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Are you struggling to figure out how long you will need for your perfect self-drive holiday in Australia? Don't fret: help is at hand.

Northern Territory

Our local Travel Specialists have been crafting Australian holiday itineraries for two decades. 

From 5-day escapes to six-month road trips, they have planning advice for every vacation length - and we're going to share it. 

Our expert tips will help your dream trip take shape - no matter how much annual leave you have.

Ready to plan like a pro? Let's get started.


Planning your trip: Key Factors

To begin with, ask yourself a few simple questions:

First question: how much time do you have?

Factor in the following:

  • How long it takes to fly to Australia from your country 
  • How much annual leave you have
  • How much you can realistically budget per day.

Having figured out what you need, you can move on to what you want.

Second question: what's on your wishlist?

Snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef, cruising down the Great Ocean Road, seeing the sunrise at Uluru... Grab a map of Australia and find out where your must-do Aussie highlights are located. 

Now you have an idea of where you want to travel. Next, ask yourself how you want to travel:

Final question: what's your travel style?

Do you prefer being on-the-go, or would you rather stop and smell the roses?

Be honest - if you like to meander at your own pace, a jam-packed itinerary will leave you exhausted. If you honour your travel style you'll never be stressed or bored.

Congratulations -  you've figured out how much time you have available for your holiday! 

With your timeframe all figured out, let's look at how to make the most of it.

Cape Le Grand National Park

Itinerary Advice... for Every Length of Trip

1 week in Australia: Keeping it short and sweet 


Build your itinerary around one of Australia's gateway cities. You'll spend less time on the road and more time enjoying your surroundings.

Perth offers easy access to the world-class wines and award-winning beaches of the Margaret River Region. If white sands and rainbow corals are more your thing, venture along the coast to Monkey Mia and Ningaloo Reef.

Sydney and Melbourne have enough highlights to fill several days, but they're also surrounded by outstanding natural beauty. Sydney is a stone's throw from the World Heritage Blue Mountains Region. From Melbourne, you can travel the Great Ocean Road, a scenic coastal journey you'll never forget.

Fly into Adelaide and you're in foodie heaven - the Clare and Barossa valleys boast breathtaking scenery, heavenly local wines and delicious regional produce. Hop over to Kangaroo Island for an unforgettable wildlife experience.

Brisbane is the gateway to Queensland's laid-back seaside lifestyle. The glitzy Gold Coast, bohemian Noosa, and the southern Great Barrier Reef will win your heart for sure.

Sample One Week Itineraries: 

Explore Western Australia in a week with a Perth & Margaret River Itinerary

Try an 8 Day Road Trip to the Great Ocean Road & Grampians

Enjoy 7 Days in Sydney, the Blue Mountains, and Hunter Valley Wine Region


2 weeks in Australia: Travel further with a Fly/Drive Itinerary


If you have two weeks to play with, you can venture further afield. Especially if you add some internal flights into your self-drive itinerary.

Internal flights between major Australian cities are:

  • Budget-friendly - especially if you book well in advance
  • Fast - swap the 8-hour Melbourne-to Sydney drive for a 1.5-hour flight.
  • Convenient - you can pick up a rental car right from the airport.

With internal flights, Australia's remote attractions are within reach: Fly to Alice Springs to discover the Red Centre & Uluru, or journey to Darwin and explore the Top End.

Here are some suggested routes that fit into a 2 week Aussie Fly/Drive vacation:

Fly between Brisbane, Uluru and Sydney
Explore Queensland's beaches & coral reefs, then fly to the Red Centre to visit sacred Uluru (Ayers Rock). End your vacation in stylish Sydney, with the incredible Opera House and Harbour Bridge as your backdrop.

Fly between Perth, Melbourne and Sydney
Visit sun-drenched Perth, stylish Melbourne and grand old Sydney, with fun-filled day trips to Margaret River, Blue Mountains region & Great Ocean Road.

Fly North to South via the iconic Australian Outback
Immerse yourself in tropical Darwin, ancient Kakadu & Uluru, cosmopolitan Adelaide and Kangaroo Island's wilderness.


3 weeks in Australia: The open road

A 3-week Aussie holiday gives you the chance to try a classic road trip. Again, use internal flights to cover more ground - or simply enjoy a leisurely coastal self-drive vacation stopping wherever you fancy.

Sydney to Cairns - East Coast Australian beaches
Kayak in Byron Bay, swim with whales at Coffs Harbour and snorkel among the rainbow coral of the Great Barrier Reef. 

Perth to Broome Road Trip
Explore Kalbarri's gorges, snorkel with Manta Rays and Whale Sharks at Ningaloo Reef, ride a camel along Broome's beaches and Australia’s marine life along the way.


3+ weeks in Australia: Spend more time (and spend less money)

If you have more than three weeks... lucky you! 

Stray further from the tourist trail, discover remote locations, and spend several nights in each location you visit: you'll love Australia's amazing variety of places and personalities.

You also have time to add another country to your itinerary, such as Fiji or New Zealand. See our [Australia & New Zealand Combo Itineraries]( for ideas.

Longer Stays: If budget is an issue...
For longer trips, your budget can majorly influence how long you can stay. Try these tips and cut down your day-to-day travel costs. 

  • Stay self-catering and cook instead of eating out every day
  • Travel outside of peak periods (Christmas, school holidays)
  • Invest in an Australian SIM card to save money on calls & data
  • Circular self-drive routes are cheaper than point-to-point for car rental rates.
  • Book flights and accommodation as early as possible 

With a few small-budget tweaks you may find it possible to stay in Australia for longer or splash out a bucket-list Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb!

Great Barrier Reef

So... What's the perfect amount of time for YOU to visit Australia?

Whether you're honeymooning, road-tripping, cross-country hiking or beach-hopping in Australia, the answer is the same:

The perfect amount of time for an Australian self-drive holiday is however long you have.

  • In 1 week you can pick a region and enjoy it to the fullest
  • In 2 weeks you can cover more ground with a Fly/Drive
  • In 3 weeks you can plan a leisurely Self Drive
  • In more than 3 weeks... the world is your oyster

If your trip fits your timeframe, covers your must-do's, and matches your travel style, you'll have an amazing Australian vacation no matter how long you stay.

And if DIY trip-planning feels like hard work, why not give the experts a call? 

Try First Light Travel's Itinerary Planning Service today (it's totally free).

Travel Planning
Before Leaving Home
Australian Self Drive Tours
Steve Taylor
Submitted by
Steve Taylor
: 11 Jul 2019 (Last updated: 5 Sep 2019)

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