Five of the best day trips from the Gold Coast

Girraween National Park

Jenna Meade

Posted November 14, 2019

Buckle up. There’s more paradise in store beyond the Goldy.

Got your fix of sparkling waters, rollercoasters and cocktails? As well as being the perfect place to soak up the sun, the Gold Coast is an ideal base for day trips.

Whether you’re in the mood for hiking, wining and dining or bohemian boutiques, there’s a world of adventure awaiting beyond the bright lights and skyscrapers.

So grab the keys, hit the road - and don’t worry, you’ll be back on the coast in time for happy hour.

Best day trips from the Gold Coast

Brunswick Heads

Chances are you’ve been to Byron Bay. So this time, take the easy hour’s drive and explore its chilled little sister.

Dotted with hip cafes and bohemian boutiques, Brunswick Heads is geographically destined for beauty with a beach where the bush meets the sea. 

Wander the cute streets in search of locally made trinkets to treasure, trek to the Nature Reserve or hire a kayak for an up-close look at the Brunswick River. Top off the afternoon with a beer and live music at Hotel Brunswick.

Tamborine Mountain 

Known as the green behind the gold, this is the day-trip destination for when you want to change down a gear. Think ancient green rainforest, a cooler climate, an abundance of wildlife and showstopping views - just 40 minutes down the road.

Choose a walk or hike throughout Tamborine National Park, or check out the 11 hectares of lush greenery at the Tamborine Mountain Botanic Gardens.

If you can stick around until sunset, Hang Glider Lookout is the prime position to salute the end of the day while taking in the sweeping views of the Scenic Rim and Great Dividing Ranges.


Head here for your contemporary and culinary fix. A quick hour’s drive up the highway will land you in the thick of rooftop bars, open-air cinemas and one of Australia’s strongest restaurant scenes. 

Laidback West End is a sure bet for weekday markets, organic food cafes and live music venues for those enticed to stay a little longer.

Be sure to set aside a couple of hours to wander the banks of the Brisbane River, popping in for a swim at the impressive man-made beach to cool off.

Farm gate
Cool off away from the ocean
Eat Street markets
Spring blossom
Tasting plate, Granite Belt Wine Country

Granite Belt

Strap yourself in and escape to the high country and its burgeoning wine region.

There’s more than 30 wineries waiting just three hours’ drive from the coast. Sign up for a tour so you can safely sample your way through the offerings, or drop into the cellar doors at your leisure.

Stop off at distilleries, dairies and orchards along your drive, with passionate artisans ready to serve up hand-made cheeses, vinegars, olives, preserves, jams and chutneys.

There are lavender fields, bike trails and walking tracks for the adventurous, including roads to refreshing waterholes nestled among granite boulders in the Girraween National Park.

North Stradbroke Island

Simply ‘Straddie’ to the locals, this island paradise is easily reached via a 25-minute passenger ferry ride from Cleveland.

Take your pick between gallery hopping, whale watching or eating and drinking your way around the extensive list of cafes, restaurants and bars.

The island is a natural playground for beach-lovers. Stick to the patrolled beaches of Main and Cylinder if you’re keen for a dip. And surfers, be sure to take your board to conquer some of the country’s best beach breaks. 

For those staying on dry land, take the easy 1.2-kilometre track along the North Gorge Walk at Point Lookout. You’ll be treated to a spectacular outlook across a 32-kilometre stretch of white sandy beach.

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