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If there are two questions I’m always asked, it’s what are the top places in Australia to visit? And what experiences should be on my Australia bucket list? Well, if you’re asking yourselves those questions, you’ve come to the right place.
As Australians, we’ve traveled our own backyard extensively and have even completed an 18-month road trip around Australia. We know how to travel in Australia pretty well, but even we struggled to narrow down all the top places for an Australia bucket list to just 20 places.
Australia is home to miles and miles of gorgeous coastline, mysterious islands, the world-famous Great Barrier Reef, the majestic outback desert, glamorous cities, vast swamps and wetlands, and unique wildlife you won’t find anywhere else.
With all this to explore, it’s unsurprising that visiting Australia has been on most people’s bucket list. Everyone should come down under at least once in their lifetime.
But if you only have one chance to see the best places in Australia, these would be my top suggestions for seeing the best of what our country has to offer.
- 20 Best Places in Australia to Add to Your Bucketlist
- 1. Whitsunday Islands, Queensland
- 2. Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory
- 3. Margaret River, Western Australia
- 4. Sydney, New South Wales
- 5. Broome, Western Australia
- 6. Byron Bay, NSW
- 7. Freycinet National Park, Tasmania
- 8. Uluru, Northern Territory
- 9. Great Barrier Reef, Queensland
- 10. Daintree Rainforest, Queensland
- 11. Fraser Island, Queensland
- 12. Melbourne, Victoria
- 13. Great Ocean Road, Victoria
- 14. Rottnest Island, Western Australia
- 15. Hobart, Tasmania
- 16. Barossa Valley, South Australia
- 17. Karijini National Park, Western Australia
- 18. Gold Coast, Queensland
- 19. Wilsons Promontory National Park, Victoria
- 20. Kangaroo Island, South Australia
- Before You Go
- More Tips for Visiting Australia
- Tours of Australia
20 Best Places in Australia to Add to Your Bucketlist
Let’s begin our list of the best places in Australia to add to your bucket list. These destinations should not be skipped off any itinerary if you want to see the best of the country.
1. Whitsunday Islands, Queensland
Ahh The Whitsundays. If heaven had a place on Earth, it would be here.
There are 74 islands that make up The Whitsundays and it’s most famous for its turquoise blue waters, white sandy beaches, and thriving marine life. What’s not to love?!
It’s home to our favourite beach in Australia, Whitehaven Beach, a protected beach that you are not allowed to bring anything on the beach with you – it’s that beautiful.
There are plenty of other secluded bays with that aqua blue water and pure white sand beaches that are great for a snorkel. Throw in tropical sunsets, every water sport imaginable, and the fact you’re in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, the ideal spot for scuba diving. I don’t think I really need to go on.
The mainland town of Airlie Beach is a happening place with Hamilton Island being the most concentrated for accommodation and activities.
Where to stay in the Whitsundays:
Need more inspiration about The Whitsundays? Check out these resources:
2. Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory
Some people call it Kaka-don’t, but don’t listen to them. They probably raced through the park on a day trip with a tour group and it deserves so much more time than that. It is in fact, Australia’s largest National Park and is impossible to see in a day.
We spent five days in Kakadu and still only scratched the surface, but it easily makes our top places in Australia list. It’s another one of Australia’s UNESCO world heritage sites and is where you can see aboriginal cave paintings and, of course, the famous salt water crocodile.
From wetlands to sandstone escarpments, waterfalls, swimming holes, billabongs, rivers, wildlife, and aboriginal rock art, it has it all.
Where to stay at Kakadu:
3. Margaret River, Western Australia
I can’t wait to go back to Margaret River, one of our top 3 regions in Australia because it pretty much has it all.
There are over 150 wine producers, numerous breweries, incredible beaches, gourmet food, coffee houses, chocolate makers, cheese factories, caves to explore, forests to walk through, mountain bike trails, whale watching, surf culture, artists, and stunning landscapes.
What are you waiting for?!
Where to stay in Margaret River:
- Camping & Caravanning – Wharncliffe Mill Bush Retreat
- Budget – Margaret River Backpackers YHA
- Midrange – Edge of the Forest Garden Motel
- Luxury – Grand Mercure Basildene Manor
Learn more about Margaret River with these guides:
4. Sydney, New South Wales
You can’t visit Australia and not spend at least a few days in one of the world’s most beautiful cities – many of you will fly through here anyways.
Sure Sydney has a reputation of being on the expensive side, but most of the best things to do are free or cheap – walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, picnic in the Botanical Gardens, walk around Circular Quay and admire the Sydney Opera House, take the ferry over to Manly, explore The Rocks District, and my favourite – the Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach coastal walk!
If you have more time to spare, consider taking a day trip out to the Blue Mountains and see the iconic Three Sisters rock formation.
Where to stay in Sydney:
- Budget – Sydney Harbour YHA
- Midrange – Travelodge Phillip Street
- Luxury – Park Hyatt
- 5 best accommodation in Sydney CBD – from budget to luxury
Need more inspiration for your trip to Sydney? Here are some additional resources.
Watch Our Video on Sydney:
5. Broome, Western Australia
If you’ve been following us for a while you’ll know that Broome is our favourite place in Australia. Our love affair with Broome dates back to our days working on a pearl farm in the Kimberley region, and on our previous trip we spent 5 weeks there and didn’t want to leave.
It’s the striking red earth against the turquoise water of the Indian Ocean, the most amazing sunsets over Cable Beach, and perfect weather – it has the vibe of a charming country town by the sea!
Where to stay in Broome:
6. Byron Bay, NSW
This legendary beachside town in Northern NSW has been attracting surfers, the spiritually minded, spa lovers, yogis, backpackers and those trying to find themselves for years.
With some of the most famous surfing breaks in the country, the alternative lifestyle, and the stunning hinterland, Byron is the place to be, and be seen. Don’t miss the lighthouse walk past Wategos Beach, sunrise and sunset, Bluesfest over Easter, and take a surfing lesson!
Where to stay in Byron Bay:
7. Freycinet National Park, Tasmania
Freycinet is our favorite place in Tasmania and one of our top three favorite National Parks in Australia. You’ve probably heard of world famous Wineglass Bay, but have you heard of Hazards Beach, Friendly Beaches, Coles Bay, and that this park has some of the best walks in Tassie?
Give yourself more than one day here to do all the hikes, go kayaking, and take in the beauty of the Hazards.
Where to stay in Freycinet:
8. Uluru, Northern Territory
Visiting Uluru in the Red Centre of Australia is an experience I’ll never forget. Known as the “spiritual heart of Australia” Uluru is one of those places you just have to see, and feel, for yourself.
Don’t rush through here like most people, stay awhile and take it all in. Experience sunset and sunrise, walk around the base, take a camel ride, maybe a helicopter flight, and visit nearby Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Parks.
It’s home to the iconic Ayres Rock, and where you can explore the majestic outback desert. If you have time, I highly recommend a camping trip to the outback where you can sleep under the stars. It’s best to stay in the campgrounds near Alice Springs to avoid running into any animals.
Where to stay at Uluru:
9. Great Barrier Reef, Queensland
Getting out on the world’s largest coral reef and the largest living structure on the planet has to be on your Aussie bucket list.
Stretching 2,300km long, the GBR is a natural wonder of the world and in my opinion lives up to its reputation. If you’re a diver, or even just a snorkeler, the options are endless. Most people visit the reef from Cairns which is known as the unofficial gateway.
Where to stay in Cairns:
- Budget – Cairns Central YHA
- Midrange – Rydges Tradewinds Cairns
- Luxury – Shangri-La Hotel The Marina
Watch Our Video from Port Douglas:
10. Daintree Rainforest, Queensland
How can something so old be so beautiful? I mean, at 110 million years old the Daintree Rainforest is pretty damn old, and possibly the oldest existing rainforest in the world.
Other spots to visit include Daintree Discovery Centre, Cow Bay, Myall Beach, Emmagen Beach, Cape Kimberley and Mason’s Cafe, and swimming hole.
Where to stay in the Daintree:
- Budget – Cape Tribulation YHA
- Midrange – Daintree Wilderness Lodge
- Luxury – Daintree Eco Lodge & Spa
Watch Our Video from Daintree Rainforest:
11. Fraser Island, Queensland
If you’re a hard-core 4×4 driving enthusiast put Fraser Island at the top of your Aussie bucket list. Fraser Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is the world’s largest sand island.
It stretches 123 km long, 23 km wide, and was created over 800,000 years ago from sand dumped by places as far as Antarctica when it was still joined with Australia.
I can’t get enough of Fraser, it’s an adventure with nature you’ll crave more of. My favorite spots are 75 Mile Beach, Eli Creek, Maheno shipwreck, Lake Mackenzie, Indian Head, and Champagne Pools.
From the shore, if you’re lucky and visit at the right time, you might even see humpback whales in the ocean.
Where to stay on Fraser Island:
Read more resources about Fraser Island:
Watch Our Fraser Island Video:
12. Melbourne, Victoria
I could live in Melbourne, and I’m not the only one apparently as it consistently ranks at the top of most liveable cities in the world, I just don’t know if I could live with the four seasons in one-day weather pattern.
Anyhow, Melbourne is an awesome city to visit.
If you’re a sports nut like me it’s got the Australian Open Tennis, the Grand Prix, the Melbourne Cup, and the AFL. For everyone else, it’s got an incredible food scene, some of the best coffee and cafes in the country (if not the world), cool pubs, endless shopping, great festivals, awesome markets, handy public transport, and just an all-round addictive vibe!
Where to stay in Melbourne:
Need more inspiration about Melbourne, check out these guides:
13. Great Ocean Road, Victoria
You’ve probably heard of the Great Ocean Road, it’s kinda famous around the world as one of the best road trips in the world.
We spent 2 weeks driving the GOR and it lived up to expectations. If I have one tip, don’t rush it, don’t drive it in one day like the tour buses, slow down, and give it the time it deserves.
The scenic drive was completed in 1932, by soldiers who returned home from WWI. It was built in dedication of those who lost their lives. It starts in the small town of Torquay and finished in the quiet town of Allansford.
Many people take a couple days to drive the Ocean Road, stopping off in some of the small towns along the way.
But if you only have time for one place, then Port Campbell National Park is the highlight, it’s where most of the top scenic spots are located like the Twelve Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge. s
Where to stay on the Great Ocean Road:
Learn more about the Great Ocean Road in these guides:
14. Rottnest Island, Western Australia
Rotto as the locals call it is something special. With over 60 picturesque beaches and bays and top spots for snorkeling, diving, kayaking, swimming, and fishing it’s possibly my favourite island in Australia and if you make it to Perth, don’t miss Rottnest.
Stay over if you can, but if you only have half a day make sure you visit The Basin and Pinky Beach. Grab a bike, it’s the best way to explore the island, and don’t forget your camera!
It’s also one of the best places in Australia to see quokkas, a native animal to Australia!
Where to stay on Rottnest:
Learn more about Rottnest from these additional resources:
15. Hobart, Tasmania
I’m not CRAZY about Hobart, but it’s definitely a nice enough place with lots of history – it’s Australia’s second oldest city – and I really enjoyed a few other places within easy reach of the city so that’s why I’m including it in this list.
I do love the fact that it’s walkable, my favourite spots being Salamanca and Historic Battery Point, and of course, the famous MONA Museum is a must-visit. I highly recommend the other places close enough to Hobart are Bruny Island, Port Arthur, and historic Richmond.
Where to stay in Hobart:
16. Barossa Valley, South Australia
If we’re just talking wine and food, then the Barossa Valley and nearby Adelaide Hills is probably my favourite place in Australia for satisfying the taste buds.
It’s a short drive from Adelaide and with over 80 cellar doors and 150 wineries from big names to boutiques including Jacob’s Creek, Penfold’s, Wolf Blass and Grant Burge, you’re not lacking in options. And the scenery is something else too – do the 57-kilometre Barossa Scenic Heritage Drive for some stunning scenery.
Where to stay in the Barossa:
- Budget – Barossa Gateway Motel
- Midrange – Novotel Barossa Valley Resort
- Luxury – Jacobs Creek Retreat
Learn more about the Barossa in these guides:
17. Karijini National Park, Western Australia
We had high expectations for Karijini. So many people we met on our 18-month trip told us that Karijini was their favourite national park. And they weren’t lying.
This place is spectacular, and I can’t believe that three years ago I don’t think I’d even heard of this place, but we’re doing our best to share it with as many people as possible. The colours of the rock, the gorges, the swimming holes, the waterfalls, the hiking – it’s off-the-beaten-path in WA but totally worth the effort!
Where to stay in Karijini
18. Gold Coast, Queensland
We chose to call the Gold Coast our home for a reason. Whilst it’s a region well known for tourism with a tagline famous for fun, it has a great mix of beautiful coastal and hinterland scenery, with some of the best beaches in the country.
Where to stay on the Gold Coast:
- Budget – Coolangatta YHA
- Midrange – 2nd Ave Beachside Apartments, Burleigh Heads
- Luxury – Palazzo Versace, Main Beach
Want to learn more about the Gold Coast? Check out these guides:
- 48 hours on the Gold Coast
- 15 Free or cheap things to do on the Gold Coast for families
- 3 accommodation options in the Gold Coast Hinterland
- The Gorgeous O’Reillys Rainforest Retreat, Lamington National Park
- Gold Coast accommodation options for families
- Getaway from the Gold Coast to Stradbroke Island
- Burleigh Heads Beach Apartments
19. Wilsons Promontory National Park, Victoria
Another place we knew little about until we travelled around Australia, and it wasn’t until friends in Melbourne suggested we go here, it’s a 3-hour drive from the city, that we did. It’s a 50,000-hectare coastal wilderness area and so popular they have a ballot system to stay in the accommodation during peak season.
Your reward – stunning vistas of pink granite boulder mountains, turquoise water, squeaky white sand, intimate coves, forested valleys, and incredible hiking.
20. Kangaroo Island, South Australia
Kangaroo Island is an island full of diversity. Incredible landscapes from beaches to sand dunes and forests to rolling farmlands. You will be sure to spot a wild array of Australian animals – dolphins, kangaroos, koalas and more AND the food and wine is incredible!
Where to stay on Kangaroo Island:
Watch Our Video from Kangaroo Island
Before You Go
So there you have it, those are the best places in Australia to add to your Australia bucket list. As you can see, there’s a lot of diversity and culture to explore in Australia, and it’s not all about wildlife and beaches (though these are some of the best reasons to visit Aus!)
There’s a reason why so many backpackers come to Australia for a year’s holiday, and then never leave. There is no where quite like Australia. Once you go, you will know.
Tours of Australia
If you were looking for group tour options in Australia, rather than traveling independent. Our preferred partner Globus has a range of Australian tours. Click links below and be sure to use our exclusive code in the blue box below.
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More Tips for Visiting Australia
Need more inspiration for your trip to Australia? Check out these other resources:
- 25 Outstanding National Parks in Australia
- A Visit to Flinders Ranges National Park, South Australia
- Things to do on the Eyre Peninsula, South Australia
- 14 Best Road Trips in Australia
- 50 Stunning and Adventures Things to do in Queensland
- 50 Amazing Things to do in Western Australia
- 45 Things to know before visiting Australia
- How to visit Australia on a 3 week vacation
- How to visit Australia in 2 weeks
- The painful cost of travel in Australia
- How to travel Australia on a budget
- Best of Australia tips
- Our Australian road trip episode on our podcast!
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What are your favourite places in Australia? Tell us in the comments. And if you haven’t been yet, what places are on your Aussie bucket list?