what cities are okay to visit without a car in australia (2)

What Cities Are Okay To Visit Without A Car In Australia?

When you think of travelling around Australia, the first thing we tend to think of is road trips and van rentals. But not having a car in Australia shouldn't stop you from having an amazing trip. Thanks to the country's network of planes, trains, and buses, as well as easily walkable cities, there are tons of things to see and do that won't ever need you to get in a car. But where to start? Australia is far too big to see everything, car or no car, so we've put together this ultimate guide for exploring without a car to show you the highlights of what Aus has to offer. 

Australia is also a land of staggering contrasts and spectacular beauty. Along the coast, you can explore vibrant cities, vast sand islands, ancient rainforests, and one of the planet's most awe-inspiring natural wonders: the Great Barrier Reef. In the Outback, rugged national parks and red-earthed deserts offer the ultimate in adventure travel. Top it all off with a laid-back feel and friendly people, and it's no wonder Australia scores top billing on bucket lists around the world. So please create your adventures with our list of the top attractions in Australia.

Exploring Australia without a car

In Australia without any wheels? Not a problem! We'll show you the best places to explore without a car in Australia. Your best bet is to head to cities easily accessible by train and plane. Once you're there, you can get around on foot or public transport to see all the sights. But even if you're outdoorsy and looking for an adventurous holiday, there are still plenty of options for exploring without a car. 

  • Pro tip: No one wants to carry their bags around all day when they're visiting a new place. Please make the most of exploring the city you're in and leave your bags with our friends at Stasher. Stasher is an international luggage storage service where you can leave your luggage in secure locations such as shops and hotels. Storage costs $10 per day, and each bag is insured up to $1000. With locations in Brisbane, Melbourne, all the cities mentioned in this article and more, travelling with Stasher has never been easier.

Exploring Sydney

what cities are okay to visit without a car in australia (1)

With Sydney's international airport and train stations, you don't need a car to get to Sydney from basically anywhere in the world. Sydney is one of Australia's cultural capital cities, and with tons to see and do here, it's worth booking at least a few days to explore. A great way to see the city and one of the best things to do in Sydney is to take a ferry ride across the harbour. There are nine different main routes, all of which will give you different views of the city, including the iconic Sydney Opera House building. The rides are set off from different points around the harbour, meaning you can pick the one most convenient for you. 

For some green space in the city, head to Sydney's Botanical Gardens, where you can relax with locals and tourists alike. If you want a change from city scenery, you can get a train from Sydney to the Blue Mountains and hike the National Pass Track. Or for some sea and sand, there's a train that will take you right to Bondi Beach so you can go for a swim in the Pacific Ocean. The Bondi to Bronte coastal walk will give you spectacular views of the sea, and at 4km in length, it is very manageable to fit in a day trip from Sydney. The best time to visit Sydney is in Spring (September to December) or Autumn (March to May), when the temperatures are a little more manageable than peak summer. 

  • Pro tip: It's worth planning a bit for your travels if you don't have the option of simply jumping in the car. For example, flying on weekdays rather than weekends can save you money on the tickets. 

Melbourne without a car

Like Sydney, Melbourne is an international city, easily reachable by plane, train or bus. Once you're here, you'll be glad not to have a car, as not only is Melbourne best explored by foot, but they also have an excellent tram system to whizz around the city. Melbourne's highlights include the Free Walking tour and the St Kilda's Sunday Markets. St Kilda is a chilled seaside suburb of Melbourne where you'll see a mix of locals and tourists, all enjoying the laid back pace of life here. We recommend checking out Melbourne's art galleries for a bit of culture, especially the NGV. 

Of course, no trip to Melbourne would be complete without trying some of their world-famous coffee. As any Australian will tell you, brunch is the best meal of the day and one that can be eaten, alongside a nice steamy Flat White, at any time. The best spots for coffee are Industry Beans and Market Lane Coffee, and you can get a delicious brunch at Proud Mary on Oxford Street. Of course, an unmissable part of any road trip along the Victoria coastline is the Great Ocean Road, which people often do either side of a trip to Melbourne. But don't let anyone tell you that you can only do this if you have a car! There are buses which run regular tours and trips from Melbourne along the Great Ocean Road, which is even better than driving because you don't have to concentrate on the road, leaving you free to enjoy the spectacular views. 

Places That Are Okay To Visit Without A Car

Sydney Opera House, New South Wales

Mention "Sydney, Australia," and most people think of the Opera House. Shaped like huge shells or billowing sails, this famous building on Sydney's Bennelong Point graces the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is one of the world's great architectural icons. The location is stunning. Water surrounds the structure on three sides, and the Royal Botanic Gardens border it to the south.

Danish architect Jørn Utzon won an international competition for its design but withdrew from the project after technical and financing problems. Construction was finally completed in 1973 at ten times the original budget. Unfortunately, by this time, Utzon had left the country, never returning to see his magnificent creation. Today, you can enjoy a performance here, dine at one of the restaurants, or see the highlights of the Sydney Opera House on a guided tour. The structure encompasses theatres, studios, a concert hall, exhibition rooms, and a cinema.

Touring the interior of the Sydney Opera House is rewarding, but its striking architecture is perhaps best appreciated from a distance. One of the best sites to photograph this top Sydney tourist attraction is Mrs Macquarie's Chair in the Royal Botanic Gardens, or you can hop aboard a harbour cruise or ferry and capture a photo from the water as you glide past. The Sydney Opera House is currently undergoing a 10-year, $275-million upgrade, but it will continue to operate during the restoration.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Queensland

You can't leave Australia without seeing the Great Barrier Reef. This World Heritage-listed natural wonder is one of the largest living structures on the planet. It's so vast, you can see it from outer space. For divers, snorkelers, island fans, and nature lovers.

In 1975, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park was established to protect its fragile ecosystems. These include more than 3,000 coral reefs; 600 continental islands, including the beautiful Whitsunday group; 300 coral cays; and inshore mangrove islands. One of the seven wonders of the natural world, the park stretches for 2,300 kilometres along with the state of Queensland, on Australia's east coast (that's about the distance between Mexico and Vancouver).

Not surprisingly, the Great Barrier Reef is one of Australia's best places to visit for diving and snorkelling. The astounding array of marine life includes soft and hard corals, more than 1,600 species of tropical fish, sharks, dugongs, dolphins, turtles, rays, and giant clams. Prefer to stay dry? You can see the reef from underwater viewing stations and glass-bottom boats. Travellers have many options for visiting the Great Barrier Reef. You can cruise around the islands, hop aboard a sightseeing flight, take day trips to the islands, or snorkel and dive the reefs. The main launching points for tours on the mainland are Cairns, Port Douglas, and Airlie Beach.

Melbourne's Culture, Victoria

Melbourne, Australia's second-largest city, is a popular stop on many Australian itineraries – especially for culture vultures. Galleries, theatres, restaurants, shops, and its distinctly European feel are the main draws of this sophisticated city on the Yarra River. It's also a green city, with parks, gardens, and open spaces occupying almost a third of its total area. The cultural highlights of Melbourne are many. Gape at the masterpieces at the National Gallery of Victoria, watch a performance at Arts Centre Melbourne or head to Federation Square. Here, you can browse Australian artworks at the Ian Potter Gallery and learn about the nation's screen culture at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI). Feel like getting back to nature? Follow the Aboriginal Heritage Walk at the Royal Botanic Gardens. And if sports culture is top of your plan, catch a game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. In summer, cricket is the sport of choice; in winter, it's Australian Rules football.

Melbourne is also rich in history. You can see it in the Grand Victorian buildings funded by the Gold Rush, and you can feel it as you shop in the elegant arcades and Queen Victoria Market, which has been selling goods to Melburnians for more than a century.

Daintree National Park, Queensland

A Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, Daintree National Park in Far North Queensland is among the most ancient ecosystems on Earth. The area belongs to the Eastern Kuku Yalanji Aboriginal people, and many of its natural features hold great spiritual significance. The park encompasses two main sections: Mossman Gorge, where crystal-clear waters gush over granite boulders, and Cape Tribulation, one of the most beautiful places to visit in Australia. Here, rainforest meets reef along the white sandy beaches of the Coral Sea. As a result, this stunning stretch of coast is one of the few places in the world where two of the planet's richest ecosystems converge.

The park's astounding biodiversity includes more than 18,000 plant species and a vast array of animal species, including the cassowary, crocodile, giant blue Ulysses butterfly, and the secretive Bennett's tree kangaroo. The resort town of Port Douglas, just south of the park, is a great base to arrange wilderness safaris into the park.

Great Ocean Road, Victoria

Great Ocean Road is one of the world's top scenic drives. Built to employ the Depression, the road stretches 300 kilometres along Australia's rugged southeast coast, winding along plunging sea cliffs. It stretches from the surfing town of Torquay to the town of Allansford, near Warrnambool. One of the top attractions of Great Ocean Road in Port Campbell National Park. This is where you can see the wind- and wave-sculpted rock formations known as the Twelve Apostles, London Bridge, the Arch, and Loch Ard Gorge. From the air, these rock formations look like giant puzzle pieces adrift along the coast, lashed by the pounding surf of the Southern Ocean. You'll find plenty of rewarding things to do along Great Ocean Road. Stop by the Australian National Surfing Museum at Torquay, surf the famous swells at Bells Beach, linger in the seaside resort of Lorne, or go whale watching in Warrnambool. Nature lovers will also enjoy exploring the eucalyptus forests, fern-filled rain forests, hiking trails, and waterfalls in Otway National Park.

FAQs About Cities Are Okay To Visit Without A Car

Cars are a way of life in Australia (and around the world). In some areas, it's not possible to get by without a car, as everything is a long way away and alternatives are lacking. In other places, everything you need is right down the street, and there are realistic alternatives to owning a car.

You can reach most areas by train, and stations are spread out quite well throughout the city, so you can reach them either by walking or a short bus ride. Trains are also the fastest form of communication in the article, compared with buses, ferry and light rail.

  • Ridesharing. Apps like Lyft and Uber have made getting around simpler than ever.
  • Public transit. Public transportation systems vary greatly from city to city.
  • Car sharing.
  • Bicycling.
  • Bike-sharing.
  • Walking.
  • Car rental.
  • Taxi.

Do not panic for those who can not or do not want to buy their vehicle! Australia has a large network of public transport, which is also relatively cheap. Travelling by bus or train is fun. We are constantly meeting other travellers and locals. Long bus and train travel offers a great opportunity to meet interesting people and maybe even find fellow travellers for your trip. We will show you how to travel through Australia without your car.

Buses In Australia

If you don't have your car or any other vehicle, travel by bus through Australia are many offers. Long-distance buses are called "coaches", are well-organised and quite comfortable. These trips are quite long (for example, Sydney – Melbourne: 12 hours) and inexpensive (from 65 AUD). The two largest companies are Greyhound and Firefly. Coaches usually have air conditioning, a toilet, adjustable seats, play movies, and even Wi-Fi. Both companies also offer "Hop on Hop off" tickets; if you buy this ticket, for example, for the Sydney – Cairns route, you can make as many stops as you want on the way – even for several days or weeks.

Prices (Greyhound):

  • Sydney – Cairns: $469
  • Melbourne – Cairns: $579
  • Adelaide – Alice Springs: from $205
  • Darwin – Adelaide: from $439
  • Brisbane – Cairns: $365
  • Melbourne – Brisbane: $255
  • Sydney – Brisbane: $149

Advantages Of Bus Driving In Australia

There are many good reasons to get on the bus:

  • Route network: The major nationwide bus companies drive to all important destinations in Australia.
  • Convenience: The Australian buses are usually very comfortable, have air conditioning and toilets.
  • Safety: Low traffic and straight roads reduce accidents, compared to Europe or Asia.
  • Meeting backpackers: Since many backpackers travel by bus, you will quickly get to know someone.
  • Cheap: You do not have to invest a lot of money in a vehicle, repairs, maintenance or fuel etc.

Disadvantages Of Bus Driving In Australia

  • Bus driving in Australia also has disadvantages:
  • Less flexibility: you have to stick to departure times, and sometimes there are no seats available. Especially in the high season, it often happens that the buses are already full.
  • Less independence: The bus only takes you to stations. You can't just get out if you feel like it.

Trains In Australia

Australia without car train

You can also choose to travel to Australia by train if you don't have a car. Various long-distance trains connect the most important places in Australia. The trains have a 1st and a 2nd class. There are adjustable seats in 2nd class and sometimes sleeping cabins on long hauls. Train rides are usually more expensive than bus rides. Some routes have special names, such as The Indian Pacific (Sydney – Perth), The Ghan (Adelaide – Darwin via Alice Springs), The Queenslander (Brisbane – Cairns).

Route Overview:

  • Indian Pacific: Sydney – Adelaide – Perth
  • The Ghan: Adelaide – Alice Springs – Darwin
  • Overlander: Melbourne – Adelaide
  • XPT: Sydney – Melbourne
  • XPT: Sydney – Brisbane
  • Xplorer: Sydney – Canberra
  • Queensland: Brisbane – Townsville – Cairns
  • Rockhampton – Longreach
  • Cairns Forsyth
  • Kalgoorlie – Perth
  • The Great Ocean Road, Melbourne

There are five different companies in Australia: CountryLink, Great Southern Railway, Queensland Rail, Transwa and V / Line.

  • Sydney – Perth: from $559
  • Melbourne – Adelaide: $79
  • Adelaide – Alice Springs: from $279
  • Alice Springs – Darwin: from $279
  • Adelaide – Darwin: from $549

Domestic Flights

what cities are okay to visit without a car in australia (3)Major cities like Sydney, Perth, Melbourne, Adelaide, Darwin, and Cairns are well-supported in flights. Given the great distances that separate the major cities – it is the most suitable way to get from one point to another. Flights are generally quite affordable yet often remain outside the budget for a backpacker. The major airlines are Jetstar, Qantas, Virgin Blue, Tigerair. It is recommended to book a flight during the week rather than the weekend to take advantage of cheaper rates.

For example:

  • Sydney – Alice Springs: 200 to $450
  • Sydney – Cairns: from $150
  • Perth – Sydney: 150 to $330
  • Sydney – Melbourne: from $75


Australia has a large network of public transport, which is also relatively cheap. Travelling by bus or train is fun. We are constantly meeting other travellers and locals. Long bus and train travel offers a great opportunity to meet interesting people and maybe even find fellow travellers for your trip. We will show you how to travel through Australia without your car.

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