Burleigh Heads Queensland Australia

What to do on a holiday at Burleigh Heads

Nikki ParkinsonTravel 41 Comments

This post was last updated January 2023

A couple of Easters before originally writing this post, we escaped for a few days to the QT at Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast. Loved it. Loved it all.

On the Sunday, we’d arranged to meet up with friends on Burleigh Beach so the kids could have a swim and the adults could recover from the night before at Kurrawa Surf Club.

As we were doing a u-turn on the headland to wind our way back to Brisbane, I spotted an apartment block that embraced the spirit of old Burleigh with a stunning nod to modern beach living.

I immediately got out my phone, looked it up and found that Bujerum had a two-bedroom apartment in the complex of five available for our annual January beach holiday. I had that getaway booked before we’d even hit the M1.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I am a marketer’s dream. I’m also very quick with decisions.

And in this case I’m so glad I am/was.

Our week in a second-level apartment at Bujerum cemented our burgeoning love affair with Burleigh Heads. We’ve since returned a number of times to Burleigh. It’s a location that gets under your (salty) skin.

The Gold Coast and I are not holiday strangers. As kids, we’d spend half of the summer holidays with mum, initially in a shack not far from what is now known as Millionaire’s Row at Mermaid Beach.

The year mum scored an apartment at the Florida Car-O-Tel just down the road at Miami we really knew we’d arrived.

Whatever our Gold Coast basecamp, we’d spend mornings at the beach, rarely coming out of the water, with midday siestas to follow, my brothers firmly ensconced for the afternoon in front of the black and white TV watching the cricket.  We’d emerge for a late pool swim and rinse and repeat the next day.

That beach-holiday rhythm is something that’s very much ingrained in my psyche. All it takes is a good whiff of the sea air and I’m there.

Ok, so I may now spend more time under a CoolCabana than in the water and the late afternoon swims have been replaced with wine o’clock but the pace and re-charging rhythm is otherwise still the same.

Burleigh Heads Queensland Australia

The rhythm was indeed made stronger because this was very much a park-the-car-and-leave-it holiday location. Everything you possibly need is right on your doorstep.

Burleigh Heads has managed to embrace the spirit of the Gold Coast of old as it’s grown up to become proud home to some of the best restaurants, cafes and shops on the Coast.

Over the years, we’ve barely scratched the surface of dining options but we always give it a good nudge. My favourite thing on holidays – apart from the general relaxation stuff – is to not menu plan or cook.

We tend to do a mix of self-catering, simple barbecues or picnics on the hill and a number of dinners out. This year, it was so, so good to see the Burleigh restaurant scene thriving and growing after the COVID onslaught of the summer before which shut down a lot of popular spots.

I’m far from a Burleigh Heads expert – with each trip we find more things to do and enjoy – but below are my top 10 things to do in Burleigh Heads in case you’ve got this holiday destination on your next escape radar.

Burleigh Heads Queensland Australia

What to do on a holiday at Burleigh Heads

Walk. Head north for a flat 40-minute round circuit to North Burleigh surf club or head south and up over the headland for a scenic walk through to Tallebudgera Creek. 

Burleigh Heads Queensland Australia

Burleigh Heads Queensland Australia

Picnic on the headland. It’s all kinds of magical to sit there watching the lights of the Gold Coast on any afternoon with our friends. It’s something that the locals do on a regular basis. On our latest visit we were treated to a magical afternoon and evening.

Burleigh Heads Queensland Australia

Burleigh Heads Queensland Australia

Burleigh Heads Queensland Australia

Eat out.  You are definitely spoilt for choice when it comes to dining out at Burleigh. I’ve saved all our recent dining out faves HERE

Dining out at Burleigh Heads Queensland Australia

Rick Shores, Burleigh Heads

Dining out at Burleigh Heads Queensland Australia

The Pavilion, Burleigh Heads

Dining out at Burleigh Heads Queensland Australia

Hail Mary, Burleigh Heads

Dining out at Burleigh Heads Queensland Australia

The Malibu Racquet Club, Burleigh Heads

Dining out at Burleigh Heads Queensland Australia

Rosella’s, Burleigh Heads

Dining out at Burleigh Heads Queensland Australia

Kin, Burleigh Heads

Dining out at Burleigh Heads Queensland Australia

Osteria Del Mare, Burleigh Heads

Dining out at Burleigh Heads Queensland Australia

Tarte, Burleigh Heads

Shop in James Street. The James Street precinct is a bit like Hastings Street, Noosa (without the chain stores), a bit like King Street, Cotton Tree (but with more shops) and a bit like Jonson Street in Byron Bay (but with less shops). All of these precincts have a vibe and James Street certainly does as well. Lifestyle/homewares stores and fashion boutiques share the strip with uber-cool bars, cafes and food outlets. 

Visit the Village Markets. I’ve blogged about these markets before and never miss them if I’m around Burleigh on the Sundays they’re on. Love the mix of homewares, fashion and food. Did someone say fresh, gluten-free donuts? Oh yes, they did.

Swim or surf. Or both. The huge bonus of a Burleigh Beach holiday is that when most other parts of the Coast are blown out or beaches are closed because of big swells, Burleigh is protected by its headland. It’s also the same headland that brings surfers from all over the country and the world when the swell is on. The water is crystal clear – even after rains – and just magical to swim in. 

Burleigh Heads Queensland Australia

Burleigh Heads Queensland Australia

The only downside to how fabulous Burleigh is? Everyone wants to visit. In peak times, parking is at a premium and traffic is crazy. Keep this in mind if you’re thinking about a day trip. And obey the parking limits and payment – inspectors are out in force all the time!


We prefer accommodation that’s on Burleigh Hill with a view of the waves opposite the park. It means the outlook is constantly changing and you can park your car and walk to the shops, restaurants and beach.

Burleigh Beach Abode (Airbnb)

This is a stunning newly renovated two-bedroom; one bathroom apartment on Burleigh Hill. The apartment oozes a sophisticated coastal style that feels both elevated and welcoming. The living/dining and balcony area creates an amazing sense of space with a view that’s ever changing. Check it out HERE.

Burleigh Beach Abode, Burleigh Heads accommodation

Sea By Frankie (Airbnb)

I love hunting down a gem on Airbnb and this one ticked all our Burleigh boxes – right across from the hill, view of the ocean in all its moods and stunningly decorated and fitted out with every possible need (plus more you hadn’t thought of!) for a week in this location. It’s a two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment and it suited our family combo (two adults, one teen and one two-night visiting adult daughter) to a tee. It’s not large but it’s been thoughtfully designed to maximise the space. I loved that I could fully unpack for the week because that the main main bedroom included a compact walk-in robe. My fave spot was sitting on the balcony, people and surf watching. Communication with the hosts was amazing. I couldn’t recommend this apartment more for a personalised stay in Burleigh. Check it out HERE

Sea by frankie Airbnb Burleigh Apartment

Boardwalk Burleigh Beach

On our 2021 trip, we stayed a little further north of the point (about a 10 minute beachfront walk to the flagged area). We absolutely loved the view and the facilities in this fairly new accommodation complex. We stayed in an ocean-view two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment. More information here.

Bujerum apartments

The design was inspired by the 1930s residential apartment block that provides the bones for the bottom two levels of the Bujerem complex. It was completely renovated in 2013 with an additional level – the three-bedroom penthouse added on top – but the spirit of the Queenslander style lives on in its weatherboard cladding and strong lines. All apartments have been decorated in a timeless, coastal style with white walls, timber flooring, the use of mirrors and windows to capture the views and enhance the space and canvas prints on the walls by local photographer Sean Scott. More information here.

So tell me, are you a Burleigh local or regular? Where can you recommend people eat, drink, shop and play?

Comments 41

  1. Loved reading your blog all about Burleigh Nikki. We are heading there tomorrow and looking forward to trying your recommendations for food/walks and shopping. Thanks so much. x

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  2. Thanks so much for this Nikki. I am heading to Burleigh in March for a long weekend with my husband who is not a GC liver! Hoping to change his opinion!

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  3. I’m a GC local and my family love to do the Burleigh National park walk followed by ice creams for the kids and coffee for the parents at the Burleigh Beach Surf club kiosk.

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  4. I used to live on the Gold Coast for about 10 years and the Burleigh area was definitely my favorite even though I didn’t live in Burleigh. Now that I come back for holidays I can appreciate it even more each time & I try to stay in Burleigh each time. Social Brew off James St in the arcade is also a great cafe that’s open for breakfast & lunch that opened up a few years ago. It used to be the deli section of the Foodworks store. Now its pretty big with seats extending to areas where clothes stores used to be. Outside of Burleigh I’d say the Miami Marketta open from 5 to about 10pm Friday & Saturday nights is pretty great. Burleigh also has Farmers Markets every Saturday morning. And there’s so much more. Every Sunday night from 6pm the locals gather around Justin’s Park & start playing drums.

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  5. I have booked the family in to Broadbeach for our April trek to Queensland. From what I remember, Burleigh Heads isn’t all that far south from where we are going to be staying. I have taken on board all your suggestions and we will definitely visit Burleigh during our stay. Fish House sounds pretty good 🙂

  6. Burleigh is by far the best place on the Gold Coast – we regularly duck down there for a sneaky weekend away. Love it. We stay at Burleigh Beach Towers (right opposite the beach, and just behind the Fish House!) Perfect location to walk everywhere.

  7. I’m a Burleigh local and have to say you have done a good job of rounding up Burleigh. I would add the coffee culture in Burleigh with so many great coffee shops/cafes to choose from. Standup paddle boarding on Tallie Creek or just swimming at Echo Beach, walking along Tallie Creek to Fleays Wildlife Park, yoga in the park on Saturday mornings, drinks on the balcony at Burleigh Surf Club, Mexican food at Montezumas and the list goes on …….

    1. Oh thanks Kathy! I really will try more of the cafes/coffee shops next time. It was just easier for us to self cater breakfasts and lunches around early morning and mid morning beach swims but on my walks I saw a lot I’d love to try! We did go to the surf club but on the only night it was raining. Still great but could see the potential on a gorgeous summer evening. x

  8. LOVE THIS, Nikki… we’ve not done a family holiday on the Gold Coast (except a wee expedition to Seaworld)… this post would make planning a stay a piece of cake. Sharing on FB later today, great one for Sydney families in need of a wee escape.

  9. We had the holiday from hell in Burleigh when my kids were little – long story short ended up in hospital on two separate occasions with both kids … shocker. But your post has enlightened me – maybe its time to put the past behind and try it again!!

  10. Looks and sounds amazing. Waaay better than the beach house Mrs Woog stayed in. Thanks for sharing and the recommendation. Apartments on the beach are the way to go for a beach family holiday. xx

  11. love the look of Burleigh heads! … what’s not to love thanks nikki!
    as a child we went to port Elliot beach for annual holidays!
    I’ve travelled through burleigh heads on the way to the gold coast!
    but it looks nicer much more kick back and great for a family holiday!
    love the places where you ate and the little bird told me boutique!
    we tend not to go away when everyone else is away! … as we can!
    I love the sunshine coast, airlie beach, nelson bay! there are soo many beautiful beaches in Australia!
    enjoy your day! love m:)X

  12. I love Burleigh. Will be there for a week next week in fact. It is our regular go to place. I love all your suggestions on things to do and have been to many of them. It’s great to see Burleigh Heads becoming more chic. I love James street and all the new cafes. The only thing I would add is get your groceries delivered for the day of arrival. I’ve just done mine, so I can be sitting wine in hand waiting for someone else to cart them up to the unit. Don’t get me wrong, I love love shopping, but grocery shopping is not on my list to do while on holidays.

  13. I’m not sure if I’ve even been to Burleigh before,certainly as an adult I haven’t but may have as a child,it looks beautiful though!
    I love beach holidays my parents in law have a holiday house down the coast at a little town called Manyana,but you have to drive to the beach and it’s quite small,we used to take the kids there when they were little nearly every holidays but I much prefer north,we’ve been to the Gold Coast numerous times and Noosa a few times but the place that I really love is Byron bay and Illuka and surrounding areas so pretty and such beautiful beaches.Thank you for sharing your beach holiday with us Nikki Burleigh looks beautiful Xx

  14. Love Burleigh. Growing up my grandparents lived at Palm Beach on a canal and my aunty had a holiday house on the beach front … like walk out the back door onto the sand! The absolute best. We used to walk around to the creek and up through the scenic walk and over to Burleigh. Such great memories. Another to add to the list is Coolangatta. I recently went there for a short break and that place is amazing. It might also help I went by myself and didn’t do much but eat mexican and go to the beach 😉

  15. Your holiday looked wonderful, and the photos are making me hungry! I haven’t been to Burleigh for years. As kids, we used to camp at Kingscliff twice a year, it is so different now. They were fantastic holidays, Mum and Dad were so relaxed. This year we are planning on going to Pottsville, I love it there. I’ve been really sick since Christmas Eve, so a nice relaxed holiday is what I need. We Aussies are so lucky, the whole coastline is magic isn’t it?

  16. Hi Nikki. Gosh, I think you have sold me on Burleigh …. sounds fantastic. I was a bit turned off by the Gold Coast when we holidayed there a couple of years ago… did nothing for me, was wishing we were up at the lovely Sunny Coast the whole time or Maggie Island… turns out we should have been at Burleigh. Great post Nikki, I always love your holiday posts!!! xx

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