Itinerary Australia: the highlights of the East Coast in 3,5 weeks

Australia

3,5 weeks is enough time to explore Australia’s East Coast. A rainforest, the world’s largest reef, trendy cities, and a fantastic coastline, this itinerary Australia has it all.

This article is also available in Dutch.

Days 1 & 2: Relaxing in Clifton Beach

Itinerary Australia - The highlights of the East Coast in 3 5 weeks - Clifton Beach

There’s a big change you’ve had a (or multiple) long flights before arriving in Australia, so I highly recommend for relaxing a couple of days. A perfect place to relax is the tiny town of Clifton Beach (near Cairns). Here you’ll find a beautiful beach and I’m pretty sure you’ll see your first Australian wildlife here, like kangaroos, flying foxes, and cockatoos.

Perfect place to stay: Clifton Sands Holiday Units

Days 3 to 6: Cairns

Itinerary Australia - The highlights of the East Coast in 3 5 weeks - Cairns

From Clifton Beach, you can get on a bus that’ll take you to Cairns in less than half an hour. This city is very walkable and is in a perfect location to make some awesome tours. My favorites were the tour to the Daintree Forest and Cape Tribulation (ancient rainforest) and snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef.

Hostel tip $: Travellers Oasis
Hotel tip $$: The Balinese

Would you like to know more about the best tours in Australia? Check out this post.

Days 7 to 12: Airlie Beach & the Whitsundays

Itinerary Australia - The highlights of the East Coast in 3 5 weeks - Airlie Beach

From Cairns to Airlie Beach you can either take a greyhound bus (12 hours). If you have some extra time, you can split this long bus ride when you decide to stay a couple of days in Mission Beach or Townville.
Airlie Beach is a very small town with one big attraction: the Whitsunday Islands. Make sure to book a multiple day tour, because it will be the best experience of your trip. During the tour, you’ll explore the islands, go snorkeling and visit the world’s most beautiful beach: Whitehaven Beach.

Hostel tip $: Backpackers by the bay
Hotel tip $$: Heart Hotel and Gallery Whitsundays


Days 13 to 15: Brisbane

Itinerary Australia - The highlights of the East Coast in 3 5 weeks - Brisbane

From Airlie Beach, it’s best to book a flight to Brisbane (your departure airport will be Whitsunday Coast Airport), because taking the bus will take 24 hours.
Brisbane is a nice and chill city to stroll around, find small coffee joints and go shopping. Right outside the city center, you’ll find some cool places, like Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary (so many kangaroos and koalas!) and Mount Coot-tha (amazing viewpoint).

Hostel tip $: Breeze lodge
Hotel tip $$: Metropolitan Motor Inn

Days 16 to 21: Sydney & Blue Mountains National Park

Top 5 things to do in Sydney - Sydney Opera House

Sydney is just a 1,5-hour plane ride from Brisbane. There are so many fun things to see and do in and around Sydney, that you can easily spend a couple of weeks here. Visit the Royal Opera House for a concert, do the Bondi to Coogee Beach walk, or take the ferry to Manly.

It’s also easy to do a (multiple) day trip from Sydney to the beautiful Blue Mountains National Park, a perfect place to enjoy nature and go for a hike.

Hostel tip Sydney $: Railway Square YHA
Hotel tip Sydney $$: Sydney Hotel CBD

Hostel tip Katoomba $: Flying Fox Backpackers
Hotel tip Katoomba $$: Blue Mountains Heritage Motel

Want to know more about Sydney? Check out this post: Top 5 things to do in Sydney.

Days 22 to 24: Melbourne

Top 5 Melbourne - street art

From Sydney, you will reach cultural Melbourne after a 1-hour flight. This city is completely different and looks and feels like a European city. Lots of art galleries, historic buildings, street art and plenty of places to eat something or get a drink. Melbourne is also the place for checking out the Great Ocean Road, one of the most scenic roads in the world, with incredible views of the coastline.

Hostel tip $: Space Hotel
Hotel tip $$: Best Western Melbourne City

Want to know more about Melbourne? Check out this article: Top 5 things to do in Melbourne.

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Itinerary Australia - The highlights of the East Coast in 3 5 weeks

Itinerary Australia - The highlights of the East Coast in 3 5 weeks

Itinerary Australia - The highlights of the East Coast in 3 5 weeks

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