10 best places to visit in Queensland in 2021

Discover all the places you won’t want to miss when you visit the sunshine state.


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Most commonly known for its strip of coastline that is home to endless beaches and tropical temperatures, Queensland is an Australian slice of paradise. From hitting the high street in Brisbane's CBD to exploring the rainforests of Cairns, this guide has you covered.

So forget hours of research for the must-see spots, all the hard work has been done for you.

Where to go in Queensland (and why)

An aerial view of Noosa River and the ocean at Noosa Heads

1. Noosa

From hiking trails through the national park to kayaking up close and personal with the region's dolphins and whales. Noosa is a great spot if you're after a jam-packed holiday. The activities don't stop there, with climbs to Laguna lookout, the Alexandria Bay Walk, Hell's Gates lookout and the Fairy Pools.

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Aerial view of Brisbane CBD

2. Brisbane

Brisbane is perfect for a weekend away or a five-day escape from reality. The city is easily explored via bike or scooter, as well as cruising options for romantic dinners. Shop til you drop on James Street and eat your heart out at Howard Smith Wharves where you'll find endless restaurants and bars. Ferries make passage between different parts of the city easy, and Eat Street (as the name suggests) will have you lost for choice on a Saturday or Sunday night.

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Rear View Of Family Walking On Beach In Gold Coast, Australia

3. Gold Coast

For whole family fun you can't look past Gold Coast for your next holiday. From DreamWorld, Warner Bros. Movie World and Wet'n'Wild, the kids entertainment is automatically sorted. Get amongst nature with multiple national parks waiting to be explored including Springbrook. The Gold Coast doesn't leave out the shopaholics either, Pacific Fair Shopping Centre is have you shopping til you drop.

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Aerials view of Sunshine Coast

4. Sunshine Coast

Escape with the whole family to the Sunshine Coast. Appropriately named, the Queensland coastal town is home to endless beaches that will have you enjoy some fun in the sun. Keep them entertained with Go Karting and Whale Watching - or for those of you after a thrill, why not swim with them? There is no limit to the fun.

  • Best for: Families
  • Where is it? South East Coast of Queensland
  • Top 5 things to see/do: Sunshine Beach, Australia Zoo, Glass House Mountains, Mudjimba Beach, Alexandra Headland Beach.
  • How long do I need? 4-5 days
  • Recommended tour: Partner up and enjoy a one hour segway tour of the Sunshine Coast.

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Whitsunday Islands Areal Shot

5. Hamilton Island

Nothing says a romantic getaway quite like an escape to Hamilton Island. From golf carting your way around the island to snorkeling through the beautiful Great Barrier Reef, you won't be stuck on things to do. The island boasts a tonne of outdoor activities including hikes to Passage Peak, Resort lookout, Coral Cove and the Whitsunday Islands National Park.

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Nudey beach on Fitzroy island near Cairns in Queensland, Australia

6. Cairns

Known for its impeccable temperatures all year round, Cairns is a great location for mingling and adventure. With tours and group attractions left, right and centre, there's no shortage in things to do. From Cairns you can head out to the Great Barrier Reef and visit neighbouring islands including Fitzroy and Green.

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Sunset over the heritage listed Port Douglas wharf

7. Port Douglas

Located the furthest north on the Queensland coast, Port Douglas is the perfect getaway. Ideal for all types of travellers you'll find yourself at the feet of the Sunshine state's beautiful reefs. With plenty to do on land including hikes, scenic tours and beach-going, it's just a matter of what to pick first.

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8. Tropical Far North

A collection of 11 distinct destinations with hundreds of places to see, the Tropical Far North is at the top of many travel lists. Outside of the resort areas of Cairns and Port Douglas, here you'll find numerous national parks, Indigenous cultural opportunities, swimming holes and waterfalls, barefoot beach towns and UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Probably the main reason you’ll be in this part of Queensland is to catch a glimpse of the Great Barrier Reef, one of Australia’s most popular natural wonders.

  • Best for: The all-rounder.
  • Where it is and how to get there: The Tropical Far North is found at the north-eastern end of the state. Cairns is the main transport hub with domestic and international flights arriving daily. The Spirit of Queensland train from Brisbane to Cairns runs five days a week, and there are regular buses touring up and down the coast.
  • Top five things to see and do: Explore the Great Barrier Reef; visit Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park; Daintree Rainforest; Mission Beach; Atherton Tablelands.
  • How long do I need? A weekend.
  • Recommended tour: Great Barrier Reef Diving and Snorkeling Cruise – Spend five hours at two different spots on the reef for your chance to see tropical marine life in the clear waters.

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9. Whitsundays

The Whitsundays is made up of 74 islands with stunning natural landscapes and coasts dotted with secluded beaches and friendly towns.

The Whitsundays is all about the sailing, the natural islands and setting your sights on the outer reef including the ever-romantic Heart Reef.

  • Best for: The island hopper.
  • Where it is and how to get there: The Whitsundays is located off the central coast of Queensland. The islands are accessible by plane or boat transfer from nearby Airlie Beach.
  • Top five things to see and do: Go sailing; visit Daydream Island Living Reef; Hamilton Island; dive, snorkel or fly over the outer reef; spend time at Whitehaven Beach.
  • How long do I need? A weekend.
  • Recommended tour: Whitehaven Beach Sailing Tour – Explore the beautiful Whitsundays region including Hill Inlet Lookout and Whitehaven Beach aboard a catamaran.

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10. Fraser Island

Fraser Island is one of the world's most unusual islands. As the largest sand island in the world, it’s also the only place on earth where tall rainforests grow on sand dunes at elevations of more than 200 metres, and it also contains 1,000+ freshwater lakes.

Fraser Island is great for wildlife spotting as well. It’s home to one of the purest strains of dingoes remaining, and is one of the best vantage points to spot humpback whales.

  • Best for: The nature lover.
  • Where it is and how to get there: Fraser Island is 300km north of the state capital Brisbane. Virgin Australia and Qantas operate direct flights from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to the Fraser Coast. From the coast it’s a 50-minute ferry trip across to the Island.
  • Top five things to see and do: Lake McKenzie; Champagne Pools; Eli Creek; sunrise at Maheno Shipwreck; whale watching at Indian Head.
  • How long do I need? A full day.
  • Recommended tour: Fraser Island 1 Day Tour – See Fraser Island like a local in a 4WD full-day tour with an authentic Aussie lunch.

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Best beach destinations to visit in Queensland

The tropical shores of Queensland have certainly earned the title Sunshine State.

  • Southern Gold Coast: Queensland's southern shores are some of the state's best beaches for surfing, especially beaches like Snapper Rocks, which is home to championship tour events.
  • Caloundra's Golden Beach or Burleigh Heads' Tallebudgerra: Some of the best beaches for children, these spots are protected from the surf and are ideal for splashing around in calm waters.
  • Magnetic Island, Fitzroy Island and Green Island: Visiting these accessible islands let you explore parts of the colourful Great Barrier reef right from these beaches that are made for snorkelling.
  • Port Douglas's Four Mile Beach or Mission Beach: Away from the crowds of the Gold Coast or Sunshine Coast, these Far North Queensland beaches are ideal for quiet escapes.
  • Fraser Island: The largest sand island in the world, Fraser Island is like one giant beach. It's also perfect for adventures with pristine lakes, sand highways and plenty of dunes to slide down.

Ready to explore the Sunshine State? See our latest Queensland travel deals.

East Coast Car RentalsEast Coast Car Rentals

Up to 15% off Australia rentals

Available on select rental dates from February - March 2021. Destinations include Brisbane, Adelaide, Cairns, Gold Coast, Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart and more. T&Cs apply.

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Up to 60% off Australia stays

Available on stays until July 2021 in Sydney, Melbourne, Gold Coast, Perth, Brisbane, Adelaide, Sunshine Coast and more. T&Cs apply.

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Up to 63% off Australia-wide stays + Extra 8% off hotel bookings

Available on select dates until December 2021. Destinations include Sydney, Canberra, Newcastle, Melbourne, Brisbane and more. T&Cs apply.

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Up to 85% off domestic activities

Available on select dates for activities including skydiving, hot air balloon flights, quad biking, scuba diving, whale watching, bridge climbing, high tea and more. Destinations include Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Canberra, Melbourne and more. T&Cs apply.

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Up to 33% off Sea World Resort and Water Park stays with park entry

Available for stays until 30 April 2021 with packages available to include entry to Warner Bros. Movie World, Sea World, Wet'n'Wild Gold Coast and Paradise Country during your stay.

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Extra $10 off site-wide with code

Valid on all dates, including over Christmas, on activities like skydiving, quad biking, bridge climbing, canyoning, hot air ballooning, helicopter scenic flights, abseiling, scuba diving, cruises, high tea and more. Destinations include Darwin, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane, Hobart and more. Minimum spend of $80 required. T&Cs apply.

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Extra 10% off Australia activities with code

Valid on all dates on activities like skydiving, bridge climbing, canyoning, hot air ballooning, helicopter scenic flights, abseiling, cruises, tours, high tea and more. Minimum spend of $100 applies. Destinations include Darwin, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane, Hobart and more. T&Cs apply.

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Get $20 credit

Get $5 off each of your first four rides in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Geelong, Perth and Newcastle. Valid on all dates for new users. T&Cs apply.

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