Australia: Big City Breaks and Coastal Fun

No part of Australia is the same, this vast country has plenty to explore and this exciting itinerary hits some of the top spots for every traveler.

During this Australia itinerary, you will head down the Legendary Pacific Coast Highway where you will be able to see beaches, rolling hills, vineyards, and riverside towns. At each stop, you will get the chance to try interesting dishes, get close to wildlife, and enjoy the different art styles of the country.

Where To Buy Tickets: OMIO | ACP Rail

Countries Visited: Australia

Rail Passes: –

Price Range: $$$$

Recommended Days: 3 Weeks

Riding Hours: Approx. 43.5 hr

Distance: 1,890 km

Transportation:  Train, Bus

Rail Passes and train tickets worldwide

Brisbane: Sunshine State Capital

Brisbane is the capital of the Sunshine State. It is a vibrant city where you will be able to head to galleries, beaches, vineyards, and more. With plenty to keep you occupied, you will find fun and adventure around every corner. Have the chance to see whales, turtles and dolphins pass you by in the ocean, walk through the heritage architecture and gardens and spot the interesting street art throughout the city.

To get some of the best views of Brisbane, climb the Story Bridge and you will get panoramic views. The Gallery of Modern Art is considered to be one of the finest galleries in Australia. You will be able to have a creative and interactive experience with the local and international artists that exhibit their work here. Coast along the Brisbane River with the City Cat where you will be able to see ferris wheels, skyscrapers, bridges, and parks.

The Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is a great place to stop to get up close to the furry koalas. Brisbane is also a haven for food lovers. If you head to Eat Street Markets you will be able to taste a plentiful of flavors, from pizzas to Malaysian street food.

Brisbane Coach Terminal → Byron Bay Station | Duration: 3:40h | Transfers: 0

Recommended Accommodations:

Brisbane Quarters
Limes Boutique Hotel

Byron Bay: Beach Bliss

Surrounded by hills and beach towns, Byron Bay is a great spot due to its beach town feel and plentiful food options. You will be able to explore lighthouses, relax at spas, try out water sports, head to a festival or why not go shopping! There is plenty to keep you entertained throughout your entire visit.

The Cape Byron Lighthouse is a popular tourist attraction as it is Australia’s most easterly point. You can head up there to watch the sunrise and enjoy a coastal walk along the Lighthouse Trail which stretches from the lighthouse to the main beach of Byron Bay. Osprey Spa is a great stop for a relaxation-infused morning, afternoon, or day. Pick from face treatments, body treatments, and yoga and meditation classes to help rejuvenate yourself.

Due to being a coastal town, water sports are a must. Try out one of the many surf schools that line the beach, having a variety of options for beginners and advanced. You can also hire a kayak to see dolphins or go out on a boat tour for whale watching. If you want to get close to grey nurse sharks, try out diving at Julian Rocks for an abundance of marine life.

Byron Bay Bus Station → Coffs Harbour Station | Duration: 3:10 h | Transfers: 0 | Transport: Bus

Coffs Harbour: Fun In The Sun

Coffs Harbour, set between Byron Bay and Sydney. This is a great spot to stop as you head down the legendary Pacific Highway. In this popular stop-off town you will find beaches and national parks surrounding it. You will be able to take part in plenty of water activities, encounter wildlife and explore the little towns that surround the area as well.

Muttonbird Island is a must-see. There you will be able to walk along the cliff edges and see a beautiful green landscape unlike any other in Australia. As you get to the top, look down over the marina. And also check out the Muttonbird Island Nature Reserve where a variety of bird species are protected. The Coffs Harbour Marina has a collection of cafes and restaurants, and on Sunday’s it also hosts markets on the jetty. Sip on your cocktails, watch surfers ride the waves, and admire the sunset.

The Macauleys Headland Walk is in the Diggers Beach area and during the walk. You will be able to see incredible views of the ocean and beaches. The Big Banana is probably the most famous attraction in Coffs Harbour. Take a memorable photo in front of the big banana and also enjoy the many rides within the amusement park.

Coffs Harbour Station → Sydney Central Station | Duration: 9:07 h | Transfers: 0

Board the train south to Sydney, a stop that’s been waited for. You’ll experience a pleasant and comfortable journey with hilly lush landscapes and coastal views during your 9-hour journey.

Recommended Accommodations:

Best Western Zebra Motel

Sydney: Cultural Capital

Often mistaken as the capital of Australia, Sydney is a lively city that is abundant with cafes, restaurants, activities, hotels, and more. During the day explore the famous beaches and bays, and check out the famous landmarks of the city such as the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. At night wander along Darling Harbour or hit one of the many clubs.

The Sydney Opera House is a must-visit on your Australia itinerary. The famous landmark is situated on Sydney Harbour and contrasts against the blue ocean with its white exterior. You can head inside for a guided tour, head to an upcoming opera, or dine in the restaurant. For boutique stores and cobbled streets, the Rocks neighborhood is a great spot to visit. Once a slum for the arriving convicts of the past, it is now considered to be a trendy spot in Sydney.

Feeling wild? The Taronga Zoo is perched on a hill and has a large collection of animals from across the world and of course from the Australian outback. Are you feeling a different kind of wild? Take the chance to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which has amazing panoramic views, and score big when visiting during the month of June when the Sydney Harbour illuminates for the Vivid Lights Festival. See this fantastic light show from the ground or the bridge.

Sculpture By The Sea is another festival worth overlapping with to see new artwork along the Bondi coastal walks. Grab yourself a pint of beer and enjoy a good barbeque for Australia Day at the end of January! Not interested in the city scene, catch the train up to Katoomba. There you can see the iconic Three Sisters and hike around the Blue Mountains. It’s a great afternoon out in nature.

Central Sydney Station → Canberra Station | Duration: 4:08 | Transfers: 0

Heading to a new region of Australia, en route from New South Wales to the Australian Capital Territory you will pass through jungle and farmlands until you reach your destination.

Recommended Accommodations:

Mad Monkey Coogee Beach
Hyde Park Inn

Canberra: The Unexpected Capital

If you haven’t heard much about Canberra, you’re in luck. It’s a city definitely worth stopping at and easily accessed by train from Sydney! Canberra is home to Australia’s Parliament where you can take a tour of the Parliament building and even witness real-time debates and laws being made in front of you. You will be able to notice a boomerang-shaped entrance at the entrance and guests have the opportunity to stroll above the law* (quite literally) onto the roof where lawns are maintained.

Besides the capital, Canberra has an up-and-coming café culture, foodie, and brewery scene. Take a microbrewery tour or maybe you want to enjoy the markets where food, crafts and so much other stuff you can’t even predict will be sold. Old Bus Depot Market and Capital Region Farmers Market are the most popular of the markets.

Are you interested in reasonably priced or free attractions and activities? We are! There is an incredible amount of museums in Canberra whether you can only visit a few or squeeze them all in, we highly recommend the following. Visit the National Museum of Australia for the best history lesson you can get without reading a textbook. Visit the Questacon Museum where you’ll wonder why you never liked science in school because this science here is cool. Visit the Royal Australian Mint for some insight into the country’s currency and maybe take home some quirky coinage for yourself.

Other notable attractions and activities are the National War Memorial, National Gallery Sculpture Garden, Glassworks, and the Australian Institute of Sports. Tapped out of museums? Take a walk around Lake Burley Griffith for a relaxing stroll or head up to the top of Mount Ainslie for a great view of the city. If you’re not interested in hiking up it, catch the Mount Ainslie Kokoda summit train… you know, since we love recommending train travel!

* We are not endorsing any lawbreaking, so please don’t break any.

Canberra Coach Station → Melbourne Southern Cross | Duration: 23:30h | Transfers: 1 | Transport: Train, Bus

With a combination of bus and train as Canberra is not connected to Melbourne quite yet by rail, you will take a bus to Albury where you can then transfer to a train to reach your final destination in the last stop on this Australian train journey.

Melbourne: Hipster Central

Melbourne is a city full of exciting activities with plenty of hidden spots to find and explore. You will see world-class street art that covers much of the city, trendy restaurants, and bars. Melbourne has grown into a hipster destination due to its trendsetting ways and known for its obsession with food and coffee. You’ll definitely find plenty of great places to visit on your stop here.

The National Gallery of Victoria has amassed an impressive collection of over 73,000 pieces of art that you can wander through. The building itself is a piece of art as you walk through archways, water walls, and stained glass ceilings, don’t miss this. If you haven’t satisfied your art fix yet, check out some of the amazing street art that Melbourne boasts on Hosier Lane.

After admiring some art you may have walked up an appetite, the Queen Victoria Market is a great spot to meander, where you’ll find a variety of fresh food products as well as diverse homewares, souvenirs, and of course a tasty lunch! To enjoy a journey along the lovely Port Phillip Bay, catch a local train south to the Middle Brighton stop where you can walk 15 minutes toward the iconic, colorful Brighton Bathing Boxes.

The city is constantly abuzz with activity, but especially at night. Head to one of the many venues to listen to live music, or catch an after-party where you may even meet emerging musical acts. For something a bit quieter, the Royal Botanic Gardens is a great spot to enjoy during the day. You can stroll through the 11 lawns, or even take the walking track known as the Tan that encircles the garden and find yourself far away from the noises of the city.

Rail Passes and train tickets worldwide

Recommended Accommodations:

Melbourne City Backpackers

Imagine Marco

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