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City slickers, culture vultures and beach bums alike fall in love with Sydney. Hang ten at famed Bondi Beach or stroll the calmer sands of Coogee. Cash burning a hole in your pocket? You’ll find great shopping in the Rocks district and along George and Pitt Streets. Climb to the top of the Harbour Bridge or take a skywalk on Sydney Tower for a 360-degree view of the city. But whatever you do, don’t leave town without cuddling the koalas in the Taronga Park Zoo—they’re ridiculously adorable.
Lovely, laid-back Melbourne has something for everyone: family fare, local and international art, haute boutiques, multicultural dining, Australian and Aboriginal history, spectator sports, and pulsing, swanky nightlife. Cruise on the free City Circle Tram loop to check out unique attractions like the Royal Botanical Gardens and the Healesville Sanctuary, which buzzes with local animal species.
Australia’s third-largest city, Brisbane is the hub of Queensland culture, offering a peek at the past and a glimpse into the future. Visit the historic Windmill and Old Commissariat Store, built by convicts in 1828, or fast-forward to the present (and beyond) with a trip to the new Gallery of Modern Art. Mingle with locals atop Mount Coot-tha, cruise the Brisbane River to South Bank’s sandy beach on the City Cat and make sure to fill the cuteness quota at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, home to koalas and kangaroos.
Perched on Tasmania’s southeastern coast, the lively city of Hobart is a unique mash-up of the 19th and 21st centuries. The waterfront cafes, restaurants and studios of the largest city in Tasmania are housed in centuries-old converted warehouses that overlook a harbour bustling with yachts and fishing boats. An active arts scene, vibrant nightlife and leisurely daytime pace add to the city’s charm.
Perched on the banks of the wide Swan River, between the Indian Ocean and the sands of the Nullarbour Desert, Perth is one of the world's most isolated cities, yet still boasts an active beach scene and smokin’ nightlife. Family-friendly Cottesloe is brimming with swimmers, surfers and snorkelers. Head north to Scarbourough for a spirited beachside club scene. Coo at cute marsupials on ferry-accessible Rottnest Island, and don’t miss the views from King's Park and Botanic Gardens.
The capital city of South Australia is simply enchanting, a treasure trove of shopping, fine arts, gastronomy and outdoor activity. Adelaide is the heart of the world's opal industry, selling gorgeous stones from South Australian mines. Be sure to hike the aptly named Mt. Lofty Ranges and catch a wave off the Fleurieu Peninsula. Indulge your adventurous palate and traipse into nearby wine regions like the famed Barossa Valley to pick up a deliciously drinkable souvenir.
Cairns is the perfect city for merry revelers, passionate divers and adrenaline junkies, offering booming nightlife and heart-pounding adventure amid a vibrant, tropical setting. This friendly Queensland city of 130,000 is a gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, Daintree National Park, Cape Tribulation, Cooktown and the rest of Cape York Peninsula. Embark on an eco-adventure or take a dip in a lagoon pool before hitting the town to unwind and shake what you’ve got Down Under.
Tuck into succulent five-star meals in Port Douglas, the culinary gem of Queensland, or suck down a killer cocktail at a casually swanky lounge. A perfect base for exploring the Great Barrier Reef, the rainforest at Daintree and the beaches at Cape Tribulation, this Queensland town has an out-of-this-world setting. Sunbathe on the golden sands of Four Mile Beach, then melt into perfect pampering at one of Port Douglas’ glorious day spas for the ultimate in relaxation.
Noosa, part of Queensland's Sunshine Coast, is a world famous surfing destination, known for its expansive beaches and colorful bays. Hike across Noosa National Park's cliffs and forests, canoe through the Noosa River Everglades, kayak across the open sea or just chill out on the golden sand that stretches for miles. A day trip to nearby Fraser Island, a World Heritage Site where lush rainforests can be found emerging improbably from dry sand dunes, is a unique experience not to be missed.