Want to visit Queensland, also known as the “Sunshine State”? A must-see state on any trip to Australia, Queensland has plenty of surprises. It will make your stay in the country simply unforgettable!
Why not visit Queensland?
Idyllic beaches with crystal blue waters, fine white sand and some of the most beautiful seabeds in the world… Paradise islands, lush rainforests, an abundance of animal species, dreamy coastal towns and sublime national parks… Tempted? Pack your bags and head off to Queensland, Australia’s sunniest state, but also its most popular with tourists! And it’s easy to see why…
In Queensland, you’ll not only enjoy an ideal climate with superb Australian sunshine, but you’ll also find it very easy to travel around this very accessible region. Unlike Western, you can easily travel by van without needing a 4×4. More touristy, you’ll also find more supermarkets, restaurants and towns in general to stop in. From the Whitsundays to the Great Barrier Reef, Fraser Island and Noosa, there’s no doubt you’ll discover some of best places of interest in Australia.
In this article, we present the 15 must-sees and must-dos in Queensland!
Things to do and see
1- The Great Barrier Reef: a real must-see!
Let’s kick things off with a world-famous natural jewel. Great Barrier Reef is a must-see if you’re planning a visit to Queensland. Here you can admire more than 3,000 coral reefs, 600 small islands and 300 species of coral cays, as well as thousands of different marine species. From multicoloured fish to dolphins, sharks and turtles, observe what’s going on under the sea while diving or snorkelling. You can also admire the coral reef from the air in a small plane! An unforgettable view guaranteed!
As for swimming and surfing, as well as sailing cruises, these are also very popular activities with visitors! It’s hard to imagine the sheer size of this site, which is the largest living site in the world. It is so vast that it can even be seen from space!
The best way to discover the Great Barrier Reef is on board a cruise ship. These yachts take you to the most exclusive dive sites, which can be quite far from shore.
2. Whitsunday Islands: crystal-clear water and pure sand
A real postcard landscape, this is an idyllic place of interest to discover in Queensland. In the Whitsundays, the beach is white, fine and pure, the waters crystal blue, the surrounding forests lush, the hiking trails unique, and the marine wildlife incredible! The photo speaks for itself! Stay several days in this true paradise on earth and take a boat trip, admire the waterfalls in the heart of the islands, swim, relax, dive or snorkel, paddle or canoe…
Enjoy breathtaking views from one of the best viewpoints in the Whitsundays, accessible via a footpath. The Whitsundays are always in the top 3 places of interest for tourists visiting Queensland. It’s easy to see why, when you consider the colour of the water and the sand, as well as all the water sports available on the island and its unforgettable walks.
3. Fraser Island: an island full of surprises
Another must-see where tourists always stop when they come to visit Queensland: Fraser Island! It’s the largest sand island in the world. Whether you’re camping in a tent or staying in a luxury resort, you’re bound to love Fraser Island! Heavenly beaches, freshwater lakes, natural pools, million-year-old rainforests, impressive sheer cliffs and the famous 75 Mile Beach… Fraser Island is simply a must-see in Queensland!
Fraser Island is also a paradise for hikers and divers who love to swim near shipwrecks buried under the sea. It’s also an ideal island for adventurers, and you might even spot a dingo or two if you’re lucky! Keep your eyes peeled!
This is the only place in the world where a rainforest has grown from sand (at least, as far as we know!). You can cross and explore Fraser by car or on guided tours.
4. Daintree National Park – Cape Tribulation: for the adventurous
Let’s talk beaches, but let’s also talk forests! North Queensland is home to rainforests, including the immensely famous Daintree Forest in Daintree National Park. Play Indiana Jones in this dense jungle dating back millions of years. Disconnect from the world in this tropical forest that meets the reef. This is one of the most biologically diverse rainforests in the world.
With an incredible variety of flora and fauna, observe wild birds, but also frogs, butterflies by the hundreds and around 12,000 other different insect species! A very interesting and unique experience, which will allow you to diversify your activities during your trip to Queensland. Because Queensland isn’t just beaches and islands!
5. Noosa town: the idyllic place to relax and have fun
Do you want to relax, explore or shop? Or maybe all three at the same time? Noosa has them all! North of Brisbane lies Noosa, a world-famous destination for beach, nature and water sports lovers. Here, you can wander through lush forests or laze on beaches of immense fine sand. Fancy seeing some koalas? You can do that too! The nearby Noosa National Park also offers a unique coral reef to explore. Surfing, snorkelling, kayaking…In fact, the possibilities here are endless!
From hiking and exploring sunken ships to spending an afternoon in the local shops, the choice is yours. The locals love Noosa, and so do the tourists! Tip: stay for several days to try out different activities and make the most of your time here!
6. Port Douglas and Four Mile Beach: Queensland’s far north
Picturesque and peaceful, the small town of Port Douglas is the perfect starting point for exploring the two main tropical attractions of Far North Queensland: the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef. Port Douglas used to be a quiet little fishing village, but today it’s a friendly town, and more upmarket than Cairns. Port Douglas is ideal if you like shopping, galleries and good cafés.
And Port Douglas is home to the superb Four Mile Beach. Wild and heavenly, admire the Coral Sea on a gentle shore surrounded by lush hills. The walk around the beach is panoramic!
Port Douglas was traditionally inhabited by the Kuku Yalanji people, and the indigenous experiences offer an important insight into the region’s ecology, history and culture.
7. Brisbane: Queensland’s beautiful sunshine capital
Brisbane, or ‘Brisbee’ to its friends is Queensland’s sunny capital. It’s also Australia’s third largest city after Sydney and Melbourne. This dynamic city has a lot to offer! Why not spend a couple of days here and take advantage of the pleasant free lagoon right in the heart of the city? Or its nightlife, multitude of restaurants and renowned boutiques? Or the world’s first koala sanctuary?
With a mild climate all year round, Brisbane also offers plenty of interesting things to do, such as rock climbing or hiking near the city with its magnificent views. Modern, young and thriving, Brisbane has it all! Finally, don’t miss the art galleries in the South Bank cultural centre: the Queensland Art Gallery and GOMA.
8. Hervey Bay: whale watching
Looking for a beach holiday without the crowds? Less than four hours from Brisbane lies Hervey Bay, a magnificent natural bay between Fraser Island and the mainland. Hervey Bay will give you the dose of sunshine you need, as well as opportunities to swim or relax on fine sand and the famous whale watching!
With a mild climate all year round, Hervey Bay is a real chill destination, but it also offers loads of other activities to do, including canoeing, an afternoon at the water park, galleries, an aquarium, paddle boarding, sailing, diving, snorkelling and jet skiing! Sheltered by Fraser Island, the beachside town of Hervey Bay is a friendly, relaxing place to visit!
9. Magnetic Island: beaches, nature and koalas
A small island just 11 kilometres long, Magnetic Island has a long list of attractions to suit all tastes! Its picturesque landscapes offer great opportunities for walks between sandy beaches, coral reefs and pine trees. Come across koalas (there are more than 800 on the island!), go snorkelling (the seabed is renowned), try your hand at jet-skiing, paddle-boarding or kayaking, play a round of golf after a picnic under the trees, take a memorable boat trip or simply swim in the magnificent waters of this island that is more than 275 million years old.
Three days and two nights are recommended if you want to enjoy the various beaches, walks and activities on the island. This is definitely a place of interest to discover if you’re planning to visit Queensland!
10. Gold Coast: chill, party, shopping and huge beaches
Gold Coast is a bit like the Australian version of Miami! If you’re looking for a city where you can spend a holiday in the sun, while lounging and surfing on the beach, but also shopping and partying, this is THE perfect Australian destination! In addition to its 30 beaches, Gold Coast also has a huge shopping centre to suit all budgets.
And if you love movies, head to Movie World, where you’ll find rollercoasters featuring Superman, Looney Toons and Spiderman! But Gold Coast also offers a wide range of activities, including thrills like skydiving, which many tourists enjoy. This experience is simply incredible, the scenery and views are phenomenal and you’re treated to a marvellous soft landing! Modern, bling bling and dynamic, it’s a must if you’re planning to visit Queensland.
11. Cairns: the starting point for the Great Barrier Reef
Friendly, relaxed, festive and conveniently located, Cairns is an excellent base for day trips to the Great Barrier Reef. It’s also a perfect base from which to explore the best of Queensland. Walk through palm-lined streets, colourful gardens and huge parks. Or swim at the beautiful beaches surrounding the city: Palm Cove in Port Douglas and Trinity Bay. In the mood for a bit of fun in the city? Head to the five-kilometre-long Esplanade, which runs alongside the bay. There’s even a saltwater swimming lagoon!
Other things to do in Cairns include visiting the Flecker Botanical Gardens, home to over 100 species of palm trees, and learning about the region’s history at the Cairns Museum. It’s also a great fishing destination.
Wondering where to stay in Cairns? There’s plenty to choose from! From festive hostels to luxury resorts, you’ll be spoilt for choice!
12. Cape York Peninsula & the Torres Strait Islands
Cape York is one of Queensland’s best places of interest for adventurers. Venture out in your 4×4 and camp under the stars, drive on more challenging trails, jump and swim in secret swimming holes while enjoying the exotic, tropical setting of Far North Queensland. It’s a real breath of fresh air in this lush wilderness!
With its long, dusty red roads, huge white anthills, surprising local wildlife and authentic inhabitants, Cape York is a must for all travellers who like to explore places that are very natural – and less accessible than the more touristy places of interest.
Looking for even more adventure? Visit the Torres Strait Islands by plane, car or cruise. The islands are accessible from Cairns (by plane), and Cape York (by ferry) after driving (from the Pacific Coast Way).
13. Atypical Kuranda for a unique and mystical experience
Fancy a unique experience off the beaten track? Head to the picturesque mountain retreat of Kuranda village! Located 25 km north-west of Cairns, in the far north of Queensland, experience a true rainforest immersion in an ancient, colourful and authentic village. Stay for a day or weekend in a quaint hotel room, visit the beautiful village, the rainforest, drive to the mountain range, shop in the village boutiques or in one of the popular village markets. Kuranda is also home to over 350 species of birds and koalas.
Kuranda also has many cafés and restaurants. The village offers a real mix of eccentric surprises, a mystical experience perched high on the mountains surrounded by rainforest!
14. Lamington National Park: a place to cool off!
Sublime waterfalls to cool off, incredible hikes covering more than 160 kilometres (in total), a circuit offering a unique view of the Coomera Valley… Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Lamington National Park is a highly recommended place of interest if you plan to visit Queensland. Whether you’re a Sunday hiker or a regular, you’re bound to find a trail to your liking!
This natural wonder is about a two-hour drive from Brisbane. You can easily spend several days exploring the park and enjoying its waterfalls and walks offering epic views!
15. Maleny and Montville: for those with an artistic bent
Finally, we end on a high note with Maleny and Montville. These two Queensland places of interest will probably mean less to you (if anything at all) than Fraser Islands or the Whitsundays, and yet they’re really worth discovering!
Maleny and Montville are the ‘creative soul’ of the Sunshine Coast, destinations for romantics and artists at heart. Spend a day or two tasting delicious local produce and shopping in the small craft shops of these charming towns. Chill-out destinations par excellence, so don’t hesitate to take a look at the relaxation retreats or spas if you feel like pampering yourself a little!
From walks and hikes to tasty food and views of the Sunshine Coast’s most spectacular mountain, make sure you stop off in these two picturesque little towns!
PS: don’t forget to pop into one of the sweet shops for a treat!
Best time to visit Queensland
Queensland is probably the region of Australia with the most pleasant climate, all year round. So it will be easy for you to get organised during your trip to Australia. However, you should be aware that the climate on the coast varies, from hot and humid in northern Australia to more temperate temperatures in southern Australia.