I’m so excited to be writing about Australia. Not only is this country home for me (I moved to Melbourne in 2021!), but I’ve also spent a significant time travelling across its beautiful landscapes.
There was the road-trip from Brisbane to Melbourne, the month I spent exploring Tasmania, the week I dedicated to the Great Barrier Reef, and the three times I’ve tackled the Great Ocean Road (what can I say? I love it!). My partner’s family live in Melbourne, and before moving there to join them, I would spend a month in this vibrant city every year, celebrating Christmas Down Under and visiting as many hipster cafes as possible.
I’ve seen a hell of a lot of this beautiful country over the years and have visited on every budget imaginable: as a backpacker with absolutely no spare cash, as a solo traveller on a mid-range budget, and as part of couple on a romantic luxury vacation.
In other words, I’m perfectly placed to share exactly how much you can expect to spend on a trip to Australia! Whether you’ll be living the Working Holiday dream and driving a beaten-up campervan along the East Coast, taking that once-in-a-lifetime trip to Oz post-retirement, or simply desperate to make the most of your two-week vacation to Australia, I have you covered.
Today, I’m going to be sharing how much you can expect to spend on a trip to Australia.
The Cost of Accommodation in Australia
You can visit Australia on any budget, from a $20 a night hostel in Cairns that’s rated 9.3 on Booking to the spectacular Four Seasons Sydney, which has the best views of the Sydney Opera House in the city. Overall, though, accommodation does skew towards the higher end of the scale. Australia is, after all, of the most expensive countries in the world.
In this blog post, I’m going to be focusing on value. Because whether you’re travelling as a solo backpacker on a shoestring, as part of a couple on a mid-range budget, or as a family looking for a little luxury, value is the one thing you’re going to be looking for. That doesn’t mean cheap — it means offering up more than similarly-priced options.
There’s some seriously great value accommodation up for grabs in Australia, so to start with, I’m going to cover the cheapest way to travel the country.
If you’re on the tightest of tight budgets, there are several options that’ll land you with free accommodation while you’re in the country. Courchsurfing allows you to connect with locals by sleeping on spare sofas in their homes. It doesn’t cost a penny to do so and is a fantastic way to gain an insight into Australian daily life away from the tourists. There are over 300,000 hosts in Australia, so there’s sure to be someone who’s right for you.
Housesitting is a more upmarket way to avoid paying for accommodation, as it’s aimed at the mid-range and luxury travellers. You’ll be looking after homes and pets while their owners are on holiday, and the houses can be extremely luxurious. This option works best if you don’t have fixed travel dates, as you’ll be agreeing to dates that the owners set.
Finally, when it comes to free accommodation, you could take a look at WorldPackers in Australia, where you’ll be able to volunteer for locals in exchange for food and board. There are some seriously cool options available on the site right now, from helping out at a local surf school to lending a hand at building an eco-sanctuary in the rainforest. Readers of this site get a $10 discount for WorldPackers with the promo code neverendingfootsteps.
If you’re not looking to travel for free and just want a clean and comfortable room to sleep in, there are plenty of great options, too.
One of the most affordable ways to explore Australia is by staying in a hostel. I stayed in several over my first visit to the country — back when I was a backpacking digital nomad — and was impressed by the quality of the hostels, as well as how many there are to choose from. As with everything in Australia, though, they’re more expensive than they are in most other countries around the world. Let’s look at the best-reviewed hostels in the country.
- The best hostel in Sydney is easily Wake Up! Bondi Beach, where dorms are priced at just $40 per person, and private doubles come in at $101 per night. As an added bonus, you’ll be staying on the most iconic beach in the city!
- In Melbourne, you can’t get better than Queen Victoria Hostel, where dorm rooms are priced at just $25 a night. In a town where most hostels are rated poorly, this well-reviewed spot is a no-brainer — it’s also in one of my favourite areas of the city!
- You’ll likely be heading to Brisbane while you’re in Australia, and if so, I recommend Breeze Lodge, which has dorm rooms for $33 a night and private rooms for $95 a night. Staff are friendly and can help you with making the most of your time in town and the rooms are spotless.
- Adelaide is home to Adelaide Central YHA, where dorms are priced at $30 a night and doubles at $80 a night. No wonder it’s the best-rated budget accommodation in town, as it’s home to incredibly friendly staff, is in a great location, and an enormous kitchen.
- What about Perth? Spinners Hostel is the only place I’d consider staying. Not only is it inexpensive at $27 a night for a dorm, but the beds are comfortable, the rooms are modern and spacious, and the staff so friendly.
- And finally, Hobart, where you have to stay at Montacute Boutique Bunkhouse (dorms $37 a night; private doubles $110 a night). It’s peaceful and laidback, right in the heart of town, and the staff can help you out with anything you need — and there’s a lovely, spacious balcony to relax on.
Overall, then, you can see that you can expect to spend around $30 a night for dorms in Australia, and around $90-110 a night for a private double room. See what I mean about Australia being expensive?
Okay, but what if you’re not a budget traveller and just want to stay in a lovely, well-reviewed hotel or guesthouse that’s good value for money and has all the things you need from a place to lay your head? I’ve got you! For around $150-200 a night, you’ll be able to stay in an excellently-reviewed hotel, in a central location, with friendly staff.
My 2022 Recommendations for Accommodation in Australia
When I’m travelling, I’m always conscious about booking the absolute best accommodation out there — well, as long as it doesn’t amount to hundreds of dollars a night. I can easily spend several hours researching accommodation for every stop along my way, ensuring I’ve chosen the place in the best location with the friendliest staff, and the greatest value for money.
My biggest tip? When you head to Booking to find a hotel, ignore the results that are sorted under “Our Top Picks” — that’s a list of all of the hotels that pay Booking the highest commission, some of which have some pretty poor write-ups. Instead, opt to sort the properties by “Top Reviewed”. That way, you’ll be able to see which options genuinely have the best reviews.
But all that to say, as I’ve been making my way around Australia, I’ve been making a note of the best accommodation in every city, putting in the hard work so you don’t have to. Here’s where I recommend staying (all prices are in AUD):
Sydney: Medusa Hotel ($182 per night) — Located in one of my favourite Sydney neighbourhoods, the eclectic Darlinghurst, this hotel is close to so many of the best restaurants and cafes in the city’s inner east. On top of that, it’s super-quiet and peaceful, so you get all the best parts of Darlinghurst without having to deal with all the noise. The property itself is a tastefully decorated boutique hotel, with a lovely courtyard and the most helpful staff ever! I personally wouldn’t stay anywhere else in Sydney.
Melbourne: ZaGame’s House ($206 a night) — Fun fact! When the pandemic struck, I was in Melbourne as the city went into lockdown. Without a home, I spent nine months living out of hotels and Airbnb apartments, trying so many different neighbourhoods on for size. In other words, I know this city, and I know the best places to stay. In particular, I recommend looking for accommodation in Carlton, Fitzroy, Collingwood, or Abbotsford — they’re all incredible neighbourhoods with the best food in town! I love ZaGame’s House for it’s location — right in the heart of the incredible Carlton neighbourhood. You’ve got beautifully designed rooms, amazing staff, a well-equipped gym, and one of the most comfortable beds ever. This is one of the best, and best-rated, places in all of Melbourne.
Brisbane: The Inchcolm by Ovolo ($207 a night) — Take a look at the photos of the Inchcolm and tell me you don’t want to immediately book a stay there! The decorations and artwork are gorgeous, and the rooms are clean, spacious, and so comfortable. For me, though, the reason to stay at the Inchcolm is the phenomenal staff members! No matter whether you’re looking for advice, have a complaint, or a cocktail recommendation in the bar, they’re only too happy to drop everything and help you out. Throw in free access to the Fitness First gym across the street and you’ve got yourself everything you need for your time in Brisbane!
Adelaide: The Franklin Boutique Hotel ($150 a night) — Located right in the heart of the CBD, the Franklin is perfect for exploring the city of Adelaide. Not only are you right there in the action, but the property is quiet, so you’ll be guaranteed a great night’s sleep. Some of my favourite things about the property include the free minibar, comfortable bed, large bathtub, the accessibility to the Kangaroo Island ferry (opposite the hotel!), and the downstairs pub with so many delicious meals. Throw in free access to
Cairns: Travellers Oasis ($71 a night) — A cheaper option for Cairns, but when the accommodation is so great, staying here is a no-brainer. Travellers Oasis has the best outdoor area, with a jungle-esque garden area, access to a BBQ, and a refreshing swimming pool (100% needed in the sweltering humidity of Cairns!) Rooms are well-cleaned and comfortable, with air conditioning to help keep you cool. It offers up a relaxed vibe to travellers, thanks to the warm and welcoming owners. As an added bonus, it’s only a five-minute walk from all of the best restaurants in town.
Perth: Northwood Bed & Breakfast ($138 a night) — This B&B is a fantastic option for Perth. It’s well-located, close to the city but in a lovely, quiet neighbourhood. The breakfast is enormous, fresh, and tasty, but there are also plenty of restaurants and cafes nearby. Expect a warm welcome when you arrive! Additionally, the use of the kitchen was a huge bonus, as sometimes you want to stay in and cook instead of eating out for every meal. All in all, there’s a reason why this is one of the best-rated options in town.
Hobart: The Lodge on Elizabeth Boutique Hotel ($147 a night) — The Lodge is a wonderful historic home (one of the oldest buildings in Hobart!) that’s located just a 10-minute walk into the centre of the city. What I love about it is how homely it feels. It’s not like staying in a hotel, but like coming back to a cosy home at the end of a long day of exploring — and there’s no better feeling than that! You can expect free parking, tons of travel advice from the owners, delicious breakfasts, and even free glasses of port in the communal lounge. Enjoy!
The Cost of Transportation in Australia
Australia is a large, large country. Did you know it’s about the same size of the United States? Of course, unlike the U.S., there’s whole bunch of nothing in the vast majority of the centre. While that cuts down the number of bucket list places to explore, it also makes travel days a pain in the ass.
With the vast majority of Australia’s attractions scattered along the country’s coastline, distances on travel days can be extreme and even flights are lengthy. It takes five hours to fly from Sydney to Perth, for example!
Still, if you’re short on time, it’s worth taking a look at the offerings from domestic airlines, like Qantas, Jetstar, and Virgin Australia, as sometimes flights within Australia cost the same as the buses. As an example, I paid just A$40 for a flight from Cairns to Melbourne, skipping the 31 hour[!] drive time. You can find travel deals throughout Australia, so don’t be so quick to assume the flights will be expensive. I recommend checking the flight comparison tool, Skyscanner, to find the best deals.
With all that being said, there’s nothing like overlanding across Australia, and this country is well set-up for a road-trip. I’ve road-tripped four times across the country, from spending three days on the Great Ocean Road to driving well over 1,000 miles between Brisbane and Melbourne.
If you’re on a tight budget, the easiest way to see the country by road is to buy a campervan when you touch down in Australia. This is how backpackers have been exploring Australia for decades. Then, when you’ve finished with your road trip, you simply sell your campervan off to a brand new arrival in the country. It works out to be a lot cheaper than renting, as, as long as you don’t total the car, you’ll make most of your money back at the end of the trip. Some people even manage to sell their campervan for more than they paid for it, completely eliminating all transportation costs from their trip!
You can find campervans for sale on Gumtree and Facebook (try the groups Backpacker Campervans for Sale and Campervan Sales Australia). In general, there’ll always be a cheap and cheerful option for 3000 AUD (2100 USD or £1600) available. For something with lower mileage and a more comfortable set-up, you’ll be looking at around 10,000 AUD, although obviously the sky is the limit! If you want a bougie, Instagrammable, #vanlife set-up, you could be looking at as much as 50,000 AUD for your camper.
If buying isn’t for you, then renting is a great option, whether it’s renting a campervan to road trip around the country, or settling on a car. Personally, I’ve always rented a car while road-tripping Australia, so that I could stay in hotels along the way, but I am planning on buying a campervan this year so I can start trying that on for size. Regardless of which method best suits you, prices can range from $10 a day all the way up to $300.
Public buses are a great way to get around the country — in my option, the best way if you’re on a tight budget — and they’re seriously cheap if you’re going to be traversing the entire country. Greyhound is your best bet here, as they cover most of Australia and at very reasonable rates. If you book far enough in advance, you can sometimes grab a ride for just $1!
Take a look at Greyhound’s Whimit passes, too, if you plan on travelling predominantly by bus. These are easily the cheapest way to travel across Australia. The Whimit passes give you unlimited travel across Australia; you can undertake any bus route of any length at any time over any travel period. Prices are as follows:
|Length of travel||Price|
$599 for 90 days of travel works out to just $6.67 per day, which is so much cheaper than renting your own car and paying for petrol!
I’ll briefly mention the train here, as there are a few trains running in Australia, but they make for a very expensive option. It’s way cheaper to take the bus or fly between stops than to take the train. The only train I’d consider taking in Australia is the Ghan, which is a bucket list item of mine! Running between Adelaide and Darwin, you’ll cross the heart of Australia over three days, living in luxury and gazing out at that iconic Outback scenery. This isn’t a trip for the backpackers and budget travellers, however: a three-day trip on the Ghan comes in at a whopping $3000. Per person. Yikes!
The Cost of Food in Australia
When you ask me about the food in Australia, there’s one thing that comes to mind: brunch.
Australian breakfasts are the absolute best in the entire world, with Melbourne offering up the tastiest versions. From Vegemite on toast to avocado on toast (called smashed avo), Australia is all about bringing new breakfast dishes to the world. But the brunches are on a whole different level, with a multitude of elaborate ingredients and flavours. If I was only able to eat out for one mealtime in Australia? It would definitely be for breakfast.
Like absolutely everything in Australia, food is relatively expensive — particularly eating out in restaurants. I can easily spend $20-30 on every single meal, so if you’re hitting up cafes and restaurants for all three meals, you can easily find yourself spending $100 a day just on food. The food is fantastic, though, so if you have the cash, it’s absolutely worth digging into Australia’s food scene.
“Throw a shrimp on the barbie!” This iconic line is what most visitors to Australia think of when it comes to food, but fun fact: I’ve never once seen — let alone eaten! — a shrimp on the barbecue! Still, BBQing is a huge deal in Australia, and it’s a great way to keep your costs down. Once of my favourite things about Australia, actually is that many of the parks are home to free public barbecues! It makes for such a cheap meal: hit up the local supermarket for some meat, then head to the park to cook for yourself. You’ll nab yourself a meal for less than $10 and have a cultural experience while you’re at it!
Kangaroo? Absolutely! You can buy kangaroo meat from supermarkets (I like kangaroo sausages) and order kangaroo from many restaurants. It’s not a particularly exciting meat to eat, as it just tastes like a cross between beef and venison, but hey, if you eat meat and want to try something new, it’s definitely worth a sample. While you’re trying new meats, I recommend hitting up a fish and chip shop while you’re travelling Australia’s coastline: while you’re there, make sure to order flake: it’s shark!
While eating out in Australia can be expensive, it’s not too pricey to buy from supermarkets. If you’re backpacking or looking to save money, then, aim to have your breakfasts and lunches from the supermarkets: you’ll pay $1 for a 500g of pasta and $2 for some pasta sauce, for example, or $1 for a loaf of bread and $1 for some butter. Not very exciting or nutritious, no, but if you’re prioritising seeing as much as possible, you can see how it’s easy to keep costs low.
Australia is a drinking society, offering up booze from the infamous goon (boxed wine that’s $10 for 5 litres) to a high-end wine from the Adelaide wine region (easily $50). A beer in a restaurant can cost around $8, and a cocktail in a fancy bar can easily come in at $18. When it comes to alcoholic options, coffee comes in at $3-4, and even a can of soda works out to be $3!
The Cost of Activities and Entrance Fees in Australia
When it comes to travel in Australia, there are so many famous activities and attractions to add to your itinerary. The only downside of this, of course, is that — yet again! — they come at a price.
The greatest attraction in Australia is the magnificent Uluru: that gigantic red rock in the centre of the country. I highly recommend checking it out while you’re in Oz, but it’s important to keep in mind that its location can make for a lengthy and expensive trip. The first expense is getting there: if you have your own wheels, it’s well worth making the drive through the Outback, but if that sounds like an intimidating journey, you’ll be flying into Alice Springs instead. Flights are typically between $300 and $400 for a one-way ticket; $500 to $800 for a return ticket. On top of that, you’ve got the entrance fee ($38 for three days), the cost of a tour (around $300 for day trip), and any special experiences ($200 for a 25-minute helicopter ride; $180 for a base walk, full day in the park, and sunset BBQ).
Speaking of expensive experiences, I absolutely loved the time I spent out on the Great Barrier Reef. It was incredible! But the main thing to know is that if you want to see healthy, live coral, you need to jump on a liveaboard, which means you need to spend at least one night out on the water. This additional time allows you to travel away from the day-trippers, who spend their days observing dead, bleached coral. It is pricey, but this was one of the best experiences I’ve had in Australia (and I went in with low expectations!). We went with Reef Encounter (the best company in Cairns) and paid $1,600 for two nights on board. It was truly, truly incredible and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
I also took a scenic flight over the Great Barrier Reef with GLS Aviation and paid $300 for two people to take a 40-minute flight. I wrote about this experience in-depth on my site — it was amazing! And so valuable to be able to see the reef from above. It really helped to put its size into perspective for me.
And finally, don’t forget the entrance fee to Australia itself! Fun fact: I’ve managed to forget to apply for a visa for Australia twice over the past decade, and both times, it’s caused me an inordinate amount of stress and panic. Yes, as soon as you book your flights to Australia, you’re going to want to apply for an ETA (Electronic Travel Authority) in order to enter the country. Don’t forget! I use iVisa for my ETAs for Australia and pay $20 each time.
Don’t You Dare Forget About Travel Insurance!
Travel insurance: If you’ve read any other posts on Never Ending Footsteps, you’ll know that I’m a great believer in travelling with travel insurance. I’ve seen far too many Go Fund Me campaigns from destitute backpackers that are unexpectedly stranded in a foreign country after a scooter accident/being attacked/breaking a leg with no way of getting home or paying for their healthcare. In short, if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel. These costs can quickly land you with a six-figure bill to pay at the end of it.
Travel insurance will cover you if your flight is cancelled and you need to book a new one, if your luggage gets lost and you need to replace your belongings, if you suddenly get struck down by appendicitis and have to be hospitalised, or discover a family member has died and you need to get home immediately. If you fall seriously ill, your insurance will cover the costs to fly you home to receive medical treatment.
I use SafetyWing as my travel insurance provider, and recommend them for trips to Australia. Firstly, they’re one of the few companies out there who will actually cover you if you contract COVID-19. On top of that, they provide worldwide coverage, don’t require you to have a return ticket, and even allow you to buy coverage after you’ve left home. If you’re on a long-term trip, you can pay monthly instead of up-front, and can cancel at any time. Finally, they’re way cheaper than the competition, and have a clear, easy-to-understand pricing structure, which is always appreciated.
With SafetyWing, you’ll pay $1.50 a day for travel insurance.
How Much Does it Cost to Travel in Australia?
With all of that being said, it’s time to tally up all of my travel expenses in Australia, in order to give you an idea of how much you can expect to spend while travelling in this wonderful country:
The cost of travel in Australia for backpackers
Accommodation: A$30 per day
Transportation: A$20 per day
Food: A$25 per day
Activities: A$10 per day
Total cost of travel: $A85 per day (58 USD per day)
The cost of travel in Australia for couples on a mid-range budget
Accommodation: A$50 per day
Transportation: A$30 per day
Food: A$40 per day
Activities: A$12 per day
Total amount spent per day: A$132 per day
ARE YOU PLANNING A TRIP TO AUSTRALIA? HAVE ANY QUESTIONS? LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!
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