This well-rounded 16-day tour of Australia's highlights is sure to delight any first time visitor. You'll explore the hidden laneways of artsy Melbourne and the famous landmarks of Sydney, learn about indigenous culture at Uluru in the country's Red Center, and discover tropical Queensland with an excursion to the Great Barrier Reef. Along the way, you'll meet kangaroos at Kangaroo Island, search for crocodiles at Kakadu National Park, and have free time to enjoy a few day trips of your choosing.

Highlights

  • Explore the cosmopolitan cities of Melbourne, Sydney, and Adelaide
  • Discover the natural beauty of the rainforest, the Outback, and Australia's beaches
  • Immerse yourself in Aboriginal culture at Uluru and Kakadu National Park
  • Go on a catamaran cruise to the Great Barrier Reef
  • See kangaroos, crocodiles, tropical birds and more

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Melbourne Melbourne
Day 2 Melbourne Sightseeing Melbourne
Day 3 Melbourne Free Day Melbourne
Day 4 Melbourne - Adelaide Adelaide
Day 5 Kangaroo Island Adelaide
Day 6 Adelaide - Uluru (Ayers Rock) Uluru
Day 7 Uluru Uluru
Day 8 Uluru - Darwin Darwin
Day 9 Kakadu National Park Darwin
Day 10 Darwin - Cairns Cairns
Day 11 The Great Barrier Reef Cairns
Day 12 Cairns Free Day Cairns
Day 13 Cairns - Sydney Sydney
Day 14 Sydney Sightseeing Sydney
Day 15 Sydney  Free Day Sydney
Day 16 Depart Sydney  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Melbourne 

Hop on the Melbourne City Circle Tram for a free ride around the city
Hop on the Melbourne City Circle Tram for a free ride around the city

Fly into Melbourne and take the shuttle to your hotel, where your guide will go over your itinerary for the next two and a half weeks. After the briefing, spend the rest of the day resting or exploring your surroundings.

Take the free tram or head out on foot to find eclectic shopping and excellent restaurants dotted throughout the city.

Day 2: Melbourne City Sights

One of Melbourne's many hidden laneways
One of Melbourne's many hidden laneways

This morning you'll head out on a guided tour of Melbourne, stopping at notable sights including Flinders Street Station, Federation Square, Queen Victoria Markets and the Royal Botanical Gardens. Melbourne is the cultural capital of Australia, with funky street art and bohemian coffee shops tucked into every corner of its labyrinthine laneways. 

After familiarizing yourself with the city a bit more, you'll have the rest of the afternoon and evening to wander around on your own. Try a coffee tour to learn more about Melbourne's vibrant coffee scene, go gallery hopping, or seek out live music at one of the city's many pubs and bars.

Day 3: Melbourne Free Day

Great Ocean Road
The Twelve Apostles formations on the Great Ocean Road

Take advantage of this free day to go on a short excursion to one of the area's many fascinating sites. Visit the wineries of the nearby Yarra Valley or wander among towering mountain ash trees in the atmospheric Yarra Ranges National Park. Travel along the breathtaking Great Ocean Road, where you'll spot striking rock formations, or head to Phillip Island to watch its adorable fairy penguins come in from the sea at dusk.

Day 4: Melbourne - Adelaide

Adelaide at sunset
Adelaide at sunset

Take a short flight to Adelaide this morning and settle into your hotel. In the afternoon, you'll be free to explore the coastal capital of South Australia on your own. Adelaide is known for its gorgeous architecture and unique history, so there is plenty to see here.

If you're in the mood for some culture, head to the North Terrace, where you can see indigenous art at the Art Gallery of South Australia and natural history artifacts at the South Australian Museum. Perhaps stroll along the River Torrens or wander through the Japanese-style Himeji Gardens. The city also has an excellent culinary scene, and there are tons of great restaurants and bars to choose from.

Day 5: Kangaroo Island

Meet Kangaroo Island's inhabitants
Meet Kangaroo Island's inhabitants

Today you'll take a bus and a ferry to reach Kangaroo Island. First, you'll visit Seal Bay with a local park ranger to find a colony of rare Australian sea lions. Then explore the sanctuary at Flinders Chase National Park, where you'll see kangaroos, wallabies, and koalas. Take a stroll along the Remarkable Rocks for stunning sea views before crossing the boardwalk to the Admirals Arch rock formation to look for cute New Zealand fur seals. Return to Adelaide in the evening.

Day 6: Adelaide - Uluru (Ayers Rock)

The magnificent sunset at Uluru
The magnificent sunset at Uluru

You'll board a flight this morning to Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, in the heart of the Outback. After settling into your hotel, spend the afternoon touring the region. You'll visit the 36 dome-like formations known as the Olgas and the mighty Uluru monolith, which is sacred to the local Aboriginal people. The surrounding area is brimming with springs, watering holes, ancient paintings, and caves. Sip on a glass of champagne as you watch the vibrant sunset over the Rock.

Plan your trip to Australia
Customize your trip with help from a local travel specialist.

Day 7: Day at Uluru

The Fields of Lights Installation at Uluru
The Fields of Lights Installation at Uluru

Wake up early to watch the sunrise over the desert. Warm up with a cup of tea or coffee as you watch the sunlight slowly stretch across the plains, changing colors as it goes. Then head back to your hotel and enjoy a free day.

Perhaps hike or bike around the Rock, or opt for a camel riding tour of the area. Immerse yourself in the ancient traditions of the indigenous Anangu culture with a visit to the Cultural Center, an Aboriginal art workshop, or a bush tucker tour, where you'll learn about the native foods the Anangu people have hunted and gathered for thousands of years to survive in harsh desert conditions. Dine al fresco before taking part in some of the most thrilling stargazing you're likely to ever see.

Day 8: Uluru - Darwin

A Darwin sunset over the Indian Ocean
A Darwin sunset over the Indian Ocean

Take it easy this morning before boarding a short domestic flight to Darwin. You'll have the rest of the day to discover this unique tropical city known for its laidback hospitality.

Darwin provides the perfect backdrop to explore some of Australia's unique flora and fauna. Meet some crocodiles with a visit to Crocosaurus Cove, roam around the lush George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens, or take a stroll through the Darwin Waterfront Precinct, where you'll find tons of restaurants, bars, and a man-made beach. Head down to Mindil Beach at sunset to browse the food and crafts markets.

Day 9: Kakadu National Park

Take in the majestic beauty of Kakadu National Park
Take in the majestic beauty of Kakadu National Park

 Wake up early for an hour-and-a-half drive along Stuart Highway, one of the longest roads in the country, to get to Kakadu National Park. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to 2,000 plant species and animals like saltwater crocodiles, wild horses, and tropical birds. You'll see rugged cliffs, striking waterfalls, expansive plains, and aboriginal rock art as you explore.

Stop at the Nourlangie Rock Art Site, where the Aboriginal community has lived for tens of thousands of years. Your guide will give you in-depth information and tell you entertaining stories about the various paintings before breaking for lunch. 

You'll join a local guide on a river cruise through the wetlands of the Yellow Water Billabong in the heart of Kakadu to search for crocs — don't forget your camera! Next, you'll visit the Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Center, where you'll meet the indigenous Bininj people and learn about their lives in Kakadu.

Return to Darwin in the evening.

Day 10: Darwin - Cairns

The Cairns Esplanade & Lagoon
The Cairns Esplanade & Lagoon

Enjoy the morning at leisure before flying to Cairns in tropical Queensland. After settling into your hotel, spend the afternoon discovering the city on your own. Take a dip in the pools of the Cairns Lagoon, tuck into a homestyle meal at the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park, or hang out with the butterflies at the Kuranda Butterfly Sanctuary.

Day 11: The Great Barrier Reef

Barrier Reef
Discover the natural beauty of the Great Barrier Reef

Today you'll board a high-speed catamaran for a full-day outing to the Great Barrier Reef. This breathtaking coral reef is the world's largest and is home to over 3,000 individual reef systems and coral cays. There are hundreds of tropical islands dotted throughout, as well as sun-soaked golden beaches. 

Take a dip in the water, explore your surroundings and keep your camera ready as you admire the abundant marine life. A morning tea and buffet lunch will be served on board. Return to Cairns in the late afternoon, and spend the rest of the day at leisure.

Day 12: Cairns Free Day

Daintree
Mossman Gorge in Daintree National Park

Take a full day to explore this tropical paradise on your own. See the rainforest from above with a trip on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, which takes you from Cairns to the quirky markets in Kuranda. Or opt for a 4WD tour of Daintree National Park, where you'll be able to off-road and explore the corners of this magical ecosystem. Visit sites within the park like Mossman Gorge or the stunning Cape Tribulation, and keep an eye out for kangaroos, reptiles, cassowaries, and birds along the way.

Day 13: Cairns - Sydney

Sydney
Sydney Harbour on a sunny day

Fly to Sydney this afternoon and take the rest of the day to explore this buzzing metropolis at your own pace. Marvel at the Opera House, stroll around glamorous Darling Harbour, browse the various food items and souvenirs at Paddington Markets or visit one of the city's many museums. Dine on multicultural fare before taking on Sydney's legendary nightlife.

Day 14: Sydney City Sights

Bondi Beach
Bask in the sun on Bondi Beach 

Head out on a guided tour of Sydney this morning. You'll visit the oldest neighborhood in the city, known as The Rocks, where you can soak up its rich history as you wander the cobblestoned lanes. Then head to Mrs. Macquarie's Chair — a seat carved into a cliff — for lovely views of the harbor. Continue to grungy Kings Cross, elegant Double Bay, and Watsons Bay,  where you'll enjoy more excellent views of the harbor. End your day at the famous Bondi Beach for some fun in the sun.

Day 15: Sydney Free Day

Challenge yourself to the Sydney Bridge Climb
Challenge yourself to the Sydney Bridge Climb

Spend your last full day in Sydney at leisure. Perhaps climb to the top of Sydney Harbour Bridge for spectacular views of the whole city. Or take the ferry to Manly Beach for sunbathing or surfing lessons. Go on a day trip to the Hunter Valley to sample vibrant red wines, or hop on a train to the Blue Mountains National Park for scenic hikes.  

Day 16: Depart Sydney

Sydney Opera House & Harbour Bridge
Sydney Opera House & Harbour Bridge

Enjoy the morning to unwind and reflect on your trip to Australia. Finish up any last minute souvenir shopping before heading to the airport for your onward flight.

Map

Map of Ultimate Australia - 16 Days
Map of Ultimate Australia - 16 Days