Australia is a huge country, with a diverse range of landscapes, culture, and activities to experience. From the deserts of the Outback home to Aboriginal cultures to the metropolitan cities of Sydney and Melbourne to the thriving marine habitat of the Great Barrier Reef to the snowy mountain peaks in the Southeast, Australia is a traveler's dream.
Due to the remarkable size of the country, Australia tours will often focus on just a couple regions in one trip, and a limited range of activities best experienced in that region. That said, there are still many ways to experience much of what Australia has to offer through a guided tour in one or two regions. Tour operators usually focus on a subset of activities to allow you to dive deep on your tour Down Under.
If you crave adrenaline, Australia is a great destination for you. Many of the best tours in Australia have a dose -- or daily infusion -- of adrenaline-pumping fun. Here are some of the top types of tours you can take in Australia.
Diving and Snorkeling Tours
Australia is a world class diving and snorkeling destination. Although there are many spots, the most popular location in the country, the Great Barrier Reef, is one of the greatest natural wonders of the world (it’s actually the largest living thing on earth) and is a highlight of many people’s trips to Australia. Many towns along the coast of Queensland are home to tour operators that can guide you to dive or snorkel at the Great Barrier Reef; Cairns is a popular starting point.
Other tour operators around Australia will offer tours that range from PADI certification to advanced diving experiences.
In many coastal parts of Australia, surfing is a way of life. Even in big cities such as Sydney and Melbourne, many people head to the beach before for a pre- or post-work surf. So what better place to learn to surf than Australia!?
You'll be able to find surfing lessons in the warmer months in popular seaside towns, such as Byron Bay and Noosa. If you're looking for a multi-day surfing experience, some operators offer surfing tours that allow you to go from beginner to accomplished surfer along some of Australia's most stunning shorelines.
Australia is home to many unusual species you can't see anywhere else in the world, so where better to take a wildlife tour? From meeting koalas and kangaroos to exploring the Australian gum tree forests looking out for the kookaburra, multi-day tour operators can give you an itinerary jam-packed with animal experiences unique to the Australian continent.
Planning Your Trip
Best Time to Visit Australia
Australia is a great season year-round, with classic seasons and plenty of activities to enjoy no matter the season. Some activities are seasonally based, so be sure to review which tours are offered in different months to plan your trip at a time when everything you want to experience will be available.
What to Look for in a Tour
Tour providers in Australia are generally reputable and trustworthy; it never hurts to read reviews from past visitors to learn more about what their experiences were like. Most tour operators will provide you with all the information you need to know before booking a tour, so if you feel uncertain or cautious about the lack of details from any provider, try reaching out to get more information.
Similar to other large countries, you should pay particular attention to travel times when tour operators make them available. Often tours that cover a large geographic region will include substantial travel time. You'll need to decide for yourself how long you want to spend in transit, and how long you want to be active and exploring Australia.
Typical Tour Cost
Australia tours vary widely in cost (and in length and variety of activity) so it's difficult to give a ballpark for tours. Tours range from as low as $500 for a three-day tour to $3000 for a 12-day tour.
Typically, if you are doing a highly active tour for a week or more, you can expect to pay upwards of $200 per person, per night for a tour – more if an activities on your trip require gear rentals (such as scuba diving).
Packing Tips & Gear Rental
As Australia is such a large continent, there are a variety of climates. Almost everywhere can get very hot in the summer (October through April), but the southern parts (especially Tasmania and inland southern areas) can get surprisingly cold and rainy in the winter (May through September). Pack for all seasons and every type of weather, and you'll probably be fine. Australia is also well equipped with shops in major cities where you can find global clothing and outfitter brands.
If you're doing an activity that requires specific gear, check with the provider to see if they provide rentals or if you need to bring your own. In most cases, the tour operator will provide rentals, so pay close attention to reviews which mention the quality of gear you'll end up renting.
Health & Safety
Australia is notorious for its abundance of deadly animals, and with good reason! There are many types of highly poisonous snakes and spiders in Australia, as well as deadly jellyfish, blue-ringed octopi and crocodiles.
The locals are usually very aware of these dangers, so ask around about whether there are any creatures to be concerned about before setting up a tent or going for a swim. Most beaches and waterways in which crocodiles or jellyfish are a danger will have very prominent signs warning of risks. Generally speaking, the further north you travel in Australia, the greater the risks from poisonous animals becomes.
Although dangerous snakes and spiders are present in both the countryside and the cities, if you're within easy reach of a hospital, any encounters are unlikely to be life-threatening because anti-venom is available. However, if hiking or walking in the bush, extra care should be taken to avoid encounters with snakes, who often live in long grass. If you suspect you've been bitten by a spider, get medical help immediately.
Despite the risks posed by wildlife, a more immediate concern for most travelers is the intensely strong sun in Australia. Temperatures can get very hot in most parts of the country, in summer, so precautions should be taken against sunstroke and sunburn. Wear a hat, apply plenty of sunscreen and drink a lot of water.
Tours in Australia
Is Australia expensive to visit?
The most expensive part of visiting Australia is the flight. Flight prices range from $800 to $2,000, depending on where you're flying from in the United States. When you get to Australia, currently, it's cheaper to go on tours and eat out than in the USA due to the conversion rate (plus the prices you see is what you get -- no need to add tax or tip!).
When should I visit Australia?
Since Australia is in the southern hemisphere, the seasons are opposite to those in the northern hemisphere. Generally, for milder weather, the best time to visit is during the shoulder season months of September and October (Spring) and March to May (Fall). Yet, Australia is a large country and temperatures vary between the northern and southern states.
What can you not bring into Australia?
Some of the things you cannot bring into Australia include food from the plane, plants, soil, any weapons, pets (cats, dogs, birds), fake products, and fireworks.
How much is Australian visa fee?
Visa fees vary, depending on which visa you're applying for. If you plan to travel for up to three months, it can cost as low as $14 USD for a subclass 601 visitor visa. Many travelers between the ages of 18 to 30 apply for the Working Holiday Visa which costs $365 USD and lets you travel and work for up to 12 months.
What should I know before going to Australia?
Before traveling to Australia you should read up on the culture, the landscape, and the destinations you hope to visit. In general, though, you should keep in mind a few things: Australia is huge, about the size of the 48 contiguous states in the US, so plan travel accordingly and budget enough time; it's very expensive--the cost of living is similar to that of large cities in the US; the major cities are generally very diverse and have a great international food scene--it's not all vegemite; and remember, they drive on the left side of the road!