12 days in Gold Coast, Sydney & Great Barrier Reef Itinerary

12 days in Gold Coast, Sydney & Great Barrier Reef Itinerary

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Route & dates

12 days in Gold Coast, Sydney & Great Barrier Reef Itinerary

Start: Philadelphia
+3
train + Fly + foot + train:  25​h
1
Gold Coast
— 1 night
Fly:  3​h 30​min
2
Sydney
— 2 nights
+2
Fly + taxi + bus:  5​h 45​min
3
Airlie Beach
— 1 day
Drive + ferry:  4​h 30​min
4
Magnetic Island
— 1 night
ferry:  30​min
5
Townsville
— 1 night
Fly:  3​h 15​min
6
Cairns
— 3 nights
Fly:  25​h
End: Philadelphia

1
night
Gold Coast

Gold Coast ©
A city of towering skyscrapers, sandy beaches, and tree-lined streets, Gold Coast has an unpretentious air complemented by a citywide focus on sports and the arts.
Start off your visit on the 11th (Sun): stroll through Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, enjoy the sand and surf at Burleigh Heads Beach, and then play a few rounds at Surfers Paradise Golf Club. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the 12th (Mon): explore the striking landscape of Burleigh Head National Park, enjoy the sand and surf at Coolangatta Beach, and then enjoy the sand and surf at Kirra Beach.

For traveler tips, reviews, more things to do, and other tourist information, go to the Gold Coast day trip planning tool .

Philadelphia, USA to Gold Coast is an approximately 25-hour flight. The time zone difference moving from Eastern Standard Time to Australian Eastern Standard Time (Queensland) is 15 hours. Prepare for slightly colder weather when traveling from Philadelphia in August: high temperatures in Gold Coast hover around 71°F and lows are around 50°F. Cap off your sightseeing on the 12th (Mon) early enough to travel to Sydney.

Things to do in Gold Coast

Parks Outdoors Beaches
Find places to stay Aug 11 — 12:
Highlights from your plan
Burleigh Heads Beach ©
Burleigh Heads Beach
Burleigh Head National Park ©
Burleigh Head National Park
Coolangatta Beach ©
Coolangatta Beach

2
nights
Sydney

Sydney ©
Lent iconic status as a result of its famous bridge and opera house, Sydney has a down-to-earth charm that enhances its spectacular setting and functional efficiency.
Kick off your visit on the 13th (Tue): hike along Bondi to Coogee Beach Coastal Walk, then kick back and relax at Bondi Beach, then take in nature's colorful creations at The Royal Botanic Garden, and finally enjoy some music at Sydney Opera House. On the 14th (Wed), you'll have a packed day of sightseeing: enjoy the sand and surf at Clovelly, enjoy the sand and surf at Manly Beach, and then wander the streets of The Rocks.

Plan my Sydney trip by asking Inpirock to come up with tips and suggestions.

Traveling by flight from Gold Coast to Sydney takes 3.5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of train and flight; or drive. Traveling from Gold Coast in August, you will find days in Sydney are little chillier (66°F), and nights are about the same (49°F). Finish your sightseeing early on the 14th (Wed) so you can travel to Airlie Beach.

Things to do in Sydney

Parks Outdoors Beaches
Find places to stay Aug 12 — 14:
Highlights from your plan
Bondi to Coogee Beach Coastal Walk ©
Bondi to Coogee Beach Coastal Walk
Bondi Beach ©
Bondi Beach
Manly Beach
Manly Beach

1
day
Airlie Beach

Very much a town with an emphasis on the tropical lifestyle, Airlie Beach offers exotic surroundings with palm trees and charming, sandy beaches.
Start off your visit on the 15th (Thu): paddle through the water with a kayaking and canoeing tour, enjoy the sand and surf at Airlie Beach Lagoon, and then take in the pleasant sights at Bicentennial Walkway.

To find where to stay, photos, ratings, and other tourist information, go to the Airlie Beach trip builder tool .

Traveling by combination of flight and bus from Sydney to Airlie Beach takes 6 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of flight and ferry; or drive. In August, Airlie Beach is somewhat warmer than Sydney - with highs of 72°F and lows of 65°F. Finish your sightseeing early on the 15th (Thu) to allow enough time to travel to Magnetic Island.

Things to do in Airlie Beach

Outdoors Tours Adventure
Find places to stay Aug 14 — 15:
Highlights from your plan
Kayaking & Canoeing
Airlie Beach Lagoon ©
Airlie Beach Lagoon
Bicentennial Walkway ©
Bicentennial Walkway

1
night
Magnetic Island

Magnetic Island ©
Start off your visit on the 16th (Fri): tour the water at your own pace with Big Mama Sailing, then kick back and relax at Geoffrey Bay, and then head off the coast to Magnetic Island Forts Walk.

For more things to do, reviews, other places to visit, and more tourist information, you can read our Magnetic Island trip itinerary tool .

You can do a combination of car and ferry from Airlie Beach to Magnetic Island in 4.5 hours. Other options are to do a combination of bus and ferry; or do a combination of bus, train, and ferry. Traveling from Airlie Beach in August, expect nights in Magnetic Island to be little chillier, around 58°F, while days are a bit warmer, around 78°F. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 16th (Fri) so you can catch the ferry to Townsville.

Things to do in Magnetic Island

Outdoors Transportation Tours
Find places to stay Aug 15 — 16:
Highlights from your plan
Magnetic Island Forts Walk ©
Magnetic Island Forts Walk
Geoffrey Bay ©
Geoffrey Bay

1
night
Townsville

Townsville
Tucked snugly beneath a steep, craggy mount--known as Castle Hill--the vibrant city of Townsville is as picturesque as its backdrop.
Kick off your visit on the 17th (Sat): take an in-depth tour of Museum of Tropical Queensland, then kick back and relax at The Strand, and then take in the pleasant sights at Castle Hill.

To find maps, photos, other places to visit, and more tourist information, refer to the Townsville trip itinerary builder .

Townsville is just a short distance from Magnetic Island. In August, plan for daily highs up to 78°F, and evening lows to 58°F. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 17th (Sat) so you can travel to Cairns.

Things to do in Townsville

Parks Outdoors Museums
Find places to stay Aug 16 — 17:
Highlights from your plan
Castle Hill
Castle Hill
Museum of Tropical Queensland ©
Museum of Tropical Queensland
The Strand ©
The Strand

3
nights
Cairns

A neat, cosmopolitan city of shaded plazas and laid-back neighborhoods, Cairns serves as a popular base for exploration of the surrounding region and the Great Barrier Reef, as well as a center for watersport activities like surfing or waterskiing.
Start off your visit on the 18th (Sun): surround yourself with nature on a nature and wildlife tour. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the next day: enjoy the sand and surf at Palm Cove Beach, then admire nature's wide array of creatures at Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas, and then soothe aching muscles at some of the top local wellness centers.

To find photos, traveler tips, and other tourist information, go to the Cairns trip itinerary planner.

Traveling by flight from Townsville to Cairns takes 3.5 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or take a bus. August in Cairns sees daily highs of 80°F and lows of 63°F at night. On the 20th (Tue), wrap the sightseeing up by early afternoon so you can travel back home.

Things to do in Cairns

Outdoors Wildlife Tours

Side Trips

Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas, Palm Cove Beach
Find places to stay Aug 17 — 20:
Highlights from your plan
Nature & Wildlife Tours
Palm Cove Beach ©
Palm Cove Beach
Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas ©
Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas

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