This exciting adventure includes a slew of 'must-sees' on Australia's east coast including Sydney, Cairns, the Gold Coast, and Melbourne. Over 10 days, you will explore the country's two biggest cities, hit the best beaches, and experience iconic sites like the Great Barrier Reef and the Great Ocean Road. Choose between a range of tours and customize your free time to create the ultimate trip of a lifetime.

Highlights

  • Kick off the trip at Sydney's Opera House and Bondi Beach
  • Hike through the forested Blue Mountains on a self-guided trail
  • Snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef during a catamaran trip
  • Spend two nights on the Gold Coast relaxing on pristine beaches
  • Explore Melbourne's hip neighborhoods like St. Kilda and Fitzroy

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Sydney Sydney
Day 2 Blue Mountains Day-Trip Sydney
Day 3 Sydney Free Day Sydney
Day 4 Fly to Cairns - Great Barrier Reef Cairns
Day 5 Fly to the Gold Coast Gold Coast
Day 6 Gold Coast Free Day Gold Coast
Day 7 Fly to Melbourne Melbourne
Day 8 Phillip Island Day-Trip Melbourne
Day 9 Explore the Great Ocean Road Melbourne
Day 10 Depart Melbourne  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Sydney

Have a drink next to the Sydney Opera House

Welcome to Australia! Upon landing at Kingsford Smith International Airport, a driver will transfer you to your downtown hotel within walking distance to shops and restaurants in Sydney's Central Business District

How you spend the rest of the day is up to you. You can either relax at your hotel after the long journey or head out and see some of the city foot. For instance, make your way to The Rocks, a charming and historic neighborhood that has a great view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. You can also take a harbor cruise, splurge on tickets to an opera performance (there are multiple performances each day), or just sit back with a beverage at the attached Opera Bar for a spectacular harbor view.

Day 2: Blue Mountains Day-Trip

A day-trip from Sydney

This morning you'll be picked up from your hotel for a day-trip to the Blue Mountains, located west of the city. Take your pick between a few options on how to spend your day. Many choose to take a self-guided hike where you'll experience the most stunning forest and mountain views in the country. The two-hour trail route encompasses dramatic cliffs, eucalyptus forests, native birds, and waterfalls—and there will be plenty of photo stops along the way.

You can also stroll along a quaint village near the trail and have lunch at one of the more popular cafés. Other options include taking a cruise down the Parramatta River or visiting wineries in the Hunter Valley.

Either way, you'll return to the city in the late afternoon where you'll have the rest of the evening to explore on your own.

Day 3: Sydney Free Day

A cliff walk at Bondi Beach

Today is a free day to spend in Sydney any way you'd like. Perhaps you'll bus to Bondi Beach to relax and/or stroll along one of the world's most famous beaches. The crescent-shaped stretch of sand needs no introduction, but most visitors don't realize that you can walk the cliff trail from Bondi to Bronte for sweeping ocean views and lesser-known Sydney beaches. In addition, the entire neighborhood around Bondi offers a wide range of sophisticated food and drink options. 

Back in the city, you may also wish to climb to the top of Sydney Harbour Bridge via the experience called BridgeClimb or sign up for a pub crawl where you'll meet other travelers. You can also ride a ferry to Manly Beach (a locals' favorite) for a laid-back day of sunbathing and swimming. The ferry takes about 30 minutes from Circular Quay and passes by the Opera House and other city landmarks for some great sightseeing opportunities. 

There are also a number of guided tours—either half- or full-day—for an immersion into Sydney's local culture. 

Day 4: Fly to Cairns - Great Barrier Reef

Colorful fish in the reef

Early this morning you'll take a flight to Cairns, the gateway to The Great Barrier Reef. Upon arrival, you'll be transferred to a sleek catamaran for an excursion in the renowned Agincourt Reef situated on the edge of Australia's Continental Shelf.

During the outing, you can choose between an array of activities including fish feeding, coral viewing via semi-submersible vessels, helicopter-tours, and/or exciting in-water activities to let you fully enjoy the Outer Barrier Reef (some activities incur an additional expense). A buffet lunch will be served onboard. 

You could also take a 30-minute Great Barrier Scenic Flight for beautiful views of Green Island, Vlasoff Sand Cay, and Upolu Sand Cay—three of the most striking sand islands on the Great Barrier Reef. Sightings of manta rays, turtles and other marine life are not uncommon on the route. During winter months, look for spotting whales.

At the end of the day, you'll be returned to the city of Cairns where you'll have free time to enjoy the dining and nightlife scene. 

Day 5: Fly to the Gold Coast

Extensive beach space on the Gold Coast

Today, you'll make your way to Australia's Gold Coast Airport straddling the border of New South Wales and Queensland—just a two-hour flight from Cairns. Upon arrival, you'll be picked up and transferred to your hotel along the magnificent coastline, which offers a wide variety of beachfront accommodations. Stretched out over 35 miles (57km), the Gold Coast’s beaches feature some of the most popular surf breaks and beach locations in not only Australia but also the world, not to mention a true laid-back lifestyle.

Spend the day sunbathing, swimming, and playing on the pristine shoreline. Your location also provides easy access to nearby theme parks including the Warner Brothers Movie World, Wet and Wild, Sea World, Dream World, or the Australian Outback Spectacular.

In the evening, discover the Gold Coast's sophisticated dining scene which offers foodies a range of great restaurant options. 

Day 6: Gold Coast Free Day

Currumbin Bird Sanctuary

Today, you'll have a full day to either relax or experience more adventures around the Gold Coast. 

Perhaps you want to spend the morning at the beach followed by an afternoon trip to the Currumbin Bird Sanctuary surrounded by beautiful gardens and grounds. This is where you can get up close to some Australian native animals like kangaroos, koala bears, wallabies, wombats, and colorful bird species like those pictured above. While you're here, grab a snack or lunch at Sanctuary Cafe, which has ‘grab and go’ items, and find a spot to picnic. 

Day 7: Fly to Melbourne

Explore the many Asian eateries

Today, you'll depart the Gold Coast and make the short two-hour flight to Melbourne, the capital of Victoria

The remainder of the day is free time to either rest after your international flight, or get out and explore this hip, progressive, and culturally-diverse metropolis. Often called Australia's most European city and one of the most livable cities in the world, there's plenty to see including important monuments, green parks, and cool neighborhoods with interesting streets and laneways. Perhaps start at one of the many cool cafes and sip a flat white or latte while you people watch. Melbourne is said to have some of the best coffee and baristas in the world, so you'll be in good hands here. 

For dinner, consider a trip to Melbourne's bustling Chinatown, right in the Central Business District (CBD), for some of the best Asian food in the world. The area dates back to the gold rush days of the 1850s when Chinese immigrants arrived in Victoria by sailing from Hong Kong hoping to strike it rich. Start by walking down Chinatown's Little Bourke Street and, from here, explore smaller streets that branch off for your pick of restaurants, tea shops, bookstores, Asian grocery stores, and Chinese medicine and herbalist centers.

Day 8: Phillip Island Day-Trip

Sunset at Phillip Island

Today, you'll have a free morning to explore Melbourne before you join an afternoon/evening guided tour to Phillip Island.

Just 90-minutes from Melbourne, Phillip Island offers pristine white beaches and quiet coves for swimming. The 9-hour excursion actually starts in the afternoon to make sure you are on the island during sunset. This is when spectators gather at Summerland Beach to watch the penguins come ashore in groups. Watching little penguins waddling up the sand to their dune burrow homes after a daily fishing excursion is an unforgettable experience. 

You'll also get up close to native animals on the island including koalas, kangaroos, and the largest colony of fur seals in Australia before returning to Melbourne at the end of the evening.

Day 9: Explore the Great Ocean Road

Razorback landmark on The Great Ocean Road

After breakfast at your hotel, you'll spend another glorious day along Melbourne's coastline—this time driving along the famed Great Ocean Road. During the journey, you'll pass surf beaches, whale lookouts, lush rainforests, and majestic mountain ranges punctuated by stops in delightful seaside towns. You'll also drive to Port Campbell National Park, site of the Twelve Apostles, for towering limestone stacks formed over the centuries by the pounding surf. Just a few minutes west of here is Loch Ard, a gorge so scenic and primeval that it has served as the setting for numerous movies and TV shows.

You'll make a number of photo stops on your way, so you'll want to keep your camera close at all times. Also, be on the lookout out for koala bears hanging from the eucalyptus trees. At the end of the tour, you'll make your way back to Melbourne. 

Once you're back in the city, spend your last evening of the trip exploring more cool areas of Melbourne. Perhaps you're up for taking the tram a short ride to St. Kilda—a beachfront neighborhood known for its many restaurants ranging from seafood, Italian, Mexican, Vietnamese, and modern Australian. Another option is the uber-hip suburb of Fitzroy, home to some of Melbourne’s greatest restaurants and craft cocktail bars. 

Day 10: Depart Melbourne

Goodbye, Melbourne!

It's time to say goodbye to Melbourne! At the designated time, you'll be picked up and transferred to the airport for your departure home. Safe travels! 

Map

Map of Best of Eastern Australia - 10 Days
Map of Best of Eastern Australia - 10 Days