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Itinerary Australia: the highlights of the East Coast in 3,5 weeks

3,5 weeks is enough time to explore Australia’s East Coast. A rainforest, the world’s largest reef, trendy cities, and a fantastic coastline, this itinerary Australia has it all.

Days 1 & 2: Relaxing in Clifton Beach

Route oostkust AustraliëThere’s a big chance you’ve had a (or multiple) long flights before arriving in Australia, so I highly recommend for relaxing a couple of days. A perfect place to relax is the tiny town of Clifton Beach (near Cairns). Here you’ll find a beautiful beach and I’m pretty sure you’ll see your first Australian wildlife here, like kangaroos, flying foxes, and cockatoos.

Perfect place to stay: Clifton Sands

Route oostkust Australië

Days 3 to 6: Cairns

Itinerary Australia - Cairns
From Clifton Beach, you can get on a bus that’ll take you to Cairns in less than half an hour. This city is very walkable and is in a perfect location to make some awesome tours. My favorites were the tour to the Daintree Forest and Cape Tribulation (ancient rainforest) and snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef.

Hostel tip $: Travellers Oasis
Hotel tip $$: The Balinese

Days 7 to 12: Airlie Beach & the Whitsundays

Route oostkust AustraliëFrom Cairns to Airlie Beach you can either take a greyhound bus (12 hours). If you have some extra time, you can split this long bus ride when you decide to stay a couple of days in Mission Beach or Townville.
Airlie Beach is a very small town with one big attraction: the Whitsunday Islands. Make sure to book a multi-day tour, because it will be the best experience of your trip. During the tour, you’ll explore the islands, go snorkeling and visit the world’s most beautiful beach: Whitehaven Beach.

Hostel tip $: Backpackers by the bay
Hotel tip $$: Heart Hotel and Gallery Whitsundays

Days 13 to 15: Brisbane

Route oostkust AustraliëFrom Airlie Beach, it’s best to book a flight to Brisbane (your departure airport will be Whitsunday Coast Airport), because taking the bus will take about 24 hours. Brisbane is a nice and chill city to stroll around, find small coffee joints and go shopping. Right outside the city center, you’ll find some cool places, like Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary (so many kangaroos and koalas!) and Mount Coot-tha (amazing viewpoint).

Hostel tip $: Breeze lodge
Hotel tip $$: Metropolitan Motor Inn

Days 16 to 21: Sydney & Blue Mountains National Park

Route oostkust AustraliëSydney is just a 1,5-hour plane ride from Brisbane. There are so many fun things to see and do in and around Sydney, that you can easily spend a couple of weeks here. Visit the Royal Opera House for a concert, do the Bondi to Coogee Beach walk, or take the ferry to Manly.

It’s also easy to do a (multiple) day trip from Sydney to the beautiful Blue Mountains National Park, a perfect place to enjoy nature and go for a hike.

Hostel tip Sydney $: Railway Square YHA
Hotel tip Sydney $$: Sydney Hotel CBD

Hostel tip Katoomba $: Flying Fox Backpackers
Hotel tip Katoomba $$: Blue Mountains Heritage Motel

Days 22 to 24: Melbourne

Top 5 Melbourne - street art

From Sydney, you will reach cultural Melbourne after a 1-hour flight. This city is completely different and looks and feels like a European city. Lots of art galleries, historic buildings, street art and plenty of places to eat something or get a drink. Melbourne is also the place for checking out the Great Ocean Road, one of the most scenic roads in the world, with incredible views of the coastline. Would you like to spend some more time in this vibrant city? There are many epic things to do in Melbourne.

Hostel tip $: Space Hotel
Hotel tip $$: Best Western Melbourne City

Itinerary Australia


Public transport: 800 kilometers by bus and 250 kilometers by train.
Domestic flights: 2400 kilometers (3 domestic flights of 1.5 hours each)

For me personally, this was a perfect itinerary for my first time in Australia. I saw some beautiful landscapes and enjoyed every single moment. I also was able to get some relaxation time and had some extra time to do chores like laundry. I would’ve loved to make a trip to the red center as well, Uluru and Alice Springs, but didn’t have enough time and it was quite expensive. I will definitely go back to Australia to visit the center and the western side of the country. What would you add to this itinerary Australia?

Would you like to read more about Australia?

Check out these articles:
Tours in Australia you don’t want to miss (East Coast)
Top 5 things to do in Sydney
Top 5 things to do in Melbourne

Itinerary Australia - The highlights of the east coast in 4 weeks

Itinerary Australia - The highlights of the east coast in 4 weeks

Itinerary Australia - The highlights of the east coast in 4 weeks

Itinerary Australia - The highlights of the east coast in 4 weeks

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