Australia For First Timers: The Guide

The world’s smallest continent and the largest island, Australia is a traveler’s paradise. It is home to some of the most beautiful and exotic wildlife and a spectacular outdoor scenery including red-earthed national parks, scorching deserts, stunning beaches, picturesque rainforests and unique coral reefs. And despite Australia may not be the closest destination for most of us, it is definitely worthy to take a flight down there.

first timers guide to australia

Flying to Australia is a trip of a lifetime and you’ll probably want to make the best of your experience there. While it can be tough to narrow down the top Australian attractions, here are some suggestions that you may want to include in your travel bucket list. It’s a huge country and you’ll probably won’t be able to cover it all in a single trip, what possibly means that you’ll be coming back over and over again!


Sydney is one of the world’s most beautiful cities and a must-visit for anyone traveling to Australia. Its photogenic Sydney Harbor or the one-of-a-kind Sydney Opera House are some of the iconic landmarks that tourists can admire. It’s a vibrant, cosmopolitan city with an attractive international restaurant scene and a fun nightlife.  The city also boasts magnificent museums, great beaches and colorful neighborhoods. Animal lovers should plan visiting the city between May and November so that they can go whale watching!

Sydney really has it all: a stunning and iconic skyline, world-class beaches, an attractive natural scene, rich cultural attractions and fun nightlife. There are always things to do and it’s difficult to get bored here!

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Image by Patty Jansen from Pixabay

The fantastic Sydney Opera House with its iconic shell-shaped roof is one of the city’s symbols. Located in Bennelong Point, it’s one of the UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the world’s great architectural icons. It’s surrounded by water on three sides and the Royal Botanical Gardens to the south. It was designed by the Danish architect Jorn Utzon and it encompasses theaters, studios, a concert hall, exhibition rooms a cinema and various restaurants. You can attend a show there or take part in one of the guided tours where  you get to discover all the secrets of this building.

Next to the Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge is another of its iconic landmarks. It connects the CBD to the North Shore and it’s the biggest steel bridge in the world. Locals lovingly call it “The Clothes Hanger” due to its particular shape. If you want a thrill, do the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb and feel an unforgettable adrenaline rush! If you’re not that brave, you can always cross it by foot or by bike and admire the panoramic views of the city.

The city harbor is one of the most beautiful in the world. Many of Sydney’s suburbs make the most of the incredible views with plenty of restaurants located on or near it.

Taking a ride on a ferry is one of the best ways to see the city and its harbour from a different perspective. There are different ferry routes to choose from but the trip over to Luna Park is almost unbeatable.

Sydney is, a world class destination for the arts as well. It hosts a fascinating array of museums showcasing maritime and colonial history, indigenous culture and independent art. The Australian Museum is a must-visit attraction as well as the Powerhouse Museum or the Australian National Maritime Museum.

The Blue Mountains

Located only a few miles from Sydney, the Blue Mountains are a fantastic natural attraction and a magnet for tourists. It offers a magnificent natural scenery, spectacular wildlife and clean mountain air and it’s probably the best day trip from Sydney.

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Image by hjrivas from Pixabay

 A long lineup of must-visit locations populate the Blue Mountains: Wentworth Falls, the Everglades and the Three Sisters are definitely worth a visit. The view above The Three Sisters is one of the most iconic and beautiful you’ll appreciate. You can either travel by yourself or book tours that follow excellent schedules to help ensure that no essential highlight is missing within the span of a day. There are also more or less challenging walking trails for adventurous spirits. 

Bondi Beach

Considered as one of the top beaches in Australia, Bondi Beach is probably the most famous stretches of sand down there. It’s popular because of its turquoise waters and white sands, all close to the largest population centre in the country. It’s a magnet both for locals and tourists and it can get quite crowded in warm sunny days! Bronzed bodies, backpackers and a top surf destination… what else can you ask for?

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Image by Flo K from Pixabay

Bondi has a grassy hill that slopes into it and some casual lunch options together with a few higher-end restaurants. There are also shops and cafés along this famous coastal strip.

Bondi may not be the best option for swimmers and tides can be treacherous, so make sure you always stay within the safe zone.

Melbourne, Victoria

Melbourne is an awesome city to visit. Especially attractive to sports lovers, the Australian Open Tennis, the Melbourne Cup, the Grand Prix and the AFL take place there and offer visitors the possibility of enjoying some of the most exciting sporting events in the world. The local food scene is tasty and amazing and some of the best coffees in the country are served.

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Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Melbourne is probably the coolest city in Australia and it usually makes it to the top positions amongst the most livable cities. Queen Victoria Market, Eureka Square, The Arcades and Secret Lanes or Federation Skydeck are just some of the most interesting attractions you can appreciate there. With first-rate attractions scattered here and there, it’s really a tough competitor to Sydney! Cultural and architectural highlight and amazing outdoor locations will definitely keep you on your toes. .

You’ll probably fall in love with the city, its European feel and cosmopolitan vibe will make you feel welcome as soon as you arrive.

Great Ocean Road, Victoria

The Great Ocean Road is usually mentioned as one of the best road trips you can take. It’s an absolutely enjoyable ride that you’re advised not to drive in a single day. It stretches for 300 kilometers along Australia’s southeast coast, from the surfing town of Torquay to the town of Allansford, in Victoria.

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Image by Julian Hacker from Pixabay

If you’ve always wanted to go on a road trip, don’t miss the chance to fulfill your dream while in Australia. To avoid last-minute problems, you can easily rent a car at any of the international car rental agencies out there and, for the smoothest experience, you can  even purchase a car rental insurance policy before leaving to Australia and show it to the local agent when you pick your car.

The top attraction is Port Campbell National Park and the fantastic rock formations known as the Twelve Apostles, London Bridge, Loch Ard Gorge and the Arch. Of them all, the Twelve Apostles are the most famous one and an iconic Australian image worldwide. There’s a great walkway and lookout from where you can appreciate the stunning views of the Apostles as well as a great visitor centre.

The road trip can be completed in three days, but doing it in a week will give you more time to enjoy the stunning natural attractions en route.

Uluru, Northern Territory

Uluru is known as the spiritual heart of Australia and it’s one of those places you need to experience and appreciate yourself. Uluru asks you not to rush to take it all in: enjoy a sunrise or a sunset, take a camel ride, walk around its base…. Enjoy it!

It’s one of the most famous sites of the Australian Outback and a sacred site for the local indigenous people.  With its 348 meters, it is quite an imposing site in contrast to the flat desert landscape and one of the most instagrammable attractions in the country!

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Image by Sam Curry from Pixabay

Uluru stands out as a huge red monolith in the heart of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.  Don’t miss the chance to appreciate the splendid sunsets and participate in any of the interesting tribal tours that are offered by local Aboriginal guides. And for an adrenaline thrust, admire the magnificent views from above by helicopter or on a tandem sky dive!

Great Barrier Reef, Queensland

No Australian bucket list would be complete having the Great Barrier Reef included. Stretching for 2300 kilometers up the coastline of Queensland, the Great Barrier Reef is a natural wonder of the world that offers endless opportunities to divers and snorkelers. Most people visit it from Cairns, known as the unofficial gateway. 

Awe inspiring, dive or snorkel to get a close-up view of the dazzling corals, sea turtles, sharks, rays and multi-colored tropical fish that inhabit this mysterious world. Tourists that are not so adventurous can choose for safer but not less exciting experiences such as sailboats, a scenic flight for a bird’s eye view or a glass-bottomed semi submersible!

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Image by csharker from Pixabay

It is one of the seven natural wonders of the world and it is absolutely enjoyable to see it. In order to protect this fragile ecosystem that includes more than 3000 coral reefs, 600 continental islands and  hundreds of coral cays, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park was created in 1975.

The Gold Coast

The Gold Coast welcomes visitors with an endless stretch of sand and outstanding surf breaks. In fact, it is globally known as a paradise for surfers. The sand is lined with high rise resorts and condos and beachgoers can enjoy a delicious meal at the many eateries and dining options.

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Image by sandid from Pixabay

Needless to say, this is the place to go if you want to learn how to surf or if you are an avid surfer and want to try some of the most exciting and consistent waves all year round! 


South Australia’s cosmopolitan coastal capital is home to two of the country’s best museums: the Art Gallery of South Australia, displaying expansive collections of Indigenous art, and the South Australian Museum that is devoted to natural history.

Adelaide is also close to the abundance of Australian wildlife on Kangaroo Island and the gateway to different wine regions. 

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Image by Michael Dodd from Pixabay

Adelaide is bursting with flavors, culture and entertainment. Spend the night tasting delicious meals at award-winning restaurants and a thriving bar scene or participating in events and festivals.

There’s always something going on in Adelaide; so much so that it’s almost impossible to get bored. Attending a sporting event or a wine tour are just a few things you can do there.   

Surrounded by parklands, Adelaide is best explored by foot; the greenery of the Adelaide Botanic Gardens is an all-time favorite amongst tourists and locals.


Sunny, lively and the gateway to the Gold Coast, Brisbane is the capital of Queensland. It’s a popular tourist destination, dynamic and bathed with sunshine all year round. It enjoys fantastic weather, which makes it easier to enjoy plenty of diverse outdoor activities: biking, hiking and climbing are just some of them.

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Image by Siggy Nowak from Pixabay

Brisbane is a sparkling city and it’s one of the most popular Australian cities. The art scene is stunning with musicals and local artists performing everywhere.  Don’t miss the Museum of Brisbane, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, Maritime Museum or Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium.


Canberra is the capital city of Australia and it’s the last destination in our bucket list. There are cool climate wineries, great restaurants, cafes, bakeries and bars. There’s also plenty to see and do!

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It’s a spacious modern city designed around the striking central Anzac parade walk. Architecture is modernist and there are excellent national museums and art galleries. The National Gallery of Australia is famous for its impressive collection of Australian and international artworks and visit the country’s striking new Parliament House. A visit to Namadgi National Park will offer you a classic local wildlife encounter with koalas, wombats, koalas and kangaroos!

Pinnable Image:

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Tips for Trip Success

Book Your Flight
Find an inexpensive flight by using Kayak, a favorite of ours because it regularly returns less expensive flight options from a variety of airlines.

Book Your Hotel or Special Accommodation
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You Need Travel Insurance!
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Jane Clements

Thursday 17th of October 2019

I'm heading off to Australia in the New Year so this guide has come at just the right time. Adelaide is now on my list thanks to you