Where to Stay in Gold Coast: 10 Best Areas

Where to stay in Gold Coast

If you are visiting Gold Coast you may be wondering where the best place to stay in Gold Coast is. This can feel overwhelming, as there are a lot of options in several different areas. 

Gold Coast is a stunning and diverse area located on Australia’s east coast in Queensland. World-renown for its long, white-sand beaches, premium surfing waves and oceanside culture, it’s no question this area lives up to its name. 

Gold Coast is home to a little over 540,000 people and is equal parts residential and urban. There’s tons to do, including three theme parks, an extensive network of hiking trails and rare wildlife you won’t find anywhere else in the world.

In terms of accommodation, there’s several hotels and luxury resorts near the water that include all-inclusive packages, but also smaller boutiques, shared apartments and hostels for backpackers. 

Make sure once you’ve figured out your trip itinerary, you get booking, as this is a popular area and activity spots fill out fast. 

Keep reading for the top ten areas to stay in Gold Coast, Australia. Luckily, each area on this list offers a lot to see and do.

Where to stay in Gold Coast: 10 Best Areas

1. Broadbeach, where to stay in Gold Coast for first time

A beautiful suburb home to a little over 5,000 people, Broadbeach is equal parts relaxed beach town and sophisticated glitz and glamour. 

Surfers come from all over the world to visit Broadbeach’s thrilling waves, while vacationers come to experience an exciting area that keeps the party going all night long. 

There’s tons to do for visitors of all ages and many options for accommodation. Once known as the smaller, lesser-known sister of Surfer’s Paradise, Broadbeach has blown into a tourism hotspot all its own, with incredible food and sights. Visitors will certainly get a taste for how the “Broadies” live.

The first place to stop in Broadbach is the beach, naturally!. After a classic Gold Coast breaky from one of many vibrant cafes, pack up your umbrella and beach chairs and head to Kurrawa Beach, where Broadbeach is centered around. 

The beach is life-guard patrolled all year round and has an adjacent boardwalk perfect for strolling, rollerblading or some good old-fashioned people watching. 

The Kurrawa Surf Life Saving Club hosts the annual Australian Surf Life Saving Championships here, an internationally-recognized competition. 

For a bit of nature, check out Broadbeach’s stunning Cascade Gardens, a rainforest oasis, walk and picnic ground. There’s a large playground sure to keep kids entertained for hours and overlooks the Nerang River. 

On the weekends, Broadbeach’s parks are home to outdoor markets, like the Broadbeach Arts and Crafts market, live performances and athletic classes.

Broadbeach is a shopper’s paradise, with three distinct precincts for all your retail therapy needs. The Pacific Fair Shopping Centre has 400 stores made up of Australian and international retailers, department stores and luxury items. 

Broadbeach is also known for some of the best cuisine on the Gold Coast, sourced locally and abroad. 

For a bit of nightlife and entertainment, The Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre is the premiere center for Gold Coast concerts, live performances and theater shows, sport events and business conventions. 

If you’re prone to some risky behavior, check out the dazzling Star Casino, where you can enjoy amazing cocktails and dance the night away while also watching more intimate entertainment. 

Dracula’s Cabaret Gold Coast is a horror-themed cabaret and dining experience, while Flamingoes is a glitzy and glamourous themed club with aerial performances and roving entertainment. If you’re looking for a unique night out you won’t find anywhere else, Broadbeach is your place.

If you’re looking for water-based activities that are kid-friendly, Broadbeach offers many classes and rentals. But, this place is also for adults looking to experience all the sun and surf of this golden paradise.

In terms of accommodation, Broadbeach offers a ton of hotels and resorts looking over the water, as well as more budget-style options closer inland. 

2. Surfers Paradise, where to stay in Gold Coast for nightlife

Arguably the most popular spot in all of Gold Coast for surfers, tourists and locals alike, Surfer’s Paradise lives up to its breezy name for being the ultimate travel oasis and heaven for surfers and all walks of life. 

World-renown for its sparkling high rises, sandy beach stretches, rolling waves and seaside culture, Surfer’s Paradise is the heart of Gold Coast, and has been booming since 1920’s. 

If you’re looking for a hot social scene with high energy and non-stop action, Surfer’s Paradise is the best place to stay in Gold Coast. 

There’s also a distinct international presence here, shown in the diverse cuisine and drink options. You’re sure to never be bored here amongst the glitz and glamour.

The main focus here is (you guessed it!) the beach, where you can catch outdoor markets several days a week. More than 120 market stalls set up shop on the coastline each Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and you’ll find live entertainment, light bites and drinks. 

Don’t be intimidated by the regulars here – Surfer’s Beach is open to all. You can also take a surf lesson at Go Ride a Wave, a surfing school established right on the beach. 

There are several high-end dining and accommodation establishments near the water, and you’ll see sparkling high rises flying in the distance. 

You can catch a panoramic view from the SkyPoint Observation Deck, the highest point in Gold Coast.

Surfer’s Paradise is also great for the wacky and outrageous sights. There’s a Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum, several Duck Tour boating companies to see the water up close, and Infinity, an optical illusion and futuristic funhouse that can be explored by those of all ages. 

For shopping, Paradise Centre is the largest shopping center within the area with over 90 stories. You’ll also find a great al fresco dining experience here and several more adventurous activities, like a beer garden and tenpin bowling. 

If you’re looking for nightlife, dancing and live music or just a chance to see and be seen, Surfer’s Paradise is the right place. Holey Moley is a putt-putt themed club, and the Island is a renovated hotel and rooftop bar remnant of old luxury.

If you’re looking for sophisticated living during your time in Gold Coast, you’re bound to find a good deal in Surfer’s Paradise. Many major resort chains are here, as well as waterfront hotels, condos and apartments. 

It can get a bit rowdy after dark, as the area is so popular with a younger crowd. But kids will still love all the major attractions here and frolicking in the warm waters of the Pacific.

3. Southport, Gold Coast’s bustling central business district

Back in the day, Southport was the ultimate destination on the entire Gold Coast, and you may see remanent of a romantic, bygone era as you walk along the historic streets. 

In the past, you’d see women strolling in the latest fashions and important political figures drinking with their entourages. In response, sideshow amusement tours, picture shows and the Southport Pier were implemented to meet the growing tourist population. 

There is still much of that eclectic energy in Southport’s dining, entertainment, shopping and residential areas, which overlooks the Broadwater and Southport Spit. 

The area is bringing in more permanent residents every year, and tourists love the wide range of things to do.

A short stroll down Southport’s streets will reveal a bustling city center with charming new restaurants, boutique and souvenir shops and people out and about. 

For incredible shopping, head to the Australia Fair Shopping Center, with over 200 specialty stores and supermarkets. Event Cinemas also offers discounted movie deals here and great dining options. 

The Broadwater Parklands is the real focus in Southport however, and is a world-renown community and cultural space with incredible ocean views. 

You can have a picnic on the manicured Great Lawn, and even catch a sporting event like the World Championship Triathlon. With great weather, this is the perfect place to relax under a shady tree and lay the day away,

For kids, the GC Aqua Park is a popular spot. This inflatable water park is 600 meters long, complete with blow-up slides and climbing ladders. 

If you’re looking to get in a workout, the Gold Coast Aquatic Center is located in the Broadwater Parklands and has world-class, competition swimming pools and a fully functional fitness center. 

If you have your scuba licensee, you can head below the sea to see the Scott Prince Dive site, 800 meters off the Southport spit. 

The Scott Prince was a three steel-masted, 64 meter iron baroque ship that sank as it was sailing into Brisbane. You’ll access the site by a boat, and be welcomed by colorful sponges and marine life that now call the wreck home.

Southport is an incredibly lively area, and regularly rotates live music festivals and sporting events throughout the year. 

In terms of nightlife, Southport has several major bars and smaller taverns to kick up your heels, but this area is also great if you’re just looking to kick back and relax, especially with kids. 

There are several places to stay within the Broadwater Tourist Park, with easy beach access and nearby waterfront paths for biking and walking. There are also several places to park your camper or caravan if you’re traveling with one.

4. Main Beach, a historic beach with old charm

Just north of Southport and Surfer’s Paradise, the aptly named Main Beach area is a major tourist center and coastal suburb in Gold Coast. In its heyday, it was once the place to go in Gold Coast. 

While it’s still a surfing hub, this area is far more relaxed than Surfer’s Paradise, so you’re sure to find a wave all to yourself. 

With sprawling sand dunes and several luxury resorts framing the beach, Main Beach continues all the way north to the Spit. 

At first glance, Main Beach may seem like just your average Queensland town. But there are several hidden gems within its streets that reflect both modern sophistication and older authenticity, making it a great place to stay in Gold Coast.

Start your day here by checking out the Gold Coast Ocean Highway, which starts in Main Beach. This trail is perfect if you’re looking to walk or bike next to the ocean. When you’re ready to get some sun, head to the beach. 

Surfers love this stretch of sand for its open shore break, and tourists love it for the constant sunshine and breezy, salty air. 

You’ll spot Pavilion 34, an old bathing pavilion, now converted into a rustic, beachside cafe serving some of the best fish and chips and chiko rolls on the Gold Coast. 

Nearby is the Southport Surf Club and an expansive green park to picnic and take pictures on. Sea World Australia is also located here and is a great day trip. You can swim with dolphins, ride high-flying rollercoasters and discover the wonders of the world’s oceans.

When you’re ready to pack up for the day, head down to Tedder Avenue for a little shopping, eating and people watching. 

Here you’ll see sophisticated Australian socialites, gleaming luxury cars parked on the street and a frenzy of diners testing out some of the best food and drink on the Gold Coast. 

But it isn’t all glitz and glamour – you’ll catch a wide range of hungry surfers packing up their gear for the day and catching a bite to eat.

There are several luxury hotels along the Southport Spit that include pools and a spa, as well as major resort chains. 

There aren’t as many hotels within the direct area of Main Beach as some of the other areas on this list, but if you’re looking to be close to the water but don’t want the hecticness of Surfer’s Paradise, Main Beach is a great place to stay in Gold Coast.

See also: Best areas to stay in Sydney, best areas to stay in Melbourne, best areas to stay in Brisbane, best areas to stay in Cairns

5. Coolangatta, best area to stay in Gold Coast in a lowkey surfer’s getaway

The coastal suburb of Coolangatta is located at the end of the road on Gold Coast, right next to beautiful Greenmount Beach. This eclectic border town moves at a much slower pace and is located right within Twin Towns Zone, next to Tweed Heads and New South Wales. 

With the skyline of Surfer’s Paradise twinkling in the distance, Coolangatta is a popular spot with surfers, and you’ll find the most dedicated ones up early and surfing the waves off the northern corner of Coolangatta Beach and Duranbah, where the swell is high. 

The entire area makes up Rainbow Bay, an overall beautiful beach cove favored by tourists and locals alike.

Snapper Rocks is a famous surfing spot, but be forewarned it’s not for the faint of heart. A small rocky outcrop located on the northern side of Point Danger, Snapper Rocks is a point break and is part of a large sand bank known as Superbank. 

With perfect Gold Coast waves, Snapper Rocks is home to the annual World Surf Leagues’ Quicksilver and Roxy Pros. If you prefer to watch from afar, the Rainbow Bay surf club is the perfect place to grab a bite and see the waves roll through. 

For more protected swimming, Greenmount Beach is great for younger visitors wanting to take a dip. There’s also an oceanfront path around Greenmount Point which offers stunning sea views. 

You can also scuba at the Nine Mile Reef Dive Site off Tweeds Head, which sees Leopard Sharks in the summer and grey nurse sharks in the winter, along with a whole host of marine wildlife and hard and soft corals.

To end your day here, check out The Strand, a world famous location for entertainment, dining, shopping and people watching. You’ll find everything for your travel needs here, including souvenirs and gifts, as well as fresh food markets and travel booking sites. 

There are great restaurants here offering many local and international flavors, as well as bars and smaller taverns for a drink or two. 

For a serene panoramic sunset view, head to Kirra Point for the Kirra Hill Lookout, where you can also snap a picture with renown Iron Eagle sculpture.

For accommodation, Coolangatta has several seaside hotels with outdoor pools and spas, as well as smaller tourist parks for caravan parking and self-contained apartments. 

There is also a backpackers hotel for budget-style living and AirBnB-style homes scattered throughout the area. 

In terms of nightlife, Coolangatta is far more relaxed than other areas on this list, offering rustic bars and gastropubs, as well as several wine bars and hotel and surf clubs. Komune is one popular fist-pumping party spot if you’re looking to dance. 

But if you simply want to kick back and relax and enjoy the salty breeze and sand between your toes, Coolangatta is a great place to stay in Gold Coast.

6. Currumbin, where to stay in Gold Coast for families

Described as an exquisite seaside jewel in the Gold Coast crown, Currumbin is a lazy coastal suburb and community just north of Coolangatta. 

Authentic and down-to-earth, this relaxed destination offers a great beach, stunning sight-seeing and a variety of things to do. 

While in Currumbin, you’ll never be far from the water, nature or from animal life, so adventurers will love the experiences this small area offers. 

Currumbin is famous for its Currumbin Creek waterway, which starts in the hinterland and reaches its mouth at Currumbin Alley, or the entrance to the ocean. 

Here you’ll find a lifeguard-patrolled beach area for all kinds of watersports, including surfing, wakeboarding and kayaking. Longboard riders will appreciate the steady right hand surf break, and fishermen will love the daily catch.

To see incredible animals up close, visit the renown Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, covering 27 hectares of green rainforest. This environmental conservation center is extremely dedicated to the safety and preservation of hundreds of species, including Australian kangaroos and koalas. 

You’re free to wander through open animal enclosures, and kids will love playing in an outdoor, animal-themed park called Wild Island. 

Keep an eye out for free-flying birds, red pandas, reptiles and lemurs as you walk through Lost Valley, a dedicated rainforest section. 

Elephant Rock is also located on Currumbin Beach and make up the remains of ancient volcanic activity. To access it from the beach, take the stairs up and experience panoramic views of Surfer’s Paradise and Coolangata. 

The Currumbin Beach Vikings Surf Life Saving Club is also here and offers great drinks and fresh, seafood-based dishes.

Currumbin is also known for its great coffee shops, restaurants and bars, most of which are near the water. There are a couple of great bars and one club with higher energy, but most of the area is more relaxed with smaller venues. 

Accommodation is on the smaller side, with hotels, motels and shared apartments all nearby the water.

7. Burleigh Heads, relaxed beach with gentle waves

Known affectionately as Burleigh to the locals, Burleigh Head is nestled between Surfer’s Paradise and Coolangatta, and is an incredible suburb to explore and soak in the sights. 

While Burleigh Heads is primarily known for its relaxed beach, there’s plenty to do around the area and is a great place to stay in Gold Coast. 

The main draw is surfers, and both novices and amateurs can find reliable waves here. Luckily, if you’re watching from afar and decide you’d like to learn, several surf schools are available and ready to take new learners.

A popular spot in this area is the Burleigh Heads National Park, which wraps around the headline. Here you’ll find a mix of rocky paths with rainforest canopies, where volcano meets sea. 

As you walk under shady eucalyptus trees and pandaus groves, you have the choice of choosing several different circuits, all fairly easy and short. 

You can also have a picnic area with cheeses picked up from nearby James Street Deli, enjoying the view from Burleigh Head National Park. James Street itself is great for dining, retail therapy, strong coffee and lively Queensland decor. 

If you’re in Burleigh Heads on the first or third Sunday of the month, you can get food to go at the village markets and also find locally-made gifts, arts and crafts. 

Burleigh Heads has a diverse amount of rooftop bars that are perfect for experiencing a pink Queensland sunset.

Burleigh Heads is a fairly residential area, so you may see more shared home and apartment style housing here. But, there are several hotels with pools and spas collected near the water that also rent out watersport gear.

8. Miami, an international community with a stunning beach

You may think you’re in one of America’s most famous city’s as you explore this tropical oasis, complete with an incredible beach and a fun nightlife, but the area of Miami is one of Gold Coast’s most popular tourists destinations. 

This coastal suburb has a strong history that has carried into its more modern features. For over 50 years, Miami was home to Miami Ice, an ice factory that was eventually demolished in 2013, citing outcry from the area’s locals. 

But in its place has risen an eclectic and culturally-cool outpost of cafes, bars, live music venues and retail stores that have blown life back into the area. 

Add a stunning white-sand beach and a wide range of accommodation in the mix and Miami, Florida doesn’t feel so far away.

Miami Beach is the main focus here, favored by surfers and beach-goers for its more secluded feel and great waves. The beach is lifeguard-patrolled and offers stunning views into the horizon from the Miami Beach Life Saving Club. 

Another incredible draw here is Miami Marketta, a long stretch of covered street that offers a whole host of flavors and foods from around the world. 

From Thai, Korean and Spanish, Miami Marketta has incredible, cheap street food perfect for sharing with friends and family at the communal-style tables. Up to 1,200 people can sit at the market, enjoying live music from the main stage and boutique wine from the four onsite bars. 

Another great spot is the Mick Schamburg Park, which sits atop Miami Headland. As you look around, you’ll experience stunning beach views with North Burleigh to the north and all of Miami to the south, and you can enjoy a BBQ at one of the many public grills. 

Pizzey Park is another great spot for recreation and is very dog-friendly for your four-legged pals.

A great quality about Miami is it’s not touristy or overcrowded. There are several resources for travelers if they need it (supermarkets, travel booking agencies, retailers etc.) but the area isn’t overrun with commercial buildings. 

This Miami doesn’t share the same fist-pumping action that Miami, Florida does in terms of nightlife. But lowkey taverns and pubs make for a great night out and visitors will leave this area feeling relaxed and refreshed.

There’s a major resort near the water, as well as smaller hotels around the area. 

9. The Hinterland – Mudgeeraba, where to stay in Gold Coast for naturelovers

The distinctly unique town of Mudgeeraba is perhaps like no other in Queensland – it is characterized as a part of the rural hinterland of Queensland. 

The hinterland itself comprises several smaller areas, but Mudgeeraba is a hidden gem for its uncrowded charm. It grew in the late 1880s with the development of the Muudgeeraba Hotel (now known and reconverted as the Wallaby Hotel). 

You’ll catch many old relics, including a central, community waterhole, still standing.

The Gold Coast Hinterland Museum is located here and is well worth a visit. The museum is dedicated to preserving historical items critical to the growth of Muudgeeraba and outlines the construction of the Nerang Railway Station, originally built in 1889. 

The Mudgeeraba Farmer’s Market is another popular spot in this area. The markets are believed to be the oldest in all of Gold Coast and sell local produce, baked goods, coffee, cheese and wine and many more items. 

After you’ve picked up some specialty goods or had a bite to eat at one of the many charming cafes or eateries, head to Springbook National Park or Boomerang Farm Bike Park if you enjoy mountain biking under shady trees.

Mudgeeraba doesn’t have a ton of places to stay directly within the town itself, so it makes for a good day trip away from the hecticness of Gold Coast’s city center rather than a place to stay in Gold Coast. 

Still, for its friendly locals and endearing atmosphere, Mudgeeraba is definitely worth checking out.

10. Mount Tamborine – the perfect city escape in the clouds

Last but not least on this list is stunning Mount Tamborine, a serene area with historic Aboriginal significance, incredible waterfalls and lots to do. 

The area is both a geographical structure (the mountain itself is a volcanic peak) and a collection of smaller villages stretched along the eight kilometer ridge of the mountain range. 

A hidden sanctuary amongst the hustle and bustle of Queensland, Mount Tamborine is located in the peaceful Hinterland and is just a 30-minute drive from Gold Coast’s city center. 

You can discover lush greenery, natural splendor and a cooler climate, while still getting the classic vacation experience Australia is known for.

If you enjoy walking along the singing birds, buzzing bees and blooming flowers, Mount Tamborine has 12 walking trails in all to explore. The Witches Falls section was the first National Park in Queensland, and is an easy walk through nature for all levels of physical activity. 

To get an incredible view of the entire mountain, checkout the Tamborine Rainforest Walk, a scenic walk amongst the treetops. As you stroll, you’ll descend into the lower canopy and hit the cantilever, perched 30 meters atop the valley. 

Be sure to check out the Rainforest Eco Galley which gives an insightful picture into Mount Tamborine’s special indigenous history. The Glow Worm caves are another can’t-miss activity. 

Head down below the earth into a manmade cave and watch nature sparkle around you in the form of thousands of glowworms, while getting an educational tour on the area’s history and environmental standards.

Another stop to see is the beautiful Tamborine Mountain Botanic Gardens, blending both native and exotic flora and fauna. 

You’ll find a mix of rainforest vegetation, magnolias, maples and flowering cherries, as well as themed gardens displaying Japanese flowers, roses and wisteria-covered pergolas and a wide lake. 

When you’re ready for a little people watching and shopping, head to the Gallery Walk at Eagle Heights. Here, you’ll find charming boutique shops with locally-made gifts, paintings, art and souvenirs, clothing, antiques and farmer’s stalls selling produce on the weekends. 

There are also several incredible wineries and breweries here, many of which offer tours and tastings for visitors, as well as rooms to stay.

Thunderbird Park is a popular, all-inclusive tourist attraction and campground that offers group activities, like ziplining, immersive Aboriginal performances and boomerang throwing. 

Mount Tamborine is also a very romantic spot and is the perfect getaway for couples and wedding parties. In terms of nightlife, there are no major bars or clubs here, but rather lowkey venues serving great drinks and conversation. 

Even if you don’t stay here on your trip to Gold Coast, Mount Tamborine is an absolute must-see while you’re in the area.

There are several smaller boutique hotels and outdoorsy-style cabins and lodges on Mount Tamborine. 

Gold Coast is wide and diverse, but staying in any of these areas on your trip will make for an amazing vacation. Each offers a unique atmosphere and experience, and you’re sure to find an accommodation style that best fits your list. 

Make sure to book early, plan ahead for safe travel and get everything that this amazing area of Australia has to offer. Come visit Gold Coast today!

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