See the best of Australia in just nine days with this itinerary that ticks off nature, wine tasting, Sydney's icons, and the Great Barrier Reef. Start in the big city, venture out to the lush and otherworldly Blue Mountains, continue to Australia's oldest wine region, and finish in tropical Palm Cove at the edge of the world-famous reef.


  • Get to know Sydney's waterfront, including the iconic Harbor Bridge and the Opera House
  • Explore the ancient rainforest on a guided hike through Blue Mountains National Park
  • Go wine tasting in the gourmet Hunter Valley region
  • Meet marine life around the magnificent Great Barrier Reef

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Sydney, Explore Sydney Harbor Sydney
Day 2 Drive to the Blue Mountains, Visit Scenic World Blue Mountains
Day 3 Grand Canyon Guided Hike Blue Mountains
Day 4 Drive to the Hunter Valley Pokolbin
Day 5 Explore the Hunter Valley Pokolbin
Day 6 Full-Day Hunter Valley Private Wine & Food Tour Pokolbin
Day 7 Drive to Port Stephens, Fly to Cairns, Transfer to Palm Cove Palm Cove
Day 8 Day Trip to the Great Barrier Reef Palm Cove
Day 9 Transfer to Cairns, Depart Australia  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Sydney, Explore Sydney Harbor

Sydney Harbor
Sydney Harbor's famous Opera House and bridge

G'day and welcome to Sydney! This Australian city is a must-visit destination for good reason. With a dazzling natural harbor, epic beachside walks (not to mention beaches), a world-class restaurant and bar scene, excellent live music and theatre, and an unquenchable thirst for fun, you'll never get bored in this city. Take a private transfer from the airport to your accommodation and settle in.

Life in this city revolves around the expansive, blue Sydney Harbor, so spend the rest of your day exploring by the water. Visit the beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens and stop at Mrs Macquarie's Chair for the best view of the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge and the iconic Sydney Opera House. Take a ferry to Milson's Point and walk back to the city center via the Bridge. Or tackle the BridgeClimb and walk over the arch of Sydney's "coat hanger" at sunset for an unforgettable and exhilarating experience. 

Day 2: Drive to the Blue Mountains, Visit Scenic World

Blue Mountains National Park
Pick up your rental car for your self-drive adventure to the Blue Mountains National Park

Pick up a rental car and hit the road for the stunning beauty of Blue Mountains National Park, just 1.5 hours west of Sydney. Here a dusty blue horizon of eucalyptus trees appears to stretch on forever. Set out on foot to explore some of the 87 miles (140 km) of walking tracks, admire the native bushland, marvel at the impressive rock formations, explore underground caves, and more.

A trip to the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area wouldn't be complete without calling into Scenic World at Katoomba. Ride a Scenic Skyway gondola across Jamison Valley to view the Three Sisters, Mount Solitary, and Katoomba Falls. You can also ride the Scenic Railway, the world's steepest incline railway that descends more than 1,300 feet (400 m) down the escarpment. This thrilling ride passes through a long tunnel and gorge, ending on the valley floor. It's a huge hit with children (and children at heart).

Day 3: Grand Canyon Guided Hike

Grand Canyon Walk, Blue Mountains
Grand Canyon Walk, Blue Mountains

Go deeper into the Blue Mountains World Heritage area with the half-day Grand Canyon walk. One of the signature trails, this guided hike takes you into the remote wilderness, ancient rainforest, and deep gorges and canyons with remarkable sandstone escarpments. Traverse a winding path along the base of the canyon before passing lush rainforests and spectacular views of the Grose Wilderness. This 3.7-mile (6 km) walk requires a medium level of fitness, as you will need to rock hop at the base of the canyon and climb steep sandstone steps.

Day 4: Drive to the Hunter Valley

Hunter Valley
Hunter Valley
Plan your trip to Australia
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Get ready to explore the Hunter Valley, a flourishing wine region where world-famous vineyards, acclaimed restaurants, delicious local produce, and magnificent natural beauty meet. Make a day out of your drive to Australia's first wine region and choose either the longer, windy route via Putty Road or go direct via the motorway. Either way, you can make stops along the journey, pulling up for the daily pelican feeding at The Entrance (3.30 pm) or dropping by Nobbys Lighthouse in Newcastle.

Day 5: Explore the Hunter Valley

Hunter Valley Gardens
Hunter Valley Gardens

The Hunter Valley is one of Australia's best places to eat. The region is bursting with restaurants serving delicious local produce and the best local wines. From high-end fine dining to classic country steakhouses and buzzing cafés, you'll never go hungry in the Hunter. Start the day with a bubbly breakfast at Restaurant Cuvee in Peterson House. For a decadent lunch or dinner, try Yellow Billy, named after a local bushranger focused on cooking over a fire, or try the relaxed and elegant Hunters Quarter, award-winning Muse, or Eremo, a modern Italian restaurant.

Beyond the vines, the Hunter Valley is a diverse region with a curious history. Explore the 59 acres (24 ha) of the beautiful Hunter Valley Gardens at the foothills of the Broken Back Range, or visit the Maitland Gaol to hear about the daring escapes and stories of prisoners over the past 150 years.

Day 6: Full-Day Hunter Valley Private Wine & Food Tour

Big Day Out Hunter Valley Private Wine and Food Tour
Sample wine as you wind through the Hunter Valley's top vineyards
Dive headfirst into the best of the Hunter Valley's wineries today. On a full-day private tour, you will wind through a few of the region's best vineyards, tasting exquisite sémillon and shiraz wines. Make a special stop to taste local delicacies for lunch. Then in the afternoon, drop into a craft distillery where the local spirits will put a spring back into your step after that post-lunch slump. Along the way, you'll meet local producers where you can stock up on all things cheese, chocolate, and chutney. And to finish? Kick back and relax with a cold craft beer at a local brewery.

Day 7: Drive to Port Stephens, Fly to Cairns, Transfer to Palm Cove

Port Stephens - Tomaree Heads
See Tomaree Heads in Port Stephens if you have time before your next destination

Wave goodbye to the rolling vineyards and set your GPS for the coast. Today's destination is Port Stephens, a beautiful seaside town with fantastic beaches, spectacular dunes, and wild dolphins. If you have time before your flight, visit Stockton Beach to ride camels and see the mega dunes. Otherwise, head to the airport and drop off the rental car.

On arrival in Cairns, the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, you'll meet a driver who will take you to Palm Cove. This tropical beachside village is perfect for relaxing and enjoying a waterfront sundowner along the melaleuca-lined esplanade. Soak in the pristine stretch of sand, winding path, colorful boutiques, award-winning spas and restaurants, and vistas to Double Island.

Day 8: Day Trip to the Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef
Boat to a pristine reef location for an exciting snorkeling adventure of the Great Barrier Reef

Board a high-speed catamaran for a full-day cruise to the Great Barrier Reef. One of Australia's most remarkable natural gifts, the UNESCO-protected Great Barrier Reef, is the world's largest coral reef and one of Earth's most complex natural ecosystems. The reef comprises more than 3,000 individual reef systems and coral cays and supports abundant marine life—which you'll get to explore today. One of the world's most sought-after destinations, this bucket list snorkel experience is one you'll remember forever.

Your aquatic adventure begins with an informative briefing by an eco-guide before snorkeling around a pristine Great Barrier Reef location. Pause for a hot and cold buffet lunch, freshly prepared by the onboard chef, before moving to a second destination for another snorkel and swim.

Day 9: Transfer to Cairns, Depart Australia

Transfer Accommodation - Airport
Beautiful Palm Cove

Spend your final morning relaxing in paradise at Palm Cove before your flight, or take an early transfer to Cairns and visit the Cairns Aquarium, or admire tropical and exotic fruits at Rusty's Markets. Be sure to arrive at the airport in time to catch your domestic or international flight home. Safe travels!

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Map of Sydney, Blue Mountains, Hunter Valley & Great Barrier Reef - 9 Days
Map of Sydney, Blue Mountains, Hunter Valley & Great Barrier Reef - 9 Days