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The ultimate bucket list guide to the Gold Coast, Queensland: Top things to see, do, eat and drink

After being born and raised on the Gold Coast, Queensland and being lucky enough to spend 2020 and half of 2021 unexpectedly living back with family in the city I grew up, I felt that sharing theses local insights was something I needed to pass on. Andrew and I always knew our stint back in this stunning little beach town during the height pandemic days would be short lived, so we made the best effort to see and much as we possibly could while here and what a dream that life was! So as we say 'see you later', here's our Gold Coast highlights we pass on to you to enjoy.

If you find yourself ever visiting the Gold Coast, or if you're a local looking for something new to do, SAVE this post and work your way through our check list of ultimate Gold Coast experiences. Enjoy!

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Ultimate Gold Coast Travel Guide: A list of all the best places to eat, drink and things to do

If you're visiting the Gold Coast we recommend to stay in Broadbeach for easy access to the beach, light rail, restaurants, cafes and bars. For a more local experience we'd recommend to stay in Burleigh Heads or Currumbin. For a more luxurious staycation, we'd recommend the QT hotel Surfers Paradise

Gold Coast Beaches, Swimming Holes and coastal walks you can’t miss:

  • Burleigh Heads: Include a picnic at Burleigh Hill and Walk Burleigh Heads National Park

  • Tallebudgera Creek: Swim at the creek, then follow the stunning coastal walk toward Palm Beach

  • Currumbin Creek & beach: There's a dog friendly beach here

  • Currumbin Rockpools

  • The Spit & Broadwater: There is a great dog beach by the jetty and don't miss the lighthouse too.

  • Currumbin Rock Pools

  • Walk the colourful Miami Staircase: Enjoy the views from the top of Miami North Burleigh Hill

  • Mermaid Beach (our local)

  • Snapper Rocks: Enjoy the walk from Duranbah, check out the Queensland and New South Wales Border here, follow the trail to Snapper Rocks then along Rainbow Beach headland then Kirra Beach

  • Terranora Creek, Tweed Heads

  • Surfers Paradise, we know it's a little more touristy, but if you haven't been it's worth a visit for a walk along the beach or visit to the area (we'd still say the other beaches listed above are much nicer).

(Images: from top left - Rainbow Beach, Snapper Rocks, Miami Hill, Tallebudgera Creek)

Gold Coast Cafes you can't miss:

  • Forreal Kitchen - Nobby Beach: Don't miss their chilli scramble

  • Milkman’s daughter - Nobby Beach: This place is all vegetarian, don't miss their Byron bay salad

  • Background Barista - Mermaid Beach: Don't miss their coffee

  • Koko Coffee - Mermaid Beach: They only fo coffee but it's our favourite on the Gold Coast

  • Paddock Bakery - Burleigh Heads: Don't miss their baked Goods

  • BSKT - Nobby Beach

  • Poke Poke - Mermaid Beach (Don't miss their peanut butter acai bowls)

  • Bam Bam Bakehouse - Mermaid Beach

  • Next Door Espresso - Burleigh Heads

  • Pasture & Co - Currumbin Valley

  • Cubby Bakehouse - Chinderah

  • Goji Granola Bar - Clear Island Waters

  • The Alkemist - Broadbeach Waters

  • Canvas Espresso - Nobby Beach

  • Blackboard - Varsity Lakes

  • Day Maker Espresso - Miami

  • Alfred's Diner - Mermaid Beach

  • Custard Canteen - Tallebudgera Creek

  • Greendays - Bundall (Don't miss pre-booking their High Cheese)

  • Cafe Dbah - Duranbah

  • Edgewater Dining - Clear Island Waters

  • Barefoot Barista - Mermaid Beach

  • Stable Coffee Kitchen - Tugan

  • Elk Espresso - Broadbeach

  • No Name Lane - Broadbeach

  • Little Mermaid - Mermaid Beach

  • Commune - Burleigh Heads

  • Wilderness - Palm Beach

  • The Elephant Rock Cafe - Currumbin

  • Bumbles Cafe - Budds Beach

  • Cheese Me Baby - Mermaid Beach

  • Baked at Ancora - Tweed Heads

  • Le Bon Choix - Pacific Fair, Mermaid Beach

  • ESPL Coffee - Surfers Paradise

  • The Backyard Cafe - Nobby Beach

  • Stonesthrow Cafe - Currumbin

  • Tarte Bakery and Cafe - Burleigh Heads

  • Morena Espresso - Mermaid Beach

  • Le Cafe Gourmand - Mermaid Beach

  • Palm Springs - Burleigh Heads

  • No Name Lane - Broadbeach

  • Wild Cherry - Christine Corner

Gold Coast Restaurants you can't miss:

  • Lightyears Asian Fusion, Burleigh Heads

  • NorthRoom (our favourite), Mermaid Beach

  • Goccia (Our favourite for local pizza), Mermaid Beach

  • Kiyomi fine dining Japanese, The Star, Broadbeach

  • Eddy + Wolff, Japanese bar and restaurant, Robina

  • Belvedere Stonemill for the cheese wheel Pasta, Burleigh Heads

  • Hail Mary for tacos, Burleigh Heads

  • Nineteen at the Star for steak, Broadbeach

  • Pink Monkey Bar and Grill, for their Ladies Free flow Brunch, Burleigh Heads (we also prefer their takeaway pizza to Justin Lane - which is overrated so not on this list)

  • Mexicali, Nobby Beach for tacos

  • Bonita Bonita, Mermaid Beach for tacos

  • The Collective, Palm Beach

  • Frida Sol, Palm Beach

  • The Scottish Prince, Palm Beach

  • Cambus Wallace, Nobby Beach

  • Fig and Frankies, Broadbeach

  • Bondi Grill'e for Ribs, Coolangatta

  • Mikes Kitchen for Ribs, Robina

  • Edgewater Dining, Isle of Capri

  • Hideaway Kitchen and Bar, Broadbeach

  • RaRa Ramen, Burleigh Heads

  • Pepe Italian, Burleigh Heads and Palm Beach (visit on Wednesday Night for the Cheese Wheel)

  • Restaurant Labart for Lebanese Food, Burleigh Heads

  • Maggie Choo, Broadbeach

  • Bistro Lamp (a Japanese fusion favourite of ours), Nobby Beach

  • Etsu Japanese, Miami

  • The Henchman, Miami (for Burgers)

  • The Italian Kitchen Company, Mermaid Beach

  • Jimmy Wah's, Burleigh Heads

  • Maman, Burleigh Heads

  • Double Zero, Broadbeach

  • Mr, Nobby Beach

  • Cocotte Dining, Robina

  • Taboon Middle Eastern, Robina

  • I Like Ramen, Nobby Beach (for Vegan Ramen)

  • Palette, Fine dining restaurant at HOTA, Bundall (Don't miss the Exhibitionist rooftop bar after)

Goccia Italian Restaurant, Mermaid Beach
Goccia Italian Restaurant, Mermaid Beach

Top things to see and do on the Gold Coast - Don't miss these Gold Coast activities

  • Pelican feeding at Charis Seafood

  • Hike at Tamborine Mountain and visit the hinterland

  • Sunset sailing in the Broadwater

  • Visit the Kangaroos at Coombabah wetlands

  • Visit Currumbin Sanctury to feed the rainbow lorikeets

  • Visit the HOTA galleries and Parklands

  • Ride the HOPO ferry along the Gold Coast canals

  • Take a hike in Lammington National Park

  • Take a hike in Springbrook National Park

  • Day trip to Natural Bridge

  • Day trip to Hinze Dam

  • Visit O'Rileys Rainforest Retreat and the Lost World Spa

  • Visit the historic River Mill in Nerang

  • Spend a day exploring the Currumbin Valley

  • Visit the glow worms in Numbinbah Valley

  • See the city skyline from the top of the Q1

  • Enjoy a night out at the Star Casino: We recommend rooftop drinks and Nineteen and drinks at the hidden bar Veladora

  • Hit up the theme Parks: Movie World, Wet n Wild, Seaworld and Dreamworld

  • Hike Mt Bally

  • Have a swing at Top Golf

  • Picnic at Burleigh Headland

  • Visit the Palm Beach weekend farmers markets

  • Visit the HOTA weekend Markets

  • Visit the Burleigh Heads weekend markets

  • Visit the Racecourse weekend markets

  • Take a walk through Pizzy Park

  • Visit the Gold Coast Botanic Gardens

  • Visit ArtVo, the interactive art museum at Robina Town Centre

  • Go outlet shopping at Harbour town

  • Visit the Sanctury Cove Marina

  • Go shopping at Pacific Fair

  • Enjoy a hotel staycation: We recommend the QT hotel

  • Enjoy a beer tasting at Burleigh Brewing Co

  • Enjoy a beer tasting at the Precinct Brewery in Miami

  • Enjoy a day of drinks on the water on board the Yot Club

  • Have a champagne breakfast onboard Seaworld Cruises

  • Go Jet-boating in the Broadwater

  • Book a Tweed River eco cruise

Sunset sailing on the Gold Coast Broadwater
Sunset sailing on the Gold Coast Broadwater

We hope you enjoyed our ultimate guide to the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. You can To see more of our other Australian destination guides click here.



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Little Sherpa Travels, Gold Coast, Queensland



OUR AIM: is to help more people experience the world in just a weekend. We hope through sharing our easy-to-follow short break and weekend travel guides we can inspire others to make the most of their weekends and precious annual leave.


WE ARE: An Australian and British married couple living in Australia, which we recently moved back to after 7 years exploring Asia. By week we manage data forecasting and engineering projects. By the weekend we wander. This is the story of our weekend travels. We are passionate travellers who love taking photos, eating and going on adventures.  We hope you enjoy our travel blog.


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