36 Hours in Byron Bay, Australia

posted by Laura Baker-Finch on April 01, 2013

Photo: Byron Bay Courtesy of Travellerkingdom

Byron Bay, Australia -- Byron Bay is known around the world for its unparalleled beaches and laid-back lifestyle, not to mention being the home of Bluesfest and Splendour in the Grass. You can easily take a trip to Byron with no agenda and little cash - many even sleep out of their cars for a cheap weekend of sun and surf. That being said, there's definitely more than just the beach - even though the beach would be enough to justify a trip.

Below is a mini travel guide for a quick stop in Byron Bay, perfect for planning a trip before or after one of the area's festivals. If you're able to spend a few more days in Byron - which I wholeheartedly recommend - check out our Guide to Byron Bay Bluesfest for a more places to Eat, Sleep, Shop, Party, and Explore compiled by our friends at the AU review.

Day One

3pm: Hit Main Beach
Right as you arrive, get your butt to the beach! Soak up some rays, catch some waves, and feel the sand between your toes as your worries wash away. Main Beach, Byron's most popular and largest, is located directly in front of the town of Byron Bay. You can find the entrance with the lifeguard stand in front of The Beach Hotel.

7pm: Dinner at Asia Joe's
4 Bay Lane. Lunch 12-3pm; Dinner 5:30-Late
Asia Joe's fresh wok food is so good that I had it twice during my last 3-night Byron stay. Bring your own bottle of wine from Beach Bottle, located at the end of the street, and eat in or grab it to go and eat by the beach.

10pm: Dance on tables at Cheeky Monkey's
115 Jonson Street. Closed Sundays
This restaurant turns into a backpacker bar as the sun goes down with nightly themed parties like Flower Power Tuesdays and Girls on the Town Saturdays. No matter the theme, you're always sure to find international travelers and Aussies alike hitting the dance floor together - proof that dancing on tables really does cross culture and language barriers. This isn't the place I'd wear my nicest attire, you'll probably get some fruity-flavored drink spilled on you - just a heads up.

Day Two

10am: Take a walk to the Cape Byron Lighthouse
Sure, a lighthouse may seem a bit touristy for the seasoned traveler but, trust us, its worth a stop. The full walking track, which will take about 2 hours to complete, takes you across cliff tops with unbelievable views of the ocean and hinterland. Once at the Lighthouse, which rests at the most eastern part in all of Australia, take in the views and keep an eye out for turtles, dolphins, stingrays, and, in season, whales.

If you don't have two hours for the full track, you can access the trail at numerous points for shorter sections. Alternatively, you can drive to the top - but parking is limited and costs a few dollars.

Noon: Lunch at Top Shop
65 Carlyle Street. Daily 6:30am-5pm
The Top Shop (not to be confused with the UK-based store) is a Byron Bay icon, providing a low key hang for locals and a place to refuel for surfers for over 100 years. Healthy food, reasonable prices, and a laid back vibe that allows for sandy floors and lawn seating. Grab a stacked burger to re-energize after a walk up to the light house and take a fresh-made juice with you back to the beach.

2pm: Surfing at Wategos Beach
Wategos is closer to the lighthouse than Main Beach, making it the smarter choice for a day spent at the lighthouse and at Topshop. Plus, you can access the Lighthouse Walking Trail from the Wategos parking lot, so leave your car here in the morning and continue on foot.

6:30pm: Tapas and Drinks at The Balcony
Cnr of Lawson and Johnson Streets. Breakfast 8am-12pm; Lunch 12:15-3pm; Tapas from 3pm; Dinner from 6pm
Dine on the second floor balcony of this historical building and look down over the streets of Byron and feel the sea breeze. Order from their regular dinner menu or select a few tapas to share. While you wait, grab a signature Balcony cocktail - we recommend the Balcony Breeze or the Expresso Martini if a day in the sun has left you drained.

9pm: Catch a Show at The Northern
35-43 Jonson Street. Mon-Sat 10-3am; Sun 12pm-12am
The Nothern is one of the last remaining old-style Aussie hotels, but it's more well known for its lineup of consistently great acts in their Backroom venue. take a look at their calendar for a show during your stay or just pop in for a beer at the pub.

Day Three

11am: Brunch at The Conscious Cafe
114 Jonson Street. 8:30am-4pm
As Byron's only 100% certified organic cafe, the Conscious Cafe is gluten free, dairy free, processed soy free, genetically modified food free, and canola oil free. But if you're not vegan or vegetarian, don't be scared! The cafe may advertise all that they take out of their food but they definitely put a lot of flavor in. Their vegan chocolate smoothie tastes just as creamy and rich as a milkshake and their Tree of Life veggie pattie will make you feel good about stuffing your face.

1pm: Go shopping on Fletcher Street
Hope & May: 20 Fletcher Street; Beachy homewares and gorgeous, yet understated, fashion pieces.
Spell & the Gypsy Collective: Cnr Marvel & Fletcher Streets; Like entering the closet of a bohemian goddess.
11:11 O'Clock: 3/20 Fletcher Street; Wearable fashion for both men and women from Australian and New Zealand designers.
Pompidou: 15-19 Fletcher Street; Clothing, accessories, and homewares from established Aussie designers as well as from up-and-coming brands.

Where to Stay

Below are just two accommodation options in Byron Bay, one hostel (or backpacker) option and one regular hotel. Head to the sleep section of our Guide to Bluesfest for our full recommendations, along with descriptions, for Byron Bay.

Arts Factory Backpackers Lodge: 1 Skinners Shoot Road
Beach Hotel Resort: Bay Street

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See Also:

Splendour in the Gras Announces 2013 Dates
Music Monday Playlist: Byron Bay Bluesfest
Introducing Our Guide to Byron Bay Bluesfest