8 best places to visit on the Gold Coast in Australia

The beachside hub of southern Queensland, the Gold Coast is a must-visit destination in Australia for anyone who loves surfing, beautiful beaches, excellent weather, and lush hinterland. 

But the very best places on the Gold Coast are sometimes debated. Surfers Paradise is the most famous city in the region, but it’s definitely not for everybody and there are arguably much more scenic beaches and towns in the region. 

I spent a year living in nearby Byron Bay (just over the border in New South Wales) and visited the Gold Coast plenty of times. 

So, here are the top places to visit on the Gold Coast! 

Top places to visit on the Gold Coast

Here’s my full list of places on the Gold Coast to add to your itinerary. 

If you want to let someone else do the planning and show you around the region, the Gold Coast Tours & Trips of Australia with Cooee Tours is a great option to experience the best of Australia’s East Coast. Although there are many awesome places, around, there’s a special round of them listed below.

Surfers Paradise

Blue waves rolling on Surfers Paradise beach, QLD, Australia

This world-famous beach isn’t just about sunbathing and swimming. 

You can start your day with a surf lesson from one of the local schools, where instructors guide beginners and seasoned surfers alike through the waves. 

If you prefer a more relaxed pace, stroll along the Surfers Paradise Beachfront Markets, held every Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday evening. They showcase local arts, crafts, and gourmet food stalls.

For panoramic views, head to the SkyPoint Observation Deck atop the Q1 building – it boasts 360-degree views of the Gold Coast skyline and hinterland. 

At night, SkyPoint transforms into a chic bar and restaurant where you can enjoy cocktails and fine dining.

The Surfers Paradise Esplanade is lined with cafes, restaurants, and shops, offering everything from beachside snacks to international cuisine. You can also explore Cavill Mall, a pedestrian-friendly shopping precinct known for its boutiques and entertainment venues.

Surfers Paradise Beach truly comes alive during events like the Gold Coast 600 V8 Supercars race and the Surfers Paradise Festival, featuring live music, street performers, and cultural events.

Burleigh Heads

Known for its natural beauty and outdoor activities, Burleigh Heads blends beach and rainforest. 

Start your visit with a walk through Burleigh Head National Park, where the Rainforest Circuit track winds through lush greenery. Here, you’ll find scenic views of the coast and glimpses of native wildlife – look out for the region’s famous brush turkeys and sea eagles. 

Don’t miss the Tumgun Lookout for panoramic vistas – especially if you’re visiting during whale watching seasons.

Afterward, unwind on Burleigh Beach – it’s favored for its consistent surf breaks and family-friendly atmosphere. 

The beach is ideal for swimming, picnicking, or simply soaking up the sun. 

Nearby, James Street is a hub for boutique shopping, trendy cafes, and award-winning restaurants serving fresh seafood and international cuisine. 

Burleigh Heads also hosts cultural events such as the Burleigh Pro surfing competition and the Burleigh BBQ Championships.

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

A haven for nature lovers, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary allows you to get up close with Australia’s unique wildlife. 

Start your day with a walk through the sanctuary’s lush grounds, where you can hand-feed friendly kangaroos and cuddle koalas under the guidance of experienced wildlife handlers. 

Don’t miss the lorikeet feeding sessions, where vibrant rainbow lorikeets flock in for their daily feedings. 

For a deeper dive into Australian wildlife, attend educational shows featuring crocodiles, snakes, and birds of prey. 

The sanctuary also offers opportunities for animal encounters, such as feeding dingoes or holding a python under supervision.

You can explore Aboriginal cultural displays and learn about the region’s indigenous heritage through interactive exhibits.

Theme Parks

The Gold Coast is synonymous with thrill rides and family fun at its world-renowned theme parks. 

Dreamworld, the largest theme park in Australia, showcases a range of attractions from adrenaline-pumping roller coasters to interactive animal exhibits at Tiger Island and DreamWorks Experience. 

Nearby, Warner Bros. Movie World brings Hollywood to life with movie-themed rides and attractions like the DC Rivals HyperCoaster and the Justice League 3D ride.

Sea World is a marine-themed park where you can interact with marine life such as dolphins, seals, and polar bears – or enjoy rides like the Storm Coaster and Jet Rescue. 

For water-based fun, Wet’n’Wild Water World features slides, wave pools, and lazy rivers which are perfect for cooling off on a hot day.

Tamborine Mountain

Ideally located in the lush hinterland of the “GC” (as locals call it!), Tamborine Mountain is a network of rainforest walks, boutique wineries, and – of course – breathtaking views. 

Start your day with a stroll through Tamborine National Park, where you can explore walking tracks like the Curtis Falls Circuit or the Witches Falls Circuit, where you’ll find scenic waterfalls and abundant wildlife.

Afterward, visit the Gallery Walk, a strip lined with art galleries, cafes, and specialty shops offering everything from local crafts to gourmet delights. 

Don’t miss the opportunity to taste wines at Tamborine Mountain’s wineries, where you can sample award-winning wines amidst stunning vineyard views. 

Tamborine Mountain also hosts regular markets showcasing local produce, arts, and crafts.


Known for its laid-back vibe and pristine beaches, Broadbeach is a favorite destination for both locals and tourists. 

Start your day with a swim or surf at Kurrawa Beach, known for its safe swimming conditions and golden sands. 

Afterwards, take a stroll along Broadbeach Boulevard which is lined with cafes, restaurants, and shops and offers everything from casual eats to fine dining experiences.

Broadbeach is also home to The Star Gold Coast, a premier entertainment complex with a wide range of dining options, a world-class casino, and live entertainment venues hosting concerts and shows. 

The Oasis Shopping Centre and Pacific Fair Shopping Centre are nearby and have ample opportunities for retail therapy with their mix of fashion boutiques and specialty stores. 

Broadbeach hosts events throughout the year, including the Blues on Broadbeach Music Festival and the Gold Coast Film Festival – these showcase its cultural diversity and vibrant arts scene.

Springbrook National Park

The majestic and iconic Purling Brook Falls on a warm autumn day in Springbrook National Park near the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia

A haven for nature enthusiasts, Springbrook National Park is renowned for its ancient rainforests, stunning waterfalls, and panoramic lookouts. It’s a must stop on an East Coast road trip!

Start your day with a visit to the Natural Bridge, a natural rock arch formation that spans Cave Creek. The glowworms can be seen in the cave after sunset.

Next, hike through the park’s lush trails, such as the Twin Falls Circuit or the Warrie Circuit, which lead to waterfalls like Purling Brook Falls and Twin Falls

Don’t miss the Best of All Lookout, where you can enjoy breathtaking views over the Tweed Valley and Mount Warning. 

The Gondwana Rainforests of Australia, which Springbrook National Park is one of, is a UNESCO World Heritage-listed site due to its biodiversity and natural beauty!


Located at the southern end of the Gold Coast, Coolangatta is a relaxed beachside town with a blend of surfing culture, family-friendly attractions, and plenty of dining options to boot! 

Start your day with a surf lesson at Coolangatta Beach – it’s renowned for its consistent waves and pristine sands. 

Afterward, explore the coastal walkways that connect Coolangatta to neighboring Greenmount Beach and Rainbow Bay. If you’re visiting during whale migration seasons, watch out for the marine creatures! 

Coolangatta is also home to The Strand Shopping Centre where you can browse boutiques, surf shops, and beachwear stores. 

Grab a bite to eat at one of the beachfront cafes or enjoy fresh seafood at local restaurants overlooking the ocean. 

Coolangatta hosts events such as the Cooly Rocks On Festival which celebrates the region’s community spirit with classic cars, live music, and dance performances. 

Best places on the Gold Coast!

So, are you ready to see the Gold Coast? It’s a must-visit Queensland destination, but there’s definitely more here than meets the eye!