Best known for the Gold Coast, Great Barrier Reef, Great Ocean Road, and Sydney Opera House, Australia is home to famous icons, both natural and man-made. The booming urban landscapes and breathtaking views draw in tourists every year.
Comprised not just of the mainland, Australia actually encompasses the island of Tasmania and numerous smaller islands as part of its Commonwealth. The 25.6 million people (as of 2020) who call Australia home are eager to share their stunning country with the world and are welcoming to visitors.
G’Day – Welcome to Australia
Australia is a unique country because, due to its large size, it actually has eight capital cities. The seven national capitals of states and territories are Adelaide, Brisbane, Darwin, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney. All the capitals are major tourist destinations in their own right. Additionally, there is one national capital, Canberra, which is located in New South Wales.
Australia is not only the world’s smallest continent but also one of the largest countries. Located in the Southern Hemisphere you may have heard their name as “land down under”, “the last frontier”, or even “the oldest continent”.
Just like most vacation destinations, Australia boasts a wide variety of things to do. Because of its expansive landmass, it has a myriad of top tourist attractions across the country. Whether you want to just relax on one of their luxury beaches or scuba along the Great Barrier Reef, the options are endless for couples, families, or hopeless romantics.
- Culture and Language
- Spending Budget
- How to Get Around
- Top Cities to Visit
- Points of Interest
Culture and Language
Australia is a massive island and continent that sits in the Oceania region, between the Indian and South Pacific oceans. Out of all our continents, it’s the smallest, although it’s large land mass does make it one of the largest countries.
The dominant cultural influences in Australia are from the British, indigenous Aboriginals, and Torres Strait Islanders. Indigenous Australians are extremely unique in human history because they have lived in the country for 60,000 years and have the oldest living and continual culture on Earth.
Australian Aboriginal culture is based on a profound respect for the land and oral traditions. However, Australia has a complicated history with its indigenous people, and you’ll find that their culture is now integrated throughout the country. In most of the major cities, there are places where Aboriginal culture can be experienced by guests.
Additionally, the British influenced the country’s culture after colonization. Even today, Australia is still ruled by the Monarchy and court system, which makes it a semi-independent state.
Celebrating holidays like the King’s birthday, British culture can particularly be seen in the country’s language, as English is the most spoken throughout.
Australia is a thriving country, which means that immigration has helped it become diverse in its culture and language. In both culture and language, you’ll also see Asian and Middle Eastern influence from the immigrants who now call the country home.
You may be eager to explore Australia, but it’s important to consider your spending budget when you plan your trip. Australia is a large country and it’s expensive. The cost of a trip that encompasses the entire country would probably cost you about $6000 USD, and that’s when staying in hostels, cooking for yourself, and using the local transportation.
The most expensive portion of your budget will be the plane ticket. Cheap flights can be booked for as low as $600 USD one way, but expect to pay heavy airline fees for baggage and other services. With high fees on affordable airlines, it may be best to look at an airline that has better deals.
The average cost of a flight from Los Angeles to Sydney is about $850 USD, but the time of year you go and how far ahead you book your ticket can affect the price. The tourist season runs from December to February, and you’ll likely see that plane tickets can easily cost more than $1800 USD roundtrip.
Once you’ve bought your ticket, accommodation is the next biggest cost in your budget. There are options to make housing affordable, but you’d be staying in a shared room in a hostel. If you need privacy more privacy, there are hostels with private rooms but expect to pay more.
Hotels are also readily available and range in price depending on the quality of the location. Luxury hotels will be the priciest option and will require you to increase your budget drastically.
Those looking for low-cost accommodations for groups that still provide space should consider an Airbnb. Most homes give you access to the entire property and may cost similar to a hotel. There are chances to find something cheaper, particularly if you’re booking for an extended stay, as many listings will have discounts.
While airfare and accommodation are the biggest parts of the budget, they aren’t the only parts. You’ll also have to consider the cost of food, drink, and entertainment. Australia has a unique blend of culinary dishes and a few internationally known items.
Meat pies are extremely popular throughout the country. Morton Bay Bugs are also a tasty dish that’s very similar to lobster but reported to be even better. Australians also cook up their national animal, the kangaroo, grilled on the barbie (Australian slang for barbeque).
Two famous Australian products that may be recognized in the States are Vegemite and Tim Tams. Vegemite is a yeast extract that’s spread on buttered toast. It has an extremely salty flavor and comes in an infamous yellow jar. Tim Tams are a sweet treat that offers two biscuits (cookies) layered and smothered in chocolate.
For drinks, you can head out to the bars, but expect it to be pricey. If that seems too much, know that there are happy hours that can reduce the price by 50%.
In Sydney, the Opera Bar sits right on the harbor and provides an excellent view of the Opera House. Guests can relax and enjoy a variety of bistro foods and cocktails.
In Adelaide, the Pink Moon Saloon has a cabin-inspired interior and a large selection of tasty food and drinks.
How to Get Around
Australia is a big place and if you’re looking to travel the entire country, be ready to spend a pretty penny. Flights from the East Coast to the West Coast can be very costly, but it can take you days to make the journey by bus.
While one-way flight tickets can cost a few hundred dollars, don’t expect the bus to save you much. Going from coast to coast will be rather expensive.
Buses and Trains
If you’re staying on one coast, buses are the way to go. On the East Coast, bus tickets are inexpensive because destinations are relatively close together. Trains are another option, but they are very expensive, as well.
A rental car, or van, is another option to get around if you are looking to go the distance. Many people who want to see the country will travel in a group and rent a camper van. Jucy is a popular company that has camper vans, but don’t expect cheap prices.
If you want to go to the Outback, we highly suggest you have your own car because of the remoteness of the landscape.
If you’re staying in one city, it’s best to walk or take the local bus to save money. Many of the big cities have excellent transportation that can cost a few dollars. As a last resort, taxis and users are available.
Top Cities to Visit
While Australia is absolutely massive, the top places to visit happen to be the 8 capitals located throughout the country. Each is unique in what attractions they have to offer and venturing around the country will really allow you to see everything it has to offer. Here, we will give a brief overview of each capital.
Adelaide is the capital city of South Australia and it rests on the waterfront with more of the metropolitan area moving inland. The city has deep roots in the arts, with the Art Gallery of South Australia and the South Australian Museum.
The Adelaide Art Festival is an annual event that’s a major celebration of the arts. With a laidback lifestyle, Adelaide also has multiple stunning beaches for tourists to explore. The Glenelg is a family-friendly beach and the most popular in the area.
Brisbane is the capital of Queensland and is located on the Brisbane River. The South Bank is the city’s cultural center with world-class art galleries and entertainment venues. The city is also abundant with posh and popular eateries.
But if you want to get out of the urban setting, the Somerset and Lockyer Valleys are full of waterfalls, lookouts, and mountain trails. Moreton Island will get you into the ocean where you may encounter wild dolphins and can snorkel in the tides.
Canberra is actually the country’s capital and was founded as the seat of government for the new nation. One of the most popular attractions in the city is the Australian War Memorial, which is kid-friendly and is constantly updating its exhibits.
The New and Old Parliament Houses rest in Canberra and both are open for public tours. The center of Canberra is Lake Burley Griffin, which is close to other attractions like the National Library, National Gallery, and National Museum.
Darwin is the capital of the Northern Territory and is a unique blend of culture, food, and nature with a variety of Australian Aboriginal art museums, open-air markets, and animal encounters. At Mindil Beach, you’ll find a beautiful sunset market during the dry season that boasts a strong Asian influence in the food and culture.
For a big adventure, try Crocosaurus Cove to get up close and personal with living dinosaurs, you can go cage swimming with crocodiles. Or sit back and relax, while you watch an outdoor film at the Deckchair Cinema. The laid-back vibe is great for a family vacation.
On the island of Tasmania, Hobart is the capital and it’s known for being the perfect blend between nature and urban explorations. The city is nestled on the waterfront with a dynamic backdrop of mountains.
Tourists can walk the city streets and meander the Brook Street Pier or take a hike to the top of Mount Wellington. And if you’re hungry, head over to the Farm Gate Market which happens in Hobart every Sunday.
Melbourne is the capital of Victoria and it’s one of the most unique cities to visit because it blends fine dining, galleries, fashion, and sports events into one city. This diverse city feels both ancient and modern. The cobbled laneways are lined with coffee shops and boutique shops. The newer markets are famous amongst the locals and offer a rich array of food, crafts, art, and fashion.
And for sports lovers, Melbourne is home to a host of sports events like the Melbourne Cricket Cup, Rip Curl Pro surf event, and the Formula 1 Australia Grand Prix. With a taste of everything, Melbourne might just be a perfect city.
Perth is the capital of Western Australia and it’s known for being a beach lover’s paradise. There are a variety of beaches located around the city that have pale white sand and stunning turquoise water.
What makes Perth really great is that many of the beautiful beaches are also lined with small cafés and family-friendly areas. The most popular beaches are Leighton, Trigg, and North Beach.
Sydney is the capital of New South Wales and an international icon for Australia. Easily one of the most recognized cities, the harbor front location boasts an impressive view of the skyline with the famous Sydney Opera House. With some of Australia’s best-known landmarks, tourists are eager to explore the city for themselves.
Bondi Beach is close to the city center and the most popular beach in the area with designer food, shops, and incredible surfing. The Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge are icons and easily some of the most visited, photographed, and recognized attractions. With a variety of itineraries, Sydney is easily at the top of everyone’s Australia Bucket List.
Points of Interest
While the cities are vibrant, Australia is also home to a variety of famous points of interest. You may find that there is a specific adventure that you have in mind based on these attractions. Great for nature lovers and divers, the country provides plenty of outdoor escapes to choose from.
Discover the best of Australia’s thermal springs to add to your itinerary, on our sister site, Top Hot Springs.
Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the largest living structures on Earth and it boasts over 3,000 coral reefs, 600 islands, and multiple coral cays. It’s also one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World and tourists can grab a snorkel to explore the diverse marine life.
But tourists should be clean and tidy because it’s also one of the most fragile ecosystems in the world and needs help to be preserved.
Uluru-Kata National Park
Uluru-Kata National Park is one of the most recognized photographs that tourists can take in Australia. The large natural rock formation is at the center of the park and rises up 1141 feet up from the land. One of the most popular times to visit the rocks are at sunset when the fading light changes the color of the landscape.
But Uluru is also a sacred site and it’s best to respect the park rules. Aboriginal guides and rangers will provide the best experience in the park with guided tours.
Fraser Island is located off the East Coast of Australia, nearby to Brisbane. The island is the largest sand island in the world and is frequently listed as one of Australia’s top outdoor adventures. The Seventy Five Mile Beach provides shipwrecks for exploration, while The Cathedrals are stunning sandstone cliffs that are perfect for a budding nature photographer.
Plus, the Champagne Pools have crystal clear, spring-fed creeks and lakes where you can go exploring or dip your toes. For animal lovers, Fraser Island is also host to diverse animal species including dingoes, sugar gliders, sharks, dolphins, and whales.
Kakadu National Park
Located in the Northern Territory, Kakadu National Park is the world’s second-largest national park and Australia’s largest. The immense borders hold a diverse ecosystem with mangroves, swamps, rivers, gorges, wetlands, rock formations, and waterfalls.
A diversity of wildlife also could have you encounter a variety of mammals, reptiles, and fish. It’s also thriving with both saltwater and freshwater crocodiles. The park can be explored by foot, car, boat, and air but it’s best to avoid visiting from November to April because the wet season brings heavy flooding.
Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road runs for 186 miles along the Southeast Coast. There are a variety of towns and attractions situated along the route including Torquay, Allansford, and Warrnambool. One of the most famous sections along the road is home to the natural rock formations called the Twelve Apostles.
A few national parks are also situated along the road and provide a getaway into dense rainforests with excellent hiking trails and waterfall destinations.
“The Land Down Under”
Australia is an immense country that’s extremely diverse in its people, culture, and landscape. With so many gorgeous locations and booming cities, you can’t choose a bad destination.
Whether you want to explore the urban streets or head out into the Outback, Australia is a country that will stun you with its beauty and surely have you going back to explore even more.