Seeking out the best places to visit in Queensland? This article has 18 of the top Queensland holiday destinations.
At a massive 1,852,642 square kilometres, Queensland is Australia’s second state and the world’s sixth-largest sub-national landmass. It’s so vast it can fit all but 15 countries within its natural and governmental borders.
And within those boundaries lie many vibrant cities, picturesque towns and spectacular landscapes to discover.
So whether you’re the type who loves lapping it up at destination hotspots, such as the Gold Coast, going remote and exploring national parks or the Outback, or seeing animals in the wild, here’s a list of the best places to visit in Queensland to inspire you to book a journey to see this Great Southern Land.
Best Places To Visit In Queensland
Brisbane is the sunny capital of Queensland, famous for its warm climate and enviable riverside lifestyle, which include:
- swimming at the free-to-use lagoons at the revered South Bank Parklands
- dining at the riverfront restaurants along the renowned Eagle Street Pier
- riding up and down the waterway on the famous City Cats ferries
- hand-feeding kangaroos at Lone Pine Sanctuary
- most spectacularly, climbing the iconic Story Bridge, the lengthiest steel cantilever bridge in the country and one of the city’s most outstanding viewpoints!
And those are just the highlights. There’s so much more to this gorgeous place than meets the eye, making Brisbane a fantastic holiday destination and an excellent launching pad for seeing other parts of the beautiful Sunshine State.
Wondering how to organise your time in Brisbane? Try this Brisbane 2 day itinerary.
2. Gold Coast
Ah, the Gold Coast. No list of Queensland’s best places to visit is complete without including this spectacular coastal city somewhere.
With a tagline like “famous for fun”, you’d hope it can live up to the expectations words like that create. Thankfully, it delivers it in spades.
Between the towering skyscrapers, the endless beachfront, and the lush hinterland, this beloved seaside destination has no shortage of excellent things to do to keep every kind of traveller entertained from the moment they arrive.
There are tonnes of attractions to discover, river cruises to enjoy, beaches to swim at, restaurants to dine in, landscapes to explore and animals to come across. But where the city really shines is with its thrill-seeking experiences.
Whether it’s leaning over the side of Australia’s tallest building (Skypoint/Q1), doing high-speed doughnuts on the Gold Coast Seaway (jetboating) or experiencing the tallest, fastest and scariest thrill rides in the southern hemisphere (theme parks), this unforgettable place knows how to leave a lasting impression.
If it’s adventure you seek, then it’s impossible to go past Cairns as it’s known as the Adventure Capital Of Australia. That’s one hell of a title, but with an outstanding list of exciting things to do, the Far North Queensland city has well and truly earnt it.
Its biggest claim to fame is that it is the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, the largest and most diverse marine ecosystem in the world!
That means the snorkelling and scuba diving opportunities are exceptional! But that’s not all.
Queensland is famous for its picture-perfect beaches, and none-so-more is that true than at the Whitsundays.
This gorgeous place is renowned for its paradisical landscapes, stunning azure blue waters, beautiful white beaches and close knit-network of 74 breathtaking tropical islands, such as Hamilton Island and Daydream Island.
As if that wasn’t enough to have you sold on visiting this outstanding destination hotspot, those islands form part of the world-renowned Great Barrier Reef, meaning the snorkelling, diving, and sailing here is exceptional.
Furthermore, some of them are home to the country’s top island resorts, so if you’re looking for an incredible getaway amidst the world’s largest living organism, there’s no better place to visit in Queensland than the Whitsundays.
5. Great Barrier Reef
Speaking of the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns and the Whitsundays aren’t the only launch points for discovering this breathtaking underwater landscape and its spectacular marine diversity.
After all, at 2,300km, it extends almost the entire length of Queensland’s eastern coastline as far down as the beautiful rum capital of Australia, Bundaberg, which is only a few hour’s drive from Brisbane!
From Bundy, you can visit its southernmost cays, Lady Elliot Island and Lady Musgrave Island, while at Gladstone, you can get to Heron Island, from Yeppoon, you can reach Great Keppel Island and from Townsville, it’s Magnetic Island.
All these places provide the unforgettable opportunity to snorkel with majestic sea turtles, friendly reef sharks, curious dolphins, colourful fish, and so much more whilst exploring the magnificent coral landscapes of the world’s most expansive aquatic ecosystem.
6. K’Gari/Fraser Island
As if the many islands of the Great Barrier Reef weren’t enough to encourage you to book a trip to Queensland, the sunshine state is also home to the largest sand island in the world, K’gari.
This spectacular place of outstanding ecological value, formerly known as Fraser Island, is a favourite amongst locals and tourists for its breathtaking landscapes and purebred wild dingo population.
Think being able to four-wheel drive along pristine beaches to wild swim at beautiful freshwater lakes and snorkel at the famous Maheno shipwreck, and ending the day looking up at the stars from around a campfire while being in the presence of Australia’s only native dogs.
It’s reasons like that which make K’gari one of the best places in Queensland to visit for remote adventures where getting back in touch with nature is top priority.
7. Rainbow Beach
If you love the idea of beach driving but heading across the pond to the K’gari/Fraser Island is out of your price range, a fantastic place to do that on the mainland is at Rainbow Beach.
Rainbow Beach is a beautiful little seaside town accessible from the gold-mining city of Gympie and is one of Queensland’s most beloved coastal areas. That’s because it’s home to one of the state’s most spectacular cliff faces: the coloured sands.
Between the township and Double Island Point is an endless row of 80m high cliffs towering behind the beach, showcasing a cornucopia of red, orange, yellow and grey hues, hence the name.
It’s magnificent to see on foot, but better if you have or hire a 4WD as you can drive the entire length of it!
And that is just the main offering at Rainbow Beach. The expansive Great Sandy National Park it is part of has many more incredible natural attractions, such as the breathtaking Carlo Sandblow, Seary’s Creek and Lake Poona, making this a fantastic town to go for love who love immersing themselves in nature.
8. Sunshine Coast
Somewhere that also has an enviable beach scene is the Sunshine Coast, which has a very chill and laid-back approach to life making its beautiful coastal towns the epitome of the idyllic seaside getaway.
Noosa, Maroochydore, Caloundra and Coolum are amongst the most popular destinations along the coastline. But they only contribute to half of this spectacular region’s charm as the hinterland is just as magical to explore, especially for those who love bushwalking.
9. Glass House Mountains
Speaking of the Sunshine Coast’s incredible hiking trails, one particular series of mountains well and truly deserves a spot of its own on this list: the Glass House Mountains.
The famous Glass House Mountains are an iconic part of this region and consist of 13 individual peaks that are the rugged remnants of long-since eroded volcanos known as intrusive plugs.
Many of them jut sharply out of the landscape like shards of glass and are gorgeous to behold from every angle.
They are also a hiker’s paradise as most of the mountains have walking trails that lead to incredible viewpoints overlooking the other peaks that form part of this magnificent natural wonder.
Another place that is awash with beautiful landscapes and excellent walking trails is Mackay.
The most visited is the 4.2km return Wheel Of Fire track, which includes the Arulen Cascades in the Hatton Finch Gorge Section of The Eungella National Park, where you can wild swim in the pristine waters of the creek that flow through the rocky terrain.
That’s just one of the many hikes this breathtaking place has to offer and one of the numerous reasons people regard Mackay as one of the best places to visit in Queensland.
The other is that in addition to being a beautiful coastal city, it’s also in close proximity to Cape Hillsborough.
While the name might not ring a bell for many people, it’ll undoubtedly leave you lasting memories because it’s one of few places in the country where you’re virtually guaranteed to see wild kangaroos jumping around on the beach!
One of the nation’s most instantly recognisable animals enjoying one of the landscapes it’s most famous for, well, it doesn’t get any more quintessentially Australian than that.
11. Townsville & Magnetic Island
Further up the coast, Townsville is also a highly regarded Queensland destination people love visiting. One of its most beloved attractions is Magnetic Island, just a short ferry ride off the mainland.
Although it was named because Captain Cook thought it threw his compass off its magnetic pole bearing, the island has since been proven not to be magnetically inclined.
But its breathtaking natural beauty and outstanding swimming and snorkelling opportunities provide a different kind of magnetism, making it one of the regional city’s most incredible tourist hotspots.
As for those who love getting lost in nature on self-sufficient overnight hiking adventures, heading to Townsville is a must because it’s the gateway to the spectacular Hinchinbrook Island, famous for its rugged landscape and incredible treks.
12. Rockhampton & Great Keppel Island
Rockhampton is another regional destination that often ranks as one of the best places to visit in Queensland thanks to its incredible attractions including some of the state’s most gorgeous landscapes.
Mount Archer National Park lies at the fringes of the city and has a network of walking and biking trails that lead to some beautiful viewpoints, while a little further away lies the Capricorn Caves at Mt Etna National Park, which has a network of incredible show caves and adventure cave tours to explore in addition to its gorgeous hiking tracks.
Furthermore, Rockhampton is only a stone’s throw away from the stunning coastal town of Yeppoon.
And from there, you can head across the ocean to the breathtaking Great Keppel Island group, where the hiking, swimming and snorkelling opportunities are outstanding.
As for those who like a blend of the city and country, Toowoomba is the perfect mix of both. As Queensland’s largest inland city, it has plenty of excellent attractions to discover, but that’s only part of its charm.
It’s also perched atop the continent-spanning Great Dividing Range at an elevation of 691m above sea level, meaning it has many fantastic views overlooking the vast plains of the Lockyer Valley.
Moreso, it’s known as the Garden City and is home to the famous Carnival Of Flowers display, which is a must for all those who love colourful flora exhibitions.
That paired with its many scenic drives and picturesque walking trails, makes it one of the state’s best inland destinations.
14. Carnarvon Gorge National Park
For those who want to experience more of Queensland’s breathtaking country landscapes, there’s no better place to visit and fall in love with nature than at Carnarvon National Park.
The expansive pristine wilderness is home to the magnificent, deeply carved Carnarvon Gorge. Hikers have so much to discover with the network of trails ranging from short and easy to long and challenging, including the extensive 87km Carnarvon Great Walk Loop.
Trek between the gorge’s towering 200m high cliff faces along the picturesque creek and marvel at the beautiful, coloured escarpments, and spectacular caves whilst discovering ancient Aboriginal artworks and epic viewpoints.
Keep your eyeballs peeled for animals, as the national park is also abundant with wildlife, especially kangaroos and wallabies during the day, while at night, you may encounter possums, bats and owls, making it one of the best places in Queensland to visit for nature lovers.
15. Cape York
If you’re looking to get even more remote, the Cape York Peninsula is the country’s most expansive wilderness only those with capable 4WDs decked out with the most reliable off-road equipment can check out because it’s a hell of a long way from anywhere.
It pretty much exists beyond civilisation, so there’s no phone reception and the roads out there are extremely rough, so only those who can be fully-self sufficient and geared up to tackle any situation are suited for heading out there. It’s definitely somewhere you should never go with one car.
Luckily, for tourists and those who don’t have an equipped 4WD and a convoy of off-road enthusiasts to join and tackle the rugged terrain, some companies offer tours to see this extremely isolated part of the country.
See unspoilt rivers, creeks, waterfalls, beaches, rainforests, pioneer remnants, animals such as crocodiles and cassowaries and much more as you journey through this little-seen part of Queensland to the northernmost point in Australia.
16. Mt Isa
The Sunshine State isn’t all beaches, rainforests and bushland as much of it is part of the world-famous Australian Outback. And there’s no better place to relish in the country’s most remote and arid landscape than Mt Isa.
Mt Isa is one of the best-known country towns in the desert thanks to its still booming mining industry. But that’s not all this isolated place near the Northern Territory border is about.
While you can (and should) head underground on a guided mine tour, there are also beautiful lakes, a fascinating subterranean war hospital, and some stunning wild camping spots with magical star-gazing opportunities to discover.
Another famous Outback town well worth a visit is Longreach. It’s primarily known for being the birthplace of the national airline carrier, QANTAS, which you can learn more about its humble beginnings at the QANTAS Founders Museum.
Amongst the many other things to do there, you can also take a picturesque boat ride down the Thompson River on a traditional paddle-wheeler vessel and watch the setting sun descend over the beautiful desert landscape from Starlights Lookout.
One of the top things the sunshine state’s vast desert is known for is its dinosaur fossils, and the notable place they were uncovered was at Winton.
This small town is one of the best places to visit in Queensland to learn about and see the remains of some of Australia’s giant prehistoric creatures, with the Australian Age Of Dinosaurs and the Dinosaur Stampede Trackways showcasing some of the biggest discoveries found in the area.
Other places to see in Winton include the Waltzing Matilda Centre, dedicated to Banjo Paterson’s iconic folk song of the same name written here, and watching a movie at the unique Royal Open Air Theatre, one of the last of its kind in the nation.
While there, don’t forget to take a few photos of the world’s largest deck chair located behind the regular seats.
FAQ About Visiting Queensland
The best months to visit Queensland are May-June and September-October, this way you avoid the North Queensland rainy season (from November to April) but it’s still warm enough to enjoy the beaches.
Queensland is known for its natural beauty, primarily its beaches but also the rainforest in tropical North Queensland, hinterlands and Outback.
Brisbane is the largest city in Queensland with nearly 1 million people, followed by Gold Coast in second place.
Queensland is very popular as a holiday destination because it has lots of different natural attractions (beaches, rainforest, desert) plus big tourist attractions like the Gold Coast theme parks and the Great Barrier Reef.
Conclusion: Best Places To See In Queensland
There are many outstanding places to visit in Queensland.
From vibrant cities, adventure capitals and picturesque country towns to pristine beaches, paradisical islands and breathtaking landscapes, the sunshine state has plenty of incredible destinations for every kind of visitor.
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