Australia is a vast country that is just slightly smaller than the continental United States. So it probably shouldn’t be surprising that a country this large would also be home to some of the most unusual destinations and creatures in the world.
Traveling around the world’s smallest continent and largest island, you’ll find a beautiful land with ancient indigenous heritage, the rugged Outback, and a thriving multicultural society. You’ll also see amazing beaches, incredible biodiversity and sandstone monoliths that have been around for millions of years. And that barely scratches the surface!
Among the many iconic sites and landmarks you can visit in Australia are Ayers Rock and the Sydney Opera House. While these spots are very popular with tourists, there are a number of tourist attractions in Australia that aren’t as well-known but are just as impressive.
Too much, in fact. So it pays to plan your schedule thoroughly before your visit to make the most of your time in this fascinating country.
In this post, we'll cover:
25. Lighthouse Trail, Byron Bay
The Lighthouse Trail in Byron Bay is a scenic coastal walk that stretches along the easternmost point of mainland Australia. This iconic trail offers breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean, rugged cliffs, and lush rainforest. So, it should be on the bucket list of anyone who loves nature or hiking.
The trail begins at Cape Byron Lighthouse, an iconic landmark that has stood proudly since 1901, and meanders along well-maintained paths, allowing visitors to absorb the stunning natural beauty. As it is the easternmost point in Australia, you will be the first person to see the sunrise if you can get there in time.
Along the way, the trail has numerous lookout points that provide sweeping panoramic vistas, including the famous Cape Byron Lookout. Watch for dolphins and whales (in season) whilst on it.
24. Kings Canyon
Over in the Northern Territory, Kings Canyon is a natural wonder renowned for its remarkable sandstone formations and breathtaking landscapes.
This incredible geological marvel is part of the Watarrka National Park and is regarded as one of the most beautiful tourist attractions in Australia. The canyon is characterized by its towering sandstone walls that rise majestically above the canyon floor to create a visually stunning and rugged terrain.
One of the most famous features of Kings Canyon is the ‘Garden of Eden’. This lush and verdant oasis is nestled within the heart of the canyon – providing a stark contrast to the otherwise arid surroundings of the area.
The canyon has several walking trails – including the challenging Kings Canyon Rim Walk – that allow visitors to explore this extraordinary natural environment. The vistas of the surrounding outback are spectacular, so make sure you have a camera with you.
23. Barossa Valley Wineries
If you love wine, visiting the Barossa Valley is one of the best things to do in Australia. Located in South Australia, it is considered one of the world’s premier wine regions.
This region is famous for producing some of Australia’s most iconic wines, particularly Shiraz. But also a wide range of other varietals, including Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache.
Overall, the Barossa Valley is home to a multitude of wineries, each with its own unique character and winemaking traditions. Visitors can explore historic and contemporary wineries, often run by multi-generational winemaking families. Many of these establishments offer cellar-door tastings, where you can sample their wines and gain insight into the winemaking process.
In addition to the wine, the Barossa Valley is renowned for its culinary scene, with numerous hatted restaurants and food producers showcasing the region’s outstanding produce.
22. Port Arthur Historic Site, Tasmania
Located on the Tasman Peninsula in Tasmania, The Port Arthur Historic Site is a significant and haunting historical destination.
It was initially a brutal convict settlement established in 1830, where British convicts served their sentences in a remote and harsh environment. However, today, it now takes the form of a site that preserves the ruins and stories of this dark chapter in Australian history.
Visitors to Port Arthur can explore the well-preserved ruins of the former penal colony – including the penitentiary, the separate prison and the imposing Penitentiary Chapel. The site offers guided tours and interpretive displays that provide deep insights into the lives of the convicts, the hardships they endured and the penal practices of the time.
While Port Arthur is known for its grim history, the surrounding landscape is stunningly beautiful. Scenic walking trails and water views provide a striking contrast to the site’s dark past.
21. Rottnest Island
Rottnest Island, often affectionately referred to as ‘Rotto’, is a captivating island paradise in the Indian Ocean, just off the coast of Perth. Famous for its stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and unique wildlife, Rottnest Island is a popular destination for both locals and tourists.
The island is renowned for its pristine, white sandy beaches and exceptional snorkeling and diving opportunities, allowing visitors to explore vibrant coral reefs and encounter abundant marine life. A highlight of any visit to Rottnest is the opportunity to meet the island’s most famous resident, the quokka, a friendly and photogenic marsupial.
In addition to outdoor activities, Rottnest Island offers a rich history. Sites like the Wadjemup Lighthouse and the Oliver Hill Battery convey glimpses of the island’s past as a military installation and penal colony.
20. Kata Tjuta
Often called ‘The Olgas’, Kata Tjuta is an extraordinary natural wonder near Uluru in the heart of the Red Center of Northern Territory. Comprising a group of large and ancient rock formations, Kata Tjuta is a sacred site for the local Anangu people and holds deep cultural significance.
Kata Tjuta means ‘many heads’ in the local indigenous language, which is apt, as the site features 36 massive domes that rise dramatically from the desert landscape. The highest peak, Mount Olga, stands even taller than Uluru.
These geological formations are composed of conglomerate rock and have been shaped by millions of years of erosion, weathering and natural forces. Visitors can explore the site through walking trails, the most popular being the Valley of the Winds walk, which provides breathtaking panoramic views of the domes and surrounding desert.
19. Bondi Beach, Sydney
Bondi Beach is one of the most famous beaches in the world. Situated in the eastern suburbs of Sydney, this iconic stretch of coastline is renowned for its golden sands, crystal-clear waters and buzzy vibe.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that Bondi Beach is just a place to swim and sunbathe. It is a cultural hub with a diverse mix of tourists, workers and locals. Surfers flock to Bondi to ride the waves, while the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk offers a scenic pathway with dramatic coastal vistas, passing by other beautiful beaches.
The bustling promenade, Campbell Parade, is lined with trendy cafes, restaurants and shops – making it an ideal spot to grab a coffee, enjoy a meal, or people-watch.
18. South Bank Parklands, Brisbane
Brisbane is the capital of the state of Queensland, and its crown jewel is arguably the South Bank Parklands. This sprawling parkland, nestled along the southern banks of the Brisbane River, is a place where culture, recreation and community converge.
Visitors can enjoy beautiful gardens, splendid river views, and several recreational spaces, including Streets Beach. Australia’s only inner-city man-made beach, it is a popular spot for swimming and relaxing by the river. The parklands also feature the Wheel of Brisbane, an iconic Ferris wheel that offers panoramic city views.
If you are into cultural attractions, you should enjoy the parkland’s proximity to the Queensland Cultural Center. It is home to the Queensland Art Gallery, Gallery of Modern Art and the Queensland Performing Arts Center.
There are also plenty of restaurants, cafes and bars here, and regular markets.
17. Australian War Memorial, Canberra
The Australian War Memorial – located in Canberra – is a solemn and prestigious institution. It serves as both a museum and a shrine dedicated to the country’s military history and the sacrifices made by Australian servicemen and women.
Established in 1941, the memorial honors and commemorates those who have served and fallen in the line of duty from World War I to the present day. The memorial is a museum that houses an extensive collection of artifacts, photographs and interactive displays.
It provides visitors with a comprehensive and educational perspective on Australia’s involvement in conflicts. The Hall of Memory is the heart of the memorial, where the Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier lies, representing all unknown soldiers who have given their lives.
Additionally, the Australian War Memorial includes beautifully landscaped grounds and the poignant Last Post Ceremony, which takes place every evening.
16. Kangaroo Island
Just a short hop from the southern coast of South Australia, Kangaroo Island is a natural paradise renowned for its stunning landscapes, abundant wildlife and pristine beaches. The island, known as ‘Kangars’ or ‘KI’ by locals, is Australia’s third-largest island. It is home to various wildlife species, including kangaroos, wallabies, koalas and a thriving bird population.
The island’s rugged coastline features dramatic sea cliffs, hidden coves and beautiful sandy beaches that are great for photographing and exploring on foot. Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch in Flinders Chase National Park are two of the island’s iconic, must-see natural formations – showcasing the power of wind and waves.
Visitors can explore conservation parks, engage in wildlife encounters and savor the island’s fresh produce, including honey, wine and seafood. Adventure activities such as hiking, surfing and kayaking are popular here.
15. Seaside Lagoon, Cairns
Residing at the heart of the Cairns Esplanade is a beautiful swimming Lagoon that provides a wonderful respite from the oppressive humidity that can grip the city.
This man-made saltwater swimming pool sits against the backdrop of the stunning Coral Sea, lush tropical gardens and distant mountains.
The sea around the Esplanade is unsuitable for swimming due to its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef. Subsequently, the Cairns Lagoon provides a safe and relaxing environment for people to do so while enjoying the beautiful surroundings. It is open until late evening and is a popular spot for families and those looking to unwind after work or a day of exploring the region’s natural wonders.
The Seaside Lagoon is also a central hub of activity – offering barbecues, picnic areas and various events throughout the year.
14. Pinnacles Desert
Situated within Nambung National Park in Western Australia, The Pinnacles Desert can best be described as a surreal and captivating natural wonder.
It is known for its otherworldly, eerie landscape dominated by thousands of limestone pillars, or pinnacles, rising from the golden sands of the desert. These limestone formations vary in size and shape, some reaching several meters in height, and are scattered across a vast area, creating a truly mesmerizing sight.
The Pinnacles were formed over millions of years through the accumulation of seashell fragments and the erosion of the surrounding sand, revealing these ancient geological sculptures.
Visitors can explore the desert on designated walking trails or by car, taking in the unique and enigmatic scenery. The play of light and shadows on the pinnacles at sunrise and sunset adds to the site’s ethereal beauty.
13. Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne
The Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne has provided a place for locals to escape the vibrant pace of life in the city since 1846.
Not to be confused with the one in Sydney, this historic garden is renowned for its curated collection of plants – both native and exotic – and stunning landscapes.
Whilst there, you can explore themed gardens, including the enchanting Guilfoyle’s Volcano, the peaceful Fern Gully and the Arid Garden. The gardens also house a herbarium, a library and educational facilities.
Centrally located adjacent to the iconic Shrine of Remembrance, they make a popular destination for picnics, leisurely walks, outdoor events and people-watching. The gardens are free to enter and are open every day of the year except public holidays.
12. Cradle Mountain, Tasmania
Cradle Mountain is one of Tasmania’s most iconic natural landmarks. You’ll find it within the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park in the central highlands of the island state.
The mountain itself, along with the surrounding wilderness, is part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, celebrated for its rugged beauty, pristine alpine lakes, and unique biodiversity.
Cradle Mountain is often considered the jewel of the national park and is a popular destination for hikers and nature lovers. The park offers walking trails suitable for various fitness levels, with the Overland Track being one of the most famous long-distance hikes in Australia, leading through this captivating landscape.
The area surrounding Cradle Mountain is home to diverse wildlife, including wombats, wallabies, and the elusive Tasmanian devil. Dove Lake, nestled at the base of Cradle Mountain, offers postcard-worthy reflections of the mountain on calm days.
11. Daintree Rainforest
The Daintree Rainforest is a tropical rainforest located in Far North Queensland. It is famous for being one of the oldest rainforests on the planet, with some areas dating back over 135 million years.
This lush rainforest houses stunning biodiversity and has unique ecological significance. It accommodates an incredible array of plant and animal species, including many found nowhere else in the world.
You can explore the dense canopy, crystal-clear streams, and pristine beaches of the Daintree on foot. However, keep an eye out for crocodiles by the Daintree River!
In addition to its natural beauty, the Daintree Rainforest is culturally significant to the local Kuku Yalanji Aboriginal people, who have inhabited the region for thousands of years.
K’gari – formerly known as Fraser Island – is a pristine and enchanting island off the eastern coast of Queensland. Renamed in 2021, the island’s indigenous Butchulla name, K’gari, means ‘paradise’ – a fitting description for this natural wonder.
As the largest sand island in the world, K’gari is known for its diverse ecosystems, including lush rainforests, crystal-clear freshwater lakes and vibrant coastal dunes. Lake McKenzie, Lake Wabby and the Maheno Shipwreck are among the island’s iconic attractions.
K’gari offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience of unspoiled wilderness. Tourists can explore its natural beauty through various activities, including 4×4 adventures, hiking, camping, and wildlife watching. The island is also home to plenty of dingoes, so be mindful not to approach or provoke them.
9. Blue Mountains National Park
The Blue Mountains National Park is a breathtaking natural wonder about a 50-minute drive from Sydney. It is famous for its imposing sandstone cliffs, bosky eucalyptus forests, rugged canyons and thunderous waterfalls – which makes it a nature lover’s paradise.
The Blue Mountains is known for its misty atmosphere, created by eucalyptus oil evaporating from the gum trees, giving rise to the famous ‘blue’ haze that envelops the area.
It offers an extensive network of walking tracks, leading you through its diverse landscapes to prominent sites like the Three Sisters rock formation, Wentworth Falls and Jamison Valley.
One of the best things to do here is to experience the park’s stunning vistas on the Scenic Skyway, Cableway, or Railway. All of which provide unparalleled views of the valleys and forests below.
8. Cable Beach, Broome
Stretching along the coastline from Broome, Cable Beach is one of Australia’s most iconic beaches. Characterized by its pristine white sands, clear turquoise waters, and stunning sunsets, the beach attracts visitors from all over the world.
Named after the undersea telegraph cable authorities laid between Broome and Java in the late 19th century, Cable Beach offers a perfect combination of natural beauty and leisure activities. Travelers can take leisurely walks along the shoreline, relax under the shade of the iconic red rocks, and take in the breathtaking views of the Indian Ocean.
Cable Beach is also famous for its camel rides along the shore, offering a unique way to experience the beauty of the beach, particularly at sunset. At this time, the vast, flat horizon provides an incredible and unobstructed view of the sun dipping below the sea.
7. Bungle Bungle Range
Situated within the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia, the Bungle Bungle Range is a mesmerizing geological formation that has to be seen to be believed. Nestled within the Purnululu National Park, this natural wonder is defined by its distinctive beehive-shaped domes.
Nature formed these orange and black-striped sandstone domes over 350 million years through the erosion of riverbed sediments and the subsequent weathering process. The alternating bands of colors are created by layers of sandstone and dark biological crusts, adding to the area’s stunning visual appeal.
The Cathedral Gorge, Echidna Chasm, and Piccaninny Creek are some of the most notable sites in the range. You can explore them and other towering cliffs and hidden gorges via a network of walking tracks and guided tours.
6. Whitsunday Islands
The Whitsunday Islands are a group of 74 stunning islands located in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, off the coast of Queensland. Between them, these islands house picture-perfect beaches, azure waters, and vibrant coral reefs, making them paradisiacal destinations for lovers of sun, sea, and natural beauty.
Collectively, the Whitsundays offer a wide range of activities, including sailing, snorkeling, scuba diving, and swimming. The iconic Whitehaven Beach is notable for its white silica sand and cerulean waters.
Not all the islands are inhabited, but the ones you can visit include Hamilton Island and Daydream Island, which offer plush resorts to stay at for a few days.
5. Twelve Apostles
Over in Victoria, The Twelve Apostles is a world-famous natural landmark dotted along the dramatic coastline of the Port Campbell National Park. Despite its name, there were never actually twelve limestone stacks, and the erosion process has caused some of them to collapse over time.
Nevertheless, the site remains an awe-inspiring spectacle, with several impressive limestone pillars rising dramatically from the Southern Ocean.
The Twelve Apostles were formed over millions of years through the relentless erosion of the soft limestone cliffs by wind and wave action. These soaring stacks can be seen on viewing platforms or walking trails along the Great Ocean Road, which provide breathtaking vistas of them and the rugged coastline.
One of the best spots is at the bottom of the Gibson Steps, which gives an appreciation of the scale and majesty of one of the apostles from sand level.
4. Kakadu National Park
Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory is one of the largest national parks in the world. It is a place of extraordinary natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and unique ecosystems that you must set aside at least two or three days to see properly.
Kakadu is home to an incredible variety of landscapes, from floodplains to sandstone plateaus, monsoon forests to savannah woodlands, and meandering rivers. It is also a biodiversity hotspot with diverse flora and fauna, including saltwater crocodiles, kangaroos, and a remarkable bird species.
The best way to explore Kakadu is through walking trails, boat cruises and guided tours. Check out Nourlangie Rock, Yellow Water Billabong, and Jim Jim Falls during your time there. Also, ensure you see its Aboriginal rock art sites that date back thousands of years.
3. Great Barrier Reef
Stretching for more than halfway along the east coast of Queensland, The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system. It is so big it is even visible from space!
This spectacular natural wonder is one of the planet’s most iconic and diverse marine ecosystems, comprising thousands of individual reefs and hundreds of islands. It plays a vital role in the ecological balance of the oceans and is a critical habitat for countless marine species.
The Great Barrier Reef is renowned for its breathtaking coral formations, vibrant marine life and idyllic waters. Whilst diving, snorkeling or sailing, you can encounter a kaleidoscope of marine species, including colorful corals, turtles, sharks, dolphins and countless fish species. Overall, it provides a fascinating showcase of the underwater world.
2. Uluru/Ayers Rock
Arguably, one of Australia’s most iconic and sacred natural landmarks is Uluru. Formerly known as Ayers Rock, it resides in the heart of the outback, in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
Taller than the Eiffel Tower and bigger in landmass than Central Park in New York, the massive sandstone monolith is an imposing site. It holds deep cultural and spiritual significance for the local Anangu Aboriginal people, who have inhabited the region for thousands of years.
Visitors to Uluru can explore its base on foot, discovering ancient rock art, waterholes, and intricate geological features. Climbing Uluru is no longer encouraged out of respect for its cultural significance and safety concerns.
Impressively, the monolith’s colors change dramatically throughout the day, especially during sunrise and sunset, when it’s bathed in stunning hues of red and orange.
1. Sydney Opera House
The Sydney Opera House ranks as one of the most iconic and recognizable architectural marvels in the world.
Situated on the picturesque Sydney Harbour, it was designed by the Danish architect Jørn Utzon and was officially opened in 1973. It is distinctive for its unique and innovative design, featuring a series of white, shell-like structures that evoke the sails of a ship billowing in the wind.
The complex houses several performance venues – including the Concert Hall, the Opera Theater and the Drama Theater. Between them, they host various artistic and cultural events, from operas and symphony concerts to theater productions and contemporary performances.
Tourists can explore the exterior of the Opera House and enjoy stunning views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. They can also dine at its acclaimed restaurants and even take guided tours to learn about its history and architecture.