Top 20 Places in Australia For Your Bucket List

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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.

Don't miss Uluru in the Northern Territory of Australia
Uluru is a must see when you are planning a road trip in 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.

Whitehaven Beach, Queensland, Australia

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:

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.

Kakadu National Park - a natural wonder of Australia. Click inside to see the others!

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.

Margaret River region in Western Australia

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:

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!

You can even climb the Sydney Harbor Bridge, if you’re not afraid of heights. Climbing tours operate from dawn until dusk, do don’t miss out on this unique experience.

Sydney - a bucket list destination for Australia
Sydney Harbour and Opera House

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:

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!

Broome, Western Australia

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.

Sunset at Byron Bay, NSW, Australia
Sunset at Byron Bay Main Beach

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.

aierial view of secluded Wineglass Bay
Wineglass Bay, Tasmania

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.

Sunset drinks at Uluru, Northern Territory, Australia

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:

Need more inspiration about Uluru? Here are some more resources:

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.

Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia

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:

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.

Cape Tribulation, Daintree National Park - Queensland, Australia
Cape Tribulation, Daintree National Park

My favourite spot is Cape Tribulation – a headland located within Daintree National Park, a place where two World Heritage Listed sites collide – the Daintree and Great Barrier Reef.

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:

You can check out our post on our road trip through the Daintree and read about our time sleeping in the Daintree Rainforest, Cape Tribulation.

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.

75 Mile Beach, Fraser Island, Queensland, 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:

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.

Flinders Street Station, Melbourne, Australia

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:

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.

Twelve Apostles on the Great Ocean Road - one of Australia's natural wonders.

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:

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.

Rottnest Island - Western Australia

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:

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.

Hobart, Tasmania - a destination for your Australia bucket 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.

Barossa Valley, South Australia

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:

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.

Knox Gorge, Karijini National Park - Western Australia

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.

Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia

My favourite spots on the coast are Burleigh Heads, Rainbow Bay and Coolangatta.

Whilst in the hinterland check out Lamington National Park, Springbrook National Park, and Binna Burra National Park!

Where to stay on the Gold Coast:

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.

Wilsons Promontory National Park, Victoria, Australia

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!

Western River Cove is one of the best beaches on Kangaroo Island. Click to read more tips

Where to stay on Kangaroo Island:

Read more: The highlights of our 4 day road trip 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.

More Tips for Visiting Australia

Need more inspiration for your trip to Australia? Check out these other resources:

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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?

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61 thoughts on “Top 20 Places in Australia For Your Bucket List”

  1. Hmmmm…. looks like we have to come back to Australia. There are two on the list we’ve not been yet. Kangaroo Island and Rottnest Island are still on our bucket list ?

    Cheers and looking forward to follow your US road trip.

    Cheers,
    Reni & Marcel

    1. Happy to hear that Roberto. Our job is done 🙂 I have no doubt you’ll see some amazing places such as these and create lifelong memories!

  2. Awesome blog post! I’m living in Perth currently and I am excited to visit places you have recommended to fill my own Instagram with cool pictures ?

    1. Perth is great Olivia. Hope you make it to Rottnest, Margaret River, and Broome from this list. And so many other great destinations in WA. And all of Oz of course!

  3. Hobart looks so much like 19th century England small town, it’s nice that the town remained in that state since then.

    Daintree rain forrest also looks very nice, and in the picture added the beach looks amazing. Hope that there aren’t any sharks around.

        1. Yes, there are crocs you just need to learn your limits around them it depends on what type of crocs you are swimming with but do avoid saltwater crocs as they’re the deadliest.

    1. Yes very difficult to cut it down to 20 places. And not in any particular order no. Glad to inspire you Geoff. And yeah, Woy Woy didn’t make the list lol.

  4. I love these kinds of lists. My Australian travels were limited to Melbourne, Hobart & Sydney. I’ve heard other people say Hobart isn’t their thing but it was my favourite. Being from a small town, I just found it really homey and the people were so friendly. There were things I liked about Sydney (the Bondi to Cogee walk was awesome!), but there were just too many people. Melbourne was a nice middle ground between the two for me.

    1. Yeah I do love Melbourne. Easy to get around, not too pretentious, always something going on. And yeah Hobart is nice, not amazing, but definitely worth a visit.

  5. I’m in Melbourne for the next year (longer if I can get sponsored!) and can’t wait to explore these places! I’m running the Kangaroo Island marathon in August and I have a feeling it will be one of the highlights of my time here. 🙂 Thanks for whipping this up!

  6. Thanks for sharing! I am a traveler myself and I’ve been a fan of Australia for years! You’re doing a great job! Wish you an even greater 2016!!

  7. I’ve always wanted to visit Australia. Most appealing thing about it to me would have to be the animals….unlike anything you’l find anywhere else in the world. Now that I’ve got a free promo code for airbnb, there’s one less excuse to actually do it. http://couponcodeshero.com/ has free promo codes for airbnb, but also a lot of other apps useful for someone traveling. So check it out and get your free airbnb promo code today!

  8. Are you now in the Kakadu NP? We would like to see as much as possible next year (December & January). But I don’t know if it is a good idea to travel in the Northeastern of Australia. At that time is the raining season.

  9. I don’t have a “bucket list” but i’ve been to 16 of the 20. Glad to see Karajini here, it’s amazing how many Australians don’t know about it, let alone people from anywhere else.

  10. You guys have been to so many incredible places in Australia. I’m so jealous! But not for long as we will be covering all this and more over the next three years as we slowly make our way around the country. Top on my list is driving over the Nullabor (which people tell me is boring but something about it makes me excited and intrigued), wine tasting through Margaret River and hopping from one incredible beach to another. We are so blessed to live in such a beautiful country.

  11. Love this list! Brings back such fond memories of my many visits to Australia. My favorite one on the list is #17, Karijini – not on the typical tourist circuit but that’s why it’s so amazing. I liken it to the Grand Canyon, but with a lot less people. I had so much fun in WA and this was the highlight for sure.

  12. I’m planing to go to Australia Sidney for the first time this march break , reading your site I have no idea of places that you recommend is located where in the country ? Can you show the places on a map , I will stay 4 days in Sidney and don’t know these top 20 places which one is close to Sidney ?

  13. I’ve never been to Australia, but we’re considering it for our next trip. I’m a big foodie and I think Australia would be a perfect destination! 🙂

  14. I’ve been to Australia once, after dreaming of going for 25 years. I made my visit as part of a larger trip that took me to Singapore and Indonesia. I flew into Sydney, then headed to Perth, came back to Perth from Singapore, headed back to Sydney, and made it down to Melbourne. In those 25 years I dreamed of visiting the Sydney Opera House. Not only did I realize that dream, but I also found myself camping on Cockatoo Island. What a rush. The kicker is that those tiles that line the outside of the Sydney Opera House are kitchen tiles, and were made by a kitchen tile manufacturer. Oh, the things I learn. And I made it to Bondi Beach, too. I squeezed it in on the way to the airport to come back to the United States. As it was winter in Australia at the time there weren’t too many beach goers there. I didn’t care. I took off my shoes and wondered the beach, with a quick splash in the ocean. All in 20 minutes. I almost missed my flight!

    My final comment is this. When I graduated from college in 1983 I took a trip to China. My roommate was a Texan who’d lived in Australia for 10 years because of his dad’s job. He’d tell me everyday I had to go to Australia. I put up a poster in my cube, and vowed someday I’d touch the sign on the water in front of the Sydney Opera House. It said something about submarines.

    The day before I left Australia I took a cigarette boat tour of Sydney Harbor, we docked at the opera house. Strapped in my seat on the water side of the boat, I looked to my left. There it was, the sign I’d vowed to touch 25 years earlier. I didn’t unstrap my self, but I figured that being within in 5 feet of it was close enough!

    1. Goose bumps! What a great story. I think being that close is good enough. Thank you for sharing and I’m so glad you loved Australia and made it here. – Caz

  15. I’ve been back from 11 months in Aus and NZ for about 6 months now (we used your blog a couple of times for hints and tips – thanks!) and am planning my return to see some of the places on this list that we didn’t make it to, Karijini and Kakadu in particular.
    Loved Rotto (and the quokkas), even in the ‘winter’ rain and agree with Whitsundays at the top spot.

    It’s not on here but I really want to visit Ningaloo reef too… so many places, need to start saving again!

  16. I like your post. I have been to Freycinet National Park and I have some great traveling memories from there. I would love to explore more in Australia and the Places seems to be perfect for my start.

  17. Wow, reading this makes so me feel so lucky to live in this amazing country! But it also makes me realise that I’ve only been to four places on the list- Byron, Daintree, Whitsundays and Barrier Reef. There are so many places I want to visit…I think I will need to live to 120 to see them all!

  18. We will be visiting Australia in January, but only for 2 weeks… It’s going to be hard to pick which area we should restrict ourself to 😉 Thanks for that list, some places will definitely be added in our bucket list. David & Caroline.

  19. Hi, I’m traveling to Australia during July. I was reading you blog, and I realized you always mentioned one of the YHA hostels, do you recommend them? I’m 20 years old travelling alone to Byron Bay, Gold Coast, Brisbane and Cairns so I want a good place for my age and good for solo travelers I want to meet people. I had read a lot abou yha but I’m nt sure yet. Also, in Byron bay there are 2 yha Cape Byron Bay YHA and Byron Bay YHA, do you know which one is better? How in advanced should I book hostels?
    Thanks!!

    1. Yes YHA hostels are good. They are held to a certain standard and 95% of them should be good quality. Not sure which is the best on in Byron Bay but we have stayed at the Cape Byron Bay YHA which is in the center od town and was fine. Enjoy your trip.

  20. Huge lists here, am really planning on my next trip to Sydney during the next coming summer but i later discovered that its one of the most expensive places to spend my summer holiday, however are they other less expensive places to enjoy ones holiday in Australia? i had love know. Again thanks for this huge list.

  21. Hi,
    I have been twice in Australia and this is my favourite holiday country. I have been to Melbourne to sydney to Brisbane and Fraser Island. Alice Springs for Uluru, Kangaroo Island, Adelaide to Melbourne over the Great Ocean Road and 6 days in Tassie what was too short I know.
    Now I am coming back in January and not sure which side of Australia would be best as I know it’s school holiday and very busy. Also I don’t want to go to areas where it’s too hot. We love hiking and nature. A bit of beach is also ok however the hiking is very important.
    We are thinking of doing WA, can you give some tips ? Thanks a lot, Sandra

  22. Good list!! My sister and I were thinking that which country should we visit this summer in vacation and you gave me a good option of Australia with number of best destinations to explore. Thanks for sharing.

  23. Timothy E. Adams

    Traveling to Adelaide in January 2020 for about 3 months with the family. What nearby places would you recommend to visit during our stay that are great for the family. Thanks.

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