Are you looking for things to do in Canberra? If you’re not sure what’s on… fear not. We visited recently and we were actually so surprised that there’s some brilliant Canberra attractions to see.

If you’re looking for a cheap weekend away from Sydney, you’ll be pleased to know a lot of activities are actually free in Canberra and so is the parking on weekends too. You could spend a weekend in Canberra and get away with having an action packed time without spending much money at all.

Let’s get things straight.

Every time I’ve spoken to people about Canberra, I get the response; ‘You’re not missing out on much’.

After a bit of research we found some absolutely brilliant things to do in Canberra that I wouldn’t hesitate to visit again. If you’re looking for a Sydney getaway, put Canberra on your list to visit.

In this post, we’re letting you know what to do in Canberra so you won’t be stuck for ideas. And did we mention there’s loads of free things to do in Canberra as well?


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Want to do a tour to Canberra from Sydney?

If the idea of having to sort out your own Canberra sightseeing trip sounds like too much of a mission, we recommend jumping on this Canberra day trip which has had great reviews.

Want to stay over night? No problem, this tour will depart from Sydney and will take you to all of the main sites in Canberra, free time so you can explore and accommodation. Click here to find out more about this tour.

Or check out these Canberra tours below!


1. Go stay at Ovolo Nishi

OVOLO-NISHI-canberra-accommodationWhether you decide to stay at Ovolo Nishi, you should 100% go and check it out because the entrance itself is incredible.

We stayed here and we absolutely loved it.

Click here to read our review of our stay at Ovolo Nishi

The service, the food and the unique hotel itself was more than a reason to stay here. Honestly, I don’t think you’ll find a better hotel in Canberra or in Australia to be honest!

Based in New Acton, there’s some great reasons to visit this area including Mocan & Green Grout and the Nishi Gallery – but we talk more about these awesome places later in this post.

Watch our video of our stay at Ovolo Nishi below!


2. National Gallery of Australia

james-turrell-skyspace-canberraMake sure you go and visit James Turrell’s Skyspace!

One of our favourite free things to do in Canberra is the National Gallery of Australia.

Honestly the National Gallery of Australia is mind blowing.

We couldn’t believe how few people were walking around (however, it was during Floriade at the time).  Most of all there’s some absolutely brilliant artists housed in this gallery, we couldn’t quite believe it. yayoi-kusama-canberraDefinitely visit Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Room.

We absolutely loved seeing the famous Yayoi Kusama Infinity Room and couldn’t believe that we didn’t even need to line up for it.

When we went to see one of her pieces in LA, we had to line up for about an hour. And we saw some of her pumpkins at Naoshima Island in Japan which is a massive bucket list place to visit (read all about our visit to Naoshima here). james-turrell-skyspace-canberraOutside of James Turrell’s Skyspace.

We also loved James Turrell’s Skyspace. He’s got a few dotted around the world and we managed to see one in Yorkshire last year. I must admit, this one in Canberra is better.

andy-warhol-canberraWe were gobsmacked to see so many famous pieces of art at National Gallery of Australia, including many of Andy Warhol’s. 

We also couldn’t believe the amount of other artists in this gallery – from the Chapman Brothers, to Warhol to the infamous Pollack which was bought back in the 1970s.

Honestly, I’d make the effort to visit Canberra if it meant all we could see is the National Gallery of Australia. It’s brilliant!

angel-of-the-north-canberraWe were gobsmacked to casually see a version of Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North. I mean, I haven’t even seen it in England and here we are in Canberra of all places and a version of it is right here at National Gallery of Australia.


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3. Visit Floriade Festival

FLORIADE-FESTIVAL-CANBERRAFloriade is the flower festival which brings in the crowds to Canberra. We were lucky to visit during the season and it’s especially good for the October long weekend as they have loads of bands and comedians lined up to perform. There’s also Night Fest which you need to know about.

Click here to read all about our experience at Floriade >


4. Visit the pink pond in Canberra

pink-lake-canberraWho knew there’s a pink pond in Canberra? Yep, the pink pond in Canberra is located at Eardley Street in Bruce, which is about a 10 minute drive from the city centre. It equally makes a good Instagram photo too 😉


5. Hot air balloon ride at sunrise

There’s no better way than to wake up with a sunrise balloon ride over Canberra.

The four hour balloon ride takes you over the many lakes and parks of Canberra including Parliament House.

Definitely book this one for Floriade, you’ll get a great perspective of the flowers!

Click here to find out more about a balloon ride in Canberra >


6. Wildlife watching tour

canberra-wildlife-tourIf you’re looking to meet some of Australia’s most well known wildlife, then check out this tour. You’ll get to meet koalas, wallabies and loads more a the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve.

Click here to book a wildlife tour in Canberra >


7. Visit the war memorial

war-memorial-canberra

The war memorial in Canberra is definitely worth a visit and it’s free. I saw the building on Instagram recently and no lie, I thought it was in somewhere like Dubai. I couldn’t believe this building is in Canberra!

war-memorial-canberra

Make sure you go upstairs at the memorial to pay your respects to the soldiers who are no longer with us. The memorial is very beautiful and somewhere you just need to visit on your trip to Canberra.


8. Cockington Green Gardens

Don’t you just love a miniature garden? We saw one back in the Cotswolds years ago and what do you know? Canberra’s got it’s very own miniature English gardens at Cockington Green Gardens. Located just 15 minutes north of Canberra, it’s a must visit for the whole family. I’m sure kids will love the steam train too!

Find out more about Cockington Green Gardens here >


9. Parliament House

parliament-house-canberra

Parliament House is the first place you should probably visit on your trip. The iconic building is something to see for yourself. It’s quite fascinating to see the chambers, something we’ve all seen on TV.

If you want to go behind the scenes and see more of Parliament House which is usually closed off to the public, click here to check out this tour which also includes high tea. parliament-house-canberraLook out for the random dude outside with his alpaca (or is it a lama?) you can have a very candid photo with. Oh the lols.

The good news is, it’s free to go into Parliament House and parking is free outside as well. Again Parliament House is somewhere you really should visit on your first trip to Canberra.


10. Australian Museum

australian-museum-canberraThe Australian Museum is one of the best things to do in Canberra with kids. We loved the modern architecture and there was a Pixar exhibition on at the time of visiting which we didn’t go to see.

The rooms are full of information, maybe a little too much for us to take everything in but it’s a great place for school trips or or something for kids to do in Canberra.

australian-museum-canberra There’s a lot of information throughout the museum. australian-museum-canberraThe design of the Australian Museum is really impressive and worth a visit. 


11. Questacon Science Museum

Although we didn’t have time to visit Questacon, it would be at the top of our list to visit next time in Canberra. The science museum is located right near to a lot of the other museums in Canberra and would be a great visit for the whole family.

Entry fee is $23 for adults and $17.50 for kids.

Find out more about Questacon here >


12. Find the street art in Canberra

street-art-in-canberraMove over Melbourne because Canberra’s got some cool street art hidden away in some awesome spots around the city.

We loved the Canberra street art on Tocumwal Lane a lot.


13. Visit the Nishi Gallery in Canberra

Nishi-gallery-canberra

Although we were staying right opposite Nishi Gallery – at Ovolo Nishi – we ran out of time to visit. Stupidly we should have looked at their opening hours. FYI – they are only open from Wednesdays – Saturdays from 11am – 6:30pm.

We loved this sculpture outside of the gallery and I have seen from research, there’s more in their sculpture garden.

Find out more about the Nishi Gallery here >


14. Lost Vintage Shop

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Open 11-4 today kids ⭐️ #lostvintagecbr

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Located in Braddon, I’ve heard Lost Vintage Shop is one of the best vintage shops in ACT! We didn’t get the chance to visit which is a shame because I LOVE a good vintage shop.

If vintage shops are also your thing, pop over and let me know what you think!


15. Old Bus Depot Markets

If you love a good market then head over to The Old Bus Depot Markets. It’s open every Sunday from 10am-4pm.


16. Weston Park

Weston Park is located just a 10 minute drive out of Canberra and has lots of playgrounds, dog parks and cycling tracks. When we visited it was very dry but if you pick the right time of the year, you’ll be able to see the trees filled with so much colour.


17. Mount Ainslie

If you’re looking to get the perfect Canberra photo, prepare yourself to climb up to Mount Ainslie. The 4km walk takes about 1.5hours return.

Fear not, you can always drive up to it as well 😉


18. Visit the Bonsai at National Arboretum

bonsai-national-arboretum-australia

Just 12 minutes west of Canberra is the National Arboretum. We loved the Bonsai Collection which holds some of the best Bonsai trees we’ve ever seen anywhere in the world.bonsai-national-arboretum-australiaThere’s loads of walking tracks in the arboretum and a big canteen to grab some food at. Also, there’s a big playground there to entertain the kids and we noticed they seem to love rolling down the hill in the amphitheatre too.


19. Where to eat in Canberra

canberra-foodIf you’re looking for Canberra food option, we found Braddon to be the suburb with the most variety of restaurants, especially on Lonsdale Street. lazy-su-canberra-restaurantsWe loved Lazy Su in Braddon, Canberra.

We went to Lazy Su for dinner which is excellent. The cocktails are amazing (make sure you order the Sumo Bowls) and we had the Miso Banquet – a five course tasting menu for $49 each. Honestly it was awesome. Make sure you have enough room for the Nutella Gaytime Bao – it will blow your mind!

Other options for food include Mocan and Green Grout which is a great option if you want to have dinner nearby Ovolo Nishi Hotel. Eighty Six is the go to place for brunch and Molly is a super cool underground jazz bar. bar-roachford-canberraBar Rochford is a great wine bar in Canberra you need to visit. 

We went to Bar Rochford for a glass of vino before dinner and it’s a great little place. Expect to pay around $20 for a glass of wine though – but it’s good wine.

Want to be shown around by a local? We’ve heard of a fantastic beer tour in Canberra (click here to find out more).


On the outskirts of Canberra

There are so many places to visit just outside of Canberra so here’s out extended list so you can make a great plan for the weekend.

20. Tulip Tops Gardens

tulip-tops-garden-canberra-spring-flowersWhilst we were in Canberra one of our follower on Instagram told us about Tulip Tops Gardens and so we visited on our way back to Sydney (just 20 minute drive out of Canberra).

Although Tulip Tops Gardens is located just off the highway, it’s absolutely beautiful. Although it’s only during Spring, make sure you make the effort to visit because it’s stunning.

Entrance fee is $18 per adult.

Find out more about Tulip Tops Gardens here >


20. Mount Stromlo Observatory

A 20 minute drive South West out of Canberra will bring you to Mount Stromlo Observatory. They also hold public FREE night tours which you should check out here.


21. Swim at Gibraltar Falls

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great day for an ice bath ☀️

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A 45 minute drive South of Canberra will lead you to Gibraltar Falls. It’s a lovely hike you can get to in 2km. It’s suggested it takes around 1hour return but as always, if you’re going to swim here, just be very, very careful.

You can read more about the hike to Gibraltar Falls here >


22. Hike to Booroomba Rocks

Just a little further down from Gibraltar Falls is another popular hiking spot at Booroomba Rocks located at Namadgi National Park. The 1.5 hour walk will take you through the tall trees and finishing up with a cracking view over to Canberra.

Find out more about the Booroomba Rocks walk here >


23. Be immersed in the Binnalong Canola Fields

An hour north of Canberra will bring you to the Binnalong Canola Fields. If you’re visiting Canberra during Spring, make sure you make the effort to go and visit them.


24. Get lost in the Sugar Pines Walk

An Instagram hit which will get you hundreds, if not thousands of likes is a photo at the Sugar Pines Walk. These tall trees are so magical, they are definitely on our list to visit next time.

It takes around 2h30m drive to get to the Sugar Pines Walk from Canberra but we think it’s totally worth it. Make sure you stop off at Batlow Caves on the way there.


25. Climb Mount Kosciuszko

We have wanted to climb Australia’s highest mountain for years now and when we visited Canberra recently, we couldn’t do it because it was still snowing there. It supposedly takes 6-8 hours to hike 18.6km and is usually completed in one day.

If you’re going to tackle Mount Kosciuszko walk, make sure you wear decent hiking boots (these are the one’s I hiked to Everest Base Camp in), take more water than you need, food and a good waterproof jacket (I again used this one for Everest hike).

Find out more information about hiking to Mount Kosciuszko here >

Or catch the chair lift up

If walking for 6-8 hours doesn’t sound like fun, catch the chair lift up most of the way to the top. It takes just 15 minutes and to be honest, with that in mind, it makes me wonder if I would be happy to walk 6-8 hours. But, it doesn’t go directly to the top – you’ll still need to walk around 4 hours return from the chair lift to the summit. And it costs around $30 in Summer.

Find out more about the chair lift to Mount Kosciuszko summit here >


26. Go skiing at Thredbo or Perisher

If you weren’t aware, you can in fact go skiing near to Canberra at some of the biggest ski resorts in Australia called Thredbo and Perisher.

Looking for a skiing tour from Sydney? This awesome tour has had loads of reviews so you don’t need to worry about organising a thing.


27. Yarrangobilly Thermal Pools

I have wanted to visit the Yarrangobilly Thermal Pools for such a long time now! Located nearly a three hour drive from Canberra, it surely is worth it if you’re heading down to Kosciuszko National Park or to Thredbo to go skiing. Imagine taking a swim in the 27C all year round pool? Pure bliss.


Where to stay in Canberra

Hopefully we’ve convinced you there’s so much more to Canberra than I know we ever thought too!

Ovolo Nishi Hotel in Canberra

OVOLO-NISHI-canberra-accommodation

Our number one pick on Canberra accommodation is Ovolo Nishi which we mentioned earlier in this post. It’s an amazing hotel and is really good value for money. You can get really good deals here, but if you want all of their freebies, book through their site here.

Click here to read our review of Ovolo Nishi >

If you’re looking for cheap Canberra accommodation, head over to the Canberra City YHA. It’s located right in the middle of the city and as two people who love staying in YHA’s, they are always good value for money as long as you’re happy with the basics.

Looking for something else?

Find the best Canberra hotel deals right here >


More Canberra posts to read

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