Eight Great Day Trips from the Gold Coast, QLD inner banner

Eight Great Day Trips from the Gold Coast, QLD

Get inspired for your next Goldie getaway with this checklist of great day trips from the Gold Coast. They all offer something special and will show you the best of South East Queensland and beyond.
Great day trips from the Gold Coast
Great day trips from the Gold Coast: Lamington National Park

With spectacular beaches and world-class surf breaks, and the glitz and glamour of Surfers Paradise at its epicentre, the Gold Coast continues to reign as arguably Australia’s most popular holiday destination.

A one-hotel beach retreat in the 1950s, today the ‘Goldie’ stretches from Southern Moreton Bay to the Queensland/New South Wales border and encompasses seventy kilometres of stunning beachfront, glamorous high-rise hotels and resorts, a never-ending choice of restaurants and cafes, world-class attractions, and amazing shopping. There’s a plethora of Gold Coast holiday options on offer, with accommodation to suit every style, taste, and budget.

Given all that sandy amazingness, it’s hard to imagine anyone wanting to drag themselves away from the coast. But the Gold Coast also offers easy access to an array of day trip destinations, including some of South East Queensland’s most beautiful landscapes. So, set aside at least a couple of days to explore further afield.

Here are eight great day trips from the Gold Coast.

Great day trips from the Gold Coast
Great day trips from the Gold Coast: Dreamworld

1. Hit the theme parks

The Gold Coast is synonymous with its theme parks, but technically they’re a day trip destination in themselves. Sea World is located on the Gold Coast proper, but Warner Bros. Move World, Wet’n’Wild, Dreamworld, and Whitewater World are all situated at Coomera — a 30-or-so minute drive from the heart of Surfers. Whichever park you choose to visit, you’re guaranteed a fun and adrenalin-fuelled day out. Thrill rides like Dreamworld’s Giant Drop will see you free-falling thirty-nine stories in a mere five seconds, while Movie World will have you hanging with your favourite cartoon characters and superheroes. Don’t miss seeing the new WB Studio Showcase — an incredible exhibition of movie memorabilia.

There are a variety of shuttle services that operate between the parks and Gold Coast. It’s also possible to reach the parks using public transport, but the trip will take you around an hour each way.

2. Hike to the Natural Bridge in Springbrook National Park

Often referred to as the ‘green behind the gold’, gorgeous Springbrook is one of the closest national parks to the Gold Coast. This UNESCO World Heritage-listed landscape (part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area) is less than an hour’s drive south-west of Surfers Paradise and coats the remnants of an ancient volcano. The park’s dense rainforest harbours an array of wildlife (including the elusive Albert’s lyrebird) and is best explored on foot, via a network of well-maintained walking trails. Don’t miss seeing the Natural Bridge — a rock arch formed by thousands of years of water erosion, and home to a glow-worm colony. The Natural Bridge walking circuit takes about an hour to do at a leisurely pace and can be accessed from Nerang Murwillumbah Road.

Great day trips from the Gold Coast
Great day trips from the Gold Coast: Natural Bridge, Springbrook National Park

3. Take to the treetops in Lamington National Park

Situated slightly further west, Lamington National Park is another of southern Queensland’s natural gems. Home to more than 160 kilometres of walking trails and some truly sublime waterfalls, this subtropical wonderland will hold you spellbound. Plan your day around a visit to famous O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat — a family-owned guesthouse and tourist facility that provides a range of amenities for day visitors. Meander through the forest canopy on the Tree Top Walkway (sixteen metres above the ground!), hand-feed plucky crimson rosellas and king parrots, and enjoy a delicious Devonshire tea and expansive vista at O’Reilly’s Mountain Café.

4. Do a wine tasting on Mount Tamborine

Captivating Mount Tamborine, located 45 minutes’ drive north-west of the Gold Coast, offers cool respite from the heat and humidity at lower altitudes and is home to a fabulous cool-climate wine scene. The easiest way to enjoy the mountain’s bottled bounty is to book a wine tour with Gold Coast hotel pick-up and let someone else take care of the driving. Tamborine has around seven cellar doors (Mason Wines and gorgeous Witches Falls are standouts), alongside the award-winning Tamborine Mount Distillery. Picturesque Cedar Creek Estate has its own glow-worm cave and is a great spot for a relaxed lunch. Leave time for a stroll along Gallery Walk, which is lined with independent galleries, arts and craft shops, and ice cream and fudge stores. You may never want to leave!

Great day trips from the Gold Coast
Great day trips from the Gold Coast: Mason Wines, Mount Tamborine. Image: Adam Ford

5. Get away from it all on South Stradbroke Island

Fancy switching your watch over to island time? Head for gorgeous South Stradbroke Island. The 1,800-hectare sibling of North Stradbroke (the second largest sand island in the world) sits at the northern end of the Gold Coast and is a designated conservation park with limited development. There are few roads and no cars permitted on the island, so getting around is mostly done by bike, boat, or on foot. Relax on deserted beaches, go wildlife spotting in the wetlands, kayak on the protected Broadwater between the island and mainland, or toss in a line.

Great day trips from the Gold Coast
South Stradbroke Island. Image: Tourism and Events Queensland

Tipplers campground and restaurant on the island offers day trip packages with a ferry transfer from Jacob’s Well or Runaway Bay. Alternatively, the island’s Couran Cove Resort operates a ferry service from Main Beach.

6. Bliss out in Bryon and Ballina

From one uber famous holiday hotspot to another. At just on an hour’s drive south, a day trip from the Gold Coast to Bryon Bay and Ballina in New South Wales is completely doable and will allow you to experience all the magic of the Northern Rivers region. Ballina offers access to 30+ kilometres of stunning coastline, and the beaches of Lennox Head, East Ballina, and South Ballina are not to be missed.

Great day trips from the Gold Coast
Great day trips from the Gold Coast: Crystal Castle, Byron Bay. Image: Shutterstock

Byron is all about holistic health and wellbeing, so break out those tie-died harem pants and gather up some good vibes. The Byron Body and Soul Guide will connect you with a wonderful world of alternatives therapies, and don’t miss zenning out in the grounds of Crystal Castle — home to a peace stupa that was blessed by none other than the Dalai Lama.

7. Share the love in Lismore

Located in the Norther Rivers hinterland, an hour and a half’s drive from Surfers Paradise, the town of Lismore is going to need a whole lot of love to recover from the devastating floods of 2022. So, consider spending some of your holiday dollars with local retailers and hospitality venues on a day visit. The area is particularly stunning in winter, as seasonal foliage coats the landscape in vivid hues. Lose yourself in the beauty of the community-led Lismore Rainforest Botanic Gardens, visit the Lismore Regional Gallery to admire the town’s enduring creative spirit, or catch an arthouse flick at the Star Court Theatre. The Lismore Produce Market operates on Thursday afternoons and guarantees that everything sold is one hundred percent locally grown or produced.

Great day trips from the Gold Coast
Star Court Theatre. Image: Lismore City Council

8. Go island hopping in the Redlands

Head up the MI from the Gold Coast towards the Queensland capital, then hang a right at Loganholme and cruise through the rolling hills of Mount Cotton to one of the region’s unsung day trip destinations. The Redlands has plenty to offers visitors, including access to the mosaic of relaxed residential islands that lie between the mainland and North Stradbroke. Ferries depart from Victoria Point and Redland Bay for Russell, Macleay, and Coochiemudlo, and herald a day of island hopping and wiggling your toes in the sand.

Great day trips from the Gold Coast
Great day trips from the Gold Coast: Coochiemudlo Island

It’s also worth heading over to the bayside suburb of Cleveland (the departure point for ferries to ‘North Straddie’). Snap a selfie at the historic lighthouse at Cleveland Point and enjoy a classic pub lunch at the Grand View Hotel (circa 1851).

Do you have any suggestions to add to our list of great day trips from the Gold Coast? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.

Additional images: Bigstock

Adam Ford

About the writer

Adam Ford is editor of Top Oz Tours, and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger, and photographer. He has travelled extensively through Europe, Asia, North America, Africa, and the Middle East. Adam worked as a travel consultant for a number of years with Flight Centre before taking up the opportunity to travel the world himself as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten. He loves to experience everything a new destination has to offer and is equally at home in a five-star Palazzo in Pisa or a home-stay in Hanoi.



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