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Gold Coast Travel Guide

gold coast at nightThe Gold Coast is a collection of beach-side towns in the southern section of Queensland that is known for a few things: 1) sunshine, 2) beaches and 3) parties. From schoolies to rock stars and millionaires, the Gold Coast is a getaway that attracts nearly 10 million people each year, both tourists and locals. Because of its glorious beaches, hot sunshine and art deco buildings, this area has been likened to Miami, or sometimes Las Vegas (though probably not as sinful). Just take a look at the meter maids and you’ll get a feel for what’s in the cards.

A trip to the Gold Coast is perfect for families (yes, even with the Vegas and meter maids comments above) or groups of friends. There are 70 kilometers of beach-lined land to enjoy, as well as rainforest, water parks, theme parks, restaurants and animal sanctuaries to keep you busy. On top of it all, the weather is typically awesome.


The Gold Coast is the area south of Brisbane and stretching to the New South Wales border. The main towns known of the Gold Coast are Surfers Paradise, Coolangatta, Broadbeach and Southport, but there are many others to enjoy. The Gold Coast Hinterland stretches to the west and features beautiful rainforest (the green behind the gold) and Tamborine Mountain.

How to Get to the Gold Coast

If you are in Brisbane or areas of north New South Wales, then driving will be the easiest and quickest option. You can make it from Brisbane to Surfers Paradise in about an hour or less depending on traffic at the time. Otherwise, I recommend flying to the Coolangatta Airport (OOL). Another option is to fly to Brisbane and then drive from there (check Australia car rentals), but the Coolangatta Airport is right in the Gold Coast and close to the beach and action.

Search for a flight to the Coolangatta Airport (OOL) from Sydney (SYD), Melbourne (MEL) and Cairns (CNS):

For train, bus, plane and car travel to the Gold Coast, check out this post on Getting To & Around the Gold Coast.

Gold Coast Weather

The weather in the Gold Coast could be described as subtropical. Known for sunshine, the summer months are usually around 30 Celsius and the winter average lows aren’t too far from 12 Celsius. You can be outdoors for most of the year in the Gold Coast, but do remember to slap on some sunscreen!

Getting Around the Gold Coast

For tourists that wish to visit the attractions that are spread across the Gold Coast over the course of a few days, I recommend renting a car to get around. Otherwise, there is a Surfside Bus system that offers multiple day passes that even include transfers to the airport. These are a bit costly, but they do run to the theme parks, animal park and the airport to name a few. You can read more about this option on the getting around the Gold Coast page.

Things to Do in the Gold Coast

currumbin wildlife sanctuaryOut of all the amazing things to do in the Gold Coast, the most popular would be hitting the beach. Since there are so many of them, it’s not hard to find a place to laze away, surf or swim with friends. If you’re looking for more excitement, there’s always surfing, surf lessons, jet boating, parasailing and helicopter rides (best way to view the Gold Coast) to take part in.

For adventure activities, tourists can skydive the beach, zorb, bungy jump or ride rollercoasters at one of the theme parks in the area. Families can walk around Seaworld or the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary (there’s a high ropes course here), and there’s always Timezone to entertain.

Nighttime activities can involve a night at Dracula’s, a vampire cabaret show, or drinks at the top of Q1 building at the SkyPoint (where there’s also the new Skypoint Climb). A bonus is the fact that it has one of the world’s fastest elevators to take you all the way to the top, and doing so at night can bring you face-to-face with the lights that line the Gold Coast.

The Gold Coast Hinterland isn’t too far away, and you can take a trip to the caves to see glow worms as one of your options. In addition, there’s a distillery at Mount Tamborine, where you can also go on an ATV adventure if you heart so desires.

Where to Stay in the Gold Coast

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that most people reading this are not going to be able to afford staying at the Palazzo Versace in the Gold Coast, but you’re in luck. The Gold Coast is plastered with a mixture of hostels, hotels and resorts to choose from as your preferred form of accommodation during your stay. Read a review of the QT Hotel with the spectacular Bazaar restaurant to get started. As for hostels, I’ve personally spent some time in Aquarius Backpackers and Komune, but I’ve also had a peak at the Coolangatta Sands. Each of these hostels are unique in their own ways, but all excellent options for backpackers. You can read more about my top hostel picks for the Gold Coast.

Photo credit: 1, 2

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