Welcome to Canberra, a hidden gem nestled in the heart of Australia! This city is a vibrant mix of culture, nature, and history, offering an array of activities for every type of traveler.

Whether you’re a history buff, art enthusiast, or nature lover, Canberra has something to enchant everyone. So, let’s dive into this comprehensive Canberra travel guide and explore what this amazing city has in store for you.

The Top Things to Do in Canberra

1. Australian War Memorial

Location & Costing: Nestled at Treloar Crescent, the Australian War Memorial stands as a poignant reminder of the nation’s military past, and the best part? It’s free to enter.

General Information: As you step into this solemn yet majestic space, you’re immediately enveloped in Australia’s rich military history. The Memorial isn’t just a place; it’s an experience. It houses an extensive collection of artifacts, from wartime relics to personal stories of bravery and sacrifice. The heart-stirring exhibits, including the Hall of Memory with the Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier, serve as a powerful tribute to those who served and lost their lives. Make sure to join one of the Australian War Memorial tours, which offer deeper insights into the exhibitions and the stories behind them.

Australian War Memorial
Australian War Memorial

2. National Gallery of Australia

Location & Costing: Situated near the picturesque Lake Burley Griffin, the National Gallery of Australia is a treasure trove of artistic wonders. While the main collection is free, some special exhibits might have an entry fee.

General Information: Art aficionados, get ready to be mesmerized! The Gallery showcases an impressive array of Australian and international art, ranging from Indigenous Australian collections to the works of Monet and Picasso. Each exhibit in the National Gallery of Australia tells a unique story, captivating your senses and leaving you with a profound appreciation for the world of art. As you wander through the galleries, be prepared to find not just paintings, but also sculptures, installations, and Aboriginal art that challenge and inspire.

3. Lake Burley Griffin

Location & Costing: The jewel of Canberra, Lake Burley Griffin, is a central hub for leisure and is completely free to enjoy.

General Information: Imagine a serene water body, surrounded by lush greenery and bustling with activities. Lake Burley Griffin is just that – a perfect spot for a leisurely stroll, a bike ride, or a picnic with family and friends. You can even rent a boat or kayak to explore the lake’s tranquil waters. For those seeking a more laid-back experience, the lake’s shores are dotted with quaint cafes and eateries, where you can sit back, relax, and soak in the views. Don’t miss the chance to indulge in various Lake Burley Griffin activities, a highlight for any visitor to Canberra.

Lake Burley Griffin
Lake Burley Griffin | @lffp88

4. Parliament House

Location & Costing: Access to Australia’s political heart is surprisingly free, with Parliament House welcoming visitors to explore its grand halls.

General Information: Parliament House isn’t just a building; it’s a symbol of Australian democracy. Here, you can witness politics in action, perhaps even catching a live parliamentary session. The architecture alone is a marvel, blending modern design with historical significance. The building is nestled atop Capital Hill, offering a panoramic view of the city. Don’t forget to explore the impressive art collection and historical exhibits. The Parliament House Canberra tour is a must for anyone looking to delve into the political pulse of the nation.

Parliament House
Parliament House | @wanderlust73

5. National Museum of Australia

Location & Costing: Located on Lawson Crescent, the National Museum of Australia provides a comprehensive look into the country’s social history with free general admission.

General Information: Prepare to be taken on a journey through time as you explore the museum’s extensive collection. From Australia’s Indigenous heritage to its colonial past and contemporary culture, each exhibit tells a captivating story. The museum’s interactive displays are not only informative but also engaging, making it a perfect spot for visitors of all ages. The highlight is the Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander gallery, which offers an in-depth look into the rich history and culture of Australia’s First Peoples.

6. Australian National Botanic Gardens

Location & Costing: Tucked away on Clunies Ross Street, the Australian National Botanic Gardens is a peaceful retreat in the city, open to all without any entry fee.

General Information: This botanical paradise is home to the largest collection of Australian native plants. As you meander through the lush pathways, you’ll encounter a diverse range of flora, from rainforest canopies to desert landscapes. The gardens are not just a feast for the eyes; they’re a center for research and conservation, playing a vital role in preserving Australia’s botanical heritage. The tranquility and beauty of the Australian National Botanic Gardens make it an ideal spot for nature lovers and those seeking a moment of peace in the bustling city.

7. Mount Ainslie

Location & Costing: Free and easily accessible either by car or via a walking trail, Mount Ainslie is a must-visit for the breathtaking views it offers of Canberra.

General Information: A trip to Canberra is incomplete without witnessing the panoramic city vistas from atop Mount Ainslie. For the adventurers, the hike up the mountain is invigorating, winding through native bushland. Once at the summit, you’re rewarded with stunning views, especially as the sun sets over the city. This natural haven is not only a photographer’s delight but also a peaceful retreat from the city’s hustle. The Mount Ainslie lookout is a testament to Canberra’s unique blend of urban charm and natural beauty.

Mount Ainslie
Mount Ainslie | @hercanberra

8. National Zoo & Aquarium

Location & Costing: Located near Scrivener Dam, the National Zoo & Aquarium offers a variety of ticket options, ensuring an accessible and engaging experience for all.

General Information: This is where wildlife enthusiasts rejoice! The National Zoo & Aquarium is not your average zoo. It offers an intimate and educational encounter with a wide range of animals, from native Australian fauna to exotic species. The zoo emphasizes conservation and education, providing an opportunity to learn about wildlife and their habitats. Animal encounters and behind-the-scenes tours add to the excitement, making it a memorable visit for families and animal lovers alike.

9. Canberra Museum and Gallery

Location & Costing: Situated in the heart of the city at Civic Square, the Canberra Museum and Gallery offers a fascinating glimpse into the region’s history and culture with free entry.

General Information: This museum is a treasure trove of Canberra’s history and artistic achievements. Its exhibits delve into the city’s past, from its early days to its current status as the nation’s capital. The gallery section displays works by local artists, offering insights into the region’s vibrant art scene. Whether you’re interested in history, art, or both, the Canberra Museum and Gallery is an enriching stop in your exploration of Canberra’s rich cultural tapestry.

10. Royal Australian Mint

Location & Costing: Situated in the suburb of Deakin, the Royal Australian Mint is an enlightening destination with no entry fee, offering a unique glimpse into the coin production process.

General Information: The Mint is not just about coins; it’s a journey through Australia’s economic history. Here, you can witness the fascinating process of coin minting, from design to production. The Mint’s exhibitions are interactive, making it a fun and educational visit for all ages. You’ll have the opportunity to see rare coins and historical presses, and even make your own coin as a souvenir. The Royal Australian Mint visit is a must for anyone interested in Australia’s currency, history, or just looking for a unique experience in Canberra.

Royal Australian Mint
Royal Australian Mint | @australian_coin_info

11. Canberra Wine Region

Location & Costing: Scattered around Canberra, the vineyards and wineries offer a variety of tasting experiences, with costs varying depending on the venue and selection.

General Information: Embark on a delightful journey through the Canberra Wine Region, renowned for its cool-climate wines. This is an opportunity to sample some of the finest Australian wines, from crisp Rieslings to rich Shirazes. The vineyards themselves are a sight to behold, with picturesque landscapes that are perfect for a leisurely afternoon. Each winery has its own unique charm, offering tours, tastings, and often a chance to meet the winemakers themselves. Wine enthusiasts and novices alike will find the Canberra wine tasting experience both enlightening and enjoyable.

Canberra Wine region
Canberra Wine region

12. Questacon – The National Science and Technology Centre

Location & Costing: Located on King Edward Terrace, Questacon offers an interactive science experience with ticket prices that provide access to a world of exploration.

General Information: Questacon is a wonderland for the curious mind, regardless of age. This hands-on museum makes science accessible and fun through its interactive exhibits and live demonstrations. From earthquake simulators to free-falling slides that teach about gravity, the centre is designed to engage and educate. The Questacon exhibits are constantly updated, ensuring that there’s always something new to discover. It’s an ideal place for families, encouraging learning and discovery in the most entertaining way possible.

13. Old Bus Depot Markets

Location & Costing: Located in Kingston, the Old Bus Depot Markets are a vibrant and bustling hub of activity with free entry, offering a unique shopping experience every Sunday.

General Information: A visit to these iconic markets is a must for anyone wanting to experience Canberra’s local culture. Here, artisans, craftsmen, and food producers gather to showcase their talents and products. Whether you’re in search of handcrafted jewelry, unique artworks, vintage clothing, or fresh local produce, these markets have something for everyone. The atmosphere is lively, often accompanied by live music, making it a perfect spot for a leisurely Sunday stroll. Exploring the Canberra markets is not just about shopping; it’s an opportunity to engage with the local community and discover hidden treasures.

14. Canberra Theatre Centre

Location & Costing: Nestled in the heart of Civic Square, the Canberra Theatre Centre is the city’s premier performing arts venue, with ticket prices varying based on the show and seating.

General Information: For those who love the arts, the Canberra Theatre Centre is a cultural haven. It hosts a wide range of performances, from local productions to international touring shows. The lineup includes everything from drama, comedy, and dance to musical concerts and family-friendly performances. Attending a show here isn’t just an evening out; it’s an experience that showcases the vibrant and diverse talent of the performing arts community. The Centre’s dynamic atmosphere makes it a key destination for anyone looking to immerse themselves in Canberra’s cultural scene.

15. Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve

Location & Costing: Located near Paddys River, a short drive from Canberra, Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve offers a natural escape with a small entry fee to the park.

General Information: Tidbinbilla is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise, offering a variety of walking trails that range from easy strolls to challenging hikes. The Reserve is home to an abundance of wildlife, including kangaroos, koalas, emus, and various bird species, making it a perfect spot for wildlife spotting. The landscape is diverse, featuring wetlands, grasslands, and Eucalypt forests. The Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve hikes are not only a way to experience the natural beauty of the Australian bush but also an opportunity to learn about the area’s ecological and cultural significance.

Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve
Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve | @pippinsandbec2017

16. National Portrait Gallery

Location & Costing: Situated near the shores of Lake Burley Griffin on King Edward Terrace, the National Portrait Gallery offers free entry, inviting visitors to explore the faces and stories of Australia.

General Information: The Gallery is a captivating space where art and identity converge. It houses a diverse collection of portraits of significant Australians who have shaped the nation’s history and culture. The portraits, ranging from paintings and photographs to sculptures, tell stories of achievement, struggle, and celebration. The National Portrait Gallery in Canberra is more than an art gallery; it’s a place of connection and reflection, where visitors can engage with the personalities and narratives that form the tapestry of Australia.

17. Cycling in Canberra

Location & Costing: Canberra’s extensive network of cycling paths covers the entire city. Bike rentals are available at various locations, offering an affordable and enjoyable way to explore.

General Information: Known for its cyclist-friendly design, Canberra offers a unique way to see the city on two wheels. The cycling routes cater to all levels, from leisurely rides around Lake Burley Griffin to more adventurous trails in the surrounding hills. These paths not only provide a scenic tour of the city’s landmarks but also lead you through its tranquil natural landscapes. Whether you’re a seasoned cyclist or just looking for a fun day out, Canberra’s cycling routes promise a delightful experience.

18. Canberra Festivals

Location & Costing: Held throughout the city, Canberra’s festivals vary in location and cost, offering a range of experiences from free community events to ticketed performances.

General Information: Canberra’s vibrant festival scene reflects the city’s diverse culture and arts. From the stunning Floriade, celebrating flowers and gardening, to the National Folk Festival, showcasing music, dance, and crafts, there’s always something happening. Each festival brings its own unique flavor, offering opportunities to enjoy live music, culinary delights, and arts and crafts. Participating in Canberra festivals is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the local culture and experience the city’s dynamic community spirit.

Skyfire Canberra
Skyfire Canberra

19. Canberra’s Dining Scene

Location & Costing: Spanning across the city, Canberra’s dining scene offers a range of options, from affordable cafes to high-end restaurants.

General Information: Canberra is rapidly becoming a foodie’s paradise, boasting an impressive array of dining options. The city’s culinary scene reflects its multicultural makeup, offering everything from modern Australian cuisine to international flavors. Local produce, especially wines and truffles, feature prominently on menus. Whether you’re after a cozy café, a bustling market stall, or an elegant restaurant, Canberra’s dining experiences cater to all tastes and budgets.

20. Australian National Aviation Museum

Location & Costing: Located at Majura, the Australian National Aviation Museum charges a modest entry fee, offering a fascinating journey through aviation history.

General Information: This museum is a haven for aviation enthusiasts and history buffs alike. It showcases a collection of aircraft and memorabilia that chronicles the development of aviation in Australia. From early flying machines to modern jet fighters, the exhibits provide a comprehensive look at the evolution of flight. The museum’s interactive displays and knowledgeable volunteers make it an educational and enjoyable visit for all ages.