So you want to know about visiting Australia on a two-week vacation?
Great question, because Australia is the 6th biggest country in the world and two weeks is not a lot of time. If you’re a first-time visitor to Australia, you need to put some thought into your Australia travel planning.
First of all, let’s share some Australia facts to put into perspective how you need to go about planning a trip to Australia with just two weeks at your disposal.
Many travelers disregard the actual size of Australia, and it’s landscape until they arrive and end up regretting the choices they made in the planning stage.
I once had a British guy complain to me that he took a bus from Perth to Sydney and that it wasted three days of his trip, and all he saw was red desert. A little planning and common knowledge would tell you this!
Visiting Australia in 2 weeks
Australia is Massive
In fact, it’s about the same size as mainland USA minus Alaska.
Australia’s coastline stretches almost 50,000 kilometres and is linked by over 10,000 beaches. We haven’t been to everyone yet, but here’s a list of 38 of the best beaches in Australia that we recommend.
If you were to drive through the centre from Sydney to Perth, a 4,000-kilometre trip, and you drove for 8 hours per day, that’s a five-day trip!
We have a cattle station in South Australia the size of Belgium, and the world’s longest continuous fence – the dingo fence – built to keep sheep safe that runs for 5,530 kilometres through central Queensland and South Australia.
So, considering Australia is so vast, the problem becomes how to travel Australia in a short amount of time, and where to visit in Australia?
Because Australia is fairly isolated from most of the world requiring a long flight, for many people it becomes a once-in-a-lifetime trip.
After spending four years living in the USA I had so many people say to me,
“Australia would be my dream trip, but it’s so far away, and I only get two weeks vacation per year”.
So the scenario usually plays out like this: those type of people never come, OR, because it’s their “once-in-a-lifetime trip” they want to cram everything into that two weeks and “see it all”, but in reality they see a lot of airports and the back of the seat in front of them.
How to plan a trip to Australia – on a 2-week trip
Whether we are visiting a continent or a country, our travel motto has always been “spend more time in fewer places“. Especially now that we travel with kids.
We highly recommend instead of racing from one end of Australia to the another, focus on one region or type of vacation.
Having to pack and unpack, deal with many airports, bus terminals, or lots of long road trips in Australia can lead to burning out and waste precious time. And too much moving around can eat into your budget.
And you’ll need to be travelling Australia on a budget!! It’s not cheap.
So slow down and take more in. That way you’ll get a better feel for a place and get to know the best things to do. Understand that you will never have time to see EVERYTHING. And be okay with it.
Just like if we were to travel from Australia to the US with only a two week period we would concentrate on say California, or do a region like Los Angeles-Las Vegas-Grand Canyon.
We wouldn’t go from the west coast to east coast and back. That’s the mentality you have to have with travelling in Australia.
Places to visit in Australia
With only two weeks up your sleeve, you want to make sure you prioritize the things you want to see in Australia and the type of travel most suited to you.
When considering any trip, but particularly one such as this, there are some important questions you need to ask yourself. Do you prefer:
- Cities or country areas
- Coastal or the outback
- Adventure travel or food and wine
- Relaxation or the party scene
- Historical sites or sporting events
The answers to these questions will go a long way towards making sure you give yourself the best chance to have a richly rewarding Australia travel experience.
Types of travel experiences in Australia
You can pretty much do and see it all in Australia.
We have vibrant cities, quaint country towns, world-class wine regions, ancient rainforests, mountains to hike, amazing reefs to dive, stunning beaches for swimming, deserts to explore, and unique wildlife.
There is something for everyone.
But, with only two weeks travel time, you need to focus on one, maybe two types of experiences. Below are examples of the types of experiences you could choose individually, or combine two of them together.
Major Cities in Australia
If you are after a city style vacation, Australia has modern, vibrant, and diverse cities unique from each other filled with culture and natural beauty.
- On the east coast, we have the major cities of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane as well as the smaller cities of the Gold Coast and Cairns.
- Down south is Adelaide and Hobart.
- Over on the west coast are Perth and Broome.
- Up north is Darwin
- and in the red centre is Alice Springs.
Australia’s major cities showcase its outdoor lifestyle, multicultural precincts, shops, theatres, bars, cafe scene, and sporting culture.
Food and Wine in Australia
For a food and wine vacation, you are well catered to Down Under.
Or, you can drop into a country pub where you’ll be welcomed by the locals and can try one of their boutique beers.
You can also try our amazing seafood, kangaroo steak, or experience many of our farmers markets with their organic fruit and vegetables, cheeses and chocolates.
Coastal Experiences in Australia
Australia is the island nation, so a coastal vacation is a popular option. With a stunning coastline of white sandy beaches and abundant water activities, Australia is the iconic beach destination.
You can swim, sail, surf, kayak, dive, snorkel, go boating, parasail, sandboard, and then end the day with a beach BBQ. Highlights could include:
- Taking in the sunset riding a camel along Cable Beach at Broome, Western Australia
- Learning to surf on the Gold Coast or Byron Bay
- Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef
- Swim with dolphins
- Whale watch
- 4wd on Fraser Island
- Eat fish and chips at Bondi Beach
With the majority of Australia’s population living near the seaboard, the coastal lifestyle is where it’s at.
The Australian Outback
Experience life under the stars or on a cattle station, go horse riding, camping, and sing songs around the campfire. You can marvel at waterholes, rivers, gorges and creeks that make their way through our massive outback deserts.
A visit to the outback is something unique and I, would encourage most travelers to put on their list.
Aboriginal Experiences in Australia
To have an aboriginal experience would mean spending time with the world’s most ancient living culture. Aboriginal Australians are said to have been on the Island for at least 50,000 years.
Experience first hand their culture through myths and storytelling, dance and music, art and traditions. You could:
- view ancient rock engravings and paintings
- Witness ceremonies, dance and song dating back thousands of years
- Visit important spiritual centres with local guides who will tell you stories about the Dreamtime
- Learn bush survival skills
- Taste the world’s oldest cuisine
- Support Indigenous tourism entrepreneurs and help create sustainable employment.
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Wildlife and Nature in Australia
Australia is a great destination for a wildlife and nature experiences. From tropical rainforests to red-stone deserts, the wildlife that inhabits these areas are unique and diverse.
Adventure travel in Australia
If you’d like a bit of an adventure on your vacation, then Australia is tough to beat.
There’s also camping, and four-wheel-driving adventures such as the Gibb River Road in Western Australia, or for the ultimate Outback experience try 5 day outback safari through the amazing Flinders Ranges.
Australia itinerary – 2 weeks
The following suggestions are for a two – three week period in Australia, and they take in the types of vacations mentioned above or a combination of them.
They are merely ideas to be used as a guide, and further research is encouraged for planning a trip to Australia.
Of course, your mode of transport and the distance you travel within Australia will affect how much time you have available in each place or region.
You could visit:
- Melbourne and Tasmania
- Sydney, Melbourne, and Uluru
- Brisbane, Gold Coast, and Byron Bay
- Brisbane, Fraser Island, and Cairns
- Perth, Broome, and Margaret River
- Sydney, Adelaide, Alice Springs / Uluru
- Darwin, Alice Springs / Uluru, Cairns
- Brisbane, Cairns, Alice Springs / Uluru
- Sydney, Blue Mountains, Hunter Valley
- Adelaide, Barossa Valley, Alice Springs
- Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road
- Broome and the Gibb River Road
- Sydney and the Pacific Highway to Brisbane
These aren’t the only combinations, and to be perfectly honest I could easily spend the whole two weeks travelling Australia in Sydney and Melbourne and still run out of time to do things there!
Where Are You Flying to Australia From?
Once again, because your vacation time is short, you want to be smart with your flights by choosing the closest destinations to your origin to save time.
If you are coming into Australia from North America, it will make sense to concentrate on the east coast and red centre. If you are coming in from the UK or Asia, you may be better off hitting the west coast.
Weigh up the pros and cons of how practical your destination choices are. There’s no point spending a good chunk of your vacation time in airports and on planes.
Don’t travel to Australia just for the sake of being able to say you’ve been there. Because if you race around trying to see a million things you will end up leaving feeling like you need another vacation.
Give yourself time to absorb your experiences and create life long memories, not memories of planes and packing.
Need More Tips for Australia?
Check out these posts:
Plan Your Trip to Australia
We’ve been traveling consistently for 17 years and have come to rely on a few trusted websites that save us money and time when booking accommodation, flights and car rental. Below are our preferred partners:
- Booking.com has over 11,000 properties in Australia including hotels, apartments and hostels. You get free cancellation on most rooms and best price guarantee.
Flights to Australia
- Skyscanner is a comparison website that searches millions of flights. Once you find your best deal, you book directly through the airline or agent (no extra fees). Download the new Skyscanner App, which makes it easier for you to find the best travel deals. It’s an all in one flights, hotel and car hire search engine app!
Car Rental in Australia
- RentalCars.com is the world’s biggest car rental booking service that compares all the major brands like Hertz, Avis, Alamo, Enterprise, Europcar and Thrifty.