18 Best Cities to Visit in Australia

18 Best Cities to Visit in Australia
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Australia is a country that is primarily appreciated by nature lovers: Ayers Rock, wild bushland and the colorful underwater worlds of the Great Barrier Reef are at the top of many travelers’ bucket lists. City travelers have the chance to discover hidden gems here or to immerse themselves in the authentic way of life Down Under.

The bustling metropolises of Sydney and Melbourne are among Australia’s largest cities, regularly appearing on lists of the world’s most livable cities. But the lesser-known towns of Canberra, Adelaide, Darwin or Hobart are also worth a visit. Find out what makes them so special and which other cities are interesting. Read now the 18 best cities to visit in Australia!

18. Brisbane

Brisbane Skyline
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The state of Queensland is probably the most beautiful vacation destination in Australia. Here, big cities worth seeing and dreamlike sandy beaches meet. The Australian summer months of December, January and February are the most beautiful of the year, when temperatures rise up to 30 degrees. The popular vacation regions Sunshine and Gold Coast are not far from Brisbane. Brisbane is located on the banks of the river of the same name, from where there is a magnificent view of the skyline. In addition to numerous skyscrapers, the city also holds historic buildings for visitors. Brisbane is mainly visited by vacationers who want to relax away from mass tourism.

Brisbane is located on the shore of the Brisbane River as well as on the Pacific Ocean. In the interior, there are the hills of the Great Dividing Range, which often reach heights of more than 2,000 meters. While the Sunshine Coast lies to the north of Brisbane, the Gold Coast is located about 70 kilometers south of the city. Off the coast of Brisbane is the Coral Sea, which reveals fantastic coral reefs and a colorful underwater world. Behind it is the legendary Great Barrier Reef.

The heart of Brisbane is St John’s Cathedral, which is one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. The highlight of a vacation is the Story Bridge, which tourists can even climb. The bridge is particularly strikingly illuminated after dark. The Gallery of Modern Art, on the other hand, holds countless works by local or international artists. The Queen Street Mall, on the other hand, is the place for shopping lovers.

17. Wollongong

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The city of Wollongong is the third largest city in the state of New South Wales and has about 245,000 inhabitants. Wollongong is 242 kilometers from the capital Canberra and 835 kilometers from Melbourne. Wollongong means “sound of the sea” in the language of the Aborigines.

The nearby Royal National Park and the Minnamurra Rainforest are among the tourist attractions in the Wollongong area. The Royal National Park is situated on sandstone hills that slope steeply down the coast. Lagoons, picturesque bays and mangrove forests characterize the picture along the coast. The lush flora here, is adapted to the frequent bush fires and sometimes even needs the fire to come to bloom.

Wollongong is a rarity in Australia because of its industrial character. Here were the largest steel mills and coal mines, so the city has developed a rather rough charm. Architecturally, the old Court House stands out, and the “llawarra Light Railway Museum” is worth a visit, with its historic narrow-gauge railroad and old industrial buildings.

16. Canberra

The Australian Parliament in Canberra
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The Australian capital Canberra has a special charm. The city was designed on a drawing board by the U.S. architect and landscape planner Walter Burley Griffin. The basic urban concept was based on an artificial lake and three hills. Visitors to the metropolis particularly appreciate the pleasant climate and the charming landscape around Canberra. The Australian bushland is an extremely worthwhile destination for many Australian tourists.

Canberra is a garden city with several attractions, such as the imposing New Parliament on Capital Hill. The House of Representatives can be visited by guided tours. Numerous museums are worth visiting, including the Australian War Memorial and the Australian National Gallery. The center of Canberra is located around Capital Hill. Circular streets surround the hill. The streets are named after the state capitals and run in the cardinal directions of the metropolitan areas. Canberra offers many interesting markets such as the Gorman House Markets and also has a ski area with the Snowy Mountains.

Canberra is located about 300 kilometers southwest of Sydney. A narrow coastal strip provides access to the Pacific Ocean. Sheep farming and dairy farming are traditional agricultural sectors around Canberra.

The Australian metropolis has some interesting buildings to offer. Among the sights are the old and new Parliament Buildings, the National Museum and the National Archives. At the foot of Capital Hill, the Old Parliament House is the main attraction. Part of the National Portrait Gallery is housed in the Old Parliament House. The collection of portraits of famous Australian personalities is a cultural attraction of Canberra.  Also worth seeing is Government House or the old brickworks.

15. Alice Springs

Alice Springs aerial view
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It is the capital of the outback, the Red Centre, one of the most inhospitable regions on our planet. Once a sparsely populated outback town, it is now an urban center with a population of around 22,000. Although it is still very isolated, after all, there are at least 1,500 kilometers between it and all other major cities, it has nevertheless been possible to create a contemporary and upscale standard of living. The city is known mainly as a starting point for some of the most famous sights of the outback, such as the Ayers Rock, the Olgas or the Kings Canyon.

But also within the city there is a lot to see for visitors, for example the Reptile Center, the Museum of Central Australia, the Adelaide House – the first hospital of the city and the Stuart Town Gaol, which served as a prison until 1938 and is today the oldest building of the city. Also outside the city center of Alice Springs some sights are waiting for the visitors. Especially famous is the Old Telegraph Station, which was the actual reason for the settlement of the region.

But also the local base of the Royal Flying Doctor Service, the ANZAC Hill, the Desert Park and the School of the Air are worth seeing. By the way, the city was named after the wife of the communication scientist and astronomer Charles Todd, Alice Todd. However, the riverbed near the city was named after him, but it is mostly dried up, the discoverer of the riverbed mistakenly thought it was a spring, hence “Springs”.

14. Perth

City of Perth, Australia
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Those who spend their vacation in the Australian city of Perth, located on the west coast, will not forget their stay so quickly. Here you can experience what is probably the most diverse state in Australia. You will stay in an extremely modern metropolis, which is one of the most beautiful in the country. The proximity of the outback makes the west coast a travel destination in a class of its own. Furthermore, Perth is not called a place of countless hours of sunshine for nothing. Bathing and city vacationers will equally get their money’s worth.

Perth is located on the Swan River, which divides the metropolis in two, so to speak. While the districts of North, West and East Perth are located north of the river, South Perth is located south of the riverbank. The Swan River flows into the Indian Ocean, which is located west of the metropolis.

Perth has something to offer for almost every vacationer. The city is famous for the Culture Centre, where visitors can learn a lot about Australian history, culture and art. The Concert Hall is the center of attention for lovers of musical performances. Those interested in Australia’s colorful underwater world should visit the local aquarium. It is located in the Hillarys Boat Harbour district.

Shopping fans are in the right place in King Street. Here are the most exclusive stores of the city. The national parks are among the most popular destinations of a stay. Nambung National Park reveals the unique limestone pillars “Pinnacles” towering amidst the desert landscape. Most guests use their vacation to relax on the city’s most beautiful beaches. Cottesloe can offer distinctive sections in this regard.

13. Adelaide

The Beautiful River Torrens in Adelaide
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Adelaide is a coastal city in the south of Australia with about 1.1 million inhabitants. Here you can experience vacation in the warm climate of Australia and use the water of the great Australian bay for recreation on the beach. In addition, Adelaide is known for its numerous festivals that take place throughout the year. Also friends of sports get their money’s worth at some big events in the fields of motor sports and water sports.

Adelaide is located directly on the Gulf of Saint Vincent with long stretches of coastline and reaches inland to the Mount Lofty mountains. At its foothills end the outskirts of the city, in the center of which only about 18,000 people live. It is surrounded by a park ring, which is eventually bordered by about 250 localities that are officially counted as part of Adelaide’s urban area. Even today, the urban area of Adelaide is crossed by two large rivers, the Onkaparinga River and the River Torrens.

If you like visits to museums, Adelaide is the place for you. At the Art Gallery of South Australia, for example, you can view works by regional contemporary artists. The exhibits in the South Australian Museum are completely different, because here the focus is on relics of the traditional Aborigines. You can find a piece of Australian nature in Adelaide’s Botanical Garden and Zoological Gardens. You can take the streetcar to the Glenelg district, where the impressively long boat dock invites you to have a coffee in the sun.

12. Launceston

Tamar River at Launceston, Tasmania, Australia
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Launceston is a city in the Tamar Valley in northern Tasmania. It is located at the confluence of the North Esk River and South Esk River to the Tamar River and is surrounded by mountains and rolling hills. Launceston has a population of about 74,000.

Launceston, Tasmania’s only inland city, was founded in 1806. British Lieutenant Colonel William Paterson and his troops named it after the town located in British Cornwall. Already in the 1830-ies Launceston was an important export center for wool, as there were many large sheep farms in the area. After that, hotels, breweries and mining (tin, gold) were added.

Modern Launceston is not only an important regional service center of Northern Tasmania, but also lives from tourism and agriculture and livestock. In the surrounding area of the city there are huge wheat fields, orchards and sheep farms.

The most important sights are located in the city center. The unusual architecture of the business center is worth seeing: In addition to elegant buildings built in the 18th and 19th centuries in colonial style, visitors will find houses in the Art Deco style (Lucks Corner, Holyman House).

Those who prefer natural beauties should definitely visit Cataract Gorge. This unique natural phenomenon is located on the South Esk River on the southwestern outskirts of the city.

To the north of Cataract Gorge Reserve are the Cliff Grounds, a huge Victorian-style garden with ferns and exotic plants. Continue across narrow suspension bridges to the Panoramic Lookouts, which offer unforgettable views of the imposing gorge and beautiful landscape.

Travelers without a fear of heights will enjoy a ride on the world’s longest single-track chairlift (308 meters). It leads directly over the gorge and the First Basin.

11. Geelong

Geelong in Victoria, Australia
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The second largest city in the federal state of Victoria is a commercial, port and industrial center. Geelong grew into a small town in the 1830s. Sheep ranching and wool processing formed Geelong’s major industries in those years. During the gold rush of the 1850s, the population continued to grow. Over 100 buildings from these boom times remain in the downtown area. The 1912 Victorian Market Hall in Market Square is particularly striking. It now serves as a modern shopping center.

A few kilometers to the south, the eastern section of the Great Ocean Road is also very interesting for tourists. There lies the “Surf Coast” where rugged rock cliffs alternate with extensive sandy beaches. The Otway Ranges in the hinterland are a gently undulating mountain range that runs parallel to the coast. There, large areas of commercially exploited forest alternate with pristine virgin forest. For Melbournians, this region is one of the favorite vacation spots during the summer months.

10. Melbourne

St. Kilda Pier near Melbourne
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Melbourne, the second largest metropolis in Australia, is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the country. No wonder that every year countless tourists come here especially to visit the most beautiful sights of the city and to experience a both relaxing and varied stay. Australia is as interesting as it is breathtaking, adventurous excursions into the outback are a must during a vacation in Australia. In addition, the state of Victoria has probably the most exciting coastal road in the world to offer. On the legendary Great Ocean Road, travelers get to see breathtaking cliffs and the “Twelve Apostles”.

Melbourne is located in the Australian state of Victoria on the beautiful bay of Port-Phillip. The city is also located on the Yarra River, which flows into Port-Phillip Bay. Melbourne occupies the southernmost part of the country, so to speak. The island of Tasmania, which belongs to Australia, lies directly opposite.

Melbourne is home to both historic and modern buildings. The magnificent skyline is most visible from the water, with the Rialto Towers towering over the city. The gigantic Eureka Tower, 297 meters high, is the tallest building in Melbourne.

An observation deck provides a first-class panoramic view. It is located on the 88th floor and can be reached by particularly fast elevators. The floor also has a retractable platform for visitors that suddenly becomes transparent. The historic Queen Victoria Market, one of the most famous highlights of the metropolis, is a complete contrast. Tourists are not the only ones who come here to buy food, jewelry and handmade goods.

9. Newcastle

Newcastle Australien
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Newcastle is located about two hours’ drive north of Sydney on the Pacific coast. It is the second largest city in the state and the sixth largest in Australia. On the coast of Newcastle are some of the most beautiful bathing and surfing beaches in New South Wales. Newcastle is a typical student city and is also affectionately known as “Newie”.

However, in recent years Newie has developed into a bustling creative center, home to numerous young entrepreneurs, a vibrant art and music scene, relaxed cafes, eclectic markets, microbreweries and small bars. There are a variety of concerts or festivals, as well as the monthly Hunt & Gather markets, where you can find lots of knick-knacks, great food and fashion boutiques. There are also changing exhibitions at the Newcastle Art Gallery or the Watt Space Gallery.

A popular destination is the Blue Mountains National Park, which is located in the hinterland of New South Wales and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It gets its name from the vapors of the many eucalyptus trees, which appear bluish from afar. The Hunter Valley wine-growing region is also not far away.

If you love the beach lifestyle, Newcastle is the place to be. Fantastic beaches like Merewether Beach, Newcastle Beach, Nobby’s Beach or Caves Beach are on the doorstep and invite you to swim, relax and soak up the sun. Surfers also get their money’s worth here.

8. Hobart

View of Hobart from Mount Wellington, Tasmania
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Hobart’s location is enviable: at the foot of Mount Wellington (1271m), 20km upstream from the mouth of the bay-rich Derwent River – on one of the most beautiful natural harbors in the world. The capital of the state of Tasmania is a business and financial center with a bourgeois, lovable flair.

A little further out of town are the Anglesea Barracks on Mount Wilson, this barracks is the oldest in Australia. But Hobart’s architecture is also very special. In the city, about 90 houses have been declared of historic value. These include the Narrynya Heritage Museum, built in 1936, and St. Georges Anglican Church. Campbell Street is also home to Australia’s oldest playhouse, the Theatre Royal. Another important piece of Australian history is located about 12 kilometers north of Hobart in the small town of Claremont. Here is the headquarters of the famous Cadbury company, which has been producing the beloved Cadbury chocolate all over Australia since 1912. In addition to an interesting insight into chocolate production, there are of course numerous samples for visitors.

A very special event always happens in Hobart on December 26, the 2nd Christmas Day, called Boxing Day in Australia. This is when the Sydney-Hobart Regatta takes place, considered one of the most difficult ocean races in the world. The race, which lasts several days, starts in Sydney and ends in the Tasmanian capital.

7. Darwin

Parlament Darwin
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The city is Australia’s bridge to Asia, and at the same time the gateway to the “Top End”. Due to many immigrants, it is strongly multicultural. In total, about 75 different nationalities live in Darwin. About a quarter of the inhabitants are Aborigines or Torres Strait Islanders. You can feel at home in the lively tropical city – the place is also a lively meeting place for backpackers from all over the world. The laid-back, dry-season atmosphere is best enjoyed on Thursdays or Sundays while strolling through the sunset market at Mindil Beach.

Darwin is one of Australia’s fastest growing cities. The plans for the future are ambitious: half a million people are expected to live here in a few decades. To this end, substantial investments are being made in the infrastructure. The modern city center has a nice pedestrian zone as its focal point and features some sophisticated architecture.

6. Cairns

Cairns North Queensland
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Cairns is one of the most popular destinations in Australia. Many backpackers and active tourists who want to experience as much as possible on vacation are drawn here. Who does not dream of seeing the wonderful underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef with their own eyes? Cairns is an ideal starting point for tours to this worldwide unique area. You can explore the rainforest surrounding the city, learn about the fate of the Aborigines and also have a lot of fun in Cairns.

The city of Cairns is located in the north of the state of Queensland, there is a tropical climate. The city of Cairns was founded in 1876 as an export port, because there is gold and other mineral resources around the city. The cultivation of sugar cane also played an important role in the development of Cairns. Although Cairns is located directly on the sea, there is no direct access to the sea. But a few kilometers north of the city attract dreamlike beaches, endlessly long and lined with palm trees.

Day trips to the Great Barrier Reef are part of the program of every visitor to Cairns. The trip by speedboat takes one hour. On site, tourists can rent snorkels and fins or full scuba gear to explore the coral reefs and colorful fish. A tour to the rainforest is also an experience. For example, you can take a historic train on the Kuranda Scenic Railway from Cairns to Kuranda and watch breathtaking panoramas pass by. The small village of Kuranda is located in the middle of the rainforest. Back to Cairns you take the cable car high above the tops of the rainforest.

5. Gold Coast

Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
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Over 70 kilometers of fantastically fine sandy beaches offer water and beach lovers everything their hearts desire. Whether you want to swim, surf or just laze around – everything is possible here. If you want to experience something more, you can take part in a whale watching tour to admire the huge giants of the seas up close. Even more goosebumps come with a fast jetboat ride.

If you want to get an overview of the Gold Coast first, head to the Surfer’s Paradise district and enjoy the view from Q1 Tower, the tallest skyscraper in the southern hemisphere. For even more spectacular views, take a morning balloon ride.

On the Gold Coast you will find numerous adventure and amusement parks, such as Water Adventure Worlds and Movie World, which have something to offer for every taste. Unique is the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, where you can see native Australian animals in their natural environment. If you have ever wanted to pet a koala or feed parrots – here you have a unique opportunity to do so.

In addition to beach life and adventure parks, the Gold Coast’s reputation as a vacation paradise is enhanced by numerous shopping malls and markets. Here, shopping truly becomes an experience. And what could be better than being able to plunge into a diverse nightlife after a day of shopping and going to the beach? On the Gold Coast this is also not missing: Among the numerous bars, discos and restaurants you will be spoiled for choice.

4. Albany

Cable Beach Torndirrup National Park Albany
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Albany is a very beautiful, historic town on the south coast of Western Australia, 406 km south of Perth. With a population of just under 33,000, the town offers a number of attractions in the surrounding area and is the largest and oldest settlement in the state. For travelers, it is well worth stopping here for a few days to explore the surrounding area and the historic town center. It is not far from Torrndirrup National Park, the Porongurup Ranges and Stirling Ranges inland, and numerous dream beaches and protected beech trees along the coast, which of course has its wild stretches with high surf and sharp cliffs.

Albany has a Mediterranean climate, the coast here is called Rainbow Coast, because it rains quite often and right after that the sun shines again. For swimming it is usually quite cool, there is often a constant wind blowing from the south, which is called “Albany Doctor” here.

Albany is an important supply center and you can find all the stores you need. Towards the sea, the main road seemingly leads directly into Princess Royal Harbour. From every elevated point, one looks out over this wonderful natural harbor, on the shores of which the historic city center has developed. Here you will find pretty churches, historic buildings and old shipyards. Centrally located near the harbor is also a replica of the ship Amity, which brought the first Europeans to Albany.

3. Ballarat

Sovereing Hill, Ballarat, Australia
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Ballarat in Victoria was once the largest city in the state. The reason was the gold rush, which in 1951 brought thousands of people, to be exact even more than 10,000 immigrants, to the then still small town within 12 months.

Today Ballarat is only the third largest city in Victoria. 90,000 people live here, in a quite important university city of the country. Incidentally, the gold nugget of Australia was found in Ballarat. It weighs almost 70 proud kilograms! In addition to the many immigrants, the gold rush and the associated actual finds of gold, also brought wealth to Ballarat.

Even today, this wealth, unusual for the time, still characterizes the cityscape: Ballarat has beautiful parks and especially wide boulevards. There are many Victorian stone buildings; they are mainly located in Lydiard Street. Unusual, because at the time of the gold rush, because of the high price, actually not often and not much was built with stone.

Other such imposing buildings are, for example, the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery, the railroad station from 1887 and the former post office from 1864. In Souvereign Hill, a gold mining town is built as an open-air museum. Actors in disguise reenact life in the gold rush era among saloons, homes and stores. As a visitor, you are literally transported back to that time.

2. Sidney

Sydney - Australia
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Australia’s largest city is the subject of many postcards, vacation catalogs and hangers-on for advertising and the media. In the big wide world, Sydney is virtually considered an international representative for the fifth continent, which is also a consequence of the diversity that characterizes Sydney. The tourist figures confirm this: a large proportion of all holidaymakers enter Australia via Sydney airport, so Sydney is always the first stop on their stay in Australia, which usually lasts several weeks.

Located on Australia’s east coast and thus directly on the Pacific Ocean, the city’s 3.6 million inhabitants live on an area of 1,600 square kilometers. The population density is thus relatively low, at least in comparison with most of the world’s cities with millions of inhabitants. This fact should not be underestimated, as it contributes significantly to the pleasant living atmosphere in the capital of New South Wales.

So a trip to Sydney is a pleasant one anyway. Dressed in light summer or spring clothes, it’s time to explore the city’s landmarks. The most famous of all landmarks is the Opera House, located on the waterfront, whose striking design is emblematic of Sydney the world over. The other classic sights are much less known, but still worth a visit, such as the Royal Botanic Gardens or the Harbour Bridge, which readily provides every photo camera with a great subject. By the way, the Harbour Bridge is known for spanning Port Jackson, the largest natural harbor in the world and therefore always worth a trip.

1. Mackay

Mackay Harbour
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The city itself is located at the mouth of the Pioneer River and has a strong Victorian influence. It lies pretty much halfway between Brisbane and Cairns. In the immediate vicinity is the vacation region of the Whitsunday Islands. The offshore Great Barrier Reef lies with an island like Newry Island about 50 km to the east. All around is a huge farming and cattle breeding area with fertile valleys where a lot of sugar cane is grown. Extensive river deltas characterize the region.

Cape Hillsborough National Park is very attractive – a peninsula with a rocky coastline of volcanic origin. There you can find a very nice sandy beach where you can see kangaroos from time to time. On hot summer days you can even watch them bathing in the sea. In addition, there is a barbecue area and charming hiking trails. In the nearby village of Seaforth kangaroos are also frequent guests in the gardens.

The main hiking area is the Eungella Mountain National Park. It is the largest rainforest national park in Queensland with over 50,000 hectares. A unique mix of subtropical and tropical forest with waterfalls, steep gorges, crystal clear streams, and inviting swimming lakes as well as breathtaking views. Broken River in the national park is considered one of the best places in Australia to see platypus in the wild.