Heading off on a road trip from Brisbane to the Gold Coast offers the perfect opportunity to explore the many hidden gems and local hotspots that lie between these two popular Australian destinations.

Beyond the convenience and beauty of the journey itself, there are numerous places worth stopping along the way to enhance your road trip experience.

From picturesque lookout points to charming cafes and vibrant coastal towns, this article will guide you through the top places to discover between Brisbane and the Gold Coast — showcasing the region's unique charm and diverse attractions.

How long is the drive from Brisbane to the Gold Coast?

The drive from Brisbane to the Gold Coast covers a distance of approximately 80 kilometres, taking approximately 55 minutes via the Pacific Motorway (M1). The Pacific Motorway is the most direct route, ensuring a quick and efficient journey.

If a leisurely and scenic drive is more your thing, you could consider taking the Scenic Rim route. This 170-kilometre trip takes roughly 2 and a half hours, guiding you past charming towns and breathtaking landscapes along the way.

Both the M1 and the Scenic Rim routes are well-maintained and offer clear signage, making navigation simple.

Waterfalls and Greenery at Lamington National Park

Top 7 Places to Discover Between Brisbane and the Gold Coast

As you travel from Brisbane to the Gold Coast, these hidden gems and local recommendations are worth checking out along the way. From stunning lookout points and breathtaking panoramas to charming cafes and beautiful coastal towns, each adds a unique touch to your road trip.

1. Lamington National Park

If you're taking the Scenic Rim route, be sure to take a short detour to Lamington National Park — a stunning slice of wilderness that promises to captivate your senses. With over 21,000 hectares of subtropical rainforests, cascading waterfalls, and ancient trees, Lamington National Park is a nature lover's paradise.

Offering an extensive network of walking trails, explore diverse ecosystems and discover hidden treasures at every turn. Take a moment to get lost in the raw beauty of the park, which also happens to be one of the most Instagrammable places around.

  • Location: Lamington National Park Rd, Canungra QLD 4275.

2. Mt Tamborine Glow Worm Caves

Discover the Tamborine Mountain Glow Worm caves on your way to the Gold Coast. Another Scenic Rim route attraction, explore a purpose-built cave teeming with thousands of flickering glow worms that create a breathtaking spectacle.

The native Mt. Tamborine glow worm colony can be observed morning to afternoon After the cave, hop over (pun intended) to Frog Hollow, where various frog species await. The short walk is worth it for this rare chance to witness declining wild species. Experience the wonder of nature and learn about conservation efforts in this captivating and informative adventure.

  • Location: Cedar Creek Estate, 104 Hartley Rd, Tamborine Mt, QLD 4272.
  • Opening Times: 7 am to 3:30 pm, Monday to Friday.

3. Lake Wyaralong

Sky Reflection in Water at Lake Wyaralong

Immerse yourself in the breathtaking beauty of Lake Wyaralong, nestled at the base of the majestic Mt Joyce in the Scenic Rim region. This picturesque destination just off Route 90 offers a haven of natural wonders.

The area is renowned for its stunning landscapes and outdoor activities. Water enthusiasts can enjoy kayaking, canoeing, stand-up paddle boarding, boating, or fishing. Meanwhile, land explorers have 40 kilometres of multi-use trails for walking, horse riding, or mountain biking to enjoy.

For an added extra, take a stroll through the Sculpture Park, resting atop a hill and adorned with captivating large-scale artworks created by esteemed local and international sculptors.

  • Location: Lake Wyaralong Picnic Area, Bromelton QLD 4285.
  • Opening Times: Daily from 6 am to 6 pm

4. Daisy Hill Conservation Park

Discover the wonders of Daisy Hill Conservation Park, a hidden paradise just 25 km from Brisbane City and 50 km from the Gold Coast. This breathtaking sanctuary just off the M1 is dedicated to preserving the habitat of koalas and other wildlife species. Explore the interconnected trails, unwind with a picnic in the lush day-use area, and soak up the peace and tranquillity of endless gum forests. Don't miss the chance to get up close and personal with koalas at the Daisy Hill Koala Centre — which is free to enter and a must-do on your road trip from Brisbane to the Gold Coast.

  • Location: Daisy Hill Rd, Daisy Hill QLD 4127.
  • Opening Times: Daily from 7 am to 6:30 pm

5. Coochiemudlo Island

Mangroves and yachts at Coochiemudlo Island

A hidden gem located just a short ferry ride away from Brisbane, Coochiemudlo Island offers a tranquil oasis and a laid-back atmosphere with stunning natural beauty around every corner. Coochiemudlo Island is home to a couple of cafes, restaurants and beach bars.

Coochiemudlo Island Beach Bar offers stunning views of Moreton Bay, along with a delicious selection of food, craft beers, and alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. With a car ferry departing every 40 minutes and a foot passenger ferry every 30 - 45 minutes daily, it’s the perfect stopover on your Brisbane to Gold Coast trip.

6. Stable Coffee & Kitchen

Stable Coffee and Kitchen reigns supreme as one of the Gold Coast’s most instaworthy cafes. With floor-to-ceiling windows that effortlessly open up, courtyard seating, and stylish oak wood accents, the aesthetics are unmatched.

With walls adorned with artwork from Claudio Kirac, a talented local creative. Indulge in beautifully presented and nourishing breakfast and lunch options over the blush pink stone-top island table.

After a decadent bite to eat, indulge in some retail therapy at the nearby upscale boutiques for a full morning of fun.

  • Location: shop 1/570 Gold Coast Hwy, Tugun QLD 4224.
  • Opening Times: Daily from 6 am–2:30 pm

7. Main Beach

Palm Trees and Life Saving Box at Main Beach

Situated just a short drive from Surfers Paradise and South Stradbroke Island, Main Beach is a Gold Coast icon that offers breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and Gold Coast skyline.

The beach is a hugely popular spot for swimming, surfing, and sunbathing, with a whole host of dining, entertainment and retail right on the doorstep. Spend the day soaking up the sun and making the most of the beachside fun before venturing to Marina Mirage shopping centre - the perfect place to grab a bite to eat and stock up on designer and brand-name goodies.

Overlooking the sparkling Southport Yacht Club Marina, Waterfront Restaurant is the ultimate dining experience at one of Gold Coast's most exclusive venues in Main Beach.

  • Location: Main Beach QLD 4217.

Explore The Best of The Gold Coast

If you find yourself travelling down from Brisbane to the Gold Coast, make your stay one to remember by checking into Dorsett Gold Coast. Wake up to breathtaking ocean or hinterland views, relax in spacious rooms, and enjoy a range of world-class facilities and amenities.

Spend your days lounging poolside, indulging in spa treatments, and exploring the best nearby beaches. Looking to explore the best-hidden gems and local favourites? The concierge will be happy to give you an insider's recommendation of exactly where’s best to go during your visit.

Book a stay.