Australia is an incredibly diverse country. Though the image that the rest of the world has in mind is barefooted surfers, best found in Byron Bay, we’ve got some other (better) ideas on where to visit in this beautiful country.
We’re also going to give you top tips on how best to explore and which transport options are your best bet! Check it out, now!
We had to start with Sydney – it’s an absolute icon. If you think of Australia, one of the first images that probably comes to mind is the legendary Opera House, followed closely by outrageously beautiful beaches. Well, Sydney actually boasts both of these gems – and that’s why it’s at the top of our must-visit list.
You may think it’s an obvious recommendation, but Sydney is a varied and sprawling city. It’s a suburb city and every neighborhood has a unique identity. Of course, there’s the typical Aussie vibe of Bondi, Coggee and Manly if that’s all you’re looking for.
But if you want to dig a little deeper and explore a little further, you’ll find; quirky bars and memorable evenings out in Newtown & Redfern, the city’s historic LGBT community, the best micro coffee roasteries dotted throughout the inner west, chill vibes and incredible houses up on the Northern Beaches, as well as incredible, authentic Chinese restaurants and Korean barbecues out in the North East of the city.
But there’s only one way you’re going to get to see of all this – and so much more – on a visit to Sydney. You need wheels. It’s so easy and flexible to hire a car in Sydney for a couple of days up to a couple of weeks.
Don’t forget, there is so much outside the city that’s all within reach if you have a rental car, too. Including the Blue Mountains for a weekend away or a huge hike, a drive up to the central coast for some of the best beaches in Australia, or a day trip to the Hunter Valley with all its vineyards, artisan foods, creators, and breweries.
2. The NT
The NT – or the Northern Territory – is so often overlooked when it comes to planning a trip or visiting Australia. Well, at least, it definitely gets bumped down on the ‘must-visit list’.
We’re here to correct that. The Northern Territory is an incredibly rugged but stunning region. Here is where you will find the likes of Uluru (Ayers Rock), Kata Tjuta, Kings Canyon, Katherine Gorge and so, so many miles of beautiful red desert.
The Northern Territory has so little light pollution, you should visit just to see the stars (and we highly recommend sleeping under them, also). You’ll discover landscapes you think are from Mars.
But, the NT is sparse and very, very big. With so few places to stop for fuel, you need to know where you’re going and be confident enough to get there. That’s why we’d recommend booking onto a guided tour for the best value and for the best way to fully – and safely – experience this incredible feather in Australia’s bow.
3. The Whitsundays
The Whitsundays are what most people picture paradise to be. Pure white sands, sparkling turquoise waters and utter serenity …. If you’re away from all the tourists. There’s simply no other way to describe them.
Located less than 10 kilometers from Airlie Beach and mainland Australia, you truly feel transported when you step foot on the white sands of the Whitsunday Islands. They are a group of islands, just a boat ride away from the outer Great Barrier Reef as well.
As you can imagine, these waters are fluttering with incredible wildlife, from tropical nemo’s to graceful rays and playful dolphins. This is a once-in-a-lifetime destination.
Unfortunately, staying in the Whitsundays themselves is extremely expensive. You can stay at Airlie Beach if you’re up for a hostel, but the excursions also really add up to more than $300 per day.
Actually, the best way to explore the Whitsundays is by boat. You can book for 2 – 3 nights to stay overnight on sailboats and catamarans. You can go for something a little more budget, or if you’re just up for the experience, splurge and treat yourself to a private charter. These boat trips will take you around the whole islands, away from the huge crowds. You’ll likely get taken out to the reef with options for snorkeling and diving, too! Absolutely breathtaking!
Another destination that often gets bumped down on the ‘must visit’ list and is away from Australia’s mainland is Tasmania. The state to the south of Melbourne is actually the least populated in Australia.
It is a land of national parks, reserves, and wildlife. Here you will see the most beautiful mountain scenery and stunning lakes in the entire country. It is an incredibly diverse landscape in a relatively small space; if you wanted you could go from a sunrise summit of Cradle Mountain to a sunset dip in the rock pools at Bay of Flies – stopping by Launceston for a lunch of sensational seafood.
But the only way you’re going to be able to do all of that (in a day no less) is with a vehicle. In Tasmania, the best way to experience the best of this destination is in a campervan. Hiring one is very easy, with major operators all over the island. Camps are cheap (if not free) and very easy to come by.
Most people know that Melbourne is a must-visit spot and the second largest city in Australia – but they can’t actually tell you what to do whilst you’re there.
Well, we can: Eat!! As much as you possibly can. Melbourne is the cultural capital of Australia, but it is also the culinary capital. Indulge in everything from funky doughnuts, to incredible Asian fusion, to the best pub feed of your life. Start on Degraves Street and explore all the laneways for food to eat, drinks to sample, and ingredients to take home. Of course, you’ll also get so much more of the good stuff at the night markets and the city’s famous Saturday markets.
The best way to explore all of this (and burn off all the treats) is on foot! Melbourne is extremely accessible, and you won’t ever want to miss what is just around the corner, or hide down a street too narrow for a car!