Given Australia’s vast scale, it makes more sense to focus on one, two or perhaps three regions, depending on your time frame. Whether you are looking for itineraries for seven days or a month, the following itineraries showcase both classic attractions and less well-known gems, from the elegant attractions of the coastal cities to the mesmerizing desert interior. Our pick of Australia itineraries can suit any time frame or budget.
If you are planning your travel to Australia by yourself, use these itineraries created by our travel writers as a starting point for inspiration.
Plentiful East Coast beaches means that Australia is fringed by some of the most glorious beaches you’ll ever see. Many of these are in surprisingly built-up areas – you’ll find pristine sand practically in the heart of Sydney, for example. Elsewhere, coral, tropical fish and shipwrecks provide wonderful coastal adventures. Touring through East Coast Australia’s beaches, these can be reached by public transport, but for maximum flexibility, you’ll want to hire a car or campervan and allow yourself three or four weeks to explore. It’s straightforward to use this as an Australian travel itinerary template.
1. Whitehaven Beach
This Whitsunday Island beach is comprised of 5km of pure white sand, making it a lure for pleasure boats. Camp at the southern end, snorkel and enjoy the glorious sunsets.
2. Fraser Island
Take your pick of seashore spots at Seventy-Five Mile Beach. Eli Creek is one of the most attractive options, or head for the Maheno shipwreck which peeks out of the sand. The Champagne Pools are natural indentations which make for a safe and serene swim.
At the swisher end of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Noosa is a high-end resort with an unspoilt beach and a national park, where you might see koalas on your coastal walk.
4. Byron Bay
Backed by rainforest, Byron Bay features 30km of sandy strands. Keep your eyes peeled for passing dolphins and humpback whales, and enjoy the increasingly hip restaurant scene and nightlife once the sun has set.
5. Crescent Head
A New South Wales beach, and the site of an important native title claim. A stunning arc of blond sand, the beach is safe for swimming and has some excellent surf spots.
6. Bondi Beach
This 1.5km-long stretch of sand is the ultimate in Australian beach glamour, with buffed lifesavers, surfer dudes, big waves, passing rollerbladers and a great café scene.
The country is blessed with spectacular and varied landscapes, from eucalyptus-cloaked hills to epic desert and the great monolith of Uluru. To tick off the highlights in a single trip, set aside two or three weeks for a 4WD safari or a string of domestic flights. Hiking is the best way to travel and explore the flora, fauna and rock art.
1. Undara Lava Tubes
Vast subterranean pipes formed by an ancient volcano, which shelter microbats and brown tree snakes, known as “night tigers”, which hang from the trees.
2. The Kimberley
Western Australian frontier land, with a crocodile coast, wide rivers and deep isolated gorges. A unique sight here is the bulbous boab tree, whose nuts are carved by Aboriginal artists.
Epic and elemental, this massive rock is one of the country’s great natural sights. Aboriginal and ranger-led tours introduce you to some fascinating wildlife, including more than seventy reptile species.
4. Mungo National Park
Take a camping trip in a desert wilderness where Australia’s megafauna once roamed: you’ll see crowds of emus and kangaroos. The dome of stars in the night sky in this remote region is a sight in itself.
5. Kangaroo Island
Just off South Australia, the country’s third-largest island is remarkably unspoilt. As well as having a spectacular coastline, sand dunes and cave networks to explore, the island simply teems with wildlife.
6. Cradle Mountain
Tasmanian wilderness cut through by iconic hiking trails. Look out for wombats, echidnas and platypus. In the same region is Lake St Clair, Australia’s deepest lake.
7. Blue Mountains
Endlessly receding mountain ranges, tinged blue by gum oil in the atmosphere. The region is home to the Wollemi pine, or dinosaur tree, which dates back sixty million years and until recently was thought only to exist in fossil form.
8. Lord Howe Island
A tiny island ringed by coral, with unique flora, rare flightless birds, umpteen sea birds and dazzling tropical fish. Snorkelers might catch sight of imposing but unthreatening Galapagos sharks.
If you’re planning of touring through Australia’s food scene, then you’re in for a treat. Immigrants to Australia from Mediterranean Europe and the Far East have brought some wonderful food traditions to the country, and the sunny climate means bountiful produce. The food-obsessed coastal cities in particular offer a top-notch range of eating opportunities. You could cover this as a three-week itinerary.
You’ll find no end of top-notch restaurants in Sydney, the most famous being Japanese/French Tetsuya’s, which offers a ten-course degustation.
At F.O.O.D. Week in April you can learn about local food, browse markets, meet producers, listen to talks, and take part in the justly popular FORAGE walk, a gentle stroll with chances to gather and devour local produce.
3. High Country Gourmet Regions
Some of Victoria’s finest food, wine and beer can be found in the “High Country” of the Victorian Alps and along the Murray River. The vineyards, fields, orchards and olive groves result in some wonderful produce, including handmade butter and artisan cheeses.
From funky up-cycled coffee shops to high-end rooftop restaurants and bountiful farmers’ markets, Melbourne is a city that takes food seriously. Just listen to your waiter effuse about the specials and you’ll see what we mean.
The temperate Tasmanian climate results in excellent fruit and veg, cool-climate wine and high-quality beef, cheeses, beers and honey. The island’s oysters are also renowned.
With strong Greek and Italian influences, Adelaide has a lively eating and drinking scene, focused on the Central Market, home to scores of great stalls, cafés and restaurants.
7. Barossa Valley
You’ll find terrific wine across the country, but the Barossa region near Adelaide is the largest and best-established region. Visit between March and May for the harvest; the Barossa Vintage Festival is celebrated from Easter Monday in odd-numbered years.
8. The Kimberley
Touring through Australia from top to bottom is an adventurous travel itinerary for which you need a minimum of two weeks. From Darwin, make a foray into the Kakadu National Park. Then take the Outback Ghan train via Alice Springs to visit Uluru, winding up in Adelaide.
An ocean city with a revitalized waterfront area. Fast-growing and multicultural, it’s a great place for food: the sunset markets provide Malay laksa, peanut satays and even bushtucker.
2. Kakadu National Park
This Aboriginal-managed region features weird and wonderful wildlife, including freshwater crocodiles, jabiru birds and dingoes. The indigenous rock art, including images in the X-ray style, is outstanding.
3. The Ghan
Cutting into the Red Centre, the legendary Ghan train takes its name from the nineteenth-century camel drivers who explored the Australian interior. Red earth and inky blue skies provide a fantastic panorama.
4. Alice Springs
The modern desert town of Alice Springs makes an attractive stop-off, where you can browse art galleries and find some welcome good-quality cafés and restaurants. It’s a great place to shop for Aboriginal art.
Perhaps Australia’s defining sight, this mighty monolith is also a keystone in the country’s cultural history. Once seen by visitors as simply a challenging lump of rock to climb, it is now recognized for its deep significance to the local Aboriginal population.
Elegant Adelaide is the end of this particular line, with attractions including bountiful botanic gardens, bluestone mansions and a host of museums and cultural centres.
The Western Australia itinerary (two weeks) takes you along the Indian Ocean coast, from tropical Broome in the north to cosmopolitan Perth in the south. Treats en route include sparkling beaches, river gorges and opportunities to dolphin-spot.
Broome is a bustling little place, first made wealthy by an 1880s pearl rush; remnants of the industry still pervade the town, and you can visit one of the world’s oldest cinemas.
If you fancy a bit of bushcamping, make a stop at the northern beaches here. You’ll find some lovely white-sand stretches and isolated creeks.
3. Ningaloo Reef
Take to the waters to snorkel and dive among the corals, and five hundred species of fish.
4. Monkey Mia
You’re pretty much guaranteed to see dolphins here, which is the main draw, but there’s also a lovely beach, and plenty of resorts and attractions to explore in the enclosing Shark Bay.
The river and coastal gorges at Kalbarri comprise a spectacular national park which features wonderful hiking trails.
6. Nambung National Park
As you wend your way south, don’t miss the extraordinary limestone pinnacles of this park: the Pinnacles Desert Discovery Centre fills you in on the geological detail.
Sunny Perth is an ideal stopover after the great outdoors. Check out the fine collection of galleries, see rare flora at the Botanic Garden, and catch up on some nightlife.
For an Australian road trip itinerary, check out the Great Ocean Road. This is a classic drive, taking in dramatic rock formations, submerged shipwrecks and some lively and attractive beach resorts. Allow a week to explore the road at leisure, including a couple of days immersed in the café culture and arts scene of Melbourne.
Australia’s “European” city, with large Greek and Italian communities, stand-out restaurants, arts festivals and ornate Victorian architecture. There’s a varied selection of live music venues and some excellent galleries.
Picturesque seaside Lorne is an ideal holiday resort, combining a laidback surfie vibe with some fine restaurants, delis and boutiques. Plunge into the chilly waters, then warm up on a hiking trail among the ferns and eucalypts.
3. Great Otway National Park
A triangle of national park designated an Important Bird Area for its populations of bristlebirds, fieldwrens and pink robins. The lush hills and gullies are hugely scenic, and don’t miss the historic Cape Otway Lighthouse.
4. Twelve Apostles
These ocean-set limestone pillars are an icon of the Great Ocean Road, rising up to 65m. Watch out for the fairy penguins crowding onto the shore at dusk.
5. Port Fairy
A lovely place to end your trip, this early whaling settlement has some of the oldest houses you’ll see in Australia, as well as enticing beaches. The sight of umpteen muttonbirds roosting here is unforgettable.
Top image: Kangaroos at Batemans Bay, Australia - Shutterstock