- 3 days
Brisbane is one of Australia’s most captivating destinations, with its waterfront parks, renowned art scene, and prime location for exploring sunny Queensland’s beaches, hinterlands, and islands. From hiking in the rainforest to cruising along the coast, here are our favorite day trip tours from Brisbane.
Gold Coast — 49 miles (79 km) south
Gold Coast is a city built on a bedrock of sun and surf, and this veritable playground offers no shortage of fun for the whole family. Take a full-day tour to spend a day swimming and sunbathing along the area’s beautiful beaches; treat the kids—and your inner kid—at theme parks like Dreamworld, Sea World Gold Coast, and Warner Bros. Movie World; take a surf lesson in Surfers Paradise; or escape the coast and take a hike in the Gold Coast hinterland.
Australia Zoo — 52 miles (78 km) northeast
You’ll need a full-day tour to take in all the attractions at the Australia Zoo, home of the late Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin. At the world-famous zoo you can visit its hundreds of animal residents, including kangaroos, koalas, dingoes, Tasmanian devils, and, of course, crocodiles.
Moreton Island — 52 miles (84 km) northeast
Discover the third-largest sand island in the world, Moreton Island, where popular activities include stand-up paddleboarding (SUP), snorkeling, sea kayaking, and beach Segway tours. Set sail on a Moreton Island day trip by luxury ferry and spend the day relaxing at the Tangalooma Island Resort, scuba diving at the Tangalooma Wrecks, or sandboarding in “the Desert.”
Stradbroke Island — 56 miles (90 km) east
The largest of the many islands between Brisbane and the Gold Coast, Stradbroke Island—or Straddie, as it’s known to locals—is an idyllic retreat and just a short boat ride from Brisbane. Take a scenic cruise through the dolphin-filled waters of Moreton Bay to North Stradbroke Island, where you can hike through the bush, explore miles of white-sand beaches and swimming lakes, and visit the towns of Dunwich and Amity.
The Sunshine Coast — 65 miles (105 km) north
Head north of Brisbane to discover the sandy beaches and dramatic dunes of the Sunshine Coast. A full-day sightseeing tour leaves enough time to visit the popular beach resort of Noosa, browse the stalls at the famous Eumundi Markets, tour the world’s largest ginger factory, and admire the natural wonders of Great Sandy National Park.
Lamington National Park — 65 miles (105 km) south
With an incredible 50,900 acres (20,600 hectares) of woodlands, rainforests, and mountains, the UNESCO World Heritage–listed Lamington National Park is one of Queensland’s most remarkable natural landscapes and it’s the ideal escape from city life. Take a day tour of the national park from Brisbane, and enjoy highlights like the views from Mt. Tamborine and the thrilling treetop canopy walk at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat.
Springbrook National Park — 65 miles (105 km) south
Explore the wild landscapes of Australia’s Gondwana Rainforests in Springbrook National Park, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Opt for a full-day tour from Brisbane and also see the waterfalls and glowworm caves of neighboring Tambourine National Park.