The Best Weekend Getaways When You Study Abroad in Australia

I’ll never forget my first few days in Australia – dry heat, cars driving on the left side of the road, a cruise on the habour, and jumping from one beach to the next. I couldn’t help but feel incredibly lucky to be embarking on a new chapter of my life that I’d been looking forward to for a very long time.

I choose to study abroad in Australia because I knew that each day would be different than the last. When I look back on my experience abroad, it was just that ­– a new and exciting adventure every weekend. Australia became my playground.

Looking back on it now, I was fortunate enough to see a lot of Australia, but I’d only scratched the surface! Read on below to see the trips I took that might help you plan your adventure abroad if you ever decide to study abroad in Australia.

1. Blue Mountains (New South Wales) 

One of my very first encounters with Australian natural life was an orientation field trip to the Blue Mountains with IES Abroad Sydney. Sweeping views, a steep hike down, and a thrilling roller-coaster-esque ride back up to the top are some of my most distinguished memories. Spend this perfect day trip with friends while learning about the interesting tale of the “Three Sisters” rock formation. 

2. Port Stephens (New South Wales)

“Give it a go!” is one of my favorite phrases I picked up after studying abroad in Sydney. One day, a few of my friends and I were sitting at the dinner table, when someone brought up the idea of traveling down to Port Stephens for the weekend. We looked at one another, shrugged our shoulders, and said, “why don't we give it a go?”

And Port Stephens did not disappoint. My friends and I were welcomed with secluded beaches, a quiet atmosphere, and an incredible hike with surreal views at Tomaree National Park. Read more about my trip and my experience discovering the sublime here.

3. Jervis Bay (New South Wales)

White sand and peaceful views made Jervis Bay a quick weekend trip to remember. Sometimes, you need to escape the bustling city life to remind yourself that nature exists! And that’s exactly what my friends and I did one fall weekend in March. Need a breath of fresh air? Choose this escape – just a two or three hour train ride from Sydney – to regroup.

4. Great Barrier Reef & Fitzroy Island (Cairns, Queensland)

Blue. So incredibly blue, full of beauty, and a sight that I truly will never forget. Snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef allowed me to get up close and personal with the underwater habitat of this world wonder. Unfortunately, the Reef has become heavily damaged due to human impact. I was very lucky to see this once-in-a-lifetime natural wonder, and hope that we learn from the Great Barrier Reef the importance of taking care of our environment.

In Queensland, I was also able to visit Fitzroy Island, a small island filled with fun activities like hiking, snorkeling, paddle boarding, etc. Definitely a place for those who love to be active outside.

5. Melbourne (Melbourne, Victoria)

Ah, Melbourne – only a quick hour and a half flight from Sydney. I found Melbourne to be extremely fascinating. I was able to see the famous graffiti alley, “Hoiser Lane”, and view works by talented artists. I truly felt that this city appreciated the arts heavily, as art was everywhere.

Fashion seemed to be something these Australians valued, as well. I was so excited to see such different and unique styles that painted this city with a vibrant and colorful energy.

The food was incredible, to say the least! I had one of the best burgers of my life, and some delicious gelato from Melbourne’s “Centre Place”, an alley with food to please anyone’s taste buds.

I would love to re-visit Melbourne for a longer period of time, and explore more of its neighborhoods. It’s just another reason to travel back to Australia.

6. Uluru / "Ayers Rock" (Northern Territory) 

I truly have not seen a sunrise as powerful as the one I saw when I traveled to Uluru or “Ayers Rock” in Australia’s Northern Territory. It felt like I was staring at a painting the entire time.

For all you outdoor lovers, Uluru is the place for you. A group of students and I camped underneath the stars, and learned the ancient history of these enormous rock formations and the people who inhabited these lands. We hiked through the Australian Outback, and learned to appreciate the untouched nature before us. Make sure to cross this off your list when you visit Australia!

Can’t get enough of Australia? Follow our Student Correspondents to learn more about what life is like studying abroad in Sydney!


Marlowe Padilla, Marketing Assistant 

Marlowe knows the exciting nature of study abroad as an alumnus of the Sydney Direct Enrollment – University of Sydney Program. In his free time, Marlowe enjoys running, finding the best donuts in Chicago, and creative writing. Read more about Marlowe’s study abroad experience in Australia, by reading his student blog!


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