How Do You Travel Along The East Coast Of Australia?

How Do You Travel Along The East Coast Of Australia? Image | East Coast Tours Australia

With its dreamy coastline, wide open roads and endless sunny days, Australia is the perfect place for travellers to explore. The best way to travel along the East Coast is by long-distance bus, rental car, campervan or plane. There isn’t really an affordable train line, especially not one that runs along the entire coast. 

Unlike many continents, Australia is HUGE, and you will need to cover a lot more distance to get from one destination to the next. This means longer hauls, but also a road trip to remember with varied landscapes, coastal drives and stopovers in cute towns! Explore the gems of the East Coast like Cairns, Airlie Beach, Noosa, the Gold Coast, Byron Bay, Sydney and Melbourne your way, whether you’re bussing it, living that van life or jetting off to sandy beaches!


Long-distance coaches in Australia: Greyhound Buses, Premier Motor Services

By far the cheapest and best value for money, many backpackers opt for a multi-day East Coast bus pass. This allows unlimited travel along the coast for a specific amount of time, like 7, 15 or 30 days! The most popular coach service Down Under is Greyhound Australia, due to its extensive network, which has the most destinations in Australia. For one-way trips, Premier Bus has an array of great value tickets to get you from A to B.

A woman with a backpack at the Greyhound office

Pros of coach travel

  • Cheapest option
  • Flexible pass option for a plan-as-you-go trip
  • No extra costs like rental insurance or petrol
  • No stress of driving on Aussie roads
  • Best option for those without license or under 21

Cons of coach travel

  • Can be slower 
  • May still need to take taxis / local buses to your accommodation
  • You are subject to the times and availability of coaches
  • Overnight bus trips (are they really worth it?)

For more help on choosing which bus service to go with, read our Bus Guide to the East Coast!


Rental companies: JUCY Rentals, Spaceship Campervans

Renting a campervan to travel the East Coast of Australia is a unique and cost-efficient way to see Australia. A camper van isn’t just your wheels, it’s also your home, so by combining your transport with accommodation, you can save quite a lot. Starting at around $1025 AUD / month for a basic rental van with insurance, this option is way more affordable if you have two people on the road (around $515 a week per person). Remember to consider extra costs like fuel, premium insurance and campsite costs too.

Two women next to a white campervan

Pros of camper van life

  • Affordable in a pair or couple
  • You can find free campsites in Australia
  • Get off the beaten track and discover hidden beaches
  • Rental vans are equipped with a kitchen and bed

Cons of camper van life

  • Fuel can be expensive
  • Driving can be stressful
  • Extra costs like insurance and RV park fees
  • Driving on the left side of the road

For more info on living in a van on a budget, free camping and chasing that van life, check out our ultimate campervan guide to Australia!


Budget airlines in Australia: Jetstar, Virgin, Bonza 

If you’re only in Australia for a short time, and have an itinerary mapped out taking you the East Coast highlights, it is worth considering flying. While flying may seem like a more pricey option, it will save you a lot of time, and sometimes even money if you compare it to the price of fuel and a rental vehicle. I would recommend flying for an itinerary that stops only in the iconic destinations of the East Coast (like our Express itineraries). For example, Cairns to Airlie Beach to Sydney to Melbourne would total just 3 flights and probably be worth it, as you can spend more time exploring and less time travelling. Travelling light is a good tip to heed if you’re planning on flying a lot, as you can save on those luggage fees! It’s better to book in advance too and keep an eye out for the best deals. In general, if I fly, I try and avoid paying more than $200 for any one-way domestic flight, but this can vary depending on when you’re travelling (and booking flights).

A woman at sunset looking out of a plane window

Pros of flying

  • Save time
  • You can book in advance for better deals
  • Sometimes cheaper than fuel + rental car costs

Cons of flying

  • Don’t get to explore the in-between towns
  • Airports can be further out, you may need a taxi/shuttle
  • Extra luggage costs

Check out our Welcome to Australia Handbook to read more about taking the plane option in Down Under!

Rental Car

Car rental companies in Australia: JUCY Rentals, Spaceship Rentals, Thrifty, Budget Car Rental

Renting a car in Australia to do the East Coast can be pretty expensive, as you have to pay for the car and accommodation along the way. Renting a car with a large group of friends (4 or 5+) is the only time I think it's worth it, as you can split the cost between a group! Renting a car or minivan with a group of mates is a good way to get off the beaten path and explore campsites, small towns, forests, hinterlands, beaches and National Parks that are difficult to get to from buses and airports. So if you have an extended trip with a group of mates, or this is not your first time doing the East Coast, a rental car is worth considering.

A pair of backpackers in a JUCY rental car

Pros of renting a car

  • Access to hidden gems and quite beaches, campsites and forests
  • Ultimate flexibility
  • Affordable with a group

Cons of renting a car

  • Expensive without a group to split
  • Extra costs like fuel, insurance
  • Driving on the left side of the road
  • City driving and parking can be difficult

Where should I stop on the East Coast of Australia?

Whether you’re travelling with a long-distance bus service, renting a car or campervan, or opting to fly, there are some stops you absolutely can’t miss on the East Coast of Australia! Make sure you put Cairns (the Great Barrier Reef), the Whitsundays, Noosa, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Byron Bay, Sydney and Melbourne on your bucket list. Check out our flexible itineraries that include all transport and accommodation, as well as tours in these dreamy locations.

Two people at Hamilton Island Lookout

Don’t want to stress about planning the ins and outs of your trip? We’ll get you from A to B without the worry!

Browse our epic Australian itineraries, or chat with our live travel experts today with any questions!

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