Let’s face it, we all love a good stroll along Bondi Beach, or a freshly brewed latte in one of Melbourne’s laneway cafes. But what about those best kept secret destinations only locals know about?
To find out, we’ve pooled together more than 175 million user ratings to identify the most loved destinations in Australia. Here are the top-ten winners of the 2017 trivago Awards…
The Apple Isle strikes back! In last year’s trivago Awards, this dreamy little Tasmanian town positioned in second place. This year, however, Stanley is the crowning dame of the ball, gleefully holding the number one position in Australia’s top ten destinations.
When it comes to beauty, Stanley is a natural. Rugged, unspoiled coastlines and expansive, rolling plains adorn this northern town, but what Stanley is arguably most famous for is ‘The Nut’. This dramatic feature is a solidified lava lake of a long-extinct volcano, and certainly warrants a couple of snaps to fill your Instagram feed!
The Apple Isle sure can get a little chilly, so warm up with a hearty meal at the Stanley Hotel. Offering fresh Tasmanian produce, this award-winning bistro focuses on a menu of simple, clean flavours that honour the coast and land. Lobsters come from nearby Stanley Fish, while the beef is sourced from Greenhas in Smithton. Can’t book a table? Don’t despair, Cable Station also offers a rich menu full of flavour and creativity.
If you fancy taking home a couple of the region’s prized goodies, a trip to Providore 24 is essential. This pint-sized haunt is grand in delivery, offering the likes of Blue Hills premium honey, Waji’s quince paste, and even organic skincare range Beauty and the Bees.
Montville has long been loved by Queenslanders, so it’s easy to see why it’s taken home silver in the trivago Awards for 2017. This tiny town does the sunshine state proud thanks to its rich variety of wineries, tasty cheese factories, and spectacular nature hikes.
If you’re hoping to get out of the urban crush and sip some quality wines, you can’t surpass the finesse of Flame Hill Vineyard. Perched atop the Blackhall Range, Flame Hill Vineyard smugly watches over the rest of Montville – and rightly so! Blending wine, cuisine, and scenery into a harmonious experience, this is THE kind of place that will ignite your culinary flame.
Offering a menu that stresses the ‘paddock-to-plate’ ethos, Flame Hill Vineyard serves a seasonal menu which is carefully prepared by Head Chef, Adam Lugg. Think mushroom and truffle croquettes alongside tempura Mooloolaba prawns with chili jam. Plain delicious!
Gorging on quality food sure is yum, but any person visiting Montville should honour the area’s natural beauty with a scenic nature hike. Sign up for one of the walking tours in either the rainforest or nearby Glasshouse Mountains, or go independently along the Obi Obi boardwalk, and meet eyes with a couple playful platypus! At the end of the day, get a ‘pick-me-up’ at Montville Coffee, and sip on the glory of an organic, certified free-trade coffee.
The first and only destination from Western Australia to feature in the top ten, Yallingup has a lot to be proud of. Yet, its position as number three didn’t come by chance. One of the finest gals in the Margaret River region, Yallingup is the ideal outdoor playground for any adventure junkie.
With spectacular beaches and surf breaks, it seems a little strange to feel the need to go underground in Yallingup – but please do! With Adventure Tour, you can marvel at the amazing rock formations of Ngilgi Cave. The tour will take you through winding underground passages, so if you feel a little squeamish with small spaces, stick to the beach!
If your idea of a weekend getaway is more synonymous with serene open spaces, head to one of Yallingup’s renowned beaches and take a dunk. The area is famous for fostering some of the world’s best surfers, so hit Smiths Beach, Injidup, or Three Bears, and follow suit to some of the pros who started it all here.
Let’s face it, we all have a sweet tooth. So rather than fretting over the next slice of torte we consume, why not embrace it at the Yallingup General Store? Affectionately referred to as the General Store, Caves Park Store, and even Andy’s by locals, this place indulges visitors to a mix of tasty muffins, cakes, and its famous burger ‘the kitchen sink’.
4. North Tamborine
Queensland’s North Tamborine is an adventure playground that warrants so much more than a fleeting weekend away. From the lush rainforest of Tamborine Mountain to the select ensemble of wineries and vineyards, it’s little surprise locals have been keeping this place a secret for some time!
If you’re looking for a bird’s eye kind of view of the region, see things from above at Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk. Meander through the rainforest canopy on more than 300 metres of suspended bridge, and dart in between draping ferns, rare orchids, and twisted fig trees.
After all that aerial exercise, you’d be forgiven for working up an appetite. Fortunately, Cedar Creek Estate Vineyard and Winery offers a rich menu which is paired with tasty drops of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and a sweet line-up of dessert wines. If you’d rather keep things alcohol-free, settle in for the stately Devonshire Tea which serves fluffy scones with whipped cream and local preserves.
Still wanting to continue the frivolity back home? Be sure to stop by one of North Tamborine’s not-so-best kept secrets, the Tamborine Mountain Distillery. Initially popular by word of mouth, this is now Australia’s most internationally-awarded distillery, and offers the likes quality liquors and vodkas.
5. McLaren Vale
When it comes to city backyards, Adelaide trumped with idyllic McLaren Vale. Home to some of the state’s best wines, produce, and picture-perfect landscapes, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were quaffing wine in a historic chateau in the South of France.
With its densely populated assortment of wineries, McLaren Vale is a sommelier’s dream. Even if you’re not an expert in wine, it’s easy to spot the quality and finesse of these local drops. If you fancy a tasting plate of seasonal produce which is perfectly matched with a glass of wine, you can’t get much better than Coriole Winery. Pairing rustic charm with strong attention to detail, Coriole has certainly made a name for itself since its humble beginnings in 1967.
Ready to go home? Of course not! Just a hop, skip, and a jump away is D’Arenberg Winery, a family-owned institution that won’t be losing stream anytime soon. Nestled amidst twisted gumtrees and sweeping vineyards, D’Arenberg evokes everything Australia does well.
If you’re planning to settle in for the afternoon, sample some of the winery’s supremely good blends at the cellar door. Then mosey on over to d’Arry’s Verandah for a degustation menu of slow cooked kangaroo tail alongside ginger sponge with mango curd. Delicious! If you’re a fan of live music, Red Poles offers special feature performances every Sunday. Time to get your jig on!
A little like the lines formed on a grandmother’s hands, the quaint streets and Victorian buildings of Beechworth tell a story. From its grand main drag of original shop-fronts and town hall, to the sweeping deciduous trees lining each of its streets, Beechworth evokes every facet of its golden yesteryear.
While being at the scene of a crime is not on the top of many peoples’ agenda, a visit to Beechworth Gaol is certain to offer interesting insight into Australia’s colonial history. Dating back to 1856, the Beechworth Gaol has housed the likes of Ned Kelly and his gang, and even gangland war king, Carl Williams. Sign up for one of the tours, and step back in time through the dreary cells and ominous guard towers.
If you’re looking for a different kind of institution, head to Camp Street and sample the freshly baked goodness of the Beechworth Bakery. For those feeling peckish for a pie, pasty, or even something sweet, this sacred haunt has been satisfying the locals since 1984 and won’t disappoint.
To wash everything down after, sample some top notch beer at Bridge Road Brewers. The brainchild of Ben Kraus, the brewery opened its doors in 2005, and has since been pouring quality ales, pilsners, and ciders. If you’d like a little knowledge behind your booze, go on one of the Brewery Tours which take place every Saturday at 11am. Looking for something alcohol free? Head to Beechworth Provender, and sip on the what is arguably the town’s best coffee.
When it comes to the Sunshine State, Cairns is known for its beach, Port Douglas for the Daintree, and Stanthorpe for its seasonal produce. If you’re hoping to explore Queensland’s idyllic Granite Belt Region without shirking on any indulgence, Stanthorpe is likely to fulfil your expectations to a T.
Whether you’re team Pink Lady or you’re an avid fan of Ms. Granny Smith, Stanthorpe is locally renowned for its robust apple industry. Discover this at iconic apple orchard, Sutton’s. A juice factory, cidery, distillery, and café in all one, Sutton’s has been treating locals to apples ‘any way’ since 1994. If you’re looking for an afternoon treat, settle in at Shed Café, and sample a freshly baked apple pie or apple and almond tart, and indulge your sweet tooth in style.
If you have a keen eye for haggling and sourcing locally produced knickknacks and hidden gems, a trip to Market in the Mountains should be penciled in your agenda. With such a title, you’re simply beckoned to visit!
Held on the second Sunday of every month, more than 45 stallholders set up temporary shop and sell a mix of handcrafted items, jewellery, and preserves. If skincare is more your thing, head to Busy Bee and sample some of the natural honey skin care products to get the glow!
Is city life getting a little too much? Are you looking for that utopian weekend getaway? Thanks to its lush forests, resplendent in draping ferns and trickling streams, Marysville is arguably Victoria’s closest contender for Utopia.
The Yarra Valley is the kind of place that lends itself to a wealth of outdoor activities, and Marysville is the ideal gateway. Explore some of the 14 tracks and trails, and breathe in the serenity of Victoria’s most beloved wonderland. From the Marysville Forest Trail including Steavenson Falls and Tree Fern Gully, to the challenging rock climbs of the Cathedral Ranges trail, any taste will be indulged with the area’s natural beauty.
Leave reality for just one day, and enter a fantastical forest-world created by sculptor and painter, Bruno Torfs. Using clay, the artist has produced an ethereal collection of detailed sculptures which are scattered throughout Bruno’s Art & Sculpture Garden.
You don’t have to be in the city to secure a well-brewed latte. Fraga’s Café and Restaurant on Marysville’s main drag is the ideal haunt in which to satisfy your caffeine craving. At Fraga’s, they take the roasted bean seriously, only using locally roasted Fairtrade coffee. If you like your latte with a side of sweet, you can’t surpass aunty Maria’s acclaimed banoffee pie.
Maleny is one of the crowning jewels of the Sunshine Coast hinterland, and trivago seems to feel the same way! The second entry from this idyllic region of the sunny state, Maleny simply beckons you. Perched on the Blackhall Range, with the scenic backdrop of the Glasshouse Mountains, Maleny pairs all of the right elements to create a truly memorable experience.
A little like a patchwork quilt, Maleny is a diverse and vibrant community that prides itself on threading together art and culture. If you’re hoping to get a taste of this, head to the Maleny Sunday Markets and get haggling. Each Sunday, more than 30 stalls set up shop, offering arts, crafts, and even psychic readings for the mystically-inclined.
No one can deny that Italy is the home of gelato, but if you’re looking for a near contender a little closer to home, award-winning Colin James Fine Foods is the next best thing. Produced daily using local Maleny Dairies guernsey milk, the gelato comes in several flavours ranging from the classic chocolate right through to watermelon and mint sorbet. If you’d rather go savoury, a moreish selection of cheese is also on offer including a rich unpasteurised sheep’s milk Roquefort.
Ready to get the togs out for summer? You’ll be pleased to know Maleny is just a 30-minute drive from two of the best swimming spots on the Sunshine Coast, Mooloolaba and Caloundra.
As much as the New South Wales folk would like the keep the Hunter Valley a secret, its supreme ensemble of wineries and award-winning restaurants has caught on to the other states. Pokolbin is arguably the pulse of the region, and makes for the perfect gateway to a weekend escape of wining and dining.
When it comes to wine, quaff the cream of the crop in Pokolbin with some of the country’s best wineries that serve some top notch drop. Pull up at Tyrell’s and let this family-owned winery show you what it does best – wine! Since 1858, Tyrrell’s has been producing quality wine varieties, but if you’re looking for something standout, you can’t go past the iconic Vat 1 Semillon.
Did mamma ever tell you not to drink on an empty stomach? In Pokolbin, you can be sure to line your stomach the right way thanks to the mix of upscale gourmet restaurants flooding the streets. If you want to do things well, a table at Muse Restaurant is the first step. This award winning restaurant serves modern Australian fare, offering both à la carte and degustation dining options to tantalise the palette.
The region is also known for a range of outdoor music events including jazz, opera, and rock. What better way to burn off all those carbs than a frivolous jig in the green?
If you’d like to take a look at some of Australia’s favourite hotels, check out our top 20 here.
Cover Image: Tourism Tasmania and Jason Charles Hill