Gold Coast 5 day itinerary

If you like your beaches golden, theme parks big and your food delicious, then the Gold Coast will deliver in spades.

Explore the Gold Coast

Here's how to get the most out of five days on the Gold Coast.

5 days
1Broadbeach
The Star pools, Gold Coast, Australia.

This hip, emerging beachside suburb is a good place to start an exploration of the Coast.

Things to see and do in Broadbeach

  • Get a bird's eye view from the balcony of your room at Peppers Gold Coast, which has some of the best vantage points in the city
  • Fancy a flutter? Jupiters Casino has morphed into The Star Gold Coast and along with the usual gaming machines there are new restaurants, a refurbished pool area and the Gold Coast's first six-star hotel
  • Spend up large at the expanded Pacific Fair which has more than 400 international and local stores to relieve you of your cash, as well as two huge food court areas
  • Take a Wyndham Cruise along some of the city's 400km of man-made canals to see how many on the Gold Coast live

Shop, eat and drink      

  • Start the day with breakfast and a fantastic coffee at Elk Espresso, one of the Coast's most iconic breakfast eateries
  • Take your pick for lunch from The Star Gold Coast's six eateries - from Japanese and Italian to the more relaxed Garden Kitchen & Bar where you can sit on the veranda and be fanned by the sea breeze
  • For the best Japanese food in the coolest setting, Etsu Izakaya hits the spot. There's no signage and it's cleverly hidden behind a huge wooden door
2Theme parks
Girl in tutu with balloons, Dreamworld, Gold Coast, Australia.

You can't come to the Gold Coast and not visit at least one theme park. You won't be able to do them all in one day but if time is limited, try one of the Big Five.

Things to see and do at the Coast's theme parks

  • At Dreamworld, Australia's largest theme park, check out everything from the tigers to the highest inversion roller-coaster in the Southern Hemisphere
  • Get wet at WhiteWater World, where a range of pools and slides will keep you entertained for hours. Surf lessons are also available
  • Sea World's mix of thrill rides and creatures of the deep - from sharks and penguins to polar bears and stingrays - will mesmerise young and old
  • Check out movie-themed rides at Warner Bros Movie World, Australia's only movie-related theme park, and then watch film-makers in action
  • Shoot down a water slide at 60km an hour, or drop 30m into a pool at the appropriately named Wet'n'Wild
    3Burleigh Heads
    Burleigh Heads, Gold Coast, Australia.

    Famous for its world-acclaimed surf, Burleigh Heads will give you a day of action-packed activities, before feeding and watering you in style. 

    Things to see and do in Burleigh Heads

    • Go for a walk through the Burleigh Headland National Park trail and check out the panoramic views from Tumgum lookout (time your visit at night to see the fire flies)
    • Try something different with stand-up paddle board yoga on the beautiful Tallebudgera Creek
    • Take to the air with a helicopter ride over the southern Gold Coast beaches
    • Check out the cool homeware stores and hip boutiques along James Street
    • Take a Segway tour around Currumbin Wildllife Sanctuary before cuddling arguably Australia's cutest marsupial, a koala

    Shop, eat and drink

    • Have breakfast at Paddock Bakery, housed in a gracious old villa. If you can, nab a seat outside and don't leave without trying the organic wood-fired bread or delicious Portuguese custard tarts. And for lunch stop in at Rick Shores, right on the beach, where you can watch the surf lifeguards in action while you eat
    • Book a table at Justin Lane Establishment, where the views from the roof-top bar compete with the stunning modern Italian cuisine
    • There's a reason micro-breweries such as Burleigh Brewing and Balter are popular - not only can the public sample the wares, there's also an ever-changing array of live music and food trucks on site
    • Time your visit for a Wednesday, Friday or Saturday night, when Miami Marketta, which features a range of tempting food trucks, will deal to your hunger (along with live music and stalls)
      4The Hinterland
      Hinterland valley, Gold Coast, Australia.

      It's not called the 'green behind the gold' for nothing. This slither of lush tropical rainforest is a world away from the beaches and glitz of the Coast.

      Things to see and do in the Hinterland

      • Channel your inner Tarzan as you zip-line through the trees at the TreeTop Challenge atop Mt Tamborine
      • If you like your challenges a little tamer, then take the 1.5km gentle walk at the Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk which covers forest floor trails among native flora and fauna as well as a cantilever bridge above Cedar Creek
      • Visit Tamborine Mountain National Park, Queensland's oldest national park and the third oldest in the world, which consists of several sections, including the Witches Falls Section, which includes grassy picnic areas
      • If you have time for only one walk, make it the Curtis Falls walk. It's a gentle 1km return route and you'll get to see the stunning Curtis Falls
      • Buckle up for a half-day Southern Cross 4WD tour, where you'll wind your way up Tamborine Mountain on the road less travelled

      Shop, eat and drink

      • Pop into the Curtis Falls Corner shopping precinct to fossick among the many craft and vintage stores. And Gallery Walk's range of tea houses, European-inspired cafes and locally made produce - including the delicious fudge - won't disappoint
      • O'Reilly's Vineyards at Canungra Valley is a spectacular 1859 homestead where you can sample and buy their delicious wines. They're well known for their picnic lunches which you can enjoy next to the Canungra Creek (look out for the resident platypus family)
      • Fuel up at one of the many artisan wineries or cheese makers, such as the Witches Chase Cheese Company whose range of dips, cheese and pates will satisfy every palette
        5Coolangatta
        Humpback whale, Gold Coast, Australia.

        Once you hit the iconic beachside suburb of Coolangatta, you're at the very tip of Queensland - in fact, at the Point Danger Lookout, you can literally have a foot in both Queensland and New South Wales.

        Things to see and do in Coolangatta

        • You can't come to 'Coolie' and not try your hand at surfing. Whether you're a newbie or an experienced surfer, you'll find your sweet spot here
        • Walk around Greenmount Hill which connects Greenmount Beach to Rainbow Bay. If you're feeling energetic, you can also walk up the hill to the exotically named Point Danger. Don't forget to look out for whales
        • For a closer look at these majestic mammals, head out to the Nine Mile Reef, off Tweed Heads, where you'll be able to spot leopard sharks in summer and grey nurse sharks in winter

        Shop, eat and drink

        • If your visit coincides with the second Sunday of the month, the Coolangatta Art and Craft Markets are worth checking out. With more than 150 stalls of locally made crafts, fresh produce, preserves, cookies and cakes there's something for everyone
        • Named after the world-class surf break Duranbah, Cafe Dbar has some of the best views on the coast. And the food - from Karaage calamari to honey roasted veggie salads - will haunt your taste-buds long after you've left
        • The Strand shopping centre offers a range of shopping, entertainment and foodie options, including Beach Burrito's fast but healthy Mexican-style food. Just don't leave without trying the decadent churros for dessert

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