australia's playground for surfers, sun-seekers, and adventure enthusiasts. In this coastal city, high-rise buildings contrast with the pristine natural surroundings. Check into your hotel, then meet your guide and driver for an evening adventure in the ancient rainforest. After stopping for tea and cake, you'll dive into Mount Tamborine National Park with a flashlight. Spot nocturnal wildlife as you follow a trail to Curtis Falls, where glowworms await. After, you'll return to your hotel.

Day 6: Morning Dolphin Kayaking & Snorkeling Tour, Drive to Byron Bay

Natural Bridge in Springbrook National Park
Make a detour past Natural Bridge in Springbrook National Park

The Gold Coast sun rises bright and early, and so do the locals. This morning you'll meet your kayak instructor bright and early for a paddle around the beautiful Gold Coast waterways. Then, you'll dive into the big blue and snorkel around Wavebreak Island, looking for dolphins, turtles, stingrays, and subtropical fish. Finally, you'll break for a continental breakfast on a secluded beach. After, collect a rental car and begin the scenic journey south to Byron Bay, taking the inland two-hour scenic route via Springbrook National Park and Tweed Valley Way.

Journey past Hinze Dam and into the hinterland, traveling on narrow country roads to Natural Bridge, a waterfall by day and glowworm cave by night. Wander the Natural Bridge circuit walk, just 0.6 miles (1 km) long, then jump back in the car and cross the state border to New South Wales. Pass sugar cane fields and verdant green hills on the way to Murwillumbah, a charming country town where the classic Austral Café & Bakery serves a true Australian milkshake, complete with the tin. From here, it's only an hour to Byron Bay, Australia's most easterly point. 

Day 7: Byron Bay Paddock-to-Plate: Self-Guided Food Tour

Byron Bay - Bucha Shed
Drop into Australia's very first alcoholic kombucha bar for a drink

Byron Bay is renowned as one of the world's most famous coastal towns, boasting a captivating blend of breathtaking natural attractions and a vibrant, eclectic community. Expect gorgeous beaches, lush hinterland, spectacular coastal trails, and a buzzing food scene. Today is yours to explore Byron's cool-yet-casual food scene on a self-guided paddock-to-plate trail. Kick off your personalized tour with a walk by the beach with a flat white and artisanal pastry in hand, followed by a farm-to-table lunch at the Three Blue Ducks, known for its farm-to-table ethos and fresh, local produce.

Taste the true flavors of Australia, then spend the afternoon at the award-winning Stone & Wood Brewery for a beer tasting, or drop into The Bucha Shed, Australia's very first alcoholic kombucha bar. Lastly, cap off your foodie adventure with a sampling at one of Byron's boutique distilleries, Cape Byron Distillery, nestled in a luxuriant rainforest known for its specialty gin and upcoming whiskey. Finish at the Roadhouse, which is a café by day, and a small bar serving wood-fired pizza at night. 

Day 8: Drive to Brisbane, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary & River Cruise

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is home to more than 130 koalas

After breakfast, jump back in the car and return to Queensland. This time your destination is Brisbane, the state capital and Australia's third-largest city. On the two-hour drive north, you might like to make a detour to Cabarita Beach, voted Australia's best in 2020. Then cross the border and zip along the highway, past the Gold Coast, and into Brisbane. This subtropical city is carving an identity of its own with a world-class gallery and museum precinct and incredible parklands. Drop your vehicle off in the city, then board a river cruise headed upstream to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.

Listen to commentary as you glide along Brisbane's waterfront, passing from glistening skyscrapers into the leafy suburbs with waterside mansions. Lone Pine is the world's largest koala sanctuary, with more than 130 koalas, and here you can cuddle a koala, take photos with marsupials, and catch keeper talks like the popular Birds of Prey show. Discover the Platypus House, hand-feed kangaroos and wallabies, and watch a sheepdog show. Finally, board the cruise once more for the relaxing 75-minute journey back to the heart of the city.

Day 9: Full-Day Brisbane City Tour

Streets Beach in South Bank Parkland. It's inner-city man-made beach
Streets Beach is a human-made beach set within the South Bank Parklands

Today's energizing tour explores the heart of Brisbane, a city known for its spectacular green spaces, outdoor lifestyle, and unique architecture. Meet your private guide and get set to explore beautiful lookouts, distinctive architecture, famous city beaches, and some of the world's most outstanding public parks along the meandering river. You'll start with an introduction to the city's unique Queenslanders, which are iconic and elevated timber homes. Your guide will share fascinating insights into the history and functionality of these structures.

Next, you'll venture up to the Kangaroo Point Cliffs for a picnic of local delicacies and breathtaking panoramic city views. Next, visit Brisbane's famous city beach, a massive human-made lagoon with a sandy beach and tropical palms in the heart of the South Bank Parklands. This green space is also home to Australia's largest modern art gallery, a performing arts complex, and a science center. Finally, you'll wrap up with a wander along the riverbank, taking in the energetic outdoor culture of the city. After, slip down nearby Fish Lane for dinner and a drink.

Day 10: Depart Brisbane

Yesterday's views from the top of the Kangaroo Point Cliffs

It's your final morning in Australia—but if you're an early riser, there's still plenty of time. Brisbane wakes up early, so venture out and grab a coffee while cutting a lap of the city. You could jump on the free ferry and meander the river or set off on foot to explore the city and its sights.

Then, when the time is right, a private driver will collect you for a transfer to Brisbane's International Airport for your departing flight home. Safe travels!

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Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Australia? Check out these other Australia itineraries, explore different ways to spend 10 days in Australia, or discover the best time to visit Australia.


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Map of Australia's East Coast Highlights: Sydney, Melbourne, Gold Coast, Byron Bay & Brisbane - 10 Days
Map of Australia's East Coast Highlights: Sydney, Melbourne, Gold Coast, Byron Bay & Brisbane - 10 Days