Last Updated on March 7, 2021
As I am in the planning stages of my big trip to Australia, I am putting together my ultimate Australia bucket list, starting with my Top 10 must-do’s. In my opinion, these are the absolute best places to visit in Australia and I won’t leave Down Under without experiencing these quintessential Oz places and activities.
10 Best Places To Visit in Australia
1 The Great Ocean Road
I have been dreaming of road tripping the Great Ocean Road for years and I can’t wait to do what is considered one of the most iconic road trips, with sights like the stunning 12 Apostles limestone rocks majestically jutting out of the ocean (pictured above).
2 Street art, coffee and city life in Melbourne
Every time I see photos of Hosier Lane, I get giddy with excitement. You all know that I am a huge fan of street art and I can’t wait to go photo-crazy there, maybe even catch some street artists adding new pieces.
And of course I’ll have to try a Flat White while I’m in Australia, and what better place to do that in than Melbourne, known for its booming coffee culture.
Whenever I read about Melbourne’s diverse neighborhoods, the coffee culture, street art and hipster vibe in Richmond, I can sense that it is my kind of city and I hope to spend a while there, truly getting to know it – which is why I am keeping my eyes peeled for a housesit in Melbourne.
3 Watch the surfers at Bondi Beach
There are so many famous surf beaches all over Australia, and for surfers Australia is the absolute paradise. I prefer watching and photographing them (at least for now) and can’t wait to watch the surfers at famous beaches like Manly and Bondi near Sydney, or Torquay and Bells Beach near Melbourne. Maybe I’ll be even tempted to give surfing a try myself.
4 Sydney Harbor Bridge climb
Even though I am terrified of heights, this is an experience I’d challenge myself to do. The views from the Harbor Bridge are supposed to be out-of-this-world amazing and I’ve never tried a bridge climb – so what better place to do it than on this Sydney landmark!
And Sydney itself is worth a visit, of course, with world-class art museums, the iconic Opera House, amazing coastal walks, beaches, and dozens of neighborhoods to explore.
5 Uluru and the Outback
Being a huge fan of the wide open plains of the American South West, I can only imagine how much I’ll enjoy driving through the seemingly endless wide open space of Australia’s outback. And Uluru, or Ayers Rock as it also known, is such a stunning sight – I can’t wait to see the sun set over this sacred rock, covering it in the most beautiful orange shade, and would love to join a base tour which lets you surround the entire rock.
Uluru by Nathan Siemers on Flickr.com
6 Snorkel at the Great Barrier Reef
I am still not keen on trying diving, but I would never pass up a chance to go snorkeling, especially in a place like the Great Barrier Reef, the largest coral reef in the world, and famous for its colorful and plentiful marine life. This is a MUST on my Australia bucket list.
7 Search for Tasmanian Devils in Tasmania
Okay, maybe I won’t be searching for Tasmanian devils, but everyone I know who’s been to Tasmania is raving about the little island south of the continent. Apparently, Tasmania is one of the most underrated tourism destinations and Hobart is often named as one of the most livable cities in Australia. Seeing pictures of beaches like the Wineglass Bay make me think that I will fall hard for Tasmania.
8 Ride the Ghan
The Ghan is one of the world’s most famous trains, and Australia is the only continent that can be crossed in a single train ride north to south or east to west. I’d probably take the three-day train ride from Adelaide to Darwin, crossing the entire country in an epic 47 hour, 2979km train ride.
The Ghan, by Bingley Hall on Flickr.com
9 Experience the wildlife
There’s so much wildlife unique to Australia – kangaroos, koalas, wallabies, Tasmanian Devils, to name only a few, that I’d try to fit in as many as possible. Noteworthy are the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary near Brisbane (I am so gonna squeeze that koala!), the Caversham Wildlife Park for koala cuddles and kangaroo feeding, Rottnest Island for the elusive quokka. And one of the best places to visit in Australia if you want to get up, close and personal with kangaroos in the wild is Lucky Bay in Western Australia where the roos hang out right on the beach!Swimming with whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia, visiting the penguins on Phillip Island, or go on a whale watching trip near Sydney would be other wildlife bucket list items.
In Kurunda (near Cairns), I could also visit the Venom Zoo, where I can see all kinds of Australia’s creepy crawlies, including venomous snakes, spiders, scorpions, tarantulas and all kinds of insects, but I’m not sure if I have to include this in my wildlife experiences 😉
10 The diverse landscapes of Western Australia
Like I said: I am a huge fan of the American South West and a sucker for unique landscapes – deserts, canyons, bizarre formations such as Monument Valley, the beautiful Wave in Utah or the multi-colored mountains of Northern Argentina.. I find these places incredibly scenic, and knowing that there are several places like this in Western Australia put this part of Down Under on my bucket list. I can’t wait to hike in the Pinnacle Desert in Nambung National Park, and board down the Lancelin sand dunes. In addition to these fascinating natural wonders, Western Australia is home to some of the country’s most gorgeous beaches and Perth is supposed to be a wonderfully laid-back city with a great food culture and cherishes coffee just as much as Melbourne, with hundreds of coffee shops.
Pinnacles Desert by Ian Sanderson on Flickr.com
2020 Update: I finally made it to Australia, roughly five years after writing my Australia bucket list (and just before the world was halted by COVID-19).
Curious to see which of the best places to see in Australia I was able to tick off my bucket list? Read:
My top six Australia travel highlights
What is on your Australia bucket list? Or if you’ve been to Australia – what are the best places to visit in Australia in your opinion?
Thursday 7th of July 2016
Hi , I live in Sydney and am absolutely in love with my city. I do pity tourists a little though who come here for a week and do the standard sights such as darling harbour, bondi, opera house…(although those are all great!). I love taking visitors to the little inner city suburbs that are full of character and charm. Newtown is an edgy inner city suburb with great little shops and awesome bars (amazing vego places!); Surry Hills and Glebe (check out the saturday markets) have cool hipster chic vibes and great great coffee and food; Paddington is upmarket and very fashionable- very pretty cafes and terrace houses; Balmain is a historic little suburb with breathtaking views of the city and harbour and fantastic old pubs. So please, when you visit Sydney, make your way to special parts of Sydney where Sydneysiders live xxx
Tuesday 12th of July 2016
Hi Natasha, thanks so much for your comment! I think I feel the same way about New York as you feel about Sydney. It always hurts my feelings when visitors don't even make it over to Brooklyn :( and only check off the main sights. That's not what makes a city tick! I am taking notes of the places you mentioned and can't wait to check them out!! I hope I'll have time for an extended Oz trip soon. Thanks again!
Jesse Richheimer @ Green Global Travel
Tuesday 23rd of February 2016
Great tips for an epic trip down under! I'm here now and have explored all that Sydney has to offer. I hope to drive the Great Ocean Road, experience the natural beauty of Western Australia, and snorkel the most famous chain of reefs in the world! Cheers Mate!
Katie @ The World on my Necklace
Monday 9th of March 2015
I would definitely recommend Kangaroo Island in South Australia. I enjoyed it so much more than the Great Ocean Road which I found lacklustre and chock full of people. Kangaroo Island has turquoise water, white sand beaches, friendly locals, hardly any tourists and there are native animals - EVERYWHERE! I have never seen somany Australian animals in one place. We only had two days there are saw countless Kangaroos (Kangaroo Island Kangaroos are smaller and darker than grey kangaroos), wallabies, echidnas, seals, a dugong (a manatee) and lots of dolphins - truly incredible. We slept in the National Park in a lighthouse keepers hut. Also, I would skip Bondi and visit Manly instead - a lot nicer (and where I live) :)
Monday 9th of March 2015
Oh Kangaroo Island sounds like it's right up my alley!! Aaah I am getting so excited for Australia!! And I am definitely visiting Manly :) I didn't know that was where you lived!!
Thursday 5th of March 2015
Since living in Australia my list has grown. Exmouth & ningaloo reef when in WA, Darwin and the nation parks, Townsville, so many places here to see. One of the places I haven't been and want to go is northern Queensland and Broome in WA.
Saturday 7th of March 2015
Thanks, De'Jav! I think I'll have to spend at least a year in Australia to be able to see everything I want to see & do! I wish I'd still be eligible for a travel & work visa but I missed that chance, sadly :(
Tracy & Della
Tuesday 3rd of March 2015
Hi Dani, We are house sitting in Melbourme right now! Loving it here. We are based in Glen Iris and have spent the past week getting to know the area and exploring downtown. This is our third trip Down Under and we love it more with each visit. We did the GOR back in 2012 and it was fantastic! We got to see a number of koalas in the wild near Apollo Bay. We have also had the good fortune to visit Sydeney Perth and Tassie. All equally delightful. If you want any more info drop us a line, we would be more than happy to help. Possible house sit in December 2015 if you are interested?
Saturday 7th of March 2015
Could I be any more jealous right now?! You're housesitting in Melbourne? Aaah so cool! Let's chat about that possible housesit in December :D I can't wait to finally get to Australia!