21 days in Great Barrier Reef, Brisbane & Sydney Itinerary

21 days in Great Barrier Reef, Brisbane & Sydney Itinerary

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Route & dates

21 days in Great Barrier Reef, Brisbane & Sydney Itinerary

Start: London
Fly + shuttle:  26​h
1
Port Douglas
— 2 nights
Drive:  1​h 15​min
2
Cairns
— 2 nights
Fly:  1​h 45​min
3
Whitsunday Island
— 1 night
ferry:  1​h 15​min
4
Airlie Beach
— 3 nights
+2
bus + taxi + Fly:  5​h
5
Brisbane
— 3 nights
Fly:  3​h 45​min
6
Sydney
— 6 nights
Fly:  24​h
End: London

2
nights
Port Douglas

A holiday in Port Douglas balances an activity-filled getaway with plenty of opportunities to relax, thanks to its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef and bustling beach life.
Spend the 16th (Sun) among aquatic life with a scuba or snorkeling tour. Spend the 18th (Tue) spotting exotic species with a safari tour. Next up on the itinerary: relax in the rural setting at Hartley's Crocodile Adventures, admire nature's wide array of creatures at Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas, look for gifts at Coffee Works, and learn about winemaking at Shannonvale Tropical Fruit Winery.

To see where to stay, ratings, traveler tips, and tourist information, you can read our Port Douglas trip itinerary builder app .

London, UK to Port Douglas is an approximately 26-hour combination of flight and shuttle. You can also do a combination of flight, car, and ferry. You'll lose 10 hours traveling from London to Port Douglas due to the time zone difference. Plan for warmer temperatures traveling from London in December, with highs in Port Douglas at 36°C and lows at 26°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 18th (Tue) so you can drive to Cairns.

Things to do in Port Douglas

Outdoors Wildlife Tours

Side Trips

Hartley's Crocodile Adventures, Shannonvale Tropical Fruit Winery
Find places to stay Dec 16 — 18:
Highlights from your plan
Scuba & Snorkeling
Hartley's Crocodile Adventures ©
Hartley's Crocodile Adventures
Safaris

2
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 19th (Wed): discover the deep blue sea with a scuba or snorkeling tour. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the next day: enjoy some diversion at Esplanade Lagoon Pool, then admire the sheer force of Josephine Falls, and then trek along Esplanade Boardwalk.

To find ratings, more things to do, photos, and more tourist information, use the Cairns online route planner .

You can drive from Port Douglas to Cairns in 1.5 hours. Other options are to take a bus; or take a shuttle. In December, daily temperatures in Cairns can reach 36°C, while at night they dip to 26°C. Cap off your sightseeing on the 20th (Thu) early enough to travel to Whitsunday Island.

Things to do in Cairns

Outdoors Wildlife Adventure
Find places to stay Dec 18 — 20:
Highlights from your plan
Scuba & Snorkeling
Esplanade Boardwalk ©
Esplanade Boardwalk
Esplanade Lagoon Pool ©
Esplanade Lagoon Pool

1
night
Whitsunday Island

Whitsunday Island ©
Start off your visit on the 21st (Fri): contemplate the waterfront views at Hill Inlet and then stroll through Whitehaven Beach.

To find maps, other places to visit, traveler tips, and tourist information, go to the Whitsunday Island online vacation planner .

Traveling by flight from Cairns to Whitsunday Island takes 2 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of flight and bus; or take a train. In December in Whitsunday Island, expect temperatures between 37°C during the day and 24°C at night. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 21st (Fri) early enough to ride a ferry to Airlie Beach.

Things to do in Whitsunday Island

Parks Beaches Outdoors
Find places to stay Dec 20 — 21:
Highlights from your plan
Hill Inlet ©
Hill Inlet
Whitehaven Beach ©
Whitehaven Beach

3
nights
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.
Spend the 22nd (Sat) among aquatic life with a scuba or snorkeling tour. On the 23rd (Sun), spend a thrilling day on the water with a speed boat tour. And it doesn't end there: zoom along the surf with a waterskiing or jet-skiing adventure, enjoy the sand and surf at Airlie Beach Lagoon, and explore the activities along Heart Reef.

Start your trip to Airlie Beach by creating a personalized itinerary on Inspirock.

Traveling by ferry from Whitsunday Island to Airlie Beach takes 1.5 hours. Traveling from Whitsunday Island in December, plan for a bit warmer nights in Airlie Beach, with lows around 28°C. Cap off your sightseeing on the 24th (Mon) early enough to travel to Brisbane.

Things to do in Airlie Beach

Outdoors Tours Adventure
Find places to stay Dec 21 — 24:
Highlights from your plan
Waterskiing & Jetskiing
Scuba & Snorkeling
Speed Boats Tours

3
nights
Brisbane

Brisbane ©
Queensland’s biggest town and state capital, Brisbane has an attractive, manicured image based around its riverside aesthetic as well as the contrast between its high-rise center and extensive urban greenery.
Brisbane is known for parks, wildlife, museums, nightlife, and nature. Your plan includes some of its best attractions: enjoy some diversion at South Bank Parklands, take in nature's colorful creations at Roma Street Parkland, get great views at Mount Coot-tha Lookout, and admire all the interesting features of Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mt. Coot-tha.

To find photos, ratings, maps, and more tourist information, you can read our Brisbane route builder site .

Traveling by combination of bus and flight from Airlie Beach to Brisbane takes 5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of ferry and flight; or drive. Traveling from Airlie Beach in December, plan for slightly colder nights in Brisbane, with lows around 23°C. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 27th (Thu) so you can travel to Sydney.

Things to do in Brisbane

Parks Fun & Games Wildlife

Side Trip

Moffat Beach
Find places to stay Dec 24 — 27:
Highlights from your plan
South Bank Parklands ©
South Bank Parklands
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary ©
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Mount Coot-tha Lookout ©
Mount Coot-tha Lookout

6
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.
Sydney is known for nightlife, trails, beaches, parks, and museums. Your plan includes some of its best attractions: catch a live performance at Sydney Opera House, hike along Bondi to Coogee Beach Coastal Walk, kick back and relax at Manly Beach, and admire nature's wide array of creatures at Sea Life Sydney Aquarium.

For more things to do, reviews, traveler tips, and tourist information, read our Sydney driving holiday planning site .

Traveling by flight from Brisbane to Sydney takes 4 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of bus and flight; or drive. In December, plan for daily highs up to 32°C, and evening lows to 21°C. On the 2nd (Wed), wrap the sightseeing up by early afternoon so you can travel back home.

Things to do in Sydney

Parks Outdoors Beaches
Find places to stay Dec 27 — Jan 2:
Highlights from your plan
Sydney Opera House ©
Sydney Opera House
The Royal Botanic Garden ©
The Royal Botanic Garden
Bondi to Coogee Beach Coastal Walk ©

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