Bali tops honours list of Travellers’ Choice Destination Awards, while Sydney beats Melbourne

TripAdvisor has announced the winners for the Travellers’ Choice Destination awards. This year’s awards honoured 418 destinations in 24 lists across the globe.

Sydneysiders will be pleased to know Sydney has taken the number one spot for Australia, with Melbourne following closely behind in second place. World Heritage-listed Lord Howe Island took the #3 spot. Queensland destinations of Gold Coast, Magnetic Island, Noosa, Port Douglas and Airlie Beach made up half of the top 10 with newcomers Margaret River and Exmouth rounding out the list, making it the first-time Western Australia has made it on the list.

An algorithm was used to determine the winners by taking into account the quantity, and quality of reviews, hotel and restaurant ratings as well as attractions in each destination, over a 12-month period. “These Travellers’ Choice Destinations are award-winning because they are much loved by our global and Australian TripAdvisor community and are ranked based on feedback and booking interest across a 12-month period,” said TripAdvisor spokesperson Grant Colquhoun. “Australians planning an Easter getaway overseas or at home can consider booking their hotels on TripAdvisor now as there are great reasons to visit and explore these destinations this April.”

Sydney’s win comes as no surprise to Destination NSW, whose Chief Executive Officer Sandra Chipchase said “Sydney is Australia’s global city that combines the beauty of world-famous Sydney Harbour, Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge, with the excitement of a thriving, cultural centre. Visitors are drawn to Sydney’s beaches, restaurants, theatres, and its ever changing, exciting events calendar.”

“I’m also delighted to see Lord Howe Island rank as the third most popular destination in Australia. This World Heritage-Listed island really is a paradise, home to luxury lodges, fine dining restaurants, a pristine eco-system, as well as incredible bird life, marine animals, diving spots and water sports,” she said.

TripAdvisor has also identified top-rated hotels and information on upcoming events and attractions to provide guidance on best times to visit and offer travellers more insights about great things to discover in these award-winning destinations.

Top 10 Travellers’ Choice Destinations – Australia:
(All lists include TripAdvisor average nightly rate of all bookable hotels in each city.)

1.      Sydney, New South Wales ( $328)

Sydney offers plenty of opportunities to experience Australia’s historical and contemporary. Travellers can choose from the marvellous Sydney Opera House, the narrow cobblestone streets of The Rocks, street performances at the vibrant Circular Quay or spending an afternoon at the Museum of Contemporary Art. After a day’s exploration, travellers can stay at the modern ADGE Apartment Hotel for a good night’s rest.

2.      Melbourne, Victoria ($243)

The city is known for its vibrant café and arts scene and for being scenic and cosmopolitan. Head to the Melbourne Cricket Ground, or as locals call it “The G”, to learn about the rich Australian sporting history at the nation’s largest stadium and make your way through the city’s tiny alleys and laneways to discover some of the best bars, restaurants, boutique shops and street art. Expand your appreciation for more local art by staying at the centrally located Art Series – The Larwill Studio.

3.      Lord Howe Island, Lord Howe Island ($701)

The idyllic Lord Howe is best explored on foot, as travellers can take a hike through the island’s famous twin peaks and Mount Gower or a more leisure walk through the sub-tropical forest in the Valley of Shadows. Clear waters at Ned’s Beach makes it a great place for water activities such as surfing, snorkelling and diving and travellers can complete their stay at the award winning Travellers’ Choice Pinetrees Lodge, which nabbed a win as Australia’s top hotel in January.

4.      Gold Coast , Queensland ($175)

With 300 days of sun and 52km of pristine sand, it is no surprise that the coastal city of the Gold Coast is home to the award winning Travellers’ Choice beaches Burleigh Heads and Surfer’s Paradise. Adventure seekers can book a tour at SkyPoint Climb for a climb up the 270-metres Q1 Resort Building and take in the panoramic view of Gold Coast and beyond. For the ultimate beach holiday, book an ocean-facing room at Peppers Broadbeach.

5.      Magnetic Island, Queensland ($168)

Accessible by a short 25 minutes ferry ride from Townsville, Queensland, Magnetic Island has 23 pristine bays and beaches, and a national park with an abundance of wildlife. Travellers can hike up the Magnetic Island Forts Walk to admire wild birds, koalas and wallabies in its natural setting and learn about the fascinating history behind the fort. Stay at the luxurious Peppers Blue On Blue Resort, conveniently located right next to the ferry harbour, for a good night’s rest.

6.      Noosa, Queensland ($304)

The sub-tropical paradise of Noosa is known for its fashionable resort towns, an excellent surf beach and its great selection of boutique shopping and fine dining options. Gentle waves at Noosa Main Beach makes it a great swimming beach, ideal for families with children to enjoy some fun under the sun. Travellers can pamper themselves at Netanya Noosa for a relaxing beachfront stay.

7.      Margaret River, Western Australia ($205)

Renowned for its excellent wineries, top-notch restaurants and farmers’ markets that features locally made chocolates and artisan cheeses, Margaret River is Western Australia’s most famous wine and dine regions. To learn about wine tasting and local history, travellers can book a tour with Bushtucker River & Wine Tours before ending their day with a restful stay at Vintages Accommodation.

8.      Port Douglas, Queensland (225)

Port Douglas may have started as a fishing village, but it has since developed into a full-fledged upmarket resort town. Close by to colourful reef sites Opal and Agincourt, Port Douglas is the perfect base for those looking to explore the Great Barrier Reef where they can also stay at the budget friendly Lazy Lizard Motor Inn.

9.      Exmouth, Western Australia ($287)

Once a military base during the World War II, Exmouth has since transformed into a small resort town with scenic attractions such as the Cape Range National Park and World Heritage-listed Ningaloo Coast. Watching the sun set over Indian Ocean from a vantage point at the Vlamingh Head Lighthouse is a must-do for any traveller. After a day of sightseeing, travellers can check-in to one of the rooms at Sea Breeze Resort, a unique accommodation that was once part of the US Naval Base.

10.   Airlie Beach, Queensland ($176)

Airlie Beach is the ideal base for travellers who want to discover the Great Barrier Reef and the Whitsunday Islands. One of the most popular reefs accessible from Airlie Beach is the Heart Reef, best appreciated from the air, for its perfect heart shaped coral and for glimpses of swim sharks, manta rays and turtles. Travellers can pamper themselves with a stay at the upscale Pinnacles Resort equipped with amenities such as a 20-metre outdoor infinity pool and sauna.

Top 10 Travellers’ Choice Destinations – World:

1. Bali, Indonesia ($267)
2. London, United Kingdom ($335)
3. Paris, France ($297)
4. Rome, Italy (276)
5. New York City, U.S. ($452)
6. Crete, Greece ($100)
7. Barcelona, Spain ($280)
8. Siem Reap, Cambodia ($128)
9. Prague, Czech Republic ($193)
10. Phuket, Thailand ($128)