“Beautiful one day, perfect the next”—Queensland tourism was spot on when they created that slogan. With warm tropical weather all year round, Queensland, Australia is the perfect spot for a getaway any time of the year.
From the gorgeous Queensland beaches, laid back cities, and stunning outback landscapes, there are plenty of things to do and places to visit in Queensland, so don’t be fooled into thinking you can see it all in one quick holiday. Queensland is huge, and it would take you months to see it all.
If you’re planning a trip to Queensland, here are some tips on how to get around, and the best things to do in the region’s must-see places.
How to Get Around Queensland
Most people exploring Queensland tend to do it via a road trip, either starting at the northern end in Cairns or Brisbane in the south and drive between the two cities making various stops along the way. An ideal road trip would be at least two weeks long, but you could do it in as long as two or three months! Yes, there really are that many memorable things to do.
You can, of course, fly between the major airports on the route, hire a car at each and explore the surrounding areas. The main Queensland airports, starting from the south, include Gold Coast, Brisbane, Townsville, and Cairns. There are a few smaller airports in between as well.
Best Time to Visit Queensland
Queensland typically has four seasons being summer (December to February), autumn (March to May), winter (June to August), and spring (September to November). However, as Queensland covers such a vast area, you can imagine the weather at the top end of Queensland does not mirror the weather at the southern end.
Tropical North Queensland, is hot and humid year-round, with temperatures averaging around 31°C (88°F). The rainy season runs from November to April; with near-daily rainfall.
In the Airlie Beach and Whitsunday region and surrounds, the wet season generally matches that of the North. However, the added concern here are jellyfish, known as stingers due to their potentially lethal sting. Stinger season runs approximately between October and March every year, and during this time a stinger suit must be worn when swimming in the Whitsundays and surrounding area.
South East Queensland (from the Sunshine Coast to the south) receives less rain than the north and is, therefore, more suited to year-round travel. As stingers don’t come this far south, there is no concern when getting in the water. Weather during the summer months is hot and humid with temperatures reaching the mid 30’s °C (low 90s °F). During the cooler months, the humidity is less intense and temperatures sit around the low 20’s °C (around 70°F) during the day, dropping below 10°C (50°F) at night.
Must See Queensland Destinations
There are so many fantastic destinations in Queensland, that it is impossible to list them all, so here are five of the more popular Queensland destinations, as well as the best things to do in each destination.
The Gold Coast is one of Queensland’s most popular places for tourists. The area is made up of 17 different long and sandy beaches, inland canals, surfing spots, theme parks, hiking trails, and national parks. Not to mention its nightlife, shopping centers, boutique shops, cafes, restaurants, and sporting events.
Many tourists flock to the Gold Coast for its beautiful beaches. Some of the more popular Gold Coast beaches include Surfers Paradise, Broadbeach, Burleigh, and Currumbin. The beaches are stunning with warm clear water and long sandy beautiful beaches. With the choice of both surf and calm waters, whether you want to swim, surf, boogie board, or SUP there is the perfect beach for you.
After the golden beaches, tourists love coming to the Gold Coast for its famous theme parks. Here you will find theme parks such as Dreamworld, Paradise Country, Sea World, Warner Brothers Movie World, Wet n Wild Water World, and Whitewater World.
For those who prefer more natural attractions, head inland to the Gold Coast Hinterland, where you’ll find a range of stunning national parks. Some of the more popular national parks include Springbrook National Park and Lamington National Park, where you will find stunning breathtaking views, lush rainforest, and waterfalls.
Getting to the Gold Coast: Getting there is easy as it has its own airport. Alternatively, if you are flying into Brisbane, Queensland’s capital city, you can catch a train all the way from the Brisbane Airport to the Gold Coast.
When international tourists think of Australian capital cities, they rarely think of Brisbane. Unlike popular Melbourne and Sydney, Brisbane is more like a big country town. The city is laid back and a great place to come and hang out for a few days, as well as being a great gateway to the gorgeous beaches and hinterland of the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast.
One of the advantages of a few days in the Brisbane CBD, is a lot of the main touristy things to do are completely free! You can visit museums, art galleries, cruise the river, swim, take guided tours, as well as get around the city completely free of charge.
The one must-see attraction in Brisbane is the South Bank Parklands. If you visit in the warmer months, you can take a dip at Streets Beach which is a man-made swimming lagoon. Around South Bank, you’ll find plenty of cafes, restaurants, and bars all with great atmospheres, decor, and food. On the weekends, South Bank has great markets showcasing locally handmade, art, crafts, jewelry, candles, clothes, and much more.
Getting to Brisbane: It’s easy to explore the things to do in Brisbane as it has its own airport. Alternatively, if you are flying into the Gold Coast you can catch a train all the way from the Gold Coast to the city. Also, if you spend a few days in Brisbane, I recommend you stay somewhere close to South Bank.
Most people have heard about the Gold Coast beaches, but in my view the Sunshine Coast is where you will find the very best Queensland beaches. The Sunshine Coast is situated north of Brisbane and includes a variety of little beach suburbs like Caloundra, Mooloolaba, Coolum, and Noosa.
While all the beaches on the Sunshine Coast are just stunning, the best area for a beach holiday is Noosa. Noosa is not only a beautiful part of the Sunshine Coast, but with the Noosa National Park, Main Beach, and Noosa River, it’s a great place to get out and about in the great outdoors.
Noosa National Park offers both picturesque coastline as well as a variety of walking tracks, from easy to moderate, through the rainforest and along the gorgeous coastline. Walking tracks start from a few hundred meters to 5.4 kilometers. Some of the best Noosa beaches can be found in the Noosa National Park, such as Tea Tree Bay, Winch Cove, and Granite Bay.
The calm crystal-clear waters of the Noosa River are ideal for getting out and exploring in a kayak or SUP. You can bring your own, hire your own, or join a tour group. If you paddle right out to the mouth of the Noosa River, you will find many sand islands where you can hang out on your own deserted island for as long as you like. There are also several pathways around the area perfect for biking, walking and running.
Another popular day trip for those staying on the Sunshine Coast is the gorgeous World Heritage-listed Fraser Island. Along the route, you will drive beside some of the world’s most stunning beaches and through gorgeous National Parks. The area is home to stacks of wildlife, including kangaroos, whales, turtles, dingoes, dugongs, platypus, and birds. The drive is only accessible by 4WD, but if you don’t have one, there are plenty of tour groups you can join.
The Sunshine Coast is also home to Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo, as well as other popular tourist attractions including Sea Life, Eumundi Markets, The Ginger Factory, and the lovely hinterland.
Getting to the Sunshine Coast: The best way to reach the Sunshine Coast is by car from Brisbane, alternatively, you can join a range of tours for day trips.
When most people think of the Whitsunday region, they think about the stunning 74 tropical islands lying just off the Queensland coast and surrounded by the Great Barrier Reef. This area is just gorgeous and absolutely teeming with coral and marine life.
Most of the Whitsunday Islands are uninhabited, except for four. These four islands offer luxury accommodation and fantastic resort facilities for guests. Even if you don’t have the funds to stay here, you can visit for the day and enjoy all the facilities offer.
As well as the islands, the region also includes various destinations on the mainland, too. Areas such as Airlie Beach and Bowen are all sleepy towns—they don’t offer a whole bunch for tourists to do, but are nevertheless the perfect place to relax for a few days, or to use as a base for day trips out to the Whitsunday Islands. Around the region you will find secluded beaches, lovely walking trails, and secret waterfalls.
Getting to the Whitsundays: Fly into the Proserpine Airport and hire yourself a car to explore the region.
Far North Queensland
When visiting Far North Queensland, most people base themselves in Cairns, as this is a good place for various day trips in the region. From Cairns you can explore the Great Barrier Reef, lush rainforests, gorgeous beaches, and see loads of native Australian animals, including crocodiles!
Although there are several places in Queensland to experience the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns seems to be the most popular place to explore it from. You must join a tour to explore the reef, and most tours will have you snorkeling out on the reef for a few hours.
While in Cairns, I highly recommend taking the historic Kuranda Scenic Railway up to the picturesque mountain village of Kuranda. There are a variety of attractions to visit here including the Butterfly Sanctuary, the Rainforestation Nature Park, the Australian Venom Zoo, Kuranda River Cruises, as well as simply to explore the quaint little village.
Cairns is also the perfect place to base yourself to explore the World Heritage listed Daintree National Park and Cape Tribulation. At least a day or two is recommended to explore the area, which covers almost 900,000 hectares of tropical north Queensland. Whilst there, you must visit the Mossman Gorge, take a Daintree River Cruise to see crocodiles and other wildlife and visit one of the gorgeous Daintree Rainforest Beaches.
Getting to Far North Queensland: Fly into the Cairns airport and hire a car, or join day tours to explore the region.
By Melissa from Thrifty Family Travels
Melissa Delaware is a family travel blogger and has lived in Queensland her whole life. While she and her family just adore Queensland, when they are not exploring their own backyard they love to get out and explore every corner of the globe. They detail their travels on their blog Thrifty Family Travels.