No matter what you do when you visit Australia, your trip will be unforgettable. With dynamic cities like Sydney and Melbourne, and the timeless nature of the Australian Outback and Great Ocean, it's no surprise that Australia skyrockets to the top of so many travelers' bucket lists. These 10 amazing experiences will make your Australia vacation one you'll never forget.
1. Explore & Visit The Great Barrier Reef
One of the best things to do in Australia is to visit the Great Barrier Reef, although there isn't just one way to experience this amazing piece of natural architecture. Get up close and personal with the coral reef (and all the creatures that live within it) by booking a day trip from the city of Cairns, Queensland — be that to snorkel or scuba dive. Or gain a higher perspective when you book a scenic flight or helicopter ride, which allows you to fully realize its size and magnificence.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the kangaroos that hang out on Pebbly Beach in Murramarang National Park don't actually surf, despite online urban legend claims. The photos you see of them "surfing" on top of the water are simply an optical illusion. The good news is you can still get amazing shots of kangaroos frolicking and hopping along the crystal-blue waters of the New South Wales coast. Give them their space, and enjoy these iconic creatures as they do their thing.
3. Drive The Great Ocean Road
Speaking of iconic creatures, you'll also want to make sure you see koalas when you visit Australia. While you're not guaranteed to see these adorable marsupials while driving the Great Ocean Road — which runs between Melbourne and Adelaide — stopping in Great Otway National Park or on the Kennett River Koala Walk will heighten your chances. At the very least, you'll get to enjoy gorgeous ocean scenery, most notably the limestone towers known as the "12 Apostles."
4. See The Outback By Luxury Train
Most people visit the Outback during their Australia vacation, but few see it from the luxurious vantage point that a ticket on The Ghan guarantees. This luxury locomotive crosses Australia from north to south in three days and two nights, and it affords guests cozy sleeping quarters and opulent dining options. Plus, it stops at popular Australia tourist attractions such as Uluru (Ayers Rocks) and the famous town of Alice Springs. Enjoy the experience onboard, but don't forget to look out the window to see the fiery red landscape go by.
5. Admire Autumn Colors in Canberra
The utilitarian Australian capital of Canberra is not an obvious tourist destination. However, if you happen to take your trip to Australia during the Southern Hemisphere's autumn months of April and May, you'll find the Australia Capital Territory (ACT) awash in hues of red, yellow and orange. Leaf-peep golden birches reflected in the glassy waters of Lake Burley Griffin, or stroll under the scarlet maples of Lennox Gardens.
Do not miss the Whitsunday Islands if you're in this corner of the world. They are best seen on a water-based island-hopping tour of the many islands — and the sights are truly life- and soul-affirming. This is especially true of Whitehaven Beach, where you can either stay overnight or visit on a day trip from the mainland town of Airlie Beach, Queensland. Looking down at the sugar-white sandbars barely extending above the surface of still, turquoise waters is an other-worldly experience.
7. Meet The Devil(S) At Cradle Mountain
There are plenty of beautiful down-under destinations, but if you want a more devilish experience when you visit Australia, consider heading south to Tasmania for a hike. When hiking in Australia, particularly at Cradle Mountain, chances are good you'll spot wild Tasmanian devils — although these creatures aren't the only reason to trek there. In addition to encounters with other marsupials, such as platypuses and wombats, the views of craggy rocks and clear lakes are so good, they can't possibly be evil.
8. Wine & Dine In Western Australia
Not every Australian vacation heads as far afield as the gorgeous Margaret River winelands of Western Australia, but yours definitely should if you have time. While at the winery of your choice, you can wash down farm-to-table food with a glass of rich shiraz or light and fruity sauvignon blanc. Make your trip out west even more worthwhile with a camel ride along the desert beaches of Broome, or a scenic flight over the "pink lake" of Lake Hillier.
9. Scale The Sydney Harbour Bridge
One unforgettable way to see some of Sydney's most iconic attractions is to take a Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb, which allows you to climb up to the top of the famous bridge (with protective equipment and professional guides, of course). When you reach the top, look down on the Sydney Opera House and plot the evening's happy hour at Opera Bar or a morning swim and surf over at Bondi Beach.
10. Discover The Trendy Areas Of Melbourne
While Melbourne isn't as replete with typical tourist attractions as Sydney, exploring the city's neighborhoods is a singular and unforgettable experience to have when you travel to Australia. Rub elbows with Melbourne's cool trendy crowd at nitro cold brew coffee houses in Fitzroy or in the street-art-filled "laneways" of Flinders Lane. Then, take in serene coastal beauty in high-end St. Kilda or amid the colorful "bathing boxes" at Brighton Beach.