Last Updated on September 9, 2022 by Nellie Huang
Can you see anything with two weeks in Australia? Hell yeh! Here is the ultimate two-week Australia itinerary.
Let me start with the obvious: Australia is HUGE. It’s a country and a continent, almost as big as USA (not including Alaska).
Australia’s coastline stretches almost 50,000 kilometers and the country has a myriad of landscapes, ranging from tropical rainforests in the north to deserts in the center and mountains in the south.
Of the 130+ countries that I’ve been, Australia has to be one of the most diverse. I’ve traveled all over Australia (on five trips in total), exploring the Top End, South Australia, Sunshine Coast, and Tasmania. For those who have limited time, I’ve compiled the perfect two-week Australia itinerary and guide.
Table of Contents
- Two Weeks in Australia
- Visas for Australia
- How to Get to Australia
- How to Travel Around Australia
- When to Travel Australia
- Cost of Travel in Australia
- The Ultimate Two-Week Itinerary in Australia
- Days 1-2: Explore the Vibrant City of Sydney
- Day 3: Day Trip to the Blue Mountains
- Day 4: Wander Around the Colonial City of Melbourne
- Day 5: Day Trip to Phillip Island
- Day 6: Day Trip to the Great Ocean Road
- Days 7-8: Soak Up the Sun in Cairns
- Day 9: Day Trip to the Great Barrier Reef
- Day 10: Day Trip to Daintree and Cape Tribulation
- Day 11: Get to Know Alice Springs
- Day 12: Camping Trip in Uluru
- Days 13-14: Camping Trip in Kings Canyon
- Day 15: Fly back to Sydney
- Other Two-Week Itineraries in Australia
- MY TOP TRAVEL RESOURCES
Two Weeks in Australia
Visas for Australia
Australia has a strict visa rule in that every non-citizen must have a visa to enter the country, except for citizens of New Zealand.
Citizens of EU member countries need to obtain an eVisitor visa online before arriving in Australia. You can apply for an Australia visa online for US$19.30 (£14,95) and takes 5 working days to process.
Citizens of Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, US, and Canada can get an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) online as well. The official website to apply for the ETA is here. It costs AU$20.
How to Get to Australia
The most popular international airport to fly in and out of is the Sydney International Airport.
I also recommend making a stopover in Dubai or Singapore to break down your journey to Australia. Many airlines don’t charge an extra fee for the layover.
There are lots of budget airlines that fly from Asia to Australia for just US$200+ return.
How to Travel Around Australia
Since you’ve only got two weeks in Australia, the best way to travel around the country and see as much as possible is by domestic flight. Thankfully airfares to travel within Australia are affordable.
E.g. a flight from Sydney to Melbourne is US$100 return (you can get them as cheap as $50).
Here are the best budget airlines that can get you across Australia:
- Qantas — Australia’s national airline
- Virgin Australia — Affordable luxurious airline
- Jetstar Airways — Australian low-cost airline
- Tigerair Australia — Another budget airline with good deals
- Scoot — Singaporean low-cost airline with cheapest fares
Australia is most famous for its spectacular national parks and remote islands, and driving is the best way to see them. Renting a car in Australia will set you back at around US$70/day or $160 for a week.
Petrol is particularly expensive in the remote regions such as the Red Centre, at almost $2.80 per liter.
It is very easy to do road trips in Australia. There are road signs everywhere and they’re in English. The main thing you need to be careful about when driving in Australia is wildlife. Kangaroos often dash out to the roads especially at night, so be extra alert. Your best bet is to avoid driving at night.
Backpackers with lots of time on their hands might prefer to take the bus around Australia. It’s the cheapest option and buses in Australia are comfortable and punctual. Greyhound Australia is the only national coach service within this beautiful country.
You can choose from hop-on and hop-off passes which give you lots of flexibility. Choose your start and end points from the routes, and then enjoy three months to hop-on and off where you please. You have 90 days to complete your travel (or extend to 180 days for a nominal fee) and your first day of travel must commence within 12 months of purchase. You can get the bus passes here.
Travel Australia Independently or on Guided Tours?
Australia is safe and easy to travel around on your own. My first trip there was when I was 17 and I backpacked around Australia with a group of friends without any difficulty or challenges.
If you prefer to travel with a group, check out this 15-Day Outback to the Top End tour with small-group operator G Adventures. I’ve traveled with them many times (to Mongolia, Antarctica, Brazil, Svalbard and Nepal) and can highly recommend them. Every single trip was epic and I’ve made some lifelong friendships on my trips with them.
Another alternative is to travel independently but go on day tours when necessary. You can find a wide range of day trips with prices and reviews at GetYourGuide. They have free cancellations and mobile vouchers which make it really convenient. I booked our three-day camping trip in Uluru through them and highly recommend it.
Most day trips in Australia cost around US$100 and upwards. If you book them when you arrive, they’re more expensive at local travel agencies or hotels.
When to Travel Australia
Australia is a huge country, so this really depends on which part of the country you’re planning to travel.
Keep in mind that Australia is in the southern hemisphere so the seasons are reversed to the northern hemisphere. Summer in Australia runs from December to February and winter goes from June to September.
For our ultimate itinerary below, December to February is the best time to take the trip. The weather will be warm and sunny and temperatures won’t go below 20°C (68°F).
However, it can get very hot in Alice Springs, Northern Territory, with average daytime temperatures around 32 to 36°C (90 to 97°F). This is also peak travel season in Australia so prices are higher.
Winter can be quite cold in Melbourne and Sydney, with temperatures dipping to 7 to 9°C (45 to 48°F). You’ll definitely need to pack warm clothing and a winter coat.
Cost of Travel in Australia
Prices in Australia are quite high, comparable to prices in the US and Western Europe. Expect to pay US$15-25 for a restaurant meal and at least $70 for a standard three-star hotel room.
Renting a car can set you back at around US$70/day or $160 for a week. Petrol is particularly expensive in the remote regions such as the Red Centre, at almost $2.80 per liter. Keep that extra cost in mind as well.
However, there are ways to travel on a budget in Australia. It is quite backpacker-friendly with a strong network of YHA hostels and inter-city bus services.
A bed in a YHA hostel is usually around $25-40 per night, and Greyhound buses are around $50-100 each way (book your flights early and you’ll pay almost the same).
The Ultimate Two-Week Itinerary in Australia
Please keep in mind that this itinerary is designed to help those of you who want to get an overview of Australia in a short time.
The itinerary packs in a lot, so be prepared to be on the go a lot and to spend quite a bit on domestic flights and day trips.
I have included all my favorite states in the itinerary and what I think are the essential areas to explore in Australia. If you’d like to slow down a bit, I would suggest removing one state and extending your stay in the other three states.
Here’s an overview of where the itinerary covers:
- Sydney – 3 days (day-trip to the Blue Mountains)
- Melbourne – 4 days (day-trips to Phillip Island & Great Ocean Road)
- Cairns – 3 days (day-trips to Great Barrier Reef & Daintree)
- Alice Springs – 4 days (camping trip to Uluru and Kata Tjuta)
Days 1-2: Explore the Vibrant City of Sydney
Sydney makes a great introduction to Australia, so make sure to spend at least two days exploring Australia’s biggest city. The multi-cultural city has a vibrant and lively flair, and the best places to get a sense of that are the Rocks district and Darling Harbour.
Head to Sydney Tower for a bird’s eye view of the city; you can even walk 250m (820 feet) above the ground on the Observation Deck. Book your tickets in advance for fast-track entry.
A must-see in Sydney is its most iconic landmark: the Sydney Opera House and the nearby Harbour Bridge. I recommend doing the Sydney Bridge Climb, where you get to climb up the Harbour Bridge with a harness and get fantastic 360-degree panoramas of the city from above. I did that when I was 18 years old and absolutely loved the thrill of it.
In the evening, go on a Sydney harbor sunset dinner cruise for an unforgettable experience.
Where to Stay in Sydney
This backpackers’ hostel is just a two-minute walk from the surfing hotspot, Bondi beach. It’s got lively vibes, a social atmosphere, and affordable prices. There’s a rooftop BBQ area with unobstructed beach views. Book your stay here!
Another good budget option is Ibis Budget – St Peters, where we stayed at. It is cheaper than Noah’s and offers more privacy than a hostel does. Check the latest prices.
Housed in a charming historical building, this lodge has an excellent location right next to Sydney Harbour Bridge. It’s located in Kirribilli Wharf, where ferry services to Circular Quay and Sydney Opera House depart regularly. Kirribilli has a nice village atmosphere and lovely Victorian buildings. Book your stay here.
Boasting the best views of Sydney Harbour, Four Seasons is definitely a top choice for luxury travelers. It has a rooftop pool overlooking Sydney’s CBD and harbor-facing rooms all have spectacular water views. Check the latest rates here.
Day 3: Day Trip to the Blue Mountains
It’s time to head out to see Australia’s beautiful natural landscapes. An hour west of Sydney, the Blue Mountains is a stunning region with rugged cliffs, waterfalls, and eucalyptus trees.
Katoomba is the biggest town, located on the fringe of the Blue Mountains National Park and its bushwalking trails. For the best views of the famous Three Sisters rock formation, head to Echo Point.
I recommend renting a car for the day or booking a day trip. Each has its own advantage: renting a car gives you the freedom to explore at your own pace and allows you to seek out secret corners; booking a day tour is easier and you’ll an expert to show you the hiking trails and the best viewpoints. Don’t forget to take your hiking compass to not to lose your way.
Day 4: Wander Around the Colonial City of Melbourne
Fly to Melbourne, my absolute favorite city in Australia. This multi-faceted city has gorgeous colonial Victorian architecture and a fun city beach.
Kick off your first day in Melbourne by hopping on the City Circle Tram that’s free for everyone. The historical tram travels through Melbourne’s central business district, specifically Flinders, La Trobe, and Victoria Streets.
Next, stroll through the historic Queen Victoria Market for some fresh Australian produce and arts and craft. Every Wednesday night between November and April, it also plays host to the Night Market.
Then head out to St Kilda, a coastal village just a tram ride away from the city. Here you can ride a paddle board or take a lesson, also explore the nightlife of this place. Luna Park Melbourne is free entry and it’s an excellent spot for families.
Where to Stay in Melbourne:
I stayed at this Melbourne YHA on my first trip to Australia when I was 17 and had a blast! It’s a fun and budget-friendly place perfect for those who want to mingle. Located on the city fringe, it has a rooftop terrace with panoramic views of Melbourne. Book your stay here!
Housed in an Art Deco building, this boutique hotel is just steps from bustling Bourke Street Mall and the restaurants of Swanston Street. Despite its prime location and good quality accommodation, prices are reasonable. Check the latest rates here.
Easily the best hotel in Melbourne, Grand Hyatt is perfectly positioned on Collins Street in the heart of Melbourne. Rooms here have views of either Melbourne’s skyline or the Yarra River. It’s well worth checking out the signature restaurant Collins Kitchen, and its stylish, modern bar Ru-Co. Check the latest rates here.
Day 5: Day Trip to Phillip Island
Next day, rise early for a day trip to Phillip Island, home to the world’s largest fur seal colony. Located only 90 minutes from Melbourne, this wildlife island features impressive landscapes and an overload of Australian wildlife.
Visit the Penguin Parade at sunset, go whale-watching, see koalas at the Koala Conservation Centre, or go on an EcoBoat Tour. Don’t miss the Nobbies outcrop, where you’ll find the Australian fur seals.
I recommend booking this day trip as it includes hotel pickup and entrance to all the above-mentioned centers on Phillip Island. The tour leaves at 13:15 and gets you back to your hotel at 21:00 (from April to September) or 22:30 (from October to March).
Day 6: Day Trip to the Great Ocean Road
For your last day in Victoria, head to the spectacular Great Ocean Road, one of Australia’s most visited destinations. This meandering road snakes its way along the dramatic coastline, revealing unique rock stacks and the lush rainforest of the Otway Ranges (home to quite a few wild koalas).
With so much to see, the Great Ocean Road definitely merits more than one day to explore, but those tight on time will have to make do with a day trip.
From Melbourne, drive west to the start of the Great Ocean Road, passing the coastal towns of Lorne and Apollo Bay. You will also see the iconic Split Point Lighthouse.
Spend some time exploring the Shipwreck Coast and admiring the Loch Ard Gorge. The highlight of the Great Ocean Road is the 12 Apostles (twelve rock stacks rising from the waters). Descend the Gibson’s Steps to the beach, where you will get new perspectives of the enormous offshore stacks and cliffs.
Days 7-8: Soak Up the Sun in Cairns
Your next stop is Queensland, the sunshine state full of pristine beaches, castaway islands and miles upon miles of reef. Fly from Melbourne to Cairns for around $100 one way. It’s a 3.5-hour flight. Check for flights here.
Cairns is the liveliest city in Queensland and the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. I recommend spending your first day on the beach and soaking up some sunshine.
Located on the Esplanade is the Lagoon, a lively area to swim and chill. On Sundays, the Lagoon also hosts live music on a temporary stage. Don’t miss the Saturday Esplanade market for local artwork and jewelry.
If you’ve got some extra time, head to the many swimming holes outside of Cairns. Fairy Falls and Crystal Cascades are only a 10-minute drive from Cairns. A bit further away is Ross and Locke where you can go tubing along the rapids – just watch out for crocodiles!
Where to Stay in Cairns:
This well-priced budget hotel offers great value for money, with a nice swimming pool and a comfortable outdoor lounge area. All rooms come with air conditioning, microwave, fridge, and shower. This hostel is great for couples and backpackers who are traveling on a budget. Book your stay here!
Set amidst 2.5 acres of tropical gardens, Palm Royale is a surprisingly affordable resort with two gorgeous pools. The hotel is just a 10-minute drive from the city center. I would definitely stay here again on my next trip to Cairns. Check the latest rates here.
Perched on the treetops of the Crystal Cascades rainforest, this elegant yet rustic retreat is walking distance to swimming holes, hiking trails and waterfalls. The tree house has a spacious deck high in the canopy, with an outdoor pool and a private rainforest spa deck, perfect for star gazing. Check the latest rates here.
Day 9: Day Trip to the Great Barrier Reef
On your second day, take a catamaran sailing trip to the Great Barrier Reef for some snorkeling and sailing. The world’s largest coral reef system is made up of nearly 3000 individual reefs sprawled across an area of almost 135,000 square miles (350,000 square kilometers).
During the sailing trip, you’ll get to snorkel at two of 24 authorized reef locations depending on the day’s sea conditions. All of the sites offer exotic marine life like turtles and parrot fish. You’ll also get interpretation talks on board from experts about the reef.
Alternatively, book an eco-adventure day trip to Green Island, a private island resort in the Great Barrier Reef. The island also has a lush rainforest with over 120 native plant species and a rich bird life.
At just 45 minutes from Cairns, Green Island gives you the unique chance to do a combined reef and rainforest tour.. You can explore the island’s lush rainforest on foot, see the reef from the glass bottom boat, or snorkel off the beach.
Day 10: Day Trip to Daintree and Cape Tribulation
For your last day in Queensland, head inland on an adventurous day trip to the Daintree Rainforests and Cape Tribulation. Daintree is Australia’s biggest tropical rainforest, and also the oldest rainforest on Earth at 135 million years old.
Here you will find kingfishers, lorikeets, tree frogs, and entwining strangler figs.
By foot, walk through the Daintree and find the point where the rainforest meets the reef at Cape Tribulation. Ditch your hiking shoes and dip your feet in the white sand beaches.
Don’t miss Alexandra Lookout where you can get spectacular views of the Daintree River and the Coral Sea. Cruise along the Daintree River among rainforest jungles, mangroves, and crocodile-infested waters before returning to Cairns.
Day 11: Get to Know Alice Springs
I have saved the best for last! The Red Centre is my favorite part of Australia and it’s where the raw and rugged Outback lies. Alice Springs is a small town and the gateway into the Red Centre.
Just 7km outside of town is the Alice Springs Desert Park, a wildlife sanctuary and botanic garden. Standing at the base of the MacDonnell Ranges, the desert park is a beautiful nature park where kangaroos roam, birds fly overhead, and endangered bilby burrows underground.
You get to see unique Australian animals like the thorny devil, echidna, and bearded dragon. For an interesting experience, sign up for a guided night tour to see rare and endangered animals under the stars.
If you’ve got some extra cash, I recommend treating yourself to a hot air balloon flight in Alice Springs. From the air, the landscape looks different and you get a real sense of the magnitude of the desert. Flights usually take place at dawn so you might need an extra day for this excursion. Read about our experience on a hot air balloon flight in Alice Springs.
Where to Stay in Alice Springs:
Just 5 minutes’ walk from Alice Springs town center, this great hostel is the best budget place to stay in town. Rooms are clean and spacious, plus they have cheap private rooms. The outdoor swimming pool is a great area to hang out and they organize barbecue nights occasionally. Check the latest rates here.
We stayed at this well-priced hotel and highly recommend it to travelers seeking affordable comfort and convenience. It’s located in the center of Alice Springs, just a few minutes’ walk from stores and restaurants. We hung out at the swimming pool in the evening and had a barbecued dinner that night! Check the latest rates here.
As one of the best hotels in town, DoubleTree by Hilton is a luxury resort awarded for its environmental-friendly ethos. The hotel has a beautiful setting, with the MacDonnell Ranges as a backdrop. All rooms have balconies that overlook either the mountains, swimming pool or gardens. Book your stay here!
Day 12: Camping Trip in Uluru
For some real Australian Outback adventure, head into the Red Centre on a three-day camping tour of Uluru, Kings Canyon and the Kata Tjuta National Park.
This trip is power-packed and you’ll need a medium level of fitness for the walks. They are not technically difficult, but the high temperatures in summer can make them slightly challenging. Check out the trip details here.
You’ll travel around on a sturdy overland truck and your guide will prepare barbecued meals every day. Plus you get to sleep in cozy swags under the stars every night!
We did this camping trip in 2013 and it was definitely THE best experience we had in Australia to date. Read about my experience here.
Days 13-14: Camping Trip in Kings Canyon
Next day, you’ll head straight to Kings Canyon for a three-hour hike through the sandstone domes of the Lost City. Admire the many natural amphitheaters and see the North and South walls on the way to the Garden of Eden.
The next day, take a guided walk in the Kata Tjuta or the Olgas and learn about the spiritual significance of the area.
Then visit the Aboriginal Cultural Center and listen to tales from the Tjukurpa Dreamtime. On the last day, watch the sun rise over Uluru, the world’s largest rock.
Do a base walk at Uluru to see beautiful Aboriginal cave paintings. You’ll get back to Alice Springs in the evening of the last day.
Day 15: Fly back to Sydney
Sadly your trip has come to an end! Fly from Alice Springs to Sydney direct for around $150 one-way, just in time to catch your flight home.
Other Two-Week Itineraries in Australia
Because Australia is such a massive place, you could easily spend two weeks focusing on one particular state in Australia that fits your interest.
Consider what your interests are: do you prefer hiking in the outback or exploring cities? These itineraries will help you narrow down your focus and show you the best in one state. You’ll also save money as you won’t need to book domestic flights to get around.
Here are some examples of two-week itineraries in Australia:
Victoria & Tasmania: For A Mix of Everything
Victoria is a micro-Australia, with dramatic coastlines, outstanding landscapes, wildlife-rich islands, and buzzing beach vibes. This state is great for road trips and a mixture of adventure, urban life, and relaxation.
Tasmania is an outstanding, scenic island that every nature lover needs to visit!
- Visit Melbourne and its Victorian buildings and markets
- Drive along the spectacular Great Ocean Road
- Go wine-tasting in Mornington Peninsula
- Take a day trip to Phillip Island to see penguins and the world’s largest fur seal colony
- Fly to Tasmania, a paradise for nature lovers
- Hike in the famous Cradle Mountain National Park
- Enjoy a wineglass bay cruise and visit its national park