So you’ve decided to visit Australia. You’re not alone: in 2018, 9.2 million travelers visited the lucky country and the figures are on the rise. Australia (or as the locals call it, Oz) has something for everyone, from idyllic beaches and rain forest to one of the largest metropolises in the southern hemisphere.
Whether you’re a passionate hiker or festival goer, Australia will not disappoint you. The downside of such abundance is that Australia is also gigantic. Distances are no jokes and it would take months for one to visit the whole country.
So before you pack your surfboard and start your Australian visa application, make sure to have a clear travel plan and timeline. To help you out save time, we compiled this list of the 10 most popular cities to visit in Australia.
Sydney, New South Wales
Breathtaking beaches, a charming harbor, busy nightlife, a great number of festivals, theaters, and museums … Sydney really has it all. Many have come here for a holiday and found themselves planning a relocation.
From the iconic (cross the harbor by boat, spend a night at the Opera House, ride the waves at Bondi Beach) to the less known (go camping in one of the many national parks surrounding the city or whale watching at the Bare Island Fort of La Perouse) we’re certain you’ll fall in love with what Sydney has to offer.
When to visit Sydney. There’s something exciting to do all year round in Sydney. But if you’re after sunbathing and warm weather, summer here runs between November and February.
Ready to leave yet? Check out the best Australian visa for your needs and start packing!
You may have heard that Melbourne is the most European of the Australian cities, that it’s the artsy and hipster capital of the country, or maybe that it’s a foodie and beer lover paradise. All of the above is true.
Ride the free City Circle Tram and take in the beautiful Melbourne lanes and architecture. Find your favorite of the many cafés, pubs, and boutiques and enjoy a live music show. And in the unlikely event you get tired of the city, you can always spend some time with the penguins of Phillip Island.
When to visit Melbourne. Melbourne is fun 365 days a year. However, it can get pretty cold (and it may even snow!) from June to September.
Perth, Western Australia
Welcome to one of the most isolated cities in the world — the closest major city is over a thousand miles away. The locals are laid-back and very friendly: ask for their advice and surf at some of the best beaches Australia has to offer.
The finest collection of Aboriginal art in the whole world is preserved at the local Art Gallery and cute-looking and friendly quokkas are the most Instagrammable animals in town.
When to visit Perth. Avoid scorching heat and fly to Perth between September and November.
It doesn’t get much further down under than here. The State capital of Tasmania has stunning nature and a lively cultural scene to offer. Take in the view of the majestic waterfront, sign up for a guided tour to learn the history of Battery Point, and enjoy local craft beer and wines. And yes, the Tasmanian devil is real but not at all dangerous.
When to visit Hobart. Because of its location, Hobart tends to be quite cold compared to other Australian cities. The summer months (November to February) may be best for the weather but are also in full peak season.
Like many others on this list, the city of Brisbane was originally a penal colony. Now, it’s one of Australia’s most up-and-coming centers. Most of the buzz revolves around the Brisbane River, which you can explore by taking one of the many ferries. Brisbane also hosts Australia’s greatest contemporary and modern art gallery.
When to visit Brisbane. Avoid rainfalls and get in town between March and May, the southern autumn.
The most northern of all Australian cities is also the most tropical. Shock your friends back home with stories of wild crocodiles and deadly jellyfish that you can safely observe from ferries (the Mary River Wetlands host the greatest concentration of saltwater crocodiles in the world).
Darwin boasts the most famous sunsets in the country so make sure to take your camera with you.
When to visit Darwin. Beware of the temperatures: things can get very hot and humid here. Therefore, the best time to visit Darwin is the dry season (between April and September).
Alice Springs, Northen Territory
You can’t say you know the world Down Under until you know the Australian Outback. And this dusty town is the Aussie desert’s beating heart. Most people come here to see the Uluru (or Ayers Rock), the iconic gigantic red rock featuring in most postcards.
Uluru is sacred to Aboriginal people (in fact, it’s advisable to avoid climbing it as a sign of respect) and so are other local spots. If you want to get to know the 50,000 years-old Aboriginal culture, Alice Springs is definitely a great place to start.
When to visit Alice Springs. Alice Spring’s weather can be ruthless. Skip the heat and go between April and June and in September.
Adelaide, South Australia
Should you ask anyone “What is the most popular city in Australia?” it’s very unlikely that they will point to Adelaide. Although more than a million people live here, Adelaide has a sleepy country town feel to it.
The temperate climate allows for green hills and vineyards — explore them with one of the many wine tours that allow you to taste some of the most renowned wines in the world. Sports lovers will also enjoy The Oval, a 50,000 seater-stadium that hosts regular football and cricket matches.
When to visit Adelaide. If you don’t enjoy extreme temperatures and crowds, March-April and September-October are your best chance. However, the Adelaide Fringe (the southern hemispheres’ largest art festival) takes place in the summer.
Don’t let the fact that Cairns and the Gold Coast are both in the same State fool you: there’s a 2 hours-flight separating these cities. On the very north of Queensland, Cairns is a real paradise for lovers of nature and the outdoors.
From here you’ll be able to explore the Great Barrier Reef, the Whitsunday Islands, and the Daintree rainforest. Cairns is also known as a party town, so don’ forget to grab a beer at the lagoon on the Esplanade.
If you’re after a good adrenaline rush, there are plenty of activities to satisfy your craving, including skydiving, bungee jumping, hang gliding, and water rafting.
When to visit Cairns. Looking for the best weather, affordable prices, and relatively small crowds in Cairns? Then make sure to head there between April and September.
Gold Coast, Queensland
One of the most popular cities in Australia for surfers and backpackers, the Gold Coast is the ultimate holiday playground. Think skyscrapers right next to neverending sandy beaches and rolling waves.
Many have compared the Gold Coast to Miami in the US, yacht parties and casinos included. Although it’s one of the most visited spots in the country, the Gold Coast can boast surprisingly clean water and beaches. It’s also easy to take a break from the crowds by simply leaving the city center and exploring the quiet rainforest surrounding the area.
When to visit the Gold Coast. The best time to avoid rain and steamy-hot weather is between April and May. You will also avoid school holidays and the peak season.