Last updated on January 29, 2024 by Stefano Ferro, founder of MEL365, following extensive travelling in Queensland

Where to stay in Gold Coast

It may be surprising how vast is actually this coastal city, no wonder it’s hard to understand where to stay in Gold Coast.

In this guide, I have listed the 7 best areas to spend your holiday for couples, families and nightlife.

My first trip to Gold Coast was over 10 years ago. So much is changed but it’s still so beautiful, doesn’t matter where you go.

This guide will help to find the right place for your type of holiday, including a full-on “theme parks” holiday.

And for the latest and most fashionable bars and places to eat check out the local newspaper Gold Coast Bulletin.

Gold Coast panoramic view
Gold Coast panoramic view on a stormy day

Where to stay in Gold Coast – Key Points

Best area to stay in Gold Coast

The best area to stay in the Gold Coast really depends on the type of holiday you are looking for. The great thing is that you can find something for everyone.

There is a great night scene for singles, schoolies and couples. Romantic locations for a husband and wife breakaway.

You can find quiet neighbourhoods for families with the proximity of the beach and/or theme parks.

There is an awesome shopping all around, literally shop till you drop. Do not miss a visit to the Pacific Fair Shopping Mall.

But let’s start from north to south (right to left on the map below)

Best areas to stay in Gold Coast
Best areas to stay in Gold Coast- See here the interactive Google Map

Southport and Main Beach

Located in the northern part of Gold Coast, both areas have gone under a massive transformation, especially Southport.

They are both quite areas with good facilities for kids and plenty of cafes and restaurants for a more mature clientele.

From Main Beach, you can easily walk to Surfers Paradise for lunch or take a quick taxi for a night out in one of the many clubs there.

Tourists are not the majority of the people staying there which makes it more of a local experience.

Southport
Southport and the Broadwater Parklands

Surfers Paradise

You hate it or you love it, this is Surfers Paradise.

In saying that, the beautiful beach is adored by everyone in Australia, and indeed it’s a remarkable one, especially if you like surfing.

Surfers Paradise to Main Beach
Surfers Paradise to Main Beach

This area is catered for a young crowd with plenty of night action, pubs, clubs, cafes and restaurants.

It is as quiet in the early morning as noisy late at night. Notorious for schoolies week.

There are plenty of units for rent and so many high-rise buildings to choose from.

Broadbeach

It’s the little sister of Surfers Paradise, definitely more sophisticated and classy but still dominated by high rise building units.

Broadie (the local name) has again a fantastic beach with soft silky sand,  perfect for a nice walk or some fun time with kids.

Book your accommodation close to Albert Ave and you will be within walking distance to a really wide choice of restaurants and cafes, open from the early morning to the late evening.

And for more action, there is a casino with live music shows too.

Miami to Mermaid Beach

The landscape is here transforming from high-rise to low-rise with more typical small houses and fewer tourists.

The local feeling and charm is predominant in this part of the Gold Coast, really miles away from Surfers Paradise of which you can see the Skyline down in the horizon.

It’s a very green area with plenty of parks where you can cook your BBQ and join the locals in a nice chat.

Coastal Walk from Miami Beach to the Surfers Paradise
Coastal Walk from Miami Beach to the Surfers Paradise

Burleigh

One of the most beautiful areas along the coast with plenty of great things as

  • a fantastic ocean beach
  • a creek to have a swim in protected water
  • a national park (Burleigh Head National Park) to have a walk
  • the most beautiful (and popular) sunset point at Burleigh Heads
  • some of the most charming cafes on the whole of the Gold Coast.

Coolangatta, the gateway to the Gold Coast

The easiest way to arrive in Gold Coast is with a local or international flight. 

The airport is in Coolangatta, the southernmost suburb of the City of Gold Coast (not included in the map above).

From Coolangatta you can take a bus or taxi and be in any of the above areas in 20-30 minutes.

Coolie (as Coolangatta is known by the locals) is also a good place to stay on the Gold Coast, especially if you have a short 1/2 days stay and you don’t want to waste too much time in transportation to Surfers Paradise or Broadbeach. 

Accommodation tends to charge less which makes Coolangatta one of the best places to stay in Gold Coast on a budget.

There are many big houses for rent, ideal for large families.

Where to stay in Gold Coast with family

The best place to stay in Gold Coast with family is in my opinion Burleigh or Miami Beach.

View on sunset from Burleigh Heads
View on sunset from Burleigh Heads (Burleigh Head National Park)

Life is not frantic and noisy as in  Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach. They are both quiet areas with plenty of hotels, units and houses for short and long term holiday.

You can still experience the local life as Gold Coast used to be 30-40 years ago, with local groceries, faces and restaurants that cater for the people living there and not for the “come & go” tourists.

Burleigh has also the great advantage to have a beach in the Tallebudgera Creek with shallow calm water where you can leave your small kids playing in the sand without being worried about the waves.

The Burleigh Head National Park is small enough to take also small kids for a short walk.

And if they are big enough why not going up to the Tumgun lookout (easy access) for the magnificent view. You may be able to spot some iguanas on the way too.

Another great lookout is the Jebbribillum Viewpoint (very easy and short access), you will see the Surfers Paradise skyline on the horizon.

The Burleigh Market is a great place for your groceries if you are in an AirBnb or serviced apartment.

Head to the Stones Throw Cafe for breakfast or brunch. Charming atmosphere and lovely service.

For lunch or dinner, you should try Rick Shores, not only for the beautiful food but also for the unique beach view up to Main Beach

A great accommodation for families in Burleigh is the Gemini Court, with one of the best views you can find in Gold Coast (see photos here), really unbeatable.

You are so close to the beach and everything you need. And for a lazy afternoon why not spending some time at the pool.

Check availability at Gemini Court

The Grande Florida Resort is the winner in Miami Beach with a fantastic tropical pool and a playground/gaming area for the little ones.

It’s within walking distance to the supermarket, cafes and of course the beach.

Check availability at Grande Florida

Best place to stay in Gold Coast for couples

If you are still wondering where to stay in Gold Coast for couples then Broadbeach is the answer.

Beach walk from Broadbeach to Surfers Paradise
Beach walk from Broadbeach to Surfers Paradise

It offers all you need for the day and night. 

The beach is superb and you can also book a couple of hours of surfing lesson for some fun.

Have a great start of the day with a beautiful walk north, to Surfers Paradise, or south, to Burleigh where you can have your dose of caffeine at Stones Throw Cafe (again, I know, but I love it).

Tired of the sun or just a bad raining day? Head to the Pacific Fair Shopping Centre, rated as one of the best in the southern hemisphere. 

You can even think to spend the evening there at the cinema or one of the many restaurants.

Are you looking for more of a glamour night? Walk to the nearby casino at the Star Gold Coast Hotel where you can spend some time at the tables or at the bar for a cocktail.

And if you are after a late night then the Love Nightlife is the perfect place to go.

It’s all so more classy than Surfers Paradise, still for a young crowd but no schoolies.

The Oceana On Broadbeach is a superb holiday home with one of the most amazing views in town (see photos here).

It’s within walking distance to everything you need, including the patrolled beach and a great surfing spot.

Check price at Oceana

For a celebrity treatment, you should check out The Darling at The Star Gold Coast, one of the best, if not the best, accommodation in Gold Coast for couples.

Check availability at The Darling

An alternative to Broadbeach is Main Beach, the northernmost area in Gold Coast, known for a more mature clientele.

Nice restaurants and cafes all around and a few places for an after-dinner drink, however in a more sophisticated environment.

Located right on the border with Surfers Paradise, the Rhapsody Resort is such a lovely spot with one of the best views for breakfast, right on the rooftop (see photos here).

Location is also great, just 100 meters from the beach

Check price at Rhapsody

Best place to stay in Gold Coast for theme parks

Gold Coast is super famous for the parks, and for a good reason, they are super amazing!!

Having fun in Gold Coast
Having fun in Gold Coast

If you are looking for accommodation close to Sea World then Main Beach (or Southport) is the place to be. 

From there, have a walk also to the Southport Broadwater Parklands, a beautiful area recently built with plenty of water games.

Besides Sea World, the best place to stay in Gold Coast for Theme Parks is Helensvale or Coomera, 20-25km inland from Surfers Paradise.

Here you will find:

  • Wet’n’Wild Gold Coast
  • Warner Bros. Movie World
  • WhiteWater World
  • Dreamworld
  • DreamWorks Experience
  • Tiger Island
  • Wiggles World

I suggest buying the ticket to the parks in advance to save some money and avoid queuing too. This 3-days Theme Park Ticket is a great bargain

For your stay, you should check out the Waterford Holiday Apartment in Main Beach and The Nesst AirBnb in the nearby Southport. 

They are both a great choice for a group of friends or families with kids. The Nesst AirBnb is probably a better value however also farther from the beach.

Check availability at Waterford   Check price at Nesst

The area to be for schoolies

There is no doubt that Surfers Paradise is the best place to stay for schoolies on the gold coast.

Surfers Paradise at night
Surfers Paradise at night

It’s fun from the afternoon to late-night, with so many activities during the day (if you can still make it) and so many bars, clubs and pubs to visit at night.

I heard many times that the area can be dangerous, due to the abuse of alcohol.

My suggestion here is always to drink in moderation, looking after yourself and your friends.

And if you see that things are moving towards a risky direction with dangerous drunk people around, just leave the club/pub and go to the next one. There are so many of them.

For drinks, you should check out the Surfers Beer Garden and the Sandbar for the great location

For your stay, you should check out the great value for money St Tropez Resort with a nice pool too or the budget-oriented Tequila Sunrise Hostel, a great place to meet other people in a surprisingly trendy layout.

Check price at St Tropez   Check price at Tequila Sunrise

Stefano Ferro - MEL365.com Founder and Editor

About the Author

Stefano is a seasoned travel expert and the visionary founder of MEL365.com, a leading travel website with traffic across 6 continents. With a rich background in the travel industry, Stefano spent four pivotal years at Amadeus Travel Distribution System, gaining invaluable insights into travel technologies and distribution.

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  2. Wow. This post is amazing to know all about the Gold Coast, where one should live and where one can enjoy different activities. I like to try new places to eat in that area and if I can find a well known Gold Coast vegan cafe then I will be really glad. I like vegan cafes that are neat and clean. I like the idea for Miami to Mermaid beach. Maybe I can try some veg barbeque some day. Thank you. Nice post.

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