ULTIMATE AUSTRALIA TRAVEL GUIDE

Australia is the World’s largest island and the smallest, flattest continent on Earth. It is located in the southern hemisphere just west of the international dateline. Our Australia Travel Guide is here to help take the guesswork out of planning your itinerary.

Officially part of Oceania, Australia is a diverse nation with stunning coastlines, more beaches than you could hope for, a desolate bush in the center and everything else in between.

We spent 8 weeks seeing Australia while we drove from Melbourne to Cairns, worked at a warmblood horse farm in Victoria and explored the humid city of Darwin.

The funny part, we had only planned to stay for 4 weeks. Australia sucks you in with the headline sights and keeps you wanting more with its diversity.

TRAVEL TO AUSTRALIA: QUICK TIPS

Australia
  • Do you need a visa? All visitors require a Visa. Apply online for a 90-day eVisa. Free for US Citizens.

  • Currency: Australian Dollar

  • Climate: Varies by region including desert, coastal, dry, tropical and humid climates.

  • Primary Religion: Christianity

  • Local Languages: English

  • Safety Tips: Do not swim in the waters north of Brisbane or hike off any trail. Watch out for crocodiles, sharks, snakes and spiders. Australia has the largest concentration of deadly animals of any one country.

  • WIFI: Available in most, if not all, accommodation throughout the country. Many restaurants and tourist offices offer WIFI too. 

  • SIM Cards: If you have an unlocked phone, it is possible to pick up a local SIM card at any Australia airport on arrival. This will enable you to have data like you would at home. Another alternative is a universal SIM card that works in multiple countries.

  • Travel Insurance: With all travel, we highly recommend you take out a travel insurance policy when you book your trip. This will cover your trip in case of any unforeseen events happen.

DON'T VISIT AUSTRALIA WITHOUT:

UNIVERSAL TRAVEL ADAPTER

GET A GUIDEBOOK

REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE

AUSTRALIA BUCKET LIST

Great Ocean Road Australia Koala Bear

DRIVE THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD

Heading west along the coast from Melbourne is one of Australia's best drives, the Great Ocean Road. You'll uncover the surfer culture, see plenty of wildlife and stare in wonder at places like the Twelve Apostles. Be sure to give it at least 2 nights.

Great Barrier Reef Diving Australia

SCUBA DIVE THE GREAT BARRIER REEF

Heading underwater to explore the world's largest barrier reef is almost a rite of passage when exploring Australia! The reef is accessible from Airlie Beach all the way up to Cairns and it's possible to book diving trips for all levels.

Fraser Island Camping

BUSH CAMP ON FRASER ISLAND

While controlled camping is possible on Fraser Island, the best way to experience the island is by bush camping. Done with a permitted company, this will see you camping out in the wilds. It's a refreshing adventure.

Add more to your Australia bucket list!

POPULAR REGIONS IN AUSTRALIA

Sydney Opera House Sydney Australia

NEW SOUTH WALES

New South Wales is the starting point for many first time visitors who travel to Australia.

This is where you’ll find Sydney, one of Australia’s most iconic destinations, as well as the stunning Blue Mountains and famous beaches such as Manly and Bondi.

New South Wales is more than Sydney, though: you can road trip south to Jervis Bay, head north to Newcastle, Port Macquarie, and all the way to Byron Bay.

Or you could head inland to the Australian Capital Territory and Canberra, or the tall peaks of Kosciuszko National Park.  

Fraser Island Lake Birabeen

QUEENSLAND

Head north from New South Wales, and you can explore the tropical coastline of Queensland as part of your Australia travel itinerary. Start by relaxing on the Gold Coast beaches, where golden sands meet the city skyline spectacularly.

Continue to Brisbane, one of the best cities in Australia. Here, you’ll find great bars and restaurants along the Southbank, the excellent Museum of Queensland, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, and much more.

Keep heading north, and you'll be able to visit the white sands of Fraser Island, the beautiful sandy islands of the Whitsundays, the Great Barrier Reef at Cairns, and the ancient Daintree Rainforest.

Uluru, Ayers Rock, Australia

NORTHERN TERRITORY

The Northern Territory is where you can find the iconic natural site of Uluru and the endless deserts of the Red Centre. This is the real Outback territory.

Head to the far north, and you’ll discover a relatively understated part of the country in the tropical surrounds of Darwin.

Visit the steaming hot jungles of Kakadu National Park, explore incredible canyons, see crashing waterfalls, and watch out for crocs in the rivers in this great addition to your Australia travel itinerary.

If you seek adventure, you'll want to head to NT.

Overland Track in Tasmania

TASMANIA

Right at the southern tip of Australia, the colder climes of Tasmania are perfect for anyone looking to travel to Australia and get off the beaten track. Take the ferry across from the mainland, or fly into Hobart - either way, you’ll quickly be immersed in the dramatic coastal scenery and wilderness of the interior. Visit the lakes of Cradle Mountain, hike to the top of Mount Wellington, explore the history and heritage of Port Arthur, and enjoy the cool weather and breezy atmosphere!

Twelve Apostles Great Ocean Road Australia

VICTORIA

Victoria is best known for its capital city, Melbourne, where you’ll find Australia’s quirkiest cafes, best coffee, and most intriguing galleries and museums. If you’re looking for culture when you travel, this is the destination for you.

There’s more to see in Victoria though: you can road trip along the epic Great Ocean Road, see the penguins at Phillip Island, or hike through the wilderness of Wilsons Promontory. 

South Australia

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

South Australia is home to both beautiful beaches and remote Outback scenery. It’s a great place to road trip and start a journey either east to Melbourne or north to Uluru.

Adelaide is South Australia’s laidback and understated capital, home to wonderful botanical gardens and some interesting cultural museums and galleries. The Flinders Chase National Park has beautiful hiking opportunities, while the dusty, underground hotels and pubs of Coober Pedy are like nowhere else in the world.

Western Australia

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Head west to explore the remote reaches of Western Australia. Start in Perth, the most remote capital city in the world, before heading south to the colorful wine region of Margaret River and the beaches and coastal scenery of Albany and Esperance.

Or you could head north, traveling along the long coastal road to stop off at the Ningaloo Reef, where you might spot Whale Sharks, head inland to the gorges of Karijini National Park, and explore the sheer beauty of Broome and the Kimberleys.

AUSTRALIA TRAVEL BUDGET

Setting a budget for travel to Australia is highly dependent on your travel style. It is possible to visit just about anywhere in Australia on any budget and still have a great trip. That said, you can make your trip as basic or as luxurious as you desire.

To help you set your budget, we've included some base range price estimations for travel within Australia. Of course, keep in mind that prices can fluctuate based on seasons, availability and festivals.

ACCOMMODATION: Hostels will cost between AUD 20 and AUD 30 per night, although long-term backpackers can often organize deals on longer stays. Hotels will cost upwards of AUD 100 per night. Many travelers choose to rent a car and camp, which can lower accommodation costs dramatically.  

FOOD: Eating out isn’t cheap in Australia. Even a meal in a pub or cafe will likely set you back at least AUD 20 per person, more if it’s an upmarket restaurant. You can stay in self-catering accommodation or cook on the beach barbecues to save on costs if road tripping.

TRANSPORTATION: Because of the vast distances between major destinations, you’ll need to plan your transport carefully as part of your Australia travel itinerary. The cheapest way to travel between cities is usually by flying budget airlines. Bus and train links exist on the east coast, and sporadically on the west, but are limited and costly. Many travelers prefer to arrange a car or campervan hire, which can be found for as little as AUD 50 per day.

ACTIVITIES: Activity costs vary - from free hiking in national parks and days spent lounging at the beach to expensive paid activities at famous destinations. Scuba diving will cost AUD 100 per dive, while a boat trip out to the Great Barrier Reef will cost a minimum of AUD 100 for the day from Cairns. A day tour of Fraser Island will cost AUD 150, while the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb is a similar price.

BUDGET

75 AUD PER DAY

Staying in hostels, camping, and carpooling to get around, while mostly living off groceries from the supermarket. Make this AUD 100 to throw in the odd private room or day tour.

MID-RANGE

200 AUD PER DAY

Midrange travelers looking to stay in private accommodation, eat out regularly, and enjoy plenty of day tours will need to budget at least AUD 200 per day.

LUXURY

500+ AUD PER DAY

Travelers looking to enjoy the best restaurants, private tours, and upscale private hotels fit here. For this standard of vacation, you can expect to spend at least AUD 500 per day

WHERE TO STAY IN AUSTRALIA

Below you will find some of the places we have stayed during our travels in Australia. These are individual properties that we enjoyed and would recommend to other travelers.

HOW TO GET AROUND IN AUSTRALIA

Australia is a massive country so you definitely need to heed the warnings behind planned drive times and distances between cities. You'll want to er on the side of a conservative plan unless you can be flexible and have unlimited time to explore.

The best ways to get around are by plane or car. If you can’t drive, you can often meet other travelers in hostels or online and pitch in for gasoline, or you could join an organized tour.

FLIGHTS: The quickest way to get around if you’re short on time is to fly between cities and rent a vehicle when you arrive at your destination. Most of Australia and Tasmania is well connected with flights.

BUS: Australia has an extensive Greyhound bus system that operates up the East Coast for travelers. If you don't want to drive, this is a great option for getting around to the most popular areas of the country.

CAR RENTAL: If you have more time, the best way to experience Australia is to road trip. Rent a car or campervan and explore the many excellent road trip routes on the east and west coasts or down the middle! Check out Discover Rental Cars for great deals.

TRAIN: While there are a couple of popular and quite famous train routes in Australia, this is not a good way to rely on getting around. Connectivity between cities is limited and you'll find that most train options are of the luxury variety.

TOP AUSTRALIA TOURS

Blue Mountains Australia

Best of Australia

14 Days Cairns to Sydney

Visits: Airlie Beach, Whitsundays, Brisbane, Byron Bay & Blue Mtns

Twelve Apostles Great Ocean Road Australia

Melbourne, Outback & Uluru

12 Days Melbourne to Uluru

Visits: Mornington, Port Campbell, Adelaide, Grampians & Uluru

Sydney Opera House Sydney Australia

Explore Australia - Nat Geo

12 Days Sydney to Melbourne

Visits: Sydney, Cairns, Port Douglas, Uluru & Melbourne

WHEN TO VISIT AUSTRALIA

When you travel to Australia, don’t forget how vast this country is. Each region (and not just state) has its own climate, and some places are better to travel to at different times of the year.

Generally speaking, the further north you travel, the hotter and more humid it gets. Queensland and the north of WA have a tropical climate; you’ll want to visit in the dry season, between March and October.

Tasmania, Melbourne, Sydney, and Adelaide have a cooler climate and are best visited in summer when it’s hot!

One of the best places to see kangaroos!

SAFETY IN AUSTRALIA

Australia is a very safe country to visit in terms of crime; however, tourists need to be aware of the hazards that the harsh Australian climate might pose during their trip.

When planning an Australian travel itinerary, beware of the vast distances involved if you’re driving. Drivers also need to be aware of the dangers posed by animals, such as kangaroos bounding across the road.

Wildfires are common, particularly in summer, in rural areas. In tropical regions in the north, roads can quickly flood during storms and cyclones.

Travelers also need to be careful of poisonous snakes and spiders (although these rarely cause harm) as well as jellyfish and crocodiles in certain parts of the country (again, usually only a problem in the tropical north!).

Being informed and prepared is the best way to stay safe while traveling. Be sure to check out our safety tips & advice from more than 20 years of world travel.

TRAVEL TO AUSTRALIA: BOOKING RESOURCES

  • Skyscanner - A fantastic flight search engine that searches a lot of different airlines, including many of the budget carriers that larger sites miss. Every single flight search we do starts here.

  • Airbnb - A great accommodation alternative for renting out apartments, condos, townhouses and rooms while traveling. (If you’re new to Airbnb, get $35 off your first stay!)

  • Hotel Seach Engine – Our custom-built hotel search engine allows you to search hotels all over the world and compare prices before booking. It pulls the best prices from all the major online travel agents, such as Expedia, Priceline, Booking, etc. to one place.

  • Discover Car Hire - Allows you to search car rentals across multiple rental agencies worldwide. 

  • Eurail Pass – If you are going to Europe and taking a lot of high speed or long-distance trains, get a rail pass. You can save hundreds of dollars by booking this way. Plus, it's one of our favorite ways to explore Europe!

  • Viator - The best trips are made up of multiple smaller tours to really dig in and get to know the places you are visiting. Our preferred place to book day tours, day trips and shorter multi-day tours is Viator. 

  • G Adventures – If you want to do a group tour around Australia, go with G Adventures. They offer great small group tours that use local operators and leave a small environmental footprint. If you go on a tour with anyone, go with them. 

  • World Nomads – We don't travel without insurance and you shouldn't either!