Wild kangaroos in the Australian forest. Shot in Western Australia.

Australia is on a lot of people’s short list of places to go…
…but it is huge and can be hard to know where to begin.

You aren’t going to see everything in a single trip to Australia, but you can see a lot of the highlights. With a bit of planning you can put together a trip for whatever time you have that gives you a good look at Down Under.

The country is almost the size of the continental US, so you can’t cover it all in one vacation, but these are some of the highlights for first time visitors. Pick a couple places and build your Australia itinerary based on how much vacation time you have. Include time to get to and from Australia, as well as transportation between locations.

As Australia’s most famous city, it’s a great place to start. It’s Australia’s oldest and largest city (but not the capital), and it has plenty to offer for both city and nature lovers.

  • Sydney Opera House– Whether you want to take a tour or just admire its beauty from the outside, this is one landmark not to be missed. My favorite time to see it was as the sun started setting.
  • The Harbour Bridge – You’ll see the bridge near the Opera House. If you’re not scared of heights, consider doing a bridge climb tour.
  • Circular Quay and the Harbour – The energetic port lies in between the Opera House and the Bridge. Take a boat tour or just hop on a commuter ferry for a different view of the Harbour and the city.
  • Beaches – Escape the city for an afternoon by spending some time at any number of beaches.
  • Royal Botanical Gardens – For a slice of nature inside the busy city, take a stroll through these gorgeous gardens.
  • Blue Mountains – Get out into the scenic mountains and forest not far from the city. Plenty of tour operators have day tours to the Blue Mountains.

Melbourne is a wonderful city to wander around in. It doesn’t have anything similar to the big iconic Opera House in Sydney, but the city has its own great vibe and lots of delicious restaurants. Consider a walking tour of Melbourne to see the highlights.

  • Federation Square – The perfect starting point. Here you will find a tourist office as well as the Ian Potter Centre National Gallery and the Australian Centre for the Moving Image.
  • Flinders Street train station – Located across the street from Federation Square, this gorgeous building is worth a look even if you’re not taking a train anywhere.
  • Yarra River – The river runs behind Federation Square, and it’s a nice place for a stroll.
  • Bourke Street Pedestrian Mall – This street and the many surrounding it are the place to go for shopping. Not into shopping? Relax on a bench and watch the world go by.
  • Chinatown – I had a hard time choosing a restaurant here because there are so many!
  • Queen Victoria Market – Stop in here for fresh produce, meats and cheeses, or a wide variety of souvenirs. There’s also a small food court.

Comments ( 3 )

  1. Marco
    Hi Great suggestions Wonder what you think about our idea flying into CNS or Melbourne and will be in Oz for 2 weeks. In CNS(Port Douglas) for 3-4 days, then Melbourne 2 days and add to that 2 days great Ocean road, then perhaps The Rock 1 day and the rest in Sydney. Still on the fence about the rock ? Also in regards to flights is it something that people book seperate and not part of their booking. Thanks for any input ?
    • Liam Steward
      Hi Marco! I don’t know where you’re flying from, but you might be better off starting with Melbourne rather than Cairns just because of the flight connections. You could spend a few days in Melbourne and then the Great Ocean Road. Then from there fly to Uluru. The airport is AYQ. (The rock is pretty impressive, but it’s a long way to go. If you’re feeling like your schedule is too rushed, that would be the one to cut, simply because it takes so long to get out there and back.) Then you can fly to Cairns to get to Port Douglas. From there, down to Sydney for the rest of your trip. So if I were you, I’d book into Melbourne and out of Sydney (or vice versa).
  2. Dr. Teri Hamlin, USA
    Communications: Excellent - The itinerary was very helpful Guides: Tour guide and bus driver were wonderful Accomodations: Wonderful Transports: Excellent Meals: Too well ! (I think we all gain a couple of pounds).