Australia is a country that relies on its airports. As the national anthem says, this nation really is “girthed by sea” and short of taking a very lengthy and expensive cruise ride, most travelers have no choice but to fly if they want to visit the Land Down Under.
There is no shortage of airports in Australia, though some are busier and more popular than others. The larger airports in major cities tend to be used by airlines for connecting flights, while the smaller ones tend to only see traffic from those coming to visit the city they’re in.
Keep reading to find out about the 10 busiest airports in Australia and where they’re located.
10 Darwin International Airport
According to the Australian Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport, and Regional Economics, Darwin International Airport is the 10th busiest airport in Australia. Located in the Northern Territory, Darwin tends to receive fewer international tourists than more popular cities like Sydney and Melbourne.
There is still a lot to see in Darwin, even though it tends to fly under the radar of most tourists. Aside from the Crocosaurus Cove, where you can see saltwater crocodiles, there is also the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. Here, you’ll learn all about Australian history, culture, and wildlife.
9 Hobart Airport
Situated in Tasmania, Hobart Airport is the ninth busiest airport in Australia. The state of Tasmania is separated from the rest of the country by what’s known as the Bass Strait, so a lot of tourists traveling from overseas tend to miss out on visiting Hobart at all.
The Tasmanian capital gives vibes of a quiet city that’s still largely untouched by mass tourism, which can be a welcomed change for travelers who are used to the hustle and bustle of big cities. It’s a good idea to visit before word about this Aussie hidden gem gets out!
8 Canberra Airport
A lot of tourists skip Canberra altogether when they make the long trek Down Under. Many don’t even realize that it’s the capital city of Australia! Because of the popularity of Sydney, people tend to assume that the iconic city is also the capital.
Canberra Airport is the eighth busiest airport in Australia. Many travelers from interstate fly into Canberra Airport to see their country’s capital, which is also home to major landmarks like the Australian War Memorial and the National Gallery of Australia. Some people also fly into Canberra and then travel out to nearby towns.
7 Cairns Airport
Located on the eastern coast of Far North Queensland, Cairns Airport is the seventh busiest airport in Oz. The majority of tourists flying into Cairns are in full vacation mode and ready to enjoy Australia’s tropical side.
Due to its location on the coast, Cairns is also one of the major hotspots from which travelers base themselves when they want to explore the Great Barrier Reef. So it’s no wonder that the Cairns Airport is so busy! Aside from the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns is also home lush rainforest and idyllic beaches.
6 Gold Coast Airport
The Gold Coast is one of the most popular destinations in Australia as far as beach vacations go. Situated in Queensland, the Gold Coast is almost like the Waikiki of Australia, with an array of beachfront hotels and resorts. The beaches themselves aren’t that great for swimming, but they do make good surfing beaches!
The Gold Coast Airport is the sixth busiest airport in Australia and receives an influx of tourists coming to enjoy the beachside activities. The area also boasts some of the most prestigious theme parks in Australia, including Warner Brother’s Movie World and Wet n Wild Water World.
5 Adelaide Airport
Holding the title of the fifth busiest airport in Australia is Adelaide Airport, located in the South Australian capital city of Adelaide. Often described as too small to be a big city but too big to be a small town, Adelaide is a quiet destination that rarely makes it onto the world stage. Except when it produces talent like pop artist Sia, fitness guru Kayla Itsines, and designer Paul Vasileff of Paolo Sebastian fashion house.
Adelaide Airport usually gets even busier in March each year, when the Adelaide Fringe Festival is on. Artists arrive from all over the world to showcase their talent to crowds of people.
4 Perth Airport
The fourth busiest airport in Australia is the only airport on this list that is located in the western part of the country: Perth Airport. The capital of Western Australia, Perth often seems miles and miles away from other Aussie destinations, especially those on the eastern coast. But it’s definitely worth the travel time if you’re coming from the east!
There are lots of landmarks to see in the city of Perth itself and also in the surrounding areas. As it’s a major airport in the west, it’s also often used for connecting flights to final destinations in Africa, Asia, and South America.
3 Brisbane Airport
There are three airports in the state of Queensland that have landed a place in the top 10 busiest airports in Australia. Along with Cairns Airport and Gold Coast Airport, there’s also Brisbane Airport, which comes in third place.
Brisbane is the capital city of Queensland and offers visitors a sea of things to do and see. From koala sanctuaries to swimming centers to nature hikes to nightlife, Brisbane has it all and more. Fun fact: Brisbane Airport is also the largest airport by land size in the country.
2 Melbourne Airport
Melbourne is one of the most popular destinations in Australia, both for foreigners and Aussies alike. So it comes as no surprise that Melbourne Airport is the second busiest in the country. Even though Melbourne does have so much to offer, it’s often not even the final stop for the influx of travelers coming through the airport!
Many airlines connect in Melbourne from other cities in Australia and then go on to a range of international destinations. There are some overseas locations that you can’t fly to from cities like Adelaide or Hobart and so Melbourne Airport is often a stopover.
1 Busiest: Sydney Airport
The results are in! The busiest airport in Australia is officially the Sydney Airport. But you might have guessed that already, with Sydney being the most well-known Australian city of them all! Sydney Airport is similar to Melbourne Airport in that many travelers coming through are catching connecting flights, either to or from international destinations.
The airport has a domestic and international terminal and a range of shops, places to eat, hotels, and other entertainment options. You could happily spend many hours there and not get bored, so it’s a good thing that it’s the most popular airport in the country!