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Are you wondering what the best places to visit in Queensland are? If you’re planning a trip to Queensland, you will be spoilt for choice. From the world’s largest coral reef system to ancient rainforest, stunning beaches and country towns, Queensland is a favourite holiday destination in Australia!
This guide will help you plan the ultimate Queensland itinerary, sharing the best places to go in Queensland and a few hidden gems you might not have heard of too!
As Queenslanders ourselves, we have explored our expansive home state quite thoroughly, yet there are still plenty of places to discover and unique spots that only the locals might know about. We are definitely grateful to live in the Sunshine State!
Need a rental car for your must-see Queensland itinerary? Book here
Beautiful Places To Go In Queensland: Quick Travel Tips
Before you plan your next bucket list trip, exploring beautiful Queensland and experiencing the best things to do in Queensland Australia, let’s plan your visit:
Best Time To Visit Queensland
There isn’t really a bad time to visit Queensland! Even in winter, Queensland gets plenty of sunshine and warm temperatures, making it the perfect destination if you love spending time in the great outdoors!
Of course, if you want to spend your time at Queensland’s best beaches, visiting between November and March is great for South East Queensland.
On the flip side, this is the worst time to visit Far North Queensland, due to it being the wet season, with a higher chance of tropical cyclones and flash flooding in places.
It’s also the peak stinger season – jellyfish! You will need a stinger suit if you want to visit the reef during this time.
How To Get Around Queensland
Queensland is a large state! Second in size to Western Australia. This means some of the best places to visit are quite a distance apart. That’s why your best option to get around Australia is hiring a rental car!
With road trip opportunities galore, each offering scenic routes and plenty of exciting stops along the way, having your own car or a rental car makes this very easy. Grab your rental car from Brisbane Airport or one of the other Queensland Airports upon arrival.
Find the best price on a car or van to suit your needs on DiscoverCars or if it’s a budget campervan you’re looking for, check out Jucy or their partner brand Star RV.
Queensland does have a fairly decent public transport system too with buses and trains between major cities and within the cities themselves. There is still a lot you can see and do if you decide not to get a car.
Queensland Attractions & Tours
If you are visiting any of the highly popular tourist attractions in Queensland, especially during the Australian school holidays, you will want to book ahead of time!
Book attraction tickets and tours via our favourite site Get Your Guide. They have a free cancellation policy too!
Best Places to Visit In Queensland
Now that we’ve covered the basics on how to get around in Queensland and when to visit, it’s time to get to the very reason you’re here – to find out where the most popular places in Queensland to go are!
It only seems right to kick off this list of the most beautiful places with one of the most famous attractions in all of Australia – the Great Barrier Reef!
This natural wonder is the largest coral reef system in the world. It’s so large, you can see it from space! Crazy! It covers more than 344,000 square kilometres.
The Great Barrier Reef stretches along the Queensland coastline from off the coast of Bundaberg in the South, up to the most northern tip of Queensland.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site with many attempts being made to preserve the beauty of this coral ecosystem.
If you are wondering how to visit the Great Barrier Reef, you have quite a few places you can depart from. Many of these places will feature on this list, including Cairns, Bundaberg, Whitsundays and Magnetic Island to name a few.
Is visiting the oldest rainforest in the world on your bucket list? It should be!
The Daintree Rainforest is over 135 million years ago and one of travel guru Sir David Attenborough’s favourite places in the world – “The most extraordinary place on Earth” is how he described it.
Stretching over 1,200 square kilometres, this ancient rainforest is a magical place for nature lovers to explore the lush foliage and crystal-clear streams. You’re almost guaranteed to have some sort of wildlife encounter too!
Although it might be less unexpected than the wild pig we saw at Mossman Gorge…
There are a lot of different experiences you can have in the Daintree. Take a Daintree River cruise and spot some local saltwater crocodiles as your guide teaches you about the ecosystem and the fauna of the area.
Cool off at Mossman Gorge, a beautiful wild swimming hole and one of the most popular Daintree attractions. There is a great walking track too.
In fact, there are a lot of incredible hiking trails in the Daintree Rainforest to suit all levels of fitness and difficulty.
One of our personal favourite places in Queensland is Cairns! It’s also one of the best places to explore the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree National Park. But that’s just the beginning of reasons to visit Cairns!
Cairns itself is one of the most popular destinations in Tropical Queensland and it is most definitely somewhere you will want to have your own car! There are so many options for day trips from Cairns and you need at least 1 week in Cairns.
Some of our favourites include Green Island, Paronella Park, Kuranda, Mission Beach, Port Douglas and Palm Cove. Other popular day trips include Atherton Tablelands and Fitzroy Island, which are places we haven’t yet had the chance to visit.
In the heart of Cairns, you will have more than enough things to do too. The Cairns Esplanade Lagoon is a favourite for kids since Cairns doesn’t have great beaches. There are some incredible restaurants in Cairns, especially along the Marina.
Plus there’s Cairns Aquarium, Zoom Wildlife where you can zipline over an enclosed zoo and the cruise terminal to take you right out to the Great Barrier Reef or one of the many islands.
Cairns Vs Port Douglas – Many people ask whether Cairns or Port Douglas is better. If you want to laze by the beach in a resort town, Port Douglas is a better choice, however, our personal preference is Cairns as you will have far more options for things to do and places to eat. They are both beautiful places.
Located in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, the Whitsunday Islands are a must-visit destination in Queensland. This group of 74 islands is known for its crystal clear waters and stunning white sandy beaches, making it a popular spot for snorkelling, diving, and sailing.
One of the most famous beaches in the Whitsundays is Whitehaven Beach, a pristine stretch of sand that has consistently been ranked as one of the best beaches in the world.
The swirling sands of Hill Inlet, which provide stunning panoramic views of the area, are just a short hike away.
In addition to its natural beauty, the Whitsunday Islands are also home to some of the best luxury resorts and spas in Australia. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or a family vacation, the Whitsundays is a pretty epic way to spend it!
Some of the best places to visit in the Whitsundays include Hamilton Island, Daydream Island and Hayman Island.
Although, if you’re not keen on the price tag of a Whitsundays Island holiday, you can definitely still enjoy an island day trip.
There are plenty of cruises and day tours to take you to some of the most iconic and scenic spots in the Whitsundays. Many of them depart from Airlie Beach (which is next on our list).
If you’re looking for the gateway to the Whitsundays, Airlie Beach is exactly the place you’re looking for! This is by far one of the best places to visit in Queensland simply because of it’s perfect location along the coast.
The Cultural Complex is always a great free day out in the city with the Queensland Museum and Art Galleries, plus the National Library to visit.
Southbank is by far one of the best places to go in Brisbane, situated along the Brisbane River. Here you will find some of the best restaurants in Brisbane, bars, playgrounds and Brisbane’s own beach. A man-made beach right in the centre of Brisbane.
This is a popular place to spend a summer day and there is always something going on in Southbank Parklands.
While the Brisbane River itself might not be so pretty – the brown snake, you can’t miss the chance to catch a CityCat Ferry along the river and explore beyond Brisbane CBD.
One of our favourite stops is Eat Street Northshore. On Friday through Sunday afternoons, this former container wharf comes alive with pop-up international food and drink, live music and entertainment.
Howard Smith Wharves is another must-visit! Enjoy a craft beer at Felons Brewery under the Story Bridge as the sun goes down.
A little further from Brisbane city you can see native Australian wildlife at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. It is located in Fig Tree Pocket and a bit of a drive, but there is also a daily river cruise to take you there too.
This is a great place to get up close with Australian animals. I did my high school work experience here, so it holds a bit of a special place in my heart!
If it’s secluded beaches and glorious national parks you’re looking for, the Sunshine Coast is definitely one of the best places to visit in Queensland!
With its stunning coastline, lush hinterland, and laid-back atmosphere, the Sunny Coast is the perfect place to unwind for a few days or longer.
One of the highlights of the Sunshine Coast is Noosa, a picturesque town with a charming coastal village feel. Here you’ll find quaint cafes and restaurants, and plenty of boutique shopping opportunities on Hastings Street.
Go on a hike through the Noosa National Park, and you’re likely to spot wildlife from the land and water. There are some great vantage points for dolphin and whale sightings.
If you’re looking for a more active experience, head to Caloundra. This is a popular spot for families as there are some great family resorts here, with close access to the beaches.
Another favourite of ours is Mooloolaba. Here you will find a bustling esplanade with cafes, resorts and bars. There is a huge playground on the beachfront. Plus you can visit Sea Life Mooloolaba at the Mooloolaba Wharf and then grab something delicious to eat.
And of course, there are also beautiful spots like Rainbow Beach and Coolum too.
Things To Do On The Sunshine Coast
Visit SeaLife Aquarium
Go for a hike in Noosa National Park
Learn to surf
Do the coastal walk between Mooloolaba and Alexandra Headlands
The Sunshine Coast Hinterland deserves a mention of its own. You could easily spend a week or two exploring the region and still barely skim the surface.
The Sunshine Coast Hinterland includes some of the most quaint little towns but also some lush rainforests and national parks. This is definitely a place to come if you love the great outdoors!
Two of the most popular towns in the hinterland are Montville and Maleny. These mountain towns are full of boutique shops, handmade treats and hidden gems. Plus you can stay in an old church in Maleny, which we did on our most recent visit.
Eumundi is well known for its huge weekend markets where you can find handmade goods, clothing, delicious local food, jewellery, artwork, live music and produce.
You will have no shortage of walking tracks in the hinterland. One of the most popular tracks is the Kondalilla National Park track which takes you to Kondalilla Falls. Worth the walk!
The Glass House Mountains are also located within the Hinterland area, with great views and walking tracks. They are also not too far from Australia Zoo, which is most definitely worth visiting!
Things To Do In The Sunshine Coast Hinterland
Hike to Kondalilla Waterfall
Swim at Gardners Falls
Get a craft beer at Brouhaha Brewery
Enjoy baked goods from Kenilworth Bakery
Stroll the Eumundi Markets
Visit Australia Zoo
Best Places To Stay In The Sunshine Coast Hinterland
The Gold Coast is a well-known vibrant and lively coastal city that stretches along the southeast coast of Queensland, and it’s a must-visit destination for beach lovers and thrill-seekers alike.
The Gold Coast offers endless opportunities for surfing, swimming, and sunbathing. Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly beach or a secluded cove, you can find it here.
Besides the golden beaches, the Gold Coast is also famous for its theme parks, including Dreamworld, Warner Bros Movie World, and Sea World, plus White Water World and Wet N Wild waterparks. There is also Top Golf and the Australian Outback Spectacular.
Surfers Paradise is the place most people think of when planning a visit to the Gold Coast, and it is a great option if you want loads of attractions, entertainment and events, with Main Beach a popular choice for a swim.
Pretty much there will be something to see and do on every corner, even on a rainy day!
In the evenings, Surfers Paradise comes alive with its busy nightlife. From beachfront bars and clubs to world-class restaurants and cafes, there’s no shortage of options for a fun night out.
Just as the Sunshine Coast Hinterland needed its own mention, so too does the Gold Coast Hinterland. It could not be a bigger contrast from Surfers Paradise!
If you’re ready to trade in the busy centre of the Gold Coast for mountains, rainforests and waterfalls, the Gold Coast Hinterland is exactly where to go!
Springbrook National Park offers a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of city life with walking tracks and lookouts galore, leading to some spectacular waterfalls and the Gondwana Rainforests.
Lamington National Park is a favourite for bird waters, with several walking tracks starting from O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat. There is a treetop walk here with suspension bridges over the rainforest canopy for some fantastic views. If you don’t mind heights!
Mount Tambourine is another favourite place of ours with this cute rainforest village up on the mountain. Here you will find some great places to dine with a view, handmade fudge and ice cream, boutique shops, Curtis Falls and the botanical gardens.
If you have the time, make a stop at O’Reillys Canungra Valley Vineyard where you can do a wine tasting of their delicious wines and rent an alpaca. Okay, so you can walk and feed your own personal alpaca.
This is such a fun experience. I’m not sure who enjoyed it more… me or the kids!
Things To Do In The Gold Coast Hinterland
Hike through the rainforest tracks
See the Springbrook National Park glow worms
Do a wine tasting and alpaca walk at Canungra Valley Vineyard
Located off the coast of Queensland, Fraser Island is the world’s largest sand island. This alone puts it pretty high on the list of places to see in Queensland! It’s also a must-visit destination for nature lovers.
Although Fraser Island is definitely somewhere best visited for a few days rather than by day trip since you need to get there by ferry from Brisbane.
Fraser Island is home to the stunning Lake McKenzie, which is known for its clear turquoise waters and white sand. This is a parched rainwater lake and one of the most visited places on the island so visit early to miss the crowds.
Don’t forget your pool floaties for a float down Eli Creek. This is another iconic Fraser Island experience you need to have.
You will need a 4-wheel drive vehicle if you plan to drive on Fraser Island. The popular Seventy Five Mile Beach is a huge drawcard for many visitors for the chance to do some beach driving.
There are also wrecks to snorkel, sand dunes, walking tracks, fishing and plenty of water activities to enjoy.
But there are far more reasons to visit Bundy! The Botanic Gardens are massive and have playgrounds and other fun attractions scattered through them. You can even see eels and turtles in the lake.
There is a free zoo next to the large Alexandra Park. There are some stunning beaches to spend your days. And plenty of places to eat and drink.
During November and March, you have the chance to see the Mon Repos turtles hatching or laying eggs. This is the most popular time to visit Bundaberg and the turtle tours do book out early so plan ahead.
The other must-do is a visit to Lady Musgrave Island. This small coral cay is located within the Southern Great Barrier Reef, approximately 70 kilometres offshore from Bundaberg.
If you want to experience the Great Barrier Reef without heading to Far North Queensland, the Lady Musgrave Experience is perfect for this!
It takes 2 hours each way by catamaran to reach Lady Musgrave so while you can most definitely enjoy a day trip, you might even like to extend it to an overnight stay on the island.
Or better still, do a ‘Sleep on the reef’ pontoon stay and sleep on the Great Barrier Reef. How cool!
The Tangalooma wrecks off Moreton Island are the most recognised in Queensland and feature heavily in Queensland tourism campaigns. And for good reason – they draw huge crowds each year of people wanting to snorkel the wrecks.
Moreton Island is a stunning Queensland destination with pristine beaches and clear waters. This is somewhere you come if you want a bit of adventure!
There are plenty of activities on offer, including snorkelling, kayaking, swimming, and sandboarding. And of course, Moreton Island is also home to the Tangalooma Wrecks, a unique snorkelling and diving site with sunken ships that have become a haven for marine life.
If you are heading to northern Queensland, a stop in Townsville is the gateway to the beautiful Magnetic Island. Catch the barge across from Townsville for a day or spend a few days enjoying the many hidden gems on this tropical North Queensland island.
The island is only 20 minutes by ferry (or 40 if you’re catching the car ferry and bringing your vehicle). You can easily get around without your own car though as there is a bus service that runs on the island and bikes you can hire.
On the island, you will find Northern Australia’s largest colony of koalas. Take a visit to Billabong Sanctuary and Bungalow Bay Koala Village. There are also loads of walking trails and wildlife-spotting opportunities.
The secluded bays might be the best part though. Arcadia was our favourite spot, which is the smallest of the 4 bays.
There are plenty of activities to keep you busy, from sea kayak tours to glass bottom boat tours of the Great Barrier Reef, scuba diving the wrecks off the coast, horse riding on the beach and much more.
There are some amazing places to stay on the island too.
Bribie Island is the smallest of the 3 beautiful sand islands located on the east coast of Queensland, just north of Brisbane. If you want an island stay that isn’t too far from Brisbane, this is a good place to visit in Queensland for exactly that!
Plus you don’t have to catch a ferry as there is an access bridge to Bribie Island from the mainland.
Bribie Island offers plenty of fun things to do along this beautiful coastal location with bush camping in the Bribie Island National Park being a fun way to experience it.
You can hire a pontoon boat for a day of fishing and boating in the beautiful Pumicestone Passage. You will likely spot a lot of wildlife along the way too. This protected marine area is home to some incredible creatures, including dolphins, turtles and dugongs.
You can also do tours of the Pumicestone Passage to get a better knowledge of the ecosystem.
The foreshore area at Bongaree is perfect for families, with a playground and calm water, picnic facilities and boat ramps for a day on the water.
Agnes Water and Town of 1770 are located on the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. Together, they offer a unique combination of coastal activities and attractions, making it one of the best places to visit in Queensland!
These two towns are located alongside each other and are essentially a package deal! They are also an access point to the Southern Great Barrier Reef. You can visit Lady Musgrave Island from here.
During July to October, you might spot migrating humpback whales and their calves, or see dolphins and dugongs all year round at Rodd’s Bay, near Turkey Beach.
Captain Cook’s Landing Place is one of the only places on the east coast of Australia where you can paddle out and watch the sunset over the ocean! A memorable experience for sure!
If you love exploring the wine regions of Australia, Stanthorpe is one on the must-visit list! It is also a beautiful place to go if you want to get away from the big cities and beaches and enjoy quaint country towns instead.
This rural getaway has a lot to see and do though! And a chance to explore the Granite Belt region in Southern Queensland.
The area is known for its wineries, with world-class winemakers crafting some of Australia’s finest cool-climate wines. You can go on wine-tasting tours or simply visit one of the many cellar doors located throughout the region.
There are plenty of walking trails, quaint cafes and restaurants serving local produce, plus art galleries showcasing local artwork and creative wares.
Another thing that makes Stanthorpe cool is the fact that this small town is located 1,000 metres above sea level, making it one of the highest towns above sea level in Australia. It’s also one of the coldest places in Queensland and somethings it even snows!
The best time to be in town is during the Stanthorpe Apple and Grape Harvest Festival, held every second year.
What UNESCO World Heritage Sites are in Queensland?
There are 5 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Queensland. They are the Great Barrier Reef, K’gari (Fraser Island), Gondwana Rainforests, Riversleigh Fossil Sites, and the Wet Tropics.
When is the best month to visit Queensland?
September is considered one of the best months to visit Queensland if you are planning to visit both South East Queensland and North Queensland.
The Great Barrier Reef is the most popular natural attraction in Queensland. Australia Zoo and Paronella Park are amongst the most popular man-made attractions.
What is the most popular attraction in Queensland?
What is the most northern point of Queensland?
Cape York is the most northern point of Queensland. It is also the most northern point of Australia.
We hope this list of the best places to visit in Queensland has helped you plan your Queensland bucket list! Whether you’re looking for white sandy beaches and natural wonders or family-friendly Queensland tourist attractions and delicious food, you will find it in this beautiful Australian state!
Did we miss any of the most beautiful places in Queensland from this list?