Half a world away, the Land Down Under is a place where festivals are frequent, strange animals are common sights and the espresso stands in a class of its own. It’s a long way away, but the jet lag is worth it to explore this country full of beautiful landscapes, friendly people and wild adventures.
Don’t underestimate its size: Australia is about as big as the continental United States. Tackling Eastern Australia alone is tough to do within a limited time frame. Here are some sights you don’t want to miss:
Sydney. Tour or watch a show at the Opera House, surf at one of Sydney’s world-renowned beaches and explore The Rocks historic precinct. Sydney has something to offer every type of tourist, from the thrill seeker to the history buff. Tip: Public transportation is clean and easy to use. Get a free Opal card and reload it to use on buses, trains and ferries.
Great Barrier Reef. Covering approximately 133,000 square miles (the size of 70 million football fields), the world’s largest living structure is a wonder you have to see to believe. Tip: For snorkelers and divers, consider an overnight trip to the reef or a “liveaboard” experience for three or more days.
Whitsunday Islands. Water so blue, sand so white and islands so green, you’ll be able to use #nofilter on every Instagram photo you snap. This is an especially good place for sailing. Tip: To save on accommodations, book lodging in Airlie Beach on the mainland and take day trips via boat out to the islands.
Most people visit Sydney between December and February, during Australia’s summer. Flights and accommodations are less expensive and the temperatures are cooler in the off-season. Though Sydney is sunny most of the year, temperatures can drop to around 45 degrees on the coldest days in July. Expect a tropical climate when you visit the Great Barrier Reef and the Whitsundays, with the most chances of rainfall from December through March.