Australia is a land of incredible natural beauty, fascinating culture and extraordinary urban life. With the total area of 7,692,024 km2 (2,969,907 sq mi) reducing Australia to only a certain number of places to see and things to do is a daunting task. The country has numerous iconic representational sites, known all around the globe, even amongst those who have never visited and have no plans of doing so. On the other side, its vastness hides many sites still unexploited by the tourists that would surely, if the world finds out about them, become as iconic as the Great Barrier Reef and Uluru. So, if you find yourself Down Under one day, and you get the chance to do only 5 things, here are our suggestions that include both famous landmarks and hidden gems.

Experience Sydney Like a Local

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Sydney is, beyond any doubt, the most popular city in Australia and inevitable entry on many travel bucket lists, so you shouldn’t miss it for the world. However, you should try to avoid all the tourist clichés and experience this amazing city as a true Sydneysider. Here are a couple of tips how to do that:

  • Take a “power walk” down the George Street, and have brunch with locals at Three Blue Ducks or FourAteFive.
  • Dine at the Bridge Room or Tetsuya.
  • Avoid crowded beaches like Bondi, and try your luck with more secluded ones like Long Reef Beach.
  • Go camping to Cockatoo Island.
  • Shop in Surry Hills.

Take the Ngadiku Dreamtime Walk

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This walk is conducted by the local indigenous people who guide you through private tracks, rainforest streams, traditional bark shelters and significant cultural site, while all the time telling you stories and legends. Just remember that, since you’ll be going through a rainforest, you’ll need to have a raincoat and hiking shoes. If you forgot to pack them, just do what Australians do – visit Peter’s of Kensington store and you’ll find anything you need.

Visit the Great Barrier Reef

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The Great Barrier Reef is one of most famous natural wonders, so it would be a shame to pass this one out. The reef consists of about 3000 individual reef systems and coral cays, and hundreds of amazing islands with some of the most breathtaking beaches. While you’re there you can go snorkeling or diving or visit the nearby Port Douglas for some relaxing time.

Dig for Opals in Coober Pedy

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We can assume you didn’t come to Australia to get in the mining business, but Coober Pedy is the perfect destination if you want to try something different. This town in the middle of South Australia is famous for producing opal gems and for its interesting architecture. Due to very high temperatures, the locals have built their residences underground to remain cool. If you are not in the mood for physical labor, you can just take a sightseeing tour through the mines.

Jump on the Kuranda Scenic Railway from Cairns

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If you want to feel like you’re on set of an Indiana Jones movie, you should definitely get on board on the Kuranda Scenic Railway from Cairns. Going on an adventure is not the only thing you should do in this area, though. You should definitely enjoy the scenic hills, waterfalls and greenery, as well as the delicious food and wine of Atherton Tablelands.

Australia is the land of differences, and it would be a shame to focus your attention only on metropolitan cities or amazing rain forest. Try to see the best of both worlds and enjoy this fascinating destination.