Your Aussie dollars are burning a hole in your pocket and you just can’t decide how many pairs of sunglasses you really need. Like thousands before you, it’s time to set off on your Australia adventure. 

Any traveller heading down under tends to have one plan in mind – the East Coast. This well-travelled route is home to some of the country’s most famous attractions and, some of the best cities and nightlife.

Check out our list of the must see destinations to visit on your East Coast adventure.


1. Sydney

The majority of travellers begin the journey in Sydney. Be sure to spend a few days to a week taking in the sights of Sydney and experience its plentiful beaches, bars and day trips.

If you would like to stay a longer in Sydney view our guide to working in Australia, this is one of the most popular cities with people on working holidays.

Some essential places to see in Sydney include the Harbour Bridge, Opera House, Bondi beach, Manly and the Blue Mountains. 

Now its time to sort out cheap car or van hire and start driving north out of the city.


2. Byron Bay

Byron Bay

Any beach that you visit on the East Coast will be worthy of a photo and a swim but if you were to do that, your journey would take months. 

Around 12 hours drive for Sydney is perhaps the most well-known town on the coast – Byron Bay - somewhere you really need to stop.

There are so many reasons to visit Byron Bay, this surfer’s mecca is a chilled out beachside town where you can surf, swim, pay homage to the Australian sunshine, eat some delicious food and party with your fellow travellers.

Make the most of your time here and take a drive to nearby Nimbin – a hippie town about an hour inland that needs to be experienced to be believed.


3. Brisbane


Next stop is the bustling metropolis of Brisbane, one of the biggest and most popular cities on the east coast.

Explore the city on foot or head out for fun days at the areas numerous theme parks including Australia Zoo – home of the late and great Steve Urwin.

Just north of Brisbane is the Golf Coast. Surfer’s Paradise is a party town so be prepared and bring your dancing shoes.


4. Fraser Island

Fraser Island

You will have no doubt heard other travellers talk about the wonders of Fraser Island and this is an absolute must-do on your East Coast road trip.

You can join trips from Hervey Bay or Rainbow Beach and will be grouped with other backpackers, given a brief safety chat and then handed the keys to a four wheel drive and a map and told to have fun.

Fraser island is home to beautiful freshwater lakes, dense rainforest and a beautiful shoreline. You and your travelling companions can take it in turns to drive between popular locations before camping on the sand dunes and partying into the night.


5. Airlie Beach & Whitsunday Islands

Airlie Whitsunday Islands

The next major stop you should consider is Airlie Beach, the town where people stop off before embarking on unforgettable sailing excursions around the stunning Whitsunday Islands.

On a yacht or boat trip here you will get the opportunity to swim, snorkel, scuba dive or just take in the truly beautiful surroundings. This is one of the most incredible places to visit in the world!

We recommend searching Australia tours, a lot of which include sailing in the Whitsundays in the itinerary.


6. Cairns & Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef

Perhaps the last stop on your tour (unless you plan to head north to the rainforests of Port Douglas) will be Cairns.

This party town is where backpackers flock to earn their diving stripes with Padi courses on the Great Barrier Reef. This is one of the best places to go scuba diving in Australia and somewhere you must visit once in your life.

Cairns is a really lively city with shops, restauants, bars and clubs.


Plan the Ultimate East Coast Australia Trip

The East Coast of Australia is most backpackers favourite route and although this list is by no means exhaustive – it provides a brief glimpse into some of the most popular placees to see.

If you are planning to drive the east coast of Australia make sure you allow yourself enough time to stop as often as you like in order to fully appreciate the beauty of the region. If you need more inspiration check out this Sydney to Cairns 4 week itinerary.

If you don't fancy renting a car or campervan, there are lots of organsied bus trips and smal group adventure tours where you will get to meet like-minded travellers and see all the main locations. 

If you have travelled the East Coast of Australia and have any recommendations to add share your feedback in the comments section below.