Already daydreaming about the travel plans 2021 could bring? Us too, and whilst we can't book a big trip just yet, there's nothing stopping us planning out the ultimate itinerary. So here it is—a two-week, day-by-day walk through of a trip down under. If you’ve never been before, this one’s for you—it’s packed with highlights and what not to miss.
There's plenty of time to get your luggage sorted—our mid-season sale is on now, so now's the time to invest. You can pick up a colour-coordinating set for a long-haul holiday, add the packing cubes to match (they make packing and unpacking on multi-stop trips a whole lot easier) and make next year's travel plans the best yet.
The stats say that around 65% of UK visitors* to Australia make a return visit, proving that despite the distance, it really is a dream holiday destination. Read on for what not to miss…
Days 1: Say hello to Sydney
If you’re arriving into Sydney from the UK, you’re likely to land in the early morning—the perfect time to get acquainted. And if you get a window seat, you should have caught your first glimpse of the dazzling harbour, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera house, from the plane.
Use your first day to take advantage of the excellent coffee—you’re almost always guaranteed a superlative flat white here. Head straight down George Street to Circular Quay, where the city’s famous ferries arrive and depart the city. Hug the water front, walk around the Opera House and along to the 30-hectare Royal Botanic Gardens. Then head over to the Rocks, the original old part of town, and have lunch at Firestone. Spend the afternoon at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia.
Day 2: The Sydney bridge climb
Start your second day with a sunrise climb up the Harbour Bridge—worth the ticket price for the spectacular view over the city and out across the harbour. On a clear day, you can see as far as the Blue Mountains, over 80km away. In the afternoon, catch a ferry from Circular Quay to Manly and spend the afternoon at the beach.
Day 3: Bondi, naturally
Take a bus or taxi out to Bondi if you’re staying in the city and book a surf lesson because come on, you’re in Bondi. Have brunch, lunch or dinner in one of the many local hotspots, like our favourite, Bondi Hardware. Potter around the stores and boutiques, then relax on the beach. Don’t miss the Bondi to Bronte coastal walk, especially in late October – early November when Sculpture by the Sea is on.
Day 4: Choose wine-tasting or hiking
Head out on a day trip to the Hunter Valley and its wineries. There are plenty of tours you can do that will home in on the highlights. The region makes a particularly good Semillon but you’ll also find plenty of excellent Shiraz, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Verdelho, so stock up whilst you can.
Not a wine buff? Switch this out for a day trip to the Blue Mountains—you can get there in two and a half hours by train from the city, arriving into the main town of Katoomba. Known for its dramatic scenery, steep cliffs, waterfalls and eucalyptus forests, head out for a hike, or overnight here before leaving tomorrow for your next destination…
Day 5: Make for Melbourne
Take a flight from Sydney to Melbourne as the swiftest way south—it’s only one-and-a-half hours by plane and flights run regularly. Melbourne boasts a very different vibe to Sydney and you’ll have many a debate about which city is the winner. Take a tour of Melbourne’s famous laneways, soak up the street art and take your pick of the myriad of innovative dining options on offer at the critically acclaimed Attica or Naked for Satan on Brunswick Street. You really can’t go wrong.
Days 7-10: Get out to the Great Ocean Road
Head out for a trip along the Great Ocean Road, which starts to the west of the city. You could hire a car, though there are also plenty of tour options if you’re travelling solo. If you ask us, this really is one of the world’s most beautiful drives.
You’ll start in the east at either Torquay or Geelong and Warrnambool, and then see highlights including Bell’s Beach, Apollo Bay and the Twelve Apostles, plus plenty of koalas in their natural habitat.
Days 10-13: Head for the Red
Return to Melbourne and take an afternoon flight to Alice springs, in Australia’s Red Centre. It really is worth adding on this third stop to get into the vast open desert of Australia’s outback, but don’t miss having dinner at Hanuman, owned by celebrated Chinese-Sri Lankan restaurateur Jimmy Shu, or tuck into some tapas at ever-cool Epilogue Lounge before you go.
The next morning, take off on a three-day, two-night trip to Uluru and the Kata Tjuta National Park—itineraries vary but you’ll stroll through scorched desert landscapes, and might find yourself camel trekking or even taking a heli tour. If you’re game, roll out a swag for a night under the best southern night skies you’ll ever see. Trust us—it’s a memory that will last a lifetime. If you’re looking for the luxury option, book into Longitude 131, a beautiful wilderness camp.
Day 14: Home time
Return to Alice springs for a connecting flight to Sydney or Melbourne, before heading home. Then see how long it takes you to plan your return visit…
For more Australia itinerary ideas, go to www.australia.com*65% if visitors to Australia were return visitors as at March 2020, year on year.