Cheap flights to Australia land in Sydney, which is the busiest international hub in the country. Direct flights also land in other state capitals, such as Brisbane and Melbourne, as well as some tourism hotspots such as Cairns and the Gold Coast. International airports in Sydney and Brisbane are relatively close to the city centres and are serviced by dedicated air train services to the CBD. Melbourne airport is much further out from the CBD, 20km to the north, and is not serviced by rail, but there are cheap public bus options and a SkyBus transfer service which runs around the clock.
Australia is a vast continent, much larger than all of mainland Europe and similar in size to the United States. Cheap travel around Australia needs to be based on good planning, so that the stops in a traveller’s journey progress logically. Qantas and Virgin operate full-service domestic air services, while cheap flights can be sourced through budget airlines Jetstar and Tiger. These airlines offer cheaper seats when no luggage is checked in, so visitors can save money if they can use a main centre as a base and travel light to various destinations. Bus companies and rail services run throughout the country, but due to the vast distances between attractions, the benefit of saving some money on these services needs to be weighed up with the time spent in the bus or train. For example, a flight from Brisbane to Cairns will take just over 2 hours, but visitors will spend more than 24 hours getting their by bus. All capital cities have robust public transports system. In Sydney, the metro rail system and harbour ferries will get visitors to all the city’s main attractions, while in Melbourne the tram network is a cheap and reliable way to get around. In Brisbane the river CityCats are a great way to see the city’s sights.
Each large metropolitan city in Australia has its attractions. The country’s poster pin-up city is Sydney which has the iconic Opera House and Harbour Bridge as focal points of the spectacular harbour. Sydney’s beaches, such as Bondi and Manly, are a short bus or ferry ride from the city centre, while Taroonga Zoo is a worth a visit, if only to grab a photo of a giraffe with the Sydney skyline as a background. Melbourne has its own special appeal, attracting sports lovers to the Australian Tennis Open and Formula 1 GP. Outside the big city lights, nature’s beauty takes centre stage. Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef offers spectacular snorkeling and diving opportunities and the country’s red centre is home to Uluru, the world’s largest monolith and sacred site for the Aboriginal people.
All Australian capital cities – Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, Adelaide, Perth, Darwin and Hobart, have their special precincts and each have their own personality. Sydney is a world city, fast-paced and full of confidence. The Darling Harbour area lures many tourists with a host of restaurants and entertainment venues. Kings Cross is an after-hours hotspot, but one for singles not for families. Oxford Street is the epicentre of the gay and lesbian scene and is famous for its annual gay mardi gras. Melbourne is a melting pot of cultures and as such has a more European feel to it than other Australian cities. The vibe changes as you pass through the suburbs, from the Italian influences of Carlton to the bohemian-style of St Kilda, all within easy reach thanks to the quaint trams which criss-cross the city. The city has also transformed its many alleyways into shopper’s paradises, with once dingy cobblestone streets now home to cheap and unique boutiques and a wide and varied array of cafes and restaurants. The alley transformation has also taken hold in Brisbane’s, which has added the CBD as a dining destination, alongside Park Rd, Milton and Bulimba’s Oxford Street.