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Explore the Gold Coast in a Rental Car

Panorama view of Surfers Paradise in the city of Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia

The Gold Coast is one of Australia's most popular holiday destinations. With miles of sandy beaches, endless sunshine, exciting theme parks and beautiful surrounding scenery, it is not difficult to see why. Located just south of Brisbane, Queensland's capital city, the Gold Coast is an easily accessible region with plenty of attractions. If it is your first time visiting the area, VroomVroomVroom has put together a guide to help you find your way around in a rental car.

A quick guide to the Gold Coast

  • Surfers Paradise: This is the centre of all the action on the Gold Coast. Surfers Paradise is known for its vibrant foreshore, diverse dining options and exciting nightlife. The region plays host to many international surfing events. 
  • Burleigh Heads: For sections of sheltered coastline with unparalleled views of the Gold Coast skyline, Burleigh is the place to go. Explore the beautiful headland in Burleigh Head National Park. 
  • Southport: One of the Gold Coast's more historic suburbs offers easy access to Sea World and the huge Australia Fair shopping centre. Primarily a residential area, Southport is home to a number of international eateries. 
  • Coolangatta: Marking the southern border of the Gold Coast, Coolangatta is the gateway to the Gold Coast. The area is particularly popular for surfers. 
  • Broadbeach: There is no end to the entertainment options in Broadbeach, with beautiful beaches, a casino, shopping centres and unique restaurants. There are plenty of accommodation options in this region. 

Driving tips in the Gold Coast

  • Keep note of traffic signals and be sure to keep to the speed limit. Automated signs in various locations around the coast will warn drivers if they need to slow down.
  • Cyclists are common on the Gold Coast. Make sure you are actively looking for riders, and wait until it is safe to pass.
  • When you are driving in busy areas of Surfers Paradise and its surrounding suburbs, be wary of pedestrians and light rail vehicles. Maintain slower speeds and abide by all traffic signals. The highest incidence of traffic accidents is centered around this area. 
  • A lot of international visitors come to the Gold Coast. Make sure you are familiar with Australian driving laws, and keep left on the road. 
  • A 50km speed limit will apply in most residential areas of the Gold Coast.
  • Getting between the coastal suburbs of the Gold Coast is easy. Simply follow the Gold Coast Highway, which passes through major areas like Surfers Paradise, Southport and Broadbeach.
  • If you're travelling to Brisbane, or south to New South Wales, the easiest way is via the M1. 

Parking at the Gold Coast

Many areas in the central Gold Coast are timed parking. Metered parking applies on certain streets in Surfers Paradise, Broadbeach and Southport.

Visitors can also park for up to a maximum of three hours on the Burleigh Heads Esplanade. For all day parking in Surfers Paradise, there are a few parking garages. The Paradise Centre offers all-day parking for $20.

Are there toll roads on the Gold Coast?

While there are no toll roads on the Gold Coast, there are a number of toll roads in neighbouring Brisbane. If you are travelling from the Gold Coast on the Gateway Motorway, you will need to pay a toll.

Driving distances

  • Gold Coast to Brisbane: 80km (1hr travel time)
  • Gold Coast to Byron Bay: 95km (1hr 15mins travel time)
  • Gold Coast to Tweed Heads: 30km (35mins travel time)

Returning your rental car

Before you return your rental car to the depot, make sure you have filled it with fuel to avoid any extra charges. Here are some centrally located petrol stations on the Gold Coast:

  • 7 Eleven, Musgrave & Douglas Streets, Coolangatta
  • Caltex, 2745 Gold Coast Highway, Broadbeach
  • United Petroleum, 31 Ferry Road, Southport

Unmissable attractions on the Gold Coast

There is plenty to see on the Gold Coast. Visit the four big theme parks: Sea World, Dreamworld, Wet'n'Wild Gold Coast and Movie World. Shop at one of Australia's largest shopping centres, Pacific Fair, or take the left to the top of Q1 for a great panoramic view. After you've finished exploring the golden beaches, explore the beautiful Burleigh Head National Park.

Hire a car at the Gold Coast

Check out some of these great road trips from the Gold Coast or read more about the region's beautiful beaches.