The ultimate Gold Coast guide: everything you need to know before you go
The Gold Coast has set the scene for blockbuster movies and world-class surf events, so it’s no surprise Queensland’s most charismatic city needs a comprehensive guide to discover its best assets. However, there’s more to this multi-faceted region than at first glance.
With over 70 kilometres of glistening coastline, the largest concentration of theme parks in the southern hemisphere, and a thriving arts and culture scene, there’s plenty to discover about the Gold Coast.
Whether you want to hit the theme parks in the northern Gold Coast, embrace the slower pace of the southern Gold Coast, catch a wave at Currumbin or Burleigh Heads or escape into nature in the lush Hinterland – the Gold Coast suits every type of traveller.
When to go
The Gold Coast is blessed with 300 days of sunshine a year.
During summer the average temperature is a pleasant 21 – 28.4°C (69.8 – 83.1°F), while in winter the Gold Coast is generally sunny and dry with average temperatures between 12.5 – 21.5°C (54.5 – 70.7°F). The lush surroundings of the Gold Coast Hinterland dip slightly cooler with maximum winter temperatures around 16°C (60.8°F) with clear skies and dry air average cool nights.
If you want to see the Goldie turn it on, time your visit when the Gold Coast plays backdrop to a large variety of sport, endurance and entertainment events, including the Corona Open Gold Coast and iconic Magic Millions Carnival.
What to do there
Take a surfing lesson
Whether you’re an absolute beginner or just looking to brush up on your skills, the Gold Coast is a great place to learn to surf. Choose a surf school, practice your moves on the sand, and then hit the waves.
Taste the coast
The Gold Coast culinary scene is one that’s served alfresco across its fine-dining restaurants, casual seafood shacks, buzzing cafes, breweries and street-eats. The last few years has seen the GC’s gastronomic offerings mature at a rapid rate, with menus to impress even the most discerning of foodies.
Sparkling stretches of sand
Queensland’s beaches are the best in the world and the Gold Coast is home to some serious stunners. Try Broadbeach for safe swimming with the kids, feel the bohemian vibe at Burleigh or discover the local favourite, Nobby Beach.
Shop to it
When you’re in need of a retail fix, we’ve put together the ultimate Gold Coast shopping tour – from Coolangatta to Biggera Waters – where shoppers can find everything from boardshorts to Balmain and bargain vintage finds.
Where to eat and drink
No Gold Coast guide would be complete without food. With new eateries seemingly popping up by the day, whether you consider yourself an acai addict, a seafood sampler or a coffee connoisseur, expect a smorgasbord of flavours along the coastline.
Looking for a menu on where to find the best nosh while you’re here? We’ve got you covered:
- The Gold Coast’s best breakfast hot spots
- 18 of the best Gold Coast restaurants
- The best bars to let your hair down in
- Kid-friendly restaurants and cafes
- Oh and for the vegans out there, say hello to your new foodie haven
Where to stay
Every year, 13 million visitors make the pilgrimage to the coast. To say they’re spoilt for accommodation choice is an understatement.
Do you want the razzle-dazzle of Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach at your fingertips? Perhaps it’s the pumping surf breaks and boutique shopping at Burleigh Heads that tickles your fancy? Maybe you need to recharge the batteries with a Hinterland escape?
To help you find what you’re looking for, we’ve compiled this epic list of Gold Coast accommodation options peppered throughout the different boroughs. To experience the green behind the gold, check out our hinterland accommodation guide.
Best day trips to take
While you could happily spend a week (or more) flopped by the pool, there’s so much more to do on the Gold Coast.
For a change of scenery, hike through ancient rainforest and discover the Green Mountains Section of Lamington National Park where you can conquer the waterfall circuit and find Elabana, Chalahn and Box Log Falls. Or, visit Mount Tamborine and explore Witches Falls, using our Gold Coast guide to see the best of the Hinterland.
The young (and young at heart) won’t want to miss the Gold Coast’s legendary theme parks. Meet your favourite characters at Movie World, ride the rollercoasters at Dreamworld and tackle the speed slide at Wet’n’Wild.
Things you need to know
The Gold Coast doesn’t stop shining after dark.
From the bright lights of Surfers Paradise to the salty-chic of Burleigh, there’s a certain energy that buzzes along the coastline that can only be experienced from dusk till dawn. Check out these things to do with friends at night.
Attention beer buffs: meet your new haven.
Our picks? Balter Brewery, Burleigh Brewing Co., Black Hops or Lost Palms.