Two weeks offers plenty of time to explore some of the best regions in Australia. Arrive in Melbourne and enjoy the funky, bohemian vibe of the city, along with some sightseeing and a free day. Then, travel to Sydney for a pub tour, and to explore the famous neighborhoods and iconic landmarks around Sydney Harbour. Next, tour Gold Coast, including an excursion to Mount Tambourine National Park, along with free time to surf and relax. The trip concludes in Cairns with two epic day trips to the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest.

Highlights

  • Go sightseeing and enjoy the funky, bohemian vibe in Melbourne
  • Enjoy a pub tour and explore iconic neighborhoods and landmarks in Sydney
  • Go surfing and tour Mount Tambourine National Park in Gold Coast
  • Take day trips to the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest from Cairns

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Melbourne Melbourne
Day 2 Melbourne - City Tour Melbourne
Day 3 Melbourne - Free Day Melbourne
Day 4 Travel to Sydney Sydney
Day 5 Sydney - City Tour Sydney
Day 6 Sydney - Free Day Sydney
Day 7 Travel to Gold Coast Gold Coast
Day 8 Gold Coast - Day Trip to Mount Tambourine National Park Gold Coast
Day 9 Gold Coast - Free Day Gold Coast
Day 10 Travel to Cairns Cairns
Day 11 Cairns - Daintree Rainforest Day Trip Cairns
Day 12 Cairns - Great Barrier Reef Day Trip Cairns
Day 13 Cairns - Free Day Cairns
Day 14 Departure From Cairns  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Melbourne

Welcome to Melbourne!
Welcome to Melbourne!

Upon arrival in Melbourne, proceed through customs and to the designated transfer area for your shuttle to your accommodations. At the hotel, meet with a local representative to go through your Australia itinerary, and the representative will answer any lingering questions. 

The rest of the day is at your leisure. Relax after your international flight or explore the town. If you do a bit of sightseeing, bookmark Flinders Street Station, Federation Square, Queen Victoria Markets, and the Royal Botanical Gardens, to start. Since Melbourne is the cultural capital of Australia, expect funky street art and bohemian coffee shops tucked in many corners of the town. 

The evening is at your leisure to enjoy a nice welcome dinner, along with exploring the local bar and pub scene—maybe even catch some live music.

Day 2: Melbourne - City tour

One of Melbourne's many hidden lanes
One of Melbourne's many hidden lanes

Today, tour more of Melbourne, beginning in Federation Square. The Lanes and Arcades walking tour is the ideal way to learn about the town and its history. 

On the tour, discover designers and specialty retailers that are often only found in the city. Locate some of the quirkiest cafes, independent designers, street art, architecture, and hear historical tales of Melbourne along the way.

After the tour ends, make your way back to the hotel, and enjoy dinner at your leisure.

Day 3: Melbourne - Free day

Yarra Valley
Yarra Valley

Enjoy a full day of leisure in Melbourne, or go on a nearby excursion.

Consider heading to the Yarra Valley, where you can do some of the following activities:

  • Visit the Rainbow Trout Farm, where you can take the family and catch your own rainbow trout
  • Make your way to the Rayners Orchard Farm, where you will get to pick your own fresh fruit produce
  • Go on a train ride on the Puffing Billy, Australia's premier preserved steam railway which takes you through the Dandenong Ranges
  • Link up with Yarra Valley Wine Tasting Tours to explore the region and taste the local varietals

Alternatively, drive along Great Ocean Road, where there are scenic waterside lookouts, like The Twelve Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge.  

Or, visit Phillip Island's Summerland Beach at dusk for the Penguin Parade, where little penguins come ashore in groups. 

The evening in Melbourne is on your own to enjoy.

Day 4: Travel to Sydney

An aerial view of Sydney
An aerial view of Sydney

This morning, transfer to the Melbourne domestic airport to board your flight to Sydney.  Upon arrival in Sydney,  a transfer will take you to your hotel. 

In the afternoon, join an evening pub tour. A guide takes you through the alleys and cobbled streets of The Rocks, with stories of Australia’s first European settlement. Hear about the legends, gangs, and hauntings of this distinctive neighbourhood as you sample some of its finest libations.

Following the tour, continue enjoying Sydney's nightlife scene, or return to your hotel to relax and unwind.

Day 5: Sydney - City tour

Bondi Beach
Bondi Beach

In the morning, embark on a local sightseeing tour. Visit many notable destinations around Sydney, like The Rocks and Mrs Macquarie’s Chair for scenic views of the harbor. Continue on past Kings Cross and Double Bay, through to Watson’s Bay and the famous Bondi Beach, where you will have free time to discover the area.

In the afternoon, return to your hotel and enjoy the rest of the day and evening at your leisure.

Day 6: Sydney - Free day

Sydney Harbour Bridge
Sydney Harbour Bridge

Enjoy a free day to explore Sydney. First, consider making your way down to the BridgeClimb to reach the summit of the Sydney Harbour Bridge—440 feet above sea level—for an uninterrupted panorama of the city and its surroundings. From the top, soak up the world around you while your climb leader captures your photo. After completing your BridgeClimb, stop by the visitor center, located at the base, to learn more about the history, preservation, and celebration of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. 

Following the BridgeClimb excursion, enjoy lunch, and then plan to visit one of Sydney's most famous landmarks: the Sydney Opera House. Enter beneath the iconic sails to discover what makes the venue so awe-inspiring. Uncover the stories, history, and magic of the Sydney Opera House with an educating guided tour.

Following the tour, head back to your hotel, and enjoy the rest of the day and evening on your own. Toast to your final night in Sydney, before your departure tomorrow.

Day 7: Travel to Gold Coast

Go surfing in Gold Coast
Go surfing in Gold Coast

Enjoy the morning at your leisure before transferring to the airport for your onward flight to Gold Coast.  On arrival, collect your bags and proceed to the transfer area for your ride to the hotel in Gold Coast. 

Gold Coast is known for its laid-back lifestyle and incredible white sand beaches. Enjoy your afternoon at leisure. 

Take a surfing lesson at one of Australia's iconic surf destinations, or spend a day at a favorite local spot, Burleigh Heads, and enjoy watching the surfers, instead.

Then, stroll around the famous Burleigh Heads National Park Headlands, from the rocky shore into the rainforest. Keep an eye out for humpback whales from the Tumgun lookout in the winter and spring months, along with sea eagles flying overhead. Here, ancient volcanic columns converge with the sea, surrounded by forests, grasslands, and mangroves. 

In the evening, continue exploring Gold Coast on your own.

Day 8: Gold Coast - Day trip to Mount Tambourine National Park

Mount Tambourine
Mount Tambourine

This morning, take a peaceful drive through the Gold Coast's hinterland. Embark on a guided sightseeing tour along the rainforest roads through Mount Tambourine National Park to spot native wildlife. Then, take a walk through the rainforest to a tropical waterfall. 

Next, indulge in a local wine tasting before visiting the famous Gallery Walk, where local artists showcase their arts and crafts.

Return to Gold Coast for in the afternoon, and enjoy some exploration or relaxation on your own. 

Day 9: Gold Coast - Free day

Burleigh Heads
Burleigh Heads

Take the day to enjoy the beautiful beaches and outdoors of Gold Coast on your own.

Consider a visit to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, a haven for native animals—small, big, endangered, and flourishing—which is anchored by its lorikeet feed.

For a thrill, head to SkyPoint Climb, which is stationed on the top of the Q1—the highest point in the Gold Coast—and embark on an external building climbing excursion.

For even more of an adrenaline rush, Gold Coast is home to several theme parks, some of which include the following:

  • Dreamworld
  • WhiteWater World
  • Wet’n’Wild
  • Warner Bros. Movie World
  • Sea World

At night, wind down on your own time and explore the Gold Coast nightlife.

Day 10: Travel to Cairns

Cairns Esplanade
Cairns Esplanade

Today, fly from Gold Coast to Cairns. Upon arrival, collect your bags and proceed to transfer to your hotel. 

The rest of the day is yours to discover this tropical haven. Visit the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary, which is located in Kuranda.  This locale is listed by the Guinness Book of Records as Australia’s largest butterfly flight aviary and exhibit. Next, stop by Cairns Lagoon,  an iconic swimming hole located in the business district, and then relax on the grassy knoll. 

At night, enjoy the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park with a night fire dinner. The night fire is Tjapukai’s signature evening activity, where you will meet the indigenous rainforest people, who paint your face to link you to their traditional land and culture. Follow the Tjapukai warriors to a corroboree celebrating Aboriginal Dreamtime stories and join the Rainbow Serpent circle to learn traditional-language songs before the ceremonial fire is lit with a fireball shooting toward the stars.

Day 11: Cairns - Daintree Rainforest day trip

Daintree Rainforest
Daintree Rainforest

This morning, enjoy a scenic drive up north to the oldest rainforest in the world. From the Kulki Lookout in Cape Tribulation, view scenic mountain peaks and pristine white beaches. Witness the rare sight of two UNESCO World Heritage Sites together: the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef—the only place in the world where the rainforest meets the reef.

Board the Daintree River Cruise to learn about the wildlife environment—the bird habitat, tree snakes, and unique plants, as well as the estuarine crocodile. Then, indulge in a tropical-style lunch at a private rainforest property in the Daintree Rainforest. 

 Next, visit the Mossman Gorge Centre, an important cultural hub of the Kuku Yalanji. Learn about the indigenous people, who have lived here for 50,000 years—using the local flora and fauna of the wild jungle to survive and thrive. 

Day 12: Cairns - Great Barrier Reef day trip

The Great Barrier Reef
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 Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef. The reef contains an abundance of marine life and is home to more than 3,000 individual reef systems and coral cays. Surrounding the reef are hundreds of picturesque tropical islands that contain some of the best golden beaches. The Great Barrier Reef is one of the world's most sought-after tourist destinations.

Enjoy morning tea and a lunch buffet aboard the catamaran. Following the reef tour and some snorkeling, return to your hotel in the late afternoon, and enjoy the evening at your leisure.

Day 13: Cairns - Free day

The view from a lookout in Kuranda
The view from a lookout in Kuranda

Today, enjoy a free day in Cairns to do as you wish.

Explore some of the local wildlife exhibits, like the Koala Gardens. Hold a koala and visit with other native animals, including wombats and kangaroos.

Next, stroll through Cairns Aquarium, a landmark rich with Tropical North Queensland species. Then, have a meal at a restaurant with its own near-2,000-gallon Under the Pier Shark Habitat

In the afternoon, ride the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. This 4.66-mile scenic ride goes up to Kuranda, which passes over Barron Gorge National Park for incredible views. 

In the evening, enjoy a special dinner as your final farewell to Australia. 

Day 14: Departure from Cairns

Farewell from Cairns!
Farewell from Cairns!

Enjoy the morning to unwind and reflect on your trip to Australia before transferring to the airport for your departure flight home.

Take with you all the new memories from your trip Down Under, and come back soon!

Map

Map of Best of Australia’s East Coast: Melbourne, Sydney, Gold Coast, & Cairns - 14 Days
Map of Best of Australia’s East Coast: Melbourne, Sydney, Gold Coast, & Cairns - 14 Days