Planning Your Trip to Australia
For a vacation in Australia that covers several areas, plan on a 10-day trip. This provides enough time to visit different cities and destinations by car (for those who prefer road trips) or via quick, domestic flights from one city—or island—to the next.
With 10 days, you can explore one region (Eastern, Northern, or Western Australia) or opt for a highlights trip that allows you to hop between major cities and points of interest, like Sydney, Melbourne, Cairns, and Uluru. Make time for day trips to the Great Barrier Reef (out of Cairns) and the Blue Mountains (from Sydney).
For a holiday that spans less than one week, focus on one major city, like Sydney, or hit Melbourne's Great Ocean Road for a five-day road trip that unfolds on your own time. With one full week, you can pair sightseeing with scenic day trips—to destinations like Daintree Rainforest, the beachy Whitsundays, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, and the Australia Zoo—to enrich the experience.
Australia in 5 Days
Five days in Australia may seem short, but you can actually get a lot accomplished within one or two areas that are in close proximity.
For those interested in a Sydney-only vacation, this tour covers the gamut. Go sightseeing in famous areas and neighborhoods, including The Rocks, Bondi Beach, and Sydney Harbour—home to the Sydney Opera House and the BridgeClimb, which thrillseekers can ascend. A day trip to the Blue Mountains allows plenty of outdoor exploration for those who want to discover native flora and fauna (including koalas and kangaroos).
Tour two decorated regions—Cairns and Port Douglas—on this active tour that combines sightseeing, free time, and visits to major destinations. Highlights in Cairns include the manmade lagoon and an entertaining Aboriginal cultural park. The showstopper, however, is the Great Barrier Reef, where you can snorkel and cruise around the stunning waterways. In Port Douglas, enjoy a visit to a local crocodile exhibit and the remarkable Daintree Rainforest, where you can take a river cruise to discover the natural riches.
Less interested in the city sights? A desert trip to The Outback offers travelers another side of Australia. Tour the colorful Ayers Rock and Red Centre, and then visit museums and landmarks in Alice Springs. A stop at the MacDonnell Ranges allows you to view the beautiful red rocks and gorges, along with dipping into several swimming holes.
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Australia in 1 Week
One week is a popular amount of time for a trip to Australia. Jump from two overnight destinations to three, and explore yet another side of the land Downunder.
A more classic itinerary allows you to enjoy a mixture of active touring and laid-back activities. In Melbourne, scope out the bar and live music scene at night and take a day to drive along the scenic Great Ocean Road, which is accented with unique limestone formations. In Sydney, head out on a fun pub tour, balanced with a day visit to the famed Blue Mountains. Once in Cairns, take time to learn about the Aboriginal culture and board a boat tour along the most famous reef system on Earth.
A trip to the West Coral Coast offers a much different type of escape—to the islands. Snorkel with whale sharks along the Ningaloo Reef and tour the gorges around Cape Range National Park. In Perth, head out on a walking tour of the city sights and ferry to Rottnest Island to explore the beaches. Free time back in Perth calls for visits to viewpoints, the Botanic Garden, and the local art gallery.
Or, for an all-ages option, embark on a seven-day family-friendly getaway to Brisbane and the Gold Coast. Brisbane offers impeccable views, a day trip to the active Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, and the Australia Zoo. In Gold Coast, take the Aquaduck tour of the town, catch some waves, chill by the beach, and spot humpback whales at a national park stop. Adventurers can climb the tallest building in the city and hit up the many theme parks Gold Coast is known for.
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Australia in 10 Days
Add one more stop to the roster with a 10-day tour of Australia. Four areas provide an authentic sampler of major cities, the desert, the islands, and more.
Consider a diverse vacation option that provides city, nature, and desert tours, along with free days to enjoy some downtime. Start off in Cairns to explore the outdoor sights and wildlife exhibits, along with the prestigious Great Barrier Reef. Then, head into the desert of Uluru to explore historical highlights and the incredible sunrise and sunset. In Sydney, visit popular stops like St. Mary's Cathedral, Sydney Harbour Bridge, and the famed Sydney Opera House. Take a day trip to Hunter Valley to enjoy some wine tasting paired with artisan chocolates, too.
On an outdoor-driven escape through Eastern Australia, enjoy central Sydney and more—this time, head to the Blue Mountains and Scenic World, which offers multiple transportation options to take in the valleys, canyons, and clifftops. Travel through Katoomba to mingle with native wildlife. Make a quick stop in Cairns and take in views from the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway and enjoy an entertaining dinner with local Aboriginals. Then, it’s off to the Gold Coast for a free day to go whale watching and theme park-hopping. While in Melbourne, embark on a trip to Phillip Island to see the penguins and seals and drive along Great Ocean Road to explore the unique rock stacks.
Or, head out on a Western Australian trip that also caters to outdoor enthusiasts but includes stops in the Coral Coast and Perth. Snorkel with whale sharks in Exmouth and tour the gorges of Cape Range National Park. Head to Margaret River to walk the Cape to Cape Track among caves and sea cliffs, go wine tasting, and enjoy some free time. Fly to Perth to visit the native animals and beaches and stroll the local shops on popular streets. Make the trip to Kalbarri to view the gorgeous cliffs, and then take a boat to Rottnest Island to wind down the tour with some snorkeling and biking around the beach.
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Australia in 2 Weeks
Depending on the pace of a two-week trip to Australia, you can visit a minimum of four and a maximum of 10 different destinations. For a more leisurely vacation, choose a four-prong trip. If you'd rather visit as many sights as possible, a faster pace—sometimes with just one overnight per stop—is more suitable.
You can accomplish plenty on a highlights trip over the course of 14 days. Stops in Brisbane, Airlie Beach, Cairns, Adelaide, and Sydney allow you to explore major cities and beaches alike. In Brisbane, enjoy expansive views and a visit to a koala sanctuary. Airlie Beach offers the white sands and turquoise waters of the Whitsundays and Whitehaven Beach. Cairns is home to several wildlife exhibits, along with Daintree Rainforest for an educational boat tour. In Adelaide, there are more kangaroos to visit, along with plenty of renowned museums along the River Torrens. Sydney, a popular city stop, is home to the world-famous bridge and opera house. The grand finale is an excursion to a UNESCO World Heritage mountain region.
Consider a two-week Outback adventure that provides an entirely different trip—an in-depth glimpse into the desert region of Australia. Start in Adelaide to museum and gallery hop, then hit the road at several lookouts, tombs, and churches on the way to Coober Pedy. Uluru is home to Ayers Rock, followed by a stop at Kings Canyon. In Alice Springs, visit the popular museums and historical sights, along with the stunning MacDonnell Ranges. Pause to take photos at the Tropic of Capricorn, stop at a UFO attraction, and enjoy a dip or two into the nearby thermal springs. Tour the incredible Katherine Gorge, take a billabong around Kakadu National Park, plunge into waterfalls, and walk around ancient formations in Ubirr. The trip closes out with a wildlife tour in Darwin.
Or, take a crossover trip from Australia to New Zealand. Begin in Sydney to do some sightseeing, followed by a stop in Uluru to tour the best of the outback, including local art. Check out the local landmarks in Melbourne, from funky graffiti to bohemian cafés, followed by a meeting with kangaroos in the wild, a ride along a famous coastal road, and a visit to Phillip’s island—populated with plenty of native species. Catch a flight to Auckland to go sightseeing, visit the fish market, go shopping in Parnell, and tour historic Devonport. Board the Dolphin Seeker along the Bay of Islands for some dolphin and whale watching, with significant stops along the way. Return to Auckland to ascend the Sky Tower and stroll the boardwalk along Mission Bay at sunset.
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More Great Australia Itineraries
Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Australia? Check out these other Australia itineraries, with outdoor adventures, culture trips, and best-of tours to hit the highlights.