If you’re planning a visit to Queensland during your time in Australia, we definitely suggest spending a few days on the Gold Coast. There are so many things to do on the Gold Coast; whether you’re a fully grown adult with bills and responsibilities, or a carefree child you’re bound to have a blast! Russell and I spent 6 days on the Gold Coast, and although we had some questionable Sunshine State weather during our stay, we still managed to see and do quite a lot!
If you’re a theme park fan, enjoy relaxing on the beach or shopping up a storm, you’ll definitely enjoy your stay on the Gold Coast. I’ve included a ton of useful tips and advice in this article to help you plan your next trip to Australia, or more specifically Queensland, as easily as possible. You’ll find a list of things to do on the Gold Coast, the best place to stay, where to eat, shopping malls, theme parks and more!
Table of Contents
- 1 17 Things to Do on The Gold Coast: A Guide to Surfers Paradise & More
- 2 Things to do in Surfers Paradise
- 2.1 1. Cavill Mall
- 2.2 2. Get a Tattoo
- 2.3 3. Stroll Along the Beach or Watch the Sunrise/Sunset
- 2.4 4. SkyPoint Observation Deck at the Q1 Building
- 2.5 5. Beachfront Night Markets
- 2.6 6. Timezone
- 2.7 7. Ripley’s Believe It Or Not
- 2.8 8. King Tutt’s Putt Putt
- 2.9 9. Shopping
- 2.10 10. Eat Zambreros Mexican Food
- 2.11 11. Restaurants/Clubs/Pubs
- 2.12 12. Watch the Street Performers
- 3 Other Things to do on the Gold Coast
- 4 Did you like this post? Pin it for later or share with friends!
17 Things to Do on The Gold Coast: A Guide to Surfers Paradise & More
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. That means, if you click on certain links within this post and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for continuing to support Rhiannon Travels, and keeping it a free travel guide and resource for everyone to use!
How to Get to the Gold Coast
If you’re flying from an international destination, the best way to get to the Gold Coast is definitely by plane. Gold Coast Airport is half an hour away from Surfers Paradise by car. If you plan to explore more of Queensland than just the Gold Coast, I recommend hiring a car. There are a handful of car hire companies at Gold Coast Airport, and it’s definitely best to book ahead. We hired a car for our 10 day stay in Queensland, and decided to go with Thrifty.
If you’d prefer to not hire a car, book an Uber or Taxi to get from Gold Coast Airport to your hotel. There are public transport options, but travel time is quite long. An Uber will be the cheapest and most reliable option. Download the Uber App, and book one once you’ve collected your luggage and are waiting outside of the airport!
Where to Stay
We stayed in Surfers Paradise during our time on the Gold Coast, and it was definitely the best decision! There’s so much to see and do in Surfers Paradise, so if you want to be amongst the action, look at accomodation options in Surfers Paradise.
For the 6 days we were in the Gold Coast, we stayed at Chateau Beachside. We went with this particular hotel, mainly for the view we would have in the One Bedroom Beachfront Apartment. It was incredible, and definitely worth the very reasonable amount of money we paid. You can read about our stay at Chateau Beachside, here!
There are a ton of different accomodation options for all budgets in Surfers Paradise and the Gold Coast. Hotels Combined is a great way to compare hotels, apartments and other types of accomodation, to find what suits you and your travel gang best! Narrow down your search depending on the location and amenities you prefer, plus tons of other filters. Head to Hotels Combined and begin your search for the perfect Gold Coast accomodation.
What to Pack
It doesn’t really matter what time of year you visit Queensland, because it’s great weather year round. We visited the Gold Coast during October 2017 (Spring) and I wore shorts and a t-shirt or a dress almost every day. There were some pretty hot days during our stay on the Gold Coast, so it’s definitely best to come prepared. Here are some must-pack items for your trip to the Gold Coast:
- A hat – The Australian sun can be pretty brutal, especially during summer (December until February) so packing a hat is crucial. However, if you do forget, don’t worry. There are a ton of souvenir stores on the Gold Coast and especially in Surfers Paradise, where you can pick one up for around $12.
- Summer clothes – Things like shorts, t-shirts, dresses, singlets, tank tops or basically anything you would wear during summer back home. Make sure to save some space in your luggage for shopping! There are lots of malls throughout the Gold Coast, and you’ll be glad you packed light!
- Appropriate shoes – I’m talking about thongs (flip flops), sandals, sneakers for hiking and some going out shoes if you’re into the clubbing scene.
- Bathers or bikini – Well, obviously. The Gold Coast is almost endless coastline, so you’ll either be laying on the sand or swimming in the ocean quite a lot. Also, if your hotel has a pool or spa, you’ll definitely be glad you packed a comfortable and cute pair of bathers. Again, if you forget, don’t worry, there are tons of places to purchase some!
- Passport and alternative form of ID – This is super important if you are hoping to purchase alcohol, either from a bottle shop or at a club or restaurant. The legal drinking age in Australia is 18 years old, and showing your Passport (if you’re an international visitor) is the best form of identification.
- A protective Passport wallet – Since your passport is the most important item you will have with you while travelling, I highly recommend keeping it in a protective wallet. This one comes in a range of colours, and is RFID blocking. That means you can walk around the Gold Coast in style, and have piece of mind that your Passport is safe!
- Cash and/or travel credit card – The cost of travelling around Australia can be pretty high, so it’s best to set a budget before you arrive. Most places on the Gold Coast accepts credit or debit card, but it’s always a good idea to have some cash just incase. Look for a Commonwealth Bank ATM, as they have recently made all of their ATM’s withdrawal cost free!
- Sunscreen – If you have a certain type of sunscreen that works best for your skin, or you just prefer a particular brand, make sure to bring it with you. As I mentioned above, Australia’s sun is brutal, and even more so in Queensland – it’s not called the Sunshine State for no reason! You’ll need to reapply sunsreen throughout the day, if you plan on spending time in the sun.
- A camera and spare memory cards – The Gold Coast is one of the most beautiful places in Australia, and I guarantee you’ll be snapping away all day long. Remember to bring along a spare memory card or two, just incase you go a little crazy with your Australian photography! If you do happen to run out of space on your memory card, stores like JB Hi Fi or Officeworks are great for buying spares.
Things to do in Surfers Paradise
1. Cavill Mall
Cavill Mall is the main shopping, food, drink and entertainment part of Surfers Paradise. It’s where all the action happens and everyone flocks to have a good time. We stayed less than a 5 minute walk away from Cavill Mall, and definitely made the most of our convenient location. There are a ton of restaurants, bars, clubs and shops to suit every taste. I loved walking down Cavill Mall each day, checking out the huge range of shops and people watching as we strolled around Surfers Paradise.
You’ll be spoiled with choice of live music, fast food outlets, arcades, souvenir stores, tattoo parlours, supermarkets, restaurants with cuisines from all over the world and much more. We walked up and down Cavill Mall an endless amount of times, and always saw something different. Don’t miss the famous Surfers Paradise sign at the end of Cavill Mall, and check out the Beachfront Night Markets (more on that soon).
2. Get a Tattoo
Before we arrived in Queensland, Russell and I knew we wanted to get a tattoo. It took us a while to decide on what we wanted and where on our bodies to get it, but eventually we made our way to Frontline Tattoo in Surfers Paradise. Being a huge Harry Potter fan, I knew that I wanted to get the Deathly Hallows symbol. I wasn’t 100% sure where I was going to get it until a couple of days before, but ended up getting the symbol tattooed on my ankle! Russell got a Japanese symbol tattooed on his wrist.
If you’re thinking of getting a tattoo during your time on the Gold Coast, there are plenty of tattoo studios to choose from in Surfers Paradise. Some require a booking, and some allow you to just walk in. We decided to go with Frontline Tattoo Studio on Gold Coast Highway right in the heart of Surfers Paradise. Russell had gotten a tattoo a few years earlier at Frontline Tattoo, so we went with something familiar. Mina tattooed us both, and we are extremely happy with the work she did. Our tattoos came out perfectly, and have healed without any hiccups.
3. Stroll Along the Beach or Watch the Sunrise/Sunset
As I mentioned earlier, we were lucky enough to stay at Chateau Beachside, with incredible beachfront views of the ocean. Queensland is filled with gorgeous coastline, and that’s no different on the Gold Coast. Surfers Paradise Beach is 3 kilometres of gorgeous golden sand and crashing waves.
The sun rises early on the Gold Coast, so Surfers Paradise Beach is bustling from 5am onwards. Head down to the beach for an incredible view of the sunrise and watch the surfers catch some early morning waves. There’s a lot of beautiful Australian beach to enjoy during your time in Queensland, so make the most of it! Wake up early, enjoy the sunrise and get a head start on your day spent on the Gold Coast!
4. SkyPoint Observation Deck at the Q1 Building
While you’re in Surfers Paradise, visit the SkyPoint Observation Deck on Level 77 of the Q1 Building. It’s Australia’s only beachside observation deck, and at 230 metres tall, it’s an experience you’ll never forget!
There are a few different ticket options available for purchase, depending on the type of experience you’d like to have at the SkyPoint Observation Deck:
General Admission – Child: $14, Adult: $24
Day & Night Admission – Child: $19, Adult: $34
SkyPoint Deck & Dine – Child: $24, Adult: $34
The Day & Night Admission gets you entry to SkyPoint Observation Deck during the day, and then you can return back up at night! If you’d like to indulge in a meal and drink while enjoying the incredible view of Surfers Paradise, choose the SkyPoint Deck & Dine option.
Russell and I did the SkyPoint Observation Deck on our last day on the Gold Coast, and it was the perfect way to end our trip! Incredible 360 degree, panoramic views of Surfers Paradise and plenty of sunshine for some beautiful photos – definitely one of the best things to do on the Gold Coast.
5. Beachfront Night Markets
Every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday nights, you’ll find the Surfers Paradise Night Markets located at the end of Cavill Mall on the Esplanade. There are around 100 stalls set up along the foreshore selling all sorts of food, clothing, toys, handmade products and much more. The Markets are open from 4pm until 9pm, so head out early for some dinner at one of the many restaurants in Surfers Paradise, then begin your stroll through the stalls.
Timezone is an indoor entertainment centre in Surfers Paradise, and is the largest of its kind in Australia. The perfect place to bring along the kids (and kids at heart) for a day of fun. Filled with arcade games, ticket games, prize games and more. People of all ages will enjoy their visit to Timezone.
In order to play any of the games at Timezone Surfers Paradise, you’ll need to purchase a Powercard. You can load different amounts of credits onto your card to get started. We went for the $30 load, which got us an extra $5 worth of credits. Most of the games cost between $1.50 and $5 per person (per swipe). So if you plan on spending a decent amount of time playing games, earning tickets and winning prizes, I suggest buying a Powercoard for each person who wants to play.
The other load amount options are:
$50 – Get $10 extra plus 50 Powertickets
$100 – Get $25 extra plus 100 Powertickets
$250 – Get $75 extra plus 250 Powertickets.
Powertickets are earned by playing any of the Ticket Games throughout the centre. Click here for other Timezone package deals, and to check out all the awesome games!
7. Ripley’s Believe It Or Not
Ripley’s Believe it or Not is the perfect attraction for kids. Russell and I walked through the galleries of strange, unusual attractions but didn’t enjoy it as much as when we were younger. If you’re visiting the Gold Coast with young children, it’s the perfect way to kill an hour or so. There are a ton of exhibits with strange and unusual stories, interactive games and more.
Cost: Child (5-12): $14.90 | Student (13-17): $19.90 | Adult: $24.90
8. King Tutt’s Putt Putt
A short walk away from Cavill Mall, you’ll find King Tutt’s Putt Putt. The indoor and outdoor mini golf course is located in an open area of land amongst a ton of Surfers Paradise hotels, across the road from Mantra Sun City. We walked to King Tutt’s Putt Putt one night for some mini golfing fun. There are a few different courses available, with varying lengths and difficulties.
We chose to do the indoor Ancient Egypt course, but there is also a Jurassic park indoor course and an outdoor African Jungle course. Kids will love spending a couple of hours at King Tutt’s Putt Putt, and at a reasonable price to do all three courses, it’s a must-see while in Surfers Paradise!
Cost for 1 Course: Child: $10 | Adult: $15
Cost for 2 Courses: Child: $15 | Adult: $20
Cost for 3 Courses: Child: $18 | Adult: $23
Location: Corner of Surfers Paradise Boulevard & Ocean Avenue, Queensland, Australia
Opening Hours: 9am until 9pm
You can purchase tickets for King Tutt’s Putt Putt before arriving, by clicking here.
There are a ton of stores in Surfers Paradise, no matter your style or taste. Given that the Gold Coast is just that, a coastal town, you’ll find an abundance of surf shops and beach style clothing and accessories. There are also a large amount of souvenir stores, to cater for all of the tourists and travellers visiting Surfers Paradise. From every day clothing stores to high fashion and clubbing attire, there’s definitely something for everyone. Bring along some spare cash, especially if you love to shop up a storm! Surfers Paradise is the Gold Coast’s beachside shopping destination.
10. Eat Zambreros Mexican Food
Australia is home to a wonderful Mexican fast food chain called Zambreros. I’m not sure if they have international locations, but here in Australia, it’s a popular place to eat. We have Zambreros restaurants in Adelaide, where Russell and I live, but they’re not conveniently located like this particular one in Surfers Paradise was. A 5 minute walk out of our hotel, and we were ordering our delicious burritos.
Zambreros is almost exactly the same as Chipotle. You can build your very own full size burrito, smaller burrito or burrito bowl at Zambreros – so there’s something for everyone! They also cater to vegetarians too, so if you’d like your burrito or burrito bowl made vegetation, just ask when ordering. We had Zambreros for dinner every single day during our time in Surfers Paradise, so we were definitely regulars during our 6 night visit!
If you don’t like the idea of eating Mexican for dinner every night, there are a huge amount of restaurants all over Surfers Paradise serving cuisine from all over the world. Cavill Mall is also the place to go for clubbing, if that’s your thing. There are a ton of clubs and bars throughout Surfers Paradise, with live music and events on almost every weekend.
Note: If you’re hoping for a peaceful stay in Surfers Paradise, or you’re travelling with young kids, avoid booking your Gold Coast holiday between November and December. Schoolies is an annual festival for Year 12’s graduating from high school. There are official Schoolies Festival locations all over Australia, and the Gold Coast is one of the most popular. If you’d prefer not to be trampled by thousands of 18 year olds celebrating the end of the schooling, definitely steer clear, or stay further down the coast and as far away from Surfers Paradise as possible!
12. Watch the Street Performers
You’ll come across street performers all over Surfers Paradise, especially on the days that the Night Markets are held. From people juggling swords on fire, to real life statues scaring little children, there’s plenty of opportunities for a good laugh. Keep an eye out on the weekend, as they tend to frequent the streets of Surfers Paradise and Cavill Mall a lot more!
Other Things to do on the Gold Coast
13. Movie World
Movie World is one of Queensland’s most popular theme parks. If you’re wanting to experience Hollywood on the Gold Coast, set aside a day to ride Superman Escape, DC Rivals Hypercoaster (the only Hypercoaster in the Southern Hemisphere!), the Green Lantern and more.
We spent around four hours at Movie World during our time on the Gold Coast, and had a blast. I’ve already written a post about our day, so head over and read that here! I share tips on how to get to Movie World, the types of tickets available and where to purchase them, all of the rides and rollercoasters, the best places to eat and more!
WetnWild is a water park on the Gold Coast, about 20 minutes by car from Surfers Paradise. There are a ton of different rides, including a few water thrill rides and even an entire area just for the kids. WetnWild is the perfect day out for anyone visiting the Gold Coast, as there’s something for everyone.
15. Harbour Town Outdoor Outlet Mall
Harbour Town is one of the best things to do on the Gold Coast, especially if you love a good shopping spree! We decided to have our shopping day on a very wet and thunder-stormy day, to keep free the nice sunny days for other activities. That meant, we had to run from our rental car to the entrance of Harbour Town in almost torrential rain. Despite the weather, we stayed for quite a while and found some absolute bargains!
If you’re unfamiliar with Harbour Town, it’s an outlet mall with almost everything at warehouse prices. That means, TONS of awesome deals. You’ll find a section with only high-end outlet stores, women’s fashion, men’s fashion, children’s clothes, shoe stores, accessories and makeup, pharmacies, restaurants, sporting goods and clothing and much more. There’s definitely something for everyone at Harbour Town, so if you’re looking for some things to do on the Gold Coast, have yourself a shopping day!
16. Pacific Fair Shopping Centre
If you’ve spent a few hours browsing around Harbour Town and still crave more shopping, head to Pacific Fair Shopping Centre. Although it’s not an outlet mall, you can still score some great deals. There are also supermarkets and department stores that Harbour Town doesn’t have.
17. Tamborine Mountain
We visited Tamborine Mountain on our last full day on the Gold Coast. Around 50 minutes from Surfers Paradise, is one of the Gold Coast’s most beautiful and tranquil mountains in the Gold Coast Hinterland. There are a ton of things to see and do, including wineries, various hikes, botanic gardens, glow worm caves, sky walks and more.
We drove through Tamborine Mountain’s winding roads for a couple of hours, before coming across the Tamborine Mountain Rainforest Skywalk. Admission costs $19.50 for adults and $9.50 for children, which will get you access to the elevated bridges overlooking the rainforest and facts and information along your scenic 1.5km long walk.
Cost: Child: $9.50 | Adult: $19.50
Location: 333 Giessmann Drive, North Tamborine, Queensland
Opening hours: 9:30am until 5pm (last walk begins at 4pm)
Duration: Around 45 minutes at a leisurely pace
Length of walk: 1.5km
Amenities: Cafe, souvenir shop, free parking & bathroom facilities
The Tamborine Mountain Rainforest Skywalk is one of the most beautiful things to do on the Gold Coast. Don’t forget to bring a camera though, and wear flat footed shoes (definitely no heels).
Well there you have it – 17 things to do on the Gold Coast! On your next (or first) trip to Queensland, spend some time exploring the Gold Coast and Surfers Paradise. Perfect for families, couples and groups of friends. With something for everyone, your entire travel group will have a blast!
Have you visited Queensland before? Do you have something to add to this list of things to do on the Gold Coast? Tell me in the comments below!
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. That means, if you click on certain links within this post and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only ever share my 100% honest opinion, and will never endorse a product or company that I wouldn’t use myself. Thanks for continuing to support Rhiannon Travels, and keeping it a free travel guide and resource for everyone to use!