The cost of travel in Australia seems to be getting higher by the second, it’s crazy! As Australians living in America, we are always being asked; is Australia expensive to visit? How much does it cost to travel in Australia?
Sure, it’s unique and beautiful and a dream destination for many people, but it’s no secret Australia is also a premium destination that comes with a price tag – a tag that reads one of the most expensive places to visit.
But don’t let that put you off going. There are ways that you can reduce your travel budget for Australia and still have a great time – in fact, we have a complete separate guide to Australia travel budgets here.
In this guide, we’ve focused soley on the cost of travel in Australia so you get an idea for how much things cost and can work out your travel budget.
Note the prices in this guide are in Australian Dollars (AUD). You will need to run the prices through Xe.com to find the exchange rate conversion in your own country.
- Cost of Travel in Australia
- Cost of Accommodation in Australia
- The Cost of Getting Around Australia
- The Cost of Bus Travel in Australia
- The Cost of Food and Drink in Australia
- The Cost of Tours & Activities in Australia
- Should You Visit Australia?
- Cheapest Time of Year to Visit Australia
- Final Thoughts
- Need More Tips for Travel in Australia?
- Save It On Pinterest
- Tours of Australia
Cost of Travel in Australia
Below we have broken down the costs of travel in Australia into each category for consideration – whether that be your mode of transport, activities and attractions, or accommodation.
So is it really that bad? Maybe you can tell me? I’ve gone through almost every facet of travel and priced things out details as though I was planning my own adventure.
I hope you find the below breakdown of overall costs useful for planning your expenses, and it helps you to get your head around thinking on Australian terms now, and not Asian, American or Eastern Europe prices.
Cost of Flights in Australia
Depending on the time of year and day of the week the cost of flights to Australia will vary greatly just as they do in any country.
For my first example, let’s look at one of the most popular flights on the network, the Sydney –> Melbourne route.
- 1hr 30min flight
- Return ticket
- Booked 5 weeks in advance
- Departing in November
I ran this scenario through my favourite flight search engines. Best price I got at the time was:
How does this price compare with a 90 minute return flight in your country?
The second example I used was another popular flight from Sydney –> Cairns, you’ve gotta visit the Great Barrier Reef right?
- 3 hour flight
- One way ticket
- Booked 5 weeks in advance
- Departing in August
Best price I found was:
- $275 return
- Via the Kayak search site
How does this price compare with a 3 hour one-way flight in your country?
When searching flights in Australia I always start with these sites:
My strategy is to check the above search engines first, then I cross-check the prices with the actual airline with who I found the best price. Sometimes the best deals can be from the airlines themselves.
The major carriers flying domestic in Australia are:
Cost of Accommodation in Australia
Your other major travel cost in Australia will be accommodation. This will also vary greatly depending on whether you need 1 or 5 stars, your date of travel, the city, and number of persons you’re travelling with.
Cost of Hotels in Australia
We don’t stay in hotels nearly as much as we used to pre-kids unless it’s a short city stay and we can get a great deal in a good location, with breakfast and free wi-fi included.
For my research on a hotel stay I used the following criteria:
- 3 night stay
- Check in Monday Aug 4th
- 4 guests (2 adults / 2 kids)
With so many things to do in Sydney it deserves at least 3 nights and in the City Centre would be your best bet.
I started by using one of my favourite sites for hotel deals, Hotwire. This site doesn’t tell you the name of the hotel until you book, instead, it gives you a zone to choose from based on how many stars.
- For a 3-star hotel in the City Centre it quoted: 2 hotels at $200 AUS total for 3 night stay.
- For a 4-star hotel it quoted: 6 hotels at $400 total for 3 night stay.
How does that compare to your city?
My other hotel booking site is Hotels.com. For a 3-star hotel in the City Centre prices ranged from $197 – $307.
And for a 4-star from $334 – $444.
Cost of Apartments in Australia
As a family of four we seek out apartment stays. Most hotel rooms were not built for families with young kids.
We enjoy having more space, a kitchen, a washing machine, and separate bedrooms.
You can expect the average cost of a vacation rental in Australia to cost you around $250 AUS per night. You can find some as low as $40 AUS, and as high as $400 AUS.
Using the same criteria as for the hotel stay I used these sites:
VRBO – this is a good holiday rental site in Australia for finding short or long-term deals in apartments, peoples homes, units, cabins and more.
Tripping.com – this is a site that compares all the other rental sites at once to get you the best deal. For the 3 night stay in Sydney I got 333 results. Here’s an example:
Airbnb has a growing list of inventory in Australia whether you need an apartment for a night, or a home for a month.
For the 3 night stay in Sydney I focused on the inner city neighbourhoods of Surry Hills, Darlinghurst and Woolloomooloo area and got these examples:
And for Bondi Beach I got 33 rentals and this is a selection of those results:
Cost of Hostels in Australia
Hostels are a great budget option with various standards and facilities from hostel to hostel around the country.
The average cost of a hostel in Australia is between $30-$60 AUS, depending on whether you book a dorm bed or private room.
For my Sydney search on the various hostel search sites I got 71 results for those same dates in August, and in an 8-bed hostel dorm beds starting from $20 AUS.
We had a partnership with YHA Australia as are our exclusive hostel provider as we travelled around Australia. We’ve stayed in YHA properties for many years because as a family of 4 we’re DONE with dorm rooms and YHA is a brand we like and trust and 99% of the time they are not party hostels.
For those dates in Sydney I got $35 for an 8 bed dorm to $136 for a family room.
Private rooms tend to be twice as much as dorm beds, so if you’re traveling alone this will eat into your budget – though couples can split the cost.
The Cost of Caravanning & Camping in Australia
For many people who live in Australia or travel Australia long-term, the Australia road trip involving caravanning and camping is their preferred option.
There’s a great network of facilities in most places, and they either buy or rent their equipment.
Again, depending on the time of year, location and number of persons camping prices will vary wildly.
As we have spent 1.5 years traveling around Australia towing a camper trailer, prices for a powered site in a caravan park have ranged from $50 – $70 AUS per night.
For an unpowered site from $25 – $40 AUS.
Pitching a tent can cost you as little as $7 AUS.
Before we had our camper trailer we did some camping and prices within caravan parks for us as a family of 4 ranged greatly from $30 – $60.
- Big4 Caravan Parks is the major player. They can be the most expensive caravan parks in Australia, but typically have the best facilities, especially for our kids with things like playgrounds, pools, movie nights, kids clubs etc.
- Top Tourist Caravan Parks is the other major player with a similar concept to Big4 but not quite as many parks in their network.
- Free Camping in Australia is possible at designated camping sites in many locations. They just don’t have the facilities that paid parks have. Check out ExploreAustralia.net.au
- WikiCamps is a great app we’ve just discovered which has a user-generated database of caravan parks and campsites in Australia with user reviews on the features.
The Cost of Getting Around Australia
Local transport varies from city to city but Melbourne probably has the best with an extensive network of rail, bus, tram and ferries.
A 10 minute taxi ride from the airport in any city to your hotel will cost you about $40.
Unless you’re just flying into Sydney or Melbourne for a few days and using public transport you’ll need your own wheels to get out and see the country.
The Cost of Car Rental in Australia
DiscoverCars.com is where we start our rental search.
This site compares all the major car rental sites at once and displays your best options for the dates and locations you desire then sends you to the particular car company to make the booking (much like Kayak for flights).
The average cost of a car rental in Australia is between $40-$80 for small cars, and $80-$110 for standard sized cars.
Buying a Car in Australia
If you’re planning on spending a long period of time in Australia and want to buy a car you can spend as much as you want. Check out the websites below.
The cost of fuel in Australia: The cost of unleaded fuel is about $1.90 per litre on a national average. The cost of fuel depends on the region, with the Northern Territory being the most expensive.
The cost of diesel in North Queensland is $1.97 per litre.
Hot Tip: if you buy a camper trailer like us or a campervan try and resell it in the north or west of the country as you’ll get a higher sales price.
The Cost of Campervan Rental in Australia
Another option is to rent a campervan (motorhome) which becomes your wheels and your bed all in one. This is another popular option that we see plenty on the road and people staying in caravan parks.
For my example I used this criteria:
- 3 week rental
- Pick up Sydney, drop off Cairns
- 4 people (2 adults, 2 kids)
- From Nov 3rd
The best prices and the biggest inventory seemed to be from ApolloCamper.com.au which started at $115 per day for a 4 birth.
The average cost of a campervan rental in Australia is $100-$200 AUS per day.
Other sites to check out include:
For the backpackers or couples, I used the following sites:
Jucy seemed to have the better daily rate starting from $60 AUS.
The Cost of Bus Travel in Australia
They both operate around the hop-on-hop-off system and have different passes depending on length of trip and areas covered.
For this example, I used the popular Melbourne –> Cairns route.
Greyhound have traveller passes for as little as $265 for regional, and $369 for national passes. You can travel between Melbourne and Cairns, hop on and off as many times as you want between these two destinations.
The Cost of Train Travel in Australia
There are a couple of famous train routes throughout the country.
One is the Ghan which travels from Adelaide via Alice Springs/Uluru to Darwin (2,979 km’s) and takes 2 nights.
Prices in for one adult siting in a seat started from $499 and $1895 for a cabin.
These rail journeys are more scenic routes and won’t save you money, or get you to your destination in a hurry!
The Cost of Food and Drink in Australia
When it’s time to go out and eat, here is what you can expect your food costs in Australia to be…
Cafes & Restaurants
Eating out too often on your travels in Australia can really take a BITE out of your budget (pardon the pun).
For us to eat out as a family of four at breakfast in a cafe would normally overall cost us $50+.
A mug of coffee is from $5 – $7 depending on what kind of coffee you drinnk and where.
Our order typically reads:
- Eggs benedict ($15-$18)
- Smashed avocado on toast ($15-$18)
- One serve kids pancakes to share ($12)
- 2 x coffees ($4.50 each)
Lunch in a cafe in Australia would be a similar price. Meal prices on average would be:
- Hamburger $12 – $18
- Fish & Chips $15
- Lasagne $18
- Greek salad $18
- Kids meals $8 – $12
- Glass of wine/beer $6 – $8
A restaurant would be more!
As for dinner, I’m not even going there. Too many different types of restaurants and options.
But typically dinner is the most expensive meal of the day and in a mid-range restaurant you’re looking at $15-$25+ per main meal.
Supermarkets in Australia
Prices will differ from region to region and season to season, but below are examples of some staple food costs:
- Loaf of bread: $3.00
- Gallon of milk: $8.60
- Dozen eggs: $5.70
- Chicken fillets: $14.25
- Apples: $4.87 per kg
- 1.5 litres of water: $2.68
- Tomatoes: $7 per kg
- Cheese: $14.26 per kg
- Coke bottle (0.33 litres): $3.95
The Cost of Alcohol in Australia
If you think eating out is expensive, start consuming too many alcoholic drinks and you’ll wake up the next morning with a much lighter wallet than the night before.
Example prices from a bottle shop (liquor store):
- Domestic beers (375 ml): $6.77 per bottle
- Imported beers (375 mil): $7.33 per bottle
- Pack of cigarettes: $40 for 20
- Mid range bottle of wine: $20
At the pub or a bar in one of the major cities you’ll be looking at:
- Pint: $10-$12
- Schooner (425 ml): $6-$8
- Glass of house wine: $6-$8
The Cost of Tours & Activities in Australia
I’m not going to go too deep into this area as there are a million variables, and not everything costs money.
We do have some awesome FREE things to do in Sydney and we’ve got over 10,000 of some of the best beaches in the world which are free (besides the parking fees).
You can find some cool free stuff to do in any location, but here are a few examples of some of the most famous activities and the costs involved:
- Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb costs $364. You can walk across for free.
- Dreamworld is Australia’s biggest theme park and costs $95 for day tickets. . Click here to get your Dreamworld ticket
- Great Barrier Reef – we did a one day tour from Cairns to Marine World with Reef Magic Cruises, which cost $240 AUS per person. I paid an extra cost for an introductory scuba dive. This catamaran reef cruise looks better for around the same price.
- Australia Zoo – Home of Steve Irwin the Crocodile Hunter $59 adult $35 child. Get your tickets here.
- National Parks – Australia has over 500 National Parks and vehicle entry fees typically cost from $7 – $12 per day. Click here to read our favourite 25 National Parks
If you are visiting multiple cities and attractions, then it may be best to purchase an Australian Multi city Flexible Attractions Pass. It can save you up to 40% off admission to Australia’s famous attractions, tours, cruises and things to do all on one easy to use card
Tours of Australia
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Should You Visit Australia?
Now you know how much you’re going to spend, you might be asking yourself if visiting Australia is even worth it! Of course, you should visit Australia if it’s your dream destination.
Australia is expensive, yes, and you might have to save up more money than for other destinations, but if it’s the destination that appeals to you the most and you find value in what it has to offer regardless of the cost, come on down.
If you want to explore Australia, and there’s certainly a lot to see and do, then find a way to make it happen. It’s an amazing country to road trip and at the end of the day it’s all about accumulating lifelong memories!
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Cheapest Time of Year to Visit Australia
You might be wondering, is there a cheaper time of year to visit Australia? The simple answer is no.
You can expect prices in Sydney to be through the rough on New Year, but other than that, it’s pretty much the same all year round.
The reason for this is because Australia has a multi-climate, with warm weather on the East Coast in December – February, attracting all the Northern Hemisphere tourists wanting to escape their harsh winters.
Those in the UK have their summer holidays in July and August, which though it’s winter in Australia, is the ideal time for them to get away for a long period of time (if you’re traveling as far as the UK or USA to Australia, you’re going to need at least 3 weeks).
That being said, you may find cheaper flight deals to Australia in the winter period of May and June, but we don’t see prices of hotels or attractions reducing this time of year.
They say why pay $75 for a one-hour massage in Australia when you can pay $8 in Thailand…?
Why pay $12 for a beer when you can pay $3 in Vietnam?
When you go away on holiday, the last thing you want is to be counting every dollar, and you certainly don’t want to return home with a hefty credit card bill.
You’ve saved up for a year to enjoy your dream trip, you don’t want to be paying for it for another year once you return home!
We hope this guide helped you understand the cost of travel to Australia and helped you work out your budget.
Need More Tips for Travel in Australia?
Need more inspo for Australia? check out these posts on Australia…
- Things to do on the Eyre Peninsula, South Australia
- 12 awesome things to do on Fraser Island
- Why Rottnest Island should be on your bucket list
- 14 Best Road Trips in Australia
- 12 Natural Wonders in Australia
- 50 Stunning and Adventures Things to do in Queensland
- 50 Amazing Things to do in Western Australia
- 28 Things to do in Broome, WA – our favorite place in Australia
- 20 Places to Put on your Australian Bucket List
- 45 Things to know before visiting Australia
- 3 weeks in Australia itinerary
- How to work and travel in Australia
- How to visit Australia on a two week vacation
Save It On Pinterest
Is Australia on your bucket list? Would you still visit knowing the high cost of travel in Australia? Let us know in the comments.