Revealing: The ideal number of days you need to visit the Gold Coast
The Gold Coast, a city on Australia's eastern coast, is known for its appeal to those seeking adventure, fun, relaxation, and everything in between. Determining how many days to spend on a Gold Coast holiday can be a daunting task given the number of attractions and activities available.
However, a well-rounded experience can be achieved within a three-day itinerary, allowing for a blend of beach relaxation, wildlife encounters, and adrenaline-pumping escapades.
Your days can be spent acquainting yourself with the Gold Coast's stunning beaches, such as Rainbow Beach in Coolangatta, and exploring the bustling Broadbeach restaurant area. A trip to one of the theme parks will add a dash of excitement and create unforgettable memories.
Alternatively, a venture up into the hinterland of the Gold Coast is recommended if you would prefer at least one active day. Visiting places like Tamborine Mountain or hiking in Lamington National Park is a great way to see the Australian bush at its best.
Finally, rest days can be spent indulging in a beachside chill, or maybe some shopping.
How long is ideal for a visit to the Gold Coast
While you can spend easily a week or two on the Gold Coast, three days is the minimum suggested length for see and do everything you would like to. Extending your stay can open doors to even more fun opportunities.
Additional days can be spent embarking on day trips to surrounding areas or simply soaking up more of the Gold Coast's sunny charm. The city's friendly locals and laid-back atmosphere make it a great place to spend an extended holiday.
It's worth noting that the Gold Coast Airport provides convenient access to the city, making travel arrangements straightforward for international visitors. A Gold Coast holiday is flexible and can be tailored to your preferences, ensuring that no matter how many days you spend, it will be a memorable experience
Unfolding Gold Coast Attractions – A Comprehensive Itinerary
Planning a comprehensive itinerary for your Gold Coast holiday doesn't need to be overwhelming. The city is well laid out, transport is simple to use and affordable. You can easily spend 7-10 days on the Gold Coast filling your days with activities or simply relaxing beach or pool side.
With around 300 sunny days per year, its rare to be rained in completely. And even then you can always spend your days at the amazing shopping centres of Pacific Fair or Robina Town Centre.
I've put together a possible 3 day itinerary which should enable you to at least get a taste of what the Gold Coast has to offer. I've included a few options so feel free to mix and match what suits your travel style and budget
A 3 Day Itinerary for the Gold Coast
A minimum amount of time we recommend for your holiday on the Gold Coast is at least 3 days. If you spend this time over a weekend you will pay a premium for accommodation and will find everything to be much busier than it is during the week. However if you visit mid week you will find everything more available and hotels more affordable.
Day 1: A Fantastic Morning Walk and A Theme Park!
Start Your Day with a Walk to Snapper Rocks
I am assuming that you will arrive in the Gold Coast the evening prior to the first day of my itinerary. Flights to and from the Gold Coast are available from almost all capital cities and some regional airports in Australia.
Beginning your day at Coolangatta with a walk from Greenmount Beach around the oceanside path to Snapper Rocks. As the sun rises, the beauty of this coastal headland is revealed, making it a perfect spot for early morning photography. The rocks that form the headland offer a unique experience as you navigate your way around them. Head up the stairs to get a great vantage point for watching the local surfers.
Snapper Rocks is also known for its rock pools. These natural pools, formed by the receding tide, hold a variety of marine life, making it a spot of interest for nature enthusiasts. Just remember to tread carefully to avoid disrupting the marine life in the pools and be aware of the height and strength of the surf. It can be not a great idea to try and swim here if the tide and the surf is too high and too strong.
If you are not staying in Coolangatta it is easy to get to using Surfside Buslines, the Gold Coast's transport system. You can catch the GLink tram from as far north as Helensvale to Broadbeach South Station and then change to the 700 bus that makes it's way down the coast to Tweed Heads. Once you pass Kirra Beach Surf Club, get off at the next stop for the best access to Greenmount Beach.
For a panoramic view of the Gold Coast, consider going past Snapper Rocks up the hill to Point Danger. This headland, located at the southern end of the Gold Coast, offers breathtaking views of the ocean and the city skyline. The spot is especially popular for whale watching during the migrating season. You can also find a walkway with plaques commemorating famous mariners and explorers, adding a touch of history to the natural beauty.
Point Danger also serves as the boundary between Queensland and New South Wales. Standing at this point, you can literally have one foot in each state. The Captain Cook Memorial and Lighthouse is another attraction at Point Danger, commemorating the historic 1770 journey of the famous explorer.
The map above will take you up to Point Danger as a loop after Snapper Rocks.
Breakfast options while in Coolangatta Area
At the end of your walk, if you walk around Snapper Rocks, up the hill to the lookout and then turn right down the first street after the lookout (the aptly named Boundary Street), a few blocks down is Switchfoot Coffee. They only have a couple of tables but the coffee is great if you need a refuel at this point.
If you then head back to the esplanade there are many restaurants and cafe's along that strip. None are (in my personal opinion) amazing but they are good food and decent coffee. Alternatively try Ground Coolangatta on the corner of Marine Parade and McDonald Street. I love their coffee!
Feel the Thrill at Dream World
If you are an early riser and get to Coolangatta around 7-7:30 am, you will have finished your walk well and truly by 8:30 leaving your time to fit in a theme park today.
After the calm morning, it's time to ramp up the excitement and head to Dream World. As one of the Gold Coast's premier amusement parks, Dream World offers an array of attractions, suitable for both adrenaline junkies and those who prefer a more relaxed pace.
Every corner of the park promises fun and excitement, ensuring a memorable experience for all visitors. Dreamworld is my choice of theme park primarily because there is the main Dreamworld site but they also have a waterpark if that is more your thing.
The crown jewel of Dream World is undoubtedly its collection of thrill rides. From high-speed roller coasters that leave you breathless to gravity-defying rides that test your courage, the park offers a rush like no other. Each ride is uniquely designed to provide a different thrill, guaranteeing an adrenaline-filled day. However, remember to check the safety instructions for each ride and follow them for an enjoyable and safe experience.
Using public transport will mean its around an hour and a half to Dreamworld, but they don't open until 10am anyway. You can get the 700 bus back to Broadbeach South, jump on the Tram into Surfers Paradise and get the theme park bus straight to Dreamworlds door. Check out Translink's Journey planner to work out your trip.
Swap Outs for Day 1
If you aren't a theme park person but would love to do some shopping, consider heading to either Pacific Fair or Robina Town Centre. Personally I like Pac Fair better but they are both great. Why shopping today? If you find something great you can wear it while you are here so today makes sense.
End your day with a local meal
After your day at Dreamworld you will probably feel like a more casual dining option tonight. The Gold Coast has restaurant strips everywhere and you won't find it hard to get great food.
Surfers Paradise has many MANY food options along the esplanade, inside the Soul Building, along Cavil Avenue and the surrounding streets.
If you do feel like something a little more up market, Broadbeach has a dedicated restaurant strip around Surf Parade and only a block or two south of that there are some great restaurants along Oracle Boulevard.
Day 2: Exploring the beaches of the Gold Coast
Soak up the Sun at Gold Coast Beaches
No trip to the Gold Coast would be complete without spending a day at the beach. With its golden sands and clear waters, the Gold Coast Beach is a paradise for beach-goers. Whether you wish to swim, sunbathe, or simply relax with a good book, the beach offers the perfect setting for a leisurely day.
My Beach Recommendations:
- Northern Gold Coast: Try Main Beach if you are confident in the waves or head to the Broadwater Parkland if you would prefer super calm conditions.
- North to Mid Coast – Broadbeach or Miami beach. Flags and lifeguards will be easy to spot.
- Mid to South Coast – Burleigh Beach or Tallebudgera for a more sheltered swim.
- Southern Area – Kirra beach for a more sheltered cove (south side of Kirra) or Rainbow Bay for the most stunning slice of beach coast.
Test Your Surfing Skills at Surfers Paradise
For the adventurous spirit, Surfers Paradise offers an unbeatable opportunity to test your mettle against the mighty waves. This iconic Gold Coast destination is known for its perfect surfing conditions, offering an exhilarating experience for both beginners and seasoned surfers. With professional surfing schools scattered along the coast, you can easily book a lesson and start riding the waves in no time.
After a thrilling surf session, take a moment to relax on the sandy shore and soak in the vibrant atmosphere. Surfers Paradise is not just about the surf; the bustling beachfront markets, lively bars, and world-class restaurants make it a haven for those seeking a taste of Australia's laid-back beach culture. And if you're lucky, you might even spot a sea world of dolphins frolicking in the oceanic waves.
Surf Lessons On The Gold Coast
Embrace the Surf Clubs for Lunch
We are renown for our leagues and surf clubs here on the Gold Coast. Kurrawa in Broadbeach is very popular however its far from cheap.
Consider Currumbin Vikings Surf Club. This spot offers a great swimming area (swim between the flags though), and fantastic view up toward Surfers Paradise. The meals are affordable and pub like in style.
Alternatively if you have a car and want to really bargain hunt, head over the border to Tweed Heads for the discount lunches on offer at their bowls and RSL clubs. Club Tweed often has very discounted lunches during the week.
Experience the Exotic at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
As you are already in Currumbin, after lunch immerse yourself into Australia's unique wildlife at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. This iconic haven is home to a myriad of native Australian animals, from colourful parrots to cuddly koalas and curious kangaroos. Roam around the lush green sanctuary and relish the chance to get up-close and personal with these amazing creatures.
Don't miss out on the captivating shows and feeding presentations that take place throughout the day. From the free flight bird show to crocodile feeding, each activity allows you to learn about Australia's unique wildlife in an engaging and interactive manner. A day at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is indeed an unforgettable experience that brings you closer to nature's marvels.
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary Tickets
End Your Day with Dinner or a Show
A perfect end to an adventurous day on the Gold Coast is a visit to one of our amazing restaurants. With so many options to choose from it can be hard to decide. Here are my favourites:
- Try The Pavilions in Burleigh. You will need to book ahead as its very popular.
- Seascape Restaurant and Bar in the Soul Building in Surfers Paradise is fantastic. When you book ask if you can have a table looking out over the world famous surfers paradise beach
- Edgewater Dining and Lounge on Isle of Capri. This very nice restaurant looks out over the skyline of Surfers Paradise. A lot of the tables are Alfresco- and its not too far away from the beach strip.
- The Henchman Miami – a very popular local hang out that serves amazing margaritas and casual food. Open Wednesday through Sunday, Henchman is in Miami just opposite Miami High so easy to find. They also have a variety of musicians and local performers. The food is casual but great. Try the cauliflower bites!
- Doco Demo V in West Burleigh is possibly my favourite restaurant on the Gold Coast. It is fully vegan but you order off the menu as normal. So Sticky Korean Chicken isn't actually chicken, and salt and pepper calamari isn't calamari either. Their entire menu is non animal protein made to taste like its non-vegan self. The food here is AMAZING! You will need to Uber or drive as its not on a main public transport route.
If you would prefer a show, check out what is currently on at the Star Hotel and Casino. Or, if you love the dramatic book a night at Dracula's. the Gold Coast's premiere dinner and show location. You will have to book in advance though as they do sell out.
Swap Outs for Day 2
If you would prefer to stay on solid ground, start with a refreshing hike in Nerang National Park. This state forest offers a variety of trails suitable for all fitness levels. Immerse yourself in the Australian bush where you can find trails from just a few kilometres to around 20km. It is also filled with mountain bike tracks if that is your thing, but if you are a hiker be aware of which paths are bikes only.
Alternatively Burleigh Headland is a very nice walk. My post on the best flat hiking trails has more info on this walk. It isn't flat though if you do the headland loop. Its not super steep but IF you do the full lap its not flat like that post name suggests!
Meet Jenny, a passionate Australian travel blogger who has explored 103 countries to date. With over 30 years of travel experience, Jenny has a wealth of knowledge to share with her readers about the cultures, landscapes, and people she has encountered on her journeys. She's always battling unfashionably frizzy hair and you will never catch Jenny in anything but comfortable shoes. Learn more about Jenny and her travels.
Day 3: See The Views, experience the thrills or head up the hill to the Hinterland
Are you ready to take your Gold Coast adventure to new heights? Then, don't miss out on the SkyPoint Climb, a thrilling outdoor adventure activity that takes you atop the Gold Coast's tallest residential tower. Feel the adrenaline rush as you ascend the outside of the tower, securely harnessed and guided by professionals.
Upon reaching the summit, be prepared to be awestruck by the panoramic views stretching as far as the eye can see. From the golden beaches to the lush hinterland, the breathtaking views are truly a feast for the eyes. As you stand on the top of Gold Coast's tallest residential tower, savour the feeling of accomplishment and bask in the unparalleled beauty of the Gold Coast.
If you aren't up for the climb you can visit the observation deck for fantastic views out over the city.
Do A Jet Ski Tour or Go Snorkelling on Wave Break Island
Snorkeling is a must-try experience when exploring the Gold Coast. The region's sparkling blue waters are home to a plethora of vibrant marine life, and there's no better way to discover this underwater world than by snorkeling.
Whether you're an experienced diver or a first-timer, the Gold Coast offers a variety of snorkeling sites suitable for all skill levels. Take the plunge and get up close with colourful coral reefs, schools of tropical fish, and even some friendly turtles.
Trips out to Wave Break Island offer snorkelling experiences and the option to kayak as well.
Wave Break Island Tours
The best snorkelling on the Gold Coast is Cook Island, however you do need to be relatively confident in the water. If you are not, head out to Wave Break, but if you are and can handle a little current, Cook Island is amazing. I've seen turtles, black tips sharks and even wobygongs at Cook Island.
Head “Up the Hill” to Purling Brook Falls
Located within the breathtaking Springbrook National Park, Purling Brook Falls is a must-visit on your Gold Coast adventure. This magnificent waterfall cascades over a sheer cliff into a rainbow-fringed pool below, offering captivating views that are sure to impress. A well-maintained circuit trail leads you through the lush Gold Coast Hinterland, giving you a chance to explore the thriving flora and fauna unique to the region.
For the more adventurous, the trail continues to Twin Falls where you can take a refreshing dip in the crystal-clear waters. The tranquil setting, combined with the stunning natural beauty of the falls, provides a perfect escape from the bustling city life. Whether you're a nature lover, an avid hiker, or simply looking for a serene spot to unwind, Purling Brook Falls and its surrounding rainforest offer an unforgettable experience in the heart of the Gold Coast Hinterland.
Try some local fish and chips with a view for dinner
Grab some fish and chips at Burleigh Heads Fish Mongers and cross over to walk up to the grassy knoll on Burleigh Headland. This is a favourite spot for many Gold Coast locals. You can eat your fish fry, watch the surfers and the sunset over the city. It is a pretty cool spot.
Alternatively if you are here on a Wednesday, Friday or Saturday, treat your taste buds to the gastronomic delights at Miami Marketta. A bustling food market that comes alive in the evening, Miami Marketta is a paradise for food lovers. From local Australian delicacies to international cuisine, the variety of food stalls ensures there's something for every palate.
But it's not just about the food; the vibrant atmosphere, live music, and local artworks add to the charm of this place. The Gin Bar is worth seeing for sure! Wednesdays is a smaller version than the weekend so just be aware that on Wednesday there will only be 8-10 food stalls operating.
Be sure and try a passionfruit Lamington from Reid Street Kitchen. You can't miss them – they are massive and easily feed 2 of you.
Planning Your Stay – Where and When
When embarking on a journey to the Gold Coast, accommodation plays a major role in shaping your overall experience. With a myriad of options available, it's essential to select a place that suits your preferences and budget. From luxury suites to budget-friendly options, the Gold Coast has something for everyone.
Personally I always recommend Broadbeach for your Gold Coast stay. Surfers Paradise can get really busy and its very touristy. I like Broadbeach better. There is heaps of accommodation options, many budget choices and restaurants everywhere. You are also close to Pacific Fair and the tram stops.
Best Time to Plan Your Gold Coast Visit
Gold Coast is a destination that can be enjoyed all year round, however, the best time to visit largely depends on the activities you're interested in. If you're looking to enjoy the surf breaks or explore the national parks, the months from May to October are ideal. This period, which spans from Autumn to Spring, offers the most favourable weather conditions for outdoor adventures.
During this time, the weather is pleasant, providing the perfect backdrop for beach bumming, nature walks, and water sports. The Gold Coast is home to some of the world's most iconic surf breaks, offering a thrilling experience for surfing enthusiasts. The region also boasts a variety of national parks that offer diverse flora and fauna, perfect for nature lovers.
The summer season between December and February is a great time to visit, however, it's important to note that this period also experiences high temperatures and possibly some heavy rainfall. Therefore, it's advisable to plan your outdoor activities in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the midday heat.
December and January are also VERY busy as it is Australian school holidays.
Regardless of the time you choose to visit, Gold Coast promises a memorable experience filled with sun, surf, and natural beauty. It's recommended to plan your trip well in advance to get the best deals and have a hassle-free vacation.
Essential Tips for a Safe Vacation in Gold Coast
When planning a holiday to the Gold Coast, it's crucial to keep safety at the forefront. From navigating the city to understanding local customs, here are some essential tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable visit.
Firstly, familiarise yourself with the city's layout and transportation methods. The Gold Coast is well-connected, with extensive bus, tram, and train networks. However, if you're venturing off the beaten path, it's advisable to rent a car. Ensure to familiarise yourself with Australian driving laws, especially if you're visiting from overseas. Also, don't forget to carry a map or use a reliable GPS system to avoid getting lost.
While the Gold Coast is known for its beautiful beaches, it's essential to observe safety precautions when swimming or surfing. Always swim between the red and yellow flags, as these areas are patrolled by lifeguards. If you're planning on surfing, ensure you're aware of the surf etiquette and safety rules. The Gold Coast's beaches can be quite crowded, so it's critical to know how to navigate the waves safely.
Finally, the Gold Coast's tropical climate means it's essential to stay hydrated and protect yourself from the sun. Carry a water bottle at all times and apply sunscreen regularly, even on cloudy days. And while the city is generally safe, it's always a good idea to have travel insurance in place. This can cover any unexpected incidents or accidents, providing peace of mind throughout your trip.
Importance of Travel Insurance for Gold Coast
When planning your Gold Coast adventure, it's crucial not to overlook the importance of travel insurance. This is not merely an additional expense but a necessity to ensure that your trip is as enjoyable and worry-free as possible. Travel insurance offers protection against unforeseen circumstances that could potentially disrupt your vacation. These could include medical emergencies, trip cancellations, or lost baggage.
One provider that has earned the trust of many is World Nomads. They have been in the business since 2002, providing flexible travel insurance to travellers from over 100 countries. Their mission is to help travellers confidently explore their boundaries by offering simple and flexible coverage.
I've used them heaps of time and even had to claim once or twice. The claim process was simple and fast so I was really glad to have chosen such a reputable insurer.
Travel insurance is particularly important if you're coming from overseas. Long flights can sometimes lead to unexpected issues, such as flight delays or missed connections. Having travel insurance ensures you're protected against these unforeseen problems, allowing you to focus on the excitement of your upcoming trip.
Australia doesn't have flight delay and cancellation laws like Europe does and honestly the airlines don't really care. I wouldn't travel anywhere in Australian without travel insurance. As an alternative to World Nomads, Covermore also offer good coverage.
Conclusion: How Many Days On The Gold Coast Is Ideal
In conclusion, the optimal duration for a visit to Australia's stunning Gold Coast hinges on your interests and the pace at which you wish to explore.
For most visitors I would consider 3 days to be the minimum amount of time to spend exploring everything the Gold Coast has to offer. As an alternative, for those looking to soak in the sun on the world-renowned beaches, enjoy the vibrant nightlife, and explore the lush hinterland, a 5 to 7-day trip is probably ideal.
This allows ample time to experience the essential attractions, like the theme parks and Surfers Paradise, while also leaving room for relaxation and off-the-beaten-path adventures. However, if time permits, extending your stay to 10 days offers the luxury of a deeper dive into the local culture, cuisine, and hidden gems of the region.
Ultimately, whether it's a quick getaway or an extended holiday, the Gold Coast promises an unforgettable experience with its perfect blend of natural beauty and exciting activities.