16 days in Sydney, Melbourne & Great Barrier Reef Itinerary

16 days in Sydney, Melbourne & Great Barrier Reef Itinerary

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Route & dates

16 days in Sydney, Melbourne & Great Barrier Reef Itinerary

Start: San Francisco
Fly:  17​h
1
Sydney
— 3 nights
2
Melbourne
— 3 nights
Fly + shuttle:  6​h 30​min
3
Port Douglas
— 2 nights
4
Cairns
— 4 nights
Fly:  18​h 45​min
End: San Francisco

3
nights
Sydney

Sydney ©
Lent iconic status as a result of its famous bridge and opera house, Sydney has a down-to-earth charm that enhances its spectacular setting and functional efficiency.
You'll get in some beach time at Bondi Beach and Manly Beach. There's much more to do: see a show at Sydney Opera House, push the limits with an extreme tour, explore the world behind art at Art Gallery of New South Wales, and see the interesting displays at Australian National Maritime Museum.

To see more things to do, reviews, photos, and other tourist information, read Sydney trip planning website .

San Francisco, USA to Sydney is an approximately 17-hour flight. You can also do a combination of subway and flight; or do a combination of train and flight. The time zone difference when traveling from San Francisco to Sydney is 18 hours. Traveling from San Francisco in July, things will get little chillier in Sydney: highs are around 65°F and lows about 47°F. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 4th (Sat) to allow time to travel to Melbourne.

Things to do in Sydney

Parks Outdoors Beaches
Find places to stay Jul 1 — 4:
Highlights from your plan
Bondi Beach ©
Bondi Beach
Manly Beach
Manly Beach
Sydney Opera House ©
Sydney Opera House

3
nights
Melbourne

Melbourne ©
The state of Victoria crown jewel, Melbourne boasts shaded streets, leafy residential neighborhoods, vibrant street life, and a picturesque city center.
Melbourne is known for museums, shopping, parks, nightlife, and zoos & aquariums. Your plan includes some of its best attractions: admire the natural beauty at Royal Botanic Gardens, admire the masterpieces at National Gallery of Victoria, wander the streets of Melbourne Central, and admire the landmark architecture of Royal Exhibition Building.

To see where to stay, maps, photos, and tourist information, read our Melbourne trip planner.

Getting from Sydney to Melbourne by flight takes about 3.5 hours. Other options: do a combination of flight and shuttle; or drive. Traveling from Sydney in July, things will get little chillier in Melbourne: highs are around 56°F and lows about 42°F. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 7th (Tue) so you can travel to Port Douglas.

Things to do in Melbourne

Parks Museums Outdoors

Side Trip

St. Kilda Beach
Find places to stay Jul 4 — 7:
Highlights from your plan
St. Kilda Beach ©
St. Kilda Beach
Melbourne Central ©
Melbourne Central
Royal Botanic Gardens ©
Royal Botanic Gardens

2
nights
Port Douglas

A holiday in Port Douglas balances an activity-filled getaway with plenty of opportunities to relax, thanks to its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef and bustling beach life.
Spend the 8th (Wed) among aquatic life with a scuba or snorkeling tour. Next up on the itinerary: stroll through Four Mile Beach, admire nature's wide array of creatures at Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas, identify plant and animal life at Mossman Gorge, and look for gifts at With Sugar.

To find other places to visit, traveler tips, where to stay, and tourist information, read Port Douglas road trip planner.

Traveling by combination of flight and shuttle from Melbourne to Port Douglas takes 6.5 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or do a combination of bus and train. Expect warmer temperatures when traveling from Melbourne in July; daily highs in Port Douglas reach 78°F and lows reach 64°F. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 10th (Fri) early enough to drive to Cairns.

Things to do in Port Douglas

Wildlife Outdoors Parks

Side Trips

Mossman Gorge, Hartley's Crocodile Adventures
Find places to stay Jul 7 — 10:
Highlights from your plan
Scuba & Snorkeling
Four Mile Beach ©
Four Mile Beach
Hartley's Crocodile Adventures ©
Hartley's Crocodile Adventures

4
nights
Cairns

A neat, cosmopolitan city of shaded plazas and laid-back neighborhoods, Cairns serves as a popular base for exploration of the surrounding region and the Great Barrier Reef, as well as a center for watersport activities like surfing or waterskiing.
You'll get in some beach time at Trinity Beach and Palm Cove Beach. Step out of Cairns with an excursion to Spas & Wellness in Palm Cove--about 30 minutes away. Spend the 11th (Sat) among aquatic life with a scuba or snorkeling tour. And it doesn't end there: trek along Esplanade Boardwalk, see the world from above with a helicopter tour, have fun at Esplanade Lagoon Pool, and take in nature's colorful creations at Botanical Gardens.

To find where to stay, photos, maps, and tourist information, read our Cairns planning tool .

You can drive from Port Douglas to Cairns in 1.5 hours. Other options are to take a bus; or take a shuttle. Expect a daytime high around 79°F in July, and nighttime lows around 64°F. Finish your sightseeing early on the 14th (Tue) to allow enough time to travel back home.

Things to do in Cairns

Outdoors Tours Parks

Side Trips

Trinity Beach, Palm Cove Beach
Find places to stay Jul 10 — 14:
Highlights from your plan
Scuba & Snorkeling
Trinity Beach ©
Trinity Beach
Palm Cove Beach ©
Palm Cove Beach

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