Things to do in Australia: Attractions and places to visit

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Australia unites many longings of tourists and locals alike. The wide country, the many nature spectacles, the rich flora and fauna, but also the different big cities with gigantic architecture are only some of the attractions, which is why every year more than six million people visit the 5th continent. The country is located northwest of New Zealand. The capital is not Sydney or Melbourne, but Canberra.

The friendliness, helpfulness and very cosmopolitan way of thinking of the Australians is well received by travellers. Above all the numerous sights show the beauty and complexity of this unique country. From breathtaking beaches, mountains and deserts to vibrant beaches, there are attractions to suit every taste.

In the following we present you the most exciting tours, the most beautiful attractions and the best sights in Australia.

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Koala en kind - Koala and her young, Whitsunday Islands (Jan Hazevoet)  []  CC BY 
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1. Underwater Paradise Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef has been world-famous since the hit movie “Finding Nemo” at the latest. The area off the northeast coast of Australia covers an area of around 350,000 km² and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1981. Over 2900 contiguous coral reefs are crucial to the world’s flora and fauna.

Snorkeling, diving and boat trips to the reef are some of the most popular activities for Australian visitors. The natural spectacle in all its colourful splendour remains an unforgettable adventure. In total there are more than 1500 different fish species, which shine in the most different colours.

2. Uluru (Ayers Rock) – the Sacred Mountain in the Outback

The Ayers Rock is of course a must on any tour of Australia: The typical postcard motif is an absolute must not only for amateur photographers. The holy mountain, which is called “Uluru” by the natives of the country, has become the landmark of the country and is usually the longing destination of exciting journeys through the red earth of the outback.

The land is considered sacred by the Aborigines of the Anangu tribe. The approximately 500 million year old mountain shines from afar in a rust-brown clay and is about 350 meters high. Ayers Rock is located in one of the largest national parks in the country, the Uluru-Kata Tijuta National Park. Here you can also see neighbouring rock domes (The Olgas).

3. The picturesque Great Ocean Road

Among the further sightseeings of Australia is also the approximately 250 km long stretch of the famous Great Ocean Road. For this trip alone it is worth taking a rental car. The B100 car route in Victoria is easy to drive in a day, but you should take your time on this particular road. Because in many places there is a lot to discover such as wild koalas, kangaroos and parrots.

The Great Ocean Road starts in Torquay, which is very popular among athletes due to its windy conditions: kitesurfing, windsurfing or parachuting are just some of the local sports. The picturesque and partly rough coast can be admired all the way to the end in Allansfort.

4. Fraser Island – the largest sand island in the world

Fraser Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and for good reason: the island is the largest sand island in the world, covering an area of around 1800 square kilometres. It is located in the Sandy National Park in the state of Queensland. The crystal-clear water of about 200 lakes is a feast for the eyes of amateur photographers and nature lovers alike.

Despite the fact that human logging continued until the 1990s, many animal species such as wallabies, wild horses, dingos and nosebags live there. Whales and dolphins can also be seen in the sea at special times of the year. Another highlight of the island is the fast ride on the 75-Mile Beach on the east coast, it is considered (no joke!) despite sandy soil as an official highway!

5. Kakadu National Park

Besides koala bears, kangaroos and wallabies, cockatoos are an important natural attraction on the “5th continent” Australia. The Kakadu National Park is located in the state of Northern Territory and covers an area of about 170 square kilometres. It can be easily reached from the city of Darwin and is one of the most popular excursions in the region. Not only colourful cockatoos, but also over 10,000 insect species, 60 different mammals and over 300 bird species live in the wild nature of the national park.

Proven hiking routes and campsites allow travellers to experience nature up close. A special experience is bathing in the Jim Jim Falls, a natural pool with crystal clear water. Aborigines have been living in the entire national park for over 50,000 years and their wall and cave paintings can be admired. Today, about 500 indigenous people still live in their defined area, which was assigned to them in 1976.

6. The 12 Apostles – a miracle of nature

Strictly speaking, the 12 Apostles are an essential part of the Great Ocean Road experience. Due to their special attraction and popularity, however, Twelve Apostles in Port Campbell National Park between the cities of Princetown and Campbell have their own place in our TOP10 list. Originally there were 12 limestone columns sticking out of the water, but today there are actually only eight of them left.

The last rock to fall victim to the salt water was broken away in 2005. The remaining eight rock columns rise out of the water like sculptures and are a real eye-catcher. A visit is definitely worthwhile, especially with a view to the future: experts assume that more rock columns will break away in the next few years.

7. Whitsunday Islands and Whiteheaven Beach

The paradisiacal network of the Whitsunday Islands is located off the coast in the state of Queensland. They are not only very popular with divers and sport fishermen. The Pentecost Sunday islands, as they are also called, are lined with long sandy beaches, pine forests and colourful coral reefs. One of the most beautiful beaches in the world is located here in the National Park:

Whiteheaven Beach is the most photographed beach in Australia and offers with the transition of countless blue and turquoise shades into the really brilliant white sand on the shore a uniquely beautiful play of colours. The blasting is caused by the more than 98 percent quartz content of the sand. Excursions are possible by helicopter or speedboat from Airlie via Hamilton Island.

8. The Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains show that Australia does not only consist of flat country and outback. The Blue Mountains are located in the state of New South Wales and are popular with hikers. Before one can even discover the Blue Mountains, one perceives them in a different way: the essential oils of the eucalyptus trees exude a particularly pleasant scent.

This fragrance is also responsible for the name of the Blue Mountains, which colors the mountains in a light blue tone. The Blue Mountains have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000, where you can ride, hike, fish or climb. To get to the Jamison Valley, you can take the world’s steepest cable car.

9. Sydney – a metropolis of unique beauty

Those who speak of Australia will inevitably think of the enchanting metropolis Sydney. While other cities such as Melbourne or Brisbane deserve special attention, none of them offers such diversity as the country’s largest city. The list of sights in Sydney is long:

Of course, the Opera House with its fascinating architecture is at the top of the list. Also the Harbour Bridge is particularly formative for the cityscape and one of the most popular photo motives, an adventurous Bridge Climb is also offered here. It is more comfortable at the chilly surfer beach Bondi Beach, which you should not miss!

10. Tasmania – Island of the Tasmanian Devil

Although Tasmania is an island separate from the mainland, it is an independent state of Australia. The locals like to call their popular island “Tassie”. The capital, Hobart, is the largest in the state, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There you can stroll on the colorful markets or feast in the numerous restaurants.

In the cities you can discover the culture of the country in the different museums. The island is also known as Emerald Island, as there is a lot of nature and few cities like Hobart or Launceston. The Tasmanian devil, albino wallabies or wombats are just some of the many animal species on the island.

More things to do and activities for your Australia holiday

Best time to visit Australia

We recommend the following months as best time to travel for exploring the attractions and acivities of Australia:

You can find more information about the weather, including all climate data, on our climate page for Australia.

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