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 wide range 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.
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, visiting places like Tamborine Mountain or hiking in Lamington National Park. Finally, rest days can be spent indulging in a beachside chill, or maybe some shopping.
While three days is the minimum suggested length for a broad experience, 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.
This particular itinerary is based around my typical visitor. Usually they are foodies, who love hiking and the ocean so that's what I've based a lot of this itinerary around.
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.
Acquainting with the Amazing Gold Coast – Day 1
Start Your Day with a Walk to Snapper Rocks
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 accessible at a very low tide. These natural pools, formed by the receding tide, hold a variety of marine life, making it a spot of interest for the kids. Just remember to tread carefully to avoid disrupting the marine life in the pools.
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.
Feel the Thrill at Dream World
If you are an early riser and get to Coolangatta around 7-7:30 am, you will be finished your walk well and truely 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.
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.
Exploring the beaches of the Gold Coast – Day 2 (Option 1)
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 .
- 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.
And if you're looking for more fun and excitement, head over to Sea World. Located near the beach, this marine-themed park offers a variety of shows and exhibits featuring dolphins, seals, and even sharks. Besides, Sea World also offers plenty of interactive experiences, allowing you to get up close and personal with the marine creatures. After all the excitement, retreat back to the beach and unwind as the sun sets, capping off a perfect day on the Gold 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.
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 Pavillions 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 – a very popular local hang out that serves amazing margaritas and casual food. Open Wednesday through Sunday, Henchman is in Miami just opposide 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!
Exploring the Unseen Side of Gold Coast – Day 2 (Option 2)
Start with a Hike in Nerang National Park
On the second day of your Gold Coast adventure, start with a hike through the bushland in Nerang National Park. This green oasis offers a variety of trails suitable for all fitness levels. I want to say you can immerse yourself in the tranquillity of nature as you hike through the forest, however the cockatoos are always loud and screeching every time I hike here.
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. You may encounter local wildlife, but its not common. I've seen the odd goanna and a few wallabies but the bikes do keep them at bay.
If you don't want to drive out to Nerang, Burleigh Headland is a great walk. Parking can be a little bit of a challenge but during the week if you're early you should have no trouble. Alternatively if you'd like something easy, check out some other Gold Coast hiking and walking trails you might like to do.
After a few hours of hiking, head back into the city and grab some lunch. If you are staying Broadbeach or north, there are many options in the area. If you are staying on the southern side, maybe grab something to eat at the 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.
While a lot of visitors head to Kurrawa Surf Club for a meal or drinks, just be very aware that it can be pretty expensive, especially for a club. It is very central and a great location overlooking Broadbeach, but drinks in particular aren't cheap here.
Experience the Exotic at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
As you are already in Currumbin, 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 a great way to experience Australia's animals up close and personal.
Enjoy Breathtaking Views at SkyPoint Climb
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 really worth the climb.
They offer day, twilight and evening climbs so its easy to fit into your schedule.
Savour the Tastes at Miami Marketta (Wednesday, Friday and Saturday only)
After a day filled with adventure, 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. As you stroll around, savouring the delicious food and soaking in the lively ambience, Miami Marketta guarantees an authentic local experience. So, indulge in the culinary wonders and relish the vibrant nightlife that Miami Marketta has to offer. 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 Lammington from Reid Street Kitchen. You can't miss them – they are massive and easily feed 2 of you.
Some Exciting Extensions – Day 3 and Beyond
For those seeking adrenaline-pumping adventure, skydiving is a must-try. Imagine the thrill of jumping out of a plane at 15,000 feet, free-falling at over 200 km/hour, and then gliding peacefully as you soak in the magnificent views of the Gold Coast. Whether you're a first-timer or an experienced skydiver, the Gold Coast offers a unique skydiving experience that you'll remember for a lifetime.
Safety is paramount with experienced instructors guiding you through every step of the way, from the briefing to the jump and safe landing. The exhilaration of free-falling combined with the stunning aerial views of the Gold Coast beaches and hinterland make skydiving a bucket-list worthy adventure for any thrill-seeker visiting the Gold Coast.
Go Snorkeling With The Turtles At Cook Island
Snorkeling at Cook Island is a must-try experience when exploring the Gold Coast. There are a few operators that visit Cook Island now, but we always go with Watersports Guru. The island is just off Fingal Heads in the Tweed area so you will have to make your way to the southern Gold Coast or check with the operator about pickups.
We've been quite a few times and you always see turtles and black tip reef sharks (the small ones) and I've seen Wobbygongs, Dolphins and even whales in the right season.
The trip is around 2.5 hours with a maximum of 9 people so its a great personal experience. They supply everything so you just need to rock up and start swimming with the turtles!
Head “Up the Hill” to Purling Brook Falls
Located within the breath-taking 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.
Its only 4 kilometres with around 200 meters of elevation gain so its manageable for most people. Anti clockwise is maybe a little easier but its not a tough walk.
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.
Grab some Fish And Chips and watch the sunset on Burleigh Hill
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.
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.
Meriton Suites in Broadbeach is a fantastic luxury option. With over 13,000 reviews, it offers high-end amenities and a prime location. For those seeking a more budget-friendly option, the Palm Beach Hotel in Palm Beach offers excellent value for money without compromising on comfort or location. Palm Beach is between Burleigh and Currumbin so a great spot if your focus is a more local feel and beach time.
And if you're travelling from New South Wales, the Mantra Twin Towns in Coolangatta is a great choice. Their commendable service and comfortable rooms have garnered them over 6,400 reviews.
There is so much accommodation on the Gold Coast (we are Australia's premiere holiday destination) so you won't have trouble finding something to suit your style and budget.Booking.com
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.
On the other hand, if you're interested in bringing the kids over the school holiday break, the summer season between December and February is the best time. However, it's important to note that this period also experiences high temperatures and can also get very heavy rainfall. Therefore, it's advisable to plan your outdoor activities in the early morning to avoid the late afternoon storms.
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 avail the best deals and have a hassle-free vacation.
Meet Jenny, a passionate Australian travel blogger who has explored 103 countries to date and lives on The Gold Coast. 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.
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. Whether you're planning to try exciting activities like skydiving or snorkelling or simply want to enjoy the beauty of the Gold Coast, World Nomads has you covered.
I've used them many times and while thankfully I've only had to make a claim once or twice, they have been super easy to deal with and paid out quickly.
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.
Extra Options For Things To Do On The Gold Coast
Do you have a little extra time and would like to sample more of the region? There are more than a few options to spend the day a little further afield.
Are You A Gin Lover?
We have multiple Gin Distilleries here on the Gold Coast but my 2 personal favourites are Wildflower Gin, a small local company with an ever expanding reach, and Husk in Tumbulgum just south of Tweed Heads.
Wildflower Gin is a small local distillery in Varsity Lakes that does really fun Gin Masterclasses. You spend a few hours learning how Gin is made and make your own bottle in the process.
They also have Rum masterclasses now that are also very popular.
Book Online for one of their Gin making afternoons.
Husk Farm to Bottle is located at Tumbulgum about 15 minutes drive south of Tweed Heads. Its a great facility and you can take the whole family for lunch or the afternoon. Their menu offers a range of food truck style options and more traditional sit down fare.
Locals pronunciation of Tumbulgum is different to what you might expect. You don't say “tumble gum” you say “Tum-BAL-Gum”. The accent is on the “bal”. That may save you some embarassment when you are talking to the locals later!
Moreton Island From Cleveland
Adventure lovers, gear up for an exhilarating day at Moreton Island. This island is an adventurer's paradise, offering a multitude of thrilling activities all in one day. Imagine sliding down the vast sand dunes on toboggans or navigating the crystal blue waters on a transparent kayak; the excitement is limitless.
You will also get to go snorkelling around the fascinating Tangalooma Shipwreck, home to a diverse marine life. Watch turtles gliding through the waters and brightly coloured fish swimming around the structures of the shipwreck. This underwater spectacle is worth the ferry ride just for this.
The dolphins of Tangalooma are quite famous for their playful attitude and I've been in the water and been actually nudged by one of them. He (assuming it was a male) then swum circles around me twisting and playing and it remains to this day one of the best ocean experiences I've ever had. Not as good at that time I patted a wild whale, but pretty close.
This will be a big day from the Gold Coast as its about an hour and 20 minutes drive to the Pinkenba Wharf where the cruises go from. It is worth it though.
If you are just wanting to snorkel, spend time on the beach, have some nice food and relax, the best way to book is through Tangalooma Island Resort directly. Booking a day trip through them means that you have access to the resort facilities, which you don't get with other operators. Some day trips are great and you get everything you need on the boat anyway, but if its your first time I would book with the resort and get the best of everything they have to offer.
Mt Tamborine Winery & Brewery
A visit to the Gold Coast isn't complete without exploring the region's wine country. My recommended day trip is the Fortitude Brewing Co at Eagle Heights.
The offer a range of sampler plates, over 15 of their own beers on tap and great food and wine. Eagle Heights is a nice drive from the Gold Coast and after a wander around the village, the Brewery is a great place to kick back over lunch.
Experience the Glow Worm Caves At Tamborine Mountain
For an experience unlike any other, the Nocturnal Rainforest and Glow Worm Tour is a must-do when visiting the Gold Coast. This magical tour offers a unique opportunity to explore the subtropical rainforest of Mount Tamborine and learn all about the glow worms.
I was really surprised how much I liked this tour. You just buy tickets online and rock up when it is your time slot. It is not that far from the Brewery or Eagle Height so it worth adding to your Tamborine itinerary.
Determining How Many Days in Gold Coast is Enough
Planning a trip to the Gold Coast, Australia's premier holiday destination, demands careful consideration. The length of your stay primarily depends on the activities you wish to enjoy and the pace at which you prefer to travel. With numerous attractions spread across the region, one might ponder how many days in Gold Coast is enough?
For a comprehensive experience, five days can be deemed ideal. This allows ample time to explore the pristine beaches, take a Skypoint Climb at the Skypoint Observation Deck, experience the thrill of air ballooning, and even venture out to nearby locales such as the charming Byron Bay. A well-distributed five-day itinerary ensures that you soak in the essence of the Gold Coast without feeling rushed.
However if your time is limited, 3 days will give you a great sampling of what the Gold Coast has to offer.
Getting To The Gold Coast
Once you've decided how many days to spend in the Gold Coast, the next step is getting there. If you're travelling domestically from cities like Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, or Perth, a multitude of airlines offer direct flights to the Gold Coast. Major carriers such as Qantas, Virgin Australia, Jetstar, and Tigerair Australia all operate regular services.
Upon your arrival, the well-connected rail system can conveniently transport you to your accommodation and the various attractions of the Gold Coast. This makes the process of planning your trip and navigating your way around the city a breeze.
Wrapping Up Your Gold Coast Travel Plan
Planning a trip to the Gold Coast can be both exciting and challenging. With so many attractions and activities on offer, it can be hard to decide how to spend your time. Luckily, Gold Coast City is a destination that caters to a myriad of interests and tastes. Whether you prefer to bask in the sun on Surfers Paradise or take a surfing lesson at Snapper Rocks, there’s something for everyone.
I hope this has solved your question about how long to stay in Gold Coast. You can of course extend and experience the many great activities in and around South East Queensland from your Gold Coast base.
Despite the itinerary, it's important to remember that the journey is as enjoyable as the destination. Gold Coast is a city that surprises and delights at every turn. So, whether it's your first time visiting the Gold Coast, or you're a seasoned traveller, your trip to the Gold Coast is sure to be an unforgettable experience.