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east coast australia itinerary 4 weeks sydney to cairns travelling australia tips

East Coast Australia Itinerary – How To Spend 4 Weeks In Oz

Planning your dream East Coast Australia itinerary? Well here’s everything you need to know – inc locations, durations, top tours and more!

Putting together the perfect East Coast Australia itinerary can be tough – with over 2,400km of coastline to explore packing all the top locations and tours into your 4 week Australia itinerary takes some planning!

But no worries – I’ve spent years living, working and travelling around Australia so to help you kick-start your Australia trip here’s my recommendations on how to spend 1 months travelling Australia, including destinations, durations, where to stay and of course all the best trips and tours to check out…

East Coast Australia Itinerary – How To Spend 4 Weeks In Oz


Well hello there Sydney! What better place to kick off your Australia trip than one of the countries most iconic cities? Now I’m not much of a city fan but Sydney isn’t half bad and there’s lots to keep you busy.

Head over to Bondi Beach (admittedly a bit over rated!) but certainly one you have to tick off the bucket list before strolling along the stunning coastal path to Coogee Beach.

And then of course if the world famous Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge where you can grab your postcard perfect snapshot and the realisation that you’ve finally made it to Australia!

If you want to escape the city for the day a trip on the ferry across to Manly Beach is well worth it for some more laid back vibes – or perhaps venture further afield to the Blue Mountains or Port Stephens.

Nights = 3

Where to stay = WakeUp! Sydney or YHA The Rocks




Overnight bus to Yamba



One of my favourite little hidden gems of East Coast Australia, Yamba is still pretty off the map as far as international tourists are concerned, so make the most of the stunning and largely empty beaches!

Head down to the famous Angourie Point and keep an eye out for wild kangaroos before enjoy some of the spectacular coastal walks in the area.

For surfers there’s plenty going on – with a huge range of surf spots to choose from, so enjoy the uncrowded lineups!

Nights = 2

Where to stay = Yamba YHA now Yamba Central Hotel (but still just as good!)




Byron Bay

Ah Byron Bay – my favourite spot on the whole of Australia and one of my top surf destinations on the planet!

As the sign says “slow down, chill out, cheer up” – so get ready for heaps of barefoot, hippie vibes in this once sleepy surfer town.

There are plenty of beaches in Byron Bay so get your boardies/bikini and sunscreen at the ready – and it’s an incredible place to learn to surf or for seasoned surfers to score heaps of fun waves.

In terms of non beach things to do in Byron Bay there’s plenty going on – from skydiving and dolphin kayaking, to Nimbin day trips, scuba diving Julian Rocks and even whale watching.

And then of course there’s the famous Lighthouse walk, which loops from town through to Wategos, Cape Byron Lighthouse and the most Easterley Point of Mainland Australia – which is well worth doing, especially for sunset or sunrise, with an epic Byron Bay breakfast after!

I’ve said 3 nights here but honestly you’ll probably want a few more!

Nights = 3

Where to stay = The Surf House or Aquarius Hostel





Brisbane, aka Brissie, aka Bris Vegas is the capital of Queensland and to be honest isn’t my favourite stop, but I know a lot of you like the hustle and bustle of the city!

If you’re looking for a popular day trip out of Brisbane though Australia Zoo (home of Steve Irwin) is a super popular option.

Nights = 2

Where to stay = Brisbane YHA





And you’re back at the beach! Noosa is a pretty upmarket beachside town so expect lots of boutique shops and really good places to eat and drink!

Kick back on the beach, take a stroll through the National Park up to Tea Tree Point and the Fairy Pools (whilst keeping an eye out for the wild koalas) and take a day trip kayaking the Noosa Everglades.

Again surfers rejoice – Noosa is home to some of the best point breaks in Australia and a mecca for longboarders, so if you’re into surfing this is going to be a highlight if it’s working.

Nights = 2

Where to stay = Halse Lodge




Rainbow Beach

Things are pretty chill in Rainbow Beach – which gets its name from the multi coloured sand dunes. The main event here is a night pre and post Fraser Island tour, which should certainly be part of your East Coast Australia itinerary.

Nights = 2

Where to stay = Pippies Beachhouse


Fraser Island

The first of the big Australia overnight tours I’d recommend is Fraser Island – or more importantly an overnight 4×4 tour!

The worlds largest sand island is packed full of incredible adventure and getting the opportunity to drive a 4×4 down the beach highway (yes it’s actually a dedicated highway!) or through the rainforest tracks is always heaps of fun.

Float down Eli Creek, take a refreshing swim in the pictureque Lake Mackenzie and stop off at the iconic Maheno Shipwreck – a Fraser Island tour is always a highlight of anyones trip in Oz.

Nights = 2

Top Tours = Pippies (camping), Nomads (hostel style) or DropBear (nature & heritage)




Overnight bus to Airlie Beach

This ones a big one – roughly 18 hours!


Airlie Beach

After a long overnight bus up from Rainbow Beach, it’s time to recover a bit in Airlie Beach – which has a huge public lagoon pool in the middle of town and is the perfect place to soak up the tropical sun, meet some fellow travellers and maybe even have a BBQ too.

I’ve penciled in 3 nights here as you’ll also want a night pre and post Whitsundays tour too…

Nights = 3

Where to stay = Nomads Airlie Beach


Whitsunday Islands

The second of the big tours, a sailing trip to the Whitsunday Islands is another East Coast Australia Itinerary must do.

For those looking for the most adventure an overnight sailing trip takes in the famous Hill Inlet Lookout (for those postcard perfect views), Whitehaven Beach and of course plenty of increidble snorkelling too.

There are boat options for all styles too – from backpacker party boats to luxury catamarans.

Or if you really want to go all out Ride To Paradise combines day trips around the islands with a stay on an island resort!

Nights = 2

Top Tours = Tongarra, Wings, Powerplay or Ride To Paradise.




Magnetic Island

More island vibes just up the coast from Airlie Beach! You’ll need to make your way up to Townsville where you can jump on the ferry out to Magnetic Island – which is one of my East Coast highlights for sure.

Grab a package deal with either Base (if you like to party) or Bungalow Bay YHA (for more chilled vibes) which include your return ferry, accomodation and welcome drink.

Once you’re on the island make sure you hire one of the famous “Barbie cars” and explore the island – which you can easily zip around in a few hours!

Feed the rock wallabies, meet the wild koalas and soak up some Tropical North Queensland sunshine on the amazing beaches.

Nights = 2

Where to stay = Base Magnetic Island (party vibes) or Bungalow Bay YHA (chilled vibes)




Mission Beach

If you want a bit of adrenaline in your East Coast Australia itinerary then Mission Beach is where you’re going to get it!

The big draw here is skydiving – so face your fears and jump out of a plane at 15,000 feet!  As well as stunning views across the coastline and Great Barrier Reef skydiving and Mission Beach is also the only beach landing in Australia – so here’s the spot to tick it off the bucket list!

There are miles of empty, palm tree fringed beaches in the area too, so find your own slice of paradise, or maybe drive out into the surrounding area to sample some locally grown chocolate or award winning ice cream.

Nights = 2

Where to stay = Scottys YHA or Absolute Backpackers





Time to wrap up your East Coast adventure in Cairns – the crazy party town towards the top of Queensland!

There are heaps of awesome party vibes here – so pencil in a night for some beers at Gilligans and dancing on tables at the Woolshed.

It’s not all party party in Cairns though – its famous as the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef so make sure you book yourself on a day trip to visit one of the nature wonders of the world which can even be seen from space! Whether you snorkel, scuba dive or take the plunge with an intro dive for the first time it’s well worth it.

If you have a bit more time it’s also a really popular spot to complete your full dive course as well – check out Divers Den for that if you’re keen.

If you want to pack out the last few days of your trip I’d also highly recommend the Cairns Waterfall tour and also Cape Tribulation day trips to see more of this amazing part of Australia.

Nights = 3

Where to stay = Gilligans




Got Longer Than 4 Weeks?

Not constrained to 4 weeks and want even more fun in your Australia itinerary? Well here’s a couple of extra options for you to fit in…

Add in Melbourne

Instead of starting/finishing in Sydney why not head to its arch rival – Melbourne?! Famous for epic live music, sporting events and thriving coffee culture Melbourne is a great spot to explore. One of the biggest draws though is tackling the Great Ocean Road and visiting the 12 Apostles. Although you can do this as a day trip I’d personally recommend renting a campervan and roadtripping it if you have the time!

Add in Surfers Paradise

Surfers Paradise and the Gold Coast is another great spot if you love the city vibes. Situated between Byron Bay and Brisbane the Gold Coast (aka the Goldie) is the Miami of Australia – with sprawling beaches and pumping nightlife.

Extend Your Stay

Why not just chill out and extend a few stops instead?! Yup if you have a bit longer padding out a few extra nights at some of the destinations will really slow the pace down and allow you to enjoy the East Coast even more!




Plan Your Perfect Trip

Want to plan your perfect East Coast Australia itinerary no matter how long you have?

Then I highly recommend chatting to the crew of RTW Backpackers who can help you piece together travel passes, campervan hire, hostels, day trips and everything else you need to make the most of your time in Australia!

Fill out their Custom East Coast Package form and they’ll put together a free itinerary for you including heaps of deals and discounts!

Putting together your East Coast Australia itinerary?

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