Canberra seems to have a bad reputation for being a sleepy city, but the capital really does have something for everyone! With quaint old bars, gustatory experiences, bush walks/hikes and national collections, there is plenty to explore. Here are a few great places to start:
One of the most authentic Australian experiences may just be this small pub/inn located in Lyneham in Canberra’s inner south. The building itself dates back to 1857 and has had many uses throughout its life. The latest of which boasts live music and a great atmosphere. The rough wooden low-ceilinged interior with a fire burning in the hearth is the perfect location for a meal in winter. And the courtyard under the gum trees is the perfect spot for a cold craft beer in summer.
The Old Bus Depot Markets are held every Sunday from 10am onwards. The markets are filled with the best of Canberra’s local produce, brewers, arts & crafts, fashion and more. Located on the Kingston Foreshore in Canberra’s inner south, it’s a short journey from the city but a great way to spend a lazy Sunday.
Want to escape and get a taste of nature without leaving the city? The National Arboretum is an experience that combines the beauty of architecture, sculpture and space with that of nature and preservation. Created after the 2003 Canberra Bushfires, the Arboretum is home to 94 forests of native and rare trees from Australia and around the world. There are beautiful walks through monocultured forests and up to sculpture filled lookouts. The grand visitors centre/café has a fantastic view over the city and while you are there, you can check out the National Bonsai and Penjing Collection of Australia. Take a morning, midday or a summer evening to explore everything this growing space has to offer.
If your interests lie indoors, the Canberra Centre located in the CBD may be for you. With a dedicated design & beauty precinct, entertainment quarter and many gustatory experiences, a large chunk of time could be spent exploring all that is on offer here.
For cinema lovers, this is THE place to go. Fancy décor, cheap student tickets, and access to wine & cheese – what more could you want? Popcorn & ice cream is of course also an option.
Their Student Nights and the Student Club will make you your money back within 2-3 movies. Tickets are usually half the cost of a normal cinema.
Akiba is a modern take on modern Asian Fusion Cuisine mixed with some great cocktails and atmosphere. Right in the heart of the city, it is a great place to take friends or family when you want to impress without much effort.
Namadgi National Park is right on the edge of Canberra and has a rich collection of human and natural history with evidence of aboriginal people living in this region up to 21,000 years ago. With tours giving detailed information on the natural biodiversity and the Ngunnawal Peoples cultural sites, this park is a fantastic and educational experience.
Canberra is surrounded by many small wineries and a few larger ones. Of course, each have their own schedules and wine tastings you can visit, but each year they all band together to hold the “Moving Feast”. This is a chance for all the local wine makers to showcase their talents and expertise, while giving folk from all around a few days to get out into the vast landscape surrounding Canberra. It’s the perfect way to mix food, wine and a picturesque stroll through the vineyards.
More of a history buff? Or have an interest in architecture? The Australian War Memorial has it all. Voted the number one landmark in Australia in 2016, the collections are awe inspiring, and the sandstone building is truly something to behold.
Anything from a quick visit to an in-depth exploration
National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery & National Museum
And finally, have you really visited Canberra if you haven’t been to at lease one of these places? All located around Lake Burley Griffin, you could hit all of them in one day, or take your time to soak them all in. The National Gallery has almost 160,000 works of art, including the worlds largest collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art. Entry is free however for some of the special exhibitions, there may be a small fee. The National Portrait Gallery holds a rich collection of important and prominent figures in Australian history. There are always several free exhibitions at any one time. The National Museum Australia has a diverse collection of objects, ideas and events. Again, general admission is free however some special shows require a small entrance fee.