The Ultimate Queensland Travel Guide 2023

Looking for a detailed Queensland travel guide to help plan your trip? Or just want to find something to do for the school holidays? Well, as Australians who love Queensland, we’ve got you covered!

Queensland, known as the Sunshine State, is one of Australia’s most popular destinations, and for good reason. With its pristine beaches, tropical rainforests, vibrant cities, and stunning natural wonders, Queensland has something for everyone. Whether you’re looking to relax on the beach, explore the Great Barrier Reef, or immerse yourself in the local culture, Queensland won’t disappoint.

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In this travel guide, we’ll take you on a journey through this spectacular state, providing you with all the information you need to make the most of your visit. From the bustling cities of Brisbane and Gold Coast to the tranquil rainforests of the Daintree, let us show you the best that Queensland has to offer.

We live in Western Australia but Queensland is our other love and we travel there extensively. Now we want to show you what we love about this beautiful state.

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Queensland Landscapes 🌴

Queensland is renowned for its incredibly diverse landscapes. From stunning coastlines and pristine beaches to ancient rainforests and rugged outback, Queensland offers a remarkable variety of natural wonders that will leave you in awe.

The state is blessed with a mainland coastline that stretches about 7,000 kilometres, dotted with golden beaches, vibrant coral reefs, and picturesque islands. 

Ancient tropical rainforests showcase nature’s wonders in their purest form. The Daintree Rainforest, located in the far north, is the oldest surviving rainforest on Earth and a UNESCO World Heritage site. 

Head inland, and you’ll encounter the vast and rugged Australian outback, where red deserts and expansive plains dominate the landscape. 

Queensland has a range of majestic mountain ranges and national parks offering breathtaking scenery and outdoor adventures. 

lifeguard patrol with sign flag and surfboard on white sand beach in port douglas queensland

Plan Your Trip to Queensland 📓

Planning a trip to Queensland can be an exciting endeavor. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you plan your adventure in this beautiful Australian state:

Determine the Duration of Your Trip
Decide how long you’ll be visiting Queensland. This will help you create a realistic itinerary and allocate time for various destinations and activities.

Research and Identify Your Interests
Queensland offers a diverse range of experiences, from vibrant cities to stunning beaches, tropical rainforests, and outback adventures. Identify your interests and prioritise the places and activities you want to include in your itinerary.

Choose Your Travel Season
Consider Queensland’s climate and seasonal variations when planning your trip. The state experiences different weather patterns, and some attractions may be affected during specific seasons. Check the best time to visit each region based on your preferences.

Explore Major Destinations
Queensland is home to iconic destinations such as Brisbane, the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns, the Whitsunday Islands, the Sunshine Coast, and the Gold Coast. Research these popular places to understand what they offer and decide which ones align with your interests.

Create an Itinerary
Based on your interests and the duration of your trip, create a rough itinerary. Allocate time to each destination and decide how many days you want to spend in each place. Consider travel time between destinations when planning.

Research Transportation Options
Look into transportation options to get around Queensland. Brisbane and larger cities have airports, while trains, buses, and ferries connect various regions. Determine whether you’ll need to rent a car, book domestic flights, or use public transportation.

Research and book accommodation options according to your preferences and budget. Queensland offers a range of accommodations, including hotels, resorts, holiday rentals, hostels, and camping sites. Ensure your chosen accommodations are conveniently located for your planned activities.

Plan Activities and Attractions
Research and make a list of activities and attractions you want to experience in each destination. This may include visiting national parks, exploring islands, snorkeling or diving on the Great Barrier Reef, hiking, wildlife encounters, or indulging in local cuisine.

Have Flexibility
While it’s essential to have a well-planned itinerary, allow some flexibility for spontaneous experiences and unforeseen opportunities. Embrace the beauty of Queensland, immerse yourself in its culture, and enjoy your trip to the fullest.

Check Entry Requirements and Travel Insurance
Verify the visa requirements for your nationality and ensure you have the necessary documents for entry into Australia. Additionally, consider travel insurance to protect yourself against unexpected situations, such as trip cancellations or medical emergencies.

Pack Accordingly
Queensland’s weather can vary, so pack appropriate clothing for different climates. Don’t forget essentials like sunscreen, insect repellent, comfortable shoes, and swimwear. If you plan to engage in outdoor activities, consider packing appropriate gear.

Stay Informed
Keep up-to-date with the latest travel advisories, weather conditions, and any local regulations or restrictions. Stay informed about COVID-19 guidelines and requirements and plan accordingly.

Remember to consult official tourism websites and reliable sources for detailed information and updates.

orange sky at sunrise with palm trees and ocean at hervey bay queensland
Hervey Bay Queensland

Weather & Best Time to Visit Queensland ☀️

The best time to visit Queensland largely depends on the specific regions and activities you plan to engage in. Here’s a brief outline of the general climate and best times to visit different parts of Queensland:

Coastal Regions (Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast)

  • Summer (December to February): Warm temperatures and higher humidity, ideal for beach activities and water sports. However, it can be crowded due to school holidays.
  • Autumn (March to May): Mild temperatures, fewer crowds, and pleasant weather for outdoor activities.
  • Winter (June to August): Cooler temperatures, but still pleasant for exploring coastal areas. It’s also whale-watching season in Hervey Bay.
  • Spring (September to November): Increasing temperatures and blooming flora. Good for outdoor activities and exploring coastal areas.

Tropical North Queensland (Cairns, Port Douglas, Great Barrier Reef)

  • Dry Season (May to October): Mild temperatures, low humidity, and minimal rainfall. Ideal for snorkelling, diving, and exploring the Great Barrier Reef.
  • Wet Season (November to April): High temperatures, humidity, and tropical rainfall. Some attractions may have limited accessibility, but it offers unique experiences like witnessing rainforest waterfalls in full flow.

Outback and Western Queensland (Longreach, Mount Isa)

  • Winter (June to August): Mild temperatures and cooler evenings, making it comfortable for exploring the outback landscapes and engaging in outdoor activities.

Southern Queensland (Toowoomba, Granite Belt, Southern Downs)

  • Autumn (March to May): Mild temperatures, beautiful fall foliage, and harvest festivals in the Granite Belt wine region.
  • Spring (September to November): Blooming gardens and the famous Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers.

Queensland’s climate can vary within regions, and unexpected weather conditions may occur. Always check the latest weather forecasts and plan accordingly. Additionally, school holidays and major events can affect tourist crowds and accommodation availability, so consider those factors when planning your visit.

close up of a wild dingo on 75 mile beach kgari fraser island queensland
Wild dingo on K’gari (Fraser Island)

Queensland Travel Resources 📖

When planning a trip to Queensland, travel resources provide invaluable insights and guidance that will greatly benefit you. By utilising our resources, you can streamline the trip-planning process. This saves you time and effort, allowing you to focus on enjoying your trip without unnecessary stress.

Our travel resources offer trustworthy recommendations based on our expertise and knowledge of Queensland. This allows you to create a well-crafted itinerary that suits your preferences, ensuring a memorable and enjoyable journey through the stunning landscapes of Queensland.

Start planning today with our travel resources.

International Travel to Queensland Information

Time in Queensland ⏰

Queensland is in the Australia Eastern Standard Time zone – GMT/UTC plus ten hours – and has no daylight savings.

views of green hills in the glasshouse mountains in sunshine coast queensland australia
Glasshouse Mountains, Sunshine Coast

Arriving Into Queensland

Whether you’re arriving from within Australia or from overseas, there are several convenient ways to reach this beautiful destination. Here are the main options for visitors arriving in Queensland:

By Air ✈️

Queensland is well-connected to major domestic and international destinations, with several airports catering to different regions. The primary international gateway is Brisbane Airport (BNE), located in Brisbane, the state’s capital. BNE offers direct flights from various international locations, including Asia, the Pacific, the Americas, and the Middle East.

Additionally, there are regional airports across Queensland that receive domestic flights from major Australian cities and some international flights from nearby countries. Cairns Airport (CNS) in Cairns and Gold Coast Airport (OOL) in Coolangatta are two examples.

By Road 🚘

Queensland is easily accessible by road, with well-maintained highways connecting the state to neighboring regions. Visitors can enter Queensland by driving from New South Wales, the Northern Territory, or South Australia. The major highways include the Pacific Highway (M1), the New England Highway (A15), and the Barkly Highway (A2), among others.

If you’re traveling from the southern states, such as New South Wales or Victoria, you can take advantage of the scenic coastal drive along the Pacific Highway, which offers beautiful views along the way.

By Rail 🚆

Queensland Rail operates long-distance train services connecting major cities in Queensland and other states. The Spirit of Queensland and the Tilt Train are popular choices for travellers arriving from Brisbane, Cairns, Townsville, and Rockhampton. These trains provide comfortable and scenic journeys, allowing you to relax and enjoy the diverse landscapes Queensland has to offer.

By Sea 🚢

If you’re looking fo a more leisurely arrival, Queensland has several ports that cater to cruise ships. Ports such as Brisbane, Cairns, and Townsville are common stops for international cruise liners. Cruising into Queensland allows visitors to enjoy stunning coastal views and access various attractions and activities as soon as they step off the ship.

Getting Around Queensland

Getting around Queensland is relatively easy, thanks to a well-developed transportation network that caters to both urban and regional areas. Here are the primary modes of transportation available for visitors to explore the diverse landscapes and attractions across the state:

Car Rental 🚘

Renting a car is a popular and convenient option for exploring Queensland. All major cities and airports have car rental services available, offering a wide range of vehicles to suit different needs. Having a car gives you the freedom to travel at your own pace and explore remote areas and scenic routes.

Queensland has a well-maintained road network, including highways and coastal drives, making it enjoyable to navigate. Just ensure you have the necessary driver’s license and familiarize yourself with the local road rules.

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Public Transport 🚊

Queensland has an extensive public transport system, particularly in major cities like Brisbane, Gold Coast, and Cairns. Here are some options within urban areas:

  • Trains: Queensland Rail operates train services, providing reliable connections within and between cities. In Brisbane, the Citytrain network covers the metropolitan area and offers an efficient way to travel.
  • Buses: Buses are a common mode of transport, with TransLink being the primary bus service provider in Queensland. Buses are well-connected, covering both metropolitan and regional areas. In major cities, bus services are frequent and offer an affordable way to get around.
  • Ferries: In coastal areas and riverside cities like Brisbane and Cairns, ferry services are available, providing scenic transportation options and connecting various attractions.

Domestic Flights ✈️

If you plan to cover long distances or visit regional areas of Queensland, domestic flights are a convenient option. Queensland has several airports, including Brisbane Airport (BNE) and airports in regional centers like Cairns (CNS), Townsville (TSV), and the Gold Coast (OOL).

Airlines such as Qantas, Virgin Australia, and regional carriers offer flights to different destinations within the state.

Tours & Transfers 🚐

If you prefer a hassle-free experience, guided tours and transfers are readily available. There are numerous tour operators offering guided excursions to popular attractions and destinations across Queensland. These tours often include transportation, allowing you to sit back, relax, and enjoy the sights without worrying about navigation.

Cycling & Walking 🚲

Queensland boasts beautiful coastal paths, national parks, and urban green spaces, making it a great destination for cycling and walking enthusiasts. Many cities have dedicated bike lanes and pedestrian-friendly areas, providing safe and scenic routes for exploration.

Bike rentals and walking tours are available in tourist hubs, offering an eco-friendly and active way to experience Queensland’s natural beauty.

It’s important to note that while Queensland has comprehensive transportation options, the availability and frequency of services may vary in regional and remote areas. It’s recommended to plan your transportation in advance, especially if you’re venturing into less populated regions.

crystal clear water of lake on kgari fraser island queensland
K’gari Queensland

Queensland Regions

Discover the diverse regions of Queensland, where natural beauty and cultural treasures intertwine. From the sun-soaked beaches of the Sunshine Coast to the urban landscape of Brisbane, the ancient rainforests of the Tropical North to the idyllic islands of the Whitsundays, and the rugged Outback landscapes of Outback Queensland, each region offers a unique and captivating experience.

The Sunshine Coast

Stretching along the sparkling coastline, the Sunshine Coast boasts endless golden beaches, charming seaside towns, and a laid-back atmosphere. Surfers flock to Noosa for its renowned breaks, while families delight in the gentle waves of Mooloolaba and Caloundra.

Venture inland, and you’ll discover the enchanting hinterland, with its lush rainforests, cascading waterfalls, and the iconic Glass House Mountains.

The Gold Coast

Known as Australia’s playground, the Gold Coast is a bustling hub of excitement and entertainment. This iconic region is famous for its stunning high-rise skyline, vibrant nightlife, and world-class theme parks such as Dreamworld, Warner Bros. Movie World, and Sea World.

Beyond the glitz and glamour, the Gold Coast also offers breathtaking beaches, lush national parks, and the tranquil waterways of the Broadwater.


The cosmopolitan capital of Queensland, Brisbane, combines a thriving urban scene with a relaxed riverside lifestyle. This vibrant city is home to a burgeoning arts and culture scene, including the Queensland Cultural Centre, which houses the Gallery of Modern Art and the Queensland Performing Arts Centre.

Explore the South Bank Parklands, stroll along the Brisbane River, and immerse yourself in the city’s diverse culinary delights and lively markets.

The Whitsundays and the Great Barrier Reef

A tropical paradise like no other, the Whitsundays is an archipelago of 74 idyllic islands scattered in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef. Immerse yourself in the crystal-clear turquoise waters, snorkel or dive among the vibrant coral gardens, and sail through the azure sea.

Don’t miss the iconic Whitehaven Beach, consistently rated as one of the world’s best beaches, with its pristine silica sands and stunning vistas.

Cairns and the Tropical North

Nestled in the heart of the Tropical North Queensland, Cairns serves as the gateway to the wonders of the region. Dive into the ancient Daintree Rainforest, the oldest surviving tropical rainforest on Earth, and witness its rich biodiversity and fascinating indigenous culture.

Take a breathtaking journey on the Kuranda Scenic Railway, explore the vibrant underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef, or embark on an adrenaline-pumping adventure, such as bungee jumping or whitewater rafting.

Townsville & Magnetic Island

Situated on the northeastern coast of Queensland, Townsville and Magnetic Island are two captivating destinations that showcase the best of tropical Queensland’s natural beauty and coastal charm.

Townsville, often referred to as the “Capital of North Queensland,” is a bustling city with a relaxed coastal vibe. Nestled between the Great Barrier Reef and the picturesque peaks of the Great Dividing Range, Townsville serves as a gateway to both.

Just a short ferry ride from Townsville lies the stunning Magnetic Island. As you step onto its shores, you’ll be greeted by pristine beaches, secluded bays, and a laid-back island lifestyle. Magnetic Island offers a serene and untouched tropical paradise, where you can explore nature trails, spot wildlife, and unwind in the turquoise waters of secluded beaches.

K’gari (Fraser Island)

K’gari Fraser Island is a world-renowned UNESCO World Heritage site and the largest sand island on the planet. Located off the coast of Queensland, Fraser Island is a nature lover’s paradise, boasting a mesmerising blend of pristine beaches, lush rainforests, crystal-clear lakes, and diverse wildlife.

The Outback

Head to the rugged landscapes of Outback Queensland, where you can witness the iconic red sands of the Simpson Desert, explore the captivating gorges of Carnarvon National Park, and encounter the heritage-rich towns of Longreach and Birdsville.

Immerse yourself in the spirit of the Outback, where you can witness spectacular sunsets, learn about the region’s pioneering history, and connect with the vastness of the land.

The Indigenous Heritage of Queensland

The Indigenous heritage of Queensland is rich and diverse, with a long history of Australian Aboriginal cultures and traditions. Queensland is home to numerous Aboriginal groups, each with their unique languages, customs, and connection to the land.

Exploring and discovering Aboriginal culture in Queensland can be a fascinating and enriching experience.

Food and Drink: Queensland’s Culinary Delights 🥭

Queensland, Australia offers a diverse and vibrant culinary scene that showcases the state’s abundant natural resources and multicultural influences. With its fertile lands, coastal waters, and tropical climate, Queensland boasts a wide array of fresh produce, seafood, and unique flavours.

Practical Information: Travel Tips and Essential Details ℹ️

Some practical information, travel tips, and essential details to keep in mind when travelling to Queensland, Australia include:

Safety and Wildlife

Queensland is home to unique wildlife, including marine animals, snakes, spiders, and crocodiles. Follow safety guidelines, such as swimming between the flags at beaches, respecting wildlife habitats, and being cautious in remote areas.

Sun Protection

Queensland has a high UV index, so it’s important to protect yourself from the sun. Wear sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses, and seek shade during the hottest part of the day.

Outdoor Activities

The sunshine state offers numerous outdoor activities, such as snorkelling, diving, hiking, and exploring national parks. Check weather conditions, follow safety guidelines, and be prepared with appropriate gear and equipment.

Respect for Indigenous Culture

When visiting areas with Aboriginal heritage, please respect Indigenous culture, customs, and sacred sites. Seek permission for access, observe any cultural protocols, and learn about the local Indigenous history and traditions.

As with any travel, it’s advisable to plan and research in advance to make the most of your trip to Queensland.