Last updated on November 5th, 2023 at 12:34 pm
The Gold Coast, GC or ‘Goldie’ in South-East Queensland is one of Australia’s favourite holiday destinations. The area stretches some 42km along South-East Queensland’s sun-drenched coastline and out 100km or so from the coastline to the hinterland. It offers people of all ages whether single, in a couple, a group of friends or travelling as a family good food, great shopping, a lush hinterland, legendary theme parks, nightlife and golden beaches. If you are planning a trip to the Gold Coast and you are not sure what to see and do, I have an epic 7 day Gold Coast itinerary for you. Featuring handpicked experiences it will help you get the most out of your one week Gold Coast holiday.
Table of Contents
7 Day Gold Coast Itinerary
The following Gold Coast itinerary is just a suggestion. You can mix and match days and suggestions of what to see and do. Everyone from all walks of life holiday on the Gold Coast. So I have included things to see and do for everyone. The Gold Coast is very kid friendly and so you will find many Gold Coast kid friendly activities to enjoy. From spending a day at the theme parks to making sand castles on a Gold Coast beach. Maybe stay at Gold Coast accommodation with a kids club so you can do some Gold Coast parent-friendly things to see and do. And speaking of adult-friendly Gold Coast activities, there are many restaurants and fun things to do including visiting the theme parks, with or without the kids. If considering a honeymoon destination, the Gold Coast has a lot to offer honeymooners. There is plenty of accommodation you could splurge on to begin married life in. And when you decide to come out of your love-nest you can see and visit many Gold Coast icons. Without further ado, here’s my suggested 7 day Gold Coast Itinerary.
Day 1: Arrive, Explore, Dinner – Australia Outback Experience
The first thing to do on your arrival on the Gold Coast is to check into your accommodation. Then quickly get those travel clothes off and your holiday clothes on and get ready to explore your immediate area. You may want to ensure you have a towel and sunscreen with you if you plan to hit the beach either for a swim or a surf. Or maybe walk around getting your bearings before popping into a local coffee shop for a pick me up.
As you will be pumped to be on the Gold Coast why not have your first evening out enjoying the Australia Outback Experience. Enjoy a 3-course BBQ dinner and a 90 minute show about the High Country and Outback. I won’t tell you all about it because I don’t want to spoil it. But be prepared for yelling, hooting, cheering and good food. It only operates a few nights a week (Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday nights).
The Australia Outback Experience is located on Entertainment Rd, Oxenford. You can drive there yourself or catch a bus.
Day 2: Sea World
The Gold Coast is known for its theme parks. There is Dream World, Movie World, Wet n’ Wild and Sea World. I have chosen Sea World, a marine park, for day 2 of this one week Gold Coast itinerary as it is a fun place for all ages. Be prepared to see shows involving seals, dolphins and penguins and you may even get up close and personal with them. And don’t forget the water skiing show. There are also rides to enjoy and plenty of other entertainment. It is a great day out. And you could follow the day up with a night out in a local restaurant. Sea World is located on Sea World Drive at Main Beach. There is plenty of parking if you decide to drive there and also plenty of public buses will take you to the front entrance.
BOOK Your Ticket to Sea World – It is cheaper to purchase a park pass where you can get entry to one or more theme parks over a number of days.
Day 3: Aquaduck, SkyPoint Tower, Pacific Fair Shopping, Putt-Putt
Fun on the Aquaduck
Start your day with a fun ride on an amphibious Aquaduck. This tank like vehicle drives on land and sails on the water. I thought it would be a fun thing to do with my kids and it was, but I think I enjoyed the ride just as much as them. During the hour tour we were shown around the Gold Coast area and saw famous landmarks. Then when we went in the water and saw waterfront mansions and lots of landmarks. You get a different perspective of the Gold Coast from the water.
Aquaduck leaves daily from Caville Avenue, Surfers Paradise at various times during the day. You can purchase a ticket on Aquaduck here.
After the Aquaduck head to the SkyPoint Obsersation Deck located on levels 77 and 78 of the Q1 Building in Surfers Paradise. Here you will get magnificent 360 degree views over the Gold Coast. On a clear day you will see from the beach to the hinterland and up to Brisbane and down to Byron Bay. If you enjoyed the view by day you could always come back and enjoy it by night. If feeling hungry enjoy a meal from the café as you take in the views. Or you might want to undertake the SkyPoint Climb which is Australia’s highest external building climb. Too high for me I’m afraid but there are plenty of people who do the climb. You can purchase a ticket to the SkyPoint Observation Deck here.
After enjoying the views you could head to Pacific Fair Shopping Centre in Southport for some shopping. Here you will find many major chain stores to small boutique shops.
Why not end your day with a game of putt-putt. A great way to spend a few hours before or after dinner. There are plenty of putt-putts on the Gold Coast, and it is a fun thing to do. Then have dinner. For dinner go to one of the Gold Coast’s institutions, Draculas. This dinner and show venue has been around since the 1980s and provides a fantasy cabaret show. You can book for dinner and show or just the show. Be prepared for visitor participation, loud music, partial nudity and lots of comedy. Check whether it might be suitable for your family to see before purchasing a ticket.
Draculas is located at 1 Hooker Boulevard at Broadbeach. You can drive there but parking is limited so it might be easier to catch a local tram or bus.
Day 4: Movie World
Meet the locals at Movie World – here’s me with my new best friend!
Spend the day at Movie World with all the Disney World Characters. Walk around the streets and mingle with many stars, characters and superheroes. You might run into Bugs Bunny, Wonder Woman, Shrek or Batman. See stunt shows, the parade of characters and go on a few different rides. A great way to spend a day.
Movie World is on Pacific Motorway, Oxenford. There is loads of parking available if you choose to drive there or there are plenty of buses that can get you to the front door.
Day 5: Gold Coast Hinterland
Natural Bridge in the Hinterland, thanks to Gold Coast Tourism for the use of the image.
Take a drive into the Gold Coast Hinterland today. Visit the Mt Tambourine National Park, Springbrook National Park and the World Heritage-listed Gondwana rainforest. You can walk on tracks through subtropical rainforests – so wear a pair of good walking shoes. Visit waterfalls, close to around 500 of them and maybe see kangaroos, platypus, koalas and the glow worm cave. And don’t forget your swimmers and a towel as you might dip your toes into the cool waters at the Natural Arch or other watering holes.
The Hinterland offers more than beautiful rainforests to explore. It is also a hub for craft breweries, quaint cafes and is a foodie heaven with plenty of local produce to sample. The best way to explore the Hinterland is by vehicle. If you don’t have one I’d suggest you rent one for the day – check out availability and prices here – or go on a day tour.
Day 6: Currumbin Wildlife Park, Swimming or Surf Lesson
If interested to have a cuddle with a koala, interact with kangaroos and feed some native birds then a visit to Currumbin Wildlife Park is a must. The sanctuary is 27 hectares of lush rainforest that is home to about 1,000 native animals. While at the park don’t miss visiting the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital and if you are an adrenaline junkie take the TreeTop Challenge that includes 11 zip lines. There are also shows highlighting specific animals during the day. I suggest you visit their website for times to ensure you don’t miss out on specific things you would like to see. And every day at 8am and 4pm you can feed the lorikeets. You buy a plate of food and the birds will land right on you to get to the food. It can be a little scary but good fun. Currumbin Wildlife Park is at 28 Tomewin Street, Currumbin. You can drive there or catch public transport.
If you don’t want to spend all day at the wildlife park you might want to visit Snapper Rocks for a surf or swim. Maybe even hit the Currumbin Beach Vikings Surf Life Saving Club for lunch or dinner. Right on the beach you will be afforded good food and fabulous ocean views.
Day 7: Last swim or shop before heading home
Today is the last day of this 8 day Gold Coast itinerary. Depending on the time you are leaving the Gold Coast you might want to have a final swim, surf or shop before heading home.
And as you bid your 7 day Gold Coast holiday good bye I hope you leave with a smile on your face. I know I always do.
Organise Your Gold Coast Visit
When to Visit the Gold Coast
Anytime is a good time to visit the Gold Coast. In my opinion, there might be a few deciding factors as to when you actually go. These include the weather, school holidays and special events.
Weather on the Gold Coast
Firstly to the weather. The Gold Coast is sub-tropical where it is warm year-round. Winter on the Gold Coast is June to August and offers beautiful clear days with cool nights. While summer on the Gold Coast, November to February, heat can be very hot and humid with tropical storms. Autumn and Spring on the Gold Caost can offer more pleasant weather and can also be quieter with less tourists.
School Holidays on the Gold Coast
School holidays are a great time to visit the Gold Coast however, there will be a lot of families on holidays. But if this is the time you have available, well, you just adapt to the people being on holiday, just like you! And attractions will have more people than usual at them. But if you don’t want to party like there is no tomorrow you may wish to miss ‘Schoolies’. This occurs every year from mid-November to mid-December and is when the Gold Coast is inundated with school leavers.
Special Events on the Gold Coast
If you want to see the Humpback Whales migrating along the coast then aim to be on the Gold Coast between August to October. It is wonderful to see the whales breaching and enjoying the waters. While in January there is the Magic Millions Horse Race bringing many horse racing lovers to the Gold Coast.
How to Get to the Gold Coast
Many people fly into the Gold Coast for their holiday. There is an airport at Coolangatta which is well serviced by local transport, particularly the Surfside Bus Network. So buses can get you to your accommodation and to travel around the area. Or there are taxis and pre-organised transfers.
Many people also drive to the Gold Coast. There are many routes you can drive. Here are two that may be of interest. Pacific Highway – Sydney to Brisbane or the New England Highway – Newcastle, NSW to Brisbane.
Where will you Stay on the Gold Coast
There are many accommodation options on the Gold Coast. Before you can choose Gold Coast accommodation you will need to know what area in the Gold Coast you would like to stay. The Gold Coast is renowned for its beaches and many choose where to stay by what the beach has to offer. Some are family friendly while others are great for surfing. And it is wise to choose a beach that might suit your lifestyle because you don’t want to be stuck in a party zone if you prefer family outings. Have a look at the following map showing where the beaches are.
Map of the Gold Coast beaches
TIP: Beach Safety – Swim between the red and yellow flags.
Even though there are a number of beaches on the Gold Coast you could choose to stay at, for your first trip I would suggest one of these three beach suburbs: Coolangatta, Broadbeach or Surfers Paradise. Here’s why.
The southern most suburb on the Gold Coast in Queensland is Coolangatta. It borders New South Wales and is not only home to the airport but has north facing beaches offering sheltered conditions ideal for swimming. Not too far away is Snapper Rocks, great for surfing as is the world-class surf break of Duranbah. There are also many coffee shops, restaurants, shops and nightlife.
Accommodation in Coolangatta
Broadbeach is near Surfers Paradise and offers picturesque parks along the foreshore with many shelters, BBQs, picnic areas and children’s playgrounds. Good swimming and surfing also and home to a couple of casinos if you want to go out on the town each night. Also home to Pacific Fair Shopping Centre. There you will find over 400 stores, some being iconic retail brands to small boutique stores. So if you love to shop, it will be handy to have Pacific Fair Shopping Centre nearby.
Accommodation in Broadbeach
Surfers Paradise is a tourist hot spot on the Gold Coast. It is known for its long sandy Surfers Paradise Beach, high-rise skyline, 24 hour dining and nightlife. Shopping is plentiful along the famed Cavill Mall and Cavill Avenue has plenty of shops, cafes and nightclubs. Ensure to have your photo taken under the Surfers Paradise sign! It is also home to King Tutt’s Putt Putt where you will find people of all ages enjoying a game and the towering Q1 building with its SkyPoint observation deck. Whether you want fun in the sun or a relaxing experience you can find it in Surfers Paradise.
Accommodation in Surfers Paradise
Hostels: Backpackers in Paradise
Apartments: Breakfree Beach Front Apartments
Holiday Resorts: Paradise Resort (has a kids club), SeaWorld Resort
Camping – Big4 Gold Coast Holiday Park, Commera – past Surfers near the theme parks.
How to Get Around the Gold Coast without Your own Wheels
If you don’t have a car on the Gold Coast, don’t worry, the Gold Coast area has a great transport system. The system is managed by TransLink, offering bus, tram and train services. And there are plenty of places to rent a car if you need to.
14 Days Gold Coast Itinerary
If you ask me, one week holiday on the Gold Coast is enough to get a taste of what the Gold Coast has to offer. If you have two weeks available you could spent 14 days on the Gold Coast and really experience much more of what the Gold Coast has to offer. Extending a 7 day Gold Coast Holiday to a 14 day Gold Coast holiday means you get to see and do so much more, like:
- have a helicopter ride over the Gold Coast.
- go to more theme parks.
- spend more time relaxing on the beach or by your hotel’s pool.
- go on hikes in the Hinterlands
- shop till you drop
Are You Ready for a Gold Coast Holiday?
I hope this Gold Coast itinerary helps you with planning your trip! There is so much to do and see on the Gold Coast and I hope you can experience it. Have you been to the Gold Coast or are planning to visit? I’d love to hear in the comments.