The Gold Coast in Australia: Some love it, some hate it – and yes, we don't quite agree on what to think of it either.
On the one hand, the miles of sandy beaches left us speechless, on the other hand, we found the huge skyline on the beach a bit too much of a good thing. Nevertheless we had a really great time on the Gold Coast.
So that you can now decide for yourself whether a visit is worthwhile, we have summarized some Gold Coast sights, beautiful beaches and other tips for the coastal region for you in this article.
What is the Gold Coast??
Many think the Gold Coast is a long stretch of coastline in eastern Australia. This is true, but only half the truth. There is also the city of Gold Coast, which is part of the coastal region of the same name. So both belong together, confusing sometimes anyway.
With over 500.000 inhabitants, countless vacationers and a gigantic skyline directly on the sea, the city is also quite large, but somehow seemed soulless to us. You may think what you want about the skyscrapers on the beach, but the view is always impressive. But a few less buildings would not have hurt.
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General map of the Gold Coast
Before we start with the individual highlights, we first have a small overview map for you, in which we have entered all the sights and beaches along the Gold Coast. The map should help you with the overview and the orientation.
Gold Coast Sights
Along the coast there are always a few sights you should not miss when visiting the Gold Coast. Our highlights we present to you now.
Burleigh Head National Park
Burleigh Head National Park was our personal highlight along the Gold Coast. With 30 hectares it is tiny, but still beautiful. Since it is also located on the coast, it is perfect for a short hike with gigantic views.
Partly you can walk directly along the ocean, while in the north you can see the impressive skyline and in the south the miles long Palm Beach – really fantastic!
Oh yes, don't be surprised about the many joggers: Burleigh Head National Park is very popular with local athletes.
- Opening hours: around the clock
- Prices: Admission is free
- Parking: also free of charge, directly in front of the beach
Surfers Paradise is THE hotspot par excellence and at the same time the center of the city. Especially during the summer months there is a lot going on. You can let your hair down in the party areas of Cavill Avenue and Orchid Avenue, store around the Esplanade and let your legs hang in the sand on the large Main Beach.
Here you will also find one of the most famous Gold Coast attractions: the SkyPoint Observation Deck – an observation deck located 230 meters above the ground inside a skyscraper. From the platform you have a fantastic view of the coast and the hinterland of the Gold Coast. A ticket costs 25 dollars (approx. 17 Euro) and you can book it here: SkyPoint Observation Deck Tickets*.
As the name already says, you can surf fantastic in Surfers Paradise. In general, the Gold Coast and Byron Bay are considered to be a paradise for surfers on the east coast of Australia.
Our personal opinion about Surfers Paradise: you can go there, but you don't have to. For us personally there was a bit too much going on and we were looking for real Australian flair in vain. But if you want to party, store and surf, this is the right place for you!
Parking: fee required – one hour $4 (approx. 2,50 Euro)! But there is also free parking, for example along Hedges Avenue in the small side streets. From here it is a four kilometer walk to Surfers Paradise.
Insider tip: View from the beach at Arthur Street
You are looking for a spot on the beach where you can get a great view of the Gold Coast skyline? Then off with you to Arthur Street! At the end of the street you can walk over a small wooden walkway to the sea and discover the huge skyscrapers to your left. The panorama is really incredible!
The beach at Arthur Street is not only a good place for taking pictures, but also for relaxing and swimming. In contrast to Surfers Paradise there is much less going on here.
Note: At the end of the street, just before you cross a small wooden bridge to the sea, you can park your car for free – provided there is still some space left.
Mick Schamburg Park
Another great view of the Gold Coast awaits you in the small Mick Schamburg Park: just take the short slope up from the free parking lot, which is directly in front of it, and you will find the viewpoint on the left side.
If you want, you can also make a short detour to Burleigh Beach in the south or to the long Main Beach in the north. The Mick Schamburg Park separates both Gold Coast beaches from each other.
Point Danger Lighthouse
The Point Danger Lighthouse is a very special sight on the Gold Coast: On one side the lighthouse represents the end of the golden coast, on the other side it draws the border between the two states New South Wales and Queensland.
Since both states have a time difference of one hour, you can make "time jumps" here: one hour forward into the future, one hour back into the past.
In addition, Point Danger Lighthouse is believed to have been the first lighthouse in the world to operate using special laser light technology. The experiment was discontinued in 1975, however, as it met with little success.
As usual on the Gold Coast, you have a great view to the sea from here as well. Only the skyline is hardly to be seen, since it is already 30 kilometers to the city.
Parking: free of charge, directly at the lighthouse
Gold Coast beaches
The Gold Coast thrives on its beautiful, endless sandy beaches. A total of 52 kilometers they stretch along the east coast and have also enchanted us.
- Surfers Paradise Beach: By far the busiest beach in the world.
- Kurrawa Beach: Here is also still a lot going on.
- Mermaid Beach: Here it is much quieter and more relaxed.
- Nobby Beach: Here it is also much quieter.
Generally, the farther south you are on the main beach, the more relaxed it is. The further north you go, the more action you will find here.
Burleigh Beach is located right in front of Burleigh Heads National Park, is much shorter than Main Beach and very popular especially with surfers. The beach itself is fine and the water is turquoise blue – definitely a great place to jump into the sea!
At the southern end of Burleigh Beach you can also get cozy at the cool "Rick Shores": a beach restaurant with great views and delicious food. Alternatively, there are public barbecue places on the beach for self-cooking.
You can also park in the free parking bays directly at the beach or in the parking lot of the Burleigh Head National Park.
Really quiet, calm and special we found the Currumbin Beach. Here we suddenly no longer felt like we were in a big city, but rather on the beach of a small village. Especially the friendly locals captivated us right away.
In addition, the beach is really beautiful: white sand, clear water, scattered rocks and good waves await you here. Especially the spot "Currumbin Alley" is very popular among surfers and wave riders along the Gold Coast.
Here you can also park your car for free on a parking lot directly at the sea.
One of the smallest but most beautiful Gold Coast beaches is Rainbow Bay. it is not far away from the Point Danger Lighthouse and is perfect for swimming.
The waves are often not as strong and break a little earlier due to rocks in the water. Depending on the water level, you can also swim in small natural pools between the rocky sections.
However, Rainbow Bay is very popular: on weekends, when the weather is good, it gets relatively crowded on the beach and the free parking spaces are quickly occupied. But that should not stop you from having a short stop at the bay. It is really paradise-like beautiful!
More Gold Coast Beaches
Besides the beaches we mentioned, there are many other small and large stretches of beaches along the Gold Coast, for example the Palm Beach, the Enigmuh Lee Beach, the Kirra Beach or even the Tallebudgera Beach.
However, we have not visited these beaches ourselves, so we can't give you pictures and exact info. Nevertheless, we wanted to mention them briefly for the sake of completeness, as they may be of interest to you.
Trips to the surroundings
If you are already at the Gold Coast, you can also make one or the other side trip into the surrounding area. We recommend the following two trips respectively. Stops.
No. 1: Springbrook National Park
The Springbrook National Park is located in the hinterland of the Gold Coast. From the center there are approx. 35 kilometers until you reach the first foothills of the beautiful nature reserve.
We especially liked the gigantic Purlingbrook waterfall, the Natural Bridge and the beautiful viewpoints. You can also do quite a few hikes within the park, such as the Purlingbrook Falls Circuit or the Twin Falls Circuit.
Also be prepared for one or the other animal encounter: We saw numerous lizards and brush turkeys while hiking. Snakes can also "run" across your path from time to time.
If you want to know more about the national park now, check out our detailed post about it: Springbrook National Park – All highlights, tips and info for your trip
No. 2: Brisbane in Australia
80 kilometers north of the Gold Coast lies beautiful Brisbane. For us, Australia's third-largest city has become an absolute heartbeat! Rarely have we felt so comfortable in one place so quickly.
Although Brisbane is home to over two million people, everything felt much slower, quieter and more relaxed than Sydney or Melbourne. This was mainly due to the gorgeous Brisbane River, which meanders through the middle of the city center, but also to the many parks and public green spaces.
But this does not mean that Brisbane is boring – quite the contrary! The city remains a metropolis of millions with delicious restaurants, cool bars, nice locals and unique atmosphere.
We also like the free pools in the Southbank Parklands with a view of the skyline. But also the panorama from the Kangaroo Point Cliffs is really impressive and a detour over the big Story Bridge should not be missed.
Have we now made you hot for Brisbane and some sightseeing attractions? Then we have some more interesting articles for you: Brisbane in Australia: the best sights, highlights& Tips
One thing in advance: We did not spend the night on a campground, but could park the camper with friends and sleep there in the house. In the end we were very happy about that! The camping prices on the Gold Coast are among the highest in Australia.
This is due to the fact that the golden coast is a very popular vacation destination all year round – not only for tourists, but also for locals. Warm temperatures, little rain, miles of beaches, a good infrastructure – that simply attracts you.
Accordingly, the campgrounds around the Gold Coast are large, modern and well equipped. Most of the campsites are designed for families, which means there are children's pools, slides, trampolines and more.
All this together pushes up the prices of course. Per night you should therefore pay at least 50 to 60 dollars for a pitch (approx. 31,25 to 37,50 Euro) if you want a central campsite near the beach. That is already super expensive!
It gets a bit cheaper in the hinterland, for example at Advancetown Caravan Park or Mt. Nimmel Lodge Campground. The prices vary here between 25 and 40 dollars (approx. 15 and 25 Euro) per night – still not cheap, but a bit cheaper. However, you must also calculate from here approx. 20 kilometers to the Gold Coast.
Hotels and accommodations
You do not have a camper, but travel with a normal car or bus? No problem. On the Gold Coast in Australia there are numerous hotels of different price ranges. The cheapest accommodation are hostels with beds in a mixed dormitory.
If you don't want to do that (which we can understand), maybe motels are interesting for you. Compared to real hotels they are always a bit cheaper, plus you can park your car there for free. If you prefer a better hotel, you will have to dig deep into your pockets on the Gold Coast.
So that you don't have to search for a long time, we have also summarized six different accommodations with good reviews for you. Maybe there is something suitable for you.
Outlet Shopping on the Gold Coast
There is no question that the Gold Coast in Australia is a real shopping mecca. We also needed some new clothes during our trip and went shopping a bit.
We especially recommend the huge Harbour Town Outlet Shopping Center: Besides well-known stores like Adidas, Nike or New Balance, there are also some lesser-known brands, but also a lot of surf brands like Hurley, Billabong, Roxy or Quicksilver. Partly the prices were extremely reduced! Marco has for example three Hurley Shirts for 60 Dollars (approx. 37,50 Euro) get. This is unbeatable.
A bit quieter and smaller is the Central Park Plaza Outlet: Here you can also find a lot of reduced goods, but the selection is by far not as big as in the Harbour Town Outlet.
Arrival Gold Coast
To get to the Gold Coast we will now present you three different options.
Start with the absolute classic: a road trip with a rental car or a camper. In our opinion, this is the most sensible option, as it gives you the most freedom and allows you to completely customize your itinerary.
The route could not be easier. From Brisbane it is only 80 kilometers to the beginning of the Gold Coast. to Surfers Paradise. From the city center just follow the M3 freeway (later it automatically becomes the M1) until you see the Gold Coast signs.
Long distance bus
Option No. 2: the bus! From Brisbane there are several daily buses to the Gold Coast. The most popular provider is Greyhound Australia and the trip takes about. 1-2 hours.
You can choose between a one-way ticket or the extensive Whimit-Pass. With this you can use the Greyhound buses as often as you want without paying extra.
You only have to choose how long the pass should be valid when booking. Afterwards you can get off at any stop with the pass, explore the area for a few days and then get back on again.
More info about prices, Whimit-Pass& Tickets are available here: Greyhound Australia
You can also get to the Gold Coast by train. The famous Gold Coast Line goes from the center of Brisbane to the golden coast. You can get off at Nerang Station afterwards. From there the bus line 740 takes you to Surfers Paradise.
The whole trip takes about. 1 1/2 hours and with the Go Card, which is valid in Brisbane as well as on the Gold Coast, you pay about $11 per person (approx. 7 €). You can get the card at the Central Station in Brisbane and at other stations.
Do you know any other Gold Coast sights, beaches and tips?? Or do you have a question? Then just write us a comment!
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