10 Best Things To Do In Gold Coast For Backpackers

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The Gold Coast is one of the most iconic destinations in Australia. International travellers and Aussie locals flock here for sun, sand, surf, and vibrant city life. It's rare to find such a massive, dynamic city that is literally just steps away from the beach, so the Gold Coast provides a multifaceted experience for backpackers in Australia

Here are the 10 best things to do in Gold Coast for backpackers!

travellers at surfers paradise beach in gold coast

10 Best Things To Do In Gold Coast For Backpackers

From mingling with Australian wildlife, to visiting stunning islands, to hitting the town and enjoying the local nightlife and theme parks, here are the best things to do in Gold Coast for backpackersThis exciting city in Queensland has something for everyone, whether you're a backpacker on a Working Holiday Visa or you're just gallivanting around Australia for fun.

We recommend spending at least 2-3 days on the Gold Coast so you can fully explore the city and have time for a day trip or two. There are lots of amazing national parks and islands on the Gold Coast that you don't want to miss!

aerial view of gold coast skyscrapers and beach

1. See local wildlife at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

Every traveller in Australia wants to see the unique and iconic wildlife, from mighty reptiles to colourful birds to furry marsupials. Though you might not spot kangaroos hopping through the Gold Coast city centre, there are a few places where you can admire and interact with Aussie animals nearby. 

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is just 30 minutes away from downtown Gold Coast, and the famous Australia Zoo is about 2 hours away from Gold Coast. Though the Australia Zoo is a bit far, you can book round trip transfers to make the journey easier. Whichever park you choose, you will have a blast checking out the local wildlife!

koala at a wildlife sanctuary in australia

2. Hit the theme parks

The Gold Coast is famous for its theme parks! Australian families come from far and wide to give their kids a fantastic, larger-than-life theme park experience on the Gold Coast. But the theme parks are actually amazing for people of all ages! Whether you want to fling yourself down epic waterslides at Wet N Wild or ride the roller coasters at Dreamworld, every backpacker will have a blast bringing out their inner child and just going on fun rides for the day!

girls with racing mats on a waterslide at wet n wild

3. Go skydiving in Byron Bay

Skydiving is one of those incredible, must-do activities if you're a backpacker in Australia. With safe, reputable companies and unparalleled, vibrant landscapes, skydiving in Australia will surely be one of your life's most memorable moments. From the Gold Coast, you can book skydiving in Byron Bay which includes return transfers. Or if you want an adventure activity that's a little more tame, try parasailing!

backpackers going skydiving in byron bay australia

4. Explore Moreton Island

One of the best things to do in Gold Coast for backpackers is visit an offshore island. North and South Stradbroke Island, Bribie Island, Lady Elliot Island, and even K'gari (Fraser Island) are all within reach of the Gold Coast. But if you can only choose one island day trip, Moreton Island is one of the best options!

Moreton Island is home to the famous Tangalooma Wrecks, which is a photographer's dream and a scuba diver's paradise. Aside from the marine wonders, Moreton Island has towering golden sand dunes, beautiful beaches, and a nice resort where you can join fun activities like kayaking or glass-bottom boat tours. A day tour from Gold Coast to Moreton Island is also convenient and affordable, so perfect for backpackers!

moreton island coastline and tangalooma wrecks

5. Cruise around on a jet ski

Thrill seekers hoping to explore the waterways and coastline outside the Gold Coast can book a jet ski adventure. With a local guide to lead the way, a Gold Coast jet ski safari takes you through the dense mangroves and past the most picturesque islands and beaches. This is an exhilarating way to spend an hour during your Gold Coast itinerary!

two girls on a jetski in australia's ocean

6. Go beach hopping along the Gold Coast

If the Gold Coast is known for one thing, it's probably the beaches. Though Gold Coast is a booming city with lots to see and do, the pristine beaches that surround the CBD are what really attract backpackers in Australia. Whether you want to learn how to surf, catch some advanced waves, sunbathe, have a beach picnic, or get some beautiful coastal views, spend at least a few hours beach hopping along the coast. 

Surfers Paradise is the most famous beach in the Gold Coast and it is absolutely worth visiting. Broadbeach and Main Beach are also popular spots near Surfers Paradise. But if you have time, venture a bit further out to find more stunning and less touristy beaches such as Burleigh Heads, Currumbin Beach, Rainbow Bay Beach, Kirra Beach, and Coolangatta Beach. 

two girls lounging on the beach in gold coast

7. Venture into Springbrook National Park

Backpackers hoping to explore the lush natural beauty of the Gold Coast Hinterland can take a day trip to Springbrook National Park. Here, the diverse landscapes and World Heritage-listed ecosystems amaze visitors every day. 

Natural Bridge is a highlight of Springbrook National Park, with its rugged arching rock formations and tumbling waterfall. The park is just packed with spectacular waterfalls and swimming holes, ancient beech forests, epic hiking trails, and dramatic lookouts over the Scenic Rim. Spending a day in this magical national park is one of the best things to do in the Gold Coast!

four travellers walking through the queensland rainforest

8. Experience the nightlife

Another one of the best things to do in the Gold Coast for backpackers is try the nightlife! Gold Coast is famous for being one of the best party cities in Australia. Travellers and locals alike flock to the Gold Coast to dance the night away, hit the rooftop bars, and soak in the dynamic cultural scene. 

There is honestly something for everyone in the Gold Coast, from breweries and wineries to pumping nightclubs and live music venues. Rooftop bars, classic Aussie pubs, themed bars and restaurants, cocktail lounges, and techno clubs are plentiful. All you have to do is wander around after the sun goes down and you're sure to find something that suits you!

colourful cocktails at a bar in the gold coast

9. Taste diverse cuisines at Miami Marketta

Backpackers looking to eat on a budget in the Gold Coast can head to Miami Marketta, a culinary icon of the city. Enter through the gleaming, neon archway and spend some time wandering through this multicultural street market offering yummy and cheap food from all over the world. There are indoor and outdoor sections of Miami Marketta as well as live music to serenade you while you feast!

yellow smoothie at miami marketta gold coast

10. Explore Lamington National Park

An alternative to Springbrook National Park is Lamington National Park, which is just as gorgeous and about the same distance from the Gold Coast (roughly 1 hour). Lamington National Park also has amazing hikes, rolling green hills, and majestic waterfalls such as Moran Falls and Elabana Falls. Combine your exploration of the park with a visit to O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat and a local vineyard on this all-inclusive day tour!

backpackers at moran falls in lamington national park

Is Gold Coast Good For Backpackers?

Australia's Gold Coast is the ultimate backpacker destination, thanks to its enticing combination of outdoor adventures, natural beauty, and nightlife. It's also located in a convenient spot on the southeast coast of Queensland, making it a super convenient destination for backpackers travelling along Australia's East Coast. You can drive to nearby hotspots like Brisbane, Byron Bay, Noosa, Coffs Harbour, or Hervey Bay in just a few hours!

backpacker standing near the beach in gold coast

Check out our top East Coast travel itineraries if you want to combine the Gold Coast with more epic destinations in Australia!

Or browse through our top Gold Coast day trips and tours to make the most of your time here. Live chat with our travel experts if you have any questions!

East Coast Tours acknowledges all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Traditional Owners of Country and recognises their continuing connection to land, sea, culture and community. We pay our respects to Elders past and present and extend that respect to all First Nations peoples.

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