Forts Walk, Magnetic Island, Queensland © Tourism and Events Queensland
Australia’s best solo travel destinations
Nothing evokes the feeling of pure freedom more than travelling alone. From lively city scenes to prehistoric outback landscapes, Australia offers unique destinations perfectly suited to the solo traveller.
By Amy Fraser
Great for: Wellness activities and laid-back bars
Australia’s east coast is a mecca for backpacking adventures, and Byron Bay is undoubtedly a long-time favourite along this lauded route. What once was a sleepy coastal town transformed into a hippie heaven of surfing and wellness in the 60s. The latter has become the fabric of Byron Bay, but these days, you can expect a patchwork of trendy restaurants, bars and relaxed hostels peppered around town too. Spend your days experiencing Byron Bay’s laid-back vibe: chasing waves, stretching out your worries in a yoga class or watching the world wake up from Australia’s most easterly point. Come evening, say cheers with new friends at The Surf House’s rooftop bar.
Great for: Spotting koalas and budget-friendly island escapes
You don’t need to travel far to experience the splendours of a tropical island. Magnetic Island, or ‘Maggie’ as affectionately called by locals and travellers alike, is coated in lush bushland that meets white-sand beaches and turquoise waters. Take the easy 20-minute ferry ride from Townsville and check into Nomads – one of Australia’s most breathtaking hostels – where a line of teepee-style wooden rooms and swaying palm trees overlook the ocean. Maggie’s list of adventures is endless. Hire an open-roof car to explore some of the 23 dazzling beaches that envelop the island, immerse yourself in the world’s largest koala population along the Forts Walk to see our furry friends among the trees, and follow a colourful snorkel trail to gaze over vibrant corals and a 1900s shipwreck.
Great for: A trendy food and drink scene
Melbourne has been dubbed one of the most liveable cities in the world – and it’s a must-visit too. This eclectic city serves up silky coffees (often claimed as Australia’s best), eccentric exhibitions and show-stopper plates of food. Capture the bustling atmosphere and artistic details of its cobbled laneways, mingle with the locals at a live sports event and watch the sunset over the city skyline from a rooftop bar. Whether you want to blend into the city or make new-found friends, Melbourne’s menu of solo-friendly activities is a recipe for a great time.
Great for: Exploring the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest
Tropical adventures abound in the friendly town of Cairns, where two UNESCO World Heritage-listed sites meet. Positioned between the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest, and with plenty of uncrowded palm-fringed beaches in between, the natural wonders of North Tropical Queensland are at your fingertips here. Join a cruise to snorkel around the colourful outer reefs, or face your fears with a bungy jump. The ancient culture of the Daintree Rainforest is just a one-hour drive away, easily accessed solo or on a group tour.
Great for: 4WD adventures and gorgeous lagoons
Coated in sand dunes, rainforests and natural blue lakes, K’gari (formerly Fraser Island) exudes the free spirit nature of solo travel. Despite the small slither of ocean that separates it from the mainland, you’ll feel a world away from life’s realities on this remarkable landscape, crowned the world’s largest sand island. The best way to experience K’gari as a solo traveller is on a group tag-along tour. Following your guide, take the wheel of a 4WD to cruise along the mighty 75 Mile Beach, drive through the towering forest and swim in crystal-clear lagoons. At night, relax in private beach house accommodation.
Great for: Local produce and culture
Known as one of the friendliest cities in Australia, a solo trip to Hobart is always a good idea. The charismatic city centre is small enough to explore solo and big enough to excite. Wander around the traditional Salamanca markets to taste the region’s famed produce, expect the unexpected at MONA (the Museum of Old and New Art) and enjoy a beer at Cascades Brewery, Australia’s oldest operating craft brewery. The city’s surroundings are just as alluring. Hike to the summit of Mount Wellington for sunrise or take a day trip to the nearby Bruny Island, where gourmet delights in the form of cheese, beer and chocolate meet spectacular walks and wildlife.
Fremantle and Rottnest Island
Great for: Making (furry) friends
It’s not every day you can wake up in a World Heritage-listed 1800s building and later on, come face-to-face with a tiny smiling marsupial on an island described as paradise. The port city of Fremantle has long been a popular destination for solo travellers. Stay at the unique YHA Fremantle Prison hostel to make life-long friends (and memories) and embrace the city’s extensive culture at fascinating museums, bustling food markets and breweries famed for their pioneering craft beers. From Fremantle, take the easy 30-minute ferry ride to Rottnest Island, an island primed for solo exploration. Explore its gorgeous bays and beaches on two wheels and be sure to capture your day with an adorable quokka selfie.
Great for: Natural beauty and wildlife
Slow travel is synonymous with Cradle Mountain St Clair National Park, where Tasmania’s raw wilderness evokes a deep connection to nature and wildlife in the heart of the ancient World Heritage-listed Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. Join a night tour at the conversation centre, Devils@Cradle, to meet the typically shy Tasmanian Devil, or venture into the wild after dark to spot native Tassie animals on a guided tour. If you’ve got an appetite for thrills, try abseiling down dramatic waterfalls on a canyoning adventure. And for those who seek the true solidarity of nature, join a day tour from Launceston to hit Cradle Mountain’s breathtaking collection of hikes, spanning dramatic summits, alpine terrain and ancient rainforests.
Great for: Connecting to the world’s oldest living culture
Nothing says adventure like visiting the mighty Uluru, the world’s largest sandstone monolith towering 348m (1,142ft) high from the red earth of Australia’s arid outback. Over 500 million years old, Uluru’s spirit is just as present in the Indigenous Anangu people and their Dreamtime stories as it is in the red-hued rock itself. Immerse yourself in the region on a multi-day tour (goodbye, transportation worries) which blends the highlights of Uluru and its neighbouring monolith, Kata Tjuta. Expect days packed with guided cultural hikes through otherworldly landscapes, Indigenous bush tucker-inspired dinners and a spell-binding celestial sky.
Great for: South Australia’s bucket list experiences
Adelaide’s easily-accessible city centre and beaches make it a popular locale for solo travellers. There’s plenty to do in and around the city – think wine tasting at world-class vineyards, beach hopping along an endless coastline and museum hopping around celebrated art galleries. But its appeal also lies in its proximity to South Australia’s untamed ancient outback and seafood-famed coastal regions. Hit the open road with a group of like-minded travellers on a guided trip to access off-grid outback hikes, cultural insights and an epic itinerary crafted with some of the state’s most exhilarating experiences. On a six-day Swag Camping Eco Tour, a smorgasbord of bucket list activities awaits, from traversing the dramatic gorges of the 540-million-year-old Flinders Ranges by foot to swimming with playful sea lions, spotting koalas in the wild and shucking fresh oysters on the Eyre Peninsula.