Australia might be one of the best places in the world to take a vacation – it has everything! From lush wine regions to the world’s largest coral reef system, Australia is filled with a rich diversity of landscapes, cities and outdoor adventures. You can learn about indigenous cultures, take in a performance at the world’s most iconic opera house, explore the Outback and so much more.
If you’re headed Down Under, make sure to check out this list of can’t-miss wonders.
Barossa Valley Wine Region: Tastings and Vineyard Tours
With more than 65 wine regions including the famed Barossa Valley, Australia is home to many award-winning wineries that produce some of the world’s finest Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. As you explore the country’s restaurants, you’ll have a chance to taste many of these, but nothing compares to a scenic dinner overlooking the vineyards. At picturesque Hutton Vale Farm, caretakers will guide you through the 19th-century buildings before you tour the vineyards and enjoy a crisp riesling. Delve even further into the history of the region with a trip to Seppeltsfield, where you can sample a diverse selection including earthy pinot noir.
Alice Springs: An Outback Adventure
Located in the Red Centre of the Australian Outback, Alice Springs is surrounded by natural wonders. The Red Centre is Australia’s interior desert region, home to some of Australia’s most iconic vistas. You can learn about the history and culture of the local Walpiri Aboriginal people on the “Dreamtime Tour.” On the tour, a specialist guide will teach you all about the Walpiri way of life while sharing Aboriginal creation stories. Visit the Old Telegraph Station and Anzac Hill to catch some amazing panoramic views of Alice Springs.
If you’re looking for hiking, explore the idyllic MacDonnell Ranges, a series of red rock ranges dotted with camping sites, swimming holes and hiking tracks. Or you could head back to Alice Springs to take a walk along the Larapinta Trail, which actually begins in the city center. But if you do visit Alice Springs, definitely don’t miss Uluru.
Uluru: A Massive Natural Landmark
Rising from flat earth in the Northern Territory of central Australia is a massive, richly hued sandstone formation that may be the most awe-inspiring sight on your trip. Also known as Ayers Rock, this structure is sacred to the Aboriginal Anangu tribe, who still hold ceremonies at the site. Vacation packages often combine a visit to the 1,142-foot-tall landmark with a visit to the nearby Alice Springs.
Uluru has a mysterious allure, in part due to the changing colors that can be observed at sunrise or sunset. Watch as the rusty orange surface becomes a blazingly bright red.
The Great Barrier Reef: A Natural Wonder of the World
Located off Australia’s Queensland coast, the Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef in the world. Featuring more than 2,800 individual reefs and cays, the massive structure is visible from space and is considered one of the top natural wonders on the planet, making it a must-see destination on a trip to the Australian continent. This UNESCO World Heritage Site provides a habitat for 1,500 species of fish and 4,000 types of mollusks, some of which you will spot while snorkeling, diving or looking down through a glass-bottom boat. Some species living there are endangered, and the reef itself faces environmental threats, so take the time to appreciate this impressive system in its current state.
Sydney: Not Just an Opera House
Sydney is Australia’s largest city, and it’s also where the English colonists first settled. There is so much to do in Sydney – from exploring the National Opal Collection to strolling along Sydney Harbour to visiting the iconic Sydney Opera House.
Recognizable by the sail-shaped structures that form its roof, the Sydney Opera House ranks among the world’s top architectural masterpieces. In 1957, Jørn Utzon won the international competition to design the space. His winning entry has since defined the Sydney Harbour as much as the city itself, making the opera house one of Australia’s must-see attractions. Whether you enjoy a performance or take a guided tour of the opera house, you can relax afterward by the harbor and enjoy a cocktail or meal at one of the on-site restaurants. With a Sydney cruise pass you can travel by high-speed boat to a variety of spots on Sydney Harbour, like the famous beach resorts of Manly and Watson’s Bay, historic Fort Denison or Taronga Zoo. Hop off to explore places that interest you… or stay on for a while and enjoy the narrated cruise.
Make sure to check out the Sydney Harbour Bridge, one of the most iconic sights in the city. You could also stop by the Royal Botanic Garden or the Australian Museum – the oldest museum in Australia. To the west of Sydney, you can see the majestic Blue Mountains.
The Blue Mountains: Nature’s Majesty
Just a hop, skip and a jump away from Sydney lies the Blue Mountains of New South Wales. You can journey to Blue Mountains National Park to encounter its countless geological wonders, such as the Three Sisters sandstone rock formations. As you travel through the mountains, you’ll see sandstone plateaus, rich valleys, river gorges and endless pristine wilderness. Want to see the wonders from above? Try taking a trip on the Katoomba Scenic Railway, the steepest railway in the world. The Blue Mountains are also some of the easiest places to spot kangaroos in the wild – no visit to Australia is complete without them!
Do you want to visit the land Down Under? You can book Australian tours with AAA Member Choice Vacations.