Looking for the best things to do in Uluru? Having just come back from an incredible trip, I’m sharing everything I learned about visiting one of the most sacred sites in Australia (previously known as Ayers Rock).
The iconic rock has one of the biggest cultural significance to Aboriginal people in Central Australia and is a natural wonder as one of the World’s largest rock formations.
Uluru is split into 3 main areas, the town of Yulara which is a 10-minute drive from Ayers rock airport and then close by are the hotels of Ayers Rock resort. Then there is the National Park which lies Uluru and Kata Tjuta rock formations.
It will cost you $38 each for a 3-day Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park Pass and most tour companies will also require you to have purchased your pass ahead of an activity.
So what is there to do there apart from looking at a giant rock in the red centre? I’m going to go through my favourite things to do in Uluru from my recent visit.
Table of Contents
What is so special about Uluru?
The local Anangu people (pronounced Arn-ung-oo) are one of the World’s oldest living cultures and are the traditional owners of Uluru and Kata Tjuta National Park. In 1985 the deeds were officially handed back to the Aboriginal custodians and since then Ayers rock resort has changed from purely drawing in tourists to celebrating the cultural heritage, creation stories, Aboriginal art and Anangu culture.
Not only do you get incredible views in Uluru kata Tjuta national park, but you get to celebrate indigenous people and preserve their history.
Seeing the magnificent rock, particularly at sunrise, sunset or under the stars, blows you away and makes you wonder how awe-inspired the traditional owners would have been when they first laid their eyes on it. It is no wonder this natural beauty was of such cultural significance and features in so many Aboriginal creation stories. It really is an unforgettable experience.
The best time to visit Uluru
The best time for visiting Uluru and the Northern Territory is in the dry season and winter months, from May to October. As the name suggests, it is the driest time of year to visit and the temperatures range between 5 and 20 degrees, which is a pleasant temperature for a desert trip.
The summer months, November to April, are a lot hotter and range between 30 and 45 degrees. If you visit in summer, it is often too hot to go to the National Park during the day and so tour buses only run in the morning or evening.
How long should you spend in Uluru?
The minimum time you would need is three nights to complete all the best things to do in Uluru. However, I would recommend staying four nights so you have time to relax and not rush between all activities. If you can extend your trip to five or six days and continue your trip through to Alice Springs and fly home from there then definitely do this, I would always recommend an extended holiday, wouldn’t you?
One thing to note is that if you are thinking about doing a road trip from Darwin to Uluru, it’s super hard to find a campervan company as most will make you leave the car in Alice Springs which is a four hour drive from Uluru. If you’re thinking of flying out of Uluru, then drop the car off in Alice Springs and book this coach which will drop you off at Ayers Rock Resort.
Before we get started with our best things to do in Uluru, if you’re not up for doing any tours at all, at least get a self-guided audio tour so you can learn as much as possible about this hugely important place.
1. Join a Star Talk with Uluru Astro Tours
Uluru Astro Tours have special access to the National park after hours, giving them an exclusive view of Uluru under the Southern night sky. The tour bus picks you up from your Ayers rock hotel and starts with a laser guides tour of the stars and constellations in the sky. You can then view the moon and pluto through a powerful telescope and get a professional photo in front of Uluru and the Southern night sky.
The tour guide was incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about astrology. The tour was not fact-heavy, instead, he gave the group a lot of opportunities to ask questions which gave way to open conversation and interesting stories. I would recommend booking this tour as the red centre is one of the least light-polluted areas in Australia so it is worth being guided through the studding Southern cross and milky way.
Pro Tip: To get the clearest night for an Astro tour, track the full moon calendar. On the night of the full moon, it rises in the sky at 7 pm making the night sky too bright to see all the constellations, but the day after it rises 45 minutes later. So the best time to do your tour would be on day 4 or 5 after the full moon, as your tour will start before the moon has risen.
2. Explore the Field of Light
Field of Light was originally created as an art installation by British Artist, Bruce Munro in 2016 but the lease is extended every year due to popularity and is now one of the most iconic landmarks.
The twinkling field of light is an immersive experience, you can walk through over 50,000 spindles of beautiful lights which cover a space of more than seven football fields.
The lights slowly change through different colours, giving the impression of them swaying in the desert winds. You can book the Field Of Light Sunrise Tour which includes a hot cup of coffee or tea while you walk through the spectacular art installation.
3. Experience a legendary Uluru sunset
One of the main Uluru attractions is experiencing the famous Uluru sunset where the big rock changes colour in the light to an orangery red. This is a moment that will honestly stay with you forever so it’s best to make the most of it, by booking a 1h30m Sunset Tour which includes sparkling wine and a cheeseboard.
4. See Uluru from above
It’s an incredible sight when you first see a glimpse of this gigantic rock in the middle of the flat desert, but imagine seeing it from above? Either book the super popular Uluru and Kata Tjuta Sunset Helicopter Tour or opt for a 15-minute Uluru Helicopter Tour instead. Whichever you choose will be absolutely incredible and a total bucket list worthy experience everyone should do at least once in their lives.
5. Zoom and Learn on a Segway Tour
An awesome way to do the full base walk track, especially if you are unable to hike for various reasons, is via an Uluru Segway tour. Not only do you get the experience of riding a cool segway, but the local guide also teaches you about the Angu culture and stories told about the rock, the local history and ecological systems, something you don’t get if you just completed the base track alone.
Don’t worry, you do get trained on how to ride the Segway and you get to practice on a training track before setting off. There is only one Uluru segway company in the National Park so it is not overcrowded, and you get time to fully explore the rock. After finishing the base track, there is an optional guided walk to see the kantju gorge and rock art cave tucked within Uluru which is really worth it.
6. Join a Free Didgeridoo Workshop
One of the best things about Yulara township cultural centre is the free cultural experiences they offer in the town centre, led by Aboriginal guides. The Didgeridoo performance and workshops are particularly awesome if you haven’t had a chance to see a didgeridoo performance and understand how they work. The guide teaches you how to breathe and which sounds to make to play, and selected males (as males only can play in the Indigenous culture) are able to practice on the instrument.
Interesting fact: Didgeridoos were not actually called didgeridoos, they were named Yidaki by Aboriginal people. But when European settlers arrived, they heard the sound “Didgeridoo” as it was played and the name has since stuck. If you listen, a lot of people vibrate the sound “didgeridoo” into the instrument.
7. Join a Sunset BBQ
The most awesome thing about sunsets here is that it turns Uluru rock into a beautiful glowing red. I’d recommend booking a dinner tour for the ultimate sunset experience. You are picked up from your accommodation in the Ayers rock resort and taken to the Sunset viewing area in which the sun sets behind you so you can see the colours shine off the rock.
Here you get wine or beer and canapes as you watch the epic views and the sun go down which takes around an hour. The tour bus then takes you to another location under the rock in the National Park for a delicious BBQ.
There was a lot of food and wine followed by a star talk. In the Kata Tjuta National Park, there is minimal light pollution so you can see part of the milky way. It’s an incredible experience and a highlight to end your trip with. Check out this Sunset BBQ tour I know you’ll love.
8. Start the day with a beautiful Sunrise
There is a dedicated sunrise viewing area in Uluru Kata Tjuta national park in which the sun rises behind you and you can see the colours reflected off Uluru’s red rock. If you have time, I would recommend watching the sun rise from both here and the sunset viewing area. That way you can see both the colours reflected and the sun rising from behind the rock.
Prefer to do a guided Sunrise tour? You’ll have time to snooze while your guide does all the driving to and from your accommodation, and waking you up with a hot cup of coffee or tea, just in time for sunrise. Pre-book your Sunrise Tour here to avoid missing out.
9. Hike Kata Tjuta (The Olgas)
Many people don’t think about another beautiful dune when they are thinking of things to do in Uluru but the lesser-known rock formation, Kata Tjuta, otherwise known as the Olgas is also beautiful. It is of cultural significance to the local Anangu people and ceremonies are still held here so it is advised to check opening times before visiting, but the traditional owners still welcome the public to the rock.
You can hike the trail in between the main rocks and around the base of Kata Tjuta, and there are 2 peak stops in which you can see the spectacular views and turn back around. There is a section that is a steep rock without anything to hold onto so make sure you have the correct walking shoes and go at your own pace.
Within the National Park is the Aboriginal-owned Cultural Centre where you can learn about the Anungu people, local history and surrounding landscape. Complete with two art galleries showcasing Aboriginal local artists, a cafe and a shop where you can buy bush tucker native ingredients. It is worth a visit, especially to learn about life in Australia’s red centre and the indigenous culture.
11. Get menu inspiration from a Bush Tucker Workshop
Another free workshop by the Ayers Rock Cultural Centre will give you tips for a bush tucker-inspired menu. The Aboriginal guides take you through the different bush tucker native ingredients, how the Indigenous people would hunt for these in the Australian outback and where these ingredients are not being used today. They also warn you against plants that should not be eaten but i’m not sure I 100% trust myself to tell the difference between the plants out in the bush.
You then watch a fun cooking demonstration and are given a recipe you can follow at home! More bush tucker foods are being sold in shops and restaurants today so it’s cool to learn how they taste and what they can be used in.
12. Sing along to Live Music at Outback Pioneer Hotel
One of the more budget-friendly hotels in the Ayers rock resort is the Outback Pioneer Hotel and it has the liveliest bar, so much so that guests from other hotels come here on an evening. Every night I stayed there was live music from Country music artists, live sports, pool tables and a “DIY” BBQ station. It’s an awesome way to end your night in a place that feels like a classic Australian outback pub.
Note that Uluru is a “dry area”, meaning no alcohol is sold to the locals. In order to buy alcohol at any venue, you must show your hotel room key to prove you are a tourist staying here. This means there are no bottle shops and you can’t take any alcohol out of the bar vicinity.
13. Do a famous Camel Ride
Did you know that one million camels roam the Australian outback? They were introduced in 1840 after European settlers realised their horses did not take to the extreme desert weather in Australia’s red centre.
With Uluru Camel Tours, you can join them for a camel ride morning, afternoon or evening for a unique experience and view of Uluru. The sunrise camel ride is the most popular, starting in the dark and watching the whole sky turn red and orange from the high seat on a camel is spectacular.
Riding a camel is pretty fun, they don’t go fast and always walk in single file so you get used to it. It is a bit of a shock when they go from lying to standing and you jolt around as they are taller than you think they are. A great experience nevertheless, especially in Uluru.
14. Do the Uluru base walk
If you want to go at your own pace and take in the sheer magnificence of Uluru, then you must do the base walk. It’s 10km to fully complete and there are informative signs all the way around to teach you about the Aboriginal stories and legends told. My favourite part of the rock is the smile cave, named as it looks like a giant smile..cave.
Note that about 1/3 of Uluru is especially spiritual to the Anangu culture who have asked that no pictures are taken and this is signposted. Jump on this Guided Base Walk Tour which includes a sunset BBQ.
15. Where to go after Uluru?
10 minutes from the town is Ayers rock airport which runs daily flights to most major places in Australia. However, you could continue your trip to Alice Springs, another famous town in the Red Centre and around a four hour drive from Uluru.
Here you can see incredible landscapes, visit swimming holes, complete world-famous mountain bike trails and explore the vibrant city centre. I strongly recommend ticking off a massive bucket list Day Trip To West MacDonnell Ranges from Alice Springs which is full of jaw-dropping canyons.
Another amazing area to visit is Kings Canyon in Watarrka national park, another 4 hour drive from Uluru. May tour companies offer day trips. It’s a must-see area and the rim walk on the Kings Canyon offers spectacular views of Central Australia.
Where to stay in Uluru
Wondering where to stay in Uluru? Here are our top options.
Sails in The Desert – five minute walk from Uluru lookout to roll out of bed for sunrise. Doesn’t get much better right?
Longitude 131 – A luxury wilderness camp with direct views to Uluru.
Looking for Darwin inspiration?
Check our Crocosaurus Cove Review, a cage diving experience with crocodiles in Darwin. I took part in this once in a lifetime experience and am sharing all the details you need to know!
This article is written by Amii Freeman, our resident writer at Londoner In Sydney.
Hi I’m Amii! I’m from Darlington in the North East of England. I moved from London to Sydney in 2019 for a slower pace and to be by the coast, without having to give up my love of cities. My passion is in film and TV, I screen-write and act as much as I can. In my spare time I love trying new food, exploring new places, kayaking, hiking and cycling.Follow me on Instagram @amiifreeman!