There’s a reason Australia is on so many travelers’ bucket lists. The land of Oz is truly one of the world’s most beautiful places, with a stunning array of landscapes, whether from the rainbow hues of the Great Barrier Reef to the peaks of the Blue Mountains. If you have limitless time, check all these places off your list – if not, read on and choose those that look most enticing to you. We promise, they’re all beautiful.
1. Great Barrier Reef
Hands-down, one of the most famously beautiful places in Australia, this stunning coral reefs stretches 186 miles along the Queensland coast. Explore this natural wonder of the world and its sea turtles, dolphins, mollusks and more, whether from a boat, snorkeling diving or from above on a flightseeing tour.
2. Uluru and the Red Centre
You’ll gape at the massive, red Ayers Rock rising from the desert of central Australia near Alice Springs. Within the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, the rock holds deep cultural significance for the Aboriginal people. Stay long enough here in the Red Center of Australia to see one of the most remarkable sunsets in the world.
3. Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbor Bridge
Manmade though they may be, these iconic landmarks are a favorite of every traveler who comes to Oz. Sydney Harbour’s lovely shoreline is lined with parklands and gardens. With the white masts of sailboats set against the brilliant blue water and the aesthetically pleasing shape of the Opera House, you’ll feel like you’re walking through a postcard.
4. Great Ocean Road, Victoria
Don’t miss the chance to drive this incredibly scenic coastal road from Torquay to Warrnambool in Victoria. Along the way, you’ll see the Twelve Apostles jutting out of the sea, Loch Ard Gorge, the Grotto, London Arch and the Island Archway. Stop is sleep villages like Port Fairy, Apollo Bay and Queenscliff. Or stop for watersports and wine tasting!
5. Cape Byron and Byron Bay, New South Wales
Another stunning stretch of coastline, this area boasts beautiful Cape Byron, known for its earthy, hippy vibe – and for being the most easterly point on the continent. As you drive, take time to explore the rainforest, jagged cliffs and parklands, stop for the views from the Captain Cook Lookout and Wategos Beach and look for whales on the horizon.
6. Phillip Island, Victoria
Ever been to a penguin parade? Every sundown on Phillip Island, the fairy penguins who reside here march from the sea to their burrows for the night. You won’t be able to look away, it’s so adorable. Look for fur seals lounging on the rocks and visit with koalas in the conservation center. Bass Straits is the most picturesque of the island beaches.
7. Fraser Island
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is not only beautiful, but also naturally significant. Lose yourself on the white-sand beach or at the vividly colored lakes. Explore rainforests, sand dunes and wetlands. The dunes here are part of the longest and most complete sequence of coastal dune systems in the world.
8. Blue Mountains, New South Wales
If you’re in Sydney, you should definitely take the two-hour drive to the UNESCO World Heritage Blue Mountains, an outdoor lover’s paradise of pristine rainforest, rugged cliffs, freshwater springs, waterfalls and thick forests. While you’re here, visit the mountain villages, each with its unique personality. You can get the best views of the area along the scenic skyway, railway or cable car.
9. Kakadu National Park, Darwin
At the top of the continent, Kakadu National Park is so large that it covers four rivers, lowlands, floodplains, tidal flats, estuaries, peaks and valley and ragged cliffs. Camp here or stay in a guest house to allow time to explore the diverse landscapes and rich wildlife population.
10. Barossa Valley
With its rich vineyard hues, surrounding mountains and quaint villages, the wine lands of Australia are gorgeous. From Adelaide, drive through the Barossa Valley, stopping for tastings and photo ops.
11. Whitehaven Beach and the Whitsundays
If you can’t resist a white-sand beach, you must set your sights on Whitehaven Beach. It takes extra effort to get there – by seaplane, boat or helicopter – but it’s well worth it. Stay and camp so you can wake up for a sunrise dip in turquoise water followed by hours of strolling or lounging on the white silica beach. Insider’s tip: This type of sand doesn’t retain heat, so no burning the soles of your feet when you take a nice long walk on the 4 miles of coastline.
It’s usually the most off-the-beaten-path destinations that are the most unfettered and therefore the most beautiful. Case in point: Broome, more than 1,000 miles north of Perth. Get to know the interesting locals of Cable Beach and Roebuck Bay, hit the craft and food markets on Town Beach and learn about the local pearl-farming business and native Yawuru traditions.
13. Lady Elliot Island
Beyond one small eco-resort, this pristine, 110-acre island boasts loads of coral reefs, sea turtles and birds. There’s whale watching in season, glass-bottom boat rides, reef walking and turtle treks, so as remote as it may feel, there’s plenty to keep you busy.
14. Four-Mile Beach, Port Douglas, Queensland
Unplug and disconnect at this quiet beach in Port Douglas. What it lacks in modern amenities it more than makes up for with pristine beaches and white sand. The breeze is gentle and water cool – a Queensland gem.
15. Maria Island National Park, Tasmania
Meet the parrots, gulls, geese and wombats of this remote national park – accessible via ferry. It’s rustic, but catapults you immediately into the heart of nature.
16. Noosa and Noosa National Park
There’s something for everyone at Noosa, where you’ll find eucalyptus forest, kauri pines, wildflowers, koalas, possums, cockatoos and humpback whale sightings. Explore the beach or walk the many walking trails to fully commune with nature.