Whether you’re traveling from afar to explore this diverse country, or venturing to the nooks and crannies of your own Australian backyard, there’s plenty to discover during summer in Australia. From a relaxing beach break in Newcastle to taking in the street art scene in Melbourne, summer is a great time to explore Australia.
These are some of the best destinations to experience an unforgettable Australian summer vacation.
This rapidly developing city on the country’s south coast is booming with culture and events. The fact that it’s within close proximity to one of Australia’s top wine country regions is a major bonus too.
Once known as a “sleepy” city, Adelaide has truly flourished into a hot destination for culinary, art, and festival enthusiasts. Uncover seemingly hidden restaurants and watering holes nestled in the city center’s narrow side streets and feel like a food and beverage pioneer. Local craft beer, curated cocktails, and tapas are some of the gems you’ll find.
Browse the local fresh bounty at the Adelaide Central Market. Coffee, just-baked pastries, fresh fruits and vegetables, and smoked meats and local cheeses are just some of the fantastic fare available.
Get in touch with nature at Adelaide Botanical Gardens and explore South Australia’s flora and fauna. The Adelaide Hills wine region, approximately a half-hour from the city, is host to over 50 wineries and some of the country’s best vineyards. Sip and savor local wines such as Shiraz while overlooking the gorgeous landscape is one of the best things to do around Adelaide.
Tasmania is known for its incredible nature and outdoor activities. With the resident Mount Wellington providing a jaw-dropping backdrop, the capital city of Hobart is set to impress.
Hobart isn’t just a great base for exploring some of the amazing landscapes nearby—it’s also a worthy destination in and of itself for cultural and culinary experiences. Discover local art at the Museum of Old and New Art, which combines modern and contemporary works in an iconic exhibition space, or wander through the CBD and spot expansive street art murals.
One of the best things to do in Hobart is to indulge in some of its most ethnically diverse eateries at Salamanca Place, just outside of the city center. You’ll have your pick of atmospheric restaurants serving Italian, Thai, and Spanish cuisine.
If you’re looking to get outside, float along the local Derwent River and take in Australian landmarks like Shot Tower and Iron Point Lighthouse. Visit Betsey Island for the chance to spot seabirds and even a colony of penguins.
Perched on Port Phillip Bay on the southeast coast of mainland Australia, Melbourne is a well-known destination for art and culture appreciators. As one of the street art capitals of the world, you’ll be enthralled while discovering unique works of local art along designated streets, where artists are permitted to create freely.
It’s easy to see why the city is known as Australia’s “cultural capital.” Melbourne is a newly named UNESCO City of Literature and is filled with live music, art, and theater.
Experience its thriving culinary scene with visits to popular foodie neighborhoods like Carlton, South Yarra, Southbank, Chinatown, or Fitzroy. Cool down from the warm summer in Australia by ducking into one of its character-filled cafes or opting for al-fresco dining.
If you’re spending summer with your family, one of the best things to do in Melbourne with kids is to visit the lush Fitzroy Gardens, a 64-acre historical urban green space. Follow the walking trail and observe its native trees, flora and fauna, sculptures, intricate fountains, and birds.
Day trips outside of the city offer a chance to experience one of southern Australia’s most popular wine regions. The scenic Yarra Valley can be reached within an hour from Melbourne, where you can taste varieties like Chardonnay, sparkling wine, and Pinot noir.
For a unique summer family vacation idea, don’t miss the chance to see the iconic Twelve Apostles when visiting Melbourne. Driving down the Great Ocean Road and marveling at Victoria’s striking coastline and limestone cliffs will not disappoint.
Welcome to the tropical paradise of Cairns. It’s here that you can lounge on pristine beaches, soak up its relaxed atmosphere, and venture to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics Rainforest.
Some of the best things to do in Cairns include sightseeing from above on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway and traversing over Barron Gorge National Park, which is host to the world’s oldest tropical rainforest. You’ll spot the landmark Barron Falls along the route as well as Red Peak, both of which can be explored on foot.
To explore the famous Great Barrier Reef yourself, Fitzroy Island is the perfect way to unspoiled nature at its best. Although it has its own reef system, it’s also part of the Great Barrier Reef. Reachable by ferry, in about 45 minutes you’ll be in a protected national park with white sand beaches, incredible snorkeling, and the iconic Fitzroy Island Lighthouse.
Nothing says summer in Australia like a beach vacation. As the gateway to the famous Whitsundays, Airlie Beach is a worthy destination itself. Relax on the beach, take a dip in the local lagoon, or stretch your legs on the Kara Cres trail, a 90-minute trek to an incredible lookout over the harbor and stunning Whitsunday Islands.
Hop on a catamaran from Abel Point Marina and explore the remote islands, beaches, and coves throughout the Whitsundays for an unforgettable experience. Make sure to visit Whitehaven Beach, one of the world’s most beautiful beaches.
For a bit of hiking, head to Conway National Park, just south of Airlie Beach. This coastal park is filled with rainforest, untouched beaches, an impressive waterfall, and incredible views of the Whitsunday Islands.
If you’re interested in learning a new skill on your trip, consider a sailing lesson or getting SCUBA-dive certified in the otherworldly setting of the Great Barrier Reef, one of the many things that Australia is known for. Laid-back restaurants and bars with live music will bring your relaxation full circle in Airlie Beach.
The city of Eden is tucked on the edge of Twofold Bay on Australia’s Sapphire Coast. This region is known for its ruggedly beautiful coastline, pristine beaches, and interesting rock formations.
Ben Boyd National Park offers various hiking trails for all fitness levels. Try the classic Pinnacles Trail for views of Long Beach and the 65 million-year-old red and white cliff backdrop. While in the park, a visit to the Green Cape Lighthouse, the southernmost lighthouse in New South Wales.
Don’t miss a chance to taste the prized Sydney rock oyster, whether in a local oyster-processing factory or during a cruise along the peaceful Pambula Lake.
Brisbane is the ideal destination for spending time in the warm Australian summer sun. Order a flat white at an outdoor cafe or a local brew at a rooftop bar and immerse yourself in the city’s low-key atmosphere.
For city views, stroll the Brisbane Riverwalk, or test your fear of heights along the South Bank with a ride 197 feet above the river on the Wheel of Brisbane. Pick up a memento to remember your trip along the unique Gallery Walk, a street filled with gifts, arts, and handcrafted goods.
If you’re looking for more things to do in Brisbane, there’s plenty to keep you busy in the national parks and rainforests that make up the Scenic Rim. Get out into nature with a visit to Tamborine Mountain, just an hour south of the city center. Hop in a hot air balloon or trek the Rainforest Skywalk for an awesome bird’s-eye view of the surrounding landscape.
If you’re still deciding where to go this summer, Australia’s second-oldest city, Newcastle, makes for an idyllic getaway with its picturesque harbor views and abundant beaches. Walk along Bather’s Way, a coastal boardwalk that connects Nobbys Beach and Merewether Beach, and let the ocean air and beach views relax you.
Head to Port Stephens, located about an hour outside of the city, for some of the area’s best outdoor adventures. Go hiking, snorkeling, or surfing, or spot bottlenose dolphins in Nelson Bay on a boat tour.
For a change of scenery, the Stockton Sand Dunes are the largest coastal dunes in the Southern Hemisphere. This 20-mile stretch of sand is one of the best beaches in Australia for sandboarding, riding ATVs, and horseback riding.
Newcastle is also a jumping-off point for the Hunter Valley wine region, which has over 120 wineries ready for tastings. You can even join a master class and sample rare vintage varieties. No visit to a wine region is complete without a stop at the cheese shops, too.
Port Douglas is a tropical destination in North Queensland located close to the Great Barrier Reef. When you’re not enjoying the beaches or exploring the reef, play a round of golf or venture into the Daintree Rainforest.
Explore the diverse rainforest from ground to canopy via zip-line adventures, river cruises, or treks. Mossman Gorge, in the southern portion of the park, is one of the most beautiful places in Australia offering a diverse selection of hiking opportunities. Head to Cape Tribulation, where the beach and rainforest meet, and choose from various bushwalks or hikes, or just relax on the gorgeous remote beaches.
Read: Best Things to Do in Port Douglas
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