The East Coast Australian city of Gold Coast is the perfect place to get away from it all. Located just south of Brisbane in South East Queensland, this coastal city has long been known as the perfect place to take a beach vacation. After all, it's no accident one of the city's major suburbs goes by the name of Surfers Paradise. It's also home to theme parks, museums, incredible restaurants, and unmissable things to do at night. In short, whatever you like to do, chances are good you'll find it here.
But despite its wealth of activities and attractions, Gold Coast isn't a large city. That's part of its laid-back appeal, and it means you shouldn't have too much trouble figuring out how to get around. Thanks to the presence of so many national parks, driving is a popular option in Gold Coast, and you'll find plenty of rental car options in and around the city. But if you prefer not to drive, Gold Coast transport options can get you just about anywhere you want to go without getting behind the wheel.
However, public transportation isn't the best place to be carrying heavy bags with you. Drop off your unneeded luggage at a Bounce luggage storage in Gold Coast, and you'll find it much easier to use the public transport system to get around.
How to get around Gold Coast by train
Gold Coast itself is home to six different train stations, all connected by Gold Coast's train system which connects to the larger Queensland Rail Network. This train line makes it easy to get to Brisbane and visit some of the attractions there, and it's also a useful way to get to the north of the city where the major theme parks such as Dreamworld and Movie World are. If you're arriving in Gold Coast by train from Brisbane, Robina or Varsity Lakes stations are probably your best bet, although Nerang Station is also very convenient for the north part of the city. Varsity Lakes, located in Burleigh Heads, is the last station on the Gold Coast Line, and a train from Brisbane's Central Station to there takes around an hour and twenty minutes.
On the other hand, if you're trying to get to the city from Gold Coast Airport, you'll be glad to hear there are bus connections. Route 777 takes you from the airport to Broadbeach South station, and from there you can easily hop on a G:link tram to Surfers Paradise or Southport. The tram runs every 15 minutes from 7 AM to 7 PM, making it a hugely convenient way to get to the city from Gold Coast Airport.
Gold Coast Airport is also connected to Queensland Rail via Surfside bus 760. This bus will take you to Varsity Lakes train station, and from there you can help on the Gold Coast line to Brisbane.
Once you're in the city itself, the G:link light rail system provides a convenient and cost-effective way to get around. The tram operates on a single line of 19 stations, running from Helensvale in the north to Broadbeach South. Along the way, it connects significant destinations like Griffith University, Southport, Main Beach, and Surfers Paradise. Bear in mind that Gold Coast is Australia's fastest-growing city, and so the public transport infrastructure is struggling to keep up with this rapid growth. You can expect busy trams at peak times, so be patient and be ready to give up your seat to passengers who need it more. The light rail network is currently being expanded to better serve the city, so keep an eye out on the Translink website for service updates.
If you plan on doing a lot of travel in the region, it might be a good idea to pick up a Gold Coast go explore card. You can purchase these at the airport or at convenience stores through the city, and for AU$10 per day, they allow unlimited travel on the city's bus and tram network. This is certainly a lot easier than fumbling with loose change every time you get on a tram, and a go card is easy to use and more environmentally friendly than a paper ticket. If you don't choose to use a go card, you can buy a tram ticket at one of the machines that are in every tram station. The machines accept credit cards as well as cash, but since a single adult one-zone ticket costs $4.60, the go card pays for itself very quickly.
Trams in Gold Coast operate on an honor system, meaning it's possible to board a tram without a ticket. However, there are regular inspections to check the validity of tickets, and if you're caught without one, you could face a heavy fine. Besides, it's never a good idea when visiting the city to flout the local laws. Be a good guest and pay for your ticket like the locals do.
How to get around Gold Coast by bus
If the tram network won't take you where you want to go, Gold Coast's best network almost certainly will. Translink operates the city's bus network as well as the G:link trams, so a single ticket will work on either method of transport.
Gold Coast's public transport system is part of the wider Brisbane area network, and so it operates on a zone system, with Brisbane CBD occupying Zone One. If you're sticking to Gold Coast, you'll find that most of the city is in Zone Five, with only the South portion including Varsity Lakes station located in Zone Six. North of Helensvale, you'll be entering Zone Four. Make sure you have a valid ticket or go card for as many zones as you intend to travel. Note that South East Queensland bus services are cashless, so if you want to pay for your ticket in cash, you'll need to buy it from a convenience store or ticketing machine before boarding the bus.
How to get around Gold Coast by boat
Ultimately, Gold Coast is a coastal city, so your transit options aren't restricted to land-based vehicles. As well as buses and trams, a number of different operators run ferries and boats to help you access more of the region. For instance, the City of Gold Coast has partnered with a private tour operator to run the Hopo ferry. The ferry runs through the waterways of the city, connecting some of Gold Coast's most important locations such as SeaWorld, Marina Mirage, HOTA or Home of the Arts, and Appel Park in Surfers Paradise, where you can do some of the best shopping in Gold Coast. This is an excellent way to see more of the city in the most relaxing way possible, and you also get a taste of the sun and sea air as you travel from place to place.
The ferry operates on a hop-on-hop-off basis, so you can disembark wherever you like and jump back on the ferry when you're done exploring. You can purchase tickets online or on the ferry itself. No advance bookings are required, and seats are awarded on a first-come-first-served basis. A day pass costs AU$25 for anyone over the age of 14, and a family ticket for two adults and two children is AU$68. You can also buy a single ticket for five Australian dollars that will cover one zone, and a two-zone ticket for AU$10.
As well as Hopo, you'll find lots of ferries connecting Gold Coast with more far-flung locations in the area. You could visit Stradbroke Island using the region's ferry services, or take a boat trip up to Byron Bay and even enjoy some whale watching on the way. No matter where you're going, traveling by boat is a relaxing and scenic way to see some of the best locations in the city and enjoy the natural scenery of Queensland along the way.
How to get around Gold Coast by car
This popular vacation destination is fairly easy to get around by car. And if you're planning on visiting some of the stunning national parks near Gold Coast, driving may be the best way to do it. You'll find plenty of car rental agencies at Gold Coast airport and within the city itself. There are also taxis and ridesharing companies that can help reduce the cost of traveling by car in the city.
If you're visiting from outside Australia, one of the most important things to remember about driving here is that cars drive on the left. That means the steering wheel may not be where you expect it to be, and the driver will sit on the right side of the car. Although this can feel strange if you're not used to it, most people get comfortable with it pretty quickly. Still, it might be a good idea to rent an automatic car so that you don't have to worry about changing gears with your left hand.
In most areas of Gold Coast itself, you'll need to observe a speed limit of 50 km/h unless otherwise specified. Also, keep an eye out for cyclists, as the city is incredibly popular for getting around on two wheels. The Gold Coast Highway makes it easy to travel from one area of the city to another, and get out of the city to explore the Queensland backcountry. In fact, Queensland is an excellent destination for road trips, so don't be afraid to pick up a car rental and let yourself really explore the area. And if you brought your own car to Gold Coast, even better!
Can I get around Gold Coast on foot?
As a city of suburbs, you wouldn't expect Gold Coast to be especially walkable. The truth is, it has been declared the eighth most walkable city in Australia, which isn't too bad all things considered. But ultimately, this is a city of neighborhoods, and some are more walkable than others. For example, Surfers Paradise contains many of the top museums in Gold Coast along with some of the best restaurants and nightlife, and if you choose to stay here, you can easily get around on foot. Broadbeach is also very walkable, but you may need to hop on public transit to get some of Gold Coast's best attractions.
You could also consider getting around on two wheels. Bike hire in the city is affordable, easy, and available just about everywhere, and you'll find plenty of bike lanes that let you get around the city. Enjoy the weather and see more of Gold Coast, and you'll also be getting in some great exercise while you do it.
Getting around a new city can often be challenging. But thanks to an extensive public transport network that includes trains, light rail, buses, and boats, Gold Coast has plenty of options for getting around. In this fast-growing city, public transit can often be crowded, but take your time and bring your patience with you, and you shouldn't have too much trouble taking advantage of public transport here.
You may need to bring your patience, but that doesn't mean you should bring everything else. Drop off your luggage at a Bounce luggage storage in the Gold Coast, and you'll be ready to get around the city the way the locals do and enjoy everything this Queensland gem has to offer.