Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year, and summer in Australia is a glorious time to explore. Time off from the daily grind, weeks spent with friends and family, hot summer days and balmy nights. Throw in a sunkissed glow, lazy afternoons on the beach and a few cold bevvies and you’ve got the recipe for the perfect Christmas season. What more could you want?

Well, how about a long-awaited road trip in Australia this summer to relish all of the above and more? Or perhaps simply an impulsive one? You can do all of this while seeing the immense array of sights our incredible country has to offer.

That’s why we’ve put together a list of ultimate Christmas getaways in Australia designed to suit not just those who only have the standard public holidays off and a few days to spare but those who have luckily cashed in that annual leave for more time to roam.

So let’s hit the road and check out some of the best things to do in Australia.

Short and jam-packed road trips

One of the best things about Australia is that wherever you are, there’s more than likely a great road trip to be had nearby, as well as countless Christmas markets where you can stock up on cards, presents, and incredible Christmas mince tarts. If you are short on time but want to make the most of your Christmas break, stay within your state and find a place you haven’t ever visited but that’s always been on your travel bucket list.

Christmas Road Trips | Victoria

In Victoria, consider heading up The Great Ocean Road for some R&R. This is one of the best road trips in Australia, and never gets boring no matter how many times you drive it. 

It’s the most popular time of the year for the towns along this famous strip, so from Torquay to Apollo Bay, you won’t be at a loss for activities. A round trip to the Twelve Apostles and back can be done in just a few days if you make stops along the way, and you’ll get in plenty of beach time. It’s also a stone’s throw from Melbourne, so you get the best of both worlds from the relaxed hippy vibe of surf towns to the vibrant metropolis of the city.

Summer in Melbourne is a delight, so for those coming into the cultural capital of Australia and wanting to know the best things to do on Christmas day in Melbourne, you’re in for a treat! The city comes alive with light shows and projections scattered throughout the CBD at Melbourne Town Hall, Federation Square and New Quay in Docklands. Federation Square will be transformed into a festivus feat. In addition to the city’s glittering Christmas tree, the square hosts a gorgeous lifesize Christmas bauble – the perfect spot for a family photo to remember your Melbourne summer.

Christmas Road Trips | New South Wales

If you are looking for Sydney drives, an indefinite number of short road trips in NSW are on your doorstep. 

Head down the South Coast of NSW to hidden gems like Mollymook, Ulladulla and Kiama. These relaxed seaside towns have a million and one things to do, and they are also the ultimate getaway for those looking to simply lie on their beautiful beaches. In Kiama, visit the famous blowhole, the iconic ice creamery or experience the fun of bodyboarding when the waves are at their best.

For those looking to escape the crowds at the beach around Sydney, there are plenty of NSW road trips that can take you inland. The Hawkesbury Region is just under three hours away by car, and is known for its beautiful colonial architecture, endless art galleries and craft stores, mouth-watering restaurant scene, and countless outdoor adventure activities. Consider canyoning and caving in particular if you’d like to take a break from the summer heat!

Nearby lies the Blue Mountains, which offers one of the best road trips from Sydney, especially if you don’t have a lot of time off this Christmas. The Greater Blue Mountains Drive promises waterfalls, scenery, caves, and a relaxed atmosphere perfect for a break from the real world. 

Christmas Road Trips | Queensland

If you are in southern Queensland, your options for two- or three-day road trips are endless as well. With the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Brisbane and even Byron Bay so easily accessible from each other, it’s simple to jump in the car and hit the road on a whim. Conveniently, Thrifty has car hire locations in each of the above airports, but we recommend flying into Sunshine Coast, grabbing a Maroochydore Airport car hire, and heading south.

Your first stop to the Sunshine Coast hinterland is a must, with its breathtaking views and picturesque scenery. The stretch from Brisbane to the Gold Coast is particularly beautiful, and is easily one of the most popular East Coast Australia road trip options. 

If you are travelling with kids, they’ll love the attractions the Goldie is known for – Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is a great way for kids to learn about Australian wildlife. Adults will enjoy nothing more than mooching around the shops on Cavill Avenue or walking the world-famous beach at Surfers Paradise.

Next, head two hours south to Byron Bay for a walk on the wild side. This seaside town is jam-packed with holidayers at Christmas but is unbeatable on a summer night. Roam the local markets known for their curious wares or simply people-watch – an easy activity to do in Byron.

Christmas Road Trips | Western Australia

Only have a little time to spare on a trip? Why not check out the Kalamunda Zig Zag? This short drive is only 30 minutes from Perth, and is a scenic drive that promises fantastic views out over the city, and is especially good if you have relatives or friends in town visiting. That said, you can always jump out of the car and walk the path once you get there – although it will be best to go in the early morning or late evening to avoid the heat! 

And for any trip of just a few days or a full week or more, you can’t go wrong with a road trip to the Margaret River. Just a few hours from Perth, the region is a foodie’s paradise and a wine lover’s heaven. It is brimming with wineries, and also isn’t short on breweries either. There are beaches where you can head for a dip and a snooze on the sand, endless biking and hiking trails, and even an ancient cave system waiting for you to explore. 

Extended road trips to get excited about

If you have found yourself in the boss’s good books and have snared some lengthy time off over Christmas, make the most of it by doing what you can’t do the rest of the year – hitting the road and seeing where it takes you!

For those with kids, be sure to check out our downloadable kids’ games packet for long road trips to help you get through those longer drives with your sanity in tact.

The Melbourne to Sydney trip (or vice versa) is almost mandatory for budding travellers in Australia, and whether you take the inland route through an assortment of quirky, dry country towns that are truly Australian or head down the glistening coastline, you won’t be at a loss for sights to see.

Going inland will take you up through the border towns of Albury and Wodonga, bypassing the Kosciuszko National Park, home to Australia’s highest point and great for getting up close with nature. This will then take you through the Australian capital of Canberra where you can make a pitstop at Parliament House. Make sure to spend half a day in the town of Wollongong, just south of Sydney, which has experienced a trendy influx of late, before heading into the Harbour City.

Need the sea breeze in your hair? The coastal drive from Melbourne to Sydney is truly spectacular, and you could spend weeks if you stopped at every sight that took your fancy. Head up through serene Victorian towns such as Lakes Entrance and Orbost, before crossing over into NSW. Stop off at Bega for some famous cheese straight from the source and Bateman’s Bay to get a taste of the upper crust of society.

Only making short stops, the trip can be done in 12 hours, but make the most of it and aim for at least a week to give yourself time to rest and truly take in these world-class sights.

We highly recommend planning the Melbourne to Sydney trip so you arrive in Sydney for the big day. There’s no shortage of wonderful things to do in Sydney on Christmas Day, so why not make it one to remember. Start the day right with a dip at Bondi Beach, then head to one of Sydney’s iconic pubs for a long Chrissie lunch with all the trimmings (be sure to book at least 7 days in advance as this is a  popular choice for many Sydneysiders). After lunch why not take a ferry to cross the harbour and head to Taronga Zoo and wish the animals a Merry one. Finish the day with some festive spirit by wandering through the city and enjoying the Christmas lights and installations akin to Vivid Sydney. St Mary’s Cathedral facade is a must see!

One final major road trip can be found in Western Australia, from Perth to Kalgoorlie. This four-day drive will introduce you to the region, from nightclubs and beaches to tiny towns, Big Things, and scorched red earth. Things can get pretty warm around this time of year, so don’t forget to crank up the air conditioning and make plenty of swimming stops at beaches and rivers.

We’ve given you a lot of destinations here, so if you’re wondering what to do when bored with friends this summer break, why not grab a last-minute car rental and take a drive? Thrifty car hire is located in over 170 destinations in Australia – so you can take off on your Christmas getaway from almost anywhere!  But no matter what you do this Christmas, make sure your road trip is a safe and enjoyable one. 

Looking for a convenient, affordable rental car? Contact our friendly team today for a chat about the best options for your dream road trip.