Where to stay in Gold Coast for first time: 5 Safe areas

I currently live in Melbourne, and I have traveled to Gold Coast many times. I understand that finding where to stay in Gold Coast as a first-timer can be overwhelming. That’s why, in today’s article, I will help you to find the safe places to stay in Gold Coast for first-time visitors.

I will share with you what I believe are the best and safest areas to stay in Gold Coast for first-timers and tourists, along with a helpful map and areas to avoid. I’ll also share where I stayed in Gold Coast and recommend some of the best hotels for various budgets.

The Gold Coast is a popular beach holiday destination in Queensland, just a short drive from Brisbane. The city is known for its beautiful beaches, vibrant nightlife, and theme parks.

Famous beaches in Gold Coast include Surfers Paradise, Broadbeach, and Burleigh Heads. These beaches attract surfers, sunbathers, and water sports enthusiasts.

Gold Coast is home to several world-class theme parks, including Dreamworld, Warner Bros. Movie World, Sea World, and Wet’n’Wild. These parks offer a variety of rides, and shows for visitors of all ages.

Beyond the beaches, you can explore the Gold Coast hinterland with its national parks, waterfalls, and hiking trails. Lamington National Park and Springbrook National Park are popular destinations for nature lovers.

Gold Coast has a well-developed transportation network, including buses, trams, and a light rail system. The Gold Coast Airport provides air travel connections to domestic and international destinations.

Is Gold Coast Safe to visit?

Yes, Gold Coast is generally a safe place to visit. But, as with any tourist destination, it’s advisable to be aware of your surroundings, take care of your belongings, and avoid poorly lit areas at night.

It is also recommended to keep an eye on weather forecasts, especially during cyclone or extreme weather seasons. Also be cautious in natural water bodies like rivers and lakes, as they may have strong currents or dangerous wildlife.

You should swim only at patrolled beaches, follow the instructions of lifeguards and beach signage. Use sunscreen with a high SPF and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. 

Where to stay in Gold Coast for the first time?

The best and safe areas to stay in Gold Coast for first-timers and tourists are Broadbeach, Surfers Paradise, Main Beach/ Southport, Burleigh Heads, and Coolangatta. It’s always a good idea to be aware of your surroundings and secure your belongings wherever you go.

Broadbeach and Surfers Paradise are the most popular areas for first-timers and those who want to be in the heart of the action. These areas offer safe central locations with easy access to an abundance of tourist attractions and amenities.

Southport/Main Beach is generally quieter than Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach. Great base for travelers who want a slightly more relaxed setting while still being close to the city center. 

If you prefer a quieter and more laid-back atmosphere, Coolangatta or Burleigh Heads might be better options. These areas are great locations for those traveling with a car.

On one of my trips to Gold Coast, I stayed for 5 nights at the Dorsett Gold Coast. It was located in the center of Broadbeach, an easy walking distance to shops, restaurants, and beaches. The pool was amazing; my room was comfortable and clean. The staff were very friendly and helpful.

Below is a map of the popular areas in Gold Coast for first-time travelers. You can scroll down to view the live map.

Map of the safe areas to stay in Gold Coast first time
Map of the safe areas to stay in Gold Coast first time

Let’s get into the details of the recommended areas to stay in Gold Coast, especially for first-time visitors. I’ll provide you with some suggestions for the best places to stay in each area, catering to every budget. 

All hotels in Gold Coast have been carefully selected by me from well-known booking sites such as booking.com, with guest review scores of at least 8.0 or higher at the time I chose them. 

If you don’t like my suggestions (perhaps they don’t suit your budget or preferences), you can click the “MORE HOTEL DEALS” button where you can choose your own hotel.

5 Safe areas to stay in Gold Coast for first-timers and tourists

1. Broadbeach

Broadbeach is an excellent area for first-timers and visitors who want a central location with a balance of beach relaxation, shopping, dining, and entertainment. 

Broadbeach boasts a long stretch of golden sand and is known for its clean and well-maintained beaches. It’s a great place for swimming, sunbathing, and beach activities.

This area is a paradise for shopping enthusiasts. Pacific Fair Shopping Centre is one of the largest shopping centers in Australia, offering a wide range of  boutique shops, and dining options. 

You can also have easy access to The Star Gold Coast, an entertainment complex that has a casino, multiple restaurants, bars, and a theater hosting various shows and performances.

Broadbeach is home to a diverse range of dining options, from casual cafes to upscale restaurants. The suburb is known for its culinary scene, offering a variety of international cuisines.

The nightlife in Broadbeach is lively, with numerous bars, clubs, and entertainment venues. It’s a great place for those looking to experience the Gold Coast’s energetic nightlife.

You can take a leisurely walk or picnic at the Kurrawa Pratten Park, go shopping at Broadbeach Mall, and enjoy events/festivals such as the Blues on Broadbeach Music Festival.

Broadbeach is well-connected with public transportation, making it easy to explore other parts of the Gold Coast. The G:link light rail connects Broadbeach to Surfers Paradise and Southport.

Best places to stay in Gold Coast in Broadbeach for first-timers:

Luxury ($$$): Meriton Suites Broadbeach,  great 5-star accommodation in a great location on Gold Coast Highway, close to the beach, restaurants, transport. Easy distance from The Star Casino and Pacific Fair Shopping Center. The 3-bedroom suite is great for big families and groups of friends.

Luxury ($$$): The Star Grand at The Star Gold Coast, popular 5-star hotel, located in a prime location in Broadbeach, a short stroll to the shops, restaurants, and the beaches. The hotel has a 24h hour casino, outdoor pool, and good breakfast according to more than 6k guests’ reviews from booking.com. Rooms are spacious and comfortable.

Mid-range ($$): Avani Broadbeach Residences, 4-star accommodation located within walking distance from Broadbeach where you can enjoy swimming and surfing. It has BBQ facilities, an on-site fitness center, private parking, and outdoor swimming pool.

Budget ($): Neptune Resort, 3-star resort in central Broadbeach, 5 mins walk from Kurrawa Beach. It has free parking, and apartments with laundry facilities and a kitchen. The hotel desk can help arrange tickets for Dreamworld and Wet ‘n’ Wild Water World.


2. Surfers Paradise

Surfers Paradise is one of the best locations to stay in Gold Coast for those who want a central location and a vibrant nightlife. This area is one of the most iconic and popular destinations on the Gold Coast, known for its lively atmosphere, stunning beaches, and a wide array of attractions. 

The main attraction is undoubtedly the beautiful sandy beach that stretches along the coastline. It’s ideal for swimming, surfing, sunbathing, and beach sports.

Surfers Paradise is renowned for its vibrant nightlife. There are numerous bars, nightclubs, and entertainment venues that cater to a variety of tastes, making it a hotspot for an energetic evening scene.

Cavill Avenue is the central hub of Surfers Paradise, featuring Cavill Mall with its shops, cafes, restaurants, and street performers. It’s a lively area both day and night.

Another interesting stop for families and curious visitors on Cavill Avenue is Ripley’s Believe It or Not!. Beyond Cavill Avenue, The Paradise Centre is a popular shopping mall in the heart of the area.

The Surfers Paradise Beachfront Markets are held on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday evenings. You can find a variety of arts, crafts, fashion, and local products.

Surfers Paradise features several public art installations and sculptures, adding to the area’s unique character. The Surfers Paradise Sign, in particular, is a popular photo spot.

You can  get sweeping views of the skyline of Gold Coast at the SkyPoint Observation Deck on the Q1 building.

Surfers Paradise is well-connected by public transportation, including the G:link light rail, making it easy to explore other parts of the Gold Coast.

Best places to stay in Gold Coast in Surfers Paradise for first-timers:

Luxury ($$$): Meriton Suites Surfers Paradise, 5-star beachfront accommodation with a private beach, centrally located on The Esplanade in Surfers’ Paradise. Easy access to the light rail, the express train lines. It has comfortable rooms with kitchen and laundry facilities.

Mid-range ($$): Ruby Gold Coast by CLLIX, 4-star condo hotel located on Norfolk Avenue, in a central location of Surfers Paradise. It has free private parking, an outdoor swimming pool, and family rooms. Close to Budds Beach, Surfers Paradise Beach, and Narrowneck.

Budget ($): Grosvenor Beachfront Apartments Surfers Paradise, 3-star accommodation, featuring fully self-contained apartments and free secure car parking. Easy walk from a variety of restaurants, bars, and beaches. The famous Cavill Mall is also nearby. Close to a bus stop and the G Link Tram to Broadbeach.

Hostel ($): Surf Inn Boutique Backpackers – Free Breakfast, great adults-only backpacker hostel in Gold Coast. It has a shared kitchen, an outdoor pool, and a wonderful breakfast. Close to Budds Beach, SkyPoint Observation Deck and Infinity Maze.


3. Southport/Main Beach

Southport and Main Beach are ideal for those seeking a slightly more relaxed experience while still being close to attractions. Southport and Main Beach are neighboring suburbs located just north of Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach. 

Southport is home to the family-friendly waterfront Broadwater Parklands, featuring playgrounds, picnic areas, walking paths, and the Rock Pools water playground.

You can go shopping at the Australia Fair Shopping Centre in Southport, where you can find a variety of retail stores, supermarkets, and dining options.

Marina Mirage is an upscale shopping and dining precinct in Main Beach overlooking the marina and offers a range of boutique stores, waterfront restaurants, and cafes.

The suburb of Main Beach is known for its pristine beaches and a slightly quieter atmosphere compared to Surfers Paradise. It’s a great place for swimming, walking, or enjoying a day by the ocean.

Located in Main Beach, Sea World is a popular marine-themed park with marine animal exhibits, live shows, and thrilling rides. It’s a great attraction for families and those interested in marine life.

The narrow stretch of land between Southport and Main Beach is home to The Spit, a popular destination for fishing, picnicking, and enjoying water sports. The area also features seafood restaurants and the Southport Yacht Club.

Main Beach Surf Life Saving Club is an iconic club that offers beachfront dining and is a great spot to enjoy a meal while overlooking the ocean.

Southport is a major transport hub with access to the G:link light rail, making it easy to travel to other parts of the Gold Coast, including Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach.

Best places to stay in Southport/Main Beach for tourists:

Luxury ($$$): Meriton Suites Southport, popular 5-star accommodation in Como Crescent, offering stunning views of the beaches, hinterland and the marina. Within walking distance from Australia Fair Shopping Center and Woolworth supermarket. Easy access to the light rail system for further exploration.

Mid-range ($$): Oscar On Main Beach Resort, 4.5 star good value for money accommodation located on Main beach, short Uber ride from Surfers Paradise, Sea World and Marina Mirage. Easy access to restaurants, cafes and boutique shops along Tedder Avenue.

Budget ($): De Ville Apartments, 4-star accommodation located on Main Beach Parade, 5 mins walk from  Marina Mirage Shopping Center. It has free parking which is a bonus for those who drive. Close to Tedder Avenue, Seaworld, The Spit and Southport Surf Club.


4. Burleigh Heads

Burleigh Heads is a popular and picturesque suburb on the Gold Coast, known for its natural beauty, surfing culture, and laid-back atmosphere. 

Burleigh Heads National Park is a highlight of the area, offering walking trails with stunning views of the ocean, Tallebudgera Creek, and the Gold Coast skyline. The park is also home to the famous Burleigh Heads point break, attracting surfers from around the world.

Burleigh Beach is known for its golden sands, excellent surf conditions, and a more relaxed atmosphere compared to busier areas like Surfers Paradise. It’s great for swimming, sunbathing, and surfing.

Burleigh Heads has a trendy shopping and dining precinct along James Street. Here, you’ll find boutique stores, cafes, restaurants, and galleries, creating a bohemian and artistic vibe.

Burleigh Heads Village is a charming mix of local businesses, including cafes, boutiques, and health food stores. It’s a great place to explore on foot and soak in the local atmosphere.

If you visit this area on the last Sunday of each month, don’t miss out on the Burleigh Heads State School Markets where you can buy local arts, crafts, fashion, and fresh produce.

Take a walk up the headland to Tumgun Lookout for panoramic views of the coastline. The walking paths around the headland offer a chance to appreciate the natural beauty of the area.

A popular beachfront venue, Burleigh Pavilion offers a relaxed setting to enjoy a meal or drink while overlooking the ocean.

While not directly in Burleigh Heads, Miami Marketta is a short drive away and offers a diverse range of international street food, live music, and a vibrant atmosphere.

Best places to stay in Gold Coast in Burleigh Heads for visitors:

  • Mid-range ($$): Swell Resort, 4.5 star beachfront accommodation located on Burleigh Heads, easy distance from the famous Burleigh surf beach. It features  private laundry facilities, free parking, and fully self-contained apartment accommodations.
  • Mid-range ($$): Gemini Court Holiday Apartments, 4-star accommodation on Hayle Street, featuring free parking, a heated swimming pool, and paid airport shuttle services.Close to the beach, beachfront cafes, restaurants, and Burleigh Head National Park.
  • Budget ($): Timbertop for Life, good value for money homestay, in a good location in the quiet area of Burleigh Heads. Within walking distance to shops, cafes, restaurants and the beach.

5. Coolangatta

Coolangatta is a laid-back coastal suburb located at the southern end of the Gold Coast, known for its beautiful beaches, surfing spots, and a relaxed atmosphere.

The main attraction is the stunning Coolangatta Beach, which stretches along the coastline and is popular for swimming, surfing, and beachside relaxation. 

Adjacent to Coolangatta Beach, Greenmount Beach is another beautiful stretch of sand known for its family-friendly atmosphere and good surf conditions.

A famous surf break located between Coolangatta and Rainbow Bay, Snapper Rocks is internationally renowned for its world-class waves and hosts the annual Quiksilver Pro surfing competition.

Point Danger headland provides panoramic views of the coastline and is the site of the Captain Cook Memorial and the Queensland-New South Wales border marker. The Captain Cook Memorial Lookout offers spectacular views and is a great spot for whale watching during migration season.

Golf enthusiasts can enjoy a round of golf at the popular Coolangatta and Tweed Heads Golf Club, which straddles the border between Queensland and New South Wales.

Coolangatta Art and Craft Market is held on the second Sunday of each month at Queen Elizabeth Park, these markets showcase local arts, crafts, and produce.

Coolangatta has a range of shopping options, including The Strand, a beachfront shopping and dining complex with boutique stores and waterfront restaurants.

Perched right on the beach, the Surf Life Saving Club offers a great place to enjoy a meal or drink with ocean views.

Coolangatta is home to the Gold Coast Airport, making it convenient for travelers arriving by air. The area is well-connected by public transportation, including buses and the G:link light rail.

Best places to stay in Gold Coast in Coolangatta for travelers:


In conclusion, Broadbeach, Surfers Paradise, Southport/Main Beach, Burleigh Heads, and Coolangatta are the safe and best places to stay in Gold Coast for first-timers and tourists. These areas provides a variety range of accommodations for all budgets.

You can continue reading about other popular tourists destinations in Australia in these articles:

There you have it, my recommendations for the most popular and safest neighborhoods that you can stay during your first trip to Gold Coast. I hope you enjoyed my article and find it both informative and helpful.

If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Your feedback is invaluable and helps me continue to create more quality content.

About Author: Ocean Cameron

I'm Ocean, founder and main editor of travelhotelexpert.com. I’m a passionate traveler who specializes in uncovering the best hotels and locations in every city, especially for first-timers, all without the need for a car.

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. This means that, at absolutely no additional cost to you, I'll earn a small commission if you click through and purchase something I've recommended. I only recommend products that I use myself or firmly believe in. Thank you!

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