TOP 20 GOLD COAST EXPERIENCES

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.

1. BEACHES

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.

Local tips:

  • 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.
Lifeguards on Gold Coast beach
Seaside with Gold Coast lifeguards. Image Credit: Tourism & Events Queensland

2. CAFÉS

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.

Locals tips:

  • 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.

Locals tips:

Dreamworld
Experience over 40 rides and attractions at Dreamworld. Image Credit: Destination Gold Coast

4. CULTURAL EXPERIENCES

Immerse yourself in the oldest culture in the world with the Gold Coast’s resident Indigenous custodians, the Yugambeh people.

Locals tips:

  • 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.
Yugambeh people
Visit Jellurgal Aboriginal Cultural Centre to see a traditional Aboriginal dance performance. Image Credit: Destination Gold Coast

5. SURFING

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.

Locals tips:

  • 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. 

Locals tips:

  • 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 Grandad Jack’s.
Grandad Jack's Craft Distillery
Grandad Jack’s gin, whiskey and vodka distillery based in Miami. Image Credit: Ashleigh Bailey for Destination Gold Coast

7. MARKETS

Browse community art and craft and farmers markets for locally made art, home décor, food items and fresh produce.

Locals tips:

  • 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.

8. HINTERLAND

Just a short drive from the beach, get in touch with nature in the remarkable World Heritage-listed Gondwana Rainforest.

Locals tips:

  • 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.
Best of All Lookout
Best of All Lookout located within Springbrook National Park. Image Credit: Destination Gold Coast

9. STAND-UP PADDLEBOARD

Live like a local and experience the great outdoors and salty sea breezes on a stand-up paddleboard (SUP).

Locals tips:

  • 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.

Locals tips:

Surfers Paradise Beach
Surfers Paradise Beach coastline view. Image credit: Destination Gold Coast

11. SHOPPING

Shop the myriad of eclectic boutiques, high-end designer forums, expansive shopping and outlet centres and lively local markets – there’s something for everyone.

Locals tips:

  • 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.

Locals tips:

The Pink Flamingo Spiegelclub
The newest blend of cabaret, burlesque & cirque show in Broadbeach. Image credit: Scott Belzner for The Pink Flamingo Spiegelclub

13. ADVENTURE

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.

Locals tips:

  • 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.

14. NIGHTLIFE

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.

Locals tips:

  • 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.

Locals tips:

  • 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.

Locals tips:

  • 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.
Rick Shores, Burleigh Heads
Beachside bug rolls outside and seaside tables inside at the much-lauded Rick Shores. Image credit: Brooke Darling

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.

18. GOLD COAST BROADWATER

Set out on the beautiful Broadwater or head upstream along the many coastal waterways on a guided kayaking tour.

Locals tips:

  • 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.

Locals tips:

  • 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.
O'Reillys Rainforest Retreat
Experience the Lost World Day Spa & Infinity Pool at O’Reilly’s. Image Credit: O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat

20. ALFRESCO

Take in the scenery with a packed picnic or classic takeaway fish and chips and dine alfresco by the beach or at the park.

Locals tips:

  • 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.
Burleigh Hill
Unmatched views at Burleigh Hill. Image credit: Brooke Darling

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!
DestinationGoldCoast.com

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