Top 5 cities to backpack in Australia

Australia is a great place to explore but which of its cities can lay claim to have the most to offer the thousands of backpackers that visit the country every year?


As you can see from the funny map above, Australia seems to have a lot of things to keep us occupied. While it is not exactly the cheapest country in the world to backpack, a bit of planning is all it takes before you can enjoy Australia’s natural beauty. From the extreme sports and vineyards of the west coast, to the deserted outback of central Australia, all the way to the fabled enchantment of the east coast, there are cities all over the country – and on outlying islands – that backpackers of all ages want to call home!

So now, let’s look at the top 5 Australian cities in which to backpack, and count up from 5-1:

Photo: Bill Hatcher
Photo: Bill Hatcher

5. Perth, Western Australia. The true wilderness of Australia. Hop on a mountain bike and explore the vast mountainsides and countryside here, or perhaps even participate in some extreme sports. Bungee jump from the mountain’s edge, enjoy white-water rafting down the vicious rivers here, or perhaps just partake in some wine-tasting from the world class vineyards! There really is something for everyone in Perth!

The Daintree Rainforest in Queensland
The Daintree Rainforest in Queensland

4. Cairns, Queensland. This is the heart of tropical Australia. The gateway to the world famous Great Barrier Reef and the renowned Daintree Rainforest, which is one of the oldest pieces of jungle in the entire world. Go wildlife spotting in the jungles or in the seas, as there is amazing diving available around the protected coral reefs at the Great Barrier Reef. Just watch out for those Great Whites!


3. Sydney, New South Wales. While you may not be able to get the natural adventure of hiking through the outback, diving at the Barrier Reef, or mountain biking across mountain ranges in Western Australia, there are still so many other thrilling activities on offer in the busiest city in Oz. How about walking across the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge? Or taking an adrenaline-pumping speedboat tour of the Harbour itself? There is a great backpacking culture here in Sydney, as most backpackers begin and end their Australian adventure here in the city. Bars and pubs are plenty, with some pretty cool hostels for travellers of all ages and budgets, you really cannot go wrong in Sydney!


2. Christmas Island. This outlying Australian territory is an island full of natural wonders. From the unique annual red crab migration to deserted beaches where the only footprints in the sand are those made by nesting turtles, it provides backpackers a great opportunity to check out Australia away from the mainland and enjoy a truly unusual travel experience!


1. Brisbane, Queensland. This city needs no introduction, as it is the home of Surfer’s Paradise, the Sunshine Coast, and the Gold Coast! You guessed it, many backpackers make Brisbane their home if they’re into surfing, swimming, sunbathing, and generally just having a great time by the ocean!

Which city in Australia do you think should have been voted number one? Let me know in the comments section below!


10 thoughts on “Top 5 cities to backpack in Australia

  1. I actually like all of them, I’ve been to Sydney, will be heading to Perth next month and have plans for the rest of them soon…haha…but personally like all because they offer different experiences which I love…cheers! 🙂


    1. I agree that the cities each have different things to offer, that’s what makes it so exciting to make a list like this. Everybody’s list could be different! I hope you have a good time in Perth! 🙂


    1. I would have always thought Melbourne was more of a business city. It was on my shortlist, but the other 5 just seemed more interesting to me. And wow, I wish I had to chance to spend 1 year in Australia – was that a working holiday?


      1. I did my internship in Melbs and then I had a chance to travel around a bit. I guess Melbourne is one of the cities that doesn’t make a good first impression, but after you discover all the small graffiti lanes, cozy coffee shops, roof top bars, hang outs and everything city has to offer it’s just amazing 🙂 Other cities on your list are great as well though.. How long did you spend in Aus?


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