Approximately seven times the size of the United Kingdom, Queensland Australia is rather large. The landscape is diverse and includes everything from beaches, to forested areas, to deserts.
As such, there are plenty of things to do in Queensland including fantastic activities and adventures waiting to be had.
We spent 6 weeks road tripping up the East Coast of Australia, including several weeks in Queensland. We left very few stones unturned. The following are some of our top picks.
28 Best Things to do in Queensland, Australia
Table of Contents
1. Learn About the State’s History at the Queensland Museum
In the state capital, Brisbane, you can learn more about the history of Queensland at the fascinating Queensland Museum.
Found in the center of the city, this is the premier museum in the state. It’s one of the best things to do in Queensland Australia if you’re a bit of a history buff!
The museum tells the story of both indigenous and European history throughout the state, and you can find some great exhibits and exhibitions to browse through.
When in Brisbane you need to check out these popular tours:
- Brisbane Segway Sightseeing Tour
- Jet Ski Safari 1.5hr South Stradbroke Island Tour
- Greater Brisbane Hot Air Balloon Flights – City & Country views – 1-hour flight
2. Stroll Along Brisbane’s Southbank
Brisbane is the cultural capital of Queensland, and you can’t visit the city without taking a stroll along the vibrant, buzzing Southbank of the river.
Walk down the embankment, stopping off in quirky cafes or enjoying a cold beer with a view over the river.
The Southbank is home to wonderful outdoor art exhibitions and installations. You can also bring your swimwear for a refreshing dip in the Lagoon, an open-air public swimming pool for everyone to enjoy!
When in Brisbane you need to check out these popular tours:
- Cruise To Lunch Package
- Brisbane Brewery Tour With Newstead, Green Beacon, Milton Common and All Inn
- Brisbane Bike Tour
3. Visit the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
You can’t plan a trip to Queensland without seeing a koala, the furriest of Australia’s many unique species of wildlife.
These gentle creatures are slow-moving. As a result, they are often caught in bush fires or injured on the roads.
One of the best things to do in Queensland Australia if you want to learn more about them is to visit the rehabilitating koalas at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, just outside of Brisbane.
When in Brisbane you need to check out these popular tours:
- 2hr Animal Tour
- Full-Day Brisbane Day Tour: Three Unique Experiences in One Day
- Brisbane River Helicopter Flight
4. Explore the Sands of Moreton Island
One of the best things to do in Queensland Australia is to explore the sandy shores of Moreton Island.
This is one of the largest sand islands in the world (although it’s more of a local secret, in comparison to the more famous Fraser Island).
Take a ferry over to Moreton Island on a trip from Brisbane, camp out on the beach, snorkel around the island, and enjoy the beautiful sandy scenes!
Looking to explore the Islands around Brisbane? Check out these top Island tours:
- Full-Day Guided Tour with workshop: Karragarra and Macleay Island
- Full Day Island Adventure Cruise From Brisbane Including Lunch
- North Stradbroke Island Day Tour
5. Snorkel the Tangalooma Wrecks
One of the best snorkeling spots in Australia can be found close to Moreton Island (and it’s an easy day trip from Brisbane).
The Tangalooma Wrecks are a unique collection of shipwrecks, all of which were deliberately sunk to provide safe boating passages.
Over the years, the shipwrecks have become a haven for marine life and have turned into artificial coral reefs where you can snorkel and dive.
Looking to explore the Tangalooma Wrecks? Check out this tour: All-Inclusive Dolphin and Tangalooma Wrecks Cruise
6. Get Active on the Gold Coast
The Gold Coast is one of Queensland’s most popular destinations, known for its long esplanade and towering apartment blocks built right next to the beach.
The Gold Coast is the perfect place for anyone who loves to get active (they even held the Commonwealth Games here, a few years back).
You can join the surfers off the coast, run along the beach or the boardwalks, and then go hiking in the Hinterland.
Check out these popular Gold Coast tours:
- Gold Coast Sightseeing Cruise
- Spirit of Gold Coast Whale Watching Experience
- Gold Coast Mountain Bike Tour
7. Enjoy Noosa Heads and the Sunshine Coast
The Gold Coast is popular, which means it can get really busy. If you’re looking for a quieter, more laid back seaside destination that’s still close to Brisbane, head to the Sunshine Coast.
The chilled-out surfer’s hub of Noosa Heads is the center of the Sunshine Coast. Here, you can learn how to surf, relax on the beach, or hike along the coast.
Check out these popular Gold Coast tours:
- Learn to Surf at Broadbeach on the Gold Coast
- Jet-boating Gold Coast Adventure Tour
- The Best of Tamborine Mountain from the Gold Coast
8. Drink Ginger Beer and Rum in Bundaberg
If you’re looking for a more unique cultural experience, why not call into Bundaberg? This often-overlooked town is where two of Australia’s most popular and famous drinks are brewed.
Bundaberg is the home of the non-alcoholic Bundaberg Ginger Beer and the alcoholic Bundaberg Rum. You can take a tour of both breweries and distilleries and learn about the town’s history at the same time.
9. Hike the Glass House Mountains
While the state is best known for its incredibly long coastline, you can also head inland to find some beautiful national parks. One of the best things to do in Queensland Australia is to go hiking in the Glass House Mountains.
The Glass House Mountains are found in the Hinterland, not far from the Sunshine Coast. The area is home to a wonderful collection of volcanic plugs, which rise abruptly from the otherwise flat ground.
The tall peaks are perfect for hiking, with the highest rising to just over 500 meters and offering sweeping views across the Hinterland, towards the coast.
Nature lovers you need to check out the Glass House Mountains below are the top tours we recommend.
- Full-Day Sunshine Coast Hinterland Luxury Small-Group Tour from Brisbane
- 1/2 Day Guided Glasshouse Mountains Trail Bike Tour
10. Sail the Whitsundays
One of the best things to do in Queensland Australia is to sail the Whitsundays. This collection of islands off the Queensland coast are some of the most spectacular in the world.
The islands (the best-known being Hamilton Island) are home to soft white sands and startling blue, turquoise lagoons.
The Great Barrier Reef passes alongside the Whitsundays, making this a destination that’s teeming with marine life.
Join a sailing trip and spend a few days on the water exploring the Whitsundays!
Visiting the Whitsundays needs to be on your Queensland Australia’s must-do adventure list, below are the best tours that you simply can not miss out on.
- Exclusive Fraser Island Day Tour
- 3-Day Fraser Island Resort Package
- 5-Day Fraser Island and Great Barrier Reef Tour
11. Explore the Nature of Magnetic Island
Just a short 20-minute ferry ride from Townsville, you can find the spectacular paradise of Magnetic Island.
This quiet island is the place to escape to. You can enjoy relaxing on the beach, walking through the forest, or snorkeling amongst the coral reefs.
It’s a stark contrast to the much busier streets of the ever-expanding Townsville, where you catch the ferry from.
Magnetic Island needs to be added on to your must-do list with visiting Queensland. Below we will highlight the top tours we recommend for visiting Magnetic Island.
- Aquascene Magnetic Island Discovery Tour
- Magnetic Island Tour: Maggie Comprehensive
- Magnetic Island Twilight Sailing Cruise
12. Enjoy the Cairns Esplanade
Cairns is the hub of tourism in Far North Queensland and the main jumping-off point for the Great Barrier Reef.
Cairns itself is a great place to visit. One of the best things to do in Queensland Australia is to enjoy the Cairns Esplanade.
This long boardwalk is busy with street performers, fringed by mangroves, and home to the Cairns Lagoon, a public swimming pool where you can relax and escape the heat!
When in Cairns you need to check out these popular tours:
- Cairns History Walking Tour
- Cairns Shore Excursion: Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, Kuranda and Cairns Aquarium with Lunch
- Best of the Cairns Tablelands
13. Explore the Atherton Tablelands
Take a road trip inland from Cairns to visit the farms, lakes, and villages of the Atherton Tablelands.
You’re a world away from the bustle and humidity of Cairns, and you can visit quirky farm shops and cafes overlooking volcanic crater lakes.
You can even admire the huge Fig Tree, a unique tree that’s been growing for hundreds of years.
Nature lovers you need to check out the Atherton Tablelands, below are the top tours we recommend.
- Atherton Tablelands Waterfalls Tour from Cairns
- Full-Day Rainforest 4WD Tour from Cairns
- Fun, Falls and Forests Day Trip from Cairns
14. Ride the Kuranda Scenic Railway
From Cairns, you can take the iconic Kuranda Scenic Railway from the lowlands up to the higher, cooler heights of Kuranda. This scenic railway takes you along narrow tracks carved from the cliffs as you slowly wind upwards.
There are beautiful views of Barron Gorge, and in Kuranda, you can enjoy the delights of this quirky tourist-centric community.
15. Marvel at the Power of Barron Falls
From Kuranda, you can hike along the boardwalks that lead to the viewing areas over Barron Falls, one of the most powerful waterfalls in Australia.
Try to visit after the rainy season if you can, when the waterfall is at its most powerful. You’ll be amazed at the sheer power and volume of water that hurtles over the edge and into the gorge far below.
16. Swim at the Babinda Boulders
Just south of Cairns, you can enjoy the unique rock formations and remarkably crystal-clear waters of the Babinda Boulders.
Nestled away in the rainforest, this is a great place for swimming. Huge boulders are lodged in the river, and boardwalks lead visitors alongside them.
You can swim in certain areas, but always stick to these safe swimming zones!
17. Relax at Port Douglas
Just north of Cairns, you can find the lovely coastal town of Port Douglas. Fringed by long, sandy beaches and home to some quirky pubs, Port Douglas is small-town Australia at its best.
You can escape the crowds and unwind after a long journey north through Queensland, and you can also visit lesser-known parts of the Great Barrier Reef from Port Douglas.
Nature lovers you need to check out Port Douglas, below are the top tours we recommend.
18. Swim and Hike at Mossman Gorge
One of the best things to do in Queensland Australia is to take a hike through the spectacular Mossman Gorge.
Part of the wider Daintree Rainforest, this is an area that’s long been sacred to the local indigenous groups. You can even join a locally-led tour to learn more.
There are several swimming areas in Mossman Gorge that are crocodile free – a rarity in this part of the world!
Mossman Gorge is simply stunning, below are the top tours that includes exploring Mossman Gorge.
19. Spot Crocodiles on the Daintree River
You can’t visit Queensland and not go crocodile spotting! When you’re visiting the Daintree Rainforest, you can take a boat cruise along the Daintree River.
Here, you can find a large number of saltwater crocodiles living in their natural habitat and learn more about these misunderstood creatures from the local guides.
Below are the best crocodile spotting tours offered in the Daintree Rainforest.
20. Four by Four in Cape York
Cape York is the furthest north you can travel in Queensland, and it’s only a journey for the truly adventurous.
This is one of the most remote regions in Australia, and you need to travel in a four by four convoy to visit safely. Enjoy the off-roading, see crocodiles in the wild rivers, and camp out under the stars.
Heading up to Cape York is in epic adventure, below we will highlight one of the best tours offered in Australia.
- 3-Day Cape York Scenic Air Tour from Cairns Including Cooktown, Lizard Island and the Great Barrier Reef
21. North Queensland Horse Riding
If you prefer to keep your feet firmly planted on the ground then a ride through the rainforest may suit you better. The Daintree Rainforest is roughly 110 million years old and features a variety of exotic plant and animal life.
You never know what you will discover. Riding through this picturesque natural beauty is a lovely way to spend an afternoon. The forest is serene and the slow pace is quite relaxing.
Fair warning though, if you are not used to riding you will be saddle sore the next day so be prepared for a few stiff muscles!
22. Visit the Great Barrier Reef
If you enjoy snorkeling and diving, the Great Barrier Reef is a must-see. It is more than 2000 km long and is one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Swim with sea turtles as they paddle their way through the depths or swim alongside manta rays as they glide through the ocean.
Marvel at the beautiful creatures that live on the coral and catch a surprise or two as various types of sea life swim and school in and out of the coral reef formations.
The experience is surreal and the environment quite serene. There is nothing else like it on the planet.
You can not visit Australia without visiting the Great Barrier Reef, its hands down one of the top things to do in Australia. Below are simply the best tours for visiting the Great Barrier Reef.
- Great Barrier Reef Diving and Snorkeling Cruise from Cairns
- Learn to Scuba Dive on the Great Barrier Reef: 4-Day PADI Open Water Dive Course
- Ultimate Great Barrier Reef and Rainforest 45-minute Helicopter Tour
23. Road Trip Around the Outback
Go ‘western’ and rugged as you explore the outback. This is a Cowboy’s dream. There are horse races and campfires to be had.
Yet all is not rough and rugged in the Australian wilderness. From time to time operas are held that celebrate spring with some of the most unique events imaginable.
The people in the outback are friendly and unpretentious. They do not worry about much; life is slow and enjoyable.
Try your hand at ranch living before you leave. Unwind in the outback and leave feeling refreshed and renewed.
24. Dive with Whales
This is one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Have you ever wanted to dive with whales? Well, in Queensland you can!
During the months of June and July, you can actually dive with the gentle giants known as the Minke whale.
You will descend to the depths of the ocean near the Great Barrier Reef. There you will find the Minke whales.
They are gentle and sweet; and also a bit curious at times! Sweet, gentle giants, swimming with these creatures is an opportunity you do not want to miss.
Below are the best whale tours offered in Queensland.
- Hervey Bay Premium Whale Watching Cruise
- Blue Dolphin Small-Group Hervey Bay Whale Watching Cruise
- Hervey Bay Whale Swim and Watch
25. Explore the Daintree Rainforest
If you like to hike and explore off the beaten track then head directly to the Daintree Rainforest on your next visit to Queensland.
You’re able to access an abundance of trails from the general parking area that will take you in, around and through some of the best nature available.
If you’re feeling really adventurous, head up to the end of the road at Cape Tribulation and set off on the trails that will lead you to more remote areas of the park.
Be sure to take adequate amounts of water, snacks and to let someone know where you’re headed before you go.
We visited after a large storm had passed through the area and found ourselves having to divert from trails due to fallen trees.
Read about our adventure: Getting Lost in the Daintree Rainforest.
26. Visit a Theme Park
Get caught up in roller coasters and rides as you visit one of the same parks along Australia’s Gold Coast. There are several parks in Queensland each offering its own brand of thrill and adventure.
Get soaked at Wet n’ Wild as you careen down water slides or take it easy in the lazy river.
Warner Brothers Movie World will immerse you inside the film and offers several themed movie rides full of thrills and fun. Sea World will entertain you with polar bears, dolphins and the like.
Last but not least Dreamworld is waiting to turn your stomach upside down with one of its coasters. Fun for the entire family, you will want to return again and again.
27. Camp on Fraser Island
This is the largest sand island in the world, and as such is laden with campers. Come experience the beautiful freshwater lakes that have been around for centuries.
There are so many things to do on Fraser Island during your visit. Not to mention, there are miles and miles of sand dunes calling out to your adventurous or thrill-seeking alter ego.
Windsurf the dunes or rev up your four-wheeling off-road vehicle and kick up some sand. The dunes are a blast.
On a side note, this is also a World Heritage site. As such, it needs to be a must-see during your visit.
Read about our visit to Fraser Island: Off-Roading and Bush Camping on Fraser Island
28. Reach New Heights
The Story Bridge is not only one of the most iconic images in Brisbane, but it also has a uniqueness that is all it’s own. It is the only bridge in the world that offers thrill-seekers a climbing and abseiling experience.
If adventure calls you further, then a short drive away is the largest external building climb. Just point your compass towards Skypoint.
Considering a Trip to Queensland Soon?
This Eastern state is charming and alluring, but in a word, Queensland screams “Adventure”!
All of the activities listed above have their own brand of fun. One of them will surely speak to you whether you are an explorer, diver, or extreme recreation enthusiast.
Sydney to Melbourne
|Most of the Coast
Sydney to Cairns
|Australia & New Zealand Discovery
Cairns to Queenstown
More on Australia:
- 20 Favorite Wildlife Photos from Australia
- Getting Lost in the Daintree Rainforest
- All Roads End at Cape Tribulation
- Facing my Fears on the Great Barrier Reef
- Cruising the Whitsundays with Anaconda III
- RTW Recap: 8 weeks in Australia