Sydney Harbour, Sydney, New South Wales © Destination NSW

Sydney Harbour, Sydney, New South Wales © Destination NSW

How to get to Australia’s most iconic cities & destinations

Jacarandas, Sydney Harbour, Sydney, NSW © Destination NSW

Jacarandas, Sydney Harbour, Sydney, New South Wales © Destination NSW

Sydney’s International Airport is serviced by many international airlines, making it an easy gateway to arrive in the country from overseas. Flights arrive from many cities in Asia, the Middle East, North America, South America, and the Pacific.

Domestic flights will take you to Sydney from nearly everywhere in Australia. It’s a great city to use as a base for your trip. From Brisbane or Melbourne, it's a short 1.5-hour flight, while flights from Perth take just over four hours.

The closest capital cities to Sydney are Canberra (three-hour drive), Melbourne (nine-hour drive), and Brisbane (10-hour drive). The National Highway system will take you between these cities.

There are buses that will take you to Sydney from Melbourne (12.5 hours) or Brisbane (around 17-21 hours).

Canberra Balloon Spectacular, Canberra, ACT © Matt Evans Images

Canberra Balloon Spectacular, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory © Matt Evans Images

Although Canberra is not a common entry point for international travellers arriving in Australia, Canberra Airport does receive flights from Singapore and Qatar (via Sydney).

There are flights to Canberra from many capital cities including Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, and Perth. From Sydney and Melbourne the journey takes just over an hour, while flights from Perth take just under four hours.

From Sydney, Canberra is an easy three-hour drive through the Australian countryside. You can also drive to Canberra from Melbourne, which takes around seven hours.

There are frequent bus services between Sydney and Canberra. The journey takes around three to four hours.

Canberra Balloon Spectacular, Canberra, ACT © Matt EvanCentre Place, Melbourne, VIC © Robert Blackburns Images

Centre Place, Melbourne, Victoria © Robert Blackburn

As Australia’s second-largest city, Melbourne has a great selection of international flights. Most of the airlines that fly into Sydney’s International Airport will also fly into Melbourne Airport.

Flying to Melbourne is easy within Australia, as there are direct flights from all capital cities. From Brisbane, flights take about 2.5 hours, while flights from Perth take about 3.5 hours.

You can drive between Melbourne and Sydney in around nine hours. Adelaide is also close at an eight-hour drive, or a 13-hour drive if you take the iconic Great Ocean Road.

There are buses that will take you from Sydney to Melbourne. The journey takes 12.5 hours.

MACq 01, Hobart, TAS © Adam Gibson

MACq 01, Hobart, Tasmania © Adam Gibson

Tasmania is an island detached from mainland Australia, so flying into Hobart or Launceston is considered the easiest way to get there. There are multiple daily flights into Hobart Airport from Sydney (about two hours) and Melbourne (just over an hour), as well as a few flights per week from Brisbane and Adelaide.

Driving to Tasmania is possible with the Spirit of Tasmania ferry, which departs from Geelong and takes around 10 hours to cross the Bass Strait. Once the ferry arrives in Devonport, it’s just over an hour's drive to Launceston or around a three-hour drive south to Hobart.

Glenelg Beach, Adelaide, SA © South Australian Tourism Commission

Glenelg Beach, Adelaide, South Australia © South Australian Tourism Commission

You can fly to Adelaide Airport from the Middle East, Asia, and the Pacific.

There are direct flights to Adelaide from every capital city in Australia. It takes just two hours from Sydney or three hours from Perth.

Melbourne is the closest capital city and is an eight-hour drive. If you choose to drive from Melbourne to Adelaide, consider taking the longer route along the iconic Great Ocean Road. It extends the driving time to around 13 hours but it's well worth it!

Elizabeth Quay, Perth, WA © Tourism Western Australia

Elizabeth Quay, Perth, Western Australia © Tourism Western Australia

Qantas has launched a new route from Perth to London, making it the only Australian city with a direct flight to Europe. This route takes 16 hours and 45 minutes. Perth also receives flights from Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and New Zealand.

There are direct flights to Perth from every capital city in Australia, except Tasmania's Hobart. From Sydney, it takes about five hours, while from Brisbane it takes about 5.5 hours.

Perth is located on the west coast of Australia, and while it is accessible by road from other capital cities, it is a long drive. The closest capital city is Adelaide at 28 hours drive. 

Mindil Beach, Darwin, NT © Tourism NT/Jules Ingall

Mindil Beach, Darwin, Northern Territory © Tourism NT/Jules Ingall

You can travel to Darwin on a handful of international flights arriving from Asia.

There are direct flights to Darwin from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, and Adelaide. From Melbourne, it takes about 4.5 hours, while from Perth it takes 3.5 hours.

Like Perth, Darwin is a long drive from other capital cities in Australia. Adelaide is the closest at 32 hours away.

Riverlife, Brisbane River, Brisbane, QLD © Tourism and Events Queensland

Riverlife, Brisbane River, Brisbane, Queensland © Tourism and Events Queensland

It’s easy to get to Brisbane from overseas. Brisbane’s International Airport receives flights from North America, Asia, the Middle East and the Pacific.

There are direct flights to Brisbane from every capital city in Australia. From Sydney, it takes 1.5 hours, while from Adelaide it takes 2.5 hours.

Driving to Brisbane is easiest from Sydney; the drive takes 10 hours along the Pacific Highway. Stop along the way at one of the many friendly coastal towns, including the beloved Byron Bay.

Buses will take you between Brisbane and Sydney. The journey time is around 17-21 hours.

Sea Turtle, Great Barrier Reef, QLD ©

Sea Turtle, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland © 

The Great Barrier Reef stretches along much of Queensland's coast, so there are multiple ways to get there. If you're flying from abroad, you can fly directly to Cairns from New Zealand, as well as many hubs in Asia.

CairnsTownsvilleAirlie Beach (Proserpine), and Hamilton Island are gateways to the Great Barrier Reef, all of which are accessible via domestic flights from many of Australia’s capital cities. Flights from Sydney to Cairns take about three hours, while flights from Perth to Cairns take about six hours.

One of the best ways to travel to the reef is by driving; Australia’s east coast provides beautiful scenery for a road trip. If you drive between Cairns and the Gold Coast (about 20 hours), there will be plenty of opportunities to experience the best of the reef along the way.

The quickest way to get to the reef via bus is travelling from Brisbane to Airlie Beach. The trip takes around 19-20 hours.

Uluru, Red Centre, NT © Tourism Australia

Uluru, Red Centre, Northern Territory © Tourism Australia

Alice Springs is the gateway to Australia’s Red Centre where you'll find the ancient monolith Uluru. This area is remote, but not difficult to get to. You can fly to Alice Springs from all capital cities except Canberra and Hobart, or fly directly to Uluṟu from Melbourne or Sydney (three to 3.5 hours) if you’re short on time.

Plenty of travellers drive to Australia’s Red Centre from Adelaide or Darwin. If you choose this option, be aware that the distances are great at around 16-17 hours each way, so these journeys should be done over a few days on a road trip.

Buses will take you from Adelaide or Darwin to Alice Springs. The journey time is around 20-21 hours from either city. 

12 Apostles, Great Ocean Road, VIC © Roberto Seba

12 Apostles, Great Ocean Road, Victoria © Roberto Seba

The Great Ocean Road is accessible from either Melbourne or Adelaide. Avalon Airport, located an hour outside of Melbourne, is the closest domestic airport to the beginning of the Great Ocean Road.

Driving along Victoria’s scenic coastline is what the Great Ocean Road is all about. The Great Ocean Road officially starts at Torquay and ends at Nelson, near the South Australian border. The drive takes around six hours to complete, though you should account for plenty of stops along the way.