Getty Images | Christian Kruemmel

PREPARE YOURSELF, because it’s almost that time of year again. Euro summer – otherwise known as Aussie winter – is nearly upon us, and unless you act fast, your next couple of months will be spent regretting not booking a trip while shivering underneath a blanket that just won’t hold enough heat for comfort.

We don’t have any actual evidence to back this up, but winter is probably the time of year when the lure of a holiday is at its most intense. The days are at their shortest, with the least amount of daily sunlight of the year, public holidays are spread thin, and the weather can be fairly bleak. Add to this that there are greener – and considerably warmer – pastures to be found elsewhere, and the allure of a winter getaway starts to make sense.

If you’re already struggling not to scratch your winter travel itch and are planning your next trip, allow us to assist. New data from Airbnb has revealed the most popular winter travel destinations for Australians, based on the most common searches for stays in June, July and August 2024. As the data shows, a Euro summer isn’t the only popular option, as domestic destinations also have their merits.

The most popular domestic destinations largely fall into two categories – hot and cold. As in, they’re likely popular because they either represent an escape from the cold weather to warmer climes, or they’re so cold they actually receive snowfall and are popular for skiing. It’s worth noting that every state’s capital city features on the list, and that Queensland is by far the most popular state, with six entries. Read on for the full list, in no particular order.

What are the best domestic winter travel destinations?

Gold Coast, Queensland

When the temperatures drop, the Gold Coast makes for a refreshing taste of sunshine, with pristine beaches offering the perfect setting for soaking up the sun and hitting the waves. Southern Queensland stays relatively warm year-round, so it’s no surprise to see the Gold Coast make an appearance here.

Melbourne, Victoria

We’d expect Melbourne to experience a steady stream of tourists despite its temperamental weather patterns – four seasons in one day. That appears to be outweighed by the appeal of the local culture, buzzing night life and various major landmarks, which likely account for most of its winter popularity.

Sydney, New South Wales

If Sydneysiders are all searching for warmer weather in Queensland, someone needs to fill their vacant Airbnbs back home. Melburnians, also searching for warmer weather, are more than up to the task. Besides that, Sydney is another city that you’d expect to be popular at any time of year, regardless of the weather.

Thredbo, New South Wales

Not too many places in Australia receive enough snowfall to classify themselves as ski towns, but Thredbo is one of the lucky few. The local economy thrives off of tourism, and most of it comes during winter, when there’s enough snow, and ski rentals, to go around.

Jindabyne, New South Wales

Like we said, not too many places in Australia get snow, and Jindabyne rarely does, but it is close to Thredbo. Jindabyne’s snowy neighbour can get fairly busy – and pricey – during peak seasons, making the sleepy town a popular accommodation station that isn’t too far from all the real action.

Cairns, Queensland

Similar to the Gold Coast, Cairns offers warmer temperatures than most of the country – with the added bonus of saltwater crocodiles.

Noosa Heads, Queensland

Long recognised as a premier Australian travel destination, Noosa is the quintessential Australian beach town – complete with surfable waves and hidden coves. It’s an upmarket destination boasting a number of renowned dining spots. All the better, if that’s your inclination.

Brisbane, Queensland

Like most of Queensland, there’s never really a bad time to visit Brisbane. The weather is temperate year-round, which doubtlessly garners extra visitors during winter.

Port Douglas, Queensland

Continuing the Queensland trend, Port Douglas is where you go if Cairns is too tourist-y for your liking, or if you’ve simply been priced out of the main strip. The town does have other reasons to visit though, mainly due to its location being slightly closer to the Daintree rainforest and all those saltwater crocodiles we mentioned earlier.

Sunshine Coast, Queensland

The Sunshine Coast was another of the most common Airbnb searches, which seems unfair considering its an entire region rather than a single town. Nevertheless, the region boasts all the same qualities responsible for netting every other Queensland destination a spot on this list.

Byron Bay, New South Wales

Arguably Australia’s most famous beach town, the place has been gentrified beyond recognition, however, traces of its hippie past are evident if you’re prepared to dig a little. Splendour in the Grass was supposed to take place in Byron in July, but its cancellation won’t deter a slew of holidaying Aussies, who are there for more reasons than a music festival.

Hobart, Tasmania

We suppose Tasmania never really gets warm enough for cold weather to be a deterrent, but still, it gets downright freezing there during winter, so it’s inclusion here is a surprise. There’s plenty to do on the Apple Isle, from natural wonders to cultural marvels, and cold weather apparently doesn’t take away from that.

Darwin, Northern Territory

Darwin has plenty of crocodiles, natural wonders and seaside attractions, none of which are too affected by winter, as the city’s subtropical climate prevents it from ever getting too cold.

Perth, Western Australia

Can’t say we’re surprised, given that every other capital city has made the list. While Perth isn’t known as a winter paradise with boundless snow, and it doesn’t stay warm enough for it to be classed as a sunny refresher, it does have a number of natural attractions that are sure to lure in visitors at any time of year.

Adelaide, South Australia

Much of what Adelaide is known for (i.e wine, arts, and picturesque countryside) are accessible at any time of year. But the wine harvest season is typically in autumn, so winter wine-tastings likely account for a large chunk of the city’s visitors in the cooler months.

What are the best international winter travel destinations?

A testament to the enduring strength of the Euro summer, six of the eight most popular international winter destinations are in Europe. This list reads like the itinerary of a Contiki tour at times, as it’s filled with iconic European locales, but there are also a few Southern hemisphere gems in there too.

Paris, France

Paris is one of the world’s most visited cities every year, and at every time of year. Although, expect the city of lights and love to be even more popular in 2024. As the host city of the Summer Olympics, Paris is going to be choccas this winter.

London, United Kingdom

It is often said that at any given time, there are more Australians in London than citizens of any other nation – such is the Aussie infatuation with the city. It seems that nearly half our population goes through an “I’m moving to London phase”, and clearly a fair chunk go through with it. Whether they’re long or short-term visitors, Australians love London.

Queenstown, New Zealand

The only international destination on this list that people visit because of its cold weather, Queenstown is the adventure capital of New Zealand, and due to the prevalence of snow there in winter, it’s best experienced during the cooler months.

Rome, Italy

Another Euro summer hotspot, the reasons for visiting Rome have been written about extensively, so we won’t bore you with repetition, though last year’s Roman Empire TikTok trend may have added another. Just know that the data shows you aren’t the only Australian thinking of going there.

Bali, Indonesia

A quintessential Aussie holiday destination if there ever was one, the Indonesian island of Bali attracts Australians from all walks of life, and it’s the best bet to remain on this list for years to come.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Bikes, canals, loose drug laws and red light districts, Amsterdam has family-friendly and less than savoury attractions. Perhaps that broad appeal is why it made this list.

Barcelona, Spain

The Spanish cities of Barcelona and Madrid have enjoyed an enduring rivalry throughout history. There’s little love lost between the cities, with intense sporting feuds, political disagreements and linguistic differences separating them. We’re sure Catalans would be pleased to know Australians prefer their city over their neighbour’s.

Nice, France

Southern France can probably be considered the capital of Euro summer, and if that capital had a capital, it would be Nice. The city has the requisite picturesque beaches to lay a claim to such a title, while still maintaining proximity to various wine regions and cultural hubs. Expect Nice to be slightly less busy this winter. Everyone will be in Paris.


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