Think you can’t see much of Australia in a week? Think again. With a properly planned itinerary you can uncover many sides of Australia in as little as seven days. Trends show that American travelers are taking shorter vacations. This doesn’t mean everyone is staying close to home. Instead, they are exploring exotic locales with smart itineraries.
In one short trip Down Under you can see the city, Outback, beaches and soak up some Aussie culture, and not have to put your life on hold.
In the past year we’ve had several clients travel to Australia with only a week to spare and all have been amazed at what they experienced. We recommend you base yourself in one of the major cities: Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane, and explore the surrounding areas. The variations are innumerable, but here are a few combinations we’ve found to be true crowd-pleasers.
Anyone who loves the pulse and vibrancy of city life will fall instantly in love with Sydney. But what’s great about this city is that it gives you a little bit extra: a perfect blend of a jet-setting Riviera escape and throbbing urbanity. Whether it’s dining out, city culture or relaxing on the beach you seek, Sydney is the perfect fit.
But in Australia, the areas outside the cities are equally fascinating, and in Sydney, some of Australia’s most incredible natural sights are at your fingertips. Like the Blue Mountains, where eucalyptus groves blanketing rugged cliffs and gorges give off a blue-tinged mist for which the range is named. You can spend the day taking it all in on the world’s steepest railway or on a glass-bottomed cablecar excursion.
How about a relaxing country getaway? Head 80 miles north to the Hunter Valley, where the climate and terrain yield the country’s most delicious Semillons, as well as many of the Shiraz and Chardonnay varieties Australia has made famous. Wineries abound for tours and tastings, as well as hot air balloon excursions or horseback riding through the gorgeous vineyards.
For a quintessential Australian experience, a short flight is all that separates Sydney from the eastern stretch of Australia’s red expanse: the Outback. Mootwingee National Park alone will be enough to dazzle you as you experience the Outback’s extraordinary scenery and wildlife—including the legendary kangaroo and dingo. There are also guided tours exploring Aboriginal carvings and rock paintings.
Whereas Sydney is cosmopolitan and bustling, Melbourne is hip, cultural and fashionable. This is a city for strolling— it’s known for its gorgeous array of Victorian architecture and gardens, historic streets lined with boutiques and cafes, and a whole host of vibrant ethnic enclaves, from Greek neighborhoods to an active Chinatown.
Waiting just outside the city is high-art of the nature-made variety. There is the fascinating Great Ocean Road, which courses through some of the world’s most scenic coastline. The spectacular rock formations of the Twelve Apostles and the giant stone arcs of Elephant Rock have to be seen to be believed. A bit south of the city is Phillip Island Nature Park, one of the world’s only areas where Fairy Penguins can be viewed up close.
Melbourne’s river, the Yarra, extends eastward from the city into another of Australia’s most important wine-growing regions. The Yarra Valley’s cool climate is perfect for growing Pinots and Sauvignons. In addition to its wineries, there is the Lilydale to Warburton Railway, which wends through the area’s beautiful landscapes.
Outside the city, the former gold mining town of Daylesford has shaken off its industrial past to become Australia’s most popular destination for spa getaways. The area is renowned for its natural mineral springs, and spas have sprouted up all across the area to take advantage of the phenomenon, along with quite a selection of award-winning restaurants.
For an active, outdoorsy experience, there is no better city than Brisbane. The city is full of parkland and surrounded by nature, like Mount Coot-tha, threaded with hiking trails that lead up to some stunning views of the city. Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is nearby for animal lovers, and the rock-climbing cliffs of Kangaroo Point provide thrills for the adventure-seeker. And this is just the beginning.
As you might guess of a city so in tune with nature, the areas surrounding Brisbane provide incredible opportunities for exploration. Stunning rainforest is practically in the backyard, with a litany of reserves and forest parks surrounding the city. One of Australia’s most fascinating locales is also just a stone’s throw away: Fraser Island. Fraser is the world’s largest sand island, and is dotted with freshwater lakes made of some of the cleanest water on earth.
But the most exhilarating experience north of Brisbane is arguably Australia’s most well known: the Great Barrier Reef, the largest coral reef system in the world. The biodiversity of the reef is unparalleled anywhere else in the world—the sheer number of species boggles the mind. This, paired with the warm waters, make it perhaps the world’s best scuba diving locale.
With just seven days worth of Australian sights, sounds, tastes and cultures under your belt, you’ll be checking your calendar for the next opportunity to explore. After all, it only takes a week.