What are the best Queensland cities and regions to visit? The answer will probably depend on the activities you enjoy the most. Whether it’s going hiking, heading to the beach, visiting theme parks, watching wildlife or something else entirely, there’s so much to see and do in the Sunshine State.
Let’s say you’re studying in or near Brisbane and have a few weeks’ holidays coming up. Academic breaks provide an exciting opportunity to pack a bag, hop in the car and see more of the state. Here are some ideas for where to go in Queensland on your next trip away.
As far as Queensland holiday destinations go, Cairns is tough to beat. Situated in Far North Queensland, this picturesque city is roughly 1,600 kilometres from Brisbane – but trust us when we say it’s more than worth the travel time.
Highlights of this tropical paradise include Mossman Gorge and the Daintree Rainforest, as well as waterfalls and river cruises. Here, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself in the breathtaking natural environment.
Just off the coast is the Great Barrier Reef, one of the most iconic Queensland landmarks and the largest reef system in the world. Think bright blue water, colourful coral reefs and schools of fish.
Because the reef is endangered, you’ll need to tread (and swim) carefully if you do visit. Here are some ways you can help save the Great Barrier Reef when you visit.
Also located in Far North Queensland is Townsville, a coastal Queensland city packed with charm and fun. There’s no shortage of unique things to see and do here, chief among them a visit to Australia’s first-ever underwater museum.
The Museum of Underwater Art (MOUA) features four incredible sculptures created by renowned artist Jason deCaires Taylor. Each one highlights the importance of reef conservation and restoration, while also shining a light on the history of First Nations peoples.
On land, you can check out any of Townsville’s stunning beaches, visit the Museum of Tropical Queensland, or explore the city’s thriving food and drink scene.
One of the busiest Queensland cities, the Gold Coast attracts millions of tourists every year, making it one of the most popular destinations not just in the state but in the entire country.
Located just one hour south of Brisbane, the Gold Coast is renowned for its long, sandy beaches, holiday atmosphere and theme park attractions, including Dreamworld and Movie World.
For those not afraid of heights, take a look out over the Gold Coast from the Skypoint Observation Deck at the top of Q1, Australia’s tallest building. For a different kind of adventure, you can head west to explore the Gold Coast Hinterland.
For a similar coastal getaway, try the Gold Coast’s northern counterpart — the Sunshine Coast. Located an hour north of Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast has all of the Gold Coast’s summery feel and coastal splendour, but even more of a relaxing vibe.
Noosa is one of the most popular Queensland towns among tourists, attracting visitors from both interstate and overseas.
Alternatively, you could climb the Glass House Mountains, enjoy morning tea at a café up in the Hinterland or stop by an attraction like Australia Zoo — home of the late Steve ‘The Crocodile Hunter’ Irwin.
K’gari (Fraser Island)
One of the most popular Queensland holiday destinations, K’gari (Fraser Island) is the Traditional Land of the Butchulla peoples. This island is about an hour north of the Sunshine Coast and is the largest sand island in the world. K’gari/Fraser Island is home to immense natural beauty, from forests and lakes to mangroves and beaches.
Just south of the K’gari/Fraser Island is Rainbow Beach, home to massive multi-coloured sand dunes and the ethereal Carlo Sandblow. Among the best Queensland beaches, Rainbow Beach is a one-of-a-kind spot you won’t soon forget.
Of the many regional Queensland cities, Toowoomba is the biggest, boasting a welcoming community, a lively hospitality scene and fascinating sightseeing opportunities. Only an hour’s drive from Brisbane, Toowoomba is the perfect choice for a budget-friendly day trip as an international student.
Toowoomba – or the ‘Garden City’, as it’s known – has parks, heritage buildings and country charm galore. Major attractions include the 4.5 hectare Ju Raku En Japanese Garden, the heritage-listed Empire Theatre, and the historic Cobb+Co Museum.
Located in Far North Queensland, the Whitsundays are a top Queensland holiday destination. Anyone who enjoys snorkelling, surfing, boating or shopping — or all of the above — will be sure to get a thrill from a visit.
With their picturesque, blue waters and white, sandy beaches, the Whitsunday Islands adorn many a postcard — and for good reason.
We’ve covered a lot of major city centres and popular tourist destinations on this list. If you’d prefer to explore a Queensland region off the beaten path, head anywhere in central or ‘Outback Queensland’.
From Charleville and Roma to Longreach and Emerald, you’ll find a range of rural towns with local charm and close-knit communities, each with a story to tell.
Many locals will be more than happy to chat with visitors. You might even be able to learn more about the First Nations history of the local areas. As long as you plan your route and stay vigilant on the country roads, your time in Outback Queensland could prove as compelling as any of the hotspot Queensland holiday destinations.
Images courtesy of Tourism and Events Queensland and T&GWSBT.