The winners of the Best Getaways in Australian Traveller’s 2016 People’s Choice Awards 2016 are…

1. Best city for a short break: Melbourne

Why you love it… The ever-present battle between Sydney and Melbourne sees Victoria’s capital pip the harbour city at the post again this year. This urban oasis exudes cosmopolitan charm with a European vibe, charismatic laneways, enviable coffee, a host of cool rooftop bars and restaurants, an energetic cultural calendar… and unpredictable weather.

Our hot tip… Melbourne is the ultimate destination for culinary capers. A must-visit is restaurant and bar, Eau De Vie, which houses 700-plus spirits and boasts the perfect balance of class and grunge. And you can’t leave the city without seeing Hosier Lane, the ‘Holy land’ of street art.

If you love this, your next short break should be… Strathalbyn, SA. The dining in this quaint town echoes Melbourne in a more intimate and cosy way, with Smith Tapas Bar a local favourite.

You also rate… Sydney, NSW / Perth, WA / Brisbane, QLD / Adelaide, SA

2. Best family holiday spot: Gold Coast

Why you love it… The Gold Coast is almost a holiday no-brainer when kids are in tow. With a host of family-friendly accommodation, beautiful beaches, and more hyper-fun entertainment than you can poke a bored kid at, the Gold Coast is also embracing a new confidence and cool that will have you falling in love with it all over again.

Our hot tip… Away from boisterous Surfers Paradise, don’t miss the natural swimming oasis of Currumbin Rock Pool, Tamborine Mountain in the hinterland with its spectacular hikes and quaint village, and Tallebudgera Creek, which hides a secluded beach.

If you love this, your next family holiday should be… Perth, WA. With postcard-worthy beaches, Perth is a fun-in-the-sun family holiday spot. Kids will love Adventure World, while Shoalwater Islands Marine Park has a beautiful reef peppered with shipwrecks. ]

You also rate… Sunshine Coast, Qld / Byron Bay, NSW / Cairns, Qld / Port Douglas, Qld

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3. Best beach? Whitehaven Beach, Qld

Why you love it… Whitehaven Beach is the stuff of daydreams. Located on the largest of the salt-kissed Whitsunday islands, this beach’s natural purity is otherworldly, with white silica sand that extends more than seven kilometres.

Our hot tip… Head to the lookout at Tongue Point for the most breathtaking views of Hill Inlet, where the ocean tide manipulates the sand and water into mesmerising patterns and colours.

If you love this, your next beach day should be… Turquoise Bay, WA. As part of Ningaloo Reef, Turquoise Bay boasts some of the best snorkelling in the country and, with its sugar-white sand and (as the name suggests) turquoise water, it’s a serious contender to rival the beauty of Whitehaven.

You also rate… Noosa, Qld / Bondi, NSW / Cable Beach, WA / Hyams Beach, Jervis Bay, NSW

4. Most desirable island escape: Hamilton Island

Why you love it… Amid its immaculate beaches and pristine atolls, Hamilton Island is the perfect base to discover the Great Barrier Reef and the stunning Whitsundays. But life on the island is what really sets it apart from others.

With accommodation to suit every budget, great dining spots from cheap and cheerful to world-class, and fun for kids including mini golf, bowling, go-karting and the like, it’s an all-round crowd pleaser.

Our hot tip… Take a voyage to the Hidden Cove, a beach that separates the Coral Sea from the lush backdrop of foliage – ahhh the serenity!

If you love this, your next island escape should be… Rottnest Island, WA. Just as with Hamilton Island, Rottnest Island has everything at your fingertips including accommodation from camping to boutique stays, a host of restaurants, a heap of fun for the kids (Segways, an aqua park, archery and so on), 63 beaches and 20 bays, and – the best bit – an adorable local quokka population.

You also rate… Hayman Island, QLD / Lord Howe Island, NSW / Kangaroo Island, SA / Fraser Island, QLD

5. Cosiest winter destination: Tasmania

Why you love it… No need to go into specifics, you felt that anywhere on the Apple Isle made for a cosy winter escape. Quaint towns, puffing swirls of smoke from chimneys, trails of whisky to discover, rolling hills and woodlands to wander, Tassie offers everything needed to do winter right.

Our hot tip… Hire a car and wind your way from Hobart up to the Huon Valley dotted with cider houses, wineries, orchards and sweet little towns.

If you love this, your next winter destination should be… Bowral, NSW. Bowral is home to old vineyards, antique merchants, eclectic dining destinations, boutique art galleries and the iconic Bradman Centre, where visitors can revel in the glory of this iconic Australian.

You also rate… Blue Mountains, NSW / Cradle Mountain, Tas / Thredbo, NSW / Dinner Plain, VIC

6. Best regional escape: Barossa Valley

Why you love it… You could say the presence of more than 150 wineries explains the appeal of this region, but that would be a bit too simplistic. The Barossa is also loved for its beautiful produce, passionate people and rich Silesian and Prussian history.

Our hot tip… Be sure to head to the Barossa Farmers Market and fill your basket with mettwurst, fresh cream, preserves and breads. If you’re a kitchen novice and keen to try out a cooking class, try Food Luddite or Casa Carboni.

If you like this, your next regional escape should be… Berrima, NSW. Dating back to 1830 this petite village in NSW’s Southern Highlands has an array of dining choices, but for something simple (and simply delicious), the Berrima cafes are known to cook up a mean pie.

You also rate… Hunter Valley, NSW / Orange, NSW / Daylesford, VIC / Blue Mountains, NSW

7. Best outback destination: Uluru

Why you love it… The 500-million-year-old sandstone monolith at the core of Australia’s rusty-red outback is a spectacle of immense proportions and with it comes stories swathed in the magic that is the aboriginal Dreamtime.
Our hot tip… Stargazing at Uluru – it really doesn’t get much better than that. Located far away from the light pollution of towns and cities, you can marvel under the vast southern sky decorated with the constellations.

If you love this, your next outback destination should be… Karijini National Park, WA. Presiding in Western Australia’s vibrant Pilbara region, Karijini National Park is a wild wonderland of plunging creeks, weaving gorges and brilliant rockscapes.

You also rate… Kimberley, WA / Alice Springs, NT / Kakadu, NT / Flinders Ranges, SA

With so many worthy finalists nominated by our very own AT readers, don’t miss out on finding out where all these amazing places are!

Best Accommodation Finalists

•Best Experiences Finalists

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