Travel the Gold Coast - The 2019 guide to the best attractions

7th January, 2019

When it comes to finding a destination that offers something for any type of traveller, the Gold Coast has it all. Incessantly bathed in warm sunshine, Australia’s largest non-capital city has become a major holiday destination for both domestic and international travellers. The Gold Coast packs a lot of Australia spirit, showcasing some of the country’s finest beaches, best luxury hotels and resorts, stunning natural attractions, and a whole lot of fun and adventure.

Indeed, The Gold Coast is a perfect place to relax, or unleash your sense of adventure. But remember: don’t leave for your holidays without getting travel insurance first. You can click here to get a quote now.

Whether you’re in the mood for some glamorous shopping and dining out or simply want to unleash your inner child, the Gold Coast was designed for all around pleasure. Make the most of your next Gold Coast holiday with this helpful guide to the best of what the Gold Coast has to offer. Start packing your bags and let the fun and games begin.


Theme Parks

The Gold Coast is Australia’s theme park capital, where you can challenge your nerves to thrilling rides, meet your favourite movie characters, get up close and personal with wildlife, and simply cool off from the summer heat. While Disneyland may be missing Down Under, there is plenty of fun and excitement to be had in these incredible theme parks.&

Dreamworld: Dreamworld is Australia’s largest theme park, offering themed lands and over 40 rides and attractions. Strap yourself in for a thrill ride on roller coasters such as the BuzzSaw or feed a tiger on Tiger Island. Your favourite animated characters come to life with the DreamWorks Experience and you can celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture along with Australian wildlife at Dreamworld Corroboree.

Warner Bros. Movie World: A theme park where you can transport yourself into your favourite movies and walk alongside famous movie characters, Movie World is filled with some of Australia’s favourite themed rides and attractions. Ride the DC Rivals Hypercoaster, the tallest, longest, and fastest in the Southern Hemisphere or settle for the more family friendly Road Runner Roller Coaster. Meet Superman, Batman, and even Marilyn Monroe as you make your way through the Streets Star Parade and dance with Bugs Bunny at the Looney Tunes Dance Party.

Sea World: A theme park committed to marine research and rescue as well as offering exciting rides and attractions, Sea World offers fun for the whole family. Chill with the penguins and polar bears or suit up and swim with dolphins. Take in engaging shows including marine life presentations as well as an extreme jet ski stunt show. The Sea World Monorail System makes it easy to navigate the park as you seek out adventure in Castaway Bay and search for sharks in the Shark Bay Lagoon. You can also take advantage of the Sea World Resort, Australia’s only theme park resort, which will allow you the opportunity to play and stay.

Wet N Wild Water World: Dive into Australia's biggest water park all year round with refreshing water rides in the summer and heated pools and slides during the winter months. Brave the 50 km/h Kamikaze water slide or be left in the dark during a trip down the spiral of darkness known as the Blackhole. Relax as you float along the lazy river of Calypso Beach or simply soak in the giant hot tubs of Whirlpool Springs.


National parks

The Gold Coast isn’t all about the man-made attractions and high-rises, it also provides access to some of Australia’s most beautiful national parks. Known as the green behind the gold, the Gold Coast hinterland contains numerous world heritage listed sites that are home to a wide range of rare plants and animals that call the Gondwana Rainforests home. Here are just some of the must see national parks around the Gold Coast.

Tamborine National Park: Make your way through the park’s rainforest as you encounter gorges, cliffs, and waterfalls. Seek out wildlife such as platypuses and lyrebirds along hiking trails in sections such as Palm Grove or Witches Falls. Don’t miss the 40m high Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk as well as the fascinating Tamborine Mountain glow worm tours located at Cedar Creek Estate.

Springbrook National Park: Explore the lush forests of Springbrook which make up part of the UNESCO World Heritage listed Gondwana Rainforests of Australia. Highlights include the Natural Bridge waterfall over Cave Creek, glow worm caves, and the chance to camp and spot nocturnal wildlife such as sugar gliders and possums. During the day, one can spot koalas near Wunburra Lookout as well as numerous bird species including a wide variety of parrots. You’ll find plenty of waterfalls, picnic spots, lookouts, and trails to keep you busy for the day or several days.

Lamington National Park: Also part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, Lamington N.P. is packed with hiking trails and waterfalls. Get a bird’s eye view of the rainforest as you make your way through the canopy along the suspension bridges of O'Reilly's Tree Top Walk. You’ll find over 160km of trails within the park ranging from the easy to manage paved Centenary Trail to strenuous steep climbs. As far as accommodation goes, you’ll find everything from lavish rainforest retreats to basic camping in the Green Mountains.


Beaches

The Gold Coast’s nearly 60km of shoreline is home to some of Australia’s best beaches. From family friendly beaches to some of the area’s finest surfing, the pristine sands of the Gold Coast are what made it famous. The following are just some of the incredible beaches the area has to offer.

Surfers Paradise: While it may not be aptly named, since there are many better surfing beaches to be found along the Gold Coast, Surfers Paradise is one of the most popular due to its convenience. The beach is just a short walk to many of the area’s best restaurants, shopping, and high rise hotels. Here you will find the Gold Coast’s nightlife and entertainment hub which is geared toward a younger crowd. It is for this reason it has become one of Australia’s most popular destinations for schoolies. The availability of self-catering apartments makes it a great destination for families as well and the beachside markets offer fun for all ages.

Burleigh Heads: A popular surfing beach due to its famous surf breaks, Burleigh Heads often plays host to the Quicksilver Pro surfing contest. Burleigh Heads offers an escape from the large tourist crowds of Surfers Paradise, but can still get a bit busy at times. The sheltered nature of the beach makes it perfect for swimmers while Burleigh Head National Park offers a relaxing natural headland for hiking and whale watching.

Palm Beach: Palm Beach is the perfect spot for families due to it being one of Queensland’s cleanest beaches along with its offering of numerous picnic areas and clean facilities. The beach offers a more laid-back vibe that is void of the high rises you’ll see elsewhere along the Gold Coast. Instead, Palm Beach presents iconic Gold Coast beach shacks with the addition of modern cafes, bars, and restaurants. Enjoy beautiful walks that are dog friendly and safe swimming conditions for children around Tallebudgera Creek.

Coolangatta: Coolangatta offers pristine north facing beaches that offer clear sheltered waters that are perfect for swimming, fishing, and diving. Enjoy beachside parks and walking trails where you may be able to spot whales or dolphins, especially around Snapper Rocks. Whale watching tours are offered from May to October. Surfers will want to check out nearby Duranbah and Kirra beaches while swimmers will want to stick to Greenmount Beach and Rainbow Bay.


Shopping and entertainment

The Gold Coast is home to some of Australia’s largest malls where you’ll find countless local and international brand names. Be sure to pack an extra empty suitcase just in case you can’t contain yourself. In addition to great shopping, Gold Coast malls are packed with entertainment, great food, and recently renovated outdoor settings perfect for relaxing. Here are some of the shopping locales that are not to be missed.

Pacific Fair Shopping Centre: More like a luxury resort than a simple shopping centre, Pacific Fair is home to the world’s leading brand names. Located in Broadbeach Waters, the shopping centre has gone through a major redevelopment the past few years, making it one of the Gold Coast’s premier shopping destinations. Enjoy a free shuttle service that operates daily between Main Beach and Burleigh Heads as well as a first-class visitor lounge. Late night dining is available in the many fine restaurants located in The Resort, The Patio, and The Boulevard.

Harbour Town Outlet Shopping Centre: You’re sure to grab a bargain at what is said to be Australia's largest outlet shopping centre. Harbour Town Outlet Shopping Centre is home to iconic Australian brands such as UGG as well as international brands such as Victoria’s Secret and Nike. Enjoy convenient access just 15 minutes north of Surfers Paradise. The centre’s new outdoor dining precinct is set to open in summer 2018, which will make it even more appealing.

Cavill Avenue Pedestrian Mall: The centre of the Gold Coast’s shopping and entertainment district, Cavill Avenue and its pedestrian friendly mall offers just about anything you may be looking for. You will find a wide variety of restaurants, pubs, nightclubs, shops, and street entertainers. You will often have to share the lively beachside atmosphere with quite a number of tourists but that only adds to the experience. Enjoy popular attractions such as Ripley’s Believe It or Not! and the Wax Museum.


Food and drink

The Gold Coast offers a sophisticated dining scene that will leave food lovers scrambling to try all the delicious flavours available. Choose from simple beachside fish and chips shops all the way up to Michelin star quality restaurants. You definitely won’t be starving to find a great meal. Let us look at just some of what is in store for your tastebuds.

Restaurants: In addition to serving incredible food, nearly all restaurants in the Gold Coast offer stunning views. Many provide alfresco dining to take in breathtaking sunsets and you can find eateries that cater to all budgets. Enjoy an incredible traditional high tea at the Palazzo Versace and grab some of the area’s freshest seafood at The Fish House in Burleigh Heads.

Create your own dining bucket list and seek out dishes like deep-fried coconut prawns, sand crab lasagne, banana jaffle, cruffins, Patagonian toothfish, and seafood pizza. From breakfast to dinner and snacking in-between, the Gold Coast will definitely not disappoint your stomach. And with numerous beaches and outdoor recreation at your disposal, you can easily work off any guilt you may have from overeating.

Breweries: The craft beer market has exploded onto the Gold Coast scene with a brewing company to be found on nearly every corner. Head to Burleigh Heads to check out Black Hops’ famous Eggnog Stout or check out what legendary pro surfer Mick Fanning and his mates are brewing up at the Balter Brewing Company. Support new breweries like Miami’s Lost Palms Brewing Company with their Kombucha blends and IPAs or simply stick with an old Gold Coast favourite like Fortitude Brewing Co. by grabbing a tasting paddle of liquid gold brewed on Tamborine Mountain.

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