10 days in Brisbane, Sunshine Coast & Great Barrier Reef Itinerary

10 days in Brisbane, Sunshine Coast & Great Barrier Reef Itinerary

Created using Inspirock Queensland visit planner

Make it your trip
1
Brisbane
— 2 nights
Drive
2
Mooloolaba
— 1 night
Fly
3
Port Douglas
— 2 nights
Drive
4
Cairns
— 3 nights
Fly to Hamilton Island, Ferry to Airlie Beach
5
Airlie Beach
— 1 night
Fly

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Brisbane

— 2 nights

Australia's New World City

Queensland’s biggest town and state capital, Brisbane has an attractive, manicured image based around its riverside aesthetic as well as the contrast between its high-rise center and extensive urban greenery.
Discover out-of-the-way places like Brisbane Whale Watching and Old St Stephen's Catholic Church (Pugin Chapel). Explore Brisbane's surroundings by going to Elephant Rock (in Currumbin), Bee Gees Way (in Redcliffe) and U.S.S. Mugford (in Coolangatta). There's lots more to do: enjoy the sand and surf at Burleigh Heads Beach, take in the spiritual surroundings of St. John's Anglican Cathedral, see the interesting displays at Museum of Brisbane, and catch some excitement at Infinity Attraction.

To find more things to do and more tourist information, read our Brisbane online trip builder.

Use the Route module to find travel options from your starting location to Brisbane. September in Brisbane sees daily highs of 28°C and lows of 15°C at night. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 3rd (Thu) early enough to drive to Mooloolaba.

Things to do in Brisbane

Outdoors · Historic Sites · Tours · Wildlife

Side Trips

Mooloolaba

— 1 night
Once just a small port at the mouth of Mooloolah River, Mooloolaba is now a hotbed of tourism and a place more than worth adding to your Sunshine Coast itinerary.
On the 4th (Fri), look for all kinds of wild species at Point Cartwright, get a new perspective on things with Boat Tours & Water Sports, and then enjoy the sand and surf at Mooloolaba Beach.

To find more things to do, photos, where to stay, and other tourist information, go to the Mooloolaba road trip tool.

Drive from Brisbane to Mooloolaba in 1.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus; or do a combination of train and bus. In September, daily temperatures in Mooloolaba can reach 27°C, while at night they dip to 15°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 4th (Fri) so you can travel to Port Douglas.

Things to do in Mooloolaba

Parks · Outdoors · Wildlife · Beaches

Port Douglas

— 2 nights
A holiday in Port Douglas balances an activity-filled getaway with plenty of opportunities to relax, thanks to its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef and bustling beach life.
Kick off your visit on the 5th (Sat): explore the gorgeous colors at Opal Reef, hunt for treasures at Sunday Market Port Douglas, then race across the water with Reef Sprinter, and finally take in the exciting artwork at Ngarru Gallery. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the 6th (Sun): indulge in some culinary diversions at Brett's Outback Tasting Adventures.

To find traveler tips, other places to visit, maps, and tourist information, go to the Port Douglas holiday maker tool.

Traveling by flight from Mooloolaba to Port Douglas takes 7 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or do a combination of bus and train. In September, Port Douglas is somewhat warmer than Mooloolaba - with highs of 33°C and lows of 22°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 6th (Sun) to allow enough time to drive to Cairns.

Things to do in Port Douglas

Wildlife · Tours · Outdoors · Wineries

Cairns

— 3 nights

The Gateway to the Great Barrier Reef

A neat, cosmopolitan city of shaded plazas and laid-back neighborhoods, Cairns serves as a popular base for exploration of the surrounding region and the Great Barrier Reef, as well as a center for watersport activities like surfing or waterskiing.
Step off the beaten path and head to Mareeba Heritage Museum and Visitor Information Centre and Kuranda Rainforest Journeys. Venture out of the city with trips to Kuranda (Australian Butterfly Sanctuary & Birdworld Kuranda). Spend the 7th (Mon) among aquatic life with a scuba or snorkeling tour. There's lots more to do: kick back and relax at Trinity Beach, relax and rejuvenate at some of the best spas, and scramble along the landscape with a canyoning and rapelling tour.

To see where to stay, more things to do, reviews, and more tourist information, you can read our Cairns route maker tool.

Drive from Port Douglas to Cairns in 1.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a shuttle; or take a bus. Expect a daytime high around 33°C in September, and nighttime lows around 22°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 9th (Wed) to allow time to travel to Airlie Beach.

Things to do in Cairns

Outdoors · Tours · Wildlife · Parks

Side Trips

Airlie Beach

— 1 night

Gateway to the Whitsundays

Very much a town with an emphasis on the tropical lifestyle, Airlie Beach offers exotic surroundings with palm trees and charming, sandy beaches.
Kick off your visit on the 10th (Thu): take in the pleasant sights at Bicentennial Walkway, paddle through the water with a kayaking and canoeing tour, and then take an unforgettable tour with a helicopter tour.

To find photos, other places to visit, and other tourist information, refer to the Airlie Beach day trip planner.

Getting from Cairns to Airlie Beach by combination of flight and ferry takes about 5 hours. Other options: drive; or take a bus. Expect slightly colder weather when traveling from Cairns in September: highs in Airlie Beach hover around 29°C, while lows dip to 23°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 10th (Thu) early enough to travel back home.

Things to do in Airlie Beach

Tours · Adventure · Outdoors

Sunshine Coast travel guide

4.2
Beaches · Zoos · Gardens
Beaches, sun-drenched streets, and a relaxed ambience are the defining elements of Sunshine Coast, a region just north of Brisbane. Having grown rapidly in the 1960s and 1970s, Sunshine Coast became a popular destination for surfers in particular and has now grown into a well-managed city focused on "green" economic development.