This trip to Australia starts in Melbourne with city exploration, a scenic drive along Great Ocean Road, and a visit to the penguins of Phillip Island. Head to the center of the country to explore Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, with sunrise hikes through the national park, stargazing tours, and the Field of Light art exhibit. End your trip in Sydney where you'll cruise the harbor, tour historic neighborhoods, visit nearby beaches, and explore the Blue Mountains.

Highlights

  • Drive the scenic Great Ocean Road and view the Twelve Apostles
  • Explore Phillip Island and watch the little penguins in their nightly routines
  • Hike near Ayers Rock and stargaze in the desert
  • Discover Sydney with a harbor cruise and a trip to Watson Bay and Bondi Beach
  • Ride the cable car up into the Blue Mountains for incredible views

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Melbourne - Explore the city Melbourne
Day 2 Drive Great Ocean Road - Visit the Twelve Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge Melbourne
Day 3 Observe the little penguins and other wildlife on Phillip Island Melbourne
Day 4 Explore Melbourne at your leisure Melbourne
Day 5 Fly to Uluru - Enjoy a walk with views of Ayers Rock Uluru
Day 6 Tour Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park - View the Field of Light Uluru
Day 7 Arrive in Sydney - Explore the city Sydney
Day 8 Enjoy a guided tour of Sydney with a luncheon cruise Sydney
Day 9 Explore the Blue Mountains and see koalas at Wildlife Park Sydney
Day 10 Discover the neighborhoods and beaches of Sydney Sydney
Day 11 Depart Sydney  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Melbourne - Explore the city

Melbourne by Night
Melbourne by Night

Welcome to Australia!

Upon arrival at Melbourne Airport, you'll transfer to your hotel in the Central Business District. After settling into your accommodation, enjoy some time relaxing at the hotel or having a drink at the bar. Depending on your arrival time, head out to explore the surrounding neighborhood. 

Your accommodation will be within the city's lively theater district and next to Chinatown. Take a walk down its vibrant streets, stopping into one of the many eateries to enjoy authentic Chinese cuisine. Take a peek inside the Regent Theatre, which was built in the 1920s, or the 19th-century Princess Theatre, known for its stained glass windows. 

End your evening at one of the many bars and pubs lining the streets near your hotel, and experience some of Melbourne's famous nightlife.

Day 2: Drive Great Ocean Road - Visit the Twelve Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge

Twelve Apostles Sea Stacks
Twelve Apostles Sea Stacks

Today consists of an exciting day trip to some of the most popular sights in the country, including the scenic drive of Great Ocean Road and a visit to the Twelve Apostles sea stacks. Your coach will collect you at the hotel and start the drive southwest out of Melbourne. You'll catch the famous roadway in the town of Torquay, where you'll begin to enjoy some of the best views of the coastline. 

Your first stop will be the popular holiday village of Angelsea, where you'll enjoy morning tea along the seaside. Continue down the coast through the village of Lorne, stopping in the resort town of Apollo Bay. Here you'll enjoy incredible views of the sea, including the Twelve Apostles, as you sit for a 2-course lunch at the Apollo Bay Hotel.

After lunch, you'll head toward the famous sea stacks, walking along a boardwalk with endless views of the Twelve Apostles. You can also opt for a helicopter ride over the natural monument and along the coast.

You'll continue up the road until you reach the natural coastal park of Loch Ard Gorge, where you can enjoy walks around large rocks and cliff formations. The views of the islands and the famous Razorback rock are best enjoyed at the Tom and Eva Lookout. On your way back to Melbourne, stop for afternoon tea in the fishing village of Port Campbell.

Day 3: Observe the little penguins and other wildlife on Phillip Island

Wild Penguin Population in Australia
Wild Penguin Population in Australia

One of the most popular tourist activities in Australia is seeing the penguins on Phillip Island. The best time to observe these critters is in the evening, so you can enjoy a leisurely morning in Melbourne before transferring out of the city in the afternoon. You'll make your way toward Western Port Bay, which nearly encompasses French Island. Enjoy the scenery as you curve around the bay and cross the bridge.

Phillip Island is home to the little penguin, which is the smallest species of the bird. They tend to grow only about one foot tall and are found in Australia, New Zealand, and possibly Chile. The birds live within the Phillip Island Nature Park, which was established in 1996 mostly thanks to the allure of the penguins. Other species calling the areas home include various birds, seals, koala bears, kangaroos, and many different plants, insects, and trees. 

After enjoying time on the island and walking through the conserved park, you'll witness the nightly phenomenon of the little penguins battling strong surf as they return to the beach after a day of hunting fish at sea. Watch them waddle their way up the beach to their waiting families and feed their young.

You'll view the activity from a seating area, but you can also enter a more personalized viewing space (limited to 300 people) with one of the park rangers, who will interpret the actions of the penguins. Please note that it can get chilly in the evening, so it's best to bring warm clothing. You'll return to Melbourne around 10:30 pm.

Day 4: Explore Melbourne at your leisure

Sunrise in Melbourne
Sunrise in Melbourne

You'll have the entire day to explore the vibrant city of Melbourne at your leisure. Start with a relaxed breakfast at your hotel or in the trendy neighborhood of Collingwood, Melbourne's answer to Brooklyn. Here you can experience the city's famous coffee culture with cafes on nearly every street. You can even try a coffee tasting at Proud Mary, a popular cafe that teaches you how to properly drink your java. 

Head back into the city center and find Hosier Lane, a colorful passage filled with street art. Melbourne is beginning to get a reputation for tasteful street art and you can even join a guided tour on the topic. You can also visit the Ian Potter Centre, which includes indigenous art and contemporary pieces, as well as the National Gallery of Victoria and the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art. If you're more interested in history, check out the Melbourne Museum or the Old Melbourne Gaol.

Other interesting sights to see include the State Library Victoria, the Parliament House, St. Patrick's Cathedral, and the Como House. In the afternoon, grab lunch and then head to a park to relax. Enjoy the Royal Botanical Gardens or the Royal Park. If you need some beach time, there are several public swimming areas, including Williamstown Beach and Brighton Beach, which is famous for its colorful, Victorian bathing boxes. For dinner, head to the trendy neighborhood of Fitzroy for endless bars and eateries.

Day 5: Fly to Uluru - Enjoy a walk with views of Ayers Rock

Uluru, Northern Territory, Australia
Uluru, Northern Territory, Australia

This morning, you'll bid farewell to Melbourne and make your way to the airport in Sydney, where you'll catch a flight to the incredible region near Uluru. The area is known for Ayers Rock in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

After arriving at the airport, you'll transfer to your hotel in the nearby town of Yulara, which is surrounded by beautiful nature, including flowering shrubs and views of Ayers Rock. Your resort-hotel has many amenities, such as a restaurant, a bar, a pool, and a spa, all of which you can enjoy after checking in.

In the afternoon, you'll take a tour of Uluru, choosing amongst a camel ride through the desert, a motorcycle drive, or a base walk of the park. Afterward, return to the hotel to watch the sunset. Some of the country's best sunsets are found here, with the spectacular play of colors across the face of Uluru. In the evening you can try some native delicacies for dinner, then join a stargazing walk along the nearby trails in the resort.

Day 6: Tour Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park - View the Field of Light

Kata Tjuta National Park
Kata Tjuta National Park

An early-morning wake-up call will have you out on the trail in time for an incredible sunrise tour. You'll join a small group to view sunrise at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and walk to the Valley of the Winds. Your guide will divulge fascinating stories of the geology, history, and culture of Kata Tjuta. The formation of these rock domes extends nearly four miles (six km) into the ground, due to erosion that began more than 500 million years ago. The walk to Valley of the Winds takes you down into the domes and along trickling creek beds.

Head back to your hotel to rest and enjoy dinner. In the evening, you'll rejoin your group for the exhibit, Field of Light. The work of artist Bruce Munro uses over 50,000 spindles of light to illuminate the desert in colors and rhythms that seem to reach as far as Ayers Rock. 

Day 7: Arrive in Sydney - Explore the city

Sydney's Skyline at Night
Aerial View of Sydney

In the morning, you'll transfer to the airport to catch your flight back to Sydney. After arriving in the city, settle into your accommodation in the lively Darling Harbour district, then head out into the city to explore.

Start with a stroll down the port, where you can enjoy views of the city along the King Street Wharf promenade. This is a great place to find dinner, with numerous eateries lining the harbor. Stroll through the Chinese Garden of Friendship and Chinatown on your way to Hyde Park and the Gothic-style St Mary's Cathedral. Visit the Town Hall before enjoying the incredible views atop the Sydney Tower Eye observation deck.

End your day at the ornate State Theatre for a music or comedy show, then walk out to Pylon Lookout for nighttime views of the Sydney Opera House.

Day 8: Enjoy a guided tour of Sydney with a luncheon cruise

Aerial View of Sydney and the Opera House
Aerial View of Sydney and the Opera House

Today you'll explore Sydney with a guided tour, learning all about the city's history and the allure of each neighborhood. You'll start in the morning with a trip to Manly Beach for a stroll along The Corso shopping street. Along the way to Manly, you'll enjoy views of Darling Harbour before crossing the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge. Stop at Milsons Point for spectacular views of the opera house and bridge. Next, you'll make your way to North Head Lookout for a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean.

In the afternoon, you can either enjoy a lunch break on your own or opt for a luncheon cruise around the harbor. Afterward, you'll meet your guide for a tour through the historic Rocks neighborhood near the port, enjoying the views of the opera house, Hyde Park, St Marys Cathedral, and the Parliament House. Then make your way towards Watson Bay to visit The Gap Lookout and the world-famous Bondi Beach, with spectacular scenery and views of the ocean.

On your way back to Sydney, you'll travel through the neighborhood of Paddington, the exclusive Eastern suburbs, and Rushcutters Bay. The evening is yours to explore the city at night.

Day 9: Explore the Blue Mountains and see koalas at Wildlife Park

Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains, Australia
Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains, Australia

After breakfast, you'll explore the UNESCO-listed Blue Mountains National Park, where you'll enjoy 2.5 million acres of dramatic cliffs, unspoiled bushland, river canyons, and rainforest. 

You'll start with a visit to Echo Point where you can view the famous Three Sisters rock formation. Next, make your way to Scenic World, a mountainous and wooded area where you can view the vastness of the Blue Mountains from many different angles and heights. You can opt for rides on the railway, the cableway, or the skyway, which are all great ways to see the steep valleys and canyons.

Enjoy a picnic lunch in the village of Leura, where you can eat amongst viewpoints and waterfalls. Afterward, your guide will lead to Wildlife Park, an open-air zoo where you can get up close to koalas, kangaroos, wombats, and dingoes.

On your way back to Sydney, you'll pass through the suburb of Homebush, which was the venue of the 2000 Olympic Games. Here you'll catch a cruise back to the city along the Parramatta River. Sail past the iconic views of Sydney, enjoying its harbor and opera house as the sun begins to set.

Day 10: Discover the neighborhoods and beaches of Sydney

Sydney Harbor and Shopping Center
Sydney Harbor and Shopping Center

During your final day of the trip, enjoy the city of Sydney at your leisure. Have a relaxed breakfast at one of the eateries in the trendy Surry Hills neighborhood, then enjoy the boutique shops and craft brews of Newtown, the city's bohemian university district. 

In the afternoon, enjoy some time at the beach. Return to Bondi Beach for incredible pools set directly on the ocean, or head back to Manly Beach for a surf lesson. If you don't want to venture too far from the city center, try Seven Shillings Beach or Whiting Beach, which is set within Sydney Harbour National Park. Here you can enjoy walking trails out to the coast, plus views of the Bradleys Head Lighthouse

You can also explore Centennial Park, which is Sydney's version of Central Park, or the Royal Botanical Gardens. If you're in the city on a Saturday, sift through Paddington Markets and enjoy the historic architecture of the neighborhood, including Victorian terraced buildings along Oxford Street.

In the evening, explore the art scene in the Darlinghurst neighborhood, which is a great area to grab dinner and drinks. Enjoy one final view of the opera house and the harbor with a stroll out to Mrs. Macquarie's Chair, a sandstone bench carved in the early 19th century.

Day 11: Depart Sydney

Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge at Dusk
Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge at Dusk

It's time to say goodbye to Australia. In the morning, you'll transfer to Sydney Airport to catch your flight.