With stunning scenery ranging from forests and mountains to pristine white beaches, and from reef to outback, Queensland boasts a diverse range of attractions, making it a favorite for tourists from throughout Australia and all over the world.
You can relax with a craft cocktail on an island beach resort, hike through lush rainforests, enjoy exotic flora and fauna like you’ve never seen before, or enjoy the urban buzz of the vibrant metropolis Brisbane.
With 7000km of stunning coastline, Queensland is a beach-lover’s paradise, but there’s so much to see and do in this tourist mecca that after you you’re your appetite with these 15 best places, you’ll just want to come back to the Sunshine State for more!
Let’s explore the best places to visit in Queensland:
1. Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef in the world, and it’s the only living thing visible from space – it’s even larger than the Great Wall of China! The Reef is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and it’s widely considered the jewel in Queensland’s crown.
If you’re visiting Queensland, this extraordinarily beautiful and unique site is a must-see.
Teeming with marine life, it’s a great place to do some scuba or snorkelling, and get some stunning snaps for your Snapchat!
2. Daintree Rainforest
The breathtakingly beautiful Daintree Rainforest boasts exceptionally diverse flora and fauna, including 90% of Australia’s bat and butterfly species.
Like the Great Barrier Reef, most of the Daintree Forest is part of a UNESCO World Heritage site (Wet Tropics of Queensland), listed under the , and for good reason: it’s fascinating for nature-lovers and scientists alike, as it presents a uniquely detailed record of the processes by which Australian flora and fauna have evolved, with living relics of the Gondwanan era in the form of the closest surviving relatives to many ancient marsupials; also, its flora is considered to be the nearest example to what a Gondwanan forest would have been like.
Tours are available to give you some fascinating insights into the science and history of the Daintree Rainforest, but you can also enjoy relaxing walks and soak up the gorgeous scenery: waterfalls, wild rivers, and forest and coastal vistas.
It’s a wonderful example of the beauty of the Australian landscape.
Cairns is the gateway to the Daintree Forest and the Great Barrier Reef, and it’s a wonderful little resort town that’s very popular in its own right with backpackers from all over the world.
Its mild climate in winter makes it a beloved getaway for Sydney-siders and Melbournites.
This tropical paradise caters well for its tourists, with a buzzing café scene, beach markets, and even a platypus park!
4. Surfer’s Paradise
Surfer’s Paradise is the ultimate beach tourism town, and a very popular spot for travelers to QLD to base themselves.
The beach itself is one of Australia’s most well-known, and many (surprisingly affordable!) hotels are situated just across the road, so it’s just a short walk to be able to relax and enjoy the Aussie summer.
The town itself is very built up, with great nightlife and cuisine, and it boasts many tourist attractions such as the futuristic Infinity maze, a Ripley’s Believe it or Not, a Hard Rock Café and Dracula’s Haunted House.
You might even see one of Surfer’s Paradise’s famous bikini-clad meter-maids!
5. Lamington National Park
Named after Lord Lamington (who is also the namesake of the delicious Australian dessert!), this national park has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The park is teeming with unique flora and fauna, some of which is found nowhere else on Earth.
The park is particularly known for its birdlife, wildflowers, ancient trees and waterfalls, and it’s easy accessible: you’ll find some of Australia’s best bushwalking here, with over 160km of walking tracks catering to all levels of fitness.
It’s also a great place to do some adventure sports: abseiling, archery and a flying fox are all available.
A particularly popular tourist attraction in the park is O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, the home of 230 species of birdlife, and where the very tame rosella parrots will eat right out of your hand or even perch on your head.
6. Gold Coast theme parks
The Gold Coast’s four theme parks – Warner Brothers’ Movie World, Dream World and Wet’n’Wild – are must-dos for anyone who loves theme parks, rollercoasters, and kitsch.
Sea World offers the opportunity to get up close and personal with Australian marine life, and the monorail system (Australia’s first!) and cable cars make it easy to get around the complex while enjoying stunning views.
Movie World is full of cheesy Warner Brothers’ fun; take a photo of you with all your favorite characters, and enjoy top-quality, hi-tech themed rides such as the Scooby Doo Spooky Coaster.
Dream World is the biggest theme park on the Gold Coast, with a great diversity of attractions (such as Tiger Island) and rides (the Giant Drop is a favorite with thrillseekers). Wet’n’Wild is an aquatic theme park with some of Australia’s greatest waterslide fun, including some extreme waterslides such as the Kamikaze which gives you the sensation of zero-gravity as you plunge down 11 metres at a 70 degree angle.
Whether you like your theme parks relaxing or adrenalin-pumping, the Gold Coast has something for you!
7. Tamborine Mountain
Tamborine Mountain boasts a gorgeous little town high up on a mountain, nested neatly between Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
The town has stunning views of the mountain, but it’s also worth spending a day walking around and enjoying the atmosphere of this eclectic town: Tamborine Mountain is famous for its wineries, delicious cheeses, gourmet restaurants, vibrant art scene, and adorable vintage stores.
You can also enjoy the Rainforest Skywalk, visit the glowworm caves, or stay in one of the romantic B&Bs – there’s something for everyone!
8. Australia Zoo
Australia Zoo is a must-do if you want to experience Australia’s most famous wildlife! The zoo was started as the passion project of the late Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter.
The Irwin family are still very involved in making a reality of Steve’s vision: making the Australia Zoo the world’s biggest and best conservation facility.
There’s plenty of fun to be had at the zoo: get up close and personal with Australian animals such as wombats and kangaroos, and even get a dingo kiss! There’s also plenty of more exotic animals, so if you’ve ever wanted to hand-feed a tortoise or pet a tiger, this is the place to go.
9. Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is a quieter alternative to Australia Zoo, with more affordable entry, and more of a focus on Australian wildlife.
There’s also cute performances for the kids including the Australian icon Blinky Bill, as well as a flying fox over the treetops, a Segway safari, and the chance to feed a crocodile.
10. South Bank
Located on the south bank of the Brisbane River, South Bank is known for its beautiful floral walkway, its inner-city artificial beach, and a wide variety of fine dining options.
You can also see freshwater turtles wandering around! If you enjoy museum and gallery-hopping, make sure to visit the Cultural Precinct, which is the home of the Performing Arts Centre, the Art Gallery (don’t forget to check out their exceptionally high-quality gourmet restaurant!), the QLD Museum Science Centre and the Maritime Museum.
South Bank also has a gorgeous Rainforest Walk, a Nepalese Pagoda, and a botanical garden.
It’s best to plan to spend an entire day at South Bank, as there’s plenty to keep you entertained here!
11. West End
West End is a fun, quirky precinct that’s popular with the indie and hipster crowds; it’s a great place to do some vintage clothes shopping, enjoy one of Brisbane’s best cafes, or treat yourself to a delicious, unique cocktail at the exotic Lychee Lounge.
The weekend markets are a perfect introduction to Australia’s creative scene, followed by a stroll through Orleigh Park while enjoying lovely views of the Brisbane River.
12. Story Bridge
Brisbane is a city where the river is such a part of your life: with 25 ferry stops, and bridges criss-crossing the river, the locals get to enjoy stunning views on a daily basis, and the river is a beloved part of Brisbane’s culture.
One of the river bridges, Story Bridge, is particularly iconic: the heritage-listed steel bridge connects Fortitude Valley to Kangaroo Point, and has been operating since 1940. Almost 100,000 commuters cross over the bridge every day, and it’s also the home of the Riverfire (a gorgeous fireworks display wrapping up Riverfestival). Story Bridge is lit up at night, making a postcard-perfect backdrop for your holiday memories.
If you’re a dare-devil, you can even climb the bridge!
13. Roma Street Parkland
Situated high above the Brisbane city centre, Roma Street Parkland offers gorgeous urban views, as well as a garden that is considered one of the two best in Australia.
The Spectacle Garden is particularly beautiful, with a lovely year-round floral display.
It’s a large garden, so be prepared to spend a few hours relaxing and wandering around enjoying the immaculately-kept grounds.
14. Fraser Island
Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world, and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It’s a great spot for whale-watching, fishing, 4WD-ing, a romantic getaway, or a soothing nature walk.
The island is a beloved getaway for tourists and locals alike, and well worth adding to your Queensland itinerary.
The Whitsundays area offers everything from extreme luxury (Hamilton and Hayman Islands) to a backpacker mecca (Airlie Beach). Of the 74 Whitsunday islands, most are uninhabited national park islands, but four offer tourist accommodation.
The scenery of the Whitsundays is so stunning that it needs to be seen to be believed, and visitors to the area include the rich and famous from Australia and beyond.
There’s plenty of activities available (jet-ski, seaplane, helicopter), but the best thing about the Whitsundays is just enjoying the moment as you relax on the snowy-white beaches and count yourself lucky to be somewhere so special.