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Published: Sep 27, 2023 12 min read

Australia’s diverse landscapes, vibrant cities and unique wildlife make it a dream destination for many and one of the best places to travel. If you're planning a journey to the “land down under”, this comprehensive Australia travel guide will help you make the most of your visit.

The ultimate guide to Australian travel

From understanding the weather to experiencing the rich culture and exploring top attractions, we'll give you all the information you need to plan a trip to Australia.

Weather in Australia

Australia's weather varies significantly due to its vast size and diverse landscapes. From basking in the sunshine on the stunning beaches to exploring the rugged Outback, you'll encounter a range of climates.

The northern regions experience a tropical climate, marked by wet and dry seasons, while the southern parts enjoy temperate climates with distinct seasons. The key is to pack layers, allowing you to adapt to the changing conditions comfortably.

If you’re traveling from the Northern Hemisphere, remember Australia’s seasons are the opposite of what you’re leaving. For example, winter in the U.S. and U.K. is summer down under.

Traditional Australian food to try

Australian cuisine varies from the traditional to the modern and everything in between. Experience the diverse flavors of Aboriginal food, also known as bush tucker, by sampling native ingredients and traditional dishes. With meats like kangaroo, emu, crocodile and protein-rich green tree ants, and tart and delicious Kakadu plum and Quandong fruit, these traditional staples are healthy and flavorful. Don’t miss the simple pleasure of damper, a traditional bread cooked in campfire coals, with your meal or a cup of lemon myrtle tea.

Your taste buds are in for another treat when you savor a classic Aussie meat pie or indulge in the fresh local seafood, including crayfish and barramundi. For a true Australian experience, a "barbie" (barbecue) is a must-try, featuring grilled meats and vegetables that capture the essence of outdoor living.

A glimpse into Australian culture

Australia's culture is as diverse as its landscapes, influenced by its indigenous roots and the waves of immigration that followed. Australians are known for their friendly and laid-back nature, creating an inviting atmosphere that will make you feel at home.

Engage in conversations and share stories with locals, and you'll quickly feel like part of the community. Embrace the opportunity to learn about Aboriginal culture, as it's an integral part of the Australian identity.

Australia travel requirements

Before you travel to Australia, it's important to have all your travel documents in order. As a visitor, you'll typically need a valid passport and an appropriate visa for your intended stay.

New Zealand passport holders can obtain a visa upon arrival. All other passport holders, regardless of age, must apply for an Australia travel visa prior to departure through the Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) app or Australia’s Department of Home Affairs website.

Public transportation in Australia

Getting around Australia is a breeze, thanks to the well-developed public transportation network. In major cities like Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, you'll find extensive train, tram and bus systems that make exploring urban areas a convenient and enjoyable experience. Rideshare services and taxis are also available. For journeys into the more remote regions, you have options including domestic flights and bus trips.

The best time to visit Australia

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Picking the best time to go to Australia is crucial to ensure you make the most of your experience. Keep in mind that Australia's seasons are opposite those in the Northern Hemisphere, so plan accordingly.

If you're keen on outdoor adventures and sunny beach days, consider visiting during the Australian summer (December to February), the country’s peak travel season. The autumn months (March to May) are ideal for milder temperatures and vibrant foliage. Winter (June to August) offers unique experiences like whale watching and skiing, while spring (September to November) brings blooming landscapes.

Below, you’ll find a calendar of Australia’s seasonal celebrations, sporting events and other festivals to enhance your travel experience:

Summer (December to February)

  • New Year's Eve Fireworks (Sydney): Watch the spectacular fireworks display over Sydney Harbour to welcome the new year.
  • Australian Open (Melbourne): Tennis enthusiasts can catch the action-packed Australian Open in January, featuring top-ranked players from around the globe.

Autumn (March to May)

  • Adelaide Fringe: Immerse yourself in an internationally renowned arts festival that showcases a diverse range of performances and exhibitions.
  • Sydney Mardi Gras: Celebrate diversity and equality with vibrant parades and cultural events in Sydney.

Winter (June to August)

  • Dark Mofo (Hobart): Embrace the dark and mysterious side of art, music and culture during this winter solstice festival in June.
  • Noosa Eat and Drink Festival: Indulge in a culinary journey in Noosa, celebrating food and beverages in a stunning coastal setting.

Spring (September to November)

  • Melbourne Cup: Held on the first Tuesday of November, this iconic horse race is a major event on Australia's social calendar, known for its glamorous fashion and exciting atmosphere.

The best things to do in Australia

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Australia offers a wealth of experiences that promise adventure, cultural immersion and memorable encounters. Whether snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, scaling the Sydney Harbour Bridge or delving into indigenous traditions, this list of what to do in Australia has something for every traveler's taste.

  • Snorkel or dive in the Great Barrier Reef: Experience the world's largest coral reef system and its vibrant marine life.
  • Climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge: Scale the bridge for panoramic views of the city and its landmarks.
  • Experience Aboriginal culture: Join cultural tours to learn about indigenous traditions, food, art and storytelling.
  • Take a scenic helicopter flight: Soar over iconic sites like the Twelve Apostles for breathtaking aerial views.
  • Tour the Sydney Opera House: Learn about the history and architecture of this world-famous landmark, and stay for a performance.
  • Aboriginal rock art exploration: Visit Kakadu's rock art sites and gain insights into indigenous heritage.
  • Visit MONA: Explore the captivating Museum of Old and New Art in Hobart, Tasmania, showcasing thought-provoking contemporary art.
  • Drive the Great Ocean Road: Coast along this picturesque route, visiting the Twelve Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge.

The best places to visit in Australia

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You can't go wrong as you plan where to visit in Australia. From the iconic Sydney Opera House to the breathtaking rainforests, these destinations offer a tapestry of experiences that showcase the country's natural beauty, vibrant cities and cultural diversity. Get ready to explore the top places that define the allure of Australia.

  • Sydney: Explore the iconic Sydney Opera House, stroll through Darling Harbour, and relax at Bondi Beach.
  • Melbourne: Discover the city's artsy laneways, café culture and boutique shopping.
  • Blue Mountains: Hike through scenic trails, see the Three Sisters rock formation and experience the Scenic Skyway.
  • Cairns and Tropical North Queensland: Explore the Daintree Rainforest, take a scenic railway journey and relax on palm-fringed beaches.
  • Perth: Visiting Kings Park, hiking the Pinnacles Desert and taking a day trip to Rottnest Island are just a few of the best things to do in Perth, Australia.
  • Tasmania: Discover this island state's rugged wilderness, stunning national parks and unique wildlife.
  • Whitsunday Islands: Sail through crystal-clear waters, relax on pristine beaches and experience the beauty of the Whitsundays.
  • Karijini National Park: Explore this breathtaking landscape in Western Australia that echoes the ancient spirit of the land through its stunning gorges and natural formations.

Must-see Australian tourist attractions

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Australia's tourism gems shine bright, drawing travelers from around the globe. These tourist attractions in Australia are the heart of the country's allure, embodying its unique landscapes, cultural heritage and architectural marvels. From the Sydney Harbour Bridge to Australia’s beautiful national parks, these are some of the sites that define Australia's distinct character and leave an indelible mark on every visitor.

  • Kangaroo Island wildlife: Encounter diverse fauna, from kangaroos and koalas to sea lions.
  • Uluru (Ayers Rock): Witness the majesty of Uluru, especially during sunrise and sunset, a truly spiritual and awe-inspiring sight in Northern Australia.
  • Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park: Hike through alpine landscapes, lush forests, and around the stunning Dove Lake.
  • Margaret River: Indulge in wine tasting and gourmet experiences in this picturesque region known for its vineyards and breweries.
  • Flinders Ranges: Explore ancient landscapes, gorges and Aboriginal rock art in South Australia's Flinders Ranges National Park.
  • Darwin and Kakadu National Park: Experience indigenous culture, cruise Yellow Water Billabong and see ancient rock art.

How to plan a trip to Australia

To ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey, follow these steps to plan your trip to Australia:

1. Get all of your travel documents in order

Check visa requirements for your country of origin, ensure your passport is valid and keep digital copies of essential documents.

2. Thoroughly research the Australian cities and regions you want to explore

Using this guide as a starting point, decide where you want to go and what you’d like to do on your trip to Australia. Then do your research to understand each area's climate, lodging and transportation options, local attractions and cultural highlights before you go.

3. Plan your trip during the best time of year to visit Australia

Consider your preferred activities and weather conditions when choosing your travel dates. Also, be mindful of seasonal events you don’t want to miss.

4. Set a flexible budget for your trip

Account for transportation, accommodation, activities and dining expenses, and prepare yourself for any unexpected costs.

5. Create an Australia itinerary filled with top attractions and cultural experiences

For the most memorable experience, strike a balance between iconic Australian landmarks and authentic local encounters.

6. Pack for the Australian climate

Layer clothing, bring comfortable footwear for walking and don't forget the essentials like sunscreen, a hat and insect repellent.

Australia Travel Guide FAQ

What currency does Australia use?

The official currency is the Australian Dollar (AUD). You can find currency exchange services at banks, hotels and international airports. Cirrus ATMs and banks are situated along most major streets, and most establishments accept credit cards.

What is Australia known for?

Australia is renowned for its unique wildlife, including kangaroos and koalas, stunning landscapes and miles of beaches, iconic natural and modern landmarks, and ancient cultures with sacred stories to tell.

How long is a flight to Australia?

Flight durations vary depending on your departure city, but a direct flight to Sydney from Los Angeles takes around 15 hours, while a trip from Tokyo averages about 10 hours.

Where is Australia located?

Australia is situated in the southern hemisphere, between the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

How much of Australia is uninhabited?

A significant portion of Australia's landmass is uninhabited, particularly in the vast Outback regions. Approximately 70% of the country is incredibly dry, while the other 30% is fertile and inhabitable.

Is Australia safe to go to?

Australia is generally considered safe for travelers. Exercise the same precautions you would while traveling anywhere.

How much does it cost to go to Australia?

Costs vary widely based on factors like accommodation standards, travel style and duration of stay. A mid-range budget can provide a comfortable experience.

Summary of Money’s Australia travel guide

Australia offers a captivating blend of natural wonders, vibrant cities and cultural diversity. From exploring the Outback's rugged beauty to diving into the stunning underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef, visiting Australia promises to be unforgettable.

By planning wisely, embracing the local culture and immersing yourself in the countless attractions, you'll create memories that will last a lifetime. Get ready to embark on the journey of a lifetime as you discover the enchanting land down under.