Best Places to Visit in Queensland
Queensland, the “Sunshine State”, is Australia’s most popular holiday destination. Golden sands, idyllic tropical islands, amazing surf breaks, World Heritage-listed rainforests, rivers, coral reefs and waterfalls are just some of the state’s natural gems. Queensland’s sun-drenched surroundings offer exciting outdoor adventures. The dazzling Whitsundays and Great Barrier Reef offer excellent diving and snorkeling. K’Gari (Fraser Island) is the most popular 4WD adventure and the wilderness areas along the Queensland coast are ideal for hiking, biking, boating and fishing.
For a change of pace, Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, offers big-city attractions with a small-town feel. South Brisbane sits on the Gold Coast, dazzling with its hedonism and tall buildings. Heading north along the coast from the capital, you can explore a variety of resorts, from sleepy seaside towns and rainforest villages to picturesque Port Douglas and the tropical resorts of Cairns. Find out more about the best places to visit in this sunny state with our list of the top attractions and things to do in Queensland.
Have a look at our list of the Best Places to Visit in Queensland and make your trip enjoyable.
Top 14 Best Places to Visit in Queensland
Here are the top 14 Most Beautiful and Best Places to Visit in Queensland:
1. Diving or snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef
The beauty and ecological importance of this natural wonder, which is on the World Heritage list, cannot be overemphasized. It is the largest biological structure on Earth and is so large that you can see it from space.
Most of the reef is located within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which stretches from the northern coast of Queensland, from Mackay to the northeast corner of Australia. The park itself is about half the size of Texas and protects more than 3,000 coral reefs, 600 mainland islands, 300 coral reefs, and a number of mangrove islands.
Diving or snorkeling in coral reefs is one of Australia’s must-do outdoor adventures. The incredible diversity of marine life attracts tourists from all over the world. The reef is home to over 1,600 species of tropical fish, as well as a kaleidoscope of sharks, dugongs, dolphins, turtles, giant clams, and soft and hard corals. Underwater observation decks and glass-bottom boats also provide a window into this underwater wonderland.
Other popular activities to do while visiting the Great Barrier Reef include scenic flights, island cruises and sailing tours.
On the mainland, Cairns, Port Douglas and Airlie Beach are the most important cities for tourism. Alternatively, you can stay at one of the resort islands within Ocean Park. With its popular attractions and accommodation options, the Whitsundays make an ideal base for exploring coral reefs.
Remote Lizard Island at the park’s northernmost point is known for its unique getaway, while Lady Elliot Island, the reef’s southernmost reef, is home to a popular eco-resort.
2. Safari tour in Daintree National Park and Cape Tribulation
Daintree National Park is a Wet Tropics World Heritage Site and is the oldest surviving tropical rainforest on Earth. That alone is reason enough to visit, but it also boasts one of the highest threatened and endangered species in the world.
Located in North Queensland, the park’s two main sections include the crystal clear waters and dense forest of Mossman Gorge, and Cape Tribulation, where tropical rainforest surrounds the reef-lined shores of the Coral Sea.
The ecosystem here is very diverse. The park is home to more than 18,000 plant species, as well as a fascinating array of animals, including the flightless southern cassowary (an ostrich-sized bird), crocodiles, Boyd rainforest dragons, the brightly colored cerulean kingfisher, the spotted Wallaby, and the muskrat kangaroo.
The best way to explore the area is on a guided safari. Many companies offer amphibious vehicle tours that include rainforest hikes and tropical fruit tastings. However, you can also do a self-driving tour.
Other popular activities include traversing the rainforest, horseback riding, swimming in Mossman Canyon, hunting cassowaries along Jindalba pier, and hiking the many other rainforest trails.
Just south of the park, the resort town of Port Douglas is a popular base for taking wilderness tours of the rainforest. The area is one of the best places to visit during Queensland’s dry winter season.
3. All Wheel Drive on K’Gari (Fraser Island)
On the beautiful Fraser Coast, about 3.5 hour’s drive from Brisbane, the World Heritage-listed K’Gari (Fraser Island) is the world’s largest sand island. This four-wheel drive adventure explores expansive, windy beaches, crystal-clear lakes and streams, wild dogs, lush forests, sacred Aboriginal ruins and multicolored rock formations.
Seventy-Five Mile Beach is the island’s main gateway to some of K’Gari’s main attractions. These include the rusty hull of the Maheno shipwreck, the Champagne Pool, the bubbling rock pools of Eli Creek, and the colorful sandstone cliffs of the Pinnacles.
Tiger sharks, dolphins and whales swim in the windy waters, and the island’s fauna includes some of Australia’s purest wild dog breeds and over 300 bird species.
Top things to do inland include swimming in the aquamarine Mackenzie Lake, exploring the rainforest trails at Grand Central Station, and visiting Lake Wabby, backed by towering sandstorms.
4. Island Hop, Whitsundays
The Whitsundays is located off the central coast of Queensland and consists of 74 magnificent islands arranged along the Great Barrier Reef. The Whitsundays are mainland islands, peaks of coastal mountains rising out of the sea. All but five have been declared national parks, and about eight are home to popular resorts.
Popular activities at the Whitsundays include diving and snorkeling trips, sailing excursions, sunbathing on stunning tropical beaches and relaxing at island resorts.
Among the most famous resorts are the luxurious Hayman Island; Small Daydream Island Resort; There is the developed Hamilton Island, the largest resort on the island, and the beautiful Long Island Palm Cove Resort with access to 13 miles of hiking trails.
In the desolate Whitsundays, with powdery white sand and turquoise waters, Whitehaven Beach is one of Australia’s most beautiful beaches.
Airlie Beach is the main departure point for island excursions.
5. Walk along Four Mile Beach in Port Douglas
The once sleepy village of Port Douglas, dotted with palm and mango trees, is now a charming getaway. It is the closest mainland town to the Great Barrier Reef, making it a popular base for reef tours and wilderness tours in Daintree National Park. About an hour’s drive north of Cairns, this picturesque town follows a scenic coastal road that winds through sandy beaches and rainforest-covered hills.
Leaving the pretty blondes of Four Mile Beach behind, Port Douglas has a relaxed tropical feel, with cute cafes, shops, and art galleries. Enjoy stunning views of the palm-fringed beach and turquoise coral sea from Flagstaff Hill Lookout.
Top things to do in Port Douglas include getting up close and personal with Australian animals in wildlife habitats, shopping at the farmer’s market, and soaking up the cityscape on Macrossan Street. Other adventures on offer include ATV tours to Daintree National Park and Cape Tribulation, fishing expeditions, expeditions north through the rugged landscape of the Cape York Peninsula, and boat trips to Cooktown and the Great Barrier Reef.
Due to year-round warm weather in the tropics, Port Douglas is one of the best places to visit in Queensland in winter. This is the main tourist season and the weather is usually sunny and dry.
6. Visit Cairns
Ideally located between the Great Barrier Reef and the Black Mountains of the Atherton Plateau, Cairns is one of the most popular tourist cities in northern Queensland. An ideal base for exploring the best of Queensland.
Cairns is a friendly and relaxed town with palm-fringed streets, large parks and colorful gardens. Beautiful beaches stretch from the shores of Trinity Bay and Palm Cove to Port Douglas. Feeling like walking? The five-kilometer Cairns Esplanade runs along the bay and features a saltwater floating lagoon and a free water-themed playground for kids.
Cairns is a great base for day trips. It is one of the most popular departure points for trips to tropical islands such as Green Island and Fitzroy Island and the Great Barrier Reef.
The Atherton Plateau in the southwest is another popular day trip destination where you can explore rainforest reserves, waterfalls and stunning views of Kuranda Mountain Village. The Kuranda Scenic Railroad, or Skyrail, offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside and rainforest of the World Heritage-listed Barron Gorge National Park.
Other popular things to do in Cairns include visiting the Fleck Botanical Gardens with over 100 palm trees and learning about the history of the area at the Cairns Museum. Cairns is also one of the top fishing destinations in Australia.
7. Soak up the sun at Noosa Heads Beach and the Sunshine Coast
Stretching from Caloundra to Noosa Heads, the Sunshine Coast is one of South East Queensland’s most popular tourist destinations. Known for its beautiful beaches and a popular holiday destination for Australians, it’s only a two-hour drive north of the Gold Coast’s tall buildings, but it looks secluded. The beaches are one of the Sunshine Coast’s main attractions, from peaceful cliffside coves to famous surf spots.
Noosa Heads is one of the most popular resort areas. With postcard-perfect sand and sea, Main Beach is one of Noosa’s main attractions and a famous surfing spot.
For more beautiful beaches and great surfing, Coolum is another great place to visit on the Sunshine Coast. The Point Arkwright Trail here connects a series of secluded, cliffside coves where you can escape the crowds and dive on a hot summer’s day.
More beaches await in Caloundra, from the popular Kings Beach with its oceanfront pool to Moffat’s BreakPoint and the excellent paddling waters of Paradise Beach.
Maroochydore is home to the area’s bustling commercial hub and Sunshine Coast Airport.
8. Fly over the rainforest to Kuranda
A trip to Kuranda, the charming rainforest village on the Atherton Plateau, is just as important as the destination. From just outside Cairns, you can take the Skyrail Rainforest Cable Car and fly over the World Heritage-listed rainforest and the beautiful Barron River and gorges.
Alternatively, take the Kuranda Scenic Railway through the rainforest, past rugged hills and waterfalls. The journey ends at Kuranda Station, about 25km northwest of Cairns, almost hidden by tropical vegetation and palm trees.
The highlight of exploring Kuranda begins with a stroll around the village. Art-filled shops, galleries and colorful Kuranda Market sell souvenirs and local handicrafts, and you can immerse yourself in nature at the various animal shelters. Australian Butterfly Sanctuary, Bird World, Kuranda Koala Gardens and Rainforest Nature Park are Queensland family’s favorite activities.
Hiking tours from Courland to the romantic Barron Gorge National Park can be arranged upon request. At Tjapukai Aboriginal Culture Park on the shores of Caravonic Lake, you can learn about Aboriginal culture and often enjoy Aboriginal dance performances.
Travelers who want to take the scenic self-driving route to Kuranda will also enjoy this trip.
9. Have fun on the Gold Coast
The Gold Coast is one of Australia’s most famous holiday destinations. Over the last few decades, a construction boom has transformed the beach into a sort of tropical Las Vegas, with skyscrapers and shopping malls stretching from Southport in the north to Coolangatta in the south.
Filled with tourist attractions and high-rise hotels, Surfers Paradise – or “The Surfers” for short – is a tourist magnet and is known for its alliteration assets: sun, surf and sand. But it’s easy to escape the crowds in the surrounding wilderness areas or on remote beaches.
Although Surfers Paradise is known for its hedonism, you’ll find many family-friendly attractions in Queensland in the area. In the south of Surfers Paradise, the kids are watching old movie scenes from Warner Bros. In Southport to the north, you can spot your favorite marine life at SeaWorld.
Not surprisingly, swimming, sunbathing and surfing are popular activities on Queensland’s Gold Coast, and nature lovers will find plenty to explore. A well-developed road network leads to scenic landscapes in its hinterland, and many wilderness areas are easily accessible, including the popular Lamington National Park.
To visit the Gold Coast, you can fly to Coolangatta Airport near the Queensland-NSW border.
10. Cultural Restoration in Brisbane
Brisbane, Australia’s third largest city and Queensland’s capital, has a more relaxed pace than the larger capitals in the country’s southeast. An ideal base for exploring Queensland. The city spans the Brisbane River, the sea to the east, and the Great Divide Range to the west.
Visitors love the city’s sunny climate and lush parks and gardens. Top things to do in Brisbane include walking up Coot-tha Mountain at the Brisbane Botanical Gardens, home to over 2,000 plants, and visiting the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, one of the few places you can touch and feed a koala.
The family-friendly South Bank Parklands features riverside walking and cycling paths, lush gardens, shops and restaurants.
Cruise ships are also popular. One of Brisbane’s most famous attractions is the Kookaburra Queen, a former paddle steamer that sails along the Brisbane River, and the River Life Adventure Center offers adrenaline-pumping water sports on the river.
Other things to see and do include shopping at Queen Street Mall, climbing the Story Bridge, exploring the kid-friendly Queensland Museum exhibits, browsing the inspiring art exhibits at QAGOMA, and taking in the beautiful city views from Mt Coot-tha Lookout.
Brisbane is also a great base for a variety of rewarding day trips showcasing the best of Queensland, from island getaways and wildlife-rich national parks to the famous Australia Zoo and family-friendly theme parks.
11. Take a whale watching cruise in Hervey Bay
Ever wanted to swim with a humpback whale or come face to face with one of these gentle giants? This wish-list adventure is one of the top things to do in Hervey Bay, the whale watching capital of Australia.
In 2019, Hervey Bay became the first place in the world designated as a Whale Heritage Site by the World Federation of Marine Cetaceans.
What makes it so special? K’Gari (Fraser Island) harbors the shallow waters of Hervey Bay and provides a sanctuary for these magnificent marine mammals. Here they take a break from their long migration to rest, socialize and train their calves, and lucky visitors can get up close and personal with them, which is refreshing. Some cruises even give you the chance to swim with whales, one of Queensland’s unique activities.
Wondering when is the best time to visit Hervey Bay for whale watching? The best time is between the end of July and the beginning of November. If you’re not visiting during whale season, you’ll find plenty of other nature experiences in Hervey Bay, from eco cruises, sunset cruises, fishing boats to Aboriginal cultural tours and spending time on peaceful beaches.
12. Visit Townsville and Magnetic Island
Townsville is Australia’s largest tropical city. It’s a great base for excursions and tours, especially to the beautiful Magnetic Island and the Great Barrier Reef, but it also offers many tourist attractions of its own.
The town is located in Cleveland Bay at the foot of Castle Hill, a 300-foot-high granite cliff. A hiking trail leads to its summit with panoramic views of the city and sea. But perhaps the best place to start exploring the city is the Strand. Stroll along this scenic promenade, take a dip in one of the swimming areas, learn about the history of the area at Jezzine Barracks, have a picnic in the park or dine at one of the nearby cafes.
Besides its picturesque waterfront, Townsville’s appeal is largely due to its numerous parks and private gardens filled with tropical flowers. While you’re here, be sure to visit Queens Gardens, Townsville’s oldest botanical garden, and Townsville Palm Gardens, home to the world’s largest collection of palm trees.
Families will find many kid-friendly attractions. Picnic and head to the Riverway with its beautiful riverside parks, hiking and biking trails, art exhibits and free swimming pools, and if you’re interested in local aquatic life, there’s an underwater tunnel at the Reef HQ Great Barrier Reef Aquarium and you can see the coral reefs and marine life up close.
Other popular activities in Townsville include visiting the Tropical Queensland Museum and diving into the SS Yongala wreck.
13. Feed the kangaroos at the Australia Zoo
Famous for its crocodile-loving Australian environmentalist Steve Irwin, the Australia Zoo is one of Queensland’s most popular family attractions. An easy day trip from Brisbane, the zoo has a strong focus on education and conservation. You can see Australia’s favorite animals such as kangaroos, koalas, emus, wild dogs and crocodiles, as well as exotic animal species such as Sumatran tigers, rhinos, meerkats, zebras, giraffes, cheetahs and elephants.
The alligator show is a great way to learn more about the fascinating creatures that house the zoo, including birds of prey, snakes, and the venue’s namesake crocodile. You can also ride a camel, feed a kangaroo or red panda, and hug a koala. The zoo covers 110 acres, so be sure to wear walking shoes.
Official website: http://www.australiazoo.com.au/
14. Explore the Cape York Peninsula and Torres Strait Islands
Remote, rugged and rich in Aboriginal history, the Cape York Peninsula and Torres Strait Islands are one of Queensland’s most unique attractions.
Looking for adventure? You’ll find it on the famous “tip tour” of the Cape York Peninsula, one of Australia’s epic road trips. You can also reach some of Cape York’s top destinations on a day trip from Cairns, including the historic settlement of Cooktown and the wildlife-rich Lakefield National Park wetlands.
But to get to Australia’s northernmost tip, great planning and off-road vehicles are essential. Crossing the river is part of the adventure, and in the far north, rainy season floods wash away essential roads, so travel should be undertaken during the dry season, May through October.
Along the way, you’ll see lush rainforests, beaches surrounded by wild mangroves, expansive savannas, crocodile-filled rivers, ancient rock art, and fascinating Aboriginal communities. In the north of Weipa, where camping is often necessary, satellite phones are highly recommended.
If you’re not ready for the planning and logistics of a trip through this relatively unspoiled wilderness, you can always take an organized tour or fly directly to one of the 274 Torres Strait Islands just north of Cape York. Thursday Island is an important administrative center and a great place to learn about Torres Strait Islander culture. Horn Island showcases a fascinating military history. Private Rock Island offers a unique glamping experience where you can visit the pearl farms here and Friday Island.
Fishing boats near Weipa are another popular way to explore this wild coast.
Hope you like our choice of the best places to visit in Queensland. If you think there are some more best and beautiful places to visit in Queensland, we should cover. Write us below in the comment box.