Gold CoastTravel Guide

From the surf breaks at Main Beach all the way down to legendary Coolangatta, the Gold Coast has been seducing travellers for generations. While the beaches remain some of the finest in the world, the restaurant, bar, cafe and craft beer scene has become a drawcard in its own right. Australia’s capital of fun is also the gateway to a pristine hinterland and thrilling theme parks, with a year-round climate that is hard to beat. If you’re planning a holiday here, explore our Gold Coast travel guide and find out how to make the most of your time along Queensland’s southern coastal strip. We’ve collected the best tips from our travel experts, and have all sorts of suggestions for things to do, the best time to travel, where to stay, getting around and more. We even have a guide to the Gold Coast Airport at Coolangatta.

Gold Coast quick facts


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Explore Gold Coast

Where to stay in Gold Coast?

Choosing where to stay on the Gold Coast can be a challenge. There are just so many wonderful resorts, hotels, and other options to consider. The trick to making the right decision is knowing what the neighbourhoods are like. For instance, Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach have high rises and a bustling night scene. Meanwhile, Burleigh and Coolangatta are more laidback with a streak of cool. Finally, Currumbin and Palm Beach are the best areas to stay for nature lovers.

Looking for a place to stay on the Gold Coast that gives you a lot of fun day activities as well as a booming nightlife? Check out Surfers Paradise. This city centre isn't just for those who are into catching the waves. There are many fine-dining restaurants, art galleries, and indoor activities to explore.

Burleigh is one of the best places to go for a gentle swim or an invigorating surf. This is thanks to its headlands, which prevent parts of the beach from forming choppy waves. The nearby dining precinct also provides delicious food at reasonable prices. So if you want to swim all day and have great meals, book a room at Burleigh.

Currumbin is home to a wildlife sanctuary where you can interact with native animals and embark on a treetop adventure. You can also visit a surfing museum before trying your hand at kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding on the creek. There are a handful of resorts and other places to stay at in this nature-packed corner of the Gold Coast.

If you're looking for the best area to stay at in the Gold Coast, consider Broadbeach. This thriving suburb is home to Jupiters, a luxury hotel and casino, as well as the Pacific Fair Shopping Centre where you can indulge in retail therapy for hours. Want to combine business and pleasure? This is also where you'll find the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre, so see if there's anything on that might interest you during your stay.

You'll find affordable accommodation that's quite laidback but clean and comfortable at Palm Beach. It's located between the Tallebudgera and Currumbin creeks. This is a great base for chilling out between water sports or nature forays. The locals regularly plant natives and pick up litter from Palm Beach. That's why the beach has been crowned Australia's cleanest beach three times.

Coolangatta has two things going for it as one of the best areas to stay at in the Gold Coast: the airport and its surfing beaches. Surfing competitions are held here, yet this suburb retains a quieter, slower pace. There are many hotels to choose from, and if you're lucky enough to get a view of the beach, be sure to watch out for the Gold Coast sunrise.

Believe us when we say, this is just the start. Book your accommodation today!

  • Group of people sitting on Tamborine Mountain lookout watching the sun set
    • Small flowing waterfall with greenery surrounding it
    • Man walking out of the surf towards beach and skyscrapers
  • Group of people sitting on Tamborine Mountain lookout watching the sun set
    Group of people sitting on Tamborine Mountain lookout watching the sun set
    Group of people sitting on Tamborine Mountain lookout watching the sun set
  • Small flowing waterfall with greenery surrounding it
    Small flowing waterfall with greenery surrounding it
    Small flowing waterfall with greenery surrounding it
  • Man walking out of the surf towards beach and skyscrapers
    Man walking out of the surf towards beach and skyscrapers
    Man walking out of the surf towards beach and skyscrapers

Things to do in Gold Coast

As Queensland's top holiday destination, you’ll find there are many things to do on the Gold Coast. You'll need to stay for at least a weekend or a week to properly savour the experience. Swim and surf at different beaches, enjoy the nightlife, and feel the rush at a theme park. You can even enjoy a few sporting events if you time your holiday right!

Because of its long coastline, the Gold Coast has a lot of beaches that offer various experiences. If you're looking for some good surfing, visit Coolangatta and Burleigh. If you want to do some dog-watching, check out The Spit at the northern end of Main Beach. You can also soak up the sun and the sea at Palm Beach and Surfers Paradise.

Located in the Gold Coast hinterland, Tamborine Mountain has many treasures for you to discover. You can enjoy a stroll on the Skywalk, an elevated steel platform and viewing deck, or you can go into caves that are lit up by glow worms. There are also day spas, galleries, eateries, and local producers to check out.

Some of the most popular Gold Coast tourist attractions are for the young and the young of heart. If you're a film buff, check out Warner Bros. Movie World lot. If an exciting swim is more your thing, ride down one of the many slides at Wet'n'Wild or White Water World. True thrill seekers should also leave time in their itinerary for a trip to Dreamworld, home of the Tower of Terror, Wipeout, and other high-adrenaline rides.

Who wouldn't want a breathtaking view of the Gold Coast from inside Q1, the tallest building in Australia? The SkyPoint Observation Deck is 230m above Surfers Paradise. By night, the deck transforms into a high-altitude lounge, so you can have a couple of drinks and listen to live music while enjoying the view.

One of the most beautiful places on the Gold Coast is Lamington National Park. It has waterfalls, lookouts, and interesting geological formations. When you go on a bushwalk, you'll encounter plants and animals that are unique to the region (perhaps you'll spot a Richmond birdwing butterfly, for example). If you prefer a quicker way of seeing the forest, try the zip-line that lets you soar between the tree trunks.

Looking for an immersive experience? Then a tour is the way to go.

Flights to Gold Coast

Gold Coast food and drink

Trying to answer ""where to eat on the Gold Coast"" can be a fun exercise. There’s plenty of fresh seafood and other ingredients around for the local chefs to work with. There are seaside eateries, fine-dining restaurants, cosy cafes, and market stalls serving whatever you crave. You can eat vegetarian dishes, sip healthy fruit shakes, get generous pub food, or indulge in rich desserts. Wherever you go, you'll always find something delicious on the Gold Coast.

From cheap eats to buffet options to award-winning fare, the Gold Coast's restaurant precincts have them all. If you're looking for Asian cuisine, check out Southport for good dim sum and then some. Alternatively, you can enjoy Mexican, Italian, fresh seafood, and much more from the eateries at Burleigh Heads.

There are many Gold Coast cafes serving excellent breakfasts and pastries to go with drinks. If you're traveling up to Brisbane, be sure to check out Yatala Pies on the way. This 130-year-old institution offers delicious meat pies with generous servings. If you're shopping at a weekend market, be sure to take a break from wandering around and have some yummy street food and iced drinks.

If you're looking for a vibrant place to spend your evenings, you'll most likely find it in Surfers Paradis or Broadbeach. You have a pick of bars, pubs and clubs in these beachside suburbs, and many restaurants are open late as well. Take a ride up the Q1 elevator to spend some time on the observation deck, which doubles as a relaxing lounge area.

There are lots of cafes near the beaches, so perhaps the best coffee on the Gold Coast is the one you drink after watching the sunrise. There are many great places where you can get your caffeine fix, whether it comes in the shape of a straightforward latte or something a little fancier. So don't be afraid to go exploring.

Get a real taste for the local cuisine by booking a tour.

Gold Coast through your eyes

Where to shop in Gold Coast?

Apart from swimming, surfing and sightseeing, there’s another activity that you should definitely do on the Gold Coast: shopping. There’s something for everyone in this region, so leave some space in your suitcase for all your new goodies. Wind your way through al fresco markets, large shopping centres in Broadbeach, Southport, Biggera Waters and Robina, and retail precincts situated just off the beach. Want to know what to look for and where to go? Here’s your Gold Coast shopping guide.

If you're looking for one-of-a-kind pieces to commemorate your visit to the Gold Coast, check out the arts and crafts markets. They can be found at Broadbeach, Burleigh, and Coolangatta. They're only held on specific days, so be sure to check them out online and plan your visit accordingly. Meanwhile, if you want to find unique clothing, go to the Carrara Markets, which are open on weekends from 7am until 3pm

If you'd rather find Gold Coast fashion items between dips at the sea, turn your attention to the many shopping precincts located near the beaches. Surfers Paradise has Paradise Centre, which offers retail, dining, and entertainment options. Burleigh's boutiques offer everything from hippie headwear to designer pieces and home decor. Meanwhile, if you're feeling the heat at Coolangatta, duck into The Strand for an air-conditioned retail break.

If you want well-known Australian and international brands, you'll enjoy wandering around the Gold Coast's shopping centres. Pacific Fair at Broadbeach, in particular, has over 400 stores including luxury designers and global megabrands. If you love scoring bargains on big brands, check out Harbour Town, the first purpose-built direct factory outlet shopping centre in Australia

Looking for a safe and simple way to bring your money when you travel? Our Travel Money Card has you covered!

When is the best time to travel to Gold Coast?

There’s rarely much to complain about when it comes to the weather on the Gold Coast. Located in South East Queensland, the region enjoys sunshine for at least 300 days of the year. This means you can go to the Gold Coast any time.

From December until February, the average temperature in the Gold Coast ranges from 21°C to 28°C. Make like the locals and cool off by spending your time at one of the many Gold Coast beaches or water-centric theme parks. Summer storms also come in the late afternoons, giving some relief from the heat. Appropriate clothing: Swimwear and cool clothing. Don't forget: Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat.

A year on the Gold Coast can sometimes feel like one long summer. However, from June to August, the average temperatures do drop to around 12°C to 22°C. There are some who still go into the water to catch some waves. If those temperatures are too cold for you, though, visit the Gold Coast anyway to see the whales make their annual journey south. Appropriate clothing: Shorts or jeans and a light jumper. Don't forget: A jacket or blanket to wrap up against any chills.

Any week between March 1st and May 31st might be one of the best times to visit the Gold Coast. The temperature cools to averages of 16°C to 25°C, but it's still pleasant enough to go for a swim in the sea. Plus, if you avoid the two weeks of school holidays, you'll find the beaches and attractions are less crowded compared to summer. Appropriate clothing: Swimwear, shorts, and short-sleeve tops. Don't forget: A towel to quickly dry off after your swim.

Once September hits, the Gold Coast temperature increases to an average of around 14°C to 25°C. This signals a return to the water for many locals and visitors. It's also during the spring when Schoolies starts, bringing a lot partygoers. So if you want a quiet holiday, avoid the Gold Coast during this period. Appropriate clothing: Swimwear, shorts, and short-sleeve tops. Don't forget: Sunscreen.

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How to get around Gold Coast

With a variety of Gold Coast transport options available, it’s easy to get to your destination. For longer stays, make sure you get a go card as this electronic ticket can be used for buses, trams, and trains that service South East Queensland. You can buy one from convenience stores and transport stations. Many hotels can call you a cab or you can hire one yourself with apps or by calling their numbers. If you prefer getting around the Gold Coast and exercising at the same time, you can walk or bike along urban streets or on nature trails.

With the advent of modern technology, it's easier than ever to hail a taxi for those moments when you need to get somewhere quickly. Gold Coast Cabs has their own app and dedicated hotline number. If you'd like to feel like a celebrity, you could even hire a limousine to take you around the glamorous Gold Coast city.

If you want a fast way to get from one beach to the next, try riding the Gold Coast tram. The G:link light-rail has 16 stations from the Gold Coast University Hospital to Broadbeach South, with more stops planned. For a complete list of stations and their timetable, be sure to check out the ‘Ride the G' website.

See the Gold Coast in a new light by hiring a bike. A lot of companies along the main roads and beaches have affordable rates for a few hours of use. There are even automated hiring stations that allow you to rent a bike at any time of the day. With many dedicated bike lanes and shared paths to take, the Gold Coast is a wonderful destination to explore on two wheels.

Hopping on a Gold Coast bus will give you an affordable ride and a little tour of the suburbs, beaches, and high rises. Apart from getting a go card, you should also download the Translink app on your phone. This makes it easy for you to see which bus to take and when it arrives at your stop.

If you like long walks on the beach, you'll love having 36km of sand to enjoy. There are also many bushwalks in the rainforest and hinterland areas. If you're an experienced hiker, you can also check out the trails up and down Mount Warning and Mount Cougal.

Let us help you organise your own wheels for exploring. Hire a car today.

What are the best beaches in Gold Coast?

With several kilometres of coastline to choose from, there will definitely be a Gold Coast beach to suit your mood. If you want to soak up some atmosphere as well as the sun’s rays, go to Surfers Paradise, Main Beach, or Broadbeach. If you want a more relaxing swim, try Palm Beach or Burleigh Heads. If you’re after some invigorating waves, try Currumbin or Coolangatta. Wherever you choose to go, you can always enjoy the fine white sand and beautiful blue waters of all Gold Coast beaches.

True to its name, Surfers Paradise is a haven for anyone looking to catch waves. It's also a good place to watch the beautiful people go by as there are plenty of beachgoers, providing a festive vibe. Don't forget to go on a boardwalk stroll, indulge in some retail and dining therapies, or check out the indoor sporting attractions.

With its wide expanse of sand and proximity to important locations, Broadbeach is one of the best places to soak up some sun. Watch the sunrise and go for a swim before heading off to Pacific Fair for some shopping or the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre. In the evening, visit Jupiters Casino to try your luck and have a good time.

If you're only just starting your surfing adventure, come to Currumbin and learn from one of the surfing schools based here. They take advantage of a surf break known as “The Alley” that provides good conditions for longboarders. The suburb is also known for its wildlife sanctuary. Nearby Currumbin Creek provides protected waters and is an ideal spot for kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding.

If you're looking for a more peaceful place to swim, try Palm Beach. Here you'll see beach shacks instead of skyscrapers in the background, making it feel more laidback. Palm Beach has thrice been named as Australia's cleanest beach, and its locals hold regular clean-ups to keep the area tidy.

Named after the fact that it's the main beach of Southport, this seaside stretch is a great place to enjoy some time in the sun. There are a lot of beachfront hotels and dining establishments to relax at after swimming. If you're holidaying with your canine companion, take them to The Spit at the northern end of Main Beach to meet other dogs.

Burleigh's headlands provide both an exposed area that treats surfers to good waves as well as a protected beach that's ideal for a gentle swim. There's also a walking trail that goes around the headland and towards Tallebudgera Creek, a great spot for a dip after the walk. The commercial centre at Burleigh Heads has a lot of excellent places for eating and shopping.

The Gold Coast Airport is located at Coolangatta, so the suburb's beaches are often the first stop for visitors. Because of its good surfing conditions, many competitions are held here yearly. If you're visiting during the cooler months, take a long stroll around Snapper Rocks and you might just catch a glimpse of whales making their annual migration.


What are the best parks in Gold Coast?

Most well-known parks on the Gold Coast usually come with the word ‘theme’ at the front, but before we delve into the Southern Hemisphere’s most exhilarating mega-parks and thrill rides, let’s take a look at the more serene variety: national parks and other lush green oases.

It can be hot on the Goldie and sometimes a cool, shady respite from the dazzling sunshine and rolling surf is just what you need. Springbrook National Park is part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area and located about an hour and a half’s drive from Surfer’s Paradise. It’s jaw-dropping natural beauty and spectacular waterfalls make it worth the little extra preparation it takes to get there. Some areas are restricted for visitor safety so check the visitor guide before you go.

A little further south and you’ll stumble across Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. This well-known Gold Coast park has been a drawcard for years, with its late-afternoon lorikeet feeding a huge hit with kids (if you’re not a bird fan, we recommend skipping this part!)

On the other end of the adrenaline scale are the theme parks, thrill rides, even a climb to the top of Australia’s tallest building, Q1 (it’s called SkyPoint Climb and starts on level 77 at SkyPoint Observation Deck—Australia’s highest external climb!). While in the heart of Surfers, check out Infinity Attraction, an interactive funhouse of the future which takes you on a surreal journey of illusion.

A visit to Burleigh Heads is another way to get your nature-fix, closer to the beach. Take the walking path around the headland and you may just catch a sight of humpback whales breaching during winter and spring.

There are more than 380 barbecues across Gold Coast parks and reserves as well as numerous playgrounds, so if a laid-back outing with friends or family is what you’re after, you won’t have to look too far for a patch of green.

Hop in the car, and around 30 minutes away you have the theme parks the Gold coast is famous for: Dreamworld, Sea World, Warner Brothers Movie World, Wet’n’Wild and Paradise Country. Warner Bros Movie World is home to DC Rivals Hypercoaster, a thrill ride of epic twists and turns that also runs backwards, Sea World is the ultimate animal experience and Wet’n’Wild is waterslide heaven.

Getting from park to park is so much better with your own wheels. Hitch your ride now!

Gold Coast Frequently asked questions

Your swimmers, sunnies & loads of sunscreen - it's swimsuit season year-round on the Gold Coast. We also recommend lip balm to combat the windy sea breezes!

Stay in Burleigh for great markets, pop-up coffee shops & trendy cafes or swap the beach for the rainforest! Head up to Springbrook and explore the national parks with chalet style accommodation overlooking the city.

Life happens - we get it! Contact your Flight Centre Travel Expert to reorganise your travel plans, or read more here.

The Gold Coast is a great destination year-round, but if you want to avoid the busiest crowds, try to visit outside of the June-July and September-October school holiday periods.

Whether you love surfing, sunbathing, or thrill-seeking, the Gold Coast has something for everyone. Go snorkelling, visit a theme park, or just relax on the sand - the choice is yours!

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