Looking for the perfect 3 week Australia itinerary to guide your adventures down under? Keep reading!
Traveling to Australia is a once-in-a-lifetime holiday for most people. It is incredibly far from most places in the world and the time and effort needed to get here are pretty intense! With so much effort involved in a trip to Australia, you want to do it RIGHT. With so many different cities, attractions, and hot spots to see and a limited amount of time finding what to do and what to skip is essential to having the best possible getaway.
Below is a complete 3 week itinerary that will show you the best of Australia in 3 quick weeks.
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3 Week Australia Itinerary
Days 1-2: Melbourne
Landing in Melbourne is the best way to start your 3 week Australia itinerary. The city itself is a pretty hit-or-miss place where some people love and some people hate it. Most people, including myself, haven’t loved Melbourne. The city has a pretty grungy and laid-back vibe which I didn’t initially expect and the beaches in Melbourne didn’t have that Australian WOW factor I expect.
But this isn’t the overall feeling of the city so I think you should see it and experience it for yourself before making a decision.
Although Melbourne isn’t my favorite city in Australia I think it is a great place to recover from your jetlag before continuing on your adventures in the country. Spending only two days here is ideal to recover and still enjoy a slice of what Melbourne has to offer. It may seem like a waste to spend 2 days of your 3 week Australia itinerary in a city that you may or may not like – but you will likely be very jetlagged and having a place to collect yourself fully before embarking on more adventure is essential!
If jetlag doesn’t hit you too hard there are a lot of different things to do in Melbourne you can enjoy during your two days in the city. From beaches to rooftop bars to unique neighborhoods there is plenty to do in the city to get a taste of its offerings.
With only two days in Melbourne, your time is limited. The top things to do with this little amount of time are:
- Explore Fitzroy
- Go to St. Kilda
- Go for a Cruise on the Yarra River
Beyond this, Melbourne is the perfect starting point for the most famous and beautiful drive in Australia: The Great Ocean Road – this is the main reason why landing in Melbourne is suggested. After spending two days in Melbourne recovering and adjusting to the Australian way of life you can get on your way to explore the iconic Great Ocean Road.
Below are some tour options for the top things to do in Melbourne.
Where to Stay in Melbourne
The best place to stay in Melbourne is the Central Business District. This area offers easy access to iconic attractions like Federation Square, Queen Victoria Market, and Flinders Street Station.
Day 3-5: Great Ocean Road
Driving along the Great Ocean Road is a must-do during your 3 week Australia itinerary. It is a remarkable adventure that promises stunning views, natural wonders, and a deep connection to Australia’s coastal beauty. It is often referred to as one of the world’s most beautiful driving routes that starts just one hour from Melbourne making it the only logical next stop. The 243km route showcases some of the country’s most beautiful beaches, waterfalls, parks, and natural wonders all within 5 hours of one another.
I recommend spending 2 days driving the Great Ocean Road, but you can do it in 1 or stretch it to as many as you need. The best thing to do is rent a car and drive yourself so you can stop and go as you, please. Use the below outline to guide your adventures to make the most of your time on Australia’s Great Ocean Road:
- Start in Torquay, a popular surfing town, and begin your drive along the stunning coastline.
- Stop at Bells Beach, famous for its world-class surf breaks and natural beauty.
- Visit the Great Otway National Park, where you can explore rainforests, hike to waterfalls, and spot native wildlife.
- Don’t miss the Twelve Apostles, a collection of limestone stacks rising magically from the Ocean.
- Explore Loch Ard Gorge, London Arch, and other natural rock formations shaped by nature.
- Continue your journey through Port Campbell and head to Warrnambool, known for its maritime history and seasonal whale watching.
It is best to end your Great Ocean Road tour in Melbourne as you will find the best and cheapest flights to your next place from here.
Tips for Driving the Great Ocean Road
- Plan Ahead: Research the route, accommodations, and attractions before you start.
- Time of Year: The Great Ocean Road can be enjoyed year-round, but weather conditions can vary. Spring (September to November) and fall (March to May) offer pleasant temperatures and fewer crowds.
- Driving: Drive on the left side of the road in Australia. Be prepared for winding roads, narrow stretches, and some steep sections.
- Wildlife: Keep an eye out for koalas, kangaroos, and native birds. Wildlife viewing is common, especially in areas like the Great Otway National Park.
- Safety: Stay within designated viewing areas and follow safety guidelines. Be cautious near cliff edges and the shoreline, as conditions can be unpredictable.
There are also tours for those who can’t rent a car.
Where to Stay in the Great Ocean Road
Apollo Bay is an excellent base on the Great Ocean Road. Nestled between lush hills and the sea, it offers stunning coastal views, proximity to Twelve Apostles, and outdoor activities. Enjoy a charming town atmosphere with restaurants, cafes, and access to the natural beauty of the region.
Day 6-9: Whitsundays
Fly from Melbourne to Proserpine and then head to the breathtaking Whitsundays. The 74 Whitsunday Islands is one of the most beautiful places in Australia where you will find the bluest water, whitest sand, and endless stretches of untouched beauty.
The islands lie between the Great Barrier Reef and the Coast of Australia and are a place unlike any other. Enjoy the dense rainforest, stunning beaches, and hiking trails. This is an essential part of any 3 week Australia itinerary that showcases the true natural beauty Australia is most famous for.
This is one of the most difficult and expensive places to get to in Australia but 100% worth it. Especially if you don’t think you will be heading back anytime soon. Budgeting 3-4 days for The Whitsundays is needed to ensure you have enough time to get there, explore, and leave will still not feeling rushed.
Here’s an overview to help you plan your visit:
- Great Barrier Reef: The Whitsundays is located within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, offering world-class snorkeling and diving opportunities. Explore vibrant coral reefs teeming with marine life, including colorful fish, turtles, and even the occasional reef shark.
- Whitehaven Beach: This iconic beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and a must-visit during your 3 week Australia itinerary.
- Hamilton Island: The largest inhabited island in the Whitsundays, Hamilton Island offers a range of accommodations, dining options, and activities.
- Daydream Island: Known for its family-friendly atmosphere, Daydream Island features a living reef lagoon, wildlife experiences, and a variety of activities.
- Whitsunday Islands National Park: This park encompasses several islands and protected areas, providing opportunities for hiking, camping, and exploring untouched natural landscapes.
- Snorkeling and Diving: The Whitsundays offer numerous snorkeling and diving sites, where you can witness the diverse marine ecosystem of the Great Barrier Reef up close.
- Sailing and Cruising: Consider taking a sailing trip or joining a cruise to explore the Whitsundays’ islands, coves, and reefs. Multi-day sailing tours are a popular way to experience the beauty of the region.
Whether you want to relax on pristine beaches, enjoy underwater exploration, or admire the natural beauty of Australia, the Whitsundays have it all. Just remember to respect the environment and adhere to responsible tourism practices to help preserve the beauty of this remarkable destination.
Where to Stay in Whitsundays
Hamilton Island is a top choice in the Whitsundays. This tropical paradise offers luxurious accommodations, stunning beaches, and a range of activities.
Day 10-13: Brisbane
Fly to Brisbane from Proserpine after The Whitsundays to enjoy the perfect combination of city and beach life. Brisbane is a young, hip, coastal city with an unbeatable vibe. With its subtropical climate, scenic riverfront, and a mix of modern and historic attractions Brisbane is the perfect place to experience local Australian living during your 3 week Australia itinerary.
While in Brisbane explore renowned cultural institutions like QAGOMA, stroll along the scenic Brisbane River, and indulge in diverse dining experiences. Discover outdoor adventures and get up close with Australia’s wildlife at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.
More so, Brisbane is a great launchpad to nearby paradises like the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, and Byron Bay (our next stop!). With a dynamic festival scene, friendly locals, and a gateway to stunning landscapes, Brisbane promises a well-rounded and enriching travel experience in a welcoming and laid-back atmosphere.
Where to Stay in Brisbane
The best place to stay in Brisbane is South Bank. Enjoy riverside living, lush parklands, and proximity to cultural attractions. With a vibrant atmosphere, dining options, and events, it offers a dynamic urban experience.
Day 14-17: Byron Bay
From Brisbane, you will fly to the infamous Byron Bay! There is no airport in Byron so you will have to go to the Gold Coast Airport and fly out from there. You can drive to this airport, take an Uber, or a bus. The bus is the cheapest option and it is also very fast and direct. I took the Byron Bay Express which cost A$38.00.
Byron Bay was my personal favorite place in Australia, with its long stretches of beach, bright blue water, surfers galore, dolphins swimming everywhere, and overall relaxed friendly vibe. No 3 week Australian itinerary is complete without experiencing the magical Byron Bay first hand.
Byron Bay is how most people picture all of Australia and if you are visiting and seeking the surfing/beaches/healthy lifestyle atmosphere and lifestyle then this is the place for you! Because of this, spending 3-4 days here is a good amount to do all the top things to do in Byron Bay and have some time to relax on the beach and have a moment to yourself after some busy days.
Where to Stay in Byron Bay
Byron Bay’s Main Beach area is a prime spot. Immerse yourself in the relaxed coastal lifestyle while staying steps away from the ocean and the heart of Byron’s charm.
Day 18 – 21: Sydney
Spending the last 5 days of your 3 week Australia itinerary in Sydney is the perfect way to end your stay. Sydney is one of the most beautiful, lively, and exciting cities in Australia that you could easily spend 6 months in and not have enough time to fully enjoy the city. From the world-famous Bondi Beach to the iconic Sydney Opera House and beyond, Sydney is a place with a soul like no other.
It is hard to combine beaches and cities but Sydney does it perfectly. There are a ton of things to do in Sydney so luckily you will never get bored. This is also the best city in Australia to fly out of since you will find the most affordable flights from here.
Where to Stay in Sydney
The Rocks is an excellent choice in Sydney. With historic charm, iconic landmarks like the Sydney Opera House, and lively markets, it offers a blend of culture and convenience.
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