Top 10 Weekend Trips From Gold Coast, Australia

weekend getaways from gold coast

The Gold Coast features a number of top recreational spots in Australia. Normally, the area is frequented by many tourists looking to explore its long stretches of sandy beach, pristine surf spots, and other exciting coastal features. Surrounding the Gold Coast are other areas with plenty of attractions that constitute an epic weekend getaway vacation. These areas include cities and villages with beautiful landscapes, great hiking trails, nature parks, amusement parks, and rich heritage, among other things worth exploring. Browse through our collection of top weekend trips from Gold Coast, Australia, to know more about the nearby attractions and places with fantastic deals for lone travelers, families, and other groups.

1. North Stradbroke Island

Main Beach, North Stradbroke Island - panoramio
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Tanya Dedyukhina used under CC BY 3.0

Picturesque North Stradbroke Island is the perfect destination for a weekend getaway. North Straddie, which is located 104 km (64.6 miles) from the Gold Coast, is a true paradise that boasts top freshwater sources, beautiful marine life, magnificent landscapes, and lovely beaches with long stretches of smooth white sand, among other things.

Plan your trip to this destination for a unique opportunity to watch whales from the shore, enjoy some quality beach time, and hang out with the dolphins that come out at sunset. Before you leave the island, make sure you go for a scuba diving session in the area. You will be fascinated by a rare view of a manta ray pod, turtles, leopard sharks, and a variety of fish species native to Moreton Bay.

2. Byron Bay

Byron Bay Lighthouse, Beach and Hinterland in the Northern Rivers, NSW, Australia
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Kpravin2 used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Byron Bay is situated 93.3 km (58 miles) from the Gold Coast. Many people touring the region often have the misconception that, because it is a coastal town, you will spend your weekend surfing and sunbathing at the beach. Well, it is true you can do this, but the city holds plenty of other things worth doing. For instance, you can have fun paddling or kayaking the clear blue waters that boast a variety of magnificent marine life, including the humpback whale and sea turtles.

In the evening, take a short walk from the beach to Byron Bay Lighthouse – the sunset views from here are amazing. While at the lighthouse, remember to take many photos for your travel collection.

3. Angourie

Surfing Spooky Beach
Source: Photo by user Mike van Dalen used under CC BY 2.0

Angourie is a two and a half-hour drive from the Gold Coast. Although often overlooked by many tourists visiting the Clarence Valley Council, Angourie is an excellent destination for a fulfilling weekend getaway. Indeed, Angourie is a small coastal village, but its attractions are many and of a world-class. Take, for instance, Angourie Point – this is one spot you cannot afford to skip, especially if you love surfing. Angourie Point experiences a nice right-hand point break that presents a moderate challenge, which is suitable even for beginners.

An important point to note while at the beach is that even though the water at the shoreline is relatively calm, swimming is not permitted because of the rocky base.

4. Fraser Island

Fraser Island a05 lake mckenzie
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Sensenmann used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Are you planning an adventurous weekend trip from the Gold Coast, Australia? About 433.3 km (269.2 miles) from the Gold Coast lies Fraser Island, an area packed with fun, adventure, and the utmost in relaxation. Once you visit, you can start your exploration with a 4WD trip along the picturesque 120.7-km (75-mile) long sandy beach.

Besides the breathtaking scenery, the route is also popular among fishermen and you will often meet them selling some of their catch by the roadside. Later, you can stop by Eli Creek. Here, the water is fresh and it is so refreshing to just float and let the stream carry you gently along its beautiful meanderings. For a better experience, ensure you pack your tubes and other floating devices.

5. Sunshine Coast

Sunshine Coast
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user CrazyBirdLady63 used under CC BY-SA 4.0

The Sunshine Coast lies 186.4 km (115.8 mi) away from the Gold Coast. The Sunshine Coast is an excellent destination for a weekend trip because, besides its fantastic surf spots and world-class beach resorts, the region is also blessed with a variety of wildlife. Visit the Australia Zoo to see, feed, and get up close with a wide range of animal species, including kangaroos, the giant Galapagos tortoise, snakes, baby alligators, and tiger cubs, to mention but a few. The zoo has something for everyone and it gives kids an excellent opportunity to bond with parents.

Other highlights of the Sunshine Coast include the Big Pineapple, which holds a variety of nature-based attractions, and the Sea Life Sunshine Coast Aquarium, which is a sanctuary for sea life and a center for underwater exploration.

6. Rainbow Beach

Rainbow Beach, Queensland
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user S. Newrick used under CC BY-SA 4.0

On your way to Fraser Island, do not make the mistake many tourists make by skipping a gem like Rainbow Beach, 318.5 km (197.9 miles) from the Gold Coast. This seaside resort has plenty of things to fill up your weekend itinerary. The beach is one of its major highlights, as many people converge here to swim, sunbathe, picnic, and indulge in a variety of sand games. It is advisable to visit with a 4X4 to make it easier to navigate the beach, allowing you to extend your exploration from the bright to the colored sands.

If equipped with a cooler and ice, you can stop at any of the areas fishing grounds to catch some pearl perch, sweet lip, snapper, and red emperor to spice up your meals during your stay.

7. Lockyer Valley

Lockyer Valley from Toowoomba
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Sheba_Also 43,000... used under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Lockyer Valley is nestled 163 km (101.3 miles) from the Gold Coast. The region features the best fresh farm produce in the country. In fact, the conditions in the Lockyer Valley are conducive to the farming of different products, especially grapes, which are processed into wine at the nearby factories. So, once in the city, plan a wine tasting trip to Preston Peak Wines for amazing food and great deals on a range of local wines.

If you are a big fan of outdoor activities, check out the foothills, sandstone gorges, escarpments, creeks, and lush eucalyptus trees at Lockyer National Park. As you hike through the beautiful trails in the park, you will also encounter endangered animal species, like the black-breasted buttonquail and the brush-tailed rock-wallaby.

8. Brisbane

Skylines of Brisbane in winter misty morning seen from Kangaroo Point, Queensland 04
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Kgbo used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Brisbane is just an hour’s drive from the Gold Coast and, with over 210 days of sunshine each year, the Queensland capital is undoubtedly a great place to visit for outdoor activities, all year round. Begin your outdoor adventure at South Bank – here, you can relax on the well-maintained lawn overlooking the Brisbane River, swim and sunbathe at Streets Beach, and later enjoy a nice meal at one of the local restaurants. Instead of having your meal in the restaurant, however, it would be a great idea to enjoy it as you picnic by the river.

Before the weekend elapses, spare a half a day to discover and get up close with a variety of wildlife, such as the Australian ibis, bush turkeys, and possums, at the Brisbane City Botanic Gardens.

9. Hinterland Drive

Wet'n'Wild Water World Australia White Water Mountain
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Koala:Bear used under CC BY-SA 2.0

With just 13.9 km (8.6 miles) between the two spots, Hinterland Drive is the closest top destination from the Gold Coast. Besides exploring its great surf spots, Hinterland has much more to fill up your weekend getaway. For instance, Entertainment Road has a series of theme parks that are equipped with rollercoasters, waterslides, and equestrian acrobatics, among other amenities, which guarantee day-long fun and entertainment for the whole family.

A short distance from the facility lies WhiteWater World, the largest theme park in the country. WhiteWater World boasts over 40 rides and slides, 5 rollercoasters, and a zoo, which is home to a range of rare animals, such as koalas, wombats, kangaroos, and tigers. This is just a snippet of what the city holds – there are other theme parks and amusement parks around.

10. Scenic Rim

'Lower Portals' at Mt. Barney creek
Source: Photo by user Tatters ✾ used under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Scenic Rim is located 108.7 km (67.5 miles) from the Gold Coast. With a name like the Scenic Rim, the destination lives up to that expectation with its lush valleys, picturesque plains, beautiful plantations, parks, and epic mountainous landscapes. Ideally, the Scenic Rim has everything needed to make long-lasting memories. Here, you can opt to go hiking at Mount Barney National Park – the trails are beautiful and packed with an array of wildlife.

Later, you can cool off with a relaxing dip in the area’s lakes and waterfalls. Some recommended spots for swimming and camping are the Lower Portals and the Gorge. If you are filling adventurous, hop on a hot air balloon to see the beautiful countryside of the Scenic Rim.

Top weekend trips from the Gold Coast, Australia

Gold Coast skyline
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Petra used under CC BY 2.0

Are you in the Gold Coast and still wondering what to do for the weekend after you’ve gone through all the area attractions? Pick from our list of top weekend trips from the Gold Coast, Australia, for a vacation packed with knowledge, games, fun, and activities for the whole family.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Josiah Ndung'u is a Mechanical Engineering graduate and a travelling enthusiast who loves networking with new people, learning new cultures, having fun (especially at the beach), and sampling new...Read more

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