Planning a solo trip to Gold Coast, Australia? Here’s everything you need to know for your visit:
- Located in Queensland, the Gold Coast is Australia’s sixth largest city (~550,000 residents).
- Europeans settled in the area in 1823, when John Oxley landed at Mermaid Beach. It officially became a city in 1959.
- Known for its coastline (57 km stretch from South Stradbroke Island to Coolangatta) and theme parks (including Movie World, Sea World and Wet N Wild).
- Visited by around 10 million people every year, with almost 850,000 coming from overseas.
- Currency: Australian Dollar (AUD).
- Spoken languages: English. Be prepared for plenty of Australian slang/jargon!
- Best time to visit: from August to November for the warmest/sunniest weather. The summer months (winter in Northern Hemisphere) often mean heavy rain and thunderstorms.
- Arriving from the airport: from Coolangatta airport, you have a couple of bus options (depending on the direction you’re going). Both Surfside Bus 777 (to Broadbeach South Station) and Surfside bus 760 (to Varsity Lakes Station) are $5.20 one way.
- Taxi fare to Surfers Paradise is around $65 to $85.
WHERE TO STAY
- Best hostel in Surfers Paradise for solo travelers: BUNK. Spacious rooms, comfortable beds, and a great location right in the centre (5 mins walk from the beach, and bus station is 2 mins away if you need it). On-site pool/jacuzzi, and a social atmosphere. Definitely book ahead, as this one fills up fast!
- To be in the heart of the action, stay in Surfers Paradise or Broadbeach and choose from the many accommodation options (including hostels, beachfront apartments, and luxury hotels).
- For a quieter location, opt to stay in the south of the city.
- To get away from the beach, choose a relaxing bed and breakfast in the Hinterland for breathtaking views of the coastline and surrounding rainforest.
- The city has a railway line running from Varsity Lakes to Central Brisbane stations and Brisbane Airport.
- There is a comprehensive bus network which includes services to most major tourist attractions. Fares start from $4.60.
- The city’s G:link is a light rail system for commuters.
- The easiest way to get around is to buy a 1-day go card for $10 (see locations of retailers).
GOLD COAST NIGHTLIFE
- Drinking age is 18, last call is between 12 AM and 1 AM (unless you are at Surfers Paradise, where you can party all night).
- Surfers Paradise is the city’s party center. Many bars and clubs stay open until early morning.
- Relaxed scene: visit one of the many bars and restaurants in Broadbeach.
- Great bars to check out: Finn McCool’s Surfers Paradise, The Loose Moose Tap & Grill House, Nightjar, Havana RnB Nightclub (club).
UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT
- Q1 is one of the world’s tallest residential buildings (height: 1,058 feet). Visit the observation deck on level 77 for panoramic views of the city.
- The Gold Coast has many world famous surfing beaches, as well as the biggest professional surf lifesaving service in Australia.
- Hinze Dam, also known as Advancetown Lake (built in 1979).
- A walk along some of the city’s world famous beaches, such as Surfers Paradise, is a must.
- There are many rainforest walks to enjoy in the Gold Coasts hinterland. Take a night time glow worm tour at Springbrook National Park, or walk the track around Natural Bridge.
- Stroll around Burleigh Head National Park and take in the beautiful views of Tallebudgera Creek, the southern coastline and the Coral Sea.
- Tip: save money when visiting attractions by picking up tourist brochures, available from tourist information desks and most holiday accommodations.
- Great restaurants to try: The Glenelg Public House, Orzo, Social Eating House + Bar ($$$), Restaurant Labart, Yamagen Japanese Restaurant, and Etsu Izakaya.
- Where to find good cheap eats: eating out can get expensive just about anywhere in Australia. Keep a look out for early bird deals – some restaurants offer as much as 50% off before 6 PM. Broadbeach offers a giant selection of cuisines to choose from.
- Dangerous areas: most areas of the city are very safe. Trouble can occur in Surfers Paradise at night, around the bars and nightclubs.
Recommended trip duration: 3-4 days