As a city that boasts 300 days of beautiful sunshine, unmatched stretches of white sandy beaches, breath-taking landscapes and skylines, as well as the local’s best-kept secret, the Hinterland, it’s not surprising why many flock to experience the Gold Coast – Australia’s premier leisure and events destination.
From the iconic Surfers Paradise and theme parks to the thriving dining scene, shopping, surfing and rich offering of arts, culture, accommodation and attractions, we welcome you to experience it all.
Keen to learn more? Read on for the top 20 Gold Coast experiences.
With 57km of unmatched stretches of pristine coastline, you’ll be spoilt for choice with the many award-winning white sandy swimming beaches, secluded coves and surfing hot spots.
- Look out for local lifeguards at popular beaches for advice on daily swimming conditions and for safety, always swim between the red and yellow flags.
- Accessibility beach mats for wheelchairs are available at a number of popular beach locations – just ask the local surf lifesaving club, or check out the Gold Coast City Council website.
From dusk until dawn, choose from a wide range of cafés, bakehouses and bistros to experience some of the best
coffee in Australia, paired with meals to make your mouth water.
- Grab brunch to-go and visit one of the many seaside vantage points to catch a glimpse of the beautiful morning sunrise.
- Check out local coffee haunts including James Street in Burleigh, the Oracle Broadbeach or the Nobby Beach precinct.
3. THEME PARKS
Suitable for both the young and the young at heart, create lasting memories at Australia’s biggest and best collection of adventure-filled theme parks.
- Explore Dreamworld, Movie World, WhiteWater World, Wet‘n’Wild, Sea World and the US newcomer, Topgolf, where rides, animal encounters and experiences are plentiful and the fun is endless.
- Pre-book your own cabana at the water parks – the perfect place to relax or base yourself for a day amongst the water slides.
4. CULTURAL EXPERIENCES
Immerse yourself in the oldest culture in the world with the Gold Coast’s resident Indigenous custodians, the Yugambeh people.
- Take a guided walk in a nature reserve, visit a local cultural centre or watch an inspiring traditional performance.
- Daily cultural tours are available from the Jellurgal Aboriginal Cultural Centre in Burleigh Heads.
Surf the iconic coastal beach breaks from Snapper Rocks and Duranbah in the South, all the way up to Main Beach and Stradbroke Island in the North.
- Rise with the sun for an early morning paddle amongst seasoned local surfers, and even whale and dolphin marine life in the summer.
- Learn to surf with year-round lessons available for all ages and abilities.
6. BREWERIES & WINERIES
The Gold Coast and its Hinterland are home to some of the finest and most celebrated wineries, distilleries and modern breweries.
- Spend a leisurely afternoon or evening on a tour or at your own pace.
- Join a backstage tour at one of the iconic breweries or make your own gin with a head distiller at one of the Gold Coast’s newest craft distilleries, Husk or Granddad Jack’s.
Browse community art and craft and farmers markets for locally made art, home décor, food items and fresh produce.
- Stroll along the Surfer’s Paradise foreshore for the weekly open-air, beachfront night markets.
- Rise early and explore the popular Village Markets at Burleigh or Art and Craft on the Coast Markets at Broadbeach, Burleigh and Coolangatta.
Just a short drive from the beach, get in touch with nature in the remarkable World Heritage-listed Gondwana Rainforest.
- Visit awe-inspiring waterfalls, Purling Brook Falls, Curtis Falls and Cougal Cascades located in Springbrook National Park for an unforgettable adventure.
- Pack a picnic and hike trails to the Natural Bridge or Best of All Lookout.
9. STAND-UP PADDLEBOARD
Live like a local and experience the great outdoors and salty sea breezes on a stand-up paddleboard (SUP).
- Board hire is available at popular creeks and beaches such as Currumbin Creek and Budds Beach.
- For something a little different, have a go at SUP Yoga with one of the local experts at Tallebudgera Creek.
10. GOLD COAST OCEANWAY
Walk, run or cycle the beautiful Gold Coast Oceanway – a 36km network of manmade pathways, connecting Point Danger in the South to The Spit in the city’s North.
- Take in the view and cruise the Oceanway on a hire bike for an afternoon of fun and adventure.
- Keep an eye out for free city yoga and Tai Chi classes on the foreshore.
Shop the myriad of eclectic boutiques, high-end designer forums, expansive shopping and outlet centres and lively local markets – there’s something for everyone.
- World-class shopping precincts Pacific Fair and Harbour Town Outlet Shopping Centre offer free shuttle services for convenient pick up and drop off, which can be booked online.
- Visitor lounges are available which include refreshments and discount vouchers.
12. SHOWS & ENTERTAINMENT
As Australia’s premier leisure and events destination, enjoy a variety of entertainment options from resident stage shows and theatre acts to live music, exhibitions and more.
- Check out performances at HOTA, The Star Gold Coast, Australian Outback Spectacular, Dracula’s Cabaret or The Pink Flamingo Spiegelclub.
- To keep up-to-date on all things ‘what’s on’ visit events.destinationgoldcoast.com
With a plethora of activities on offer to suit all vacation types and thrill levels, immerse yourself amongst some of the city’s best to get the heart racing and the blood pumping.
- Experience the thrill of a roller coaster at the iconic theme parks, strap in for a swinging time in the Hinterland on a zipline, cruise across the waterways in a high-speed jet boat or take to the skies for a skydive jump of a lifetime.
- Take on Australia’s highest external building climb at Q1 SkyPoint Observation Deck.
From lounge and rooftop bars to beachfront pubs and clubs and everything in between, experience the redefined and ever-growing nightlife, dining, and entertainment mecca that is the Gold Coast.
- Surfers Paradise maintains its position as the good-times hub of the Gold Coast. Rediscover this icon with its revamped rooftop bars, hidden charm and eclectic bars and clubs.
- For a more relaxed vibe, check out Miami Marketta’s bars and live music alongside over 26 food stalls.
15. FESTIVALS & EVENTS
The Gold Coast is famous for hosting world-renowned events that cater to all interests and ages throughout the year.
- Each week the city plays host to an exciting new festival, performance or sporting carnival, and many of which are free.
- For updated information on what’s on each weekend, visit events.destinationgoldcoast.com
16. SEASIDE DINING
It’s not often you can literally dine on the beach! From fine dining restaurants to casual beachfront bistros all with stunning waterfront or sunset vistas.
- Enjoy stunning views of the rolling surf and sand at the many service and surf clubs dotted along the Gold Coast coastline.
- Check to see if your accommodation provider is located within the free pick-up and drop off shuttle service zones.
17. ANIMAL ENCOUNTERS
Get up close and personal with many cute and cuddly native friends like the koala, kangaroo and even migrating whales via the Seaway.
- Popular animal encounter hot spots include Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, Sea World, Paradise Country, David Fleay Wildlife Park, The Broadwater and Dreamworld’s Tiger Island.
- Whale watching season runs from May – November. Daily tours are available with whale sightings only 30 minutes from the coastline.
18. GOLD COAST BROADWATER
Set out on the beautiful Broadwater or head upstream along the many coastal waterways on a guided kayaking tour.
- Snorkel with tropical fish at Wave Break Island.
- Get on the water with jet boats, jet skis or enjoy a sunset cruise.
19. DAY SPAS & RETREATS
Experience relaxation and rejuvenation courtesy of the many luxurious day spas and tranquil eco retreats in and around the Gold Coast.
- Escape to the Hinterland for a truly unique wellness experience. (For something different, try the Vinotherapy Body Infusion).
- Restore your mind, body and soul at one of our award-winning wellness retreats in Tallebudgera and Currumbin Valley – Greenhouse the Bathhouse or Eden Health Retreat.
Take in the scenery with a packed picnic or classic takeaway fish and chips and dine alfresco by the beach or at the park.
- Free outdoor city BBQs are available at most parks and beaches.
- Join the locals on Burleigh Hill on a Sunday evening for sunset with the best views in town.
And there you have it. 20 top-notch experiences that you need to add to your to-do list (pronto) for when you’re next on the Gold Coast.
For later reference, download the complete Top 20 Gold Coast Experiences PDF Guide.
We’ll see you soon!
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ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF COUNTRY
Destination Gold Coast acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we are situated, the Kombumerri families of the Yugambeh Language Region.
We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging, and recognise their continuing connections to the lands, waters and their extended communities throughout Southeast Queensland.