Looking for the largest cities in Australia? Well, you’ve come to the right place, because I’ve put together this awesome travel guide for 15 of the best destinations to visit in Australia!
Few countries have the sheer number of big cities that Australia does. After all, it is the 6th biggest country on the planet and covers 7.692 million km². That’s a lotta ground to cover! If you’re planning an epic trip Down Under, you’ll want to start with the biggest cities and towns in Australia. The 15 largest cities in Australia to be precise.
These Aussie destinations cover such a broad variety of landscapes and locations, you’ll be guaranteed to come home with an endless number of incredible travel stories, envy-inducing snaps and memories you’ll always cherish.
My guide to the biggest 15 Australian cities will take you from North to South and East to West and give you expert tips to make your trip the best ever.
*Population statistics are current as of 2018/2019.
State: New South Wales
Population: 5.2 million
Australia’s biggest and most densely populated city, Sydney has long been a favorite destination for travelers from across the globe and welcomes over 10 million visitors per year. The “Harbour City” is world famous for its iconic Opera House and Harbour Bridge, which makes its skyline so identifiable. There’s so much to Sydney, and so much to see and do from the city right down to the sea.
Unmissable Sydney highlights:
- The Sydney Opera House
- The Sydney Harbour Bridge
- Shopping and dining at The Rocks
- Explore Darling Harbour
- Taronga Zoo
- Relax in Hyde Park
- World-famous Bondi Beach
- Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk
- Travel on the Manly ferry
- SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium
- Lane Cove National Park
Read through my blog posts on Sydney below:
An unmissable Sydney tour experience…
Sydney Harbour: Day, Night, or Express BridgeClimb
Price: From $175+ AUD (1.5 – 3.5 hours)
“See Sydney at its best – take the Climb of Your Life with BridgeClimb Sydney. From dawn until dusk, the view is always different. Climbs are available at dawn, by day, twilight or night. Don’t miss this unforgettable, and uniquely “Sydney” experience.”
Review: “Fantastic experience. A must do in Sydney with spectacular views. Very well organized and safety was 1st class.” – Natalie, South Africa
Population: 4.9 million
Predicted to soon surpass Sydney’s already massive population, buzzing Melbourne is arguably the cultural capital of Australia, and definitively the nation’s sporting capital. Whatever your traveling style, Melbourne has it in spades. A famed foodie scene, world class coffee, quirky (and majorly hip) neighborhoods, pockets of calm amongst the chaos, fashion to die for and a non-stop pace that isn’t for the faint of heart. Melbournians have style and substance to back it up. Whether your traveling style is slow-paced or constantly moving, you’ll find what you’re looking for in Melbourne. And you’ll be in good company. The city is crawling year-round with over 10 million annual visitors – and it looks like Melbourne is set to surpass Sydney on the tourism front too. Another instalment in their long-standing rivalry.
Must do Melbourne highlights:
- Eureka Skydeck
- Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG)
- Go to an AFL game
- Cash your chips at Crown Casino
- Old Melbourne Gaol
- A day at Melbourne Zoo
- Wander around Botanic Gardens
- Cruise up the Yarra River
- Wander through the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV)
- Photograph Hosier Lane artwork
- Spend a day trawling seaside St Kilda
- Hipster heaven in Fitzroy and Brunswick
- Camberwell Sunday Market
- Indulge in Melbourne’s world class coffee and food scene
Read through my blog posts on Melbourne below:
A Melbourne walking tour you can’t miss..
Melbourne: Complete City Walking Tour
Price: From $35+ AUD (2.5 hours)
“Join your tour guide for a walk through Australia’s culture capital and learn what makes this city great and so much more.”
Review: “Marc is a very good guide, knowledgeable about this beautiful city. Well paced easy to keep up without missing anything. Will be a highlight of our trip.” – Clare, New Zealand
Population: 2.5 million
Brisbane (or “Brisvegas” to cheeky locals), may only have half the population of Australia’s biggest city, Sydney, but believe me – Brisbane is coming up in the ranks on all fronts. More and more interstate Australians and travelers from abroad are flocking to “Brissie” for its laidback way of life, charming locals, year-round mild climate and lower cost of living that its other Eastern capital counterparts. Brisbane is lucky to have that elusive balance of being a fun city with a variety of island retreats on its doorstep. Brisbane may not be positioned on the beach like other cities, but you can count on Brisbanians to rectify that. It has its own man-made beach in the very heart of the CBD. How cool is that? And for when that won’t cut it, they have beautiful Stradbroke Island (“Straddie” to locals) just 25km away.
What you have to do in Brisbane:
- Visit Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
- Explore central South Bank
- Day trip to Stradbroke Island
- Escape the heat at Streets Beach city beach
- Unwind in Roma Street Parkland
- Climb Mount Coot-Tha
- Shop at Queen Street Mall
- Take in a sporting event at “The Gabba”
- Bargain shop at Brisbane City Markets
- Ride The Wheel of Brisbane
- Take a trip across the Story Bridge
Read through my blog posts on Brisbane below:
Experience the best of Brisbane on a top tour…
Brisbane River Cruise and Koala Sanctuary Visit
Price: From $80+ AUD (5.5 hours)
“The Koala and River Cruise takes you on a memorable journey to the oldest and largest Koala Sanctuary in the world. This popular excursion has been taking visitors to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary for over 60 years and is a must-do activity in Brisbane.”
Review: “Staff were super friendly. Funny and educational commentary, while cruising along the river. The sanctuary is a must do while in Brisbane. Prepare yourself for some of the cutest animals!” – Anonymous, Canada
State: Western Australia
Population: 2 million
Still often referred to as having the vibe of “a big country town”, the West Coast city of Perth has never been as popular as it is right now. International visitors arrive here, fall in love with the city, and stay for good. Way less busy and frantic than the bigger cities of the East Coast, Perth is perfect for those who appreciate a city setting in a stunning natural landscape. Lazy rivers winding through the city, white sand beaches with turquoise Indian Ocean waters, tropical island destinations a ferry ride away and charming wine regions on its doorstep – few cities can rival the beauty of Perth and its surrounds. Over half a million international visitors a year can’t be wrong.
Key Perth sights and experiences:
- Surf, swim or sunbake on Cottesloe Beach
- Surf the sand at Lancelin Sand Dunes
- Eat and drink at Elizabeth Quay
- See the sights at Kings Park
- Wind your way along the Swan River
- Explore the portside city of Fremantle
- Escape to the Margaret River and Swan Valley wine regions
- Day trip to Rottnest Island, or Penguin & Seal Islands
- Dive with sharks in the Indian Ocean
Read through my blog posts on Perth below:
A spectacular Perth day trip…
From Perth: Rottnest Island Bike and Ferry Combo
Price: From $88+ AUD (1 day)
“Cycle around Rottnest Island and discover the sandy settlement by pedal power. Benefit from round-trip transfers by ferry and bike around the car-free island at your own pace. Complimentary hotel pick-up is available from selected Perth CBD locations.”
Review: “It was one of the most beautiful places I ever saw! The nature is unbelievable. You should definitely hire a bike and go around the whole island! My friends and I really enjoyed our time and the quokkas…they’re just adorable!” – Johanna, Germany
State: South Australia
Population: 1.3 million
The capital of the state of South Australia, Adelaide is nicknamed “The City of Churches”, but it offers so much more than religious landmarks.
Adelaide is a small enough city to tackle on foot, but this little pocket of ‘Straya has a whole array of landscapes. Huge, stunning beaches that rival more famous coastal hotspots like Bondi – but without the same visitor numbers – and an ever-growing hip cafe, restaurant and bar scene. And for when you feel like escaping the rat race for a while, Adelaide has some of the country’s premier wine regions nestled in majestic rolling hills, and awesome island destinations both just a stone’s throw away. Adelaide is also a great jumping off point for your big Outback trip, and heading north from the city will take you along the tourist trail right into the Red Centre and beyond.
Adelaide’s most popular visitor attractions:
- Take a dip at the stunning beaches of Glenelg and Henley
- A day at Adelaide Zoo
- Hike or walk at Cleland Conservation Park
- People watch at Rundle Mall
- Make furry and feathery friends at Gorge Wildlife Park
- A mini break to the surrounding wine regions of the Barossa Valley, Clare Valley and McLaren Vale
- A day trip to unique Kangaroo Island
- Experience the beauty of the Fleurieu Peninsula
- Climb Mount Lofty
Take a read through my article on the 20 Best Airbnb’s in Adelaide to find the perfect place to stay during your visit!
Sample some of Australia’s best vino on this epic Adelaide wine tour…
The Barossa Valley: Small Group Premium Wine Tour with Lunch
Price: From $139+ AUD (8 hours)
“Join a personal small group tour that blends historical wineries, some of the best wine and regional food in Australia, breathtaking scenery and the people that make the Barossa Valley a truly world-class region.”
Review: “Had an excellent time touring the Barossa Valley. Our guide Russel was very informative and friendly. Great amount of wineries, lunch was amazing. Would highly recommend this tour for anyone looking for a hassle free, social and educational tour of the Barossa Valley. Great value for money, great people. Special thanks for going above and beyond and dropping the bottle of wine we left on the bus back to us (they even got us a new bottle). These guys were amazing!” – Tahni, Australia
6) Gold Coast
A fantastic holiday location for solo travelers, couples or families, Queensland’s Gold Coast has been a beloved destination for decades amongst both Aussies and overseas visitors. And what’s not to love? Tucked away in South-East Queensland not too far from the New South Wales border, the Gold Coast has long been given the apt slogan of “beautiful one day, perfect the next.” And that it is. Warm weather year-round means you can plan a trip here at a moments notice, there’s an endless number of amazing island-inspired resorts and homes to stay at and incredible beaches that go on forever and ever. Kids and big kids alike love the Gold Coast’s famed amusement parks, while the central hub of Surfers Paradise has some of the best cafes, restaurants, bars and clubs this side of the border. Head down to beautiful Broadbeach, Burleigh Heads or Mermaid Waters and you could have the beach all to yourself. The options are truly endless. And with the state capital of Brisbane less than an hour away – as well as the lush landscape of the Sunshine Coast – the Gold Coast is your gateway to the epic state of Queensland.
A Gold Coast travel tip: If you don’t want to be surrounded by drunken just-graduated high schoolers, don’t plan your trip to the Gold Coast in November. It’s one of the primary Aussie destinations for “Schoolies Week”, and the city centre is overrun with rowdy young adults for much of the month.
Don’t miss these epic Gold Coast experiences:
- Have a blast at Movie World, Sea World, Dreamworld and Wet n’ Wild
- Cuddle a koala at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
- Shop, eat and party in Surfers Paradise
- Discover some of the country’s most beautiful beaches
- Get lost in Tamborine National Park
- Take in the best sights from the SkyPoint Observation Deck
- Find a bargain at Pacific Fair Shopping Centre
- Play roulette at The Star Gold Coast
Discover the Gold Coast’s famous adventure parks…
Gold Coast: 3 Day Pass Movie World, Sea World, Wet’n’Wild
Price: From $129 AUD (3 day pass)
“Enjoy unlimited entry to Warner Bros. Movie World, Sea World and Wet n Wild for 3 consecutive days.”
Review: “The kids enjoyed all of the experiences. Movie world try to get there early, there is a lot to do and some attractions can take a while to get on. Sea World was good the kids can take their bathers for more fun. Wet & Wild try to get there early if you want a seat in the shade they can be hard to find.” – Isabella, Australia
State: New South Wales
The central New South Wales city of Newcastle is experiencing peak popularity for visiting tourists and those yearning to relocate to a picturesque location without the non-stop, crowded streets of the big Australian capital cities. With just half a million residents enjoying its incredible coastal landscape, Newcastle is a place to truly get back to nature and live life a little slower – but with all the same drawcards a bigger city can offer. A seriously endless variety of beaches attracts swimmers, surfers, divers and sun lovers to Newcastle’s shores, and active types can’t get enough of its many walking and hiking trails complete with unrivalled views. The leading wineries of the Hunter Valley are a short drive away, and reaching Newcastle from some of the East Coast’s biggest cities is a breeze. Sydney is just two hours away, hippy haven Byron Bay is six hours north and the natural wonders of Port Stephens are just 30 minutes. If your travels across Australia are taking you up the East Coast, don’t miss Newcastle!
Tick these activities off your Newcastle bucket list:
- Surf and swim on Newcastle Beach, Redhead Beach and Merewether Beach – and so many more!
- Camp out on Stockton Beach – and ride their sand dunes!
- Fascinating history at Fort Scratchley
- Take a picnic to Blackbutt Nature Reserve
- Wander along Anzac Memorial Walkway
- Take a dip in Newcastle Ocean Baths
- Take in the serenity at Lake Macquarie
- Climb Nobbys Lighthouse
- Drink up at the Hunter Valley wineries
- Get away to Port Stephens
- Find a rare gem at one of the city’s great markets
Coastal Newcastle’s natural wonders await you…
Port Stephens Dolphin Discovery Cruise & Boom Net Experience
Price: From $29 AUD (1.5 hours)
“A delightful cruise of the magnificent Port Stephens Harbour to see the resident Bottlenose Dolphins. Relax on deck with commentary from the captain and complimentary tea and coffee. Feel the thrill as you slide into the boom net.”
Review: “Best experience of my life. The dolphins were dancing in front of the boat as we drove back! Magical. Excellent staff, organised, friendly. Easy boarding process. 10/10 The boom net for the kids just pushed it over the top!” – Lisa, Australia
State: Australia Capital Territory (A.C.T)
You wouldn’t think that the city of Canberra – that exists primarily as the centre of Australian parliament – would have much to offer beyond catering to political buffs or government workers; but it really does! Neighborhoods of Canberra are coming up as some of Australia’s coolest, with trendy cafes, restaurants and bars peppering their streets. The capital city of Australia, Canberra was awarded the title due to a famous battle between Melbourne and Sydney for bragging rights. Canberra won out due to its location between the two cities (but still in New South Wales). The inland city gets super cold in winter, but in summer the breeze off the famous Lake Burley Griffin makes it an enjoyable destination. Visitors flock to Canberra to tour Parliament House and hitting up the other national landmarks, galleries and museums, and with Sydney just three hours away and Melbourne just less than seven hours, you’ll be in the perfect position to explore this awesome part of Australia.
Canberra’s top sights and landmarks:
- Tour Parliament House
- Pay your respects at the Australian War Memorial
- Watersports on Lake Burley Griffin
- Enjoy some top art at The National Gallery of Australia
- Interact with local wildlife at the National Zoo & Aquarium
- Immerse yourself in the greenery of the Australian National Botanic Gardens
- Experience a sunset at Mount Ainslie
- Celebrity spot at the Australian Institute of Sport
- Join the cool crew in inner-city Kingston
- Plan your visit around the massive Floriade flower festival
Take a read through my article on the 20 Best Airbnb’s in Canberra to find the perfect place to stay during your visit!
Immerse yourself in the home of Australian Parliament…
Canberra: Parliament House 4.5-Hour Guided Tour and High Tea
Price: From $250 AUD (4.5 hours)
“Enjoy once-in-a-lifetime, below-decks and behind-the-scenes access to the Australian Parliament House, along with a dining experience usually reserved for visiting dignitaries.”
9) Sunshine Coast
Queensland’s Sunshine Coast couldn’t be more different to its state neighbor The Gold Coast. While the GC draws those in looking for a more fast-paced and fun beachside vacation, the Sunshine Coast is all about relaxing, unwinding and resetting in one of the world’s most incredible landscapes. Perfect for those who crave a retreat style destination that stays hot and sunny all year, the entire 1600 sq/m of this amazing region ticks all of the boxes. Lush hinterland to explore complete with natural waterfalls and freshwater swimming spots, tons of white sand beaches and warm turquoise waters, buzzing towns like central hotspot Noosa with its terrific nightlife and laidback lifestyle, and delicious fresh produce sourced at your doorstep. Once you touch down on The Sunshine Coast, you will know just why this Australian destination is so well loved.
The most incredible Sunshine Coast hotspots:
- Sea, sand, fun and sun in stunning Noosa
- Bask in the glow of Rainbow Beach
- Make the trip to Australia Zoo
- Get snap happy at The Big Pineapple
- Experience sunrise or sunset at Mooloolaba Beach
- Hike through the Glasshouse Mountains
- Surf at Dicky Beach
- Go chasing waterfalls at Buderim Forest Park
- Have a drink or two at the NightQuarter
- Shop up a storm at Gympie Terrace
- Discover the regions breathtaking hinterland
- Bird watch in the Everglades
Explore world-class seascapes on the Sunshine Coast…
Mooloolaba: Seafood Lunch Cruise
Price: From $45 AUD (1.5 hours)
“Sit back, relax and enjoy delicious local seafood and the magnificent scenery that Mooloolaba has to offer! Cruise for 1.5 hours along beautiful rivers and canals on this award-winning tour.”
Review: “We had a wonderful time on the 1pm cruise yesterday the weather was fantastic but above all the service couldn’t have been better. The seafood platter was delicious and the wine service and commentary were excellent. Thanks very much we won’t forget it. Tony & Lorraine” – Tony, Australia
State: New South Wales
Often skipped over on the journey between the huge cities of Melbourne and Sydney, the New South Wales city of Wollongong simply doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. Just two hours from the bustling streets of Sydney, Wollongong is fast becoming a popular place for commuters to base themselves for their daily journey into The Big Smoke. And why wouldn’t they? Not only is the cost of living far less than its state capital, but it has all the things you’re accustomed to in the big city – and maybe even more. A main city in the New South Wales region of the “Illawarra”, Wollongong and its neighbor Kiama both have amazing beaches, lookouts, walking trails, national parks and a fantastic coastal lifestyle. Research has found that Australia’s indigenous people have called Wollongong home for over 40,000 years – with its name derived from an Aboriginal term for “five islands”. It’s easy to visit this part of the world and find yourself tempted to stay for good.
Don’t miss these Wollongong wanderlust activities:
- Head up the Wollongong Lighthouse
- Enjoy a picnic at Wattamolla
- Find a slice of heaven at the many jaw dropping beaches
- Whale watch on Jervis Bay
- Zip line across the Illawarra region
- Breathtaking views at Bald Hill Lookout
- Chase waves at Port Kembla
- Indulge in the freshest and best local seafood
- Walk the trails of Macquarie Pass National Park
- Visit neighboring Kiama’s “Blowhole” and enjoy its beachfront lifestyle
- Enjoy local craft beers and coffees
- Dare to hang glide across the bay
Skydive over stunning Wollongong…
Sydney 15,000-Foot Tandem Beach Skydive
Price: From $275 AUD (1 day)
“Skydive over Wollongong in Sydney. Dive from up to 15,000 feet, attached to a professional instructor. Experience the thrill of freefall for up to an insane 60 seconds, and enjoy the views of the amazing coastline.”
Review: “It was so awesome, I HAD to do it again! I’ll definitely be picking this up as a sport.” – Jennifer, U.S.A
Once simply known as a cheap location to commute into nearby Melbourne, or the jumping-off point to head down the world-renowned Great Ocean Road, Geelong has finally received the attention it deserves as a city of its very own with just as much to offer as anywhere else.
Located an hour from the Victorian state capital of Melbourne on Australia’s South-Eastern tip, Geelong has overhauled its industrial image of the past and now attracts visitors who are drawn to its beautiful waterfront attractions, family-friendly atmosphere, untouched parks and reserves and whales and dolphins living just off its shores.
Whether you’re traveling to or from Melbourne, be sure to allocate ample time to explore the city of Geelong. After all, with Melbourne about to hit a population of five million and Geelong barely a quarter of a million, you won’t be battling with the crowds. That’s for sure.
Highlights of Geelong and beyond:
- Set off on your Great Ocean Road adventure
- Take the kids to Adventure Park Geelong
- Enjoy the peace of the Geelong Waterfront
- See the AFL’s Geelong Cats train at their home base
- Visit the quirky National Wool Museum
- Picnic at the Eastern Beach Reserved
- Learn about indigenous regional history at Narana Aboriginal Cultural Centre
- Dolphin spot at Corio Bay
- Get your haunt on at HM Prison Geelong
- Dive at Port Phillip Heads Marine Park
- A taste of local art at Powerhouse Geelong
Meet and greet Geelong’s marine life…
Geelong: 1.5-Hour Dolphin and Seal Eco Adventure Cruise
Price: From $79 AUD (90 minutes)
“See an entertaining array of wildlife on a 1.5-hour sightseeing cruise for up to 12 guests. Sail the glorious coast of the Mornington Peninsula and southern Port Phillip Bay, admiring the playful seals and bottlenose dolphins.”
Tasmania is often referred to as the most beautiful state in the huge island country of Australia, but it does get a lot of cheeky stick from interstate Aussies. However that doesn’t stop the visitors from pouring into the detached South-Eastern state year-round, drawn to its quiet cities, incredible local food and drink, mountain peaks, charming locals and amazing natural wonders. The state capital of Hobart has tiny permanent numbers compared to massive Melbourne (1/20th of its population) which is just over an hour’s flight away, but the state’s international tourism is now at an all-time high. In 2018 alone, over 300,000 international visitors touched down in Hobart to explore this majestic pocket of the world, which is big numbers for such a small city. Explore Hobart before heading to rival bayside Tasmanian city Launceston, an enjoyable 2 hour drive. Drink epic local beer, see some of the country’s best art and breath in that fresh Tassie air in Hobart.
Experience the best of the Tasmanian capital:
- Join the crowds for some unique art at MONA
- Hit the trails of Mount Wellington
- Trawl the Salamanca Market
- See historical penal colonies, prisons and workhouses
- Wine taste at the Coal River region
- Fish at Constitution Dock
- Escape to beautiful Bruny Island
- Cool off with an epic Tasmanian beer
- Party it up in trendy North Hobart
- Discover the beautiful waterfalls of the city
- Eat, drink and be merry at the many day and night markets across Hobart
Set off from Hobart for Tasmania’s most gorgeous island…
Bruny Island: Full-Day Food, Lighthouse & Sightseeing Tour
Price: From $155 AUD (11 hour)
“Eat your way around Bruny Island on an all-inclusive gourmet & sightseeing tour. Visit Adventure Bay and Cape Bruny, plus take a Lighthouse tour. See wallabies and other wildlife. Lunch, Bruny Island cheese, honey, chocolate, and oyster tastings included!”
Review: “Even as Hobart locals for 30+ years, we are so glad we finally decided to go on this tour. The Lighthouse was the biggest highlight of many, but with so much awe-inspiring, untouched wilderness and wildlife along the way, there were endless amazing photo opportunities all day. Our guide was fantastic, he shared his wealth of knowledge and passion for Tasmanian history, geography, prominent explorers, places, names, animals, produce, and more… This was not just a plain old sightseeing tour, from the moment we were picked up right from our doorstep, it was a fun, friendly, tasty, educational, and eye-opening experience. Highly recommend!!!” – Matt, Australia
If your travel philosophy is “the hotter and sun over the better” then you’ll absolutely love Townsville. After all, it sees an average of 320 days of sunshine per year. So pack your sunscreen. The coastal city located on the North-East coast of sunny Queensland is the largest urban centre north of the (much further south) Sunshine Coast, and is really coming into its own and putting a ton of effort into growing their tourism brand. And the perks of visiting Townsville are vast. A buzzing habitat for lots of fascinating Aussie wildlife (both land and marine creatures), Townsville has a great range of aquariums and animal sanctuaries to pay a visit to. It also has the perfect mix of historical and modern architecture, tropical gardens and plants, a growing range of hip eateries and the island oasis of Magnetic Island just a 20 minute ferry ride away. Traveling down the coast of incredible Queensland is an experience you need to have in your lifetime, and a stop off to wander through the streets of charming Townsville should 100% be on your itinerary.
Your Townsville vacation shortlist:
- Visit the inhabitants of Billabong Sanctuary
- Cool off with a swim at The Strand Beach and its rockpool
- Go diving and experience the SS Yongala, Australia’s largest intact shipwreck
- Discover an underwater world at Reef HQ Aquarium
- See a show at Riverway Arts Centre
- Unwind in Queens Gardens or Anderson Park
- Catch the ferry across to gorgeous Magnetic Island
- Enjoy majestic bay views at Hynes Lookout
- Climb Mount Stuart
- Escape the city heat at Little Crystal Creek
City to sea in hot and sunny Townsville…
Full-Day Tropic Highlights of Magnetic Island & Townsville
Price: From $114 AUD (full day)
“Self-explore the best that Townsville and Magnetic Island have to offer with this convenient and flexible package that has everything to get you started.”
Review: “Magnetic Island, Bungalow Bay is awesome. It’s a huge island, so start early:)” – Marius, Germany
If seeing the enormous Great Barrier Reef is on your bucket list, then you’ll be casting off right from the city of Cairns. The gateway to Far North Queensland (FNQ), hot, humid and steamy Cairns is a coastal paradise that knows how to party just as much as it knows how to completely unwind when it’s time to. For a city with a permanent population of not even a quarter of a million, it somehow manages to cater for its annual domestic and international tourism numbers of over three million visitors with complete ease. On top of the obvious draw of being the launching point to see the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns also has the world-renowned Daintree Rainforest and Cape Tribulation that sells the region for itself. Add to that fantastic bars, untouched islands just offshore, mouth-watering local fresh produce, beautiful tropical resorts (with great pools, obviously), an acclaimed adventure sports scene and super friendly locals who just love their city – and you can totally see why.
The heart of Far North Queensland has so much to offer:
- Join a Great Barrier Reef sea or air tour
- Tropical rainforest meets the best beaches at the Daintree National Park
- Soak in the sea at Cape Tribulation
- Take a trip on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway
- Learn about the local Aboriginal customs and culture
- Visit the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary
- Enjoy a tropical oasis on Fitzroy Island
- Discover the tranquility of Crystal Cascades
- Do a rainforest bungee jump
- Visit a working coffee farm
- Enjoy the freshest tropical fruit in Australia
Cast out to the incredible Great Barrier Reef…
Great Barrier Reef: Premium Catamaran Cruise from Cairns
Price: From $175 AUD (9 hours)
“Set sail to 2 exclusive, outer reef locations on a luxury, high-performance catamaran. Snorkel, swim, dive or just relax onboard! Spot turtles, colourful fish, exotic corals and more. The friendly crew are dedicated to making your trip memorable.”
Review: “YOU MUST GO ON THE CRUISE! This was one of the most excellent tours I’ve ever been on. From the moment we checked in to the moment we left, the staff was professional, caring, and friendly. I had the feeling I was going out to the reef with friends. The boat is incredible – spacious and clean – the equipment seemed new. The optional marine life lecture with Kirsty on the way home was enlightening and interesting. Robby was the captain and he seemed to be everywhere making sure all was up to snuff. And a special shout out to Kate who made all the instructions fun and interesting. We had such a good time, we went out a couple of days later.” – Leisa, U.S.A
State: Northern Territory
Wrapping up the top 15 biggest cities by population in Australia is the capital of the Northern Territory, Darwin. Nestled in the “Top End” of Australia, Darwin is a tiny city by numbers, but with a huge heart. Facing out into the warm waters of the Timor Sea, Darwin was the Aussie city that saw the brunt of attacks during WW2. But the people of the Northern Territory are tough, and they rebuilt and forged on. Now, Darwin is popular for so many reasons. Depending on how you plan it, it can be either the start or end point of the well-worn Outback backpacker route. It has fascinating native wildlife, a great waterfront lifestyle, a massive range of tours and trips on offer from local experts, rich indigenous history that is reflected across the city and beyond, Another major benefit of living in or visiting Darwin is the proximity to the majestic landmarks of the Top End, including Kakadu National Park, as well as to South-East Asia. Bali is less than 3 hours flight time away. But be warned, Darwin is hella hot all year. Even in the depths of an Aussie winter, it’s still an average of 31° every day.
Darwin travel tip: Take serious precautions when swimming anywhere in Darwin. This is crocodile territory – and they don’t f**k around. Always swim in designated areas and if you’re confused, ask local experts.
Hotspots you can’t miss in hot and humid Darwin:
- Splash some cash at Mindil Beach Sunset Market
- Learn about Darwin’s role in the War at Darwin Military Museum
- Take it easy at the Darwin Waterfront Precinct
- Float underneath Litchfield Park waterfalls
- Get crazy off-roading in Litchfield
- Get up close and personal with scaly crocodiles at Crocosaurus Cove
- Experience some of the country’s most majestic sunsets
- Plan a day trip to Kakadu National Park
- Invest in a unique piece of indigenous art or just check some out at Aboriginal Bush Traders or Outstation Gallery
- Tour the regions wetlands and billabongs
- Indulge in a marina meal overlooking beautiful Fannie Bay
Take a read through my article Northern Territory / Australian Outback Itinerary to help plan your travels!
Never smile at a crocodile on this Darwin day tour…
Litchfield Park Tour & Jumping Crocodile Cruise from Darwin
Price: From $150 AUD (12 hours)
“Explore Litchfield National Park on this full-day, small group tour From Darwin. On the famous Jumping Crocodile Cruise, see these majestic animals launch out of the water. Cool off in the best swimming holes and waterfalls in the area.”
Review: “On time, no problems. Amazing day, way more than just Lichfield and Crocs included. You get really close to the Crocs and Damo was a hilarious tour guide, very knowledgeable and interactive. The tour group is small so you feel very included and you get a decent time at all the watering holes to swim. Even got dropped off at Mindil Markets afterwards. Snacks and lunch was definitely sufficient. Make sure to pack your sunscreen and enjoy :)” – Anonymous, Australia
What’s Your Favorite of these Largest Cities in Australia?
And how many have you been to?
I’ve personally visited 11/15 if these biggest cities in Australia now, as it’s truly one of my favorite countries in the world (even with all the deadly animals, lol). I actually plan on moving back to Sydney at some point in my life, as my time there living there on a working holiday visa was completely life-changing! While there are dozens of awesome places to live around Australia, Sydney will always have a special place in my heart!
But I do love the entire country, and am always trying to convince people to move down to Australia for a bit! From the biggest cities to the Outback, it’s simply one of the most incredible destinations!
Planning a trip to Australia…?
Having lived down in Australia for over a year, and having visited the country over six different times now, my website is filled with so many amazing articles, itineraries, and destination guides! Take a look through a few of my favorite articles below, and feel free to reach out with any questions you have about visiting Australia! I’m always happy to help any way I can!
- 80+ Fun, Weird, Wild and Interesting Facts about Australia
- 30 Music Festivals in Australia To Experience Before You Die
- 14 Words You’ll Start Saying When You Move to Australia
- Top 50 EXPLORE QUOTES To Inspire Your Next Adventure
- The Ultimate Guide For Moving to Sydney on a Working Holiday Visa
- The 19 Best Things to do in Byron Bay, Australia
- Top 20 Things to do in Airlie Beach, Australia
- The Best New Years Eve Festivals in Australia
- Greyhound Bus Pass Australia Guide | Cairns to Sydney
- Top 17 Tips For Traveling the East Coast of Australia
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