What to see and do in Australia
Located in the heavenly stretch of land between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, Australia is a diverse but welcoming country, massive enough in size both to be its own continent, and to offer travellers a sufficient number of sights to see for several return trips. With glitzy, cosmopolitan cities dotted around stretches of idyllic coastlines and vast expanses of wilderness and open plains filling its interior, an area most often referred to by locals as ‘The Outback,’ it’s safe to say that a holiday to Australia has something for everyone. It’s not just Australia’s landscapes that attract tourists each year in their millions though; this former British colony boasts an extensive and fascinating history of indigenous cultures to learn about, as well as a collection of native animals that can’t be found anywhere else, like the beloved kangaroo and koala bear.
Given its size, exploring Australia can be tricky for those organising a tour there without local advice or guidance. Travelling around Australia with one of Evaneos' carefully-selected local travel agents will give you direct access to the country’s famous hospitality, whether you’re looking to take in the most popular tourist attractions or head off-the-beaten-track with an expert who knows all the best things to do and see there. Local travel agents are available 24/7 while you travel, and have an insider’s perspective on the climate and the best time of the year to visit particular areas, giving you the most useful insights for planning your perfect Australia tour. Above all, they can be your on-the-ground support for everything, whether you need tips on the best local coffee shops or you’re experiencing an emergency. With so much to see and do in Australia, from sun-soaked vineyards to secluded beaches to the winding alleyways of Melbourne, a local agent is a sure-fire way to pinpoint what you would like best and to ensure that you don’t miss it.
Best things to see and do in Australia
What to see in Australia
As the sixth largest country in the world, you’d be hard-pushed to find a holiday destination with greater opportunities for sightseeing and outdoor activities than Australia. Over 22,000 miles of coastline, tropical and subtropical zones, snow-capped mountains, scorching deserts, striking coral reefs, and buzzing, modern cities are just some of the incredible sights that await you on a trip ‘Down Under.’ Unless you have over a month set aside to travel, however, the easiest way to narrow down where to visit and what to do is to work out which coast is right for you, especially if you’re still in the early stages of planning a trip. To simplify things, here’s a quick travel guide to the highlights of Australia, including a handful of the best places to visit all over the country:
- Cities: the East Coast is home to some of the Australia’s most famous cities. Touching down in Sydney, the capital of New South Wales, first-time visitors to Australia are most commonly drawn to the famous sight of the Sydney Harbour Bridge against the backdrop of the dramatic and world-renown Opera House. Occupying the whole of Bennelong Point in the enormous Sydney Harbour, the opera house is a cultural centre with a design by Danish architect Jørn Utzon, who won an international design competition with his famous nesting shells roof. You could spend a few days sightseeing in Sydney before moving on to the next stop on your itinerary, taking in sights including the Royal Botanic Garden, Bondi Beach (where you can also sign up for a surf lesson), and an excursion to the UNESCO-listed Cockatoo Island. You’ll also find the coastal cities of Brisbane, Cairns, Melbourne, and Australia’s capital, Canberra, on the East Coast, where walking and hiking trips, outdoor adventures, world-class restaurants, and museums depicting inspiring native history are always on your doorstep.
- Islands and beaches: for travellers in search of sea and sunshine, look no further: Australia is famed for its gorgeous beaches and paradisiacal islands, including Byron Bay on the Gold Coast, Fraser Island, the world’s biggest sand island (and the home of a large population of wild dingos!), the Whitsunday Islands, Rainbow Beach, and Noosa. Some of the top attractions in Australia can be found just off the coast itself, like the UNESCO-listed Purling Brook Falls and the glow worm caves at Tamborine Mountain, and of course, it goes without saying that the country’s coral reefs attracting millions of visitors each year. If you’re up for water sports, you’ll be spoilt for choice at pretty much every step along the way, or simply put your feet up and relax in luxury on the golden sand.
- National Parks: Australia is home to around 500 national parks, pretty much all of which are a reason to visit in their own right. Kakadu National Park, Karijini National Park, Grampians National Park, and the Blue Mountains National Park are the first that spring to mind as 'all-rounders,' but for those who want to stay on land but see something completely different from the desert landscapes of the Outback, the rainforest near Cape Tribulation and the tropical Daintree National Park in Queensland offer lush scenery and unforgettable beaches. There are ample walking routes here for hiking enthusiasts, not to mention canopy tours through the trees, wildlife-spotting trips, and bird-watching and jungle zip-lining activities.
Australian wildlife: this is perhaps the biggest attraction for kids and animal lovers alike, and wildlife tours in Australia are an unforgettable way to see all your favourite species like the kangaroo, crocodile, wallaby or koala. For serious wildlife fans or photographers, a trained guide will be able to help you to track and identify all of the amazing animals on an off-road safari, but for those who just want a day tour, there’s no shortage of places to go. Perth, where most travellers exploring the West Coast arrive, is home to Penguin Island - a favourite spot for families. Just off the mainland of Adelaide you’ll also find the protected nature reserve of Kangaroo Island, where animal fans can get their fill of wildlife photos while those more interested in geology can explore the nearby Kelly Hill Caves. For marine life, you won’t want to miss out on a day trip to Shark Bay, in the westernmost point of Australia and supposedly the first landing spot of Europeans back in the day. Dolphins and dugongs (manatees) await you there lurking in the bay, along with kaleidoscopic sunsets over the islands.
What to do in Australia
While the the East Coast of Australia was made for travellers in search of beaches, cities, and rainforest tours, the West Coast, often paired with detours to the Northern Territory and the famous Outback, is the place to go if wildlife, gorges, wine, and sensational sunsets are on your travel radar. Whichever areas you choose to cover, anyone looking for adventurous things to do will fall in love with the Australian activities and extreme sports on offer across the entire country, including skydiving, camping, surfing, kayaking, horse-riding, and white water rafting. Here’s a quick travel guide to some of the top activities and excursions in Australia:
- Snorkelling and scuba diving: it’s no secret that Australia is a haven for scuba diving and snorkelling, and there’s perhaps nowhere better to explore an underwater world than the Great Barrier Reef, the biggest animal-made structure in the world and a true Bucket List destination. This extraordinary, 25 million-year-old ecosystem is bursting with over 3,000km of colourful marine life, which can be seen and photographed from a snorkelling or diving excursion or glass-bottomed boat tour. Giant sea turtles, delicate coral coating the seabed, countless species of tropical fish, manta rays, tiger sharks, and whale sharks are just some of the locals you’ll have a chance of meeting underneath the crystal-clear water of the reef.
- Sunset dinner at Uluru: the majestic site of Uluru, a staggering and sacred sandstone rock in the Northern Territory, can be reached via plane from almost all Australian cities, but most tourists take the short 45 minute flight Alice Springs to Ayers Rock, to save time in their trip itinerary. A sunset dinner at Uluru will allow you to combine two of the great Australian icons: a BBQ and a view across stunning rock formations set against the sparse desert landscape of the Outback. If you’re in any doubt as to its size, the Outback covers the majority of the Australian continent, and a visit to the sun-scorched red earth isn’t for the faint-hearted - especially in the height of summer when temperatures soar. A walking or 4x4 tour around Uluru National Park can be coupled with relaxation
- Visit geological treasures: still on the theme of geological delights, a three-hour drive north of Perth will take you to the site of The Pinnacles, peculiar limestone formations bursting out of sand dunes. Think moonscape meets desert; you can take a day trip to Nambung National Park and either stroll around the dunes or sand-board, savour fresh seafood, or meet kangaroos, emus, and eagles. The park is surrounded by pristine beaches where you can cool off in the water or sign up for a snorkelling or surfing excursion. In short: there’s something for everyone.
- Sample Australian wine: there’s no better way to enjoy Australian wine than doing it in person at one of the world-renowned vineyards of South Australia or the West Coast. Margaret River is an ideal stop-off point for wine enthusiasts, or honeymooners opting for a stylish vineyard stay just a few hours away from Perth. After a cellar tour and wine-tasting or craft beer session, you’ll get to wrap your laughing gear ‘round some stunning local seafood (Aussie slang for ‘eat’) and watch the sunset from your lodge or seaside hotel.
- Add an island extension tour: finally, from one of Australia’s major cities you can easily take an international flight on to a nearby or neighbouring island like Vanuatu, New Caledonia, and of course, New Zealand. Don’t be fooled by the relative size of Australasia on a map though, the flight time from Australia to New Zealand is significantly longer from the West Coast but only three and a half hours from the East Coast, so your safest bet if you’re planning on covering two countries in one is to head there from Brisbane, Sydney, or Melbourne.
For the best tips, information, and inspiration to plan your holiday to Australia, ask the experts: Evaneos' hand-picked local travel agencies based there. As well as providing unparalleled local knowledge including access to hidden gems and advice on how to avoid tourist-traps, they'll organise the trip of a lifetime for you based around your needs and interests.
Best time to visit Australia
Australia offers travellers from the Northern Hemisphere sunshine and warm weather from September to May—and relatively mild, cooler temperatures from June to August—making it one of the most beloved destinations in the world for all things outdoors. The best time to go to Australia varies depending on location and the time of year. Having a local expert’s opinion to help you decide when to travel to Australia is a huge bonus, as climates will differ from place to place. The best month to visit Australia depends entirely on what you want to do during your time here:
- Christmas in Australia is the perfect choice for people looking for an unusual way to spend 25th December and midsummer celebration, or head out for summer in Australia to make the most of the perfect weather and your longer holiday time.
- Australia in August is the perfect time to make the most of slightly cooler temperatures and a great choice for visitors looking to hike or trek.
- November is yet another great time to travel there, since visitors will get to enjoy all of the benefits of a summertime trip, whilst still avoiding the peak month of December and the raised prices that come with it.
- If you choose to visit during the peak season, December in Australia is well worth the trip, especially for beach stays. You'll have to book in advance however, since availability in accommodation and for certain activities can be harder to come by.
- April is a good choice for people looking for a temperate weather holiday. Stay by the coast to enjoy a sea breeze that’s refreshing for sporty visitors during hikes, bike rides, or horse riding trips.
- Australia in June sees a winter that is never too cold and so makes a perfect time to get away for adventure lovers looking to enjoy Australia without the premium prices of a summer trip.
Travel tips and advice for travelling to Australia
Visa regulations for Australia
All European Union citizens have access to an Australia visa which is valid for a three month period in any given year. The process is done via the eVisitor system, making obtaining an Australia travel visa relatively quick and hassle-free. For more information or for specific cases or information, check the legislation online or ask one of our local experts in Australia.
Vaccinations for Australia
Australia is a very low risk country and so requires very few jabs. Check with your GP to ensure that your vaccines are up to date before visiting. On top of this, you will need proof that you are vaccinated against Yellow Fever, if you are travelling from a country where the disease is present. For those wishing to head off-the-beaten-track, there are a few more recommended vaccinations: Rabies, Hepatitis A and B and Japanese Encephalitis. We would also recommend bringing along some bug spray, especially if you plan on spending a lot of time outdoors.