With a bus stop every 300 metres, reach the main tourist spots using the Surfside buses. These run 24 hours a day, seven days a week so you'll never find yourself stranded. For getting to Stradbroke Island, hop onboard the Gold Coast ferry or take a water taxi to reach waterside venues day or night without the hassle of traffic.
Taking a scenic drive is the best way to explore the Gold Coast. There are a number of national and international car rental companies to choose from. If you hire from the local Gold Coast companies, you can drive away for just AUD$23 a day. Hire from the airport or alternatively some companies will drive to you.
Beat the ticket queue and buy a rechargeable touch card, which you can use to 'touch on' and 'touch off' when travelling. Rather than buying tickets separately, the fare is deducted from your card each time. Faster and better value for money if taking the bus or train.
Hiring a scooter is one of the most popular ways to travel around the Gold Coast and can be hired on an hourly, daily or weekly basis in Surfers Paradise. Extremely cheap on petrol, scooters will only cost around AUD$3 to run per day. Great for soaking up the Queensland sun, feel the wind in your hair as you explore the best sights in the region.
For a personal experience you can enjoy together, a wine tour will take you to the most famous wineries in the Southeast. With vineyards in and around Mt Nathan, Tamborine Mountain and Canungra, the Gold Coast Hinterland is one of Queensland's fastest growing wine regions. Take a day to enjoy lunch in an intimate group, against a serene and beautiful backdrop.
For an activity the whole family will enjoy, the Gold Coast has a range of theme parks to suit every taste. Experience the Big 8 Thrill Rides at Dreamworld for adventure and heart pumping screams or make a splash at Wet 'n' Wild Water World with rapids, pools and slides. If you plan on visiting both , an Holiday world pass at $99.00 is worth considering (it includes unlimited entry to both Dreamworld and WhiteWater World for 21 consecutive days).
For breathtaking views of the sun rising over the Gold Coast Hinterland, a hot air balloon ride is an exhilarating experience. Nothing beats the sense of calm as you float silently over the majestic landscape. With a champagne breakfast at O'Reilly's Grand Homestead and Vineyard, this is one of the best experiences on the Gold Coast for AUD $250.
For an intimate encounter with a humpback whale, the Gold Coast boasts a 100% daily sightings record. The Whales in Paradise tour offers daily trips from Surfers Paradise, down the Nerang River to 'The Humpback Whale Highway'. With sightings of bottlenose dolphins, giant loggerhead turtles and killer whales as a bonus, make sure you bring your camera.
No trip to the Gold Coast would be complete without surfing the waves (or at least attempting to). Either privately or in a group, learn to surf in beginner friendly waves at The Spit, 10 minutes from Surfers Paradise. Experience the thrill of standing up for the first time, whatever your age. A group lesson will set you back $50 for two hours or alternatively build on your skills with a package of up to 10 hours for $190.
To get the most out of a day in the Gold Coast, hire a car and do a day's round trip from Surfers Paradise. Starting at 9am, head north on the Gold Coast Highway, stopping at Sanctuary Cove, Tamborine Village, Nerang and Springbrook Village. Pass through the beautiful Numinbah Valley to Natural Arch before heading to Murwillumbah and Coolangatta. With plenty of bushwalks and places to grab a bite to eat, prepare for a jam-packed day with endless views.
With waterways over 10 times longer than those in Venice (and without the whiff), whether you are looking for romance in a gondola, tall ship sailing or a chance to feed the dolphins, the Gold Coast offers a range of trips to suit every mood. Spend a day on a square-rigger tall ship with morning and afternoon tea plus Aussie BBQ on a private island for $129.
If you fancy a day of shopping and relaxation, head to Carrara Market on the weekend to find a bargain among the 500 stalls. Alternatively travel to any of the Gold Coast's shopping malls, some of the biggest in the Southern hemisphere. Finish the day at Sky Point Observation Deck for an unrivalled panoramic view of the city with sights from the surf to hinterland and beyond. Some 230 metres above ground, this is the perfect way to end your trip on a high.