Heading to the Gold Coast? As an all-time favourite for millions of travellers each year, there’s plenty to love about this gorgeous sun-soaked city. But when there’s so much on offer, it can be hard to know what’s worth doing and what you can probably skip until next time.
Whether you’re heading there for a weekend getaway or you plan to stay a little longer, there are a few things you absolutely must see and do while here. Make sure you add these six winners to your Gold Coast bucket list…
1. Surfers Paradise Beach
The first stop when you get to the Gold Coast has to be Surfers Paradise Beach. Arguably the most iconic and widely-recognised location on the Gold Coast, Surfers Paradise Beach attracts visitors in the millions each year. Step out on the golden sand to dip your toes in the water, and don’t forget to take in the Miami-like vista of the long stretch of skyscrapers lining the surf coast.
If you head there on a Wednesday, Friday or Sunday evening, you can even wander through the beachfront markets which are one of the largest markets on the Gold Coast, featuring everything from fashion, jewellery and homewares, to artworks, photographs and beauty products. While you’re there, you should also take a stroll down Cavill Avenue if you’re keen to check out some of the local culture and nightlife.
Our one tip if heading to Surfers however, is to try to time your trip to avoid the annual ‘schoolies’ crowd that take over the area around late November to early December.
Visit the Surfers Paradise tourism website for more information.
2. Explore Broadbeach
Once you’ve sampled what Surfers Paradise has to offer, it’s time to get acquainted with its hip and trendy neighbour, Broadbeach. With its relaxed yet happening vibe, Broadbeach has fast become a Gold Coast favourite known for its great cafes, world-class restaurants and exciting nightlife.
If you get the shopping bug, make sure you pay a visit to the impressive Pacific Fair shopping centre in Broadbeach Waters which is home to plenty of iconic global brands and leading Australian fashion retailers. Broadbeach also hosts a range of major events throughout the year, so make sure you check what’s on when you’ll be in town.
Visit the Broadbeach tourism website for more information.
3. Check out the view from above
Once you’ve familiarised yourself with Goldie at ground-level, it’s time to take in the view from above.
A great place to start is by visiting the Skypoint Observation Deck at Q1. You’ll be able to enjoy 360 degree views of the Gold Coast cityscape, beaches and hinterland from 77 floors up. If you’re feeling daring, you can even give the Skypoint Climb a go, where you’ll get the complete open-air experience from 270 meters up. Visit the Skypoint Observation Deck website for more information and bookings.
While the Skypoint Observation is impressive, if you really want the full bucket-list experience, a hot air balloon ride takes it to the next level. There really is no better way to soak in the sights than by gently floating over it in the early hours of the morning, before topping it off with a champagne breakfast. Hot Air run some of the best hot air balloon experiences you’ll find on the Gold Coast, allowing you to take in everything from the Gold Coast hinterland, Tambourine Mountain and Lamington National Park, to the striking Gold Coast skyline. Guaranteed to be an unforgettable experience that you’ll cherish forever! Visit the Hot Air website for more information and bookings.
4. The Theme Parks
The Gold Coast is famous for being home to some of Australia’s biggest and best theme parks which draw in millions of visitors each year, and even if it’s not really your thing, you can’t say you’ve had the full Gold Coast experience until you’ve sampled at least one of them.
If you’re an adrenalin junkie, Dreamworld or Warner Bros. Movie World are sure-fire winners, if you fancy a waterslide or ten, Wet n Wild or White Water World at Dreamworld are sure to please, or if you prefer a more relaxed pace with some friendly animal encounters, Sea World would probably be more up your alley.
They can be a little pricey though, so a good tip if you’re planning to visit more than one theme park is to buy multi-park pass so you can make the most of the discounted prices.
5. Whale Watching
Now this one is a real beauty—you may not have realised, but the Gold Coast is lucky enough to enjoy one of the most spectacular displays of nature between late May and early November as thousands of Humpback whales make the trek from Antarctica to the warmer waters of northern Queensland.
The best way to witness these beauties of the ocean up close is with a whale watching cruise. If you’re struggling to find a good cruise operator, we highly recommend Whales in Paradise. They operate daily whale watching cruises departing from Surfers Paradise and their purpose-built catamarans with water-level viewing decks offer the best whale viewing opportunities around. They don’t overcrowd tours so you’ll have good visibility and they’ll even refund you if you don’t spot any whales.
Visit the Whales in Paradise website for more information and bookings.
6. Tambourine Mountain
While this one isn’t technically part of the Gold Coast, because you can get there in less than an hour and it’s sure to impress, we just had to include it. Once you’ve had your city fix, you’ll probably be keen for a change of pace and ready to see another side of this beautiful corner of the globe—and Tambourine Mountain in the picturesque Hinterland provides the perfect escape.
Whether you want to explore the beautiful waterfalls, visit the eclectic markets, head on a glow worms cave tour, walk among the tree tops at the Tambourine Rainforest Skywalk, test your nerve on the high ropes course and zip lines at Thunderbird Park, sample some of the many local wineries, distilleries and dining options, or simply enjoy the many walks, gardens and nurseries throughout the National Park, it’s all there.
Whether you decide to visit for the day or stay for a few, we’re sure you’ll be glad you made the trip.
Visit the Tambourine Mountain tourism website for more information.