From jaw-dropping natural formations to modern man-made wonders, Australia fits a whole lot of beauty into one diverse country.
Australia is a bucket list destination for many travelers, and it’s not surprising – whether you’re a city kid or a nature fiend, you can transport yourself from the coolest Melbourne or Sydney coffee shops to a gorgeous mountain range or island within the same day.
Whether it’s your first time to travel there or your 15th, here are some of the most beautiful places you’ll want to explore in the Land Down Under.
Australian Capital Territory
Australia’s preplanned capital, Canberra is often overlooked. But one of the most stunning structures in the entire nation is here – the Australian War Memorial.
Built to honor fallen heroes from around the country pre- and post-statehood, this striking monument also includes the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Just outside the city, you’ll feel like you’re a whole world away at Gibraltar Falls, with its dramatic 50-meter drop, located inside of Namadgi National Park.
You can also go birdwatching, visit the National Arboretum and explore protected wetlands if you’re not quite brave enough to go to the top of the falls.
New South Wales
The state of New South Wales is home to Australia’s biggest city, Sydney, so it’s not surprising there’s incredible urban sightseeing.
Two of the most impressive structures in town are the iconic Sydney Opera House and the ANZAC Bridge. The Opera House, with its roof designed to look like a series of white sails, perches on Sydney Harbour alongside the Harbour Bridge to create one of the world’s most famous skylines.
Meanwhile, the ANZAC Bridge, which honors soldiers from New Zealand and Australia who lost their lives during World War I, stretches elegantly over Johnstons Bay. In addition to its striking appearance, the bridge bears both Kiwi and Aussie flags in a show of solidarity.
A short drive outside of Sydney are the UNESCO-recognized Blue Mountains, so called because the hazy eucalyptus trees clustered at their tops give them a bluish tint.
One of the most breathtaking features is the Three Sisters, a group of three rock formations. Its name comes from an Aboriginal legend about three sisters who were turned to stone.
The Northern Territory is home to Uluru, arguably the most well-known natural formation on the continent.
This massive monolith is sacred to the Anangu people, who have called this area home for thousands of years. Although new regulations will ban travelers from climbing it as of October 2019, Uluru is equally stunning from the ground or the sky.
Another beautiful natural site in Oz’s “top end” is Kakadu National Park, Australia’s largest national park. This massive space is home to many animal species, including crocodiles and flatback turtles.
But it’s also a fascinating place to learn about Aboriginal culture – rock art there dates from 20,000 years ago (yes, you read that right), and staff is onsite to help you understand its significance.
Meanwhile, the Simpson Desert stretches from the Northern Territory to South Australia and Queensland, giving you a variety of ways to experience its stark red landscape. Head to Alice Springs, the closest NT town, to get started.
Stretching from the country’s northernmost tip along the shores of the Coral Sea, Queensland’s bidoversity makes it possible to see a range of gorgeous sites in close proximity to each other.
One of those can’t-miss spots is Cape Tribulation, aka Cape Trib, a tropical rainforest home to many rare plant and animal species.
Cape Tribulation is packed with gorgeousness – whether it’s a guided hike through the rainforest, an afternoon lounging on the beach, or a trip to the Great Barrier Reef, you’ll feel like you saw half the globe in just a few days’ time.
Off the coast is one of the country’s most popular beach getaways, the Whitsunday Islands. Most of its 70-odd string of islands are uninhabited, making them feel undiscovered and special.
The sprawling white sand beaches make for gorgeous photo backdrops, not to mention ideal picnic spots for those out on a pleasure cruise.
The aquamarine-and-blue stretch of the Yorke Peninsula includes some of the prettiest scenery in all of Australia.
Cape Spencer and its picturesque lighthouse are perfect spots for snapping photos, while just across the water Kangaroo Island is one of the best day trips in the region.
(And yes, it does have plenty of ‘roos.)
Though it’s the only state not on the Aussie mainland, Tasmania more than holds its own against its big siblings.
Near the center of the island, Cradle Mountain provides panoramic views and is part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.
Between the glacial lakes and swaths of forest, there’s plenty to see and experience – especially if you’re a keen hiker.
Off the southern tip of heart-shaped Tasmania is Bruny Island, a sliver of land connected by a narrow single-car-wide stretch known as “The Neck.”
The island’s rich bounty means you won’t have to walk far for fresh oysters, fish, cheese and wine.
While Melbourne is home to some of Oz’s most exclusive addresses, the state of Victoria is also where you can find some of the country’s top natural wonders.
One way to see this beauty is from the air, preferably from a hot-air balloon over the Yarra Valley wine region.
If you’re in good shape, the 5-kilometer-long Kokoda Memorial Walk, inspired by the Australian soldiers who were killed along a trail of the same name in Papua New Guinea, offers vistas of gum trees.
About two and a half hours south of Melbourne is Phillip Island, which animal lovers visit to see nightly parades of Little Penguins – a species of penguin which are, as the name implies, little. (And also extremely cute.)
That’s not all – the island is also a place to spot seals, birds, dolphins, whales, wallabies and other animals between swims and beach naps.
Not all of the state’s beauty is above ground. The limestone formations comprising the Buchan Caves in the eastern part of Victoria stun with their semi-translucent, ethereal colors and shapes.
As Australia’s largest state, Western Australia is home to Perth, often referred to as the world’s most remote capital city.
But all that space means there’s a whole lot of beauty in this region. One of the most picturesque spots is the Margaret River Valley, a region along the coastline south of Perth famed for its gorgeousness – and its wine production.
Locals and visitors alike love Margaret River for its beachside walks, lighthouses and ability to spot whales along the coastline certain times of the year.
While the Great Barrier Reef is one of the wonders of the natural world, it’s not the only reef off the Australia coast. On the opposite side of the country, the Ningaloo Reef is a 705,015-hectare protected area home to whales, sharks and many varieties of corals, some of which you don’t need a scuba certification to see.
This jewel of the Indian Ocean also lays claim to being the world’s largest coral fringing reef.