An Epic 5-Day Gold Coast Itinerary: From Hinterlands to Sands

The Gold Coast is one of Australia’s favourite holiday destinations, the coastal city where glistening skyscrapers straddle sparkling surfable coastlines. But there’s so much more to the Goldie than Surfers Paradise – from stunning seaside eateries to luscious rainforest hikes, this pristine region has something for everyone.

Here’s how to experience the best of the Gold Coast highlights in one epic five-day itinerary.

Day 1: Burleigh Beach (The start of your Gold Coast itinerary)

To get around the Gold Coast we definitely recommend hiring a rental car upon touching down at Gold Coast or Brisbane Airport. Public transport is scarce outside the city, so you’ll need wheels to explore everything this Gold Coast itinerary has to offer.

Start your time in the Gold Coast with a walk through Burleigh National Park. We recommend the Ocean View track which is 1.2 km one way and will take you around an hour for a round trip. This is the perfect way to get your bearings and a sense of what this region is all about while meandering along its lush tree-fringed boardwalks which offer sweeping coastal views.

Head to The Tropic right by the National Park for a delicious lunch with a view of the iconic Gold Coast beaches and skyscrapers (do not go past the puffed spiced bread here!). After lunch walk down to the beach for a dip and to soak up some sun.

We highly recommend spending sunset at the top of Burleigh Hill. Make sure to arrive a little before sunset as it can get busy here, lay out a towel and BYO drinks and snacks for a beautiful evening to round the first day of your Gold Coast itinerary!

Accommodation

Bujerum Holiday Apartments offers spacious beachfront digs an easy walk from The Tropic and Burleigh Hill, they also offer secure parking when you stay here which is a huge win in the GC. Another great option nearby is the beautifully renovated self contained apartments at Crystal Pacific Palm Beach.

Sunset from Burleigh Hill is the ideal way to start your Gold Coast itinerary

Day 2: Palm Beach & Currumbin

Enjoy an early morning stand-up paddleboard or yoga session at Tallebudgera Creek. Running between Palm Beach and Burleigh National Park, this crystal clear marine estuary is ideal for both relaxation and water sports.

If you’re up for something a little more action packed then a surf lesson down the road in Currumbin with the legends at Surf Easy is so much fun, it’s a family owned business and they will make sure you feel really comfortable in the water.

Tallebudgera Creek paddleboarding

If you’re looking for a more tranquil start to your day then drive 20 minutes inland to The Bathhouse At Ground, where they offer spa services, cold baths and saunas in a beautiful setting among the rain forest.

For lunch we highly recommend Pasture & Co. next door to the bathhouse for a nourishing and delicious meal, everything on the menu is organic here!

Spend the afternoon further within the hinterlands at the Currumbin Rockpools or Cougal Cascades before heading back east for the evening.

Swimming at Cougal Cascades
Sunset views from Burleigh Heads

After a big day exploring check out Balboa Italian by the coast, for some authentic Italian pizza and pasta in Palm Beach—the beef cheek gnocchi is delicious and definitely don’t pass up the chocolate soufflé for dessert.

Day 3: Palm Beach to the Hinterlands (the middle of your Gold Coast itinerary)

If heights don’t frighten you, kick start your day with a vertigo-inducing Q1 Skypoint Climb. As Australia’s highest external building summit, this breathtaking open-air adventure was a real highlight of our trip here and gives you some of the best views in town. There is nothing better than starting the day conquering some fears.

Another way to experience the Gold Coast from above is with a scenic coastal helicopter flight, this is a really popular way to take in the expansive coastline of this region and well worth the price tag.

If you’d prefer to stick to ground level then a Jet Ski tour is another great option, it is such a fun experience enjoying the stunning Gold Coast waterways while getting your heart rate up!

Views from the Q1 SkyPoint Climb

For a more leisurely nautical experience, hire an electric picnic boat and cruise around the city’s canals. You can BYO lunch for a delicious picnic with million-dollar views (we picked up our picnic supplies at the food market in the Capri on Via Roma precinct which is right by the boat pick up location).

Picnicing on a GoBoat in the GC estuaries

Now it’s time to head for the hills—Tamborine Mountain, to be precise. Spend the afternoon sipping delicious local wines and ciders at Witches Falls Winery in the lush Gold Coast hinterland.

Accomodation

No need to drive back down the mountain to the coast as there are some incredible accomodation options right in the hinterlands. We stayed in a woodland glamping tent at Cedar Creek Lodge and woke up amid misty rainforest scenes, it was such a memorable stay!  

Enjoying wines at Witches Falls
Cedar Creek Lodge glamping

Day 4: Tamborine Mountain to Lamington National Park

Wake up before dawn for an unforgettable sunrise hot air balloon ride. Soaring above the Gold Coast Hinterlands, this serene experience gives you the chance to look over the hinterland landscapes as the sun’s first rays peek over the horizon. If there’s one thing not to miss in your Gold Coast itinerary – this is it!

Upon touching down, enjoy a complimentary cooked breakfast—think pastries, bacon and eggs, fresh juices, cereals, and fruit—with a glass of sparkling at O’Reilly’s Vineyards. We highly recommend taking a stroll to pat the fluffy alpacas they keep on the property!

Choose to spend the afternoon back near Cedar Creek Lodges at the cascading Cedar Creek Falls, it’s around a 1km easy return walk from the carpark here to take a dip in the refreshing rockpools.

Alternatively, a 40-minute drive from O’Reilly’s lies Lamington National Park, where pristine Gondwana rainforest unravels across the rugged McPherson Range. This vast natural wonderland has awe-inspiring trails for hikers of all abilities. Walk the Caves Circuit to explore rocky caverns or the Moran Falls Trail for a thundering 80-metre cascade. Both walks are about 5km.

Accomodation

Depending on how you want to spend your afternoon you can either extend for another night at Cedar Creek Lodge or stay closer to Lamington National Park at Binna Burra Lodge, a stunning rainforest retreat overlooking the Park. Alternatively, O’Rielly’s Rainforest Retreat offers equally beautiful accommodation on the Moran Falls side of Lamington National Park.

Swimming at Cedar Creek Falls

Day 5: Back to the Gold Coast (End of your Gold Coast Itinerary)

Hop in your rental and cruise back to Gold Coast Airport for your flight home. If time permits, stop by the lofty hilltop town of Canungra for a cuppa en route or head back to the coast for a final seaside lunch at Siblings Kirra to round out your Gold Coast itinerary.

From tranquil canal cruises to stunning hot air balloon rides, this five-day Gold Coast itinerary brings you the best of South East Queensland. We hope you have a wonderful time exploring on of Australia’s most sought-after holiday destinations!

When to Visit the Gold Coast

With over 300 days of sunshine per year the Gold Coast is blessed with some amazing weather but the best time to visit the Gold Coast is between March – May, when the weather is still warm but the humidity has dropped off. Our recommended Gold Coast Itinerary includes quite a bit of time outdoors – so keep this in mind if looking to book for summer (when humidity is higher) or during winter (when temperatures drop off).

How to Get to the Gold Coast

There are two major airports near the Gold Coast. Centrally located is the Gold Coast International Airport which will take you right into the action. Alternatively, if you can’t get a flight directly into the GC then arriving to Brisbane Airport is also an option, hire a car to make your way down to the Gold Coast. It takes around an hour and a half, depending on traffic.

 Getting Around the Gold Coast

The best way to get around the Gold Coast is with a car. You can easily hire a rental car from both the Gold Coast and Brisbane airports. Parking can be tricky in some areas around the coast so just be sure to factor this in to your transit times! This Gold Coast itinerary requires a car to complete.

Share this article:

– read more –

Related stories