A Travel Price Comparison for Australia Alice Springs vs. Airlie Beach for Hiking, Couples, Families, and Backpackers

Should you visit Alice Springs or Airlie Beach?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Trying to figure out where to travel next? This travel comparison between Alice Springs and Airlie Beach can help. It includes a travel cost comparison in addition to other factors. For many travelers, the cost of a destination is a primary consideration when choosing where to go.

Alice Springs

Alice Springs is a charming, friendly, and laid back town. This is a great small town that is just waiting to be explored. This is also a very beautiful destination which attracts plenty of visitors. It's also known for food, hiking, and shopping.

Airlie Beach

Airlie Beach is a slow-paced, idyllic, and paradise town. Many visitors also come because of it's amazing beauty. It's also popular because of the shopping, nightlife, and food.

Alice Springs and Airlie Beach: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Small town charm
  • Impressive beauty
Pros
  • Active nightlife
  • Nice resorts
  • Good scuba and snorkeling destination
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty
Things to Consider
  • Less museums and historical sights


Is there more to do in Alice Springs or Airlie Beach?

Visitors will usually find more to do in Airlie Beach than Alice Springs, as it offers more sights, attractions, and activities. Airlie Beach is better known for its resorts, scuba diving & snorkeling, beaches, and impressive beauty, while Alice Springs is more popular for its museums and small town charm. Alice Springs is well known for its desert landscapes, Outback setting, and location between the East and West MacDonnell Ranges. Airlie Beach is well known for its tours and transportation that visit the Great Barrier Reef and the Whitsunday Islands. Also, Airlie Beach is famous for the Airlie Beach Lagoon.

How is Alice Springs different from Airlie Beach?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Airlie Beach and Alice Springs. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Alice Springs or Airlie Beach?

Alice Springs
Airlie Beach

Alice Springs is a good destination for its sights and museums. However, Airlie Beach is not a good town for its museums and history.

Alice Springs is a good place to visit if you're interested in museums or other recognizable sights. There are several wildlife centers in town that let you experience the desert animals first hand. Make sure you check out the Alice Springs Reptile Center, the Alice Springs Desert Park, and the Kangaroo Sanctuary. Another highlight of the town is a visit to the Alice Springs School of the Air.

If you're looking to pass the time, head to a museum or historic sight in Airlie Beach. Oceanfront beauty is what this town is all about, so you won't find much is the form of museums and manmade landmarks.


Is the Food Better in Alice Springs or Airlie Beach? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Alice Springs
Airlie Beach

Foodies will find both Alice Springs and Airlie Beach both to be notable destinations.

Alice Springs is becoming an appealing option for foodies. There are casual eateries with local food and decent prices. While it's a small town, there are plenty of tourists passing through so you'll find enough places to eat with a decent selection.

Airlie Beach offers number of good local restaurants to choose from. There's a good selection of restaurants in town that offer everything from freshly caught local seafood to fine dining or casual. Try to pick a place with a view.

Is Alice Springs or Airlie Beach Better for Nightlife?

Alice Springs
Airlie Beach

If the nightlife is your priority, you'll find notable options in both Alice Springs and Airlie Beach.

If you're looking for night time activities Alice Springs has a few options to choose from. It's a laid back small town, but there are still places to hang out in evening. Pubs and taverns are popular with locals and tourists alike. You'll also find a couple of casinos and clubs in town.

There's a variety of activities in the evening in Airlie Beach. The town has a number of nightlife venues that include DJ hosted parties, beachfront cocktail lounges, and mellow local bars.

Is Alice Springs or Airlie Beach Better for Resorts?

Alice Springs
Airlie Beach

Airlie Beach is a world-class destination for its luxury resorts. However, Alice Springs is not a resort destination.

Airlie Beach is a world class resort vacation destination. There's everything from posh resorts and luxury hotels to family-friendly campgrounds. There are also hostels that cater to the budget crowd.

Alice Springs is not a resort destination.


Is Alice Springs or Airlie Beach Better for Scuba Diving and Snorkeling?

Alice Springs
Airlie Beach

Airlie Beach is a world-class destination for snorkeling and scuba diving. However, Alice Springs is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

Airlie Beach is a world class destination for scuba diving and snorkeling. You can't snorkel right off the shore because the water is murky and mucky, but there are excursions that will take you to the Great Barrier Reef. There are many day cruises that will take you out on the reef to several sights where you may see beautiful coral, sea turtles, or even reef sharks.

Alice Springs is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

Is Alice Springs or Airlie Beach Better for Beaches?

Alice Springs
Airlie Beach

Airlie Beach is a world-class destination for the beach. However, Alice Springs is not a beach destination.

Airlie Beach is considered to be a world-class beach destination. Near town there are world class beaches that range from secluded and idyllic to those lined with luxury resorts. For an escape, head to Hideaway Bay or Dingo Beach. If you don't want to leave town, there's also Airlie Beach, which is right off the Main Street. You likely won't want to swim here, but you can enjoy a picnic. Whatever beach you chose, do confirm that there's a stinger net.

Alice Springs is not a beach destination.

Is Alice Springs or Airlie Beach Better for Hiking?

Alice Springs
Airlie Beach

Both Alice Springs and Airlie Beach are destinations which offer fantastic hiking.

Around Alice Springs visitors will find world-class hiking trails. Just outside of town there are wonderful walking routes and hiking trails. You can visit gorges, waterholes, and wander through the stunning red desert landscapes. One of the most famous trails in the area is the Larapinta Trail.

Airlie Beach is well-known for its hiking and trekking. You'll find many incredible hiking trails in the area. Conway National Park is a great place to hike through the rainforest and Conway State Forest is another nice spot.


Is the Shopping Better in Alice Springs or Airlie Beach?

Alice Springs
Airlie Beach

If you're looking to go shopping, Alice Springs and Airlie Beach both offer plenty of notable spots.

Alice Springs has a variety of shopping areas worth visiting. There are many shopping areas around town, particularly at the Yeperenye Shopping Centre, Alice Plaza, and Todd Mall. Prices can be a bit high, so keep that in mind as you're browsing.

Airlie Beach is a great destination for shopping. Head to the town's main street for your typical souvenir shops and holiday stores.

Is Alice Springs or Airlie Beach Better for Families?

Alice Springs
Airlie Beach

Both Alice Springs and Airlie Beach are very good to visit with kids.

You'll find plenty of family-friendly things to do in Alice Springs. Kids will enjoy the beautiful setting as much as adults. There are desert animals that you can see at Alice Springs Desert Park or the Kangaroo Sanctuary. The Earth Sanctuary has telescopes and unbeatable views of the night sky. In the area you'll also be able to take a camel ride or visit the National Road Transport Hall of Fame.

Airlie Beach is a very family-friendly place to visit. Kids will enjoy playing in the Airlie Beach Lagoon, visiting the markets, or hanging out at the local beaches or playgrounds. If you're hoping to swim in the ocean, be very aware of the season and the conditions.

Is Alice Springs or Airlie Beach Better for Couples?

Alice Springs
Airlie Beach

Airlie Beach is a world-class destination for couples. Also, Alice Springs is not as popular, but is still a nice town for romance.

Airlie Beach is a great town for couples, as it has plenty to offer. Couples often use this as a gateway to the stunning Whitsunday Islands. The dining scene is good and there are countless outdoor activities that you can enjoy together. There are also many different resorts in the area.

Alice Springs is a very popular place to visit for couples. The red desert and stunning landscapes make for a truly one-of-a-kind romantic getaway. In addition to the area's natural beauty, there are hot air balloon rides and camel treks. Hiking and exploring is also at the top of many visitor's lists.


Is Alice Springs or Airlie Beach Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Alice Springs
Airlie Beach

For backpackers, both Alice Springs and Airlie Beach are very good places to visit.

Plenty of budget travelers and backpackers visit Alice Springs. Many backpackers stop off here during their Australian adventure. There a few hostels in town as well as a laid back and friendly environment that is perfect for backpacking.

Backpackers come from all over to visit Airlie Beach. If you're hoping to visit the Whitsunday Islands, then is a good place to base yourself as a backpacker. It has a decent selection of hostels and there are a number of restaurants and other dining options.

Is Alice Springs or Airlie Beach Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Alice Springs
Airlie Beach

Airlie Beach is a town with good options for times when you don't have a car. However, Alice Springs is not known for its public transit.

While Airlie Beach offers some public transit options, it might not be your first choice. There's a public bus that runs from Proserpine to Shute Harbour. The main bus station is near the city center and the main beach.

Public transit is generally limited in Alice Springs. Public transit options are limited but you will find buses that leave from the Yeperenye Shopping Center on Hartley Street. There are also taxis in town.

Is Alice Springs or Airlie Beach a more walkable city?

Alice Springs
Airlie Beach

Airlie Beach is a great town for its ease of walking around. Also, Alice Springs is not as popular, but is still a nice town for its walkability.

Airlie Beach is a very walkable destination. The town itself is walkable, but the surrounding area is hilly and requires a car.

Alice Springs is somewhat walkable. The downtown area can be explored on foot.


For even more information, also check out Is Alice Springs Worth Visiting? and Is Airlie Beach Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Airlie Beach or Alice Springs?

How long in Alice Springs or Airlie Beach?

Both Alice Springs and Airlie Beach have a number of activities to choose from. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in Airlie Beach than in Alice Springs. Usually, 2-4 days is a good amount of time for Alice Springs, and 4-7 days is enough time in Airlie Beach.

Families should spend more time in Airlie Beach than Alice Springs. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Airlie Beach, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Airlie Beach than Alice Springs. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Airlie Beach that are perfect for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Airlie Beach than Alice Springs if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Airlie Beach.


  • How many days in Alice Springs or Airlie Beach? Ideal Length of Stay
    Alice Springs 2-4 
    Airlie Beach 4-7

One day in Alice Springs or Airlie Beach?

Alice Springs is a small town where visitors enjoy the food and shopping. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything.

Many travelers enjoy the scuba diving and snorkeling and shopping when visiting the paradise destination of Airlie Beach. It's also a relaxing resort destination. Your budget might influence how long you stay. Since there is so much to do in the area, one day is probably not enough for all of it.

A weekend in Alice Springs or Airlie Beach?

Alice Springs is a fun place to experience. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. If you have a weekend, this is a great place to go. It will give you the chance to have new experiences. Lots of people come for the hiking. So, a weekend is just the right amount of time to spend here.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Airlie Beach. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do. A weekend is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do.

Five days in Alice Springs or Airlie Beach?

Alice Springs is a small town, so you can explore the area with less time. Hikers are also drawn to this area. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. Lots of people come for the hiking. Five days is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days.

Many travelers enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the slow-paced destination of Airlie Beach. Travelers enjoy the resorts in the area as well. This town offers a variety of activities to choose from. If you have five days, this is a great place to go. Five days is usually enough time to experience most activities.


A week in Alice Springs or Airlie Beach?

Alice Springs is a popular place to visit. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. One week may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

Many travelers enjoy the food and scuba diving and snorkeling when visiting the beautiful town of Airlie Beach. People often spend their time relaxing at one of the resorts. Plenty of people spend one week in the area when traveling.So, one week is just the right amount of time to spend here. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision.


Which place is cheaper, Airlie Beach or Alice Springs?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Alice Springs is $95, while the average daily cost in Airlie Beach is $141. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Alice Springs and Airlie Beach in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Alice Springs $50
    Airlie Beach $58
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Alice Springs $100
    Airlie Beach $116
Compare Hotels in Alice Springs and Airlie Beach

Looking for a hotel in Alice Springs or Airlie Beach? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Alice Springs


Hotels in Airlie Beach


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Alice Springs Hotel Prices and Airlie Beach Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Alice Springs $20
    Airlie Beach $19

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Alice Springs

Also for Alice Springs, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Uluru to Alice Springs or Alice to Uluru 1-Way Luxe Transfer: $120
  • Alice Springs to Uluru (Ayers Rock) Coach Transfer: $122

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Airlie Beach

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Airlie Beach:

  • Private Transfer to Whitsunday Coast Airport: $315
  • Mirage Whitsundays Hotel Private Airport Transfer (Return): $264
  • Luxury Mercedes Private Airport Transfer (Return): $264
  • Luxury Mercedes Private Airport Transfer (one way): $133
  • Mirage Whitsundays Hotel Private Airport Transfer (one way): $133
  • Crayfish Beach Hook Island Camping Transfer: $117
  • Whitehaven Beach Camping Shared Transfer: $114
  • South Molle Island Camping Transfer: $50
  • Return Transfer PPP Airport Shute Harbour / Renta Yacht / Freedom Shores: $32
  • Airport Transfers - Return (round fare) share shuttle service: $28
  • One Way Only - Airport Transfer share shuttle service: $17
  • Whitsunday: Prosperpine Airport to Airlie Beach Transfer: $16

Is it cheaper to fly into Alice Springs or Airlie Beach?

Prices for flights to both Airlie Beach and Alice Springs change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Alice Springs $24
    Airlie Beach $32

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Alice Springs

For Alice Springs, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • From Day Trip to Uluru with BBQ Dinner: $220
  • Ayers Rock Day Trip from Alice Springs Including BBQ Dinner: $224

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Airlie Beach

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Airlie Beach.

  • 3-Hour Sunset Segway Tour with Dinner: $72
  • Whitsundays Segway Sunset and Boardwalk Tour with Dinner: $78

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Alice Springs $14
    Airlie Beach $161

Tours and Activities in Alice Springs

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Alice Springs.

  • Australia’s Red Centre: A Self-Guided West Macs Driving Tour: $8.49
  • Skip the Line: Alice Springs School of the Air Guided Tour Ticket: $9.35
  • West MacDonnell Ranges: A Self-Guided Driving Tour: $9.99
  • Outback Adventure: A Self-Guided Driving Tour: $9.99
  • Alice Springs Desert Park Nocturnal Tour: $21
  • Alice Springs Desert Park General Entry Ticket: $26
  • Alice Springs Camel Tour: $57
  • Historical Alice Tour: $80
  • Historical Alice Tour: $81
  • West MacDonnell Ranges Half day Tour -Small Group: $93
  • A Town Like Alice: Half-Day Tour of Alice Springs: $95
  • Alice Springs Highlights Tour : $97

Tours and Activities in Airlie Beach

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Airlie Beach are as follows:

  • 2 Hour Airlie Beach Sunset Cruise: $59
  • Airlie Beach Blast Tour - 10 Minute Airlie Beach Helicopter Tour: $107
  • Airlie Beach Glass Bottom Boat Tour: $59
  • Airlie Beach Sunset Cruise : $46
  • Airlie Beach Sunset Cruise with champagne & antipasto: $58
  • Airlie Beach Trike Tours: $39
  • Airlie Beach sightseeing Tour: $50
  • 2-Hour Sunset Cruise with Sparkling Wine: $45
  • Adults-Only Whitehaven Beach Sailing Tour: $183
  • Airlie Adventure Jet Ski Tour: $164
  • Glass-Bottom Boat Tour: $58
  • Great Barrier Reef & Whitehaven Beach Tour: $204

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Alice Springs $17
    Airlie Beach $9.04
Typical Alcohol Prices in Alice Springs

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for alcohol and nightlife costs in Alice Springs:


  • Glass of Wine in Alice Springs
    $4.57


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Alice Springs and Airlie Beach, we can see that Airlie Beach is more expensive. And not only is Alice Springs much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Alice Springs would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Alice Springs and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Airlie Beach would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Airlie Beach than you might in Alice Springs.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Alice Springs Expensive? and Is Airlie Beach Expensive?.