Australia Two-Week Itinerary

The Perfect 2-Week Australia Itinerary

Australia, home to buzzing east coast cities, gorgeous white sand beaches, tropical rainforests, and arid Outback landscapes, is one of the biggest, and best, countries to visit in the world. Once you’ve summoned up the courage to make that long-haul flight Down Under (Australia is a long way from anywhere!), you’ll want to pack in as many of the top sights as you can. 

Our itinerary is maxed out, but that’s the only way you’re going to cover the huge distances between each of Australia’s major cities and still have a chance to hit the beaches, the museums, the national parks, and the pubs along the way. This is a vast, vast country, and it takes hours to fly between major cities and even longer by car, bus, or train. 

With that in mind, we recommend choosing either the east or west coast of Australia to explore first. This itinerary focuses on the east coast, with an optional side trip to the Red Centre, where you’ll find the classic Aussie destinations you’ve always dreamed of visiting. 

From Victoria’s Great Ocean Road to Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef, our 14-day Australia itinerary is designed for first-time visitors who just want to see this vast nation’s most iconic destinations. 

With a bit of patience and planning, on a 2-week trip to Australia, you can enjoy Melbourne’s caffeine-fueled coffee scene, climb Sydney’s harbor bridge, be awed by the Blue Mountains, and snorkel off the coast of Cairns – and much, much more in between!

If you’re planning the journey of a lifetime, then keep reading as we unveil the perfect 2-week Australia itinerary.

East Coast Australia Itinerary: 2 Weeks to Explore the Highlights of the Country

Melbourne – 2 Nights

2 Weeks in Australia Itinerary: Melbourne

Your epic 2-week Australia itinerary begins in Melbourne, the country’s second-largest city and the capital of Victoria. Overlooking Port Phillip Bay and hemmed in by the Dandenong Range and Yarra Valley, you can live the modern Aussie lifestyle as you start your trip in a city that’s consistently ranked one of the most livable in the world. 

Street Art Tour

2 Week Australia Itinerary: Melbourne Street Art Tour

Melbourne’s coffee scene is abuzz with quirky cafes and strong flat whites, so rest assured, you’re in the best place to get over that long-haul jet lag. Start with a coffee and street art tour of the city, or if you’re feeling fresh, join a walking tour to learn more about the city’s history and culture.

Queen Victoria Market

2 Week Itinerary in Australia: Queen Victoria Market

For lunch, head to Queen Victoria Market, where you’ll find family-run stalls serving up local produce in Melbourne’s oldest marketplace. 

Melbourne Museums and Galleries

Australia Two Week Itinerary: Immigration Museum

Melbourne’s indigenous history stretches back 40,000 years, its European history to 1835, and you can delve into the past with a visit to the Melbourne Museum or the Immigration Museum. Melbourne has a long sporting history, too, and if you’re in luck, you might be able to catch a game of Aussie rules football or cricket at the MGC (if not, you can take a guided tour of Melbourne’s iconic sporting ground). 

TV fans can visit the set of the beloved, long-term Aussie show Neighbours. Alternatively, you can stroll through the Royal Botanic Gardens or peruse sculptures and paintings at the National Gallery of Victoria.

If you’re feeling too jet-lagged to take in the sights, then don’t worry. Instead, jump on a train down to St. Kilda, where you can enjoy an alfresco beer or a glass of wine before chilling out on Melbourne’s most popular strip of beaches. 

Great Ocean Road

2 Week Itinerary in Australia: Great Ocean Road

The next day, take an impromptu drive along the Great Ocean Road, stopping at natural attractions like the 12 Apostles. Alternatively, make your way to Phillip Island, where you can experience the iconic Penguin Parade every evening! 


Sydney and the Blue Mountains – 3 Nights

Australia Two Week Itinerary: Sydney

Sydney, with its famous opera house, harbor bridge, and urban beaches, is one of the must-see places in Australia. If you want to fit this famous city into your 2-week Australia itinerary, it’s either a 10-hour drive or a 1.5-hour flight from Melbourne.

Darling Harbour

2 Weeks in Australia Itinerary: Darling Harbour

Overlooking Darling Harbour, one of the deepest natural harbors in the world, the area the city’s built on has been home to indigenous Australians for tens of thousands of years. When Captain Cook turned up in 1770, the British sailor and explorer landed at nearby Botany Bay before Sydney was later founded in 1788 by the “First Fleet” of convicts, sailors, and soldiers that established Britain’s first Australian colony.

Sydney Museums and Galleries

2 Week Australia Itinerary: Australian Museum

You can learn more about the city’s evolution at the Museum of Sydney, while the Australian Museum (the oldest museum in Australia) tells the longer story of the nation’s natural and cultural history, stretching back millennia. 

Visit The Rocks, a heritage-laden district that’s home to a quirky market, old pubs, barracks blocks, and the Museum of Contemporary Art. Take in beautiful views from Observatory Hill Park, then brave the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb for a spectacular panorama of Darling Harbour. Next to The Rocks, you’ll find Circular Quay, the Royal Botanic Garden, and, of course, the iconic Sydney Opera House.

Bondi Beach

2 Weeks in Australia Itinerary: Bondi Beach

After taking in the best sights in Sydney on day one, day two is all about the beaches. You’ll love how the city extends eastwards toward the golden sands of the Pacific Coast, and within 45 minutes, you can be sunning yourself on Bondi Beach. 

2 Week Australia Itinerary: Bondi Icebergs

Rent a surfboard and hit the waves, take a swim at Bondi Icebergs, or make the 2-mile coastal walk to Bronte Beach. Alternatively, you can jump on the ferry to Manly. It’s a picturesque 30-minute ride from Circular Quay, and once you’re in Manly, it’s a short walk to one of the best beaches in Sydney. 

Blue Mountains

2 Week Itinerary in Australia: Blue Moutains National Park

Day three is all about the Blue Mountains. Rising above the plains to the east of Sydney, the Blue Mountains National Park is an easy escape from the city. Jump on the train from Sydney, and within two hours, you’ll be in Katoomba, where you can walk to the edge of a dramatic gorge that plummets some 400 meters down into the Jamison Valley below. 

Australia Two Week Itinerary: Blue Mountains National Park Katoomba Falls

Admire the unusual natural beauty of the Three Sisters rocks, then take the Scenic Railway (the steepest train in the world) down to the valley below, or take the Scenic Skyway across the valley to Katoomba Falls.


Uluru – 2 Nights

2 Week Australia Itinerary: Uluru

Uluru is one of the world’s most iconic natural attractions, and despite its isolated location in the middle of the country, it simply has to be added to your 2-week Australia itinerary.

Alice Springs

2 Weeks in Australia Itinerary: Alice Springs

From Sydney, you’ll need to catch a flight to Alice Springs. You’ll be a world away from the city, as you experience Outback life in the Red Centre. Alice Springs is home to just 25,000 souls, but being the largest settlement between Darwin in the north and Adelaide in the south, it’s always busy with travelers and road trippers. 

Ayers Rock

2 Week Itinerary in Australia: Uluru

Alice Springs is also the gateway to Uluru (formerly known as Ayers Rock), an incredibly distinct sandstone “Inselberg” which rises some 348 meters above the red desert below. Uluru has long been sacred to the local Pitjantjatjara people, and in recent years, climbing the rock has been made illegal out of respect for their history and culture. 

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

Australia Two Week Itinerary: Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

You can walk 6 miles of tracks that circle the base of Uluru, however, and journey further north to Kings Canyon, where there’s more hiking. If you’re looking for a unique experience, then join an indigenous tour of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, or spend the night sleeping under the stars in a traditional Aussie-style Outback Swag. 


Brisbane and the Gold Coast – 2 Nights 

2 Weeks in Australia Itinerary: Brisbane

From Alice Springs, it’s a 2-hour 40-minute flight to Brisbane, where the next stage of your Australian adventure begins in Queensland. Brisbane is the state’s capital, and after Sydney and Melbourne, it’s the third-largest city, and one of the best places to go, in Australia. 

Brisbane City Botanic Gardens

2 Week Australia Itinerary: Brisbane City Botanic Gardens

Several different indigenous groups, including the Yuggera and Turrbal, have called the region home for tens of thousands of years. The modern city grew up around a penal settlement that was established here by the British in 1823, and in the Brisbane City Botanic Gardens, you can still find plants and trees that were planted by the earliest settlers and convicts as a source of food. 

Brisbane River

Take a stroll along the Brisbane River, visit the Queensland Museum if you’re interested in learning more about local history, or take a swim at Brisbane Beach (an artificial beach and lagoon) in South Bank if you just need to cool off. 

See Kangaroos and Koalas

2 Weeks in Australia Itinerary: Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

Take in city views from Kangaroo Point Cliffs Park, then hop on a Miramar Cruise for a scenic journey along the river to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, where you meet face-to-face with Australia’s curious array of native species, including kangaroos and koalas. 

Mount Coot-Tha

2 Week Australia Itinerary: Mount Coot-Tha

If you have time, then you’ll also want to consider traveling to Mount Coot-Tha for sunset. At a height of just over 200 meters, this scenic lookout offers the best panorama of Brisbane’s skyline from the Botanic Gardens outside the city. 

Gold Coast

2 Week Itinerary in Australia: Gold Coast

After exploring Brisbane’s best sights, the next day you’re off to the Gold Coast. It’s an hour’s drive or train ride to Surfers Paradise, where you’ll find one of the most “Aussie” beaches in the country. 

This is where skyscrapers, luxury hotels, shopping malls, and theme parks line a glorious, golden beach that’s packed with surfers. This is Australia’s glamorous vacation playground, and you can take a cruise along the coast, spend the day brunching, or learn how to surf on the Gold Coast.


Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays – 2 Nights 

Australia Two Week Itinerary: Airlie Beach

From Brisbane, it’s time to journey toward the tropical north. It’s a 13-hour drive to the next stop on your Australia itinerary, though, so you might want to book a flight from Brisbane to Airlie Beach instead. 

Airlie Beach is a laid-back Aussie beach town overlooking the Great Barrier Reef. This is a holiday town, and in peak season, the pubs are packed and the lagoon is busy with travelers, backpackers, and tourists waiting to catch a boat out to the Whitsundays. 

Whitsundays

The Whitsundays are a group of 74 islands, named by Captain Cook in 1770, that sits just off the coast of Airlie Beach. The islands are home to white sand beaches, vivid turquoise lagoons, and humid rainforests. The snorkeling and hiking are supreme, and the natural beauty of the archipelago has to be seen to be believed.

Whitehaven

Book a day trip from Airlie Beach to experience the highlights of the Whitsundays. Fast catamarans take you to Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island, where you’ll be awed by one of Australia’s most pristine strips of white sand. You can join overnight sailing trips to more remote islands and islets or take a dedicated snorkeling or diving tour further out to the corals of the Great Barrier Reef. 

Hamilton Island

2 Weeks in Australia Itinerary: Hamilton Island

Alternatively, splash out and enjoy a scenic flightseeing tour of the Whitsundays, admiring the view as you soar over beaches and islands. You can escape the mainland entirely by booking a luxury hotel on Hamilton Island (there are direct flights from Brisbane), where coral reefs surround one of the most exclusive destinations in Australia. 


Cairns and the Daintree – 3 Nights 

2 Weeks in Australia Itinerary: Cairns

Cairns, the most popular gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, is one of the top places to visit in Australia. We’ve saved this bucket list experience for the end of the itinerary, although that’s mostly down to geography!

Cairns is a good 8-hour drive north of Airlie Beach, and if you are road-tripping, then you can stop off in Townsville to break up the journey. Otherwise, it’s a short hopper flight or a (much) longer overnight bus ride from Airlie Beach.

Cairns Market

2 Week Australia Itinerary: Cairns Night Market

You’ll love the vacation vibes in Cairns. Given the humidity, the public lagoon is always busy, while pubs serve cold beers and oversized parmigiana late into the night. The Cairns’ Night Markets offers a diverse array of cuisines from all over the world (including great Thai curries), while Rusty’s Markets serves up fresh produce from the nearby farms on weekends. 

Green Island

2 Week Itinerary in Australia: Green Island

Cairns is well set up for downtime, but you won’t have much of that. First up, book yourself onto a Great Barrier Reef excursion. You can join day tours out to the reef, where you’ll have the chance to snorkel or dive on the world’s largest barrier reef. Alternatively, you can take a day trip to Green Island, where you can snorkel the reef straight from the beach and learn about the work of the Turtle Rehabilitation Centre. 

Barron Falls

Australia Two Week Itinerary: Barron Falls

There’s much more to Cairns than the Great Barrier Reef, too. Take a trip up into the Atherton Tablelands to escape the heat, where you can visit fruit-bat sanctuaries, farms, and volcanic lakes, or ride the scenic railway to Kuranda, where Barron Falls drops 125 meters into the gorge far below.

The Daintree

Best of all, head further north to the Daintree Rainforest, where you can see crocodiles, cassowaries (if you’re very lucky), and kangaroos in the oldest rainforest ecosystem in the world (we recommend joining an indigenous-led tour to learn more about the close local connections to this ancient rainforest). 

There you have it! That’s our perfect 2-week Australia itinerary. What’s on your Australia bucket list? 


Two Weeks in Australia

The Best Time to Visit Australia

Getting Around Australia: Perfect Two Week Itinerary

So what’s the best time to visit Australia? That’s a difficult question to answer, purely because of the sheer size of the country and the huge distances you might be covering in one trip. Australia is more of a continent than a country, and each region has its own climate. 

First off, the seasons are reversed here compared to the Northern Hemisphere. Summer is from December to February, and winter is from June to August. But it’s not as simple as that because the north of Australia has a tropical climate, which is better seen as falling into a wet and dry season rather than four distinct seasons. The wet season runs from November to April and the dry season from May to October. 

This means you’ve got to time your trip carefully if you want to see east coast cities like Sydney and Melbourne – which have a temperate (if hot) climate, when compared to the tropical north – and not get rained out when you’re further north in Cairns, where you can visit natural sights like the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest. 

We suggest planning a trip to Australia in either the spring or autumn, so from March to May or September to November. That way, you miss the fierce summer heat (when temperatures regularly smash the 40°C mark, even in Melbourne), and you skip the worst of the rains in the north. 

As this is the shoulder season, though, you’ll still need to be wary when traveling north, as you could be hit by unexpected rains that wash out roads or cancel boat trips. Book your flights and accommodation with flexibility, where possible, just in case the weather gets the best of you!


Things to Know Before You Go

Australia is a well-developed country with modern infrastructure and a strong economy, and it’s relatively easy to visit, even if it’s your first time here. The local currency is the Australian Dollar (at the time of writing, roughly 1.5 USD equals 1 AUD), and prices can be considerably higher here than you might be used to at home. 

As a former British colony, the primary spoken language is English, although the local lingo and slang can at first be tricky to adjust to. Before long, though, you’ll be calling everyone “mate” and asking for a “schooner” of lager from the bar. 

Aussies have a reputation for being laid back, but you’ll soon realize that this isn’t necessarily the case in all walks of life. There’s a strict visa and immigration policy, and you’ll need to make sure you’ve secured a visa waiver online (similar to an ESTA for the US) or have the requisite visa, either from a local consulate or through the online systems. 

Alcohol laws are strict, driving laws stricter, and it’s often illegal to wild camp, even in Outback areas. Brush up on the local rules, and you’ll be sure to have a great time without falling on the wrong side of the law. 

If it’s your first time in Australia, you’ll probably be wary of the wildlife. Australia has a reputation for being home to animals and insects that can kill, and in Outback areas, you will need to watch out for redbacks and venomous snakes, including brown snakes. 

Incidents are incredibly rare, however, and of more danger to unsuspecting tourists are jellyfish and saltwater crocodiles, which are common in the tropical north. If a warning sign says “Don’t Swim” or warns of crocodile or jellyfish activity, then don’t be a fool and ignore it.


Getting Around Australia

Getting Around Australia: Perfect Two Week Itinerary

Australia is big. It’s huge, in fact, with almost 3 million square miles of land stretching from the Indian Ocean in the west to the Pacific in the east. Flight time from Perth, the capital of Western Australia, to Sydney is 4 hours (it’s quicker to fly from Perth to Bali than Perth to Sydney), and flight time from Melbourne to Cairns is 3.5 hours. 

Driving distances and times are even longer. Melbourne to Sydney is at least 9 hours. Melbourne to Uluru is 2 days, and even Brisbane to Cairns (both cities are in the same state!) takes 20 hours. 

Because of the distances involved, even the best two-week Australia itinerary just can’t fit in everything. We’ve decided to focus on the east coast (save western Australia and Tasmania for a different vacation), with a quick side trip to Uluru so you can experience the Outback. But to do this, you’ll have to have domestic flights booked in advance. 

You can fly internationally into Melbourne, which is well-connected, then fly out of Cairns (generally via Brisbane or Sydney). Many airlines, including Qantas, Emirates, Etihad, and British Airways, offer special tickets that include domestic flights within Australia, often at a similar cost to purchasing your international ticket on its own. 

If you prefer to travel overland, then you can also rent a car or campervan in Melbourne or Sydney. With only 2 weeks, you’ll need to cut out Uluru to fit things in, though; it’s just too far to drive on limited time. Alternatively, you could fly from Melbourne to Uluru, then fly to Sydney, and drive up the east coast to Cairns. 

Planning a trip to Australia? Check out our favorite books and travel guides!


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Author

  • Richard Collett

    Richard is an award-winning travel writer based in Southwest England who’s addicted to traveling off the beaten track. He’s traveled to 75 countries and counting in search of intriguing stories, unusual destinations, and cultural curiosities.

    Richard loves traveling the long way round over land and sea, and you’ll find him visiting quirky micronations and breakaway territories as often as he’s found lounging on a beach (which is a lot).

    When he’s not writing for BBC Travel, National Geographic, or Lonely Planet, you can find Richard writing for the Wandering Wheatleys or updating his off-beat travel blog, Travel Tramp.

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1 thought on “The Perfect 2-Week Australia Itinerary”

  1. Hello,
    Thanks for the itinerary. I plan to start in Brisbane (reach May 24 early AM) and end in Melbourne (depart June 7 evening). I want to follow the above itinerary. How should I change the order of itinerary?
    This itinerary does not tell me how it accommodates travel time between these places. Can you add it to the itinerary as I will be flying between the cities.
    Thanks

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