Self Drive Gold Coast: The Perfect 2 Day Itinerary

It’s short, it’s sweet, but yes, you can enjoy the Gold Coast in 2 days. Laura Robinson, a Melbourne-based Aussie who blogs at Passport Collective, show us how.

Road Trip & Car Rental Tips

Renting a car with VroomVroomVroom makes exploring the Gold Coast and everything it has to offer, a simple and easy process. If you are wanting to check out the world famous beaches and immerse yourself in the beach culture that the Gold Coast does so well – check out this 2 day itinerary for the ultimate coastal experience.

Now, if you’re not from Australia, make sure you’re driving on the left. The roads around the Gold Coast are well paved, well signed and well lit, so you’ll have the hang of it before long. Like any road trip, a GPS unit will be your best friend, so make sure you add one on to your rental when booking.

Day One

Hiring a car in Australia is one of the easiest ways to get around. We’re a big nation and the Gold Coast is no exception. The Gold Coast Airport is right at the bottom tip of the region, so we’ll be heading north for our first stop to one of the most iconic beaches.

Burleigh Heads

Burleigh Heads is famous for its swell and that breathtaking curved beach that gives you the most magnificent view of Surfers Paradise and beyond. A visit to Burleigh Heads is one the best things to do in the Gold Coast for free. If it’s warm enough for a splash, make sure you swim in a patrolled area otherwise the beach is beautiful for a stroll. The pristine golden sand and blue skies draw you in and it’s easy to spend a few hours here.

There are a lot of options for meals in Burleigh Heads. The Burleigh Heads hotel is just opposite the main car park, which is a bonus as car parking in the area can be tricky to find. The hotel has large glass windows and French doors that open in the warmer weather so you can continue to gaze at that beautiful beach whilst you eat your meal. They’ll also let you plug in a device, so it’s a great spot to recharge – literally.

Surfers Paradise

The next stop on your Gold Coast itinerary is just up the road. It wouldn’t be a visit to ‘The Goldie’ without stopping at Surfers Paradise. The most famous of all of the beaches, you’ll want to have your camera ready to take a selfie under the iconic ‘Surfers Paradise Arch’. Cavill Avenue is great for a stroll. Make sure you get a photo on the throne – the more people you can squeeze on the better!

You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to accommodation on the Gold Coast. From relaxed low rise, to luxury suites in one of the many towers, there is something to suit everyone. Many hotels provide car parking for free, or at a small charge, so make sure you check when you make your reservations. Street parking can be hard to find during peak periods, so it’s best to plan ahead when organising your Gold Coast Road Trip.

Tallebudgera Creek

Before heading to your hotel to relax, we’re going to take you to one last spot. You won’t find this one on the tourist maps and that’s because it’s a local secret. Tallebudgera Creek is one of the many fresh water inlets into the sea. It’s the perfect spot for stand up paddle boarding and it’s hard to resist building sandcastle in the glistening white sand. Make sure you’ve got your sunnies on because the water certainly does sparkle on a bright sunny day.

We’re leaving the rest of the day to you. Swim in the pool, stroll by the beach or head back to the action in Cavill Avenue. It really lights up at night and there is fun to be had by all. Why not try some of the local seafood the region is famous for?

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It's one of Australia's most iconic coastal cities but surprisingly neither of us had ever been to Byron Bay before. Just an hour south of the Gold Coast we thought, 'why not?' and off we went. We went first to the lighthouse and then to the @treehouseonbelongil_byronbay for some lunch where the bub made friends with one of the waitresses. One day was simply not enough to get into full Byron relaxation mode so I think we may have another place to revisit to add to our ever growing list 😆 Where would you like to revisit? #ihavethisthingwithlighthouses #byronbay #wheretonext #travelwithme #adventureanywhere #seeforyourself #goplaces #beyondtravels #sheexplores #athomeintheworld #girlaroundtheworld #travelog #projectvacation #traveloften #travelshots #wanderings #seetoshare #travelingpost #jetsettering #igerstravel #sheroams #bellashots #postcardplaces #hardlyhome #placestovisit #traveltagged #electrifytravels #aroundtheworldpix

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Day Two

Day two of our Gold Coast self drive itinerary takes us south, across the border and into New South Wales. Ok, it’s not strictly the Gold Coast, but who can say no to Byron Bay when it’s lapping at your door step? It wouldn’t be a Gold Coast Road trip without hitting the highway, so lets go.

We’ll be crossing the border into New South Wales today. You’ll see some signs, but there’s no crossings or checkpoints as such. You’re heading into sugar cane country now. You’ll find the freeway is lined with sugar cane farms. If you’re so inclined, take an early exit and find a back road. They make a great backdrop for an Instagram shot.

Byron Bay

It’s an easy hours drive from the southern end of the Gold Coast to Byron Bay. Its relaxed vibes are hard to ignore and you’ll just be able to tell your close by before the signs hint your arrival. We’re starting with iconic and heading to the light house first. If you’re feeling energetic you can hike to the top, otherwise there is limited parking at the peak. The café serves coffee and snacks to fuel your adventure. It’s an easy walk once you’re at the top and the views are spectacular. Make sure you’ve got a couple of gold coins in your pocket. The binoculars will come in handy for whale spotting if it’s the right season.

A Gold Coast road trip takes up a lot of energy and there’s no better place than Byron for delicious fresh food. The town centre can get quite hectic, so head out of town 5 minutes to the Treehouse on Belongil. It’s got a lush tropical vibe and with the choice of traditional seating our couches, it’s somewhere you could get very comfy.

The Treehouse café is just a stone’s throw from the Byron Bay Train – the world’s first solar train. It’s old world carriages meets new world technology. This short and sweet ride is well worth the visit, so check out the timetable to make sure your schedules line up.

Now that you have explored all that the Gold Coast has to offer…

Sadly it’s time to head back to the airport. Make sure you refuel your car just before you return to the airport for the speediest turn around. Hand the keys back to one of the friendly staff and reminisce about your Gold Coast Road Trip and all of the wonderful memories you’ve made.

Laura Robinson is a Melbourne-based Aussie who blogs at Passport Collective. She recently returned from two years exploring her heritage in the UK. Having the freedom to hit the road and travel at her own pace is her favourite way of exploring a new place. You can follow her most recent adventures on Instagram.

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