Best Places to Visit on the Gold Coast
The Gold Coast is one of Australia’s most famous resorts. Surfers Paradise, like the Australian version of Miami Beach, is the tourist hotspot for this stunning stretch of coastline that runs along the southeast Queensland coast from Coolangatta to Southport. Skyscrapers, designer shops and live entertainment against beautiful yellow beaches are just steps from the soft sand. Not far from the city, the famous Gold Coast theme park adds to all the exciting activities.
Adding to the hustle and bustle of this resort, you’ll find plenty of peace. Golden beaches stretch for miles south of Coolangatta, and safaris are among the family’s top attractions. Inland, nature lovers can relax amidst lush valleys, verdant hills and World Heritage-listed rainforest. Best of all, the subtropical Gold Coast gets more than 300 days of sunshine a year.
Have a look at our list of the Best Places to Visit on the Gold Coast and make your trip enjoyable.
15 Best Places to Visit on the Gold Coast
Here are the top 15 Most Beautiful and Best Places to Visit on the Gold Coast:
1. Surfer Paradise Beach
Sun, sand and sea – the Gold Coast’s alliteration assets – impress at this iconic three-kilometer beach. Despite the skyscrapers behind the beach and the many bronze corpses sunbathing along the shore, it’s still a surprisingly clean and picturesque area.
Kids can have fun in the shallows or build sandcastles on the soft white sand. Surfers can typically ride the gentle waves, and if you want a break from the sun, you can take shelter in one of the many shops, cafes and restaurants nearby. For all these reasons, it is generally considered one of the best beaches in Australia for those who prefer plenty of activity.
Looking north along Surfers Paradise Beach | Photo Copyright: Karen Hastings
Lifeguards patrol 365 days a year, but swimmers must stay between the red and yellow flags at all times. At night the beach is brightly lit and is ideal for evening walks.
On Wednesday, Friday and Sunday evenings, from 4 pm to 9 pm, bargain hunters flock to Surfers Paradise beach market, where over a hundred stalls sell everything from fashion, photography and art to souvenirs and a variety of commodity jewellery.
2. SkyPoint, Surfer’s Paradise
Located in the modern Q1 Resort and Spa, SkyPoint is Australia’s tallest residential tower with stunning views of the Gold Coast. Here you can choose between two sightseeing spots. The 77th floor SkyPoint Observation Deck offers 360-degree views of the Gold Coast, the sea and the green hinterland beyond.
More adventure seekers can opt for the SkyPoint Climb, and thrill seekers can climb a 270-metre high platform above the city. An exciting way to appreciate the soil. The more expensive SkyPoint Climb includes access to the observation deck, where you can relax in the cafe and browse the informative exhibits to help you plan your stay. Morning, day and twilight climbs are available.
Looking for fun things to do on the Gold Coast at night? Take a night climb and see the city illuminated with dazzling lights.
Official website: https://www.skypoint.com.au/
3. Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the best family friendly activities on the Gold Coast. The non-profit National Trust in Queensland, Australia owns this famous wildlife park and you’ll find lots to love here.
Bird lovers are in for a treat. Hundreds of brightly colored rainbow lorikeets are eaten from the hands of tourists and even perched on their heads.
Other highlights include a free-flying bird show, Tarzan Adventure Park high ropes, Segway tours, and a little train to keep little kids happy. Special animal encounters make the visit even more exciting – book breakfast with a koala or get up close and personal with an echidna, red panda or cotton marmoset.
Are there any new veterinarians in your group? Sign up for a viewing experience at Wildlife Hospital, and if you want an adrenaline rush, join the TreeTop Challenge, which features zip lines and overhanging canopy walks.
In addition to all the furry inhabitants, you can communicate with kangaroos, hug koalas and keep your distance from resident crocodiles.
All proceeds support animals.
Address: 28 Tomewyn Street, Currumbin, Queensland
Official website: http://www.cws.org.au/
4. Coolangatta Beach
Close to the NSW border, Coolangatta Beach offers a quieter alternative to the touristy Surfers Paradise beach. Just 30 minutes’ drive south of Surfers’ Main Beach. One of the best free things to do on the Gold Coast is to spend a day on the soft, sunny sand. The town of Coolangatta is also home to the Gold Coast Airport, so if you come by plane, you’ll be close to this coastal beauty.
If you look at the tourist map of the Gold Coast, you’ll see that the beach faces north, which means the water is generally calmer and conditions are good for swimming. Parents bring their kids here to play and have fun along the sparkling shoreline, where lifeguards patrol year-round. When you want to get away from the sun, sand and sea, you will find many shops and cafes along the beach.
Basement Coolangatta Beach is a lovely seaside park dotted with Norfolk pines. During the winter, it’s a popular spot to stroll the trails and look for whales and dolphins.
If you want to hit the waves, the most popular surfing spots nearby are Greenmount Point and Snapper Rocks at the east end of the beach; Just around the corner from Snapper Rocks is Duranbah (“D-bah”) and Kirra Beach with its sea. Famous for its fantastic sand-breaking Right-hand point.
5. Mount Tamborine
The beautiful Tamborine Mountains combine culture with nature. This peaceful retreat is located in scenic Queensland’s Gold Coast hinterland.
For a green solution, head to Tamborine National Park. In this subtropical wilderness, you can hike through the tranquil rainforest and eucalyptus forests, see waterfalls, and traverse lush canopies on the 45-minute Rainforest Skywalk Guided Canopy Tour. Watch out for lyrebirds as they roam the treetops.
After absorbing all this natural beauty, you can refuel in the small town of Tamborine Mountain. Craft shops, cafes, boutiques, and art galleries line the street, and you can sign up for a spa treatment or cooking class.
Another scenic Queensland attraction is the Mount Tamborine Botanical Gardens, and if you’re looking for something truly unique on the Gold Coast, save time by visiting the Mount Tamborine Glowworm Caves.
6. Sea World
SeaWorld on the Gold Coast is Australia’s largest marine park. Everyone, young and old, will love the exhibits and the busy performance agenda – the most popular include dolphins, sea lions and jet ski shows.
Other highlights at SeaWorld include polar bears, penguin feeding displays, and exhibits of tropical fish, sharks, and stingrays. The park even offers ocean-themed rides like roller coasters in the new Atlantis theme park. Take a ride on the monorail for a complete overview of the park.
If you’re wondering what to do for couples on the Gold Coast, sign up for a Dolphin Couple Adventure. Learn all about these curious mammals and interact with them in the water in this exclusive experience for two.
After seeing all the marine life, the little water park is a great place to cool off with the kids. Check the website for discounted multi-park combination tickets.
Address: SeaWorld Avenue, Main Beach, Queensland
Official website: http://seaworld.com.au/
7. Point Danger
Point Danger is one of the best spots on the Gold Coast for panoramic ocean views. This pine-crowned promontory is located in the border town of Coolangatta at the southern tip of the Gold Coast. This is the perfect place to take some photos and enjoy a picnic with ocean views.
Captain James Cook named Danger Points during his 1770 voyage to the east coast of Australia to warn other sailors of dangerous reefs.
You can learn more about the maritime history of the region at the monuments surrounding the promontory. Join the “Centaur Memorial Walk” to learn about those lost at sea and visit the Captain Cook Monument, made of cast iron aboard the USS Cook’s Endeavor. It was the first lighthouse to use a laser.
The view is magnificent. Check out Duramba Beach for dazzling views along the coast – on a clear day you can see all the way to Byron Bay. Watch out for whales and dolphins splashing and diving into the water. Grab a snack, set a spot at one of the picnic tables, or enjoy a barbecue here.
Access is easy. If time is limited, you can walk or drive on the headland. If looking at the waves makes you feel like you’re surfing, the famous Water
8. Burleigh Heads Beach
Swimming and surfing are two of the most popular activities at beautiful Burleigh Heads Beach. Surrounded by Norfolk pines and pandanus, this breathtakingly soft white sand is located between Surfers Paradise and Coolangatta.
Surfers usually head towards the famous break on the north side of the headland, but you can also take a break at the outer fence surf beach. Swimming is best in Burleigh and North Burleigh, two areas patrolled by lifeguards.
This is also an ideal beach for families. The beachfront park offers barbecues and many picnic corners, and you’ll find cafes and shops a short walk from the beach.
On the last Sunday of each month, shoppers can visit Justin Park’s Market, where more than 150 stalls sell everything from baked goods and fresh produce to local crafts.
Another perk that locals call “Burleigh” is Burleigh Heads National Park. This peaceful forest covers the headland and you can explore the park on scenic hiking trails and enjoy the high beach views – watch out for migrating whales in the spring.
9. Dream World and White Water World
Dreamworld is one of the Gold Coast’s most popular theme parks with an Aussie vibe. In addition to exciting roller coasters, live shows and movie characters, the park is home to many native Australian animals and offers up close and personal experiences with crocodiles, tree kangaroos and dingoes at the Dreamworld Corroboree. You can even sign up for a sunset safari to come face-to-face with the endangered big cats on Tiger Island.
Other highlights of this popular playground include Banana in Pajamas Fun Maze and every little kid’s favorite – Wiggles World.
Don’t miss the Steel Taipan, an appetizing new coaster with 1.2km of track, twisting half-pipes and spinning chambers. You can also fly over iconic Australian landscapes on Sky Voyager.
If time permits, you can pack your swimsuit and head to WhiteWater World, complete with water slides and kiddie pools. Check the website for special offers and combination tickets.
Address: Dreamworld Parkway, Coomera, Queensland
Official website: https://www.dreamworld.com.au/
10. South Stradbroke Island
If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the Gold Coast and play Robinson Crusoe for a day, South Stradbroke Island is the ideal getaway. Affectionately known by the locals as ‘South Straddie’, the 21-kilometer island is just 200 meters from the Spit at the north end of the main beach. But this seems like a distant world.
It’s less developed than its larger neighbor, North Stradbroke Island, to which it was once attached, but you’ll still find plenty to keep you occupied.
When it comes to outdoor activities on the Gold Coast, South Stradbroke has a lot to offer. Besides sunbathing on the beautiful and refreshingly uncrowded beaches, popular activities include swimming, surfing, snorkeling, sea kayaking, fishing, and hiking in the island’s conservation parks. Keep an eye out for local wildlife. Wallabies, bandicoots, sugar gliders, blue-tongued lizards, snakes, and many birds call the island home.
You can visit the island on a Gold Coast day trip (it’s also a popular day trip from Brisbane), and if you’re looking for something to do on the Gold Coast on a budget, you can stay the night at one of the three campgrounds. island. Other accommodation options include vacation rentals and apartments.
Charter boats, ferries and water taxis will bring you here from many Gold Coast departures, including Port Hope Marina and Runaway Bay Marina.
11. Federation Walk Coastal Reserve
Looking for a little piece of nature in the glitz and glamor of the Gold Coast? You can find it on the 3.5km Commonwealth Coast Trail. This popular hiking trail runs from a fig tree in the parking lot across from SeaWorld to the Gold Coast waterway along The Spit, through bushland and 93 acres of coastal land next to the beach.
The Commonwealth Walking Marine Reserve is one of the few areas on the Gold Coast to have a dune system that provides an important habitat for native animals. In particular, the reserve is known for its abundance of birds. Parrots such as white-headed roses, galas and rainbow lorikeets, as well as kingfishers, bee-eaters, pita and fairy-wren, are frequently seen here.
Don’t you want to walk? Cycling and jogging are other ways to enjoy this park. Alternatively, you can find a shaded spot on the beach and have a picnic while listening to the waves crash. Leash dogs are welcome to the trail and you can leave them on the leash at designated parks.
Official website: https://federationwalk.org/
12. Lamington National Park
World Heritage-listed Lamington National Park is known for its beautiful rainforest scenery, numerous waterfalls, and exotic wildlife. The park is about an hour’s drive from Surfers Paradise and is located in the verdant hills of the Frontier Range. These are the remnants of an ancient volcano, from which the Lamington Plateau plunges into magnificent cliffs and canyons.
Bird watchers will be in heaven. The park is home to more than 190 species, including colorful parrots and the gardener’s bird, named after the arches they build and decorate to impress their prospective mates. Other wildlife includes red-necked baboons and bandits.
A winding hill road leads to O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, a café-dining inn and spa. Spending the night in these romantic getaways is one of Gold Coast couples’ favorite things. From here, nature lovers can explore the park on O’Reilly’s Tree Top Walk, a 180-foot suspension bridge that crosses the rainforest canopy.
Official website: http://www.nprsr.qld.gov.au/parks/lamington/index.html
13. Springbrook National Park
Not far from the bustling coastline, Springbrook National Park offers a peaceful escape into the World Heritage-listed wilderness. Towering rock faces, rainforests, waterfalls, and canyons in the Macpherson Mountain Range dominate the park. A popular attraction is the Natural Arch Bridge, where a waterfall flows into a cave (home to a glowworm colony) and crosses a natural basalt arch.
Trails surrounded by rainforests lead from picnic areas to rivers and viewing points. From here you can see Mount Warning, the remnants of a large shield volcano. The beautiful Prinxi Waterfall in the central part of the park is another highlight.
The park is also a bird sanctuary with several threatened species.
Official website: http://www.nprsr.qld.gov.au/parks/springbrook/
14. Pacific Mall
Need to spice up your wardrobe or indulge in retail therapy? Pamper your wallet at Pacific Fair Mall. With palm trees, tranquil waterways and bridges, this sparkling indoor/outdoor mall in Broadbeach is home to more than 400 retailers, including big chains like Myer and Target.
If you’re looking for luxury, you can splurge at Gucci, Prada, Tiffany and Co, or Louis Vuitton, while budget-conscious fashionistas can stock up on the latest styles at stores like Zara and H&M. Need some help? Book a personal stylist to do leg work.
If all the shopping is making you tired, you can refuel at one of the restaurants or head to the food court for a bite to eat. Parent rooms, toddler playgrounds, and free school holiday activities enhance the shopping experience and allow parents to have more time to browse.
Address: Hooker Blvd, Broadbeach, Queensland
Official website: https://www.pacificfair.com.au/
15. Warner Bros. Movie World
Traveling with teenagers and writhing children? Warner Bros. Plan a day at Movie World. Here kids can come face to face with superheroes, ride roller coasters, watch stunts and immerse themselves in the fantasy world of 3D interactive rides.
Most of the rides here are geared towards older children and have strict height restrictions. But kids will love the Kids’ Fun Zone, featuring colorful toys and Looney Tunes characters. Parades on “Main Street” are also very popular.
Favorite rides for older kids include the spooky DC Rivals Hypercoaster, Doomsday Destroyer, and Green Lantern Coaster. Scooby Doo Spooky Coaster Next Generation keeps you on the edge of your seat with high-tech special effects and surprises.
Insider Tip: If you’re planning a theme park trip on the Gold Coast, consider purchasing a combo pass that provides discounted access to multiple parks.
Address: Pacific Highway, Gold Coast, Queensland
Official website: http://movieworld.com.au/
Hope you like our choice of the best places to visit on the Gold Coast. If you think there are some more beautiful places to visit on the Gold Coast, we should cover them. Write us below in the comment box.