Australia is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Some incredible natural wonders and local lifestyles lie outside the cities, with each of the best road trips in Australia offering a one-of-a-kind experience.
Drive by crystal blue waters one day and red earth mountain ranges the next. Every road trip in Australia is unique, from the dramatic cliff sides of the Great Ocean Road to the serene isolation of the Nullarbor Plain.
In a place where the journey is just as good as the destination, here you’ll find a list of the best road trips in Australia. The hardest part is choosing which one to do first…
The Great Ocean Road Drive
Drive distance: 243 km
Recommended days: 2-3 days
From the soaring pillars of the Twelve Apostles to the tree-fern gullies of the Otway National Park, this stunning coastal route is one of the most iconic road trips in Australia. Explore the local scene in charming seaside towns and make time for some unusual stops along the way.
Top tip: An EV is one of the best cars for road trips in Australia, and you’ll find charging stations at some of the top spots on this route, including The Great Ocean Road Brewhouse in Apollo Bay and Port Fairy’s Drift House.
Things to see & do on the Great Ocean Drive
- Go for a hit in Anglesea – The Anglesea Golf Club is one of the most beautiful and immaculately kept in the country. It’s also home to a colony of Eastern Grey kangaroos that’ll leap by as you make your way through the 18-hole course.
- Explore the Otway National Park – Wander through tall mountain forests and discover breathtaking waterfalls. Better yet, stay in a Skypod and wake up to wildlife surrounding you through floor-to-ceiling windows.
- Detour and dine in Melbourne – Melbourne is the perfect starting point and/or detour for this Australian road trip itinerary. Tantalise your taste buds in the CBD with the Middle Eastern flavours of Maha or devour the pretty seasonal plates of Lûmé for a taste of modern Australia.
- Take in the Twelve Apostles – The dramatic rock stacks of the Twelve Apostles are the poster picture for the Great Ocean Road for a reason. Despite the name, there are only eight left standing proud along the shore, with panoramic views of the limestone formations poking up from the rich blue waters.
- Ride a wave at Bells Beach – Known for hosting the annual Rip Curl Pro event, this internationally famous beach is a great place to watch local surfers (if you’re not game to ride a wave yourself).
The Tasmanian East Coast Drive
Drive distance: 300km
Recommended days: 5 days
Heading to Tassie? One of the best road trips in Australia stretches between Hobart and the Bay of Fires. See rare Tasmanian devils in Bicheno and indulge in local seafood and wine as you explore the splendours of the stunning East Coast.
Things to see & do on the Tasmanian East Coast drive
- Visit the local wineries – Sample the signature pinot noir and riesling at Milton Vineyard before spending the night in a beach chalet overlooking Great Oyster Bay.
- Explore the Freycinet National Park – Take in the breathtaking views on a hike to Wineglass Bay in the morning and then cool off with a snorkel in the afternoon (packing swimmers is a must for any road trip in Australia).
- Walk between Shelly Beach – A flat route the whole family can enjoy, surrounded by scenery the east coast of Tasmania is known for.
- Go fishing with the locals at St Helens – George’s Bay is the perfect place to cast lures for salmon, kingfish or bait fish. Or if oysters are more your thing, head to Lease 65 for the best roadside stop you’ll ever make.
- Cruise around the Bay of Fires – Hop aboard a boat and view the remarkable orange boulders from the crystal blue waters, with whales, sea lions and dolphins ready to spot in winter. Cap off your trip with a beachfront stay at the Belle Vue Beach House.
The Nullarbor Plain Adventure
Drive distance: 1,200km
Recommended days: 6 days
This incredible Australian road trip itinerary takes you through the vast and unforgiving Nullarbor Plain, where you’ll experience some of the most spectacular (and isolated) scenery imaginable. Make sure to factor in your fuel stops to cover the distance smoothly and make stopping at the Nullabor Roadhouse a priority.
Things to see & do on the Nullarbor Plain Adventure
- Take a dip at Cactus Beach – Swim in the Great Australian Bite and soak in the tranquillity. Camp nearby for as little as $15 per person per night at Point Sinclair Camp and wake to see the secluded beach serve up one of the best surf breaks in the country.
- Watch whales off the coast of Bunda Cliffs – The edge of Australia has five main lookouts for spotting whales off the coast, so if you’re visiting in winter, it’s a must-do.
- Play golf at the Nullarbor Links – Stretching 1,365km, the world’s longest golf course will keep you well entertained as you tackle one of the best road trips in Australia. The holes take you through the likes of Ceduna, Eucla, Norseman, Kambalda and Kalgoorlie.
- See the Koonalda and Murrawijinie caves – Cast your eyes over ancient Indigenous art and ochre hand stencils found at these prehistoric sites.
- Visit the Eyre Bird Observatory in Cocklebiddy – Pack your binoculars and head off the beaten track to discover the historic bird observatory run by volunteers. A 4WD is a must for reaching this restful place of solitude, where you can stay overnight and enjoy the serenity.
Alice Springs to Darwin Drive
Drive distance: 1,500km
Recommended days: 6 days
From the bustling outback town of Alice Springs to the tropical city of Darwin, the journey through the red centre of the Northern Territory is undeniably one of best road trips in Australia. Tick iconic Uluru off your bucket list while experiencing the country’s dry, dusty, famed outback.
Things to see & do on an Alice Springs to Darwin Drive
- Dive into the best swim spots in Katherine Gorge – Find sweet relief from the heat by plunging into Edith Falls. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, stop by the town of Katherine for a bite to eat.
- Mataranka Springs Thermal Pool – Relax in the warm jade and emerald waters of this famous, sandy-bottomed paradise. Afterwards, stop in at the Stockyard Gallery to browse local aboriginal art and pick up an iced coffee from the cafe.
- Wycliffe Well – Fascinated by the thought of alien life? Known as the UFO capital of Australia, Wycliffe Well is said to have had the most sightings and visits in the country. Its cafe is decked out with news clippings and sighting stories from over the years.
- Uluru – Make the most of your Uluru visit by staying at Longitude 131. With views of the famous landmark, you can look out across the desert and watch the colours of its rugged ochre walls change with the sunlight.
- Kings Canyon Hike – Australia’s answer to the Grand Canyon, this 6km trail winds through layered orange rocks with 300-metre-high ledges and breathtaking viewpoints.
Cairns to Cape York Road Trip
Drive distance: 1,400km
Recommended days: 6-7 days
The Cairns to Cape York road trip is one of Australia’s most adventurous and rewarding journeys. If you want to get your wheels covered in red dirt before bathing under croc-free cascades, this is the best Australian road trip.
Things to see & do on the Cairns to Cape York Road Trip
- Drink coffee at the coffee capital of Australia, Mareeba – Visit the region responsible for 70% of Australia’s coffee crop and stop in at Skybury to try the local brew (and take some beans home).
- Indulge in the coastal resort town of Port Douglas – Relax and rejuvenate in a private lagoon suite at Peppers Beach Club before dinner at the divine Melaleuca. Explore the nearby rainforest and Mossman Gorge the next morning.
- Wander through Cooktown Botanic Gardens – Queensland’s oldest regional gardens put on an impressive showcase of rare and threatened plants. Take a wander before stopping at the nearby Nature’s Powerhouse for coffee and cake.
- Dip in the Coen River – Jump into the shallow waters of the Coen River to refresh before heading to The Exchange for a cold beer with the locals. The Bend campsite offers a free night’s stay just a few kilometres down the road.
- Visit The Tip – Keep driving until you hit the most northern point of Australia, and take a photo with the sign so you’ll always remember the tale.
The Great Alpine Road Drive
Drive distance: 340km
Recommended days: 1-2 day
For those looking for a quick adventure, The Great Alpine Road Drive is the Australian road trip itinerary for you. If you’re short on time, you can do the entire thing in one day or stop often to explore the quaint towns, historic sites and snow-capped mountains along the way.
Things to see & do during the Great Alpine Road Drive
- Begin with brunch overlooking the Ovens River – Utilise the path that runs by the Ovens River in Wangaratta for a morning walk before a scenic brunch at Cafe the PreVue.
- Visit a winery in Milawa – Experience the best of the King Valley wineries by stopping into Brown Brothers at Milawa. Pick up a bottle of their popular prosecco and then head to the Milawa Cheese Company for some gourmet accompaniments.
- Dine and stay in Myrtleford – For those taking the trip leisurely, the picturesque town of Myrtleford is the perfect place to rest your head overnight. Motel on Alpine is a great central option, just a two-minute drive from the delicious woodfired pizza at Bastoni.
Mount Buffalo National Park – Snow-capped in the winter and a natural playground in the summer, choose one of the 20-minute walking tracks to tackle or take in the magnificent views from the cliffside lookouts.
Departing On a Road Trip from Sydney?
Sydney provides a great starting point for many Australian road trip itineraries. Why fly when you can duck off the highway and wander through charming towns, stop in at some incredible cafes or hike to hidden hot springs?
A drive from Sydney can easily connect you to other major cities in Queensland and Victoria, with some of the best road trips in Australia found in between.
A Sydney to Melbourne Drive
Spot whales in the wild one day and drive to a snow-covered mountain the next. A Sydney to Melbourne road trip itinerary covers an epic part of mainland Australia, with plenty of top foodie spots, hikes and natural wonders found between our two largest cities.
A Sydney to Brisbane Drive
There’s a reason this Australian road trip is famous. Cruise along a comfortable highway with easy detours to the wine region of the Hunter Valley and the lively yet laid-back coastal town of Byron Bay. The Sydney to Brisbane drive is flexible and loads of fun.
The Grand Pacific Drive
It sounds spectacular, and it is spectacular. The Grand Pacific Drive takes you past some of the most stunning coastal scenery in the country. Put the top down as you cruise down roads that hug the cliffside and take advantage of historical villages with top-notch cafe stops along the way.
The Greater Blue Mountains Drive
Explore the incredible beauty of inland New South Wales with a drive through the ancient mountain range and valleys of the Greater Blue Mountains. Ideal for hikers and nature enthusiasts, you’ll be truly spoiled for choice with walking trails, waterfalls and lookouts.
Day Trips from Sydney
Hiring a car in Sydney also gives you the freedom to embark on some spectacular day trips. Explore hidden spots in the National Park, go cave hunting in Wombeyan or try paddleboarding in Port Stephens. There are plenty of Sydney day trips by car to suit every kind of traveller.
Embark On a Journey to Remember With SIXT
So there you have it! Whether you’re looking for adventure, relaxation or simply want to take in the beautiful scenery, there’s an Australian road trip itinerary for everyone.
Ready to hit the road? Why not rent a vehicle with SIXT?
Whether you need room for the whole crew with an SUV or something small for just the two of you, our friendly team can help you find the best car for your road trip in Australia. Try our EV range and get to know the eco-friendly future of motoring, or make your journey that extra bit special with a luxury option.
Once you’ve decided which of the best road trips in Australia you’re keen to tackle, search your dates in our booking system for the best availability and rates.
SIXT has more than 160 locations Australia-wide, including offices in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide. So wherever you’re planning on starting your Aussie adventure, our vehicles and optional extras will help make hitting the road a breeze.