How to spend three days in the Gold Coast?
I remember visiting the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia as a kid and being amazed by just how magical this land of sandy beaches, coastal beauty and theme parks was. The good news? It’s still super fun – even in your *cough* thirties.
The Gold Coast is where Aussie families spend many a school holiday break and a visit to one of the Gold Coast’s famous theme parks is a total rite of passage for most kids at some point in their youth. Lazy poolside days and beach explorations abound in the Gold Coast, so much so that after a hectic two months of my solo travels to Nice and Miami my boyfriend, Matt, and I needed to spend some quality time together and recharge. Three days in the Gold Coast was just what we needed to relax and revitalise.
From my home in Sydney, the Gold Coast is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it, hour long flight away or around 10 hours drive. Domestic Australian airlines at both ends of the scale fly this route, so with low-cost options and premium options available depending on your preference, it’s easy to take a little mini-break at the beach. From Gold Coast airport to Surfers Paradise there aren’t a heap of transport options and I’d seriously suggest thinking about car hire, which can sometimes work out more economical. For context, it was cheaper for us to hire a car for four days and only drive it three times than to get an Uber or Taxi from the airport and back.
If you’re heading in from another country, the Gold Coast airport only services a handful of international flights, so you might find yourself flying into nearby Brisbane International airport and catching the airport train across to the coast.
Where to Stay
First things, first. Where to stay in the Gold Coast can totally shape the kind of holiday you have. I choose to stay in Surfers Paradise in order to be close to a heap of cafes, restaurants, bars as well as the beach. Surfers Paradise is probably the busiest area in the Gold Coast – for a quieter stay, there are smaller, sleepier coastal areas along the sea that might serve better. If you choose to stay in Surfers Paradise, though, I can’t recommend the QT hotel enough. These guys looked after me so well and their pool comes with a swim up bar, which had me sold.
The QT is also a block away from the beach and a ten minute walk into the hustle of the heart of Surfers Paradise. The buffet breakfast was one of the best spreads I’ve ever encountered at a hotel with western options, asian fusion (hello pork buns) and a whole section for those with a sweet tooth including waffles, pancakes and doughnuts.
Things To Do
It might sound completely touristy, but honestly have you even been to the Gold Coast if you haven’t had a panic attack in line for an enormously scary rollercoaster? Whether you re-visit your favourite theme park from your childhood or experience the Gold Coast parks for the first time, it’s always a fun day out. Families obviously flock to these attractions – I can remember them always being a staple of my family holidays when I was growing up, but the good news is that they are still hugely enjoyable as an adult. Matt and I decided on Warner Bros. Movie World as I’m a bit of a rollercoaster fiend and at the moment Movie World seems to have the best selection of thrill rides. Sure enough, there were a few nervous moments when we ended up in the front seats on the tallest hypercoaster in the southern hemisphere, but we lived to survive another day (and go on it again).
I mean, that’s what we’re here for, right? The beaches at the Gold Coast are famous because they are spectacular. White sand, crashing waves and turquoise water and the quintessential Australian lifesaving teams on hand to assist anyone who gets into trouble in our surf. Take a book down, set up your towel and alternate between a bit of baking and a bit of cooling off in the water. Just remember, the Australian sun can be punishing, so get out that 50+ sunscreen and constantly re-apply to avoid some painful burns.
A quintessential Australian beach holiday is never complete without a spot of putt putt. Surfers Paradise is home to a broad range of options, including the super fun and designed for adults Holey Moley Golf Club where mini golf meets a bar. I love Holey Moley, and would totally recommend playing a round there with drinks in hand, but I’d also suggest going a little off the beaten path and experiencing the quirkiness of a locally run business like King Tutt’s Putt Putt where you can opt to play a traditional course, a Jurassic Park themed course (complete with dinosaurs) or an Egyptian course.
Instagram Worthy Spots
The Surfers Paradise Sign
Where to Eat
Probably the most important question! Where can you find great places to grab a bite or a beverage in the Gold Coast? Here’s a few of my favourites:
- Betty’s Burgers & Concrete Co. (great burgers; cheap and cheerful)
- Chiang Mai Thai (located inside the Mantra Crown Towers)
- House of Brews (we made it here when it was $1 wing night!)
- Misono Japanese Steakhouse (for entertaining Teppanyaki)
- Goldie’s (for the best cocktails)
- QT (for the buffet)
- Coolangatta Surf Club (beer with an amazing view)
In summing up, the Gold Coast is fun any time of year no matter how old you are or who you’re with. Take it slow, enjoy some of Australia’s best beaches and relax knowing your next three days consist of pool, beach and beers!