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The Gold Coast is a destination that’s just begging to be visited. When it comes to Aussie vacation spots, the GC pretty much takes the cake. Sunny weather, stellar surf beaches, incredible nightlife, tons of amusement parks… it’s designed for a dream vacation. A car hire on the Gold Coast is all you really need to enjoy this city to the fullest - with the freedom to zip around on your own schedule, you’re set up for the ultimate fun and easy holiday. Not only will the Gold Coast and its immediate surroundings be your oyster, but you’ll have the whole east coast as your playground. Brisbane’s basically next door, while down the coast is a collection of distinctive towns, great beaches, whale watching opportunities and (if you get far enough) the restaurants, culture and distinctive architecture of Sydney.
Of course, none of this is possible if you don’t have a set of wheels. Sifting through all the many car hire supplier websites looking for a decent deal can be a royal pain, so to save you stress AirportRentals.com.au gathers all the best deals together in one place. No more annoying deal hunts - just scroll, filter and pick the best one!
The process of booking a Gold Coast car rental on AirportRentals.com.au is ridiculously simple. Just enter a few basic details on what you need from your rental, like when and where you want to pick up/drop off, etc, click Search and you’re away! You’ll be presented with a bunch of deals to suit you, and you can filter by things like rental brand, vehicle type and so on. It won’t be long before you’ve found the perfect rental for your trip - from there, it’ll just take a few minutes before your booking is all done and dusted.
There’s an excellent selection of car hire brands at the Gold Coast Airport, with some suppliers based directly in-terminal and others located just a few minutes drive from the airport. Alongside big name brands like Budget, Hertz and Avis, there are also more niche suppliers such as Firefly and Keddy by Europcar for example - don’t discount these smaller providers, they can sometimes offer unbeatable deals.
Gold Coast Airport has the unusual distinction of straddling the state border of Queensland and New South Wales. In spite of this, the airport sticks to Australian Eastern Standard Time (Queensland time) to avoid catastrophic confusion. Free WiFi is available for all passengers, and there are also internet kiosks you can use for a small fee. ATMs can be found throughout Gold Coast Airport, with a number of them dispensing NZ dollars and Japanese yen as well as your bog standard Aussie dollars.
In terms of rules, driving on the Gold Coast isn’t too different to driving anywhere else in Australia, but the region does have a reputation for somewhat distractible drivers, possibly a side effect of the beautiful people and scenery that the GC is known for. Just make sure you’re not one of those distracted drivers and you’ll be fine. If you happen to be reading this from overseas, you should know straight away that in Australia we drive on the left hand side of the road. This is different to most other countries around the world but not to worry - it doesn’t take much getting used to. As long as you take a little care around intersections, you’ll be zipping around Aussie streets like a local in no time. Those who are keen to brush up on what hitting the road in Australia involves should glance over our Australia driving guide.
Gold Coast Airport is around half an hour from the CBD, give or take a few minutes, but getting there isn’t too hard. Head out of the airport on Terminal Drive and head left on Gold Coast Highway. Branch off at Tugun Currumbin Road then head north on the M1. Exit on Bermuda Street and this will take you all the way into the heart of Gold Coast.
As mentioned above, you won’t find anything too unusual when it comes to road rules around the Gold Coast. There are plenty of speed limit signs around so keep an eye out for them but if you can’t see any, the default limit in urban/suburban built up areas is 50 km/h. The legal blood alcohol limit is under 0.05 which equates to just a drink or two, and if you’re on your Learner’s/Provisional, there’s absolutely zero tolerance - either way, if you’ve had anything to drink it’s safest to let someone else do the driving.
Don’t worry about dropping into a petrol station right after picking up your Gold Coast car rental - rental vehicles generally come with a full tank of petrol so you can be on your way with no hassles. When it comes time to return your rental though, you’ll need to top the fuel tank up to full before handing over the keys. Freedom Fuel on Eastern Ave is one of nearest service stations to the airport, while Coles Express Tugun on Gold Coast Highway and the BP on Golden Four Drive are just a little bit up the road from the airport to the north.
With all the amazing ways to relax and play on the Gold Coast, you’d think that there would be no reason to ever leave. But there are so many great places to discover around the GC that setting aside a bit of time to go exploring is highly recommended.
This route takes in the whole gamut of attractions and experiences surrounding the Gold Coast, and can be done in a single day but setting aside a few days to explore will let you really get the best out of these stunning locations. Charming Mount Tamborine should be your first port of call before heading toward the natural glory of Springbrook and Natural Arch. Take in the rural views on the way to Murwillumbah, before turning coastward again for Coolangatta (this is the town where the airport is set) and back north to Surfers Paradise.
To get away from it all and escape to a rustic paradise, drive about an hour and a half down the coast to Byron Bay. Byron is a popular retreat in its own right, but if you head out of town to the east you’ll come across this little national treasure, perfect for fishing, swimming, sunbathing - and even a spot of whale watching.
The scenic loop above includes Springbrook but it’s well worth giving this amazing place its own trip. Be prepared for about an hour’s drive both ways as you wind your way along mountain roads and through dense rainforest. There are several lookouts along the way that you should make a special effort to stop for, including the Best of All Lookout and Wunburra Lookout. To really make the most of your journey, jump out of the car for the Purling Brook Falls circuit which will have you descending into a gorge to the foot of a waterfall - don’t forget to bring your swimmers, so you can cool off in the surrounding rock pools.
For a day trip with intriguing historic highlights, head northwest toward Jimbour House. Make sure to stop off at Toowoomba, a city of gardens and cathedrals, for a bite to eat and a bit of leg stretching before driving on to Jimbour House itself. This impressive historic homestead was completed in 1877 and today welcomes visitors to its lovingly preserved environs.
Okay, this isn’t the most fun section of this guide, but the info below could really come in handy so take a glance over it to see if there are any bits that apply to you. The majority of the car hire suppliers near the Gold Coast Airport have rental depots located directly in-terminal, though there are a handful of rental brands which have pick up points set a short distance from the airport. Getting to these depots won’t be a problem though - free shuttles are available to take you directly from the terminal to your pick up point. Just double check with your supplier to find out where exactly to catch your shuttle. Gold Coast Airport car rental brands that are based in-terminal include Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz, Redspot, Thrifty, Auto Europe, Apollo, Firefly and Keddy by Europcar.
● East Coast Car Rentals has a depot just a few kilometres from Gold Coast Airport at 15 Maud Street, Tugun.
● Bargain Car Rentals has their rental pick up point nearby Gold Coast Airport at 2/57-61 Ourimbah Road, Tweed Heads.
● Alpha Car Rentals is located at 19 Ourimbah Road, Tweed Heads - you can get a free shuttle directly to the depot from your Gold Coast Airport terminal.
● Ace Car Rentals is a good option for budget travellers and has a rental desk at 423 Golden Four Drive, Tugun.
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Road tripping around the Gold Coast is an awesome way to spend a vacation but unfortunately we don’t always have time to go gallivanting around the country. Sometimes all you’re really after is a way to get around and somewhere near the airport to catch some shuteye at night. The Gold Coast Airport Motel is your closest option, set just one kilometre from the airport, on Golden Four Drive. The rooms aren’t super fancy, but this is certainly a nice enough place to stay for a night or two. If you’re prepared to shell out a bit more, Nirvana by the Sea is only two kilometres from Gold Coast Airport and has unbeatable views over the blue waters of the Pacific and is just across from the beach. The customer buzz about Nirvana is very positive too, always a good sign.
It’s not hard to find reasons to come to the Gold Coast, but if you can manage to catch one or two of the many annual events while you’re in town, it’ll add a bit of local spice to your trip. For a true visual spectacular, consider timing your trip for September to line up with the Gold Coast Festival of Lights, a breathtaking celebration of Chinese culture. Thousands upon thousands of lights will illuminate the Gold Coast Broadwater Parklands - silk lanterns and light displays in a staggering variety shapes and colours, from dinosaurs to insects, Chinese dragons to flowers. It’s not just about the light displays though. There’s also all kinds of traditional performances to enjoy as well as tasty Chinese food.
Those who enjoy a day on the green will savour the chance to catch some of the world’s top golfers in action at Surfers Paradise’s RACV Royal Pines Resort when the Australian PGA Championship comes to town. Just make sure to book your tickets well ahead of time to avoid disappointment!
If you’ve got even one creative bone in your body, April could be a good time for you to book your Gold Coast Holiday. This is when the Bleach* Festival sweeps across the city in an irresistible tide of art and culture. With some of Australia’s most respected contemporary artists taking part in the fest and all kinds of different types of performing and visual arts on display, this is definitely the must-attend cultural event on the Gold Coast. Visitors who get caught up in the action will find themselves challenged, inspired and delighted by the creativity on display.
The Gold Coast isn’t really known for any one style of cuisine but that doesn’t mean this isn’t a top-notch place to go out for a meal. As you might expect, for a city that has such a rich array of cultures and strong tradition in entertainment, there are all sorts of options for the discerning foodie.
If it’s fine dining you’re hunting for, one of the finest restaurants in town has to be the Little Truffle Dining Room. A number of the inventively delicious creations on offer at Little Truffle have become local legends in their own right, and if you are prepared to pay the (relatively reasonable) price for dishes that really go the extra mile.
Sometimes you don’t need a fancy sit down meal, but just something cheap and tasty to round off an awesome day of adventures. Captain Hook’s Seafood in Tugun is the place to go for take out fish ‘n chips, JR’s Smokehouse in Coolangatta has your weekends covered with finger-licking fare and Cha Cha Japanese offers a bunch of favourite dishes at bargain prices - plus it’s BYO!
When it comes to the joys of vino, the Gold Coast isn’t one to be left behind. You’ll have to take a little bit of a trip into the Gold Coast Hinterland Wine Country, but it’s a journey that’s well worth the time of any wine enthusiast. A visit to Cedar Creek isn’t just about the wine, although they are renowned for their Verdelho and Chambourcin grapes which they craft into an incredible Rosé. The surroundings here are a treat all on their own, with the chance to gaze out over Wild Duck Lake with a vino in hard - not to mention the art gallery that is part of the estate. Sarabah Estate in the Canungra Valley is a fantastic weekend destination. Drop in for lunch at the Chalet Bistro after you sample a wine or two, to enjoy a delicious dish or two made from local, seasonal produce. Of course you’ll want to sort out who’s doing the sober driving - either that or book a wine tour that heads from the Gold Coast into the hinterland.
Gold Coast is very much defined by its relationship with the sea. The beaches here are a huge part of the city’s charm, whether you’re here to surf, swim or just sunbathe. The sea even embraces the city itself, in the network of canals that branch out across Gold Coast. Waterfront canal living is common in suburbs like Broadbeach Waters, Clear Island Waters and Mermaid Waters.
The Gold Coast isn’t super well known for its arts and culture scene, but if you head to The Arts Centre Gold Coast on the banks of the Nerang River, you’ll have all the opportunities that a keen culture vulture could wish for. An art gallery, cinemas, a theatre, a sculpture walk and even a restaurant are all part of this extraordinary venue.
This is without a doubt a cosmopolitan city, with a number of significant minority communities including Chinese, Maori and Japanese - to really put things in perspective, consider that 10% of those living in Gold Coast City speak a language other than English at home.
Not able to plan your Gold Coast trip around any of the areas events or festivals? Not to worry, there’s more to do in this city year round than you’ll ever be able to fit into just one holiday. Whether you’re a thrillseeker or heading to the GC for some serious relaxation, there’s something here for everyone.
You can’t talk about Gold Coast attractions without mentioning the beaches. If you’ve managed to bring your board along, a spot like Burleigh Heads is a fantastic place to catch some waves - and even if you’re not much of a surfer, the Sunday village market here is well worth browsing. Broadbeach (“Broadie” to the locals) is a popular alternative to Surfers Paradise - come for the sand and surf, stay for the roving street artists, gourmet delis, and weekend markets. Then there’s Surfers itself. As stunning as the beach itself is, sometimes it gets overshadowed by everything that’s grown up around it. The nightlife at Surfers Paradise is out of this world and varied enough for everyone to find a vibe that suits them, and the retail therapy opportunities will have even the most demanding shoppers in seventh heaven. Then there’s the markets, the restaurants… really, just go there and see for yourself.
There’s also the fact that the Gold Coast is the theme park capital of Australia. A lot of visitors fly in just for the theme parks alone, and it’s easy to understand why with so many fun places to choose from. Which theme parks you end up going for will depend on who you’re travelling with, but many of them have features to entertain all ages. Dreamworld is a particularly good choice if you’ve got little ones in tow as they’ll be able to meet a whole bunch of cartoon characters they know and love. Movie World caters to movie lovers of all ages, and Wet’n’Wild Gold Coast has thrillseekers sorted with all kinds of high speed, adrenaline pumping rides and slides.
Animal lovers won’t want to miss a visit to the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. With Tasmanian devils, a reptile house and the biggest walk through aviary in the Southern Hemisphere, this is a brilliant way to get up close to some of Australia’s most strange and endearing animals. Whether you’re scooting around the park on a Segway Safari, watching vets tend to native critters or opting for high ropes adrenaline with the Treetop Challenge, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary has a little something for everyone.
If you’re just after somewhere for a family afternoon in the sun without spending too much, the Southport Rockpools are for you. There are all kinds of aquatic features here to keep the kids entertained, from fountains and waterjets to man-made creeks and waterfalls. There’s also a lovely park area that surrounds Southport Rockpools, perfect for a picnic or BBQ. There’s even a playground nearby for when the kids are tired of watery fun.
For those booking a car hire on the Gold Coast, public transport might not be too much of a concern, but every now and again it can be easier to opt for an alternative way of getting around. TransLink handles the trains and buses which service the city, and if you think you might be using public transport more than once or twice during your trip, it might be worth picking up a prepaid SEEQ card from TransLink for hassle free travel.
The weather on the Gold Coast is classically subtropical. Which essentially means hot and humid summers and warm, dry winters. The balmy winters here make this one of the most popular winter escapes for those living in less tropical parts of Oz - even in the dead of winter, temperatures normally peak in the low 20s. If you’re planning to visit during the summer, be aware that temperatures regularly hover around 29 degrees and can soar up to 40.
Airportrentals.com.au offers great deals all over the world. Compare and save!