15 Best Things To Do in the Gold Coast [2024 Guide]

The Gold Coast, located in South East Queensland, is a renowned tourist destination in Australia. It is famous for its long sandy beaches, iconic surfing spots and elaborate system of inland canals and waterways. The region is also home to theme parks such as Dreamworld and Warner Bros. Movie World, making it an ideal destination for families and thrill-seekers. For nature enthusiasts there is so much to explore in the lush hinterland with its rainforests, waterfalls and hiking trails.

There are so many fun things to do in the Gold Coast, from surfing, paddleboarding, whale watching, hiking and so much more. So, if you’re ready to experience paradise and are looking for the best things to do in the Gold Coast, keep reading to discover it all.

Overview

  1. Relax at one of the Gold Coast’s famous beaches
  2. Visit the famous theme parks like Dreamworld and Warner Bros. Movie World.
  3. Explore Springbrook National Park
  4. Learn to Surf right in the heart of the Gold Coast
  5. Hire a GoBoat to cruise through the canals and waterways
  6. Check out the Wildlife at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
  7. Enjoy panoramic views of the Gold Coast from the iconic Q1 building
  8. Embark on a whale-watching tour during the migration season from June to November
  9. Settle down for sunset with a picnic at Burleigh Heads
  10. Immerse yourself in culture at HOTA (Home of the Arts)
  11. Wake up for a hot air balloon ride
  12. Spend the night glamping in Mount Tamborine
  13. Hit up Miami Marketta for the best night market experience
  14. Coastal walk around Burleigh Heads national park
  15. Enjoy a scenic helicopter ride

If you’re looking to discover the best of this region in a limited time frame then check out our 5 day Gold Coast Itinerary

1. Relax at one of the Gold Coast’s famous beaches

The Gold Coast is famous for it’s pristine white sand beaches and there’s no shortage of options when it comes to finding the perfect spot to roll out your towel and spend a day in the sunshine. Here’s some of our favourite spots:

Rainbow Bay: A beautiful lagoon perfect for a day of swimming and relaxing with a good book.

Burleigh Heads: This stretch of beach in the southern end of the Gold Coast has a laid back vibe with lots of great beachfront cafes and dining options.

Tallebudgera Creek: Just around the headland from Burleigh Heads is Tallebudgera Creek, offering a few beautiful calm spots to lay out your towel or try out stand up paddle boarding.

Snapper Rocks: A surfer’s mecca known for it’s hollow barrels – this is a great spot to perch up and watch some world class waves.

2. Visit the famous theme parks like Dreamworld and Warner Bros. Movie World

Don’t miss the chance to visit the famous Gold Coast theme parks like Dreamworld and Warner Bros. Movie World. These iconic theme parks have something for everyone, thrill seekers will love rollercoasters like the DC Rivals HyperCoaster at Movie World and the Steel Taipan at Dreamworld, but don’t worry there’s still lots of fun to be had for kids and those who like to take things a little slower! We recommend buying tickets online to avoid the queues.

3. Explore Springbrook National Park

Exploring Springbrook National Park is a must for nature enthusiasts. The park, which is less than an hour from central Gold Coast is free to enter and is home to stunning waterfalls, lush rainforests, and breathtaking viewpoints. 

A visit to Cougal Cascades is one of many highlights of the park, offering picturesque rock pools, which are only a short walk to get down to. It’s a great spot to have a little picnic and spend a few hours. If you have time, you can also check out the Currumbin Rock Pools on the way, another beautiful gem in the Currumbin Valley area of Springbrook National Park.

Cougal Cascades
Cougal Cascades in Springbrook National Park
Gold Coast Beach
One of the Gold Coast’s Famous Beaches – Rainbow Bay

4. Learn to surf right in the heart of the Gold Coast

You can learn to surf right in the heart of the Gold Coast with Go Ride A Wave in Broadbeach or Surf Easy in Currumbin Alley. It’s a fantastic opportunity to learn to surf with the help of expert instructors, offering the perfect chance for beginners to catch their first wave. 

Surf at Currumbin Alley
Surfers enjoying beginner waves at Currumbin Alley
Surfers at Currumbin Alley
Surfing lessons with SurfEasy

5. Hire a GoBoat to cruise through the canals and waterways

Renting a GoBoat to cruise through the scenic canals and waterways is one of the most unique things to do in the Gold Coast. These electric picnic boats can accommodate up to 8 people, offering a fun and hassle-free experience as no boat licence is required for hire.

Pick up your favourite snacks and drinks from Harris Farm Markets right next to the boat departure point and then soak in the beautiful surroundings of the canals at your own pace. We recommend booking in advance to secure a time slot, as these experiences can book up quickly, especially on weekends.

Go Boat Experience 1
Picnicing on board a GoBoat is one of the most unique things to do in the Gold Coast
Go Boat Experience 2
Explore the Gold Coast canals without a boat license

6. Check out the Wildlife at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

One of the most quintessentially Australian things to do in the Gold Coast is a visit to the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, one of the best spots in town to get up close with native wildlife in the Currumbin rainforest. You’ll witness spectacular animal shows, hand-feed kangaroos, and even have the chance to cuddle some of the cutest koalas.

If you’re keen to immerse yourself in learning about and appreciating the diverse wildlife that calls Australia home, this is the place to do it.

7. Enjoy panoramic views of the Gold Coast from the iconic Q1 Skypoint

The Q1 is Australia’s tallest residential tower, and it’s definitely worth a visit if you want to witness breathtaking panoramic 360 views of the Gold Coast from its 77th-floor Observation Deck.  

Breathtaking view at the top of Q1
Breathtaking view at the top of Q1
Breathtaking view at the top of Q1 2
One of the most adrenaline pumping things to do in the Gold Coast – the Q1 Skypoint Climb

If you’re an adrenaline junky and looking for a more exhilarating experience, definitely check out the Skypoint Climb, an open-air climb to the top of the building. We recommend booking their golden hour slot to enjoy the epic sunset over the hinterland from the best viewpoint on the Gold Coast.

8. Embark on a whale-watching tour during the migration season from June to November

Embark on an unforgettable whale-watching tour during the migration season from June to November. Companies such as Sea World Whale Watch and Spirit of Gold Coast offer exciting excursions to witness these majestic creatures up close as they journey along the coast. 

If you’re booking the morning tours, we recommend bringing some warmer clothes as it can get a little chilly once you’re out on the water.

9. Settle down for sunset with a picnic at Burleigh Heads 

When it comes to finding things to do in the Gold Coast it doesn’t get much more local than enjoying a sunset with a picnic spread at Burleigh Heads. We suggest arriving a little earlier than sunset hour, as it tends to fill up quickly and finding a good spot can get a bit tricky!

Burleigh Heads Sunset View
Burleigh Heads views across to Surfers Paradise
Picnic view at burleigh
Pack a picnic and head to Burleigh Heads just before sunset

10. Immerse yourself in culture at HOTA (Home of the Arts)

Discover a vibrant cultural experience at HOTA (Home of the Arts), where creativity and entertainment come together. From live performances to contemporary art exhibitions, HOTA offers a compelling space for visitors to connect with artistic expression and cultural experiences.

If you’re looking for the perfect Sunday morning activity, HOTA Farmers Market is also open every Sunday morning from 6am to 11:30am. The market offers a variety of fresh produce, gourmet foods, and artisanal products. It’s a great way to support local producers, pick up some breakfast and enjoy the vibrant community atmosphere.

11. Wake up for a hot air balloon ride

One of the most memorable things to do in the Gold Coast is a sunrise hot-air balloon ride over the coast or hinterland. Choose to go with Go Ballooning Gold Coast where you also have the opportunity to experience a 5 star buffet at one of the most luxurious hotels in the Gold Coast at the Sheraton Grand Mirage or jump on board a ride with Hot Air who offer a beautiful champagne breakfast in a vineyard after their flights. This is one experience that’s worth an early morning wake up!

Picture perfect Experience during Hot Air Balloon
Sunrise ride across the Gold Coast hinterland
Picture Perfect Experience during Hot Air Balloon Ride 2
Hot air ballooning is one of the most memorable things to do in the Gold Coast

12. Spend the night glamping in Mount Tamborine

Enjoy a luxurious outdoor retreat by spending the night glamping in the picturesque rainforests of Mount Tamborine. Cedar Creek Lodges offers a remarkable glamping experience amidst the trees – the perfect opportunity to connect with nature in comfort.

Cedar Creek Lodge Overview
Cedar Creek Lodge glamping tents
Haz and Loz Bonfire at Cedar Creek
Have a fire at your private glamping tent among the rainforest

13. Hit up Miami Marketta for the best night market experience

Experience the vibrant night market atmosphere at Miami Marketta. This cool spot offers international street food stalls, live music, and an artisan market. It’s a great place to hang out and enjoy different flavours and entertainment under the open sky.

Open Thursdays – Saturdays, 5pm to 10pm.

14. Coastal walk around Burleigh Heads National park 

A coastal walk through Burleigh Heads National Park is not to be missed. We recommend the Oceanview Track, a 1.2km one-way walk with the most stunning ocean views. The walk takes around an hour to complete.

You can also continue the walk along the coast to Tallebudgera Creek, just around the headland of the National Park. Tallebudgera creek is also one of the best spots for a swim or paddle board, because of its calm waters.

15. Enjoy a scenic helicopter ride

Taking a scenic helicopter ride with Sea World Helicopters is an incredible way to experience the beauty of the Gold Coast from a whole new perspective. You’ll be treated to breathtaking aerial views of the coastline, hinterland, and iconic landmarks. This experience is well worth it to gain a truly unique perspective of the Gold Coast’s cityscape.

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