3 Week Australia Itinerary For A Dream Vacation — Walk My World

Putting toAustralia gether a three week Australia itinerary Australia is not an easy task. As there are so many amazing things to do and such big distances to cover – you have to select your areas carefully. There are so many Australia places we could have included, but in keeping with our blog this itinerary is for those who love the outdoors, wildlife and seeing those bucket list places in Australia.

Here’s the perfect 3 week Australia itinerary:

Day 1-3: SydneyDay 4-6: The WhitsundaysDay 7-10: CairnsDay 11-12: Alice SpringsDay 13-14: Kings CanyonDay 15-16: UluruDay 17-21: Adelaide & Kangaroo Australia Island

Day 1 – 3: SydneyYou’ll either fly into Sydney or Melbourne, so for the sake of this blog we’ll go with Sydney.

This harbourside city has so many amazing things to do and is a great place to shake off the jetlag.

Getting thereThe cheapest and Australia most frequent flights to Australia are via South-East Asia. You can get some incredible bargains with the budget routes from both Singapore (Scoot) and Kuala Lumpur (Air Asia).

From the airport, the options into town are limited. The best option is to pre-arrange a shuttle bus as this is the cheapest way. You can now catch an Uber, but otherwise you have to pay a hefty fee for a taxi (normally $50) or an inflated train sıçan ($16 when it would otherwise cost $4). 

Best things to do in Sydney The Bondi – Coogee WalkIf you want to see some of the many amazing beaches in Sydney, then this is one thing you should definitely do.

Starting at the iconic Bondi Beach, this easy 5.5km walk passes several beaches, Australia offering stunning clifftop views all the way to Coogee. The views are incredible throughout and you can complete it in less than two hours or spend a whole afternoon stopping for a dip at the various beaches along the way. Our personal favourite is cute as a button Tamarama Beach.

The cliffs along the Bondi to Coogee walk – a must for your Australia itinerary

There are a couple of spots for a coffee along the way and you can finish with a spot of lunch at the Coogee Pavilion or at the fish and chip shack. If you’re lucky, you may even spot a whale (May to October) or dolphins year round. Australia We’ve got a full guide with insider tips for the trail in this post.

Take in the world famous views from Circular QuayYou can’t leave Sydney without seeing the best views of the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Head to Circular Quay and stroll around this incredible part of the harbour to take in the views.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge from Circular Quay

Our favourite spots are the coffee shop at the top of the Museum of Contemporary Art (which offers a great view from the outdoor balcony without the price tag of the restaurants that line the harbour) and the view from Hickson Road Reserve.

If you can’t get enough of the Harbour Bridge views we’ve written this post with lots more options, many of which are popular photography spots.

Take a day trip to the Blue MountainsThe Blue Mountains offer incredible views of the Australian countryside and are around a two hour drive from Sydney. We’ve spent years exploring Australia and they truly are one of our favourite parts of the whole country.

It’s a fantastic place for hiking, but non-hikers will love the views from the Three Sisters and other lookouts and the worlds steepest train and cable car at Scenic World.

Adventurous hikers will love the Wentworth Pass (we usually recommend the National Pass but sadly that’s closed with no current re-open date due to rockfall) which gets you up close to the base of Wentworth Falls as well as offering incredible valley views. There are a couple of ladders involved which is why we recommend it for those who like more adventurous walks.

For a beautiful moss covered canyon walk (it really does feel like a fairy grotto!) you can’t go past the Grand Canyon, it’s not too difficult apart from the final climb out of the canyon where you’ll gain 300m elevation. For an easy family friendly hike then the Charles Darwin walk offers a leisurely amble along a river surrounded by gorgeous trees and rock formations.

Try some Aussie coffeeThis may sound odd but trust us coffee needs to be on your itinerary, Australia’s coffee is incredible! We didn’t expect it either, but we were blown away when we first tried it. You’ll unlikely encounter a bad cup and prices are universal. Check out our Ultimate Guide to Sydney for some great coffee shop options.

Go whale watchingSadly, this is only an option in the winter (May to October), but it’s well worth doing.

It takes less than half an hour before you are out of the harbour and should get your first glimpse of a whale. You’ll likely also see seals too. 

We were lucky enough to see several whales breach and put on a great show whilst on one of these trips.

If you aren’t so lucky and don’t see any, you will get another go free of charge. 

If you’d prefer to whale watch from the cliff tops there are many amazing spots you can try, which just so happen to be some of the most beautiful views in Sydney too!

For some adventure – Why not add in the Indian Pacific Train into your itinerary? This train goes from Perth to Sydney in 4 days, taking in some of the remotest parts of Australia in luxury.

Vivid (in season)This only runs between the end of May and start of June, but if you’re here at this time you’ll be lucky enough to see the whole of Sydney bathed in light and some fantastic shows in the evening.

Vivid can be a busy festival, but seeing the Opera House lit with projections is a highlight of the year in Sydney.

If that wasn’t enough, we have plenty more in our guide to all the best places to visit in Sydney and lots of free things as well.

Where to EatHigh End – Shangri-La, Circular Quay. For epic views and fine dining. Cafe Sydney by the harbour also has great food and views and even if the weather is chilly they offer blankets so you can still sit outside.

Seafood – The Boathouse on Black Wattle Bay, Glebe. For incredible seafood and the best Snapper Pie you’ll ever taste. If that’s a little too far out your way Garfish in Kiribilli also özgü fab seafood. For a cheaper option head to one of the beaches for good old fish and chips by the sea!

Budget – Mamak, Chinatown. Mamak is a great Malaysian restaurant offering great street food. It’s the most affordable place in the city.

Car hire in SydneyIf you plan on visiting the Blue Mountains, hiring a car can be cheap and a lot easier than taking public transport. Car hire in Australia is surprisingly cheap and with petrol being under $1.50 AUD per litre (under $2 USD per litre) you can get a lot for your money.

There are a lot of one-way streets in Sydney, but otherwise the driving is simple and the roads aren’t too busy. Check out the prices for a car below to visit some of the places off the tourist track.

The Great Barrier ReefAfter starting in the city, our three week itinerary of Australia will take you to see what Australia’s really about, the incredible nature. Starting in Queensland, the Sunshine state has a magnificent coastline and is home to the world famous Great Barrier Reef. However, it delivers so much more than that…

Day 4 – 6: WhitsundaysThe Whitsundays are a group of paradise islands off the coast of Queensland and are absolutely stunning.

A few days here and you’ll see one of the world’s best beaches, the photogenic heart reef and an island where golf buggies are the main biçim of transport!

It’s a great place to relax in picture postcard tropical paradise. It’s not cheap, but the price is well worth it!

Flying over Whitehaven Beach

Best things to do in the WhitsundaysTake a helicopter over the heart reefThis is a budget buster, but there are few experiences in life like seeing the Great Barrier Reef from the air, it’s the only real way to get any idea of scale.

You can also do this from Cairns, but we’d highly recommend doing it from either Hamilton Island or Airlie Beach where you get to see both the reef and the incredible islands. We’ve flown in both areas and whilst we loved each experience, the Whitsundays are a clear winner.

If taking a helicopter ride is out of your budget (like it was for us) you can take a small plane instead, it’s a fraction of the price and you’ll obviously still see the same places. You won’t get as amazing photos as the windows are smaller and often a bit more scratched up but the photos in this blog are from the plane and aren’t too bad. We flew with GSL Aviation and would recommend them if you can’t stretch to a helicopter (if you suffer from motion sickness watch out though because I got quite sick on the plane!).

The Whitsundays offers the opportunity to see the postcard favourite Heart Reef.

Snorkel at Reefworld or Bait ReefWhilst we aren’t fans of tours generally, the trip out to Reefworld was a lot of fun and a great choice for families or less confident snorkelers.

We had a wonderful time taking our niece and nephew and having an area of reef that was roped allows you to stop for breaks and feel secure no matter what your ability.

The Reefworld pontoon, Hardy Reef

It’s a great spot to spot turtles, we saw several. If you prefer a more intermediate option try snorkelling at Bait reef which is a more wild experience without the pontoon.

Golf buggying around Hamilton Island

Golf Buggy is the transport of choice on Hamilton Island and it’s great fun just cruising around without a car in sight! This beautiful island is the perfect place to base yourself for a Whitsundays trip and we loved exploring the whole island by golf buggy.

Find new levels of white sand at Whitehaven BeachIt’s hard to really describe just how amazing the views are at Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet.

We’ve been to a lot of tropical islands, but we’ve never seen sand so white and water so vibrant as it is at Whitehaven. Make sure you do the short walk up to Hill Inlet for those famous views.  

We’d recommend the full day trip as the half day versions are quite rushed – although enough if you don’t want too long on the beach which is very exposed. Look out for turtles, rays and lemon sharks which frequent the area.

Have a sundowner at One Tree HillAfter a busy day, there’s no better place to chill than One Tree Hill with a drink in hand.

The views of the surrounding islands are beautiful and it’s the perfect place to take in the changing colours of the sky at sunset. The bar sells cocktails for $10 a pop.

The bar at One Tree Hill on Hamilton Island

Places to stay in The WhitsundaysThere are lots of options for where to stay in the Whitsundays. Staying on an island is more expensive than staying at nearby Airlie Beach and doing day trips – but of course they are much nicer! We’ve written an in-depth guide on where to stay including various islands and the mainland.

 Day 7 – 10: CairnsA lot of people associate Cairns with the Great Barrier Reef, but it’s so much more than that. From this city you can see pre-historic rainforest, wildlife that looks like something from the Jurassic era, as well as some of the best waterfalls in Australia.

Personally, we found the stretches of reef we visited in the Whitsundays to be better than from Cairns, but it’s worth seeing the reef from both places if money permits.

Getting thereQantaslink operates daily flights from Hamilton Island to Cairns. 

Best things to do in CairnsExplore the oldest living rainforest in the world: DaintreeThe Daintree isn’t just your usual rainforest, it’s the oldest in the world, and has remnants from when the continents were still one (Gondwana).

The Daintree Discovery Centre has a great canopy walk as well as several boardwalks to take it all in and is a great option for families.

We’d also recommend doing one of the walks just up the road from the Discovery Centre at Jindalba which are a great place to spot cassowary and are also free of charge.

A cup of local Daintree tea at the Daintree Discovery Centre

There are two options to choose from we did both and would say take the shorter trail if you would like something more manicured and the longer trail if you would like a wilder experience. Both offer the chance to see cassowaries – although we didn’t get lucky, we met people who had seen them just five minutes before we got there!

Just watch out for the wild pigs on the longer trail which can be quite aggressive. 

See where two UNESCO World Heritage sites meet: the reef meets the rainforest at Cape TribulationCape Tribulation offers the chance to see a beautiful beach and the Great Barrier Reef as well! It’s a great place to relax and take in the pristine wilderness.

Just don’t swim, there are salt water crocs in the sea! There are also several more walking trails which you can access from Cape Trib. 

The wild and rugged Cape Tribulation

Go searching for CassowariesIt’s hard to really comprehend how weird this animal looks, it is truly unique and an incredible sight to see in the wild. It’s a flightless bird (like an emu) with a horn and a bright blue and red neck.

If you didn’t get lucky at the Discovery Centre or at Jindalba then keep your eyes peeled on the road to Cape Trib. They’re often seen crossing the road or even on the beach itself.

Although we never got lucky, the Daintree Rainforest is one of the best places in Australia to see this animal.

Keep your eyes peeled, especially if you see lots of blue berries on the ground which is one of their favourite food types. 

If you want to find the best spots to see them in other parts of Queensland, check out our guide all about where to see cassowaries in the wild.

See some of Australia’s best waterfallsThe Atherton Tablelands have some of our favourite waterfalls in the whole of Australia.

Along the same stretch of road you can see several of them, and if you go early enough you’ll likely have them to yourself. Elinjaa and Millaa Millaa are two of our favourites. Head for Millaa Millaa first because this beauty sees coach loads of tourists later in the day.

Millaa Millaa Falls at sunrise

Where to stay in and around CairnsYou can get a really detailed guide by reading our guide to the best accommodation in Cairns and around.

Cairns – Jack & Newell Holiday ApartmentsWe stayed at Jack & Newell’s with my parents when they visited Australia and it was the perfect base for exploring Cairns. We picked a two bedroom apartment which were beautifully furnished, had a fully kitted out kitchen and living room, balconies and big spaces. It’s really close to the city centre as well.

Mossman – Silky Oaks LodgeIf you have the budget and fancy a little luxury in the rainforest, then head here. It’s in Mossman (about 84km or 1 hour 20 from Cairns) and is the perfect place to relax and stay in a truly unique accommodation. It’s one of our favourite places to stay in Australia. 

Atherton Tablelands – Canopy TreehousesFancy staying in a tree house that özgü endangered animals such as Cassowaries and Platypus nearby? If your answer is yes then Canopy Tree Houses is not to be missed. The experience is truly a once in a lifetime, and we’ve never stayed anywhere like it.

Car hire in CairnsYou will need a car to get around Cairns and the tropics of Queensland as the distances can be quite big and public transport is scarce (especially if you plan on going to the likes of the Atherton Tablelands). The good news is that car hire and petrol is cheap and the roads are quiet and easy to drive on. Once out of Cairns it is all motorways and there’s hardly anyone else on them.

Plus it’s a good excuse to play some music and call it a road trip!

The OutbackThe Outback is one part of Australia you definitely shouldn’t miss. The main attraction here is a landscape and environment that’s unlike anywhere else on earth. It’s the home of icons such as Uluru and Kings Canyon, but also has plenty more less well known gems too. Contrary to most people’s belief, the Outback is far from lifeless and you can see iconic Australian wildlife on a regular basis.

Day 11 – 12 Alice SpringsSimply flying into Alice Springs is an adventure in itself as the view out the window looks like the surface of Mars. It’s one of our favourite places in Australia and a great introduction to your Outback trip.

Getting thereQantaslink operate daily flights from Cairns to Alice Springs.

Best things to do in Alice SpringsCuddle joeys and learn about the important work of the Kangaroo SanctuaryNow’s your chance to get up close to an Aussie icon and support the fantastic work that Brolga and Tahnee do at The Kangaroo Sanctuary. This couple have devoted their lives to rescuing orphaned joeys and giving them a second chance.

You can cuddle a joey (Cat didn’t want to hand back gorgeous Millie) and see the whole mob of kangaroos they have saved whilst strolling through the bush at sunset.

Trephina GorgeIt you want to see some stunning Outback landscapes close to Alice Springs, then head to Trephina Gorge.

It genuinely is one of the best things to do in the area as you walk atop deep red cliffs that overlook a dried up river and the panoramic views are breathtaking.

Views along the Trephina Gorge walk

There are several walking tracks, if you only have time for one try the Trephina Gorge walk which was our favourite of all the tracks and offers a great overall look at the gorge. This area is very exposed so it’s a good idea to go early or late if you can.

Ellery Creek Big HoleThe perfect place for sunset, or for a dip, Ellery Creek Big Hole is a must-do when in the West MacDonnell Ranges.

It’s a place of tranquility and beautiful reflections at the end of the day in a magnificent setting. It’s an easy day trip from Alice Springs and so good we visited twice.

Be warned that even in summer the water in all the waterholes in the area is really cold so if you want a long dip you might want to bring a float along with you.

Sunset at Ellery Creek Big Hole

Cycle to Simpsons GapSimpson’s Gap is an incredible place in it’s own right, but cycling through the Outback to get there is magical.

It’s about 17km each way and will take a few hours to do, but it’s one of the best ways to see the Outback at a leisurely pace. The scenery is absolutely stunning and you’ll see there’s a lot of life in the desert. Once you arrive at Simpsons Gap (a magnificent gorge) look out for black footed rock wallabies, they camoflauge well but trust us they are there!

The cycle track is really well maintained and largely flat, it’s the distance that makes it difficult, particularly if you cycle the extra few kilometres from town. We cycled from Alice and would recommend if you can taking transport to the start of the track instead which makes it easier and cuts out the boring road portion.

Cycling the Simpsons Gap bike path

Car hire in the OutbackUnless you plan on just visiting Uluru, then you’ll need a car for this part of the trip. The downside is that all car rental companies limit your driving to 100km’s a day and then charge you for every kilometre you go over. The good news is that car hire is relatively cheap and you won’t need a 4 x 4 (unless you plan on doing the Mereenie Loop!).

We loved driving on the wide, open and expansive outback roads, seeing the desert out the window. It’s another thing you’ll always remember.

Day 13 – 14 Kings CanyonGetting thereThere is no public transport to Kings Canyon, so it’s only accessible by self-drive, and it’s the road trip of a lifetime. It’s about a 6-8 hour drive from Alice Springs (depending on the route you take).

Best things to do in Kings CanyonThe Kings Canyon Rim WalkKings Canyon may not be the easiest of places to get to, but it’s worth the effort.

The canyon is a spectacular place to explore and its remoteness adds to the charm as you may see dingos, brumbies and camels during your drive.

Views along the Kings Canyon Rim Walk

The 5.5km Rim Walk at Kings Canyon is not to be missed, offering phenomenal views from an stunningly unique place.

Allow plenty of time for the walk as there are photo opportunities around every corner. We’d recommend going early morning as there is very little shade and the sun can be brutal. It’s one of the best day walks we have ever done. 

Outback JacuzzisAfter a long day hiking around Kings Canyon, what better to come back to than a jacuzzi with an outback view? 

The Deluxe Spa rooms at Kings Canyon Resort all have their own jacuzzi and little slice of outback. However, you’ll have to peel yourself away for…

SunsetsSorry, but you’ll have to leave the jacuzzi to witness this.

When we stayed in Kings Canyon, the sunsets were out of this world, creating unreal colour in the sky.

Seriously, the photo below had to be toned down to make it look like it wasn’t photoshopped!

Sunset from Kings Canyon Resort viewing platform

You won’t have to go far though as the resort özgü its own viewing platform.

Where to stay in King’s CanyonKings Canyon Resort The place to stay at Kings Canyon is the Kings Canyon Resort. Just make sure you spend a little more to get that jacuzzi. It’s an expensive place to stay and not what you would call value for money but that’s quite typical of the Outback. 

Day 15 – 16 UluruUluru should be on everyone’s bucket list. This red rock is the heart of Australia and no amount of hype can prepare you for this experience.

The whole land turns a dark red and there is a special feeling to the whole place. 

Getting thereYulara (the main town at Uluru) is a four hour drive away from Kings Canyon. All the roads are paved and in very good condition, so won’t need a 4 wheel drive.

Things to do in UluruSounds of Silence One of the greatest meals we’ve EVER had (yep, ever!) is the Sounds of Silence; not for the food itself (which is ok) but for the whole experience. You’re taken outside of Yulara to a patch of the Outback landscape a couple of kilometres from town. After an introductory aboriginal dance and champagne at sunset, you’ll be whisked to dinner with a view.

Sunset over Kata Tjuta at the Sounds of Silence dinner

We were lucky enough to have a view of Kata Tjuta when the sunset (simply magical). After dinner, the main event starts. The lights are turned off, and you’ll be blown away by the Milky Way overhead! You’ll be regaled with indigenous stories about the stars and the constellations and how they were used to navigate the land and seasons. You can see planets with the naked eye and even the moons on Jupiter when looking through the telescope. 

It’s not cheap, but it’s something that will stay with you forever.

Uluru Base WalkThe base walk is by far the best way to see Uluru and understand what the fuss is about. This 10km loop is completely flat and will take you around the ever changing faces of the rock, including rock pools and crevasses, and some rock art though it is sadly quite damaged. It’s amazing to see how different Uluru looks from each angle. Again it’s a very exposed walk so an early start is good idea.

If you don’t want to walk the whole 10km we’d recommend doing the short ranger led walk which also gives you a lot of history and meaning to the sacred site. We did both the full walk and the ranger walk and loved both.

The final leg of the Uluru Base Walk

Kata Tjuta Valley of the Winds trailUluru’s next-door neighbour is not to be missed, offering an stunning walking trail that takes you through valleys and past incredible viewpoints. It’s about 8km long and pretty flat, but go early to avoid the midday heat. If a particularly hot day is predicted they will shut the track by around 10am. 

We actually preferred this walk to the Uluru Base Walk as it had a little more variety to it and the many domes of Kata Tjuta were just as fascinating as Uluru for us.

Views along the Valley of the Winds walk

Where to stay in UluruAll the hotels are based in Yulara, a small town that is 20km from Uluru. This means you don’t need to worry about location as they are all in the same place! 

Desert Gardens HotelYou know what you’ll get with a Novotel and this one doesn’t disappoint. The Desert Gardens is a great choice for Uluru. Very clean, stylish and deluxe rooms have a good (albeit distant) view of the rock.

Emu Walks ApartmentsAnother from the Accor Group, these apartments fall under the Mercure brand. The Emu Walk Apartments have just been refurbished and have their own kitchen allowing you to cook for yourself. Yulara özgü a very good supermarket so it’s a great option. 

Kangaroo IslandDay 17 – 21 Adelaide & Kangaroo IslandKangaroo Island isn’t on everyone’s itinerary, but it really should be. This island off the coast of South Australia is the last stop before the Antarctic and is home to pristine bushland, stunning beaches, incredible wildlife and up-close experiences with another Australian icon: the koala.

Getting thereFrom Uluru you’ll need to fly to Melbourne. From here you can get a Qantaslink flight to Kingscote (Kangaroo Island).

You will need to hire a car at Kingscote as there’s no public transport on the island.

Best things to do on Kangaroo IslandGetting up close to a koalaThe photo below was taken on Kangaroo Island and it’s the closest encounters we’ve ever had with a koala. It’s unreal just how close you can get and we saw them in multiple places including Hanson Bay, Flinders Chase National Park and kayaking down the Eleanor River. 

It’s a highlight of any trip to Australia and one of the best things to do in Kangaroo Island.

Blue water like you’ve never seen before at Vivonne BayThe water at Vivonne Bay blew us away. It’s a stunning electric blue from a distance and incredible clarity make this unlike anywhere else. It also özgü an incredible white sand beach which had virtually no one on it when we visited in the height of summer. The water is bracing to say the least but it’s definitely some of the most spectacular we’ve seen anywhere.

Snorkelling at Vivonne Bay, Kangaroo Island

See the Sea Lions of Seal BayAt Seal Bay you’ll get another fantastic wildlife experience; up close to beautiful Australian sea lions. You can only go on to the beach itself by tour, but the guides are incredibly knowledgeable and will give you heaps of information about these amazing animals and it allows for close up photos. You can view the seals from the board walk at no cost at all. 

Getting off the gridIt’s likely you’ll see very few people in Kangaroo Island and big open roads are very common. It’s also a place with little phone signal and internet, so it makes the ülkü place to disconnect and relax. There’s also plenty of great walks in places such as Flinders Chase National Park.

Long empty roads on Kangaroo Island

You will see an incredible amount of wildlife, likely crossing the road just in front of you, so drive slowly! We saw kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas and goannas all from our car. 

Where to stay in Kangaroo IslandHanson Bay CabinsThere’s only one place we recommend to stay in Kangaroo Island and it’s Hanson Bay Cabins. The modern ones have 5 star views of the nearby Hanson Bay, a stunning stretch of coastline you can see from your bedroom and lounge window.

The worst thing about the cabins are that they’re so good, you’ll struggle to leave. They have a full kitchen which is great as there aren’t any restaurants nearby. 

Car hire in Kangaroo IslandHaving a car is essential for Kangaroo Island as there is no public transport!

Depending on how you get to Kangaroo Island (either by ferry or flying) will depend where you need to hire your car from. You won’t have a problem with insurance if you hire your car from the airport at Kingscote, but you will need to check if you plan to hire in Adelaide and get the ferry. Budget were the only company allowing it when we visited, but even they wouldn’t insure if driving after dark (due to the high number of animal collisions).

Once you’ve worked that all out you’ll find driving very easy as the roads are straight and empty. The only thing you’ll have to watch out for are wild kangaroos and echidnas that like to cross!

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Have we missed something from our ultimate itinerary? Have you been to any of our picks? Let us know in the comments below.

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