This is the ultimate trip for first-timers in Australia with the perfect mix of guided tours and free time to explore on your own. Kicking off in Melbourne, you'll drive past the crashing waves of the Southern Ocean, sip craft beers with locals in Sydney, hike in the Blue Mountains, and experience the breathtaking beauty of the world's largest coral reef by catamaran.

Highlights

  • Take multiple photo stops along the Great Ocean Road
  • Hike and picnic in the Blue Mountains on a two-hour loop
  • Join a pub crawl in Sydney's oldest neighborhood
  • Take part in an evening of aboriginal culture and dance
  • Sit back and relax as you sail through the Great Barrier Reef

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Melbourne Melbourne
Day 2 Great Ocean Road Tour Melbourne
Day 3 Fly to Sydney - Afternoon Pub Crawl Sydney
Day 4 Blue Mountains Hiking Trip Sydney
Day 5 Fly to Cairns - Culture Night Cairns
Day 6 Great Barrier Reef Boat Excursion Cairns
Day 7 Depart Cairns  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Melbourne

Explore the streets and alleyways in Melbourne's coolest neighborhoods

Welcome to Melbourne! Upon arrival in Melbourne Airport, you'll proceed through customs and continue through the designated transfer area for your shuttle transfer to your accommodation. Once you've checked into your hotel, you'll meet a local representative who will go over the details of your Australia itinerary and answer any questions you may have.

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 2: Great Ocean Road Tour

Part of the 12 Apostles along this scenic coastline

Today, after breakfast at your hotel, you'll spend a glorious day driving along the famed Great Ocean Road, admiring Victoria's dramatic southern coastline. 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 for the ultimate pinch-me-now travel moments. At the end of the tour, you'll make your way back to Melbourne. 

Once you're back in the city, spend the evening 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 3: Fly to Sydney - Afternoon Pub Crawl

Sydney's most famous landmark: the Opera House

This morning you will be transferred to the airport to catch your short flight to Sydney—the biggest and most cosmopolitan city in Australia. Snag a window seat and watch your jaw drop as you circle in for landing. With boats bobbing in Darling Harbour, along with your first glimpses of the iconic Opera House, it's hard not to get excited when arriving in one of the most beautiful cities on the planet.

You'll first meet your transfer in the domestic terminal who will take you to your hotel. After checking in, you'll make your way to The Rocks, a charming and historic neighborhood that has a great view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Prepare for some fun: Your afternoon tour starts at The Harts Pub where you'll meet your local guide and fellow participants. After a pint, you and your group will take a walking tour of the area with the high possibility of visiting more pubs along the way. 

In the evening, you'll have some free time to check out more of the city. Perhaps you'll want to head to Bondi Beach for a stroll at one of the world's most famous beaches before the sun goes down. The crescent-shaped stretch of sand needs no introduction, but most visitors don't realize that the entire neighborhood offers a wide range of sophisticated food and drink options, too. 

Day 4: Blue Mountains Hiking Trip

A protected trail in the Blue Mountains

Today, after breakfast in Sydney, you'll be picked up from your hotel for an incredible day-trip to the rugged Blue Mountains west of the city. When you've arrived, you'll have time to take a self-guided two-hour hike where you'll experience the most stunning views in New South Whales. The route encompasses dramatic cliffs, eucalyptus forests, and waterfalls—and there will be plenty of stops to take photos and enjoy a picnic lunch.

Upon return to Sydney, you'll have the rest of the afternoon and evening to explore on your own. Since it's your last night in Sydney, you may want to splurge on tickets to an Opera House performance (there are multiple performances each day), or simply grab a table at the attached Opera Bar for an al fresco drink along the waterfront like no other.

Day 5: Fly to Cairns - Culture Night

Swimming lagoon in Cairns

This morning, you will be transferred to the airport for your next domestic flight to Cairns. This tourist-friendly jumping off point for exploring the Great Barrier Reef, with activities such as scuba diving and snorkeling, as well as boating, fishing, and parasailing.

Upon arrival, you'll meet your driver for the transfer to your hotel in town. Then you'll have the afternoon to spend any way you'd like. With the warmer, tropical weather, you'll likely want to throw on your swimsuit right away. There are beaches driving distance away, but the best option for getting in the water quickly is to visit the huge open-air lagoon pool in town, wonderfully free-of-charge. This is a fantastic swimming area located on the Cairns Esplanade with nice views of the sea and barbeque lunch options.

After the sun sets, you'll be transferred to the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park for a fun evening of local culture. Night Fire is Tjapukai’s signature evening event where you will meet the Indigenous rainforest people who paint your face to link you to their traditional land. As the night continues, you'll follow the Tjapukai warriors to a corroboree celebrating Aboriginal Dreamtime stories, and then join the Rainbow Serpent circle to learn traditional language songs before the ceremonial fire is lit with a spectacular fireball shooting towards the stars.

Day 6: Great Barrier Reef Boat Excursion

Look for colorful fish like the diagonal-banded sweetlip

Today, you'll board a high-speed catamaran for a full-day cruise to the Great Barrier Reef, the world's largest living organism. The massive ecosystem contains an abundance of marine life with over 3,000 individual reef systems and coral cays, as well as hundreds of picturesque tropical islands and countless sun-soaked, golden beaches. During the exciting excursion, you'll be served hot beverages in the morning and a buffet lunch in the early afternoon. 

Return to your hotel in the late afternoon and take the remainder of the evening to explore on your own. As the main tourist hub of Queensland, you can choose between plenty of bars, cafes, and restaurants offering a variety of international cuisines and nightlife options.

Day 7: Depart Cairns

Get a window seat as you fly from Cairns

It's time to say goodbye to Australia! After breakfast at your hotel, enjoy any remaining free time to wander around Cairns. At the designated time, you'll be escorted to the airport for your onward flight. 

Map

Map of Melbourne, Sydney & Cairns - 7 Days
Map of Melbourne, Sydney & Cairns - 7 Days