10 towns to visit on your trip to Australia

Heading to Australia on your gap year or backpacking trip? Here are 10 of our favorite cities not to be missed on your Australia travel

Australia has long been the favourite destination with backpackers and gap year travellers. A road trip in Australia features everything from white sandy beaches, to vibrant city life and adrenaline kicks from mountains to the rainforest. It is only time and imagination that sets the limits on your adventure travel in Australia.

So where are you going? A 28-day U.Trip takes you up the East Coast of Australia from Sydney to Cairns. For those that have time we add Perth and Melbourne as 2 of Australia’s must visit cities.

Sydney

Delicious eateries, the Sydney Opera House at sunset and well yes, Bondi Beach is just a stone’s throw away. It’s rare to find a big city with such beautiful beaches, from Bondi Beach, perhaps the world’s most famous beach and only a short train ride from town, to Manly only a ferry trip away and the Northern beaches.

A U.Trip starts in Sydney and we recommend a few days before your trip starts. Take a cruise on Sydney Harbour, climb the iconic Sydney harbour Bridge, or take a day-trip to the Blue Mountains, the Hunter Valley or Jervis Bay.

Coffs Harbour

Located right on the coast you will find the cozy port town of Coffs Harbour. With a wealth of lovely beaches like Jetty Beach and wind in your hair, you will quickly find yourself feeling at home in the quiet surroundings – one of the friendliest cities in Australia.

Coffs Harbour is also a natural adventure playground! The Dorrigo National Park is filled with rainforest, waterfalls and world-class hiking including the world-renowned 191 km long “Waterfall way”. Take in the views of the harbour from the Sealy or head to Muttonbird Island and Eastern Side lookout for whale watching during migration season.

Byron Bay

You have to see Byron Bay and that’s just the way it is. There is no way around it. For many it is their favourite place in Australia. Popular with the hippy-set and the cosmo wealthy you will find everything here from great arts and crafts, vegan eateries, to modern 5-star fusion restaurants.

Byron Bay has a very laid-back feel sitting right on a popular beach. Hang in a cafe with the locals, explore the weekend market and do not deprive yourself with a little homemade ice cream from “In the Pink”. Just remember the most important rule of them all, if the choice is between one or two balls, then you always take two.

Take a surf lesson, go sky-diving, hire a mountain-bike, or if you are looking for some solitude head out to the beaches on the headlands, like Wategos and Little Wategos beaches.

Gold Coast - Surfer Paradise

The ritzy Gold Coast extends for over 40km of sandy beaches including the most well known, Surfers Paradise. The name Surfers Paradise gives a clue to what it is perhaps most famous for, but the town is a vibrant city for nightlife, dining and shopping.

Getting away from Surfers Paradise explore the beautiful Burleigh Heads and enjoy the sunset with a pizza from the Burleigh Pavilion. The Gold Coast also arguably boast the best weather in Australia year round.

Brisbane

Brisbane is a world-class modern city. It has loads of options for nightlife, bars, restaurants and cafes to suit any budget. “Brissy” is Australia’s third largest city and arguably the most vibrant, laid back and friendliest atmosphere of any of them.

For those needing to recover the next day, head to the artificially made beach “Streets Beach” and take a nap under the shade of the palm trees. Before hitting the nightlife head up Mount Coot-tha for a stunning evening view over the city.

Mission Beach

Mission Beach is actually four beach villages linked by 14 kilometres of wide golden sands perfect for relaxing or exploring the unspoilt tropical rainforest that backs on to the beaches.

Take a slow walk along the  Kennedy Walking Track where you will find a wealth of beautiful lookout points and set the camera lens and explore the impressive Cathedral Fig Tree. Or how about some music, a light show and a Spanish castle from 1935? Paronella Park is impressive in daylight, but the wondrous experience happens after dark where a spectacular light show unfolds before your eyes.

Cairns

Cairns is the gateway to both the Tropical Far North and the crystal clear waters and coral reefs of the Great Barrier Reef. Whether it is just a day trip to the reef for some snorkelling or you plan to take a few days and learn to dive, the Great Barrier Reef is a must visit for every trip to Australia.

During the rainy season, Barron Falls near Kuranda is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Australia and can be experienced both on foot, by train or by cable car.

Port Douglas

70km north of Cairns and right up in the tropics is the outpost town of Port Douglas. A perfect launchpad for the Great Barrier Reef, Daintree Rainforest, and Cape Tribulation.

Get dressed early and experience the beautiful sunrise along Four Mile Beach, followed by a hearty brunch at one of the many cafes in town. During the day enjoy the beaches or wander the sleepy town where the palm trees are bigger than buildings! Cap your day off with sunset Insta-pics from Rex Smeal Park with big palm trees in the foreground.

Melbourne

Melbourne is arguable the hippest-coolest city in Australia. Known for its cafes and bars, live music, and a never ending smorgasbord of events (including the Australian Tennis Open and Formula One Grand Prix). Spend many afternoons enjoying local wines in the St Kilda beach area or take a walking tour visiting the cities graffiti art and coffee scene.

There is so much to explore from Melbourne including the world-famous Great Ocean Road and the Twelve Apostles sandstone pillars, Phillip Island and believe it or not, Penguins, The Mornington Peninsula, the Grampian Mountain Range and the wonderful wines of the Yarra Valley. We highly recommend spending more than a few days enjoying the Melbourne nightlife and taking loads of day trips to explore the area.

Perth

Way, way, way out West is the beautiful city of Perth. Located on the Swan River the modern architecture of the city surrounds Kings Park. The nearby beaches of Scarborough and Cottelsoe define the laid-back relaxed lifestyles of the locals.

Perth is your starting point for travelling up the coast toward Monkey ( Ningaloo Reef (famous for its swimming with whale sharks), Broome, the Kimberleys National Park and maybe on to Darwin. But before you depart make sure you take a day-trip to incredible Pinnacles Desert, Rottness Island and taste some local wines in the Margaret River.

Loads of different experiences in Australia

Australia is a really big place and there is so many different towns to explore. A 28-day U.Trip up the East Coast gives you plenty of free-time to explore each of the main destinations plus takes you off-the-beaten track to some of the ultimate Australian experiences. For those with extra time combine your U.Trip with a trip across the South Coast to the hipster city of Melbourne or make the well-worth it trip west to Perth.

Trips to get you here

Become a jackaroo/jillaroo. Everything you need including bank account, tax number, and training to get a job in rural Australia.

Learn to dive, become a certified diver and help to save the Great Barrier Reef, Australia! Be part of the solution and not the problem in one incredibly well-crafted volunteer based tour.

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