Everything you need to know about planning travel to Australia in our epic destination guide.
Australia is a vast and bountiful country that offers beauty, leisure and adventure at every turn. So large that it is also one of the seven continents, the country is the world’s largest island and has one of the longest coastlines in the world.
It consists of not only gorgeous and unique landscapes and wildlife, but also the famous outback culture, quirky small towns and well-developed coastal cities making travel to Australia a must.
Road trips are a great way to see the country. The same vastness that makes a road trip across Australia seem daunting is the very reason to explore it by vehicle.
Some of the best attractions are remote and well off the beaten path.
Wildlife is one of the main reasons to travel to Australia. Approximately 90% of the animals that are native to Australia cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
From crocodiles to koalas, emus to kangaroos Australia is full of species of wildlife that attract travellers from all over the world.
Australia is also known for its world class beaches. Whether you want to soak in the sun, catch a few waves or snorkel or scuba dive, there is plenty to do along the nearly 40,000 km of coastline!
Tourists’ favourites are the Whitehaven Beach, Cottesloe Beach and Bondi Beach – but there over 10,000 other beaches to chose from as you travel in Australia.
And, of course, you could spend days or weeks exploring the stunning landscape of the Australian Outback. There is something deeply relaxing about having so much space around you.
In fact, in many places in the Outback you are more likely to come across more exotic wildlife than other people.
In case you couldn’t tell, there are plenty of reasons to travel to Australia.
For more specific information on what to see and do, how to get there and around and other Australia travel tips be sure to read through our Australia Travel Guide.
Australia Travel Guide
If you’re planning to travel to Australia make sure to read this guide to prepare you for one of the most exciting adventures in your life.
- Capital: Canberra
- Other Main Cities: Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane
- Currency: Australian Dollar
- Language: English
- Population: 25,132,700
- Area: 7,692,024 km2
- Electricity Voltage: The standard voltage is 230V at 50 Hz frequency
- Electricity Sockets: Type I
How To Travel To Australia
As an island nation, Australia is most accessible from flights arranged from many of the larger cities of Europe, North America, Asia and South Africa. But depending on where you are traveling from, expect to spend a fair amount on the plane ticket and quite a bit of time in the air.
Our best advice is to do research and buy your ticket as soon as possible. Booking several months in advance will provide you the most consistently lowest fares.
Additionally, major airlines offer seasonal promotions and occasional discounts so stay alert!
One of the best ways to make sure you get the best deal is to sign up for email alerts to receive special offers from airlines such as Qantas, Virgin Australia, United and Delta.
It is also a good idea to browse for flights in incognito mode. Or alternatively you can clear the cache in your browser periodically.
Many travel sites will charge you higher fares if they know you are visiting their sites frequently to search for flights.
Google Flights also offers some of the best initial research for fares from your destination.
However, be sure to check fares directly with the airline as there may be unspecified fees and regulations not listed in the Google Flights results.
The major airports in Australia are located in:
- Sydney (read our guide on free things to do in Sydney)
- Perth (read our guide on things to do in Perth)
- Melbourne (read our guide on free things to do in Melbourne)
There are other smaller airports in:
- Cairns (read our guide on the best things to do in Cairns)
Australia is very well connected so you can book your flight from almost every capital in Europe, larger cities in the US and major capitals in Asia.
Visa Requirements For Australia
You will need a visa to travel to Australia unless you are a citizen of New Zealand.
Citizens from New Zealand are welcome to stay, live and work in Australia indefinitely. All other visitors must apply for a travel visa in advance of the journey.
Most travellers to Australia will qualify for a free visa entitling them to stay in the country up to one year.
Be sure to check this list of these eligible countries to determine if you can apply online for your 3 month travel visa.
If your country is not on the list then the process differs from country to country – please visit the Australian embassy in your home country.
Some nationalities can travel on an Electronic Travel Authorisation permit, which can be applied for online here.
5 Interesting Facts About Australia
- Platypus and Echidnas (both native Australian animals) are the world’s only mammals that lay eggs
- The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest living organism.
- Tasmania has what is considered to be the world’s cleanest air.
- The Rabbit-Proof fence in Australia is longer than the Great Wall of China.
- After Greece, Melbourne has the largest population of Greeks.
Best Time to Visit Australia
Australia is located in the Southern Hemisphere and thus has opposite seasons from most of the world. This can be confusing, so make sure to plan accordingly!
Additionally, the country is so large and offers such varied climates and landscapes that the weather you experience depends on the region and time of year in which you’re traveling.
If you are planning to travel to Australia during summer (December – February), know that this is the most popular time to visit Australia.
Avoid the frigid temperatures found in the northern hemisphere by escaping to Australia for Christmas and New Years!
But during fall and spring, the tourism and temperatures fall off. This makes this time of year perhaps the most ideal time to visit any place in Australia.
You can still enjoy most of the outdoor activities for which Australia is known without dealing with the large crowds and expenses of the busy tourist season.
This is also an ideal time to explore the Australian Outback or to swim with whale sharks along the western coast.
If you are interested in winter sports, Australia also offers plenty of opportunities to ski and snowboard. You can find yourself in great ski slopes within a few hours of landing at the airport.
So really Australia has it all! Depending on what you would like to see and do, you can plan to travel to Australia at any time of the year!
Travel Itinerary Suggestions
Australia is huge and offers so many opportunities to explore its vastness. It would be easy to spend weeks or months in any one part of the country. So trying to see the whole of Australia might seem overwhelming.
Depending on how long you have to travel in Australia, where you plan to visit and and what you plan to do, here are a few ideas for how to spend your time:
- Sydney 4-5 days: Start your vacation with Australia’s most well-known city and explore its beaches, visit the famous Sydney Opera and climb the Harbour Bridge! Sydney has a packed festival season throughout the summer. And of course the beaches are vibrant and popular along the Gold Coast and Great Barrier Reef.
- Melbourne 3-4 days: Maybe it cannot boast with having iconic landmarks, such as the Harbour Bridge, but this city is charming in its own right and is definitely worth exploring. The city has plenty of museums and galleries showcasing the newest exhibitions and loads of other cultural events throughout the city. Melbourne especially gets wild during the Australian Rules football season (which ends in September). Read our guide on how to spend 3 days in Melbourne.
- Great Ocean Road 2 days: The Great Ocean Road is a picturesque stretch of coastal road that begins not far from Melbourne. You can do this also as a day trip but it’s better to do it within two days and see as much as you can. With incredible landscapes and opportunities to view wildlife and monuments, this road trip is definitely worth the time.
- Uluru 2-3 days: Uluru is located in the centre of the country and is unique for being very isolated. Known for natural wonders such as the massive monolith Ayers Rock, Uluru is full of spectacular scenery and beautiful landscapes.
- Great Barrier Reef 3-4 days: No trip to Australia is completed without a visit to the Great Barrier Reef. This is the perfect place for scuba diving and snorkelling. Expect to see vibrant colours and a wide range of plants and animals as you explore the world’s largest coral reef.
Budget For Travelling In Australia
Travelling in Australia is not cheap, and many people are unprepared how expensive Australia really is. However, if you plan accordingly you can find ways to have an amazing experience while not breaking the bank.
Be prepared with these Australia travel tips so that you do not end up spending more money than you should.
Some of the average costs you can expect in Australia are as follows:
- Accommodation: Accommodation in general is quite expensive. Hostels start around $30 a night for cheaper ones, while mid-range hotels usually start around $150 a night. You can easily spend $200+.
- Food: An average meal will run you around AUD$15-20. Nicer restaurants start their prices around AUD$40 and up.
- Drinks: Australians are known for drinking beer. But even though they consume a lot of beer on an annual level, the price for a pint is fairly high at AUD$9 and higher.
- Tours: Tour prices will vary, of course. But many multi-day tours in various parts of the country will cost you around AUD$200-400 per day.
If you’re a backpacker and you stay in hostels, use local transport and cook many of your meals – you could plan to spend around AUD$60-80/per day.
Here are some of our tips for spending less when travelling in Australia:
- Cook as many of your meals as possible
- Use local transport when available
- Couchsurf or look for AirBnB deals (use our link to get $35 off your first AirBnB stay)
- Seek free wifi in public places
- Get a pre-paid phone plan from a supermarket. Telstra has the best coverage outside of major cities, but they are also the most expensive.
- Work for your room – some hostels let you work a couple of hours daily in exchange for free room
- Drink less (tough, we know!)
- WWOOF – is a program that connects young travellers with organic farms. You work in exchange for free accommodation and board.
Top 5 Places To Visit In Australia
Narrowing down the best places to travel in Australia is difficult. From picturesque beaches to arid desert, Australia offers a wide range of places to visit and things to see and do.
Here are our top 5 places to visit in Australia.
- The Great Barrier Reef – Visiting the Great Barrier Reef is something that should be on everyone’s bucket list! Don’t miss your opportunity to go snorkleling and explore the world’s largest reef!
- Sydney – Here is where you will find Australia’s most famous landmarks such as the Sydney Opera, the Harbour Bridge and its surrounded by plenty of national parks if you want a change from the city scenery.
- Cairns – The gorgeous rainforests and deep blue waters surrounding its beaches make up for the lack of attractions within Cairns. It’s an ideal place to stay at for a couple days before heading to the Great Barrier Reef.
- Kakadu National Park – This park has been occupied by Aboriginal people for over 40,000 years. It’s a place known for its cultural and natural importance. The park is large and consists of truly unique and diverse ecosystems and is perfect for a day of hiking and some peace and quiet.
- Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park – World-famous, the Uluru is recognisable everywhere for its red hue. It is one of Australia’s most favourite landmarks.
Top 5 Travel Experiences In Australia
- Snorkelling/diving – The underwater world is at its finest in the Great Barrier Reef. Whether you are certified to dive, prefer to snorkel or just want to experience the largest reef in the world by boat, a trip to the Great Barrier Reef should be near the top of your list of things to do when travelling in Australia.
- Go surfing – Bondi Beach is world famous for its picturesque sand and clear blue water. Catch a wave on a surf or body board or simply enjoy the beach for what it is. If you really want an experience world class waves surf your way up the Gold Coast.
- Epic Road Trips – Australia is ripe for driving expeditions. Whether you are a hardcore overlander, prefer to drive by rental car or want to experience van life at its finest, Australia offers some of the best road trips in the world. Drive along the Great Ocean Road, head inland to Uluru or take your time and drive around the circumference of the whole island.
- Sandboard – New South Wales and Western Australia both offer some of the most interesting and adrenaline-pumping experiences. Try sandboarding down the sand dunes and compare your experience on the sand with that of the surf.
- Sydney Harbour Bridge – Sydney Harbour is one of the world’s most iconic landmarks. Check out the busy city and bustling harbour by climbing to the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The views of the city are sure to not disappoint!
Transportation In and Around Australia
Transportation in and around Australia is as varied as the country itself. However, because it is so large you will likely experience a combination of transportation options wherever you plan to travel in Australia.
Australia has a fantastic domestic air network that allows you to connect to points all across the country. Some of the airlines that offer great deals to hop across the continent include:
- Virgin Australia
- Tiger Airways
The wide selection in airlines and routes offers fairly competitive prices especially when it comes to the Sydney-Melbourne leg of travel.
If you’re flying out to a remote destination such as Uluru, Hamilton Island or Darwin – your best bet is to book well in advance. But then still expect fares to be a little pricey.
If you have the time and want a truly unique experience you can cross the country aboard the Indian Pacific railway. Expect some of the best service, food and scenery you can imagine when travelling in Australia by train.
This is the only way to cross the country by train, however it is very expensive.
Bus is the best way to travel in Australia on a budget. Greyhound buses operate in most of the capital cities and will connect you to pretty much anywhere in the country you would like to go.
The prices for inter-city bus travel are modest. Additionally many companies offer discounts for students.
Bus is also a great way to travel in many of the larger cities. Not only can you cover a lot of ground by using the public bus system in places like Sydney, Melbourne and Perth but also it will save you quite a bit of money to spend on other things.
If you’d like to travel in Australia at your own pace, renting a car is your best option. However, it can be pricey especially if you plan to pick up the vehicle in one city and drop it in another.
But nothing will beat the freedom you have to go to the places you want to see and do them at your own pace.
If you are really into exploring the country with the most amount of freedom, consider renting a campervan. Campervans combine the flexibility of driving at your own pace and itinerary with the freedom to stop and sleep pretty much anywhere along your journey.
Many campervans come fully equipped to be able to prepare your own meals and be self-sustainable for days on end as you explore the country.
Petrol prices vary, depending on where you are traveling from. For example, they are lower than those in the UK and Europe, but higher than in many places in North and South America.
One thing to keep in mind is that distances between places in Australia are large. So it is very likely that you will be driving longer distances while travelling in Australia.
The same vastness that makes a road trip across Australia seem daunting is the very reason to explore it by vehicle. Some of the best attractions are only reachable via car because they are remote and well off the beaten path.
Depending on how much time you are willing to commit to driving across the country, you could take weeks or months to absorb the landscape, wildlife and culture of the Australian people.
Accommodation In Australia
As in nearly all other places in the world, accommodation is Australia is varied and depends on your desires, budget and location.
When travelling in Australia you can find accommodation that ranges from bed and breakfasts to hotels, hostels and home stays.
Australian Bed & Breakfast & Guesthouses
You can find family-run guesthouses popping up all over Australia. They can vary a lot by style, from converted barns, bungalows to townhouses.
Rates vary as well depending on location of the guesthouse and facilities offered.
They offer reasonably priced comfortable rooms and you can also enjoy the family feel, the home-cooked dinners and rely on information provided by the owners.
Hostels are the most popular way for budget travellers to find accommodation while travelling in Australia. However, they are no longer just for students and younger people.
Many hostels in the country offer the kind of amenities that attract people from all walks of life. Usually the offer shared dorms, cooking facilities, communal area with TV, 24 hour reception and laundry facilities.
Additionally hostels are a great way to meet people and learn about other places to visit and things to do in Australia.
Hotels can be considerably expensive in Australia. Even ones that are not deemed as luxury or boutique hotels can carry a pretty heavy cost.
If you’re looking for maximum comfort then staying in a hotel is the right choice. But be prepared to shell out for that comfort when travelling in Australia.
Camping & Caravan Parks
One of the most popular ways to see Australia is to travel by camper van.
Rent a camper or a caravan and you can go camping anywhere! Whether it be in national parks or outside of the city limits.
The best thing is that you will be able to experience the country more fully and save money that you’d otherwise spend on accommodation.
Food In Australia
Australia has a variety of dishes to represent the varied cultural and historical aspects of the country. While known more for its beer than its food, there are several types of food that you do not want to miss when travelling in Australia.
Here are a few of the best options to explore:
- The Lamington – This is the national cake of Australia. It is a square-shaped sponge cake that comes with chocolate icing and has coconut sprinkled all over it. Sometimes it has jam in the middle.
- Vegemite on toast – Vegemite is a brown food paste that doesn’t look appetising at all. But Australians swear on it. It is most popularly used like jam on toast. Although Australians can be pretty creative in how they apply it. If you have ever met an Australian there is a good chance that they mentioned Vegemite at some point in passing!
- Grilled Kangaroo – While many people visit Australia to view wildlife such as kangaroo, it is also a pretty popular meal. While it tends to dry out so it’s usually cooked from rare to medium, it is delicious when served with rosemary, plums, oranges, peppers, juniper, garlic and red currant.
- Meat pies – Meat pies are every Australian’s favourite childhood snack. It is nearly always on the menu, whether it be as an appetiser at a restaurant, house party or sporting event. It is also rumoured to be perfect in the morning after a particular crazy night out. You’ll find meat pies usually served with mashed potatoes and gravy.
- Fish & Chips – One thing is for sure, Australia has plenty of fresh, delicious fish to create this traditional meal. Regardless of what part of the country you visit, it’s likely you’ll find this plate anywhere in Australia to compliment a nice cold beer.
Safety In Australia
Generally speaking Australia is regarded as a very safe country.
The crime rates are pretty low and if by any chance tourists end up being victims of crime it’s usually a case of pickpocketing.
In big cities such as Sydney and Melbourne you should take the usual precautions:
- Do not walk alone at night in poorly lit areas
- Don’t leave your valuables unattended
- Don’t carry your wallet in your back pocket
The biggest danger when travelling in Australia actually comes from natural hazards and animals.
Every year dozens of tourists drown on one of Australia’s busy beaches because of strong waves and riptides. Wildlife attacks account for a handful more incidents.
But in general you should feel very safe when you travel to Australia.
Medical System In Australia
The public health care system in Australia is called Medicare. Australian hospitals are renowned for world class medical facilities and the highest standards of care.
The Australian government has Reciprocal Healthcare Agreements with a couple of countries which allow travellers access to subsidised health services.
Those countries are:
- United Kingdom
- The Republic of Ireland
Since there’s always a risk from natural hazards, dangerous animals and simple accidents while exploring the country, it is always advised to buy travel insurance.
Travel insurance will cover loss, theft, accidents and various medical problems.
It is especially recommended if you plan on doing activities that carry a certain degree of risk such as scuba diving, travelling to remote areas, bushwalking etc.
Packing List For Australia
Clothing and Wardrobe (both men and women)
- Swimsuit x3
- Beach towel
- Flip flops
- Hiking boots
- Waterproof jacket
- Hiking trousers
- Thick socks x2
- Running leggings or shorts x2
- Jeans x2
- Shorts x3
- T-shirts x5
- Casual shoes
- Mosquito repellent
- An unlocked smartphone so you place an Australian SIM card in it
- Power bank
- Universal travel adapter
Australia Travel Tips
When travelling in Australia there are many travel tips of which you should be aware. Many of these are common for travel in any part of the world. But pay special attention to how these Australia travel tips will impact your trip to the country.
- Time. One of the most common mistakes that first time travellers make is trying to experience Australia within 2-3 weeks. This is a continent not just a country. It is best to choose just two or three areas to focus on your first visit. Otherwise you will risk spending most of your holiday in transit.
- Cost. Australia is very expensive, make sure to either cut down your costs or apply one of our tips to get a decently priced accommodation – also make sure to bring twice as much money than how much you originally intended to.
- Tipping. Tipping for services in Australia is not mandatory and most of them are not used to it. Only tip if you exceptionally enjoyed the service.
- Sun Protection. The sun is very harsh – pack a lot of sunscreen!
- Distances. The distances between major cities are bigger than in Europe or even US. Once you’re out of the city you already feel like you’re in the wild!
- Seasons. Australia is in the southern hemisphere which means that all seasons are completely opposite of the northern hemisphere. That’s true for the southern part of the country but not the north. Which in returns means that it’s ideal to visit Sydney from November – April but it’s the exact opposite if they want to visit the Great Barrier Reef!
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