The Gold Coast has been synonymous with the quintessential Australian beach holiday for decades. The region attracts families, beach babes and surfers for its sun & surf culture. In recent times, the Gold Coast has shed its kitschy stereotype to emerge as cool and confident beach destination worth revisiting. Today you’ll find a cool laid-back city with an endless summer vibe.
Make your base any of these Gold Coast locations and explore everything the Gold Coast has to offer. Stay in Surfers Paradise for the full glitter strip experience. Main Beach attracts a more discerning traveller, while Broadbeach is close to the Convention Centre and Casino. Coolangatta is great for families and Palm Beach and Mermaid Beach are hip hoods worth seeking out. Spoilt for choice? We’ve shared four reasons why Broadbeach should be your next long weekend away.
Here’s our pick of the best things to do in the Gold Coast to make the most of your next Gold Coast getaway.
Getting to the Gold Coast is simple, you can easily fly, drive, catch a bus or train to the Gold Coast. The Gold Coast is 1-hour drive from Brisbane and is serviced by Gold Coast Airport, located at Coolangatta. Getting around is easy by car, bus, train, ride sharing services or the G:Link tram which traverses along the Gold Coast from Helensvale to Broadbeach South.
Top Things to Do
Gold Coast Theme Parks
Family Fun on the Gold Coast starts with a visit to one of the plethora of Gold Coast theme parks! Choose your own adventure from fun in the sun and extreme waterslides at Wet ‘n’ Wild to the home of movie making on the Gold Coast and thrill rides at Warner Bros Movie World. Check out Sea World for the best marine animal attractions and shows or Outback Spectacular for some Australiana flavour and dinner & show packages. Dreamworld is the biggest theme park on the Gold Coast with over 40 rides, roller coasters and attractions. Choosing the best theme park on the Gold Coast is only limited by your imagination and the best value for visitors is to purchase a three day pass for unlimited entry to Movie World, Sea World and Wet ‘n’ Wild.
The Star Gold Coast
After a multi-million dollar renovation, The Star Gold Coast has emerged as the Gold Coast’s premiere entertainment precinct including the most luxurious accommodation, indulgent spa, a range of bars and restaurants alongside the thrills of a world-class casino. The Star Gold Coast’s signature venue is Nineteen at the Star, a rooftop restaurant and poolside chic lounge bar with sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean, it’s a dazzling venue for the high roller in us all.
Gold Coast Shopping
Take a break from the sun, surf and sand and indulge in some serious shopping on the Gold Coast. If it’s a bargain you love, head to Harbour Town, Australia’s largest outlet shopping centre with over 240 stores including brand direct outlet and clearance stores offering major discounts off retail prices. If it’s luxury and big brands you crave, head to Pacific Fair; Queensland’s largest shopping centre with an expansive collection of iconic global brands and leading retailers with 400+ stores. Be sure to pop in to the Pacific Fair Visitors Lounge, offering travellers free WiFi, restrooms, parent’s room plus each visitor receives a privileges pass with special offers at a range of stores.
The 5 Best Spas on the Gold Coast
Top off your sun, sand and surf break with a visit to one of these top spas.
1. spaQ at QT Gold Coast, Surfers Paradise
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Choosing Where to Stay
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Luxury Hotels & Accommodation
There is plenty of luxury accommodation on the Gold Coast including luxury resorts, apartments and holiday houses. One shiny new gem on the Gold Coast is the Ruby Collection a luxury billion-dollar development catering to families and groups. Stay at Burleigh’s best-kept secret, Bon Sol for designer digs by Anna Spiro. This one-of-a-kind holiday abode has every conceivable luxury even a bar cart for mixing an Aperol Spritz or two! For luxury on a grand scale, book the opulent Palazzo Versace and settle in poolside, cocooning yourself in luxury and retreating from the rest of the world.
B&B’s and Apartments
The Gold Coast offers a plethora of holiday apartments from cheap hotels to the ultra luxe with skyscrapers lining the glitter strip. There’s no shortage of places to lay your head, but if you’re looking for something a little more boutique, we’d point you toward Avani Broadbeach Gold Coast Residences with full kitchen and room to relax or Rhapsody Resort in Surfers Paradise with rooftop entertaining area exclusive for inhouse guests. Find an Airbnb on the Gold Coast and live like a local for less in a choice of shared accommodation, apartments or a luxury holiday house.
Choose caravan and camping on the Gold Coast for a fun and adventurous holiday. The best camping spots on the Gold Coast including Burleigh Beach Tourist Park where you can pitch a tent, pull up a caravan or hire a self-contained villa and fall sleep to the gentle sounds of the ocean. If glamping is more your style, stay at Nightfall Wildness Camp and sleep under the stars in luxury safari tents beside Christmas Creek and the Lamington National Park rainforests.
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Best Way to Experience the Gold Coast
You’d be forgiven for thinking the Gold Coast was one long sandy strip, but the collection of beaches each attract a varied crowd of locals and travellers. Popular Gold Coast beaches include Main Beach for a stunning sandy stretch all the way north to the Spit. Surfers Paradise is in the tourist heart of the Gold Coast and is backed by ice-cream shops, arcades and high-rises. Broadbeach is more relaxed and if you’re all beached out, head to nearby Pacific Fair. Mermaid to Nobby’s Beach sees more locals hit the surf. Burleigh Beach is a favourite with laid-back locals and visitors with the beach fringed by majestic Norfolk pines. Kirra Beach is considered the spiritual home of surfing on the Gold Coast with Kirra Point regarded as one of the world’s premier surf breaks.
Browsing the local markets and meeting the makers is a highlight for many travellers. The best markets on the Gold Coast are the Village Markets held on the first and third Sunday each month at Burleigh Heads State School and are creative markets showcasing local designers, musicians and artisans with plenty of local handmade gems to be found. If it’s fresh produce you crave, try Palm Beach Farmers Markets held every Saturday at Palm Beach Currumbin High School. Just remember to bring a tote bag as the markets have flexed their environmental muscle and enforce a plastic bag free zone. Carrara Markets are Australia’s largest permanent markets with over 400 stalls to rummage through to find treasures and curiosities.
National Parks & Waterfalls
Beyond the Gold Coast’s iconic beaches, head west to the Gold Coast hinterland for unparalleled natural beauty and tranquillity to recharge the batteries. Here’s six reasons to escape to Lamington National Park or explore nearby Springbrook National Park for bushwalks and waterfalls. At Mount Tamborine, Curtis Falls is one of many popular waterfalls in the region and is only a short and easy walk to reach the spectacular falls.
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Best Places to Eat
Restaurants making waves on the Gold Coast include The Fish House and Rick Shores, both highlighting plenty of seafood on the menu with stunning views of Burleigh Beach. Don’t miss the famous bug roll at Rick Shores; a taste sensation featuring chunks of fried lobster, gem lettuce and Sriracha. For casual beachside eats, venture to Elk Espresso for brunch and Broadbeach’s best coffee. The Gold Coast has no shortage of Japanese restaurants too, for the best Japanese on the Gold Coast try Etsu Izakaya, Yamagen or Kiyomi.
If you’re after something you can impress your friends with, you can’t go past Aloha in Broadbeach. Hidden away in a secluded backstreet, well off the main strip, you’ll look as though you’re walking into the back of a dry cleaners, before making a sharp left and discovering an incredible Hawaiian-style Tiki Bar that the locals just love. Sip on cocktails served with instagram-worthy presentation, and dumplings, tacos and poke bowls-a-plenty.