8 days in Great Barrier Reef & Brisbane Itinerary

8 days in Great Barrier Reef & Brisbane Itinerary

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Route & dates

8 days in Great Barrier Reef & Brisbane Itinerary

Start: Melbourne
Fly + shuttle:  6​h 30​min
1
Port Douglas
— 1 night
2
Cairns
— 2 nights
+2
Fly + foot + ferry:  4​h 45​min
3
Airlie Beach
— 2 nights
+2
bus + taxi + Fly:  5​h
4
Brisbane
— 2 nights
Fly:  4​h 15​min
End: Melbourne

1
night
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.
On the 6th (Sun), explore the galleries of Des Spencer Galleries and then admire nature's wide array of creatures at Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas.

For photos, ratings, and other tourist information, read our Port Douglas tour itinerary planner .

Melbourne to Port Douglas is an approximately 6.5-hour combination of flight and shuttle. You can also drive; or do a combination of bus and train. Traveling from Melbourne in January, things will get somewhat warmer in Port Douglas: highs are around 37°C and lows about 28°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 7th (Mon) to allow enough time to drive to Cairns.

Things to do in Port Douglas

Outdoors Tours Adventure
Find places to stay Jan 6 — 7:
Highlights from your plan
Scuba & Snorkeling
Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas ©
Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas

2
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.
Kick off your visit on the 8th (Tue): see some colorful creatures with a scuba or snorkeling tour. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the 9th (Wed): take in nature's colorful creations at Botanical Gardens, hike along Esplanade Boardwalk, and then enjoy some diversion at Esplanade Lagoon Pool.

To see reviews, maps, more things to do, and tourist information, you can read our Cairns day trip app .

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 37°C in January, and nighttime lows around 28°C. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 9th (Wed) so you can travel to Airlie Beach.

Things to do in Cairns

Outdoors Tours Adventure
Find places to stay Jan 7 — 9:
Highlights from your plan
Scuba & Snorkeling
Esplanade Boardwalk ©
Esplanade Boardwalk
Esplanade Lagoon Pool ©
Esplanade Lagoon Pool

2
nights
Airlie Beach

Very much a town with an emphasis on the tropical lifestyle, Airlie Beach offers exotic surroundings with palm trees and charming, sandy beaches.
Kick off your visit on the 10th (Thu): race across the water with a speed boat tour. On the 11th (Fri), you'll have a packed day of sightseeing: see some colorful creatures with a scuba or snorkeling tour.

For where to stay, more things to do, other places to visit, and tourist information, read Airlie Beach online journey planner .

Getting from Cairns to Airlie Beach by combination of flight and ferry takes about 5 hours. Other options: do a combination of flight and bus; or drive. In January, daily temperatures in Airlie Beach can reach 34°C, while at night they dip to 28°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 11th (Fri) so you can travel to Brisbane.

Things to do in Airlie Beach

Tours Outdoors Adventure
Find places to stay Jan 9 — 11:
Highlights from your plan
Speed Boats Tours
Scuba & Snorkeling

2
nights
Brisbane

Brisbane ©
Queensland’s biggest town and state capital, Brisbane has an attractive, manicured image based around its riverside aesthetic as well as the contrast between its high-rise center and extensive urban greenery.
Kick off your visit on the 12th (Sat): admire the natural beauty at Roma Street Parkland and then let the kids burn off some steam at South Bank Parklands. Keep things going the next day: get great views at Mount Coot-tha Lookout and then look for all kinds of wild species at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.

To see more things to do, traveler tips, reviews, and more tourist information, go to the Brisbane trip itinerary maker website .

Do a combination of bus and flight from Airlie Beach to Brisbane in 5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of ferry and flight; or drive. Traveling from Airlie Beach in January, Brisbane is slightly colder at night with lows of 25°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 13th (Sun) to allow time to travel back home.

Things to do in Brisbane

Parks Fun & Games Wildlife
Find places to stay Jan 11 — 13:
Highlights from your plan
South Bank Parklands ©
South Bank Parklands
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary ©
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Mount Coot-tha Lookout ©
Mount Coot-tha Lookout

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