Combining vast stretches of untouched land, unique wildlife, and spectacular natural sceneries with ultra-modern cities and a blend of different cultures, traditions and communities, Australia stands out as a country of incredible diversity and stunning contrasts that everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime.
But since we’re talking about a country that covers an entire continent, albeit the smallest one on Earth, it’s certainly not easy to decide which destinations to include on your travel bucket list. Even for locals who have travelled extensively across the continent, narrowing down all the wonderful places in Australia to just a few bucket list destinations can be a real struggle.
So, if you’re planning a trip to the Land Down Under and you’re having a hard time coming up with an itinerary, you can use this list of some of the best Australian destinations as a source of inspiration.
Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is unsurprisingly one of the most popular attractions in Australia, being the largest coral reef system in the world. Stretched over 1,429 miles across the coast of Queensland, this remarkable natural formation boasts an abundance of marine life in its deep blue waters, including 400 types of coral and 1,500 species of fish. You can explore the area by booking a snorkel and scuba dive tour and discovering the best sites of the reef, with plenty of options for both experienced and newbie divers. Alternatively, you can also take in stunning views of the reef from up above by taking a helicopter tour.
From the largest coral reef in the world to the oldest existing rainforest in the world, there’s definitely no shortage of natural wonders in Queensland. The Daintree Rainforest is at least 135 million years old, meaning it dates back to the age of the dinosaurs, and covers no less than 1200 square km. Visiting an ancient tropic forest and being surrounded by lush greenery and tons of wildlife is not something you get to do every day. A guided tour is recommended if you want to discover the best hiking trails, but if you prefer to venture into the jungle on your own, you should head north to Cape Tribulation where you can enjoy nature in all its glory.
If you had to choose only one city in Australia to visit, Sydney should be it. From famous monuments and landmarks such as the iconic Opera House to museums, bars, restaurants, parks, gorgeous beaches and tons of exciting activities – many of which are completely free – Sydney doesn’t disappoint. You should allocate at least a few days to enjoy this unique city and its vibrant atmosphere. And if you intend to continue your Australian explorations and fly off to a different destination after visiting Sydney, we suggest you book your flight in advance and check the airport parking situation beforehand in order to save time, money and stress.
Leaving city life behind, Fraser Island is another destination whose otherworldly natural beauty will leave you breathless. Known for its unique landscape that comprises a peculiar combination of sand dunes, tidal pools, rainforests, a 75-mile-long beach and a few shipwrecks, visiting this World Heritage-listed island makes for a unique travel experience. The best way to go out and about is to rent a truck and make your way across the wild scenery, creating your own itinerary as you go. Booking accommodation at one of the hotels on the island will allow you more time to explore all the local sights and sensations. Be mindful of the dingoes, never leave a child alone, put food away, and never feed them. Dingoes are wild animals and have been known to attack.
Kakadu National Park is a special place where time seems to stand still. Covering almost 20000 square kilometres, Kakadu is Australia’s biggest national park and home to a great variety of ecosystems. Across its vast land, you’ll get to discover age-old landscapes covered by lush rainforests with majestic waterfalls, lily-covered wetlands and exotic wildlife. This is also a great opportunity to get acquainted with the Aboriginal culture and learn about the life and traditions of these indigenous tribes that have populated the land since ancient times. There are also various ways to explore the park, including cruises, guided tours, hikes and walks and scenic flights.
Kangaroos are an official symbol of Australia, having both cultural and spiritual significance for Aboriginal people and being presented in the Australian coat of arms. So, if you’re a wildlife lover, a trip to Kangaroo Island is a must. This is a safe haven for a variety of endangered species, including a unique variety of kangaroos, koalas, seals and pelicans. Apart from admiring the wildlife, you’ll also get to explore some amazing beaches and see the Remarkables, a collection of peculiar-looking rock formations made of granite that make for some stunning sunset views.
Last but certainly not least, Uluru, previously known as Ayers Rock, is a UNESCO World Heritage site that many refer to as the spiritual heart of Australia. This description alone should make you want to add this one-of-a-kind destination to your travel bucket list. Uluru is a 700 million years old massive sandstone monolith, 348 metres high and occupying an area of 3.33 sq km. But it’s not just its imposing structure that makes this place so special, or the stunning shades of red and orange it casts at sunset, but also the fascinating stories attached to it, given that Uluru is sacred to the local Aboriginal people. So, we advise you to take your time and learn about the history of the site while exploring its surroundings.
Being the sixth largest country in the world, it’s impossible to uncover all the natural and manmade wonders of Australia in one single trip. However, this shouldn’t discourage you from trying. Indeed, visiting Oz requires proper research and preparation, but there are tons of travel resources, guides, apps and services that can help you plan your itinerary and make travel arrangements with ease so that you can enjoy your Australian experience to the fullest.