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While Sydney encourages you to dig a little deeper to uncover its sensitive soul and Melbourne likes to get all arty on you, the Gold Coast makes no such requests. And when you’re as pretty as the Gold Coast, skin-deep is really the only level you need.

Granted, the Gold Coast has the scenic vistas of Tamborine Mountain and The Hinterlands, but that’s not why you really came here. The city’s hedonistic pleasures are out, proud and on display, which is why you never have to look far on the Gold Coast for beauty, excitement or fun.

You, like everyone else, came here to push through crowds of sun-bronzed bodies for a spot on the golden sands of Surfers Paradise, to gamble away your savings at Broadbeach and visit The Spit to swap the real ocean for a fake one with rollercoasters.

When you get home you can always lie and say the Gold Coast was too brash and commercial for your liking and you want something a bit more cultured for your next homegrown holiday – just make sure all those souvenir photographs from Movie World and Dracula’s are hidden safely inside their protective envelopes.

Gold Cost's Top 10

10. Q1 It’s not like the Gold Coast is lacking in high rises, but only one of them has 77 floors and one of the fastest lifts in the world.

5. Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary Climb the treetops rope course, watch a free-flight bird show and cuddle a koala – you don’t have to buy the cheesy t-shirt.

9. Thunderbird Park Tamborine Mountain’s geographical oasis combines inspiring landscapes with wood-fired pizza and laser tag.

4. Warner Bros. Movie World The highlight of the Gold Coast’s only all-weather theme park is the $10m Hollywood Stunt Driver Show. This part you can’t participate in.

8. Lamington National Park A short distance from the Gold Coast but a world away from its highways and high rises is the largest preserved subtropical rainforest in the country.

3. Wet ’n’ Wild Water Park Australia’s largest water theme park might be heated in winter, but this isn’t a day spa – the Sea Viper has a triple loop-the-loop track.

7. Tamborine Mountain Distillery The two perfect antidotes to the Gold Coast’s chaos are tranquil mountain scenery and over 70 types of booze.

2. Dreamworld It sounds rather tranquil, but Dreamworld is home to the Gold Coast’s biggest, fastest and most thrilling rides.

6. Canungra Valley Vineyards The simple pleasures of life are an urban myth in the heart of the Gold Coast residents, so make the time to get out of the city and indulge them.

1. SeaWorld This theme park has rides, shows, and is probably the only place in the Gold Coast where you may actually want to encounter a shark. Fantastic family fun!

Gold Coast History

  • Mermaid Beach – This suburb of the Gold Coast is named after the cutter HMS Mermaid sailed by John Oxley in 1823.
  • Kirra Surf Club – This club was established in 1916 by Kirra residents.
  • Pink Poodle Motel – This motel's neon sign is a Gold Coast landmark that was originally constructed in the 1960s.
  • Marineland – A theme park, originally called Seaquarium, is an innovator in marine animal rescue and research procedures.
  • Mermaid Beach Surf Life Saving Club – Established after World War II.

Gold Coast Art & Culture

  • Somerset Celebration of Literature – The Gold Coast’s five-day annual writers festival in March.
  • Wintersun Festival – This is the largest annual Nostalgia Festival in Australia showcasing the lifestyle of the 1950s and ’60s.
  • In the Bin Short Film Festival – The largest traveling festival in Australia in which filmmakers can showcase and expand their work.
  • Gold Coast City Gallery – This Gallery showcases the City Collection housing contemporary and historical pieces.
  • O’Reilly’s Canungra Valley Vineyards – A great spot for picnics, group outings, weddings and more in the Gold Coast’s Hinterland

Gold Coast Shopping

  • Q-Super Centre – An open-air mail in Mermaid Waters with three major supermarkets and all the dining options you could want.
  • Australia Fair – A multi-level shopping centre with 230-plus specialty stores in Southport.
  • Robina Town Centre – Home to a 900-seat, air-conditioned food atrium and tons of shopping.
  • Art and Craft Markets – More than 200 arts and crafts markets on the Broadbeach, Burleigh Heads and Coolangatta beach fronts.
  • Australian Opal Cutters – Extensive collection of Australian opals, pearls and other precious jewels.

Gay & Lesbian Gold Coast

  • Gold Coast Gay Day – Live entertainment, networking and big-time fun for gays.
  • Escape Bar – Gold Coast’s premier GLBT club.
  • Gold Coast Exchange – Have you seen the Gold Coast’s gay and lesbian free classified ads?
  • Atrium Resort – A GLBT-friendly hotel just 15 minutes from Wet-n-Wild, Movieworld and
  • Seaworld.
  • Dreamworld Theme Park – Have a fun time checking out the Screaming Queens drag show.

Gold Coast Outdoor

  • Byron Bay Skydiving Centre – Take in the wonderful view of Cape Byron while freefalling 14,000 feet.
  • Extreme Jet Ski Hire – Embark on an adventurous jet ski tour of Broadwalk.
  • Thunderbird Park – Ride horses, bushwalk or hunt for gems on Tamborine Mountain.
  • Currumbin Sanctuary Wildnight Adventure – Ride a train through the rainforest on the hottest night-time wildlife tour.
  • Balloon Down Under – Take a ride over Surfers Paradise, the rainforest and waterfalls.

Gold Coast Sport

  • Mt Warren Lanes – Bowl with friends and family.
  • Southport Yacht Club – The Gold Coast’s premier boating club.
  • Bai Rui Taekwon-do – Learn to defend yourself and develop self-discipline with classes.
  • International Tennis Academy Gold Coast – Get picked to work on your tennis skills.
  • Gold Coast Country Club – Take a gander at these 18 challenging holes.

Gold Cost Local

Surfers Paradise is the drawcard for anyone who wants the full rowdy, gaudy Gold Coast experience, but the city does have neighbourhoods that offer a little respite along with their magnificent beaches.

Southport

One of the region’s original destinations, Southport is the quintessential Gold Coast combination of golden sands, monstrous shopping complexes and fake palm trees. Suck it up and embrace it, because Southport also contains some of the Gold Coast’s best attractions.

SeaWorld is located on the Southport Spit, a permanent sand spit separating the Pacific Ocean and Southport’s oddly calm beaches of Broadwater. The sprawling Australia Fair shopping complex is a great place for chain store shopping you could do anywhere else in the Western world, while chic Marina Mirage’s award-winning boutiques and cafes are the exact opposite.

Main Beach

This is where the Gold Coast glitterati sip flat whites at the trendy café corridor of Tedder Avenue and pretend they’re better off than everyone crammed into the surrounding suburbs of Surfers Paradise. In some ways, though, they’re right – while Main Beach is the Gold Coast’s foremost surf beach, it is less crowded in comparison. The area also boasts the somewhat secluded greenery of Federation Walk, and while you can’t just go wandering around the exclusive six-star Palazzo Versace, you can emulate status at the über-trendy Domanis Café Restaurant Bar.

Surfers Paradise

Busy beaches, bustling nightlife, bikini-clad meter maids – this is the Gold Coast that Sydney and Melbourne want to be too cool for but end up being seduced by. Get your bearings via a 360-degree view from the SkyPoint Observation Deck before heading down to fight for a spot to lay your towel at the overdeveloped beach. If you can’t get one, you can always spend 40 minutes tripping out among the lights and lasers in the maze-like Infinity, or just sip a cocktail while overlooking the water at the aptly named Escape Bar.

Broadbeach

Somewhat less hectic than Surfers is the inviting district of Broadbeach. While the area is best-known for the blackjack and buffets of 24-hour Jupiter’s Casino, it also offers a range of more refined options. Kurrawa Park provides a picturesque backdrop to the beaches, and if you’re there on a weekend you can flick Australia Fair the finger and browse the eclectic Art and Craft Markets.

Coolangatta

We’re unsure why the area joining Coolangatta to neighbouring Tweed Heads is named Point Danger. Coolangatta boasts some of the Gold Coast’s best surf beaches, Greenmount and Kirra, but its streets and sidewalks are comparatively calm.

Shopping is done along the beachfront at The Showcase Shopping Centre and the Coolangatta Market, while the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary and the captivating scenery of The Hinterlands are only a short bus trip away.

Gold Cost Eat & Drink

You could easily spend your whole time in the Gold Coast surviving on theme-park hot dogs in between blowing your holiday savings on overpriced themed restaurants. This isn’t to say it’s not fun to eat food obscured by crazy lighting and lurid costumes, but perhaps not on a daily basis.

Absynthe While the favoured green liqueur of ear-lopping Van Gogh is not pushed here, the rituals surrounding taste and occasion are art in themselves.

Chill on Tedder The coolest restaurant on the oh-so-cool Tedder strip. The sashimi plate is almost as beautiful as the clientele.

Pavilion Garden It’s worth renting a car just to drive to Pavilion, where patrons dine in a glass atrium overlooking the floodlit gardens.

Vanitas It’s worth going here just for the fact that it’s located in the six-star Palazzo Versace, but the food does live up to the ambience – just.

Shuck Shuck me, suck me, eat me raw – it sounds a bit porno, but it’s actually the tagline for Tedder Avenue’s top seafood restaurant.

The Avenue The quintessential Gold Coast dining experience. Al fresco dining tables, fantastic people-watching and plasma screen video entertainment.

Moo Moo The Wine Bar + Grill Known for its phenomenal Wagyu Spice Rump, tender Master Kobe fillet and odd futuristic lighting.

Room81 Far from your average themed restaurant, Room81’s eclectic mix of interior design and video art doesn’t dominate the award-winning menu.

Titanium Bar Encompassing a sophisticated lounge bar, a waterfront dining room and a private boardroom, there’s no excuse to leave this spectacular venue before the early hours.

Fellini Classic Italian with modern ingredients and sweeping views of Broadwater Beach. Fellini is the place to see and be seen.

Gold Cost Events

Australia’s concert extravaganza, Big Day Out, reaches the shores of the Gold Coast in January.

Bikinis and board shorts are replaced by glitz and glamour for racing day during the Gold Coast’s Conrad Jupiters’ Magic Millions Carnival in January.

The Australian Women’s Hardcourt and Australian Ladies Masters give the New Year a vigorous kick into action with some hot and heavy action – of the tennis kind.

The surf’s always up on the Gold Coast, but it’s colossal in February and March when the best in the business arrive for the Quicksilver and Roxy Pros.

The Gold Coast gets a bit jazzier in May for Blues on Broadbeach.

The ladies who star in May’s Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show may be inanimate, but they’ve still got great curves.

It’s more of a party atmosphere than a political one at the prestigious Prime Minister’s Cup. Then again, it is the Gold Coast and it is a horse race.

The Gold Coast isn’t really lacking in the adrenaline department, but October’s Indy on the Gold Coast gives it a high octane boost anyway. A weekend of nonstop partying awaits.

It’s hard enough just naming 39 sporting events, but the Pan Pacific Masters Games in November really does have this many.

When To Go

Do not go to the Gold Coast in November. Ever. This is when Schoolies takes places and hundreds of drunk teenagers invade the city. High-pitched squeals and piles of vomit lining the sidewalks do not a relaxing holiday make.

Summer is marked by heavy rainfall as well as high heat and humidity, but you’ll always find something fun to do.

Winter temperatures can drop to a chilly 9°C, so to make the most of the beaches and avoid the heat, spring (not November!) and autumn are the best times to go. Temperatures range up to 27°C, and rainfall is only medium.

What To Miss

Shopping complexes are great for getting out of the sun, but don’t waste an entire day getting lost in a building you might find anywhere else in the world.

Themed restaurants are everywhere on the Gold Coast, and normally serve inferior food. Choose a couple of good ones and leave it at that.

Getting Around

The most common way to get around in the Gold Coast is to stroll along the waterfront strips in a pair of double-pluggers.

For travelling to theme parks and different beaches, unlimited bus passes are worth checking out. If all else fails, catch a cab or use a Gold Coast car rental service. There’s so many tourists that the streets are packed with them.

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Attractions

The Gold Coast illustrates Australia’s passion for the beach! Queensland’s major leisure destination has everything rolled up in an exhilarating and adrenaline-high package. Imagine the sight of long stretches of sandy beaches, incomparable waves drawing surfing champs from all over the world, a whole slew of theme parks and yet, more adventures await the traveler in the magical hinterlands. Gold Coast further attracts all ages to its idyllic shores with its entertainment options. At night, the highly urbane area of Surfers Paradise packs in crowds enjoying the restaurants, cafes, bars and late night shopping. From sun up to sundown, the Gold Coast definitely offers a wide variety to make holidays beyond boredom’s reach.

Situated in southeast Queensland, the Gold Coast is one of Australia’s foremost leisure destinations. First up on any traveler’s itinerary would be the stunning beaches, all 57 kilometers of it, encouraging various water sports and leisurely activities for the whole family!

Surfing remains top draw for Gold Coast and the best spots for it are in Duranbah, Burleigh Point, South Stradbroke and Kirra. Southport area offers sprawling Australia Fair shopping complex, chic Marina Mirage, the highly acclaimed Southport Yacht Club, the amazing Sea World and a myriad of aqua adventures on the calm beaches of Broadwater. Main Beach is the foremost surf beach boasting Federation Walk that takes you to lush green pathways.

The area devoted to the Gold Coast lifestyle is Surfers Paradise. From busy beaches to bustling nightlife, this town has it all. Shopping and dining are both a mixed bag of sorts. Sample various cuisines in any of hundreds of restaurants and cafes. Then shop till you drop at boutique stores, malls and night markets. Should you find yourself lost, maybe the bikini-clad meter maids can point your way back to the action! South of Surfers Paradise is Broadbeach where one encounters Kurrawa Park, and Jupiter’s Casino. If you’re lucky, you may even chance upon a lifesavers competition right on the beach.

Bordering New South Wales and Queensland is Coolangata, home to some of Gold Coast’s breathtaking beaches. Then also at the southern end, nature lovers will be thrilled at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary for its vast array of attractions. But for more captivating sceneries and raw adventures, the Hinterlands offer a most spectacular time to admire the well-preserved flora and fauna and the whole ecosystem in the area.

Events

If you expect just to laze around the beaches, you’re in for a surprise. The Gold Coast offers popular and interesting happenings in sports, music and local festivals to keep that adrenaline pumping.

Big Day Out, the concert extravaganza, hits major cities in Australia during summer. The annual road show reaches the shores of Gold Coast in January. Then also in the same month, all the glitz and glamour come out for racing day during the Conrad Jupiters Magic Millions Carnival. For some superb sporting action from top women athletes, the Australian Women’s Hardcourt and Australian Ladies Masters kick start the new year in Gold Coast. In February and March, surf’s up as world champs converge for the Quicksilver and Roxy Pros.

In May, it becomes a jazzy affair when Blues on Broadbeach unravels in Gold Coast. Also for this month, the Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show brings out boats of all shapes and sizes for a spectacular showcase on water. Finally, the very prestigious Prime Minister’s Cup presents horseracing at its best in Gold Coast.

Springtime kicks into gear with Indy 300 cranking up the streets of Gold Coast with high-octane energy. And then, prepare for a myriad of sporting events, 39 to be exact, as the Pan Pacific Masters Games happens in November. Choose what sports fancies you, be it volleyball, basketball, rugby or baseball to name a few.

Climate

  • Winter (June to August) 11 to 21°C Pleasant but may be chilly in the Hinterlands
  • Spring (September to November) 15 to 25°C Warm days and mild, pleasant nights
  • Summer (December to February) 20 to 28°C Hot, sunny and humid yet with occasional rainfall
  • Fall (March to May) 16 to 26°C Starts to get generally mild

Hotels in Gold Coast

  • Hotels in Gold Coast

Recommended hotels

From US$75

1 Jupiters Hotel and Casino Gold Coast

5 stars
4.4 / 5 287 reviews

Broadbeach Island Map

Includes FREE Undercover Self Parking

Sophisticated travellers looking for grand vacation set close to the vibrant beach strip of Gold Coast book a stay at the luxurious spaces of Jupiters Hotel & Casino Gold Coast. While in this chic... More

Concert weekend.
The room was clean and comfortable but it was above the Nightclub and the rooms are not totally soundproofed. The restaurant (Spinners) was great for Dinner and Breakfast and the show we saw was...
26 Jun 2015
From US$102

2 Towers Of Chevron Renaissance Gold Coast

4 stars
3.9 / 5 241 reviews

23 Ferny Avenue Map

Free Whale Watching Tour & Passport 2 Fun

Dominating the skyline of Surfers Paradise, Towers Of Chevron Renaissance Gold Coast invites travellers to three 50-level towers equipped with top-notch facilities and leisure amenities. The... More

Great Hospitality & Great long weekend spent :)
I have stayed at cheveron before so the expectations were high.. Receptions were friendly as always, room were great love the location because its close to everything :) Had a great weekend thank...
10 Jun 2015
From US$60

3 Beachcomber Resort Surfers Paradise

3 stars
3.0 / 5 98 reviews

18 HANLAN ST Map

Includes FREE WiFi & Undercover Secure Parking

Beachcomber Resort Surfers Paradise provides a combination of entertainment and casual beach culture. Its fine location is close to Wax Museum that displays typical wax figures of famous people... More

Terrible
We were looking online for a hotel that accepted payments from PayPal... Upon arrival we were told we needed to pay $200 deposit for the room...the decor and furniture for the room looked like it...
19 Jun 2015
From US$251

4 Palazzo Versace Hotel Gold Coast

5 stars
4.5 / 5 154 reviews

SEAWORLD DRIVE Map

Superior Room With Breakfast

Housed in an opulent architecture with rich Italian design, hand-detailed furnishings and top-notch facilities, Palazzo Versace Hotel Gold Coast creates an elegant haven for discerning travellers... More

Amazing destination!
Every requirement met. More than expected, clean, breath-takingly beautiful room. Hot bath rooms amazing. Breakfast delicious and plentiful, staff friendly, polite and always smiling.
24 Jun 2015
From US$58

5 Vibe Hotel Gold Coast

4 stars
4.3 / 5 291 reviews

42 Ferny Avenue Map

Stay 7 Nights & Save 20%

Ideal for business trips and vacations, Vibe Hotel Gold Coast offers a contemporary haven in the centre of the shopping district of Gold Coast. While on a Australia holiday, tourists should not... More

Awesome Stay
Overall everything is ok, just the check in time a little bit late. No wifi given, how sad. The room is clean & comfortable. Very convenient location.
26 Jun 2015
From US$48

6 Aquarius Backpackers Gold Coast Hostel

4 stars
Not yet reviewed

44 Queen Street Map

Travellers will find suitable accommodations in an ideal location at the Aquarius Backpackers Gold Coast Hostel. With its close proximity to shopping, entertainment and dining options as well as... More

From US$51

7 Islander Backpackers Resort Gold Coast

3 stars
3.0 / 5 4 reviews

Cnr Beach Road & Surfers Paradise Boulevard Map

Stay 3 Nights & Save 10%

Islander Backpackers Resort Gold Coast is a centrally located hostel that offers budget-friendly accommodations for travellers exploring the vacation destinations of Gold Coast. Located on Surfers... More

Great cheap place to stay!
Overall great value for money if you arent going to be spending much time where you're staying. Good facilities as well and staff were great.
2 Mar 2015
From US$86

8 Watermark Hotel and Spa Gold Coast

4 stars
4.4 / 5 261 reviews

3032 Surfers Paradise Boulevard Map

2 Kids Up To 11 Years Of Age Stay FREE

Watermark Hotel & Spa Gold Coast makes for a convenient base for business and leisure travellers with its central location and comfortable accommodations that offer views of the ocean or the woods.... More

couples winter break
we have often stayed at this really nice hotel and for a special treat we pay a little extra and enjoy the benefits of their club lounge which is well worth the money
19 Jun 2015
From US$91

9 Hotel Grand Chancellor Surfers Paradise

4 stars
4.3 / 5 428 reviews

Cnr. Surfers Paradise Blvd. & Hanlan Street Map

Stay 2 Nights & Save 10%

Hotel Grand Chancellor Surfers Paradise is situated in the heart of Surfers Paradise surrounded by pristine beaches, iconic theme parks and an energetic nightlife. Famous for its sun, surf and... More

great trip
Hotel is having great location due to close to amenities and public transportation. Regards. Phong
28 Jun 2015
From US$117

10 Q1 Resort and Spa Gold Coast

5 stars
4.1 / 5 93 reviews

Hamilton Avenue Map

Includes FREE Undercover Secure Parking

Recognised as the world's tallest residential tower, Q1 Resort & Spa Gold Coast with its modern rooms and convenient facilities cater an enjoyable holiday. It is also less than a kilometre from... More

mother/daughter trip
this place lived up to my expectations. requested lower floor and we were allocated 13th which was just perfect(i don't like heights)ocean front 2 bedroom apartment and the views were amazing.From...
2 Jun 2015
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