Most people think of Canberra as “boring” Or at least That’s what most Australians told me when I was going. But there are Lots of Things to Do in Canberra Australia and some of the best food in the country. I made this post to distill a quick “Great 8” Things to do in the Australia Capital, Canberra. Come along and explore.
Table of Contents
Visit Namadgi National Park
It’s not often you find a National Park contained fully within the Australian Capital Territory (about 46% of the ACT Land). But Namadgi, located Southwest of the city is a great place to explore. Established in 1984, the park protects beautiful wilderness as well as Aboriginal rock paintings. The name Namadgi is the local aboriginal name for the mountains that the park encompasses.
Be sure to check out my favorite hike, the Yankee Hat Trail if you do go.
Hours: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm (weekdays); 9:00 am – 4:30 pm (weekends)
Address: Naas Rd, Tharwa ACT 2620, Australia
Walk or Run along Lake Burley Griffin
The beautiful and famous artificial lake is one of the most recognizable places in the city of Canberra. Created in 1963, the lake has been the center of the Capital and many important buildings both government as well as institution line the banks of the lake.
On most days you’ll see folks walking, running, and biking along the lake and across the bridges. Thanks to the bridges there are several loops that you can run or ride along with the longest being about 27KM.
See Government in Action. Visiting Parliament is a great way to get to see the Australian Parliament and even get close to some of the action. You can actually see parliament in session if you are there are the right times. I love the fact that its open to the public unlike much of the workings in the USA.
Be sure to also check out the copy of the Magna Carta in the new Parliament House.
Address: Parliament Dr, Canberra ACT 2600, Australia
Hours: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm (6:00 on sitting days)
Website: Parliament House
One of my favorite places in the Canberra area, Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve feels a world away from the city. You can see a plethora of wildlife in the park from kangaroos, wallabies and even platypuses. It was probably the first place I’ve ever seen a platypus. It’s a great way to spend a morning or day away from the hustle and bustle of the capital
Address: Tidbinbilla Reserve Rd, Paddys River ACT 2620, Australia
Hours: 7:30 am to 6:00 pm (closed Christmas)
- Private Vehicle (up to 8 seats): $14.00
- Vehicle [seniors] (up to 8 seats): $8.00
- Motorcycle: $5.00
- Day Pass [coaches, per passenger]: $2.00
- Day Pass [coach, school group, per passenger]: $1.00
The Canberra Zoo may not be the largest or the most famous, but the zoo is such a wonderful place to visit and explore. The zoo also is well known for its work in rescuing and saving various different animals such as bears from circuses. Given the work there they do constantly look for funding and all your money goes to helping to support their mission.
They even have several different behind the scenes tours where you can feed giraffes, meet their dingoes, hold snakes, and sit with Cheetahs.
Address: 999 Lady Denman Dr, Yarralumla ACT 2611, Australia
Hours: 9:30 am – 5:00 pm (closed Christmas)
Fees: Adults $49; Children (3-15) $28; Students/Seniors: $42;
Website: National Zoo
There are additional fees if you do any of the behind the scenes tour. Definitely worth it if you get the opportunity.
Canberra Deep Space Complex
Did you know that NASA runs a Deep Space Communication Complex in Canberra Australia? It does, and you can visit. If you are a space nerd (like myself), Canberra Deep Space Complex is a definite must visit. These long range dishes are able to communicate with some of the furthest space objects that have been launched by man. The site is the only site that is able to communicate with Voyager 2. The site is Managed by CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) on behalf of NASA.
Address: Paddy’s River, Tidbinbilla, 421 Discovery Dr, Paddys River ACT 2620, Australia
Hours: Temporarily Closed
Website: Canberra Deep Space Complex
Australian War Memorial
One of the most moving War Memorials, the Australian War Memorial traces Australia’s histories through the various wars. It is amazing to hear some of the stories of heroism including the various Victoria Cross recipients. Also the various tragic events from Gallipoli to the Kokoda Trail during World War 2. I learned a lot about the “Chocolate Army” which were thought to be Australians who saw softer duty and some of the tragic events they had to witness as well.
The Museum is Free, but it does require you to book a timed ticket.
View the City from Mount Ainslie
The Lookout gives you such a great view of the city from a high vantage point. It gives you a great view of the city design as well as the lake that snakes through the center. There is parking near the lookout at the end of the drive.
Located close to the Australian War Memorial, it makes a good stop before or after your visit to the memorial (in particular if you have time before your timed ticket).
Address: 20 Mount Ainslie Dr, Australian Capital Territory 2609, Australia
Other City Information
Where to Stay
Quest Canberra City Walk: I have loved staying at the Quest Hotel Apartments whenever I visit Australia. The Canberra City Walk has a great location in the CBD and walking distance from many restaurants, malls, and other activities.
Crowne Plaza Canberra: Also a great location in the CBD. Crowne Plaza always felt at the center and close to many things downtown. There is also a small casino that is adjacent to the hotel. Although to be honest only if you really want to gamble.
Park Hyatt Canberra: Definitely one of the better hotels in the city. It is located closer to Parliament and those government buildings. To me, it’s not as convenient and not as walkable as the above CBD hotels. But the rooms are definitely great and good service too.