Top 10 Things to Do in Townsville, QLD inner banner

Top 10 Things to Do in Townsville, QLD

The essential elements of popular overseas destinations like Fiji and Hawaii are all on offer in our very own Townsville. With its tropical take on city life and stunning coastal setting, there's little reason to travel further. Here's a handy to-do list.
Ten of the best things to do in Townsville
The Strand, Townsville. Image: Tourism and Events Queensland

Townsville basks in more than 300 days of glorious sunshine every year.

It’s the fourth largest city in Queensland and offers visitors an array of accommodation options and recreational amenities, access to sophisticated bars and restaurants, an extensive calendar of events to enjoy, and superb shopping. Beautifully preserved federation-era architecture adorns the CBD and suburbs.

However, the myriad natural wonders that surround Townsville are its biggest attraction. Explore sublime Magnetic Island, snorkel or dive the Great Barrier Reef, trek the lush Wet Tropics rainforest, and delve into the vast outback (historic Charters Towers is easily done as a day trip). Set aside at least a week to see and do everything on offer.

Here are ten of the best things to do in Townsville.


Ten of the best things to do on the Gold Coast

Queensland Tours, Activities & Attractions


1. Walk along The Strand

Start your stay in Townsville by taking a stroll along The Strand — a stunning 2.2-kilometre beachfront promenade. It offers wonderful vistas and comes complete with lush gardens, restaurants and cafes, BBQ facilities, a popular (and free!) water park, and plenty of spots to chill beneath swaying palm trees.

The Strand is equally delightful in the evening, and you’ll no doubt notice the Ocean Siren sculpture rising from the water next to the Strand Jetty. It’s part of the collection of the celebrated new Museum of Underwater Art, which has its main installation at John Brewer Reef on the Great Barrier Reef itself. You’ll need to book a tour with an approved dive operator to visit the main site.

2. Soak up the views from Castle Hill

Castle Hill is situated right next to the CBD and you can drive or follow one of several walking trails up to the peak. Your reward is sweeping panoramas of the city and suburbs, Magnetic Island, and the glittering Coral Sea.

Ten of the best things to do in Townsville
Ten of the best things to do in Townsville: Take in the views from Castle Hill.

3. Go to a gallery or museum

Townsville has a vibrant arts and cultural scene, and there are lots of ways for visitors to go with the creative flow. The City Council has embraced street art as a way of bringing colour and creativity to the CBD, and many of Australia’s most talented street artists have produced commissioned work here. Download a self guided street art walking tour map and check out this ever evolving urban gallery.

Ten of the best things to do in Townsville
Townsville street art. Image: Tourism and Events Queensland

Perc Tucker Regional Gallery is Townsville’s premier fine arts space. Housed in a former bank building (circa 1885) on Flinders Street in the city centre, it stages a diverse programme of local and touring exhibitions. Jump on the gallery’s website to find out what’s on during your stay.

Townsville was founded in 1864 as a shipping port, and is still a major import and export centre. While education and research are seen as the major growth industries for the future, it’s not hard to get a sense of the city’s past. Start by visiting the award-winning Museum of Tropical Queensland, where there’s a strong emphasis on maritime archaeology. You can learn more about life on the high seas in days gone by at the Maritime Museum of Townsville.

4. Learn some local military history

Four major defence facilities are located in Townsville and the city has long been of strategic military importance to Australia’s north. The 15-hectare Jezzine Barracks precinct commemorates the military and Aboriginal heritage of the Kissing Point headland, while Forts Walk on Magnetic Island leads to historic WWII infrastructure. Lookouts along the way afford excellent views of the Palm Island group and Bowling Green Bay National Park (keep an eye out for koalas in the trees alongside the trail). The walk culminates with a 360-degree vista from the top of the old fortifications.

Ten of the best things to do in Townsville
Ten of the best things to do in Townsville: Jezzine Barracks precinct. Image: Adam Ford

5. Dine in a laneway

Located right in the heart of the CBD, City Lane channels Melbourne’s laneway culture and is bursting with dining options. Donna Bionda offers Italian cuisine, while Sakana serves great Japanese. Harri Dumpling does delicious Chinese dumplings, and Syros specialises in traditional Greek street food. Enjoy a pre or post-meal brew at The Taphouse — North Queensland’s first self-pour craft beer bar.

Ten of the best things to do in Townsville
Ten of the best things to do in Townsville. Image: City Lane

6. Try a range of top local drops

For more opportunities to refresh with a brewed beverage or enjoy a great meal, head for the Townsville Brewery. Housed in the Old Townsville Post Office (which dates back to 1889), this family-owned brewhouse produces some sensational seasonal drops. Sample the Premium Townsville Bitter, Be More Pacific Ale, Legends Lager, and Sourpuss Mandarin and Mango Beer. The tavern food menu offers a variety of share-style plates.

7. Escape to Magnetic Island

Magnetic Island — located just eight kilometres off the coast of Townsville — is a unique blend of national park, holiday paradise, and residential community. The island has some of the best beaches in Queensland, and the vibe is relaxed and friendly. Book a 20-minute ferry transfer to and from the island. Once you’re there, you can choose to jet ski, sail, scuba dive, snorkel, fish, ride horses, play a round of golf, or just relax in one of the many peaceful coves.

Ten of the best things to do in Townsville
Magnetic Island. Image: Tourism and Events Queensland

8. Experience the magic of the Reef

For a taste of the magic of the Great Barrier Reef without getting wet, swing by Townsville’s Great Barrier Reef Aquarium — the largest coral reef aquarium in the world. It’s home to thousands of fish, sharks, and turtles, and of course, a wide variety of living corals. The facility’s Turtle Hospital cares for sick and injured marine turtles. Please note: Great Barrier Reef Aquarium is currently closed for a major upgrade. It will reopen in 2026.

9. Take a walk on the wild side at Billabong Sanctuary

If you’re keen to meet some land-loving local wildlife, head out to Billabong Sanctuary (a 20-minute drive south of the city). This wonderful wildlife park will see you holding a koala, cuddling a wombat, smiling at the odd crocodile, and draping a python around your neck. There are animal presentations and feeding sessions throughout the day.

Ten of the best things to do in Townsville
Ten of the best things to do in Townsville: Yongala wreck. Image: Scuba Diver Life

10. Dive the wreck of the Yongala

Finally, while you’re in Townsville, why not take advantage of the warm tropical waters and learn to scuba dive? There are several operators that can get you certified in just a few days. Experienced divers will also enjoy their time in Townsville. The Yongala wreck is considered to be Australia’s best dive site and attracts seasoned divers from around the world.

For more travel inspiration, visit www.townsvillenorthqueensland.com.au.

Browse our range of Townsville tours and experiences here.

Do you have any suggestions to add to our list of the best things to do in Townsville? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.

Cover image: Tourism and Events Queensland. Additional images: Bigstock

Len Rutledge

About the writer

Len Rutledge has been travel writing for 40 years. During that time he has penned thousands of newspaper articles, numerous magazine pieces, more than a thousand web reviews and around 35 travel guide books. Len has lived in nine countries and currently resides in Townsville. His travels have taken him to more than 100 countries and his writings have collected a PATA award, an ASEAN award, an IgoUgo Hall of Fame award and other recognition. He is the author of the Experience Guides series of travel books.

 

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