25 Amazing Things to Do in Australia (2020 Edition)

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If you’re planning a trip Down Under you’re going to want to put as many of these things to do in Australia as you can fit on your bucket list!

Australia’s landscape encompasses everything from hot, dry desert, to white-sand beaches; from snowy mountains to tropical rainforest; from rolling green hills to vineyards and more. 

Because the country is so physically diverse, you can have lots of different adventures during your time in Australia. 

And as there are so many unique things to see and do in Australia, it can be overwhelming to try and plan your trip. 

Even if you have no idea where to start, the good thing about Australia is you can’t go wrong! Culture and natural beauty thrive in all corners of the country. 

This list includes some of the best things to do in Australia, so have a read through and maybe plan your trip around the activities that sound the most appealing. 

12 Apostles Things to Do in Australia
Seeing the 12 Apostles on a road trip on the Great Ocean Road is one of the best things to do in Australia!

The Best Things to Do in Australia

Australia’s wide variety of attractions supply adventures for every type of person. 

Sport-enthusiasts and active travellers can go surfing, hiking, snorkelling, scuba diving, or even jumping out of a plane. 

City lovers can visit museums, markets, cafes, and monuments in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth or Brisbane. 

Adventure lovers looking to get off-the-beaten-path can visit the remote Daintree Rainforest or tour the Outback. 

Those who just want a relaxing vacation can enjoy wine-tastings at world-class vineyards and sail through the picturesque islands of Queensland. 

So for anyone wondering what to do in Australia, here are a few of the country’s top activities. 

READ MORE: Plan your trip to Australia with our comprehensive travel guide!

1) Snorkel or Dive the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is arguably the most famous of all the Australia attractions. 

It is the largest coral reef system on the planet, reaching along almost the entire length of the Queensland coastline in northeast Australia. 

In recent years, more attention has been drawn to the degradation of the reef due to things like climate change, pollution and other problems created by humans. 

But because the reef is so huge, parts of it are still beautiful and you can still find all the exotic fish, colourful coral and other marine wildlife that you’ve dreamed of. 

Just be sure to book your tour with an eco-friendly company that promotes preservation and respect for the reef. 

Most people visit the reef from Cairns, but Port Douglas and Cape Tribulation are two other great places to base yourself for a Great Barrier Reef trip. 

Depending on your preference, experience, and skill level, you can book either a snorkelling or scuba diving tour. Either would be unforgettable. 

2) Watch the Sunrise or Sunset at Uluru

Uluru, also called Ayer’s Rock, is the world’s largest monolith, meaning it is the biggest chunk of stone known to man. 

Located near the town of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory, Uluru is basically in the middle of the Outback and it is no walk in the park to reach. 

But for anyone travelling cross country, Uluru is an amazing stop to fit into your Australia travel itinerary. 

The massive red sandstone rock looks dreamy in the glow of sunrise or sunset, and the fact that it is sacred to indigenous Australians gives it an extra sense of mystery and magic. 

Uluru Sunset
Uluru at sunset is almost mystical.

3) Road Trip Along the Great Ocean Road 

Another one of the best things to do in Australia is to head down to Victoria’s south coast and road trip along the Great Ocean Road. 

Whether you have your own car, or you’ve rented one from Melbourne, driving yourself along the Great Ocean Road gives you more freedom and flexibility than a guided tour (though tours are also available for those who want one!). 

This strip of the Australian coastline is rugged and weathered, yet absolutely beautiful. 

Years of erosion have created unique rock formations and caves in the cliffs next to the sea, with the Twelve Apostles being the most famous one. 

In addition to the ocean scenery, the Great Ocean Road is full of charming towns, national parks, campsites, and guesthouses. 

This is also one of the best places in Australia to see a koala in the wild, as many inhabit the Eucalyptus trees down here. 

4) Visit Wineglass Bay 

Tasmania is one of those places that some people may think is fictional, like Transylvania or Madagascar. 

But Tasmania is real. It is that little island off the southeast coast of the Australian mainland, and it is known for its diverse landscape and wild natural beauty. 

Wineglass Bay is one of the most scenic spots on the island. 

The bright white sand of the coastline makes the shape of a wine glass, and the sapphire sea appears to be the wine that fills the glass. 

Mountains tower around the bay, making it an incredible hiking spot and photo opportunity. 

5) Search for Pearls in the Sea 

Broome is a beautiful beach town in Western Australia, located on a peninsula that juts out into the Indian Ocean. 

Set in the northern Kimberly region of the state, Broome is quite remote and therefore not many tourists venture out there. 

But those who do make the journey will get to enjoy uncrowded beaches and vibrant sunsets over the ocean. 

A highlight of Broome is the Willie Creek Pearl Farm, where you can learn about the pearling industry during a boat trip out to sea.

6) Museum-Hop in Brisbane

Brisbane is one of Australia’s oldest cities, making it an essential stop during an Australian sightseeing tour for history-lovers. 

There are so many different museums, galleries, and exhibitions around the city. So even if museums aren’t normally your thing, you just might find something that intrigues you. 

On the South Bank lies the Queensland Science Centre and Museum, and in the Brisbane Botanic Gardens, you can find the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium. These are great options for science lovers. 

Those interested in art can head to the GOMA, the Gallery of Modern Art

Other art museums in Brisbane include the Queensland Art Gallery and the QUT Art Museums

The UQ Anthropology Museum, Queensland Maritime Museum, The Workshops Rail Museum, and the Museum of Brisbane to name a few, are also great options to learn and entertain yourself in the city. 

Brisbane Skyline
Brisbane is one of the biggest and most entertaining cities in Australia.

7) Explore Kakadu National Park

One of the most incredible sights in the Northern Territory is Kakadu National Park

This massive nature reserve is one of the best Australia attractions and it is full of gorgeous sights and fun activities. 

You can go swimming in waterfalls, hiking through the bush, bird-watching in the wetlands, or canoeing along the rivers. 

There are massive canyons, deep gorges, walking trails, Aboriginal rock paintings, cultural centres, and more. 

Kakadu National Park is Australia’s largest national park, and it is located only three hours away from Darwin, the capital of the Northern Territory. 

8) See a Pink Lake 

One of the most fascinating Australia attractions is the Pink Lake, also known as Lake Hillier

The name is 100% accurate. Lake Hillier is home to some unique forms of bacteria and algae that secrete red pigments which make the saltwater appear bright pink. 

Lake Hillier is located on a small island in the Esperance Region of Western Australia. 

This lake is the most famous and the most photographed. But Australia has a few other pink lakes that aren’t as well known, such as Lake Kenyon, Lake Crosbie and Lake Becking in Victoria. 

All the lakes are located in quite remote areas, but if you’re planning a cross country road trip in Australia, try to fit them into your route!

READ MORE: Check out these great adventure activities in Australia!

9) Swim with Whale Sharks in Exmouth

One of the most mind-blowing things to do in Australia is swimming with whale sharks. 

The best way to accomplish this is to head to the town of Exmouth in Western Australia and then book a tour out to Ningaloo Reef. 

Whale sharks are massive but completely harmless, and between March and August every year, they congregate near Ningaloo Reef to feed. 

So if you book a tour here during that time you are pretty much guaranteed to swim with these gentle giants!

10) Go Off the Grid in the Daintree Rainforest

For nature and adventure lovers wondering what to see in Australia, the Daintree Rainforest has to be at the top of your list. 

This dense jungle is roughly 180 million years old, making it the oldest tropical rainforest on the planet. 

Here you can find trees the size of skyscrapers, palm forests, mangroves, and an abundance of unique wildlife. 

One of the strangest and most fascinating creatures in the Daintree Rainforest is the cassowary, a giant, ostrich-like bird with vibrant colours on its neck and a huge horn on its head. You won’t believe they’re real until you see one!

The best way to reach the Daintree Rainforest is to fly into Cairns and then take the local bus up to Cape Tribulation. 

The rainforest is very remote and it is recommended you have a 4WD if you are driving yourself. 

Cell phone reception is extremely limited as well, so use this time to switch off and immerse yourself in the jungle. 

Daintree Rainforest
To really get in touch with nature in Australia, visit the Daintree Rainforest.

11) Shop at Victoria Market in Melbourne

Melbourne is a massive metropolis packed with culture, entertainment and cuisine.

Though there are tons of fun things to do in the city, one of the best ones is to visit the Victoria Market. 

If you only have a short time in Melbourne, this is the place to go.

This sprawling indoor and outdoor market hall is filled with local crafts, tacky souvenirs, fresh produce, delicious hot meals, graffiti art, street performers and much more. 

There is a lot of cheap, amazing food and cool handicrafts all packed together in one area, so this is the perfect introduction to Melbourne.

Head to one of the nearby cafes afterwards and order a trendy coffee to really dive in to the Melbourne lifestyle.

12) Hike in the Blue Mountains

Located just west of Sydney is a gorgeous mountain range known as the Blue Mountains

Here you can find towering forests of gum trees, rivers, waterfalls, canyons, and immense valleys that look like they have never been infiltrated by a human. 

If you’re yearning to immerse yourself in nature without venturing too far from civilization, the Blue Mountains are ideal. 

It only takes about an hour by local train to travel from Sydney to Katoomba, one of the main towns in the mountain range. 

From here you can go on hikes, visit waterfalls, or camp in the wilderness. 

Dare-devils can also try more extremes activities like waterfall rappelling or rock-climbing. 

13) Take a Vineyard Tour

Australia’s wine doesn’t get as much attention as the wine of other countries like France, Italy, South Africa, Argentina, or even its neighbour, New Zealand. 

But Australia’s wine is becoming even more well-known around the world, and for good reason!

The landscape of Australia is so rich and diverse that it is able to grow delicious grapes of many different varieties and turn them into amazing wine. 

As a traveller, taking a vineyard tour and tasting the local wine is a very fun and enlightening experience. 

Two of the most successful wine regions in Australia are Margaret River in Western Australia and Adelaide in South Australia. 

So if you like wine, definitely book a guided vineyard tour in one of these locations to learn about the wine and taste it right from the source. 

14) Climb Mount Kosciuszko

Mount Kosciuszko is the highest mountain in mainland Australia, making it a popular destination among hikers. 

Located inland in southern New South Wales, the mountain boasts lovely natural scenery, few other tourists, and well-marked hiking trails. 

The hike is 13 km round-trip and generally takes about 4-6 hours depending on your fitness level.

December through March is the best time to hike because there won’t be any snow (Yes, there is snow in this region of Australia!)

READ MORE: Before you go be sure to read this guide to climbing Mount Kosciuszko

15) Play with Quokkas on Rottnest Island 

When visiting Perth, the capital of Western Australia, take a day trip to the nearby Rottnest Island for a fun-filled experience. 

Rottnest Island is a nature reserve filled with gorgeous beaches and interesting local wildlife. 

The ocean here is great for swimming, snorkelling, and surfing, though it’s the animals on land that tend to attract the most visitors. 

Rottnest Island is home to the quokkas, which are small and adorable marsupials that look a little bit like wallabies. 

They are native to Australia, and Rottnest Island is one of the few places in the country to find them. 

The island is also home to seals and sea lions that you might be able to spot while exploring. 

16) Sail Around the Whitsunday Islands

If the white sand and vibrant turquoise waters of the tropics have always caught your eye, head to the Whitsunday Islands. 

These islands off the coast of Queensland have jaw-dropping natural scenery rivalling that of the Maldives, Fiji, or Tahiti. 

One of the best things to do in Australia is sailing through the Whitsundays and soaking in all the picturesque views. 

Exploring the islands by boat allows you to cover more ground and see more of the area, though simply lounging on the beach is pretty enjoyable too.

You can also go swimming and snorkelling, or fly in a helicopter or seaplane over the islands to get an aerial view. 

Whitsunday Islands
Australia’s iconic Whitsunday Islands are simply breathtaking.

17) Go Skydiving 

For thrill-seekers wondering what to do in Australia, why not go sky diving?

Sky diving is available in lots of countries around the world, but if it has been on your bucket list for a while now, try it out while travelling in Australia!

In all major tourist destinations around the country, there are tour companies offering sky diving. 

The thrill of launching yourself out of a plane and free-falling through the air is probably incredible regardless of where you do it. 

But many travellers choose more scenic areas of Australia to try their first skydive. 

Some of the best places to skydive in Australia include Rottnest Island in Western Australia, Wollongong or Byron Bay in New South Wales, Mission Beach in Queensland, or Lee Point Beach in the Northern Territory.

18) Whale Watch in Hervey Bay

Located next to the world’s largest sand island, Fraser Island, is a hidden gem of Queensland: Hervey Bay

If you like wildlife photography, marine life, or anything animal or ocean-related, visit Hervey Bay and prepare to have your mind blown. 

Known as one of the best places in the world for whale-watching, Hervey Bay is an amazing place to see humpback whales up close. 

You can probably spot some whales from the shore in between late July and early November, as the bay becomes filled with whales during peak season. 

But it is definitely worth taking a whale watching tour so you can see the majestic giants up close on the water!

19) Go Sand Boarding

In the coastal town of Port Stephens, New South Wales, you’ll find some of the largest sand dunes in the Southern Hemisphere. 

The best way to experience these dunes is sandboarding; leave it to the Aussies to find a way to surf, even on the sand!

If you book a sandboarding tour from Port Stephens, you can ride in a 4WD out to Stockton Beach and be provided with the right gear to enjoy a day of boarding down the sand dunes.

20) Marvel at the Sydney Opera House

No trip to Sydney is complete without seeing its most famous landmark: the Sydney Opera House. 

This modern and unique building took 14 years to build and was designed by Danish architect, Jørn Utzon. 

The Sydney Opera House is now a staple of the Sydney skyline. 

You can take a tour of the inside, attend a performance, or simply stroll through Sydney Harbor and admire the view from the outside. 

Sydney Opera House
The Sydney skyline would no longer be complete without the famous Sydney Opera House.

21) Hike the Larapinta Trail

A great way to get outdoors and explore more remote areas of Australia is hiking the Larapinta Trail. 

This is one of the best activities in Australia for those who want to experience real bushwalking, and it is located in the Northern Territory. 

The whole trail is about 223 kilometres long, but you can choose to just hike sections of it if you prefer. 

At the western end of the trail lies Mount Sonder, one of the state’s largest mountains, and at the eastern end of the trail lies Alice Springs, the town in which most travellers base a trip to Uluru. 

READ MORE: Be sure to read this hiking guide before trekking the Larapinta Trail!

22) Visit Kangaroo Island

Located off the coast of South Australia, Kangaroo Island is definitely one of the best Australia attractions. 

It is Australia’s third-largest island and is packed with nature reserves, diverse landscapes, and plenty of wildlife. 

There are, of course, kangaroos on the island, and they are actually a specific species of kangaroo that cannot be found on the mainland. 

Other animals you can find on Kangaroo Island include koalas, wallabies, platypuses, lizards, sea lions, echidnas, seals, and native birds.

In addition to the wildlife of the island, you can also see caves, unique rock formations and arches, national parks, beaches, and charming tourist towns.

23) Learn to Surf

Many people probably assume Aussies are all laid-back surfers with long hair and bare feet. 

Of course, not every Australian is a surfer, but many of them are. 

Australia is home to some of the best waves in the world, and the surf culture is very strong along the country’s coast. 

If you’ve always been intrigued by surfing and wanted to give it a try, Australia is the perfect place to learn. 

The temperature is favourable, the beginner-sized waves are plentiful, and the local instructors are always friendly and knowledgable. 

Some of the best places to learn to surf in Australia are the Gold Coast, Surfer’s Paradise, and Noosa, all located on the coast of southern Queensland.

So book yourself a surf lesson and learn to ride the waves like the Aussies!

24) Visit Byron Bay

Byron Bay is a laid-back coastal town in northern New South Wales that is famous for its backpacker scene. 

There are countless hostels, cafes, and cheap restaurants, as well as surf shops, vintage clothing shops, and organic health food shops. 

You’ll find interesting street art plastered all over the town walls and lots of classic hippie vans parked everywhere. 

Byron Bay has fun nightlife and lots of amazing beaches. Try hiking the coastal walk up to the Byron Bay Lighthouse for a great view of the area.  

Byron Bay
Byron Bay is a backpacker’s paradise.

25) Take the Train Across the Country

For a once-in-a-lifetime journey that not many others get to do, embark on a train journey across Australia

The country is so huge and long-distance train travel isn’t very common, so few people even know about the cross-country Australian train routes available. 

The Ghan is the train journey that runs from Darwin in the north to Adelaide in the South. 

The Indian Pacific is the train journey that runs from Sydney in the east to Perth in the west. 

These train journeys are expensive and long, so they’re not ideal for budget travellers or backpackers with limited time. 

But for those who want to splurge on a cool adventure and travel slowly through the countryside and admire the scenery, the train is a cool idea.

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About the author

Gabby Boucher

After four years of working in hospitality, volunteering abroad and travelling for fun, Gabby has developed a knack for budget travel and admiration for different cultures. Her travels have taken her through the cloud forests of Ecuador, into the villages of eastern Europe, across the islands of Thailand, and to the beaches of New South Wales, Australia, where she is currently living with a working holiday visa. She plans to continue her adventures around the world for as long as possible. Follow her on her blog, and on Instagram.

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