When you’re just passing through the land down under, you may feel disappointed because you can’t stay. Such a popular place demands some sightseeing hours, and a layover is so short.
The good news is you can still squeeze in some tourist activities, even with as short as five hours. Whether your layover is that brief or as much as 24 hours, there is a way to experience a bit of Australia.
Here are the ten best things to do in Australia on a long layover, whether you’re stuck in Sydney, Perth, or anywhere in between.
1. Sydney: Main Attractions
Heading to the city from the airport can take a while. You’ll have to go through customs and then take the train. It’s only about a 20-minute ride, but it’s expensive.
You should arrive back at the airport in time to go through security again. Allow at least 2 hours ahead for an international flight and make sure to check Sydney Airport Departures ahead of time.
This leaves little time for dillydallying, but you’ll have enough time to visit some iconic sights. The Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge are both at Circular Quay. Get something to eat or drink and take in the sights as you stretch your legs with a nice seaside walk.
2. Sydney: Bondi Beach
If you have a little longer to explore Sydney, you could head over to Bondi Beach. Remember the seasons are reversed in the Southern Hemisphere. If you’re there in winter, you’ll have prime beach weather.
The train stop is Bondi Junction, and then it’s better to take a taxi straight to the beach instead of the bus. You’ll find lots of sand to relax on, and plenty to eat. You could also take the ferry to Manly Beach if you have more time.
For less optimal weather, you can find a lot to do indoors. Sydney has museums like the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, and the Australian National Maritime Museum.
3. Sydney: Sea Life
With extra time on a layover, you can explore the harbour a little more. There are tons of delicious restaurants, including in The Rocks neighborhood or at Grounds of Alexandria, a famous coffee shop.
You’d also have time to see the aquarium if you love sea life, with glass-bottom boat rides and shark adventures.
4. Things to Do in Australia: Sydney’s Chinatown
Chinatown is a fun place to explore when you have more than a few hours. There is a Garden of Friendship with beautiful paths that offers a tranquil retreat in the middle of the city. You can also find authentic cuisine from other Asian countries besides China if you’re an adventurous eater.
5. Brisbane: Wildlife Reigns
This city is home to plenty of ways to explore the native wildlife. With Wings Great Barrier Reef Adventures you may have enough time to go snorkelling, boating, or swimming at the Great Barrier Reef if your layover is long enough.
Be sure to avoid scuba diving unless you have at least 24 hours in between your next flight because it can be dangerous to your health. And remember the importance of checking the weather, so read the weather forecast for Brisbane before diving. Explore the aquarium, called UnderWater World, or see koalas at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.
If animals aren’t your thing, check out some more iconic sights like the Story Bridge. You can climb it if you book in advance, or you can take a river ferry cruise for a more laid back view.
6. Melbourne: Golfing
If you’re traveling for business, you’re no stranger to short term rental options. Those options can work for a place to stow your luggage while you explore, even before you get to your final destination. Melbourne also offers SmarteCarte to store your luggage.
Then you’ll be free to book a round of golf at the Airport Golf Club. The course is affordable at around $25 for a round of golf, depending on whether it’s a weekday or weekend. It’s a par-70 course with a full 18 holes, including bunkers and water features.
7. Melbourne: City Center
If you have a short layover, it’s easy to head to the Central Business District on the SkyBus. Round-trip tickets only cost about $25, and you’ll find all kinds of shopping and tourist attractions there.
The Queen Victoria Market, home to events as well as outdoor shopping, is a famous location to check out local produce and artisans. They also host classes and other fun activities.
8. Melbourne: Day or Night at St. Kilda Beach
Visit the beach just outside the city for a little more of an adventure, day or night. For daytime fun, you can lounge on the sand or visit an amusement park. There’s also history to explore and sailing lessons at the Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron.
St. Kilda’s is home to fantastic night spots, too. If your layover is only during nighttime hours, that’s okay. The Secret Garden Bar has house DJs, and the dancing at Big Mouth on Acland Street is well-known. The Vineyard is on the same street and has great food and live bands, as well as fabulous dancing.
9. Perth: Outdoor Exploration
When you’ve been on a long flight, often you want to stretch your legs. This seaside town is a great place to do that, with one of the largest urban parks in the world. Kings Park is huge, with the State War Memorial worth a stroll, along with the botanical gardens.
You may also have time to check out the Queens Gardens in East Perth, or the Swan River (boat tours are available). Any of these options are perfect for getting some exercise and spending a little time outdoors before getting back on an airplane.
10. Outside Perth: A Window Into History
Fremantle is actually outside of Perth, but it’s a picturesque town to explore and full of rich history. There’s plenty of original architecture to take in, along with the maritime museum commemorating this first settlement on the west coast.
You can even rent bikes if you want to peddle your way through the town. With a slower pace, you can stop in at the boutiques and pubs at your leisure.
The Quickest of Trips
No matter which airport you’re flying into, there’s no end of things to do in Australia. Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, and Perth, home to Australia’s largest airports, offer so much in the way of tourist opportunities.
From history to dancing, you can spend your precious few hours out exploring instead of stuck in the airport.
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