3 Week Australia Itinerary for First-Time Visitors | The Best 3 Weeks in Australia

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Looking for the perfect 3 week Australia itinerary to guide your adventures down under? Keep reading for the perfect 3 weeks in Australia!

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. But 3 weeks in Australia gives you just enough time to see and experience A LOT of the country’s highlights.

Below is a complete 3 week itinerary that will show you the best of Australia in the time you have.

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3 weeks in Australia Budget

When planning a three-week trip to Australia, it is super important to establish a well-thought-out budget. The budget will serve as your financial roadmap, helping you manage expenses and make informed decisions.

The cost of your trip can vary significantly based on factors such as your travel style, chosen destinations, and personal preferences. By outlining your estimated expenses and allocating funds accordingly, you can ensure that your journey aligns with your financial goals.

Here’s a general breakdown of expenses to help you plan:

πŸ›©οΈ Flights to Australia: $800 – $2000 round trip
πŸ›©οΈ Flights within Australia: $150 – $500
🏨 Hotels: $130 / night * 21 days
πŸš— Transportation (car rental, transfers, etc): $50 / day * 10 days (10 days of needing transport)
πŸ”οΈ Activities: $50 / day * 8 (assuming you do an activity 8 days of the visit)
πŸ‡ Food: $50 / day *21 days
TOTAL: ~$7180 for 21 days

This budget estimation is definitely on the HIGH end if you choose mid-range accommodation, do plenty of tours, and eat out daily. Some ways to make your visit to Australia more cost-effective:

πŸ’΅ Book your flights well in advance to get the best deals
πŸ’΅ Don’t get out for every meal
πŸ’΅ Get hotels in advance and choose some mid-range and some low-priced ones
πŸ’΅ Only opt for 4 or less tours/activities instead of 8.


3 Week Australia Itinerary

3 weeks in Australia: Days 1-2: Melbourne

Landing in Melbourne is the best way to start your 3 week Australia itinerary. Melbourne is Australia’s cultural capital that exudes creativity and diversity. Known for its dynamic arts scene, vibrant street art, and coffee culture like no other. Melbourne is about as far south as you can go on Australia’s mainland making it a cool bucket list place to visit.

Melbourne
Melbourne

πŸ’‘ INSIDER TIP: Melbourne 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 expected.

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.

Melbourne beaches
Melbourne beaches

With only two days in Melbourne, your time is limited. The top things to do with this little amount of time are:

πŸ‘‰πŸ» Explore Fitzroy: Fitzroy, a vibrant inner-city suburb of Melbourne, is a creative haven. Known for its artistic street art, boutiques, and unique cafes, it’s a hub for indie music and alternative culture.

πŸ‘‰πŸ» Go to St. Kilda: St. Kilda, a lively Melbourne suburb by the bay, is home to sandy beaches, palm-lined boardwalks, and the iconic Luna Park amusement park. It’s a popular destination for water sports, cafes, and the famous St. Kilda Pier.

πŸ‘‰πŸ» Visit the Queen Victoria Market: Visiting the Queen Victoria Market is a must-do in Melbourne. It’s one of the largest and oldest markets in the Southern Hemisphere, offering a vibrant atmosphere and a vast array of fresh produce, gourmet foods, clothing, and souvenirs.

πŸ‘‰πŸ» Go for a Cruise on the Yarra River: Taking a cruise on the Yarra River in Melbourne is one of the top things to do in Melbourne. On a river cruise, you’ll be treated to picturesque views of the city’s skyline, parks, and iconic landmarks.

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.

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3 weeks in Australia: 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.

Great Ocean Road
Great Ocean Road

I recommend spending 2 days driving the Great Ocean Road, but you can do it in 1 or stretch it to as many days 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:

πŸš™ Start in Torquay, a popular surfing town, and begin your drive along the stunning coastline.
πŸš™ Stop at Bells Beach, famous for its world-class surfing waves and natural beauty.
⛺️ Stop in Apollo Bay and spend the night here enjoying the coastal charm Australia is best known for.
πŸš™ Visit the Great Otway National Park, where you can explore rainforests, hike to waterfalls, and if you are lucky, spot koalas and kangaroos!
πŸš™ Visit the Twelve Apostles, a collection of limestone stacks rising tall in the Ocean.

With only two days I suggest only driving as far as the Twelve Apostles so you can turn around to head back in the direction of Melbourne from here. 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.

Great Ocean Road
Great Ocean Road

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 the Twelve Apostles, and outdoor activities. Enjoy a charming town atmosphere with restaurants, cafes, and access to the natural beauty of the region.

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πŸ’‘ Running short on time? Discover everything you need for your trip to Australia below!

  • πŸ›©οΈ Find Flights to Australia via Skyscanner
  • πŸš‚ Secure Trains, Busses, and Flights to Australia via Omio
  • 🏨 Book Hotels in Australia via Booking.com
  • ❀️ Get Travel Insurance for Australia via Safety Wings
  • πŸ“± Get 5G Interest ANYWHERE in Australia with Airalo
  • πŸ₯Ύ Join Tours in Australia with Get Your Guide and Viator
  • πŸš— Rent a car in Australia with Discover Cars

These are the exact tools I use to book my travels every day. They are all tried and trusted by me and I would not be able to book so many amazing trips without all of them. BONUS: when you book via my link I get a commission at no extra fee to you! We both win.


3 weeks in Australia: 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.

Whitehaven Beach is stretch along Whitsunday Island, Australia.

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:

πŸͺΈ 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.

β˜‚οΈ Hamilton Island: The largest inhabited island in the Whitsundays, Hamilton Island offers a range of accommodations, dining options, and activities.

πŸ’­ 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.

πŸ›Ά 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

Brisbane city skyline and Brisbane river at twilight in Australia

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.

Here are some of the best things to do in Brisbane:

🐨 South Bank Parklands: Explore South Bank, a lush urban oasis along the Brisbane River, featuring a man-made beach, gardens, dining options, and cultural institutions like the Queensland Art Gallery and the Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA).

🐨 Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary: Get up close with native Australian wildlife, including koalas, kangaroos, and wombats, at the world’s first and largest koala sanctuary.

🐨 Story Bridge Adventure Climb: Scale the iconic Story Bridge and take in panoramic views of the city and river. It’s a thrilling adventure and a unique way to appreciate the cityscape.

🐨 River Cruise: Take a relaxing cruise along the Brisbane River, offering a different perspective of the city’s skyline, bridges, and historic landmarks.

🐨 Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mt. Coot-tha: Explore the beautiful botanic gardens, featuring a vast collection of plants and themed gardens.

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.

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3 weeks in Australia: 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.

πŸ’‘ INSIDER TIP: 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
Byron Bay
Byron Bay
Byron Bay

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.

Here are some of the best things to do in Byron Bay:

πŸ„β€β™€οΈ Visit Cape Byron Lighthouse: Explore Byron’s most iconic lighthouse and enjoy panoramic ocean views.

πŸ„β€β™€οΈ Relax on the Beaches: Byron Bay boasts stunning beaches like Main Beach, Wategos Beach, and Tallow Beach, perfect for swimming & sunbathing.

πŸ„β€β™€οΈ Surfing: Take surfing lessons on the renowned waves of Byron Bay. Plenty of surf schools for beginners and great waves for experienced surfers.

πŸ„β€β™€οΈ Dolphin and Whale Watching: Take a boat tour to spot dolphins and whales in their natural habitat.

πŸ„β€β™€οΈ Sunrise at the Beach: Witness a breathtaking sunrise at the beach.

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.

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3 weeks in Australia: Day 18 – 21: Sydney

Bondi Beach
Bondi Beach

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.

πŸ’‘ INSIDER TIP: Sydney is the best place to fly out of with cheap(er) flights all around the world.

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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Is 3 weeks in Australia enough?

3 weeks in Australia is enough if you plan it RIGHT! It provides ample time to explore Australia’s major cities, such as Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane, each with its unique cultural and culinary attractions.

Beyond the big cities, a three-week visit allows for immersion in Australia’s breathtaking natural beauty. You can snorkel the vibrant Great Barrier Reef, drive along the stunning Great Ocean Road, and surf on the famous waves of Byron Bay.


How do I plan 3 weeks in Australia?

Planning a 3 week Australia itinerary is an exciting adventure. Start by aligning your interests with the diverse offerings of the country, keeping in mind my guide’s tips for a memorable trip.

Begin by outlining your must-visit destinations, whether it’s exploring cities, like Sydney and Melbourne, or immersing yourself in the pristine beauty of natural wonders like the Great Barrier Reef or Byron Bay.

Use my recommendations to structure your itinerary and book essential elements early. Ensure your flights to and within Australia are secured, and reserve accommodations in advance to get your preferred lodging options.

While planning activities and tours, take into account seasonal considerations, ensuring you’re in the right place at the right time for specific events or wildlife sightings. By preparing well in advance, you can enjoy a seamless journey that maximizes your time in this stunning country.

Travel insurance is another essential component of your planning, offering peace of mind should unforeseen events disrupt your travel plans.


Travel Insurance

Getting travel insurance before you travel is a MUST. It’s the number one thing you should always pack before travelling that can save you a lot of money, time, and stress. With how crazy travel has gotten recently you need that peace of mind that no matter what happens there is something protecting you from losing out. I always travel with travel insurance and think everyone should.

I always travel with travel insurance and think everyone should. Below is my favorite travel insurer Safety Wings, enter your details to get a free quote! 


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3 Week Australia Itinerary
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